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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.

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Yankees Report Card: June

Here’s a new monthly article I like to call the Yankees Report Card. Every month based on the Yankees performances (pitchers included), I will give them a letter grade from A-F and explain why they got the grade they deserved. If there is a grade that you might not agree with, place the grade that you would have given a player down in the comment section below. All stats are as of June 26. 

Derek Jeter (B): Derek Jeter’s bat hasn’t been as hot as it was in April & May since his average is .240 in the month of June. However, Jeter hit 2 home runs in the month of June (He’s not a HR hitter so it’s remarkable) and he has 7 RBI’s.  It also helps that he kept his average over .300 for the past 3 months. A downside as to why Jeter didn’t get a higher grade? He struck out 17 times.

Curtis Granderson (B-): Curtis Granderson’s average for June is .211, but of course we all know Curtis Granderson isn’t hitting for average. In the month of June, Granderson hit 5 home runs, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 13 times in the month of June. Granderson’s strikeouts are however a little outrageous. He struck out 29 times in June which brings his total for the season so far to 86.

Mark Teixeira (B): Again, it looks as if Mark Teixeira isn’t hitting for average since he’s batting .241 in the month of June. Instead Tex is hitting for power and RBI’s. Although he’s only hit 3 HR’s, he’s driven in 13 runs and walked 13 times. He also doesn’t struck out a lot since he’s only done it 14 times. Teixeira also has been hitting with RISP lately which was why I bumped his average from a B- (which was his original grade) to a B.

Alex Rodriguez (B): Alex Rodriguez hit only .225 in the month of June, but he hit 6 HR’s, drove in 15 runs and walked 11 times. Although A-Rod is looking a little hotter at the plate, June wasn’t his best month. May was. If he keeps hitting home runs that help win games then he’ll continue to pass on his report card.

Robinson Cano (A): Robinson Cano’s bat in the month of June is “muy caliente”. After a slow start to the season, Cano is batting .325 in the month of June while also hitting 9 HR’s, driving in 16 RBI’s and walking 12 times. It seems to me with the 9 HR’s that Cano is hitting, he’s practicing for the Home Run Derby. Well then by all means, you don’t need the practice, but keep hitting them anyway Robbie. Chicks dig the long ball.

Nick Swisher (A): June has been Nick Swisher’s best month by far with a .338 average. Swisher hit 4 HR’s, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 10 times. Not only that, but Swisher has been making great plays in the outfield. Swisher makes watching him play in right field fun, and not only that but you can’t help but get a smile on your face just by watching Swisher play with a smile on his face.

Raul Ibanez (C-): In the month of June, Raul Ibanez has seemed to have faltered a bit after having a good April and May. In June, Ibanez is hitting .169 with 2 HR’s & 7 RBI’s. He also has only walked once. The good we can take away from this is that he only struck out 8 times. That’s something, right?

Russell Martin (D+): Well, June has been Martin’s best month so far–but the numbers are still pretty bad. Martin’s batting .217 in June with 4 HR’s & 9 RBI’s. The only reason he doesn’t get lower than a D+ is because he knows how to call games, but hitting the baseball is just as important as calling a game Russell. Maybe July will be your month?

Andruw Jones (D+): Andruw Jones hasn’t played a lot in June–but that’s no excuse for doing almost absolutely nothing at the plate. Jones only hit 2 HR’s & drove in 4 runs in 34 at-bats. His average is also at .206. He doesn’t get an F however because he does do well in the outfield when he’s in there but seriously Andruw, where’s the power?

Chris Stewart (B): Chris Stewart has 8 at-bats less than Andruw Jones and he has been able to do more with his at-bats. Stewart is batting .306 in June and has driven in 4 RBI’s but don’t expect the ball to go out of the park with him. He also is known for calling great games and his defense is good (I know he made a mistake in the Mets series finale game but come on, everyone makes mistakes). Stewart always does something when he plays which is probably why Cashman and Girardi thought it made most sense to go to him as a backup catcher. Well, wherever you got him from, don’t return him. He’s awesome.

Jayson Nix (B-): Nix hasn’t gotten a lot of at-bats in the month of June, but he has been able to get on base with a .263 average in June. Nix has no homers or RBI’s but he’s a bench player so it’s understandable. Whatever you’re doing to get on base Nix, don’t stop.

Eric Chavez (B): Eric Chavez is another one of those bench guys that is always doing something amazing (when he’s not injured). Chavez has a .294 average in June with 2 HR’s & 4 RBI’s but what really makes him deserve a B is that he’s a great defender at third base when Alex Rodriguez is out of the lineup. Of course did you expect anything less from Chavez? Chavez is a 6 time Gold Glover after all.

Dewayne Wise (B-): June has been Dewayne Wise’s best month so far with a .286 average. It also helps that he got his first home run of the season in the month of June–and how it was a 3 run homer.

CC Sabathia (B+): CC Sabathia is the Yankees ace but he has looked like he doesn’t have great command of his pitches. In 5 starts he’s 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA with 36 strikeouts. It however amazes me when CC doesn’t have his best stuff and then he ends up going into the 7th inning or so which gives the bullpen a break.

