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A Week In Review: Swisher, Ibanez, Diaz, Jones

Good evening everyone. Since I was on vacation for the past week, instead of doing an offseason note article, this article is the week in review. In other words, it’s all the stuff I didn’t report that happened during the week that I am reporting now. Let’s get to it.

Nick Swisher becomes a Cleveland Indian

Yep, Nick Swisher traded in his pinstripes in New York for a cream colored uniform in Cleveland, Ohio. According to MLB Network, Swisher signed a 4 year, $56 Million deal to play RF for the Cleveland Indians next season. We all knew it was coming since the Yankees weren’t going to re-sign him and the Indians front office showed their interest by having breakfast and lunch meetings with him. Looks like all those meetings paid off, because while they have a right fielder–we have Ichiro.

Raul Ibanez going to Seattle

Raul Ibanez who was our hero in the postseason has decided to also trade in his pinstripes…this time to head to Seattle where he played earlier in his career. According to Bleacher Report, the Yankees reportedly never made an offer to Ibanez which probably added into his decision to take a contract with the Seattle Mariners. Looks like the Yankees are going to have to look for a new DH…along with a catcher…and maybe a new bench…oh boy.

Yankees sign Matt Diaz to minor league deal

The Yankees made a deal the day after Christmas with Matt Diaz, whose season was cut short in 2012 due to a thumb injury. Diaz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. If he makes the team, he’ll get a guarenteed $1.2 Million deal. Yankees mainly signed him because he can do something that the Yankees struggle with–hitting against left handed pitchers.

Former Yankee Andruw Jones arrested

Congratulations to Andruw Jones. He’s joined the exclusive “Former/Current Yankees Players to get arrested” club. All jokes aside, Jones was arrested yesterday morning (on Christmas) after an altercation with his wife. We all know Jones decided to join a Japanese team for the 2013 season–an indication that he knows that it’s going downhill from here career wise. No word if the arrest effects his current contract.

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Rafael Soriano & Nick Swisher will decline qualifying offers

The New York Yankees announced that relief pitcher Rafael Soriano and Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher are planning on declining their qualifying offers. Swisher (who had another atrocious postseason) and Soriano (who has hinted that he wanted a multi-year deal as a closer) will now hit the free agent market after tomorrow. Hiroki Kuroda has yet to decide whether he will accept or decline the offer.

Swisher is the target of 5 teams but only two are none: the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners.

Other notes:

Andruw Jones has expressed interest in playing again next season. I’m 99.9% sure that it won’t  be with the Yankees.

– Brian Cashman had a small victory today. In Day 2 of the GM meetings in California, he did not have to mention Alex Rodriguez getting traded–at all. Now, let’s see about tomorrow?

2012 Yankees Keep Em’ Or Dump Em’ Results (So Far)

Last Saturday, I posted a Keep Em’ or Dump Em’ article where you voted who you wanted to keep or who you wanted to dump. The results…weren’t very surprising. Let’s break down who you’d strongly keep and who you’d strongly throw away.

Keep Em’

David Robertson (96.83%): David Robertson wasn’t as good as he was in 2011, but he was still very effective in 2012. Let the good pitching keep on going, D-Rob.

CC Sabathia (95.59%): CC Sabathia coming back in 2013? No brainer. He’s the ace. The workhorse. He’s CC. Enough said.

Derek Jeter (95.33%): It’s not a surprise that fans would want to keep Derek Jeter after a great 2012 season but after his ankle injury where he had surgery, going into the future you wonder if Jeter can continue to play SS or if he might have to go to the DH Spot.

Hiroki Kuroda (94.12%): For his first year in the American League East, Kuroda did a good job. If Ichiro re-signs with the Yankees, Kuroda would have to be a no-brainer to follow.

Brett Gardner (93.55%): So Brett Gardner proved that you don’t have to play in order to be extremely valuable to the Yankees. After seeing Cirque Du Left Field in 2012, Yankees fans can’t wait to get their speedy outfielder back into playing shape and defending LF like we know he can.

David Phelps (91.18%): In his first rookie year with the Yankees, Phelps was back and forth from the bullpen to the starting rotation. For a first year–he did good. Would be great to see him get a shot in the rotation in 2013.

Andy Pettitte (91.04%): Andy sure was dandy in 2012, so there’s no question why he’s on the Keep Em’ list. I’d bring back Andy too. Who cares if Andy’s 40 years old? He still pitches like he’s 25!

Boone Logan (90.63%): Boone Logan being in the category where players were to be strongly kept surprised me just a tad bit. But hey. Boone Logan was good in 2012. Can he do it all over again in 2013?

Ichiro Suzuki (90%): Ichiro was a mid season trade for the Yankees. A mid season trade that made Brian Cashman look like a pure genius after a plethora of failure trades (hint, hint: Javier Vasquez, Curtis Granderson, A.J Burnett). Ichiro might come back to the Yankees next season–if you guys were the GM and not Cashman. Honestly, I’d like Ichiro back to. No doubt about it.

Eduardo Nunez (89.93%): Eduardo Nunez is (almost) the perfect back up shortstop. He can run and he can hit. Why he’s not perfect? He can’t field. Hopefully Winter Ball will help him in 2013.

Dump Em’

Freddy Garcia (95.59%): Look at the number of people that don’t want Freddy Garcia. I can’t explain that any further.

Andruw Jones (91.94%): After the terrible 2012 season he had, I can see why Yankees fans wouldn’t want him back in 2013. He says he wants to keep playing. Unfortunately, it’s not with this team.

