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Rivera blows save as Yankees fall to Rays 7-6

When Joe Girardi over managed in the first inning, Yankees fans wondered what is he thinking? Yankees fans continued to ask the same question when Carlos Pena  hit a grand slam off of CC Sabathia. There were a lot of moves that made the Yankees scratch their heads, but the move that baffled everyone was Mariano Rivera blowing the save and giving up the winning run for the Yankees

THE GOOD: Alex Rodriguez was locked in from the word ‘go’ as he went 2 for 3 with a walk. Brett Gardner also proved that Spring Training meant nothing as he went 2 for 4 with a walk against James Shields. David Robertson got into and out of a jam which helped the Yankees at the time and Rafael Soriano looked pretty sharp with a strike out and a double play.

THE BAD: Oh boy, where to start. Let’s stat with Joe Girardi. Girardi obviously didn’t learn from his bases loaded gaffe in the first inning. After walking Sean Rodriguez in the first, the Yankees decided to go after Carlos Pena. Big mistake. Carlos Pena hit a grand slam. In the 9th inning, Girardi told Mariano Rivera to intentionally walk Evan Longoria & Luke Scott to get to (again) Carlos Pena. Carlos Pena hit a long drive over the head of Brett Gardner to win the game. Yankees also struggled hitting in RISP.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees and the Rays will meet one another for Game 2 at Tropicana Field. Hiroki Kuroda will get his Yankees debut vs. David Price. The game will be on YES and first pitch is at 7:05pm.

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Ranking AL East Infielders

In a series of articles this week we will be ranking the starting players in the AL East for every position. Today the infielders are the focus. These rankings should provide good discussion so please give me your thoughts on rankings you may agree or disagree with.

Catchers 

1. Matt Wieters, BAL

2. Russell Martin, NYY

3. J.P. Arencibia, TOR

4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS

5. Jose Molina, TB

Matt Wieters started to live up to his potential last year. After a rough rookie season, Wieters stepped it up both offensively and defensively. Wieters hit .262, with 22 HR’s, 68 RBI, and a .778 OPS. He was also stellar behind the plate as he threw out 37% of all base stealers last season. It was a close call for 2nd but Martin got the nod over Arencibia due to experience and defense. Arencibia showed great power potential during his rookie year as he hit 23 HR’s, but needs to work on his average since he hit only .219. If he can take another step up like Wieters did, he can be quite good. Martin did a terrific job handling the Yankees pitching staff and provided timely offense. Saltalamachia has never lived up to his hype during his career, but did have his best year last year offensively. Molina is a great backup, but should not really be starting.

1st Basemen

1. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

2. Mark Teixeira, NYY

3. Adam Lind, TOR

4. Carlos Pena, TB

5. Chris Davis, BAL

Adrian Gonzalez definitely had a great first impression for the Red Sox last year with an MVP type season, batting .337, with 27 HR’s, 117 RBI, and a .957 OPS. Teixeira can definitely match Gonzalez’s excellent defense and has a similar level of power. However Teixiera batted 89 points lower so he is not really on the same level of production as Gonzalez. Since Lind hit .305 and 35 HR’s in 2009 he has just been ordinary, yet still pretty solid. Pena provides great power and defense, but has not hit above .230 for three straight years. Davis has been an all or nothing type hitter for his career.

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Open Thread

Good evening everybody.

Let’s recap today’s events:

— The Yankees and Brett Gardner avoided arbitration and settled on a $2.8MM salary in 2012 – the mid-point between his asking price and the Yankees’ offer.

— Via Mark Hale, Jorge Posada will announce his retirement at a press conference on Tuesday of next week.

— The Yanks lost a very plausible DH option in Carlos Peña today, as the slugging lefty signed with the Rays for 1 year at $7.25MM.

Although it would have been nice for the Yankees to sign Peña, he may have taken a bit of a discount to return to the Rays organization. I don’t really think that the Yankees would have been willing to spend much closer to the $10MM mark. There are still options though, as players like Wilson Betemit and Johnny Damon are free agent possibilities.

Here’s your open thread. Enjoy the night.

Johnny Damon A Possible DH Bat

Johnny Damon A Possible DH Bat

By Delia E.