Hiroki Kuroda (A-): Hiroki Kuroda in the month of June has been flat out terrific. He’s 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA with 32 strikeouts. It’s also Kuroda’s first winning month of the season. Kuroda was 2-3 in both April and in May. Impressive, huh?

Ivan Nova (A+): Ivan Nova in the month of June has been flat-out dominant. He’s 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA  with 22 strikeouts. He’s also 9-2 on the season which is very impressive. Who said that Nova was going to have a Sophmore slump?

Andy Pettitte (B+): Andy has sure been good in the month of June, which is why his record is 1-1 with a 3.08 ERA. Both of Pettitte’s starts were good, even the loss (if you take out the 5 run 1st inning from the Mets). Andy, are you sure you’re 40, because you’re pitching like an All-Star.

Phil Hughes (B+): Phil Hughes has been great for the Yankees in June going 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA. The only thing that stopped him from getting an A-? He’s given up 7 HR’s in the month of June. Other than that, he looks like the Phil Hughes of 2010!

Cody Eppley (B+): Cody Eppley has been one of the biggest surprises in the Yankees bullpen only giving up 5 earned runs in 18 innings which results in a 2.50 ERA. He’s also held opponents to a .234 average against him. It helps to have a right handed side armer, doesn’t it?

Clay Rapada (A+): Clay Rapada has emerged from the Yankees bullpen and has became one of my favorite pitchers to watch. He is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and holds batters to a .071 average against him! I had been rooting for Rapada to make the team since Spring Training so it makes me glad that he has a chance to show Joe (Girardi) what he can do.

Freddy Garcia (A): Ever since being placed in the Yankees bullpen, Freddy Garcia has been dominant. He’s 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and holds batters to a .190 average. I’m still a little iffy about Garcia though since I don’t fully trust him, but he’s been doing well so I tip my cap to him.

Boone Logan (A):  Boone Logan is in Clay Rapada territory meaning that he has one of the lowest numbers in the bullpen. He’s 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA while holding batters to a .107 ERA. This bullpen just gets better and better, doesn’t it?

David Robertson (A-): David Robertson was on the DL for a bit but when he came back he was a little rusty in his first outing which explains the 2.45 ERA in June, but since then he’s been Houdini. Stranding batters and striking them is all apart of Robertson’s description. Girardi has been cautious of Robertson since he is just coming back from an oblique injury, but he’s having another great year.

Rafael Soriano (A+): Can anyone say ‘lights out’? Soriano is having a ridiculous month with a 0.96 ERA in the closer role. It makes the Mariano Rivera season ending injury a little less painful when you have someone who is already a closer in the bullpen. Soriano, keep it up.

Cory Wade (F): Cory Wade in June is very baffling. The guy has an 11.05 ERA and seems to be having trouble straightening himself out. Well, Wade better get it together soon or he might be wearing a new uniform in the Yankees organization. Maybe a Scranton Wilkes-Barre uniform?

What would help this team at trading deadline?

What will Cashman look to add?

Baseball officials often say they like to break the season down into one- thirds. The first third is to evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses. The middle third is to look for solutions to your problems and to make changes – and the final third is to make a push with the new/improved team you’ve assembled. The Yankees are in that middle phase now and have gone through a lot in the season so far. They struggled for the first 42 games and had a .500 record on May 21st. They then went on an amazing 20-4 run that just ended with back to back losses to Atlanta. Now that we’ve seen their worst and their best baseball, I think it’s a good time to evaluate what this team needs to make a push for their 28th Championship.

Bullpen

The pen has been their strong point all season. Even after surviving the loss of 2 All-Stars in Mariano Rivera and David Robertson they still have kept it together. They are 3rd in MLB in bullpen ERA with a 2.73 mark and have blown a league-low 4 saves in 24 opportunities. With Rafael Soriano looking comfortable in the Closer’s role and Robertson returning healthy, the Yankee bullpen is set. Boone Logan & Clay Rapada have been absolutely excellent vs LH hitters and Cody Eppley and Cory Wade are serviceable in their roles. There may even be a chance that Joba and/or David Aardsma come back at some point this year so there is no need for them to look outside of the organization for relief help.

Rotation

The starters have been pitching tremendously in June and on the season they are 5th in the A.L. with a 4.14 ERA. The one disturbing trend is that they lead all of baseball in HRs allowed with 65 and are 27th overall in opposing hitters OPS at .780.  However, all the starters are pitching better as of late and right now the top 3 of C.C., Andy Pettitte & Ivan Nova look pretty strong.  Kuroda is solid as a #4 and Hughes is OK as the #5 man. So the question is, can anyone out there help them? Read the rest of this entry

Hughes pitches well, Yanks beat Royals 3-2

Well, it had finally happened. After being 6 for 74 with runners in scoring position coming into the game, the Yankees finally had their hit with men on base, and it was just enough to get the win from the Royals. Phil Hughes once again pitched a great game (it was his 5th good start in a row) although he gave up another home run ball. Hughes has given up homers in 9 consecutive starts but hey, as long as the bats are right behind you then there’s nothing wrong with solo-shots.