Nick Swisher (85%): Nick Swisher had a good 2012 regular season but consistent playoff failures according to Yankees fans could be what ultimately sends Nick Swisher and his smiling face–out the door.

Derek Lowe (80%): Derek Lowe could be a great starting pitcher (or bullpen) pitcher for any team–but according to fans, it won’t be with the Yankees.

Alex Rodriguez (70%): Let’s admit it. A-Rod’s contract could possibly be the worst contract in baseball history. He’s deteriorating…and the Yankees still have to give him $110 Million dollars in the next 5 years.  Does any team want A-Rod? Going once? Going twice?

* Not all players from the poll are listed. Just the ones that fans strongly wanted to keep and wanted to get rid of.

Morning Bits: Jeter, Sabathia, Soriano, Bronx Businesses, Martin

Good morning everyone. Welcome to another day of the Yankees offseason but if you want to watch some baseball, the Giants and Cardinals play tonight with everything on the line. Cardinals try to punch a ticket to the World Series tonight while the Giants try to force a Game 7. Let’s get on with the morning links.

– With no Yankees baseball until April in the Bronx, businesses on 161st Street are beginning to suffer this winter.

–  According to Rafael Soriano‘s agent Scott Boras (of course), he says there’s a strong chance that Soriano will opt out of his contract.

CC Sabathia is going to visit Dr. Andrews about getting surgery for his elbow. He would just need to get some spurs shaved off and should be ready by Spring Training.

– Speaking of Surgery, Derek Jeter had surgery yesterday. Jeter should be ready to play in 4-5 months. (Also in the article explains Andruw Jones‘s “excuse” as to why he hit .197 in the regular season).

– 2 Yankees pitchers want the Yankees to bring back Russell Martin next season; CC Sabathia and Derek Lowe (who most likely won’t be on the team next year)

2012 Yankees: Keep Em’ or Dump Em’?

It had been a long, trying season for the Yankees where so much has happened. Yankees have lost Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, at a point lost Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, suffered through hitting slumps by Russell Martin, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson and a surprisingly good regular season by Nick Swisher. But the Yankees didn’t realize that the season doesn’t end after 162 games and fell flat against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS and will now spend their offseason trying to piece it all together. The Yankees have to make decisions before the 2013 offseason, but if you were the GM of the Yankees who would you keep and who would you dump? Infield

Yankees Off-Day Notes: Who does NOT make the roster, Pettitte for Game 2

Good evening everyone! It’s day 3 of the 3-day day off for the Yankees as they prepare to play the Baltimore Orioles. Today is the ALDS for the Tigers and the A’s while it’s the NLDS for the Reds and the Giants. Here are some off-day notes about the Yankees:

– The Yankees 25 man roster will be released tomorrow morning but for now, Joe Girardi has told us who will not make the roster. Here are some of players that haven’t made the roster.

Of course we will find out the rest tomorrow as the Yankees will look to defeat the Orioles and attempt to send them into the off-season.

Andy Pettitte will pitch Game 2 behind CC Sabathia, most likely because  Hiroki Kuroda has better numbers at home than on the road.

Now it’s time to vote on what will be the outcome for the 2012 ALDS series!!

Yankees Postseason Notes: Who makes the roster, Rangers or Orioles and Bobby Valentine?

Good evening everyone. There’s no baseball at all tonight so we’re going to post some tidbits and notes that have been stirring around from Yankee Land. Here are some evening notes.

– The Yankees have yet to make the postseason roster but there are 3 definite players aside from the other starters for the roster: David Phelps, Eduardo Nunez and Brett Gardner (Brian Cashman confirmed Gardner today).

– The Yankees might either face the Orioles or Rangers on Sunday so the question is–who would you rather face?

Andruw Jones might get a roster spot for the postseason. I don’t think he should be on the roster considering he had a pretty bad 2012 regular season and there are hitters that could be of assistance on the bench. Players such as Chris Dickerson perhaps?

– A lot of writers believe that Andy Pettitte should start Game 2 of the play-offs instead of Hiroki Kuroda. Here I would have to agree. Kuroda has a better home record than an away record and since the Yankees are on the road to begin the play-offs, it would make the most sense to have  CC Sabathia and Pettitte for Games 1 & 2 and Kuroda and Hughes for Game 3 & 4. Sabathia would pitch Game 5 if it came down to that.

– In other news that has nothing to do with the Yankees but the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine after 1 year with the Red Sox. Honestly, the Red Sox never should have fired Terry Francona to bring in Bobby Valentine. Francona won 2 championships and had one bad year. Bobby Valentine came in and made everything worse.

How should the 2012 postseason roster look?

Right around the corner is the most exciting time of the year for any team—the postseason. While there are teams that have clinched their spot in the postseason, there are teams like the Yankees that are so close to clinching that they could taste it. However, they still have to battle to stay in 1st place in the American League East. While it is almost certain that the Yankees will be in another postseason, the Yankees have other things on their minds as in after they clinch a spot. What will they be doing? They will be preparing their 2012 ALDS roster (if they are in first place by the end of the season). After observing the Yankees for a while, I decided to compile a list of who would make the 25-man roster for the ALDS series against what looks to be the Detroit Tigers. (Statistics are as of the morning of September 28, 2012).