The Yankees aren’t willing to go all out for a bat for the DH spot, but according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN the Yankees see Johnny Damon as a possibility. The Yankees have also looked at Carlos Pena but it is unlikely that the Yankees would sign him, seeing that he could get more playing time and money from Milwaukee and Cleveland.

Johnny Damon was formerly on the Yankees in 2009 and was a big part of the 2009 World Series run. Would you want Johnny Damon back with the Yankees for the right price?

Morning Bits: Montero-Pineda Trade, Kuroda, Pena

Good morning everyone. It’s mind-blowing how much a team can change in a mere couple of hours. Well, that’s exactly what happened last evening. The Yankees traded top-prospect Jesus Montero, and RHP Hector Noesi, for Seattle RHSP Michael Pineda, and RHP Jose Campos. Pineda will slot in after C.C. Sabathia in the pitching rotation, while Campos is an extremely high-upside pitching prospect. The Yankees also signed Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 yr / $10MM. Kuroda and Ivan Nova figure to fill in the 3-4 slots in the rotation.

Here are your morning links…

Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com analyzes the Montero, Noesi — Pineda, Campos deal from both sides of the trade.

Scott Miller of CBSSports believes the additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda make the Yankees the AL East favorites.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports writes that Carlos Pena is now on the Yankees’ radar to be the 2012 DH.

With Montero gone, the Yankees now have a number of different options to fill the DH. They simply do a platoon of designated hitters, including veterans- A-Rod, Teixeira, and Jeter. They could make A-Rod the full-time DH, and either: put Nunez at 3B, or look for outside 3B help. Or, they could sign a DH, like Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon, Vlad Guerrero, or Hideki Matsui. And of course, there are more options than the ones I listed.

Here is one last article on the Pineda-Montero trade:

David Waldstein of the NY Times writes about how the Yankees have bolstered their rotation.

Cashman and Theo to Trade?

Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein have never talked trades with each other before. As general mangers of two division rivals, a trade between their teams would never occur.  Teams rarely trade within their division because there is more risk of the trade coming back to hurt you. However, Cashman and Epstein did maintain a good relationship that may come in handy now that Epstein is the new Cubs GM. Epstein told Alex Speier that he is interested in talking trades with Cashman. The two former rival GM’s trading with each other is an intriguing possibility.  http://fullcount.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/2011/11/13/theo-epstein-and-brian-cashman-finally-find-middle-ground-in-vermont/

There are three players on the Cubs that would intrigue me for the Yankees to consider.  Carlos Pena is actually a free agent, but for the sake of this article let’s say the Cubs re-sign him. The Yankees were interested in Pena at the trade deadline, and I was a big proponent of trading for him to fill the DH role.  Jesus Montero is expected to get a chance to fulfill that this year, but there is no reason Pena could not get AB’s there as well. Obviously Pena is worthless against lefties and would get no AB’s there. However, Pena’s righty splits (.255/.388/.504./.892) are very good. Pena has great power and would easily take advantage of the short porch in left. He would be a good bat of the bench when the Yankees are in need of a game tying home run. Pena also is an exceptional fielding first baseman and could spell Teixeira from time to time. I would never give up a big time prospect for him, but I think he would be a good bat off the bench.

The other two players who intrigue me on the Cubs are Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. They are solid pitchers who would help the Yankees rotation. Dempster, while getting up there in age, has been an innings machine for the Cubs. Dempster has pitched over 200 innings for the Cubs for the last 4 years. With Dempter advancing in age, I would not give up a lot for him but he would be very good for the back of the Yankees rotation.  However, on the other end of the spectrum I would give up some good prospects for Matt Garza. Garza is young, has a good contract, and has had success in the AL East. Garza has had an impressive start to his career in his first 4 years of being a full time starter. Over those years Garza has gone 44-41, with a 3.72 ERA, and a 1.25 WHIP.  Garza is not the biggest strikeout pitcher in the world but he tends to keep the ball on the ground. He has good fastball velocity and an excellent slider. I could see giving up a group of prospects led by Dellin Betances for Garza.                                                                                                                                                                   

It will be interesting to see how much Cashman and Epstein talk. Maybe they were just playing nice for the media, or they really do want to talk trades.  It is fun to come up with what if scenarios, but of course it all comes down to the GMs.  Cashman and Epstein are two of the brightest minds in baseball and it will be fascinating to see if they come up with anything.

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