Infield

Derek Jeter (2012 Season: .318 AVG, 15 HR, 57 RBI): Of course, you cannot be in the postseason without the Captain Derek Jeter. Jeter has had a phenomenal year and will end the year with an average over .300. The last time Jeter finished with an average over .300 was in 2009. How did that end out for the Yankees? Jeter had silenced the critics and had done his thing, but can he continue into the postseason and lead the Yankees to another championship?

Robinson Cano (2012 Season: .300 AVG, 30 HR, 82 RBI): Robinson Cano is one of the best second baseman in the game and he knows how to hit. While Cano has been up and down this year, he has been consistent defensively and can help Yankees pitching by preserving runs and getting double plays with a flick of a wrist. He makes that pivot to first base better than any second baseman than I have seen. Cano was one of the very few Yankees who had a hot bat during last year’s ALDS (along with Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner respectively), so it would be nice to see Cano get on a tear.

Mark Teixeira (2012 Season: .255 AVG, 23 HR, 81 RBI): Comparing Teixeira’s numbers from 2011 and from this year, this year has not been Teixeira’s best. But can you blame the guy? He has been sidelined with a Grade 1 strained calf. While he will make the roster for the play-offs, I doubt he will be 100 percent healthy. Teixeira also is one of the few culprits that seem to mysteriously lose his hitting talents in the play-offs. He needs to have a hot and consistent bat in the play-offs or else it could be an early exit for the Yankees—again.

Alex Rodriguez (2012 Season: .276 AVG, 18 HR, 56 RBI): Now, if the stats were for another player say maybe Eduardo Nunez, Chris Dickerson or Brett Gardner that would be a hell of a year. Unfortunately, it is for the guy that the Yankees gave a lucrative contract that last for another 5 years and did not hit the way that the Yankees were expecting. A-Rod is going to make the roster…but all season he has looked terribly lost at the plate. He is also another culprit that has not hit in the postseason in recent years (no, I am not counting 2009). A-Rod needs to get his act together and very quickly or else…you know. A first round exit for the Yankees.

Russell Martin (2012 Season: .209 AVG, 19 HR, 49 RBI): So this hasn’t been Russell Martin’s best year offensively (the 19 HR’s make the .209 AVG look less hideous) but the reason he makes the postseason roster is because of his defense. He also has been heating up at the plate as of late which means he could be on a tear any day now. He also was the only one that did not look lost during the ugly 6-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday night, cranking 2 hits off Morrow. Martin could add to the offense, which could be something that the Yankees need.

Is it time to move on from Jones & Ibanez?

I’ve seen enough of Andruw whiffing in the field and at the plate

When Brian  Cashman was assembling the 2012 Yankees in the offseason, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez were two of the last pieces to be added.  Their roles were to essentially serve as a DH platoon with occasional starts in the OF.   However, when Brett Gardner was injured in early April, they both became the recipients of added playing time.  At first it  seemed like Gardner’s injury was fairly minor so it was thought that Jones/Ibanez could fill-in for the short-term.  Gardner had 2 set-backs in his recovery but wasn’t deemed to be essentially done for the season until mid-July so the Yanks stayed with Ibanez as his primary replacement  until Cashman added Ichiro.  But Ichiro’s arrival also coincided with an injury to Nick Swisher and subsequent injuries to ARod, Granderson & Teixeira.  So playing time for the 2 veterans just kept popping up.

Ibanez and Jones did a yeoman’s job for much of the first half.  Ibanez cracked a Grand Slam on Opening Day and continued his hot hitting thru April and May with a .268/.318/.543/.861 line,  9 HRs and 28 RBI in the first 2 months.  Jones was also doing a solid job filling in for most of the year and his season was highlighted by his huge 4 HR outburst in a 3-game series at Fenway in early July.  When that series ended Jones’ season numbers stood at an impressive .244/.326/.535/.862 with 11 HRs in 144 PAs.  So, while neither of them supplied great average, they drew some walks, supplied a ton of power and held their own in the OF defensively.  Both players are to be commended for their early season contributions and their ability to handle expanded roles.  I admit I was not on board with the Ibanez signing as I thought the team needed a better bat.  But Ibanez surprised me with his strong start and despite his defensive shortcomings, he always tries hard and hustles on the field.

However, both players have fallen off a cliff in recent months.  Since June 1st, Ibanez has hit .191/.278/.330/.608 with just 6 HRs in 234 PAs.  That’s more than half a season of games with an OPS barely over .600.  Terrible numbers for a DH/LF who’s only asset is his bat.  Lately, he has been even worse with just 4 hits in his last 55 ABs (.071 BA & .330 OPS).  He is clearly not the same player he was the first couple of months.  The popular theory is that he is worn out from playing the OF so much.  That may be true but he has always been a streaky hitter and his overall season numbers are nearly identical to what he put up last year in Philly. Last yr he hit .245/.289/.419/.707 and this year he’s at .222/.294/.415/.708.

Jones’ decline has been even more pronounced.  It seems like he sold his soul to the devil to get that huge series in Boston because since then he’s hit .137/.250/.225/.475 with just 2 HRs in 120 PAs.  He’s misplayed fly balls in the OF and has had awful at bats.

Due to injuries and Girardi’s dual-love of veterans and platoon splits, both have still been trotted out there to get regular playing time.  Yesterday, however, Joe finally left Jones on the bench vs a LHP and it payed off big as Ichiro won them the game.  Did Joe play Ichiro because he had a .360 career BA vs Romero and Jones had a career .154 BA against him?  Or has Joe finally realized that Jones & Ibanez are shot and he needs to go in another direction?  Unfortunately, I think it was more a case of the former but with Ichiro’s success maybe he’ll make it a permanent change.

With players coming back from injury, Girardi finally has other options.  Eduardo Nunez is clearly a better option right now than Ibanez/Jones and should be a factor the rest of the season including the playoffs.  Against a LHP, Nunez & Jeter MUST continue to split SS & DH.  There is NO excuse to play Jones over Nunez right now.  If you figure McGehee at 1B until Tex returns, it leaves you the choice of Ichiro, Jones or Steve Pearce in LF.  The Yankees have not used Pearce in the OF although he played 20 games there with Baltimore this year and 3 with Houston.   Pearce isn’t really hitting anyway so I think the clear choice is to go with Ichiro over Jones.  He’s swinging a hot bat over the last month at .351/.365/.468/.833 with 2 HRs and 7 SBs in 99 PAs.  He brings speed and defense to the table every day in addition to a hot bat.  He & Nunez need to play over Jones the rest of the way.

The Ibanez situation is a bit more cut and dry.  When Tex comes back, it becomes academic with Chavez  and ARod sharing 3B & DH vs RHP and Swisher and Ichiro as the Corner Outfielders.  It basically comes down to Chavez vs Ibanez and that’s a no-brainer.  Chavez  has hit .296/.353/.522/.876 with 13 HRs vs RHP in 249 PAs.   But until Tex returns or IF Tex returns, there’s no clear alternative to Ibanez.  Swish will play 1B so there is need for another corner OF.  The alternative is to go with Chris Dickerson.  Dickerson started the first 3 games after his September call-up and went 2 for 7 with a HR.  Since then he’s been only a defensive replacement with 2 scattered PAs – a Walk & a SO.  The only other possibility is rookie Melky Mesa or to go with McGehee or Pearce at 1B and Swish in the OF.  For now, I’d give the playing time to Dickerson.  He plays a great OF, has a little speed and has hitting ability.  He had a great year in AAA with a .316/.417/.515/.932 line with 7 HRs and 17 SBs in 321 PAs.  Give Dickerson the chance.

What do you all think?  Should the Yanks be giving time to Nunez, Dickerson & Ichiro the rest of the way or keep trotting out Ibanez & Jones despite their pathetic recent numbers?  The Yanks swept a DH yesterday without hitting a HR thanks to good fundamental baseball, productive outs,  some key hits and stealing some bases.  Nunez, Dickerson & Ichiro can definitely help in those categories.  The upside with Jones/Ibanez is the potential to hit a HR which have been few and far between lately.  So which way do you go for the last 2 weeks of the season and into the Playoffs?

Who should be on the Yankees 2013 roster?

Some of the Yankees that most likely will make the 2013 roster are Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. But who are the others?

Looking ahead is not a bad thing. The Yankees looked ahead when it came to releasing the 2013 schedule, so why not look ahead to see who could be on the field when you go to a game in 2013. Here is how I picture the Yankees having their alignment of players in 2013.

Let us start in the outfield, shall we? In left field, we have none other than the Yankees speedster Brett Gardner (2012:  .321 AVG, 0 HR, 3 RBI). Now keep in mind that Gardner has only played in nine games and was shut down for the duration of the season due to elbow surgery. Gardner is a catalyst for the Yankees and plays the game Joe Girardi hates to play–small ball. He gets on base, he steals, he bunts and he is one of the best defensive players in baseball. Gardner is arbitration eligible so do not expect there to be much of a fight since Gardner has not played most of the year.

In center field, we have another speedster but he is known for his power bat, Curtis Granderson (2012: .233 AVG, 37 HR, 89 RBI). 2013 is Granderson’s free agent year and after the Kevin Long tutorial in 2010; Granderson has become a home run hitter. Now, Granderson does not hit for singles or doubles (note the .233 average) but he is a power bat, which is something the Yankees could use in the heart of the lineup. What happens after 2013, we do not know but—at least the Yanks could see Granderson’s bat in the lineup in 2013.

In right field, you may be a bit surprised by my choice but I believe Nick Swisher (2012: .258 AVG, 20 HR, 78 RBI) will be in Yankees pinstripes in 2013. Now, why do I think Swisher will be a Yankee? Because along with Swisher’s good bat in the lineup, he has a charming and bubbly personality that would be sorely missed if he ever left the team. The Yankees were a serious bunch before Swisher came along and now the team seems livelier. Swisher has left an imprint on the team—but if Swisher signs with the Yanks, he cannot expect a $100 Million contract. We are still recovering from 3 of those.

In the infield, we have of course the third baseman Alex Rodriguez (2012: .276 AVG, 17 HR, 50 RBI). A-Rod this season is not A-Rod but he has come back a hot hitter since getting off the DL. In addition, A-Rod is stuck with the Yankees until his contract expires in 2018 (Yikes).

At shortstop, we have the Captain Derek Jeter (2012: .323 AVG, 15 HR, 53 RBI) who becomes a free agent in 2014. There is not much to explain about Jeter except for the fact he is having his best year average wise since 2009.

At second base, there is the young Robinson Cano (2012: .299 AVG, 30 HR, 77 RBI) who is by far the Yankees best player. He plays second base so smoothly and has a great pop to his bat. For a person who does not think he has home run power—he is mistaken. He is a home run hitter. That is all.

Finally, to round out the infield, we have Mark Teixeira (2012: .255 AVG, 23 HR, 81 RBI). Teixeira is stuck with us until 2017 and even if the Yankees wanted to trade Teixeira (they do not), they cannot because of Teixeira’s no trade clause. We might as well make the best of it so Tex…we are going to need lots of game winning and World Series winning HR’s until then.

Yanks facing their biggest test of season

Jones falls flat on his face yesterday vs Toronto

The Yankees have been playing mediocre at best baseball for quite some time now.  Since July 18th when they had a 10 game division lead, they have gone a miserable 18-21 while their lead has shrunk to 3.5 games over Baltimore and 4 games over Tampa Bay.   The next 10 games, 7 vs Baltimore & 3 vs TB, will tell us a lot about how good these 3 teams are and could seriously alter the standings in the Al East.

Unfortunately, the Yankess head into this stretch playing terrible baseball and without their full lineup.  Injuries are never an excuse in baseball and the Yanks have done a great job filling in for much of the year.  However, it appears that the injuries have finally caught up to them.  Cashman & Girardi have chosen to go with veterans to fill in but now many of the backups are looking worn out and are getting exposed.   Or perhaps, the league has just found their weaknesses now that they are playing expanded roles.   Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley & Clay Rapada have all taken on additional playing time and responsibility and did a yeoman’s job until recently.  Right now, it looks like the Yankees are an old team with far too many platoon players who have little value defensively or fundamentally.

This week’s series for Toronto was a microcosm of the team’s struggles this year.  They did not execute in key situations, failed to move runners with productive outs or bunts and did not deliver with runners in scoring position.  In addition their defense was shoddy with 4 errors yesterday and another 2 misplays by Andruw Jones that should have been errors.  These mistakes led to 7 of Toronto’s 8 runs and allowed the Jays to win their first series in over a month.  They had lost 7 in a row before coming to NY.  Not the type of tune-up you’d like to see before the biggest 10-game stretch of the season.

I know the above sounds very negative but I try to be a realist and the reality is the team has played poor baseball for about 6 weeks now.  However, on the bright side, they will head into this stretch with at least a 3-game lead and even with all their injuries, I still believe they are better than Baltimore and Tampa.  Baltimore’s pitching is far inferior to the Yankees and while Tampa has the best pitching in baseball, their lineup is far weaker.

If the Yankees had ARod, Tex, Pettitte, Mariano & Gardner, I would have no worries at all.  But they don’t.  And Cashman’s attempts to bring in retreads is not working anymore.   If ever a team needed a breath of fresh air and youthful excitement, it’s the Yankees.  They are a slow, prodding team which doesn’t run, plays poor defense and doesn’t hit well with RISP.  Their calling card is the HR which without their 2 biggest RH bats isn’t nearly as strong as it was.  Say what you want about ARod & Tex but they were legit 25 & 30 HR bats, respectively.  Replacing them with the likes of Laynce Nix and Steve Pearce isn’t working.  This team has guys in AA & AAA right now that are hitting the shit out of the ball.  They also have youthful legs and could possibly provide a jump-start to this team.  With the rosters expanding on Saturday, the team can definitely use the talents of Chris Dickerson, Ronnie Mustelier, Corban Joseph, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, David Adams & Zolio Almonte.

Another arm or 2 in the bullpen is badly needed also as Joba Chamberlain continues to show he’s not ready for primetime and Cosy Eppley has been nowhere near the guy he was early in the year.  perhaps it is time to give Snap-Dragon Montgomery a chance to see if his Slider will work at the MLB-level.  These young guys could provide a boost to this struggling team.

Use this as your post to talk about the team and the upcoming big series with Baltimore.  Is anyone else worried about this team or are you confident the Yanks can just turn it on now that they need it? How many games do they need to win out of these next 10?

Yankees Report Card: July

It’s that time of the month again where we decide which Yankees were at the top of their class and which Yankees just didn’t make the grade in July’s Yankees Report Card. After a stellar June, the Yankees had a so-so July but some Yankees players that were struggling really improved their game and earned a higher grade. If you don’t agree with the grade that any Yankee gets, put the grade that you believe they deserve in the comment section below. Now, onto grading those Yankees!

Derek Jeter (A): Derek Jeter was on fire in the month of July, hitting a .346 average with 37 hits and 7 doubles. Jeter doesn’t hit for power (he only has 1 HR in July) but he has been able to get on base so his fellow teammates can make some damage. Maybe Jeter can continue his hot-streak in August. I know one thing–Derek Jeter is not too old to play baseball.

Curtis Granderson (B+): Curtis Granderson only had a .245 average this month, but he has been the one that has helped pick up this team with 5 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 2 doubles and 2 triples. Granderson is now required to pair up with Robinson Cano to supply power since A-Rod is currently on the disabled list but if there is anyone that can do it, it’s Curtis Granderson (also, he might be interested in hitting a HR whenever he can since he gets rewarded with ice pops.)

Mark Teixeira (A+): Mark Teixeira had his best month in the month of July with a .298 average. He also had 7 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 12 walks, 5 doubles and a triple. Teixeira would have normally have gotten an A, but after hitting a HR off Vicente Padilla during the Yankees/Red Sox series, Teixeira deserved a higher mark for 2 reasons. One, he was the bigger man in their rivalry and two, what other way can you say don’t mess with me by hitting a 2 run homer that temporarily tied the game?

Alex Rodriguez (A): The month of July was A-Rod’s best month average wise with a .314 average. His HR and RBI numbers had slightly decreased from June since he only had 2 HR’s, 9 RBI’s, 5 doubles, 1 triple and 1 walk. It seemed as if A-Rod was getting everything together–until Felix Hernandez took that all away with one pitch that hit him in the wrist, thus forcing him to go on the DL for 6-8 weeks. Yankees may not see A-Rod until the end of September, but the Yankees were able to add depth by trading Chad Qualls for Casey McGhee. Let’s see how A-Rod returns: will he be the one that the Yankees can rely on, or will he get into his early season funk once again.

Robinson Cano (A): Robbie Cano has been the one that had carried the Yankees to first place, he had been the one that carried them when they were struggling (even when he was struggling himself) and Robbie Cano continues to carry this team with a .314 average. Cano had 4 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 5 walks and 6 doubles which proves that even when Robbie gets base hits, a lot of them count for something. Let’s hope Robbie can continue his streak in August (we know he will, he’s Robbie Cano!)

Nick Swisher (B-): Nick Swisher didn’t hit for average in the month of July, only hitting .222 but he could have done more if he wasn’t injured with a strained muscle near his hip. Swisher hit 2 HR’s, 8 RBI’s, and hit 3 doubles all in 63 at-bats. When Nick Swisher is healthy, he is able to change his team. When he’s not healthy, then–the team somewhat misses him. But with Ichiro Suzuki possibly vying for a right field spot next season and this being Swisher’s walk year, he might want to consider getting on a gigantic hot streak. But–Swisher’s smile and personality might win his teammates, the fans and the front office over.

Raul Ibanez (B): One of the best acquisitions of the 2012 season has to have been Raul Ibanez and he continues to prove that he is an important piece to the Yankees bench. In the month of July, Ibanez hit .279 which is his second best month (May was .288). Ibanez has 3 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 5 walks, and 4 doubles. The one flaw this month from Ibanez was that he struck out 17 times which was the most he struck out in a month this season. As long as Ibanez hit’s HR’s for power, then I don’t care.

Russell Martin (D): Russell Martin continues to struggle at the plate which is making the Yankees scratch their heads. Martin hit .183 in the month of July which means his average is still below the Mendoza line. Martins’ best month? May with a .203 average. I know the Yankees aren’t expecting much out of Russell Martin, but the least he could do is hit! Is it too much to ask? Hopefully August he’ll turn it around?

Andruw Jones (B-): Andruw Jones didn’t hit for average this month, but he played an important part for the Yankees in July. While Jones only hit .218 in the month of May, he did have 5 HR’s, 11 RBI’s, 2 walks and 2 doubles. Jones is an important part to the Yankees when he plays and although his average doesn’t say much, he is always doing something to help his team win.

Chris Stewart (B-): Chris Stewart has been a delightful surprise for the Yankees due to his catching skills and his ability to call a ballgame. Although his bat is nothing to ‘ahh’ over, he has done everything the Yankees wanted (and he has a higher batting average than the primary catcher Russell Martin). Yep, I think that Chris Stewart is going to fit in quite nicely around here.

Jayson Nix (B): Jayson Nix is another pleasant surprise for the Yankees, since he is doing exactly what the Yankees wanted. He plays great defense, he gets base hits when they matter and in July, Nix has shown power. Nix hit 2 HR’s and has 6 RBI’s in the month of July which means when it’s up to him, ‘Nix Knocks’.

Eric Chavez (B+): Chavez continues to prove just how important he is to the Yankees bench and once again, he has done what he has to do. In July he hit a .264 average with 4 HR’s, 9 RBI’s and 7 walks. Chavez is another Yankee that proves that age isn’t anything but a number. Let’s keep it up Chavez, shall we?

CC Sabathia (B-): For the ace of the Yankees, this wasn’t exactly the month that CC Sabathia was hoping for. After being on the disabled list in late June-early July, CC hasn’t exactly came back into form yet. For the month of July he holds a 4.26 ERA and a 1-0 record (he has 2 no decisions). In good news he only gave up 9 runs this month which was his low point during the year. The Yankees expect to see their ace back in August–and we are sure CC expects to see himself return to form as well.

Hiroki Kuroda (B-): Hiroki Kuroda has had worst months in the past, so looking at his numbers here it was pretty good. In the month of July, Kuroda has a 2-0 record and a 3.60 ERA. The good news is that he’s 2-0. The bad? In the month of July he gave up 15 runs (14 of them were earned, but they all count in the game). Kuroda isn’t supposed to be lights out, but he has to get better at stranding runners when there is an error.

Ivan Nova (D): Ivan Nova is usually one of the Yankees youngest and brightest stars on this team, which is why I don’t understand how he could have a 5.97 ERA in the month of July. Nova had seemed to have been getting it together last month, but this month makes everyone question what’s wrong with Nova. Is something wrong with his mechanics? Is he not hitting spots because he’s concerend that the might get hit hard? And why did he give up 27 runs (23 earned)? Nova has to do better in August because if he doesn’t then he could quickly find himself back at Scranton. Remember–he has options.

Freddy Garcia (B-): Now, we aren’t expecting Freddy Garcia to throw shut-outs in each and every game. It’s not going to happen. But the month of July has been a solid month for Garcia after having a 2-3 record and a 4.00 ERA. I know what you’re thinking, a 2-3 record is not solid. It should be if this team is the Yankees. In the 3 starts that he lost, he had given up no more than 4 runs. After going from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Garcia has done okay, but he’s doing well enough to stay in the rotation.

Phil Hughes (B): Phil Hughes has easily been the Yankees best starter in the month of July with a 2-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. Although Hughes’s issue is the home run ball (He gave up 6), he really has done a fantastic job for the Yankees and is definetely looking like the Phil Hughes of 2010. Also, his ERA as a whole is 3.96 which is much better than where he started the season at.

Cody Eppley (B+): In the beginning of the year, it would have been very easy to send Cody Eppley back to Triple A because the Yankees knew they could, but that isn’t the case now. In the month of July, Eppley has a 2.53 ERA while only giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 10.2 innings pitched. Eppley has become such an important part of the bullpen and is trusted in preserving leads and getting out of situations with his right handed sidearm motion. As we all know, Eppley has been doing his job and he’s fantastic at it.

Clay Rapada (B): We can’t really grade Clay Rapada since he only pitched 4.2 innings in the month of July (the Yankees haven’t really needed him) but only giving up 2 runs isn’t all that bad. Rapada is still an excellent complementary pitcher to Cody Eppley (Rapada has a left handed sidearm motion), and without him the Yankees would only have 1 lefty in the bullpen (Mr. Boone Logan).

David Phelps (A+): The incredible David Phelps has done so much for the Yankees since he came back from Triple-A to get more work in. Phelps in July was known as the pitcher to give the Yankees some length when one of the starters only made it 5-6 innings, and he has stopped the Yankees opponents stone cold. In 13.1 IP, he has a 0.68 ERA while giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 21 strikeouts. Now, I don’t know who the other David Phelps with a 7.36 ERA in June is, but this is more like the David Phelps that we all know.

Boone Logan (D): Boone Logan is easily one of my favorite Yankees (we share the same birthday, so what’s not to like) but no matter how much I like him, I don’t like his numbers for the month of July. In July he has a 9.95 ERA which means in 6.1 IP he gave up 7 runs on 8 hits. That sounds like the starts that some of the starting pitchers have been having, and it’s not pretty. Hopefully Logan can get it together this month and if he can’t–then he’ll just be the lefty that no one can count on, and we don’t want that now do we?

David Robertson (A): David Robertson is once again back into form for the Yankees in the month of July after what seemed like he struggled after coming off the disabled list. Robertson in the month of July had a 1.54 ERA which easily means that Robertson is the pitcher the Yankees can count on before giving the ball to Rafael Soriano. We expect great things from you in August Mr. Robertson but please, can we ease up on the Houdini tricks? They are bound to give someone a heart attack.

Rafael Soriano (A): This hasn’t been Rafael Soriano’s best month but it certaintly wasn’t his worst. He was 9/10 for saves and even the great Mariano Rivera isn’t perfect when it comes to save situations. Soriano has been the most consistent in the bullpen which is why he is the best go-to person for the Yankees. Also, when he complete’s saves I really enjoy when he untucks his shirt to celebrate a Yankees win, and I’m sure a lot of Yankees fans enjoy it as well.

What the Ichiro trade could mean for the Yankees

When the Yankees traded for Ichiro Suzuki on July 23, I thought that it was a practical joke just like when I thought it was a practical joke when the Yankees announced they re-signed Andy Pettitte. I soon found out along with the rest of Yankees universe that the Ichiro trade was real. Brian Cashman had traded Yankees minor league pitchers D.J Mitchell and Danny Farquahr while the Mariners had sent Ichiro and cash considerations.

Ichiro is supposed to be able to provide depth to the Yankees outfield after Brett Gardner went down with a season ending injury. Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones both platooned in the beginning when Girardi thought that Gardner would miss just 2 weeks, then a month, then two months, then the whole year. After he found out that the Yankees were going to be without Gardner for the rest of the year, they acquired Ichiro to fill their problems. There’s only one small problem: Ichiro has never played a game in left field his entire career. Ichiro is primarily a right fielder which happens to be the perimeter of Nick Swisher, at least for this season.

Ichiro could change everything for the Yankees since he’s a slap hitter and has tremendous amounts of speed, but he could change things so much that the Yankees might not need Nick Swisher at the end of the season when it’s time to decide which spare parts to keep and which spare parts to let go of. A lot of things come into consideration just how much the team could change during the 2012 off-season.

When I asked around on Twitter about how Yankees fans felt about the Ichiro trade, the responses varied:

@loverofbaseball: I was surprised at first. Seemed like a no lose trade, only cost the Yankees $2 Million and minor league pitchers.

@yankeeman76: I’m so ready for Ichiro I can hardly believe it! #stoked

@gobibs: I think he’ll be a good fit

@MichaelPacholek: Getting Ichiro could be good. Giving up only 2 “Who is he?” pitchers for him helps.

@aj_rotger: Pumped. Needed the speed and OF d-fence.

@grandchief415: It’s a smart move, no-cost and he’ll be re-energized.

@JeweleeYankee: Excited!…and nervous.

The trade could be one of the biggest trades that Cashman could do during this season. It could bring some new life to the Yankees and it could help them get into the play-offs and keep their gigantic American League East lead but the Yankees might not want to get their hopes up. Ichiro has declined since 2010 and isn’t the same player he was years ago. However, he could be just as useful as the rest of the Yankees bench and could be the answer to the Yankees problems in left field, but it never hurts to think ahead into the off-season where it could be time for Cashman to decide who stays and who goes.

Do the Yankees Have Too Many Platoon Players?

Brian Cashman has done an incredible this season of finding great players to produce that he got at a minimal cost. Guys like Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and now Ichiro Suzuki have done a great job in their roles. While these players have all been very good contributors to the Yankees they all have one thing in common. They’re all either platoon players or OOGY pitchers. This really hampers what Joe Girardi is able to do late in games. Yes, sometimes he over manages, but this roster configuration doesn’t do him any favors.

A perfect example of how having too many platoon players can hamper Girardi occurred in Wednesday’s win over Seattle. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 8th Raul Ibanez was due up against a lefty with the bases loaded and 1 out. None of Girardi’s options in this situation were good at all.  Ibanez has been on base a grand total of 7 times this season against lefties in 35 AB’s. He is batting .171, with 0 HR’s, 0 RBI, and a .452 OPS. Girardi’s only option to avoid using Ibanez in that spot was to pinch hit for Jayson Nix and most likely have Seattle manager Eric Wedge bring in a righty to face him. It worked out as Nix hit a bases clearing double, but Girardi was really handcuffed in that situation, as Nix was only 1-20 against righties this year prior to that AB. The same situation came up the previous game with Ibanez up against a lefty with the game on the line. This time Jones was available on the bench and Girardi should have went with him against the righty, but that situation is not really ideal either.

I probably noticed this more on this west coast trip due to Nick Swisher being out and Jones and Ibanez both having to play even more, but even with Swisher back the Yankees will be very vulnerable to left handed pitching with Alex Rodriguez out. A-Rod was the only right handed power player the Yankees have other than Jones and Mark Teixeira when he bats righty. Those fans who were booing him before will learn the lesson the hard way about what life is like without him. Losing a middle of the order guy with a team that is weak at the bottom of the order hurts greatly. Chavez is a fine replacement if he can stay healthy but he won’t be able to hit lefties and Jayson Nix will have to. I had no issues with the Ichiro pickup before A-Rod got hurt. He will be a very nice fill in for Brett Gardner and would have been a nice addition to the bottom of the order. Now he may have to hit lead off. He has very nice road numbers this year and getting out of Safeco Field and into a pennant race should revive him. However, if Cashman knew A-Rod was going to be out he might have tried to get somebody who could hit lefties as Ichiro is only hitting .236, with 0 HR’s, 8 RBI, and a .510 OPS against them. So now you have Ichiro, Chavez, and Ibanez who can’t hit lefties. You also have Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson who have not been as good against them this year as last year.  This all leaves them very vulnerable against lefties late in games and there is not anything Girardi can do about it.

The Yankees also have a similar problem in the bullpen. The Yankees have 3 OOGY pitchers in Logan, Eppley, and Rapada. They also have one guy in Chad Qualls who can’t get anybody out. The 3 OOGY pitchers have been great at what they do but that is what they’re limited to. So at the moment 4 of your 7 bullpen players are either OOGY’s or are incapable of getting anybody out. Fortunately, Joba Chamberlain has been lights out in the minors and should be coming to the Yankees real soon. He is a non OOGY pitcher who should be able to help solve this problem. You like to be able to matchup in the bullpen but you also like to have guys who can get both lefties and righties out so you do not have to burn through so many pitchers.

Kuroda gives Yankees the sweep in 6-0 rain shorted victory

When the Yankees started their game 45 minutes late, all eyes were on Hiroki Kuroda to see if the rain delay was going to slow him down. In the end, Kuroda looked victorious as the Yankees swept the Blue Jays 6-0 in a 7 inning game.

The Yankees started their run scoring bargade with a Derek Jeter double in the 1st inning, followed by an RBI single by Nick Swisher and a 2 run homer by Mark Teixeira (it was also Mark Teixeirs figurine day at the stadium). Andruw Jones scored the 4th run in the first which plated Robinson Cano. In the bottom of the 4th inning, Dewayne Wise hit a ground rule double which scored Jayson Nix, but Wise and Nix weren’t done scoring runs. In the 6th inning Wise singled and scored Nix for a second time which equaled the 6 runs for the Yankees.

Kuroda pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball and earned the win after the game was cut short due to a rain delay.

– Robinson Cano has a 21 game hit streak which is the longest active hit-streak in the majors.

– No news on Brett Gardner and his MRI results.

Mariano Rivera went to the New York Stock Exchange and rang the opening and closing bell.

The Yankees now head to the West Coast where they will play 4 games vs. Oakland (I won’t cover the series until Sunday which is an afternoon game) and 3 vs. Seattle.

CC aces test in 6-1 victory over Blue Jays

During today’s pregame, Joe Girardi was clear that he had a strict pitch count for CC Sabathia in his first game back from the DL. CC didn’t disappoint as the Yankees were able to rout the Blue Jays and win the series 6-1.

CC pitched 6 innings of shutout baseball before being relieved by Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and Chad Qualls. Qualls gave up the sole run in the 8th inning. Andruw Jones got the Yankees 3 runs in the 2nd inning after hitting a 3 run shot off Brett Cecil. The Yankees scored their 3 runs on a Toronto error when Jayson Nix was waved home and Chris Stewart was able to advance to third. Jeter singled in Stewart and Alex Rodriguez made a force out to get Jeter home.

Robinson Cano had another hit and has a 20 game hit streak. All he needs is 37 more games and he’ll have the same hit streak record as Joe DiMaggio.

There was no news on Brett Gardner during the game which usually means “good news” but not in this case.

Tomorrow is a day game in which Hiroki Kuroda will take the mound for the Yankees. Ricky Romero will pitch for the Blue Jays.

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