The Yankees were trailing 2-0 in the 4th inning but they were able to get going on a Robinson Cano solo HR which cut the Royals lead to 1. The last time Robinson Cano hit a HR was off of Luke Hochevar in Kansas City and it was a grand slam. In the 5th inning the Yankees had the bases loaded with no one out and this time, the Yankees made sure that they were able to get some runs in. Derek Jeter lined a base hit that scored a run and Curtis Granderson grounded out, but got the run in.

Those three runs were just enough for the Yankees as Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada & Rafael Soriano backed up Hughes and had 3 scoreless innings. The Yankees are no longer in last place (for today at least) and the Yankees are now 1 game above .500.

Tomorrow is the series finale vs. the Royals and Andy Pettitte will take the mound for the Yankees.

Kuroda looks sharp as Yankees and Braves tie at 5

By the way that Hiroki Kuroda was pitching, it almost had the atmosphere that the Yankees were playing a regular season game rather than a Spring Training game. Kuroda’s slider was perfect, he had good fastball command and looked like a true #2 starter.

Hiroki Kuroda went 7 innings giving up 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 6. He did give up 1 HR but he was able to compose himself  and didn’t let the homer faze him. Cory Wade pitched an inning but gave up a run while George Kontos pitched the 9th and gave up 2 runs.

THE GOOD: Eric Chavez was the star offensively for the Yankees as he whacked in 3 RBI’s during the game. Eduardo Nunez had 2 hits while Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez & Robinson Cano each had 1 hit apiece.

THE BAD: Francisco Cervelli was 0 for 4 with a strikeout, Chris Dickerson was 0 for 3, Dewayne Wise was 0 for 3 and Justin Maxwell was 0 for 2.

Swisher Injury Update: Nick Swisher didn’t feel anything in his groin today while getting at bats at the minor league complex. He was 4 for 8 with a double, two walks and a homer. If he comes out good from it tomorrow then we can expect to see him in a game on Friday. Now that news is positively Swishalicious.

Granderson Injury Update: Curtis Granderson had an MRI today and the results came back negative. Girardi has listed Granderson as “day-to-day.”

Signing Update: The New York Yankees announced two signings during the game today. Yankees sign DH Jack Cust to a minor league deal and C Craig Tatum. Yankees believe that Jack Cust will be good insurance for AAA while the Yankees claimed Tatum off of waivers from the Diamondbacks for catching depth.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees head back to Tampa where they will play the Baltimore Orioles tomorrow. D.J Mitchell will get the start while Ivan Nova will pitch in a minor league game. Expect a decision about the Yankees rotation in the coming days.

Warren shuts down Red Sox but Sox climb back to tie Yankees game at 4

David Phelps was scheduled to make the start for the Yankees tonight, but Mother Nature had other plans. Phelp’s wife was giving birth which prompted Phelps to back out of his start. Adam Warren was squeezed in to make the emergency start and Warren did not disappoint whatsoever as he was able to shut down the Red Sox in his 4 innings of work.

The last time the Yankees and Red Sox met up with one another, the Red Sox defeated the Yankees 1-0. This time, the ending was completely different. The Yankees & Red Sox ended up in a tie after Joe Girardi called it off after 9 innings. For comedic relief, Bobby Valentine wanted to keep going and tire out the Yankees. Oh Bobby…it’s Spring Training. Let it go.

Warren only allowed 2 hits and no runs in his 4 innings of work while looking effectively sharp against the Red Sox everyday hitters. Dellin Betances pitched 3 innings without giving up any runs, but his Achilles heel tonight was walk. Betances gave up 4 walks in 3 innings. Cory Wade struggled in the 8th inning. ending the shutout by allowing 3 runs to the Red Sox. Juan Cedeno came in after Wade was only able to go 0.2 of an inning, getting the final batter in the 8th. George Kontos came in during the 9th but allowed the tying run for the Red Sox to score which resulted in the Yankees tie.

THE GOOD: Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner & Andruw Jones all had a hit in tonight’s game (Granderson a RBI triple, Gardner a hard clean single & Jones had a single). CC Sabathia started today vs. Double-A in an attempt to hide his pitches from the Red Sox. Sabathia allowed 1 run on 5 hits, gave up a walk and had 4 strikeouts. Girardi didn’t see Sabathia’s outing and joined Gardner & Granderson in Ft. Meyers but he jokingly said that this Sabathia kid has a shot of making the rotation. You know what Joe? I’ll go a step further. I say this Sabathia kid will be an ace.

THE BAD: Raul Ibanez went hit-less again, his average in the Spring being a dismal .054. Is it too late to try to persuade Jorge Posada to come out of retirement? Cory Wade also did not look sharp, allowing 3 runs in the Red Sox 8th inning and not being able to finish the inning. There were also some base blunders today as both Eric Chavez & Andruw Jones were picked off by Red Sox starter Aaron Cook. Guys, leave the stolen base attempts to Gardner & Granderson, okay?

WHAT’S NEXT: Tomorrow is a Split Squad game which means 2 games at once. Here is also some exciting news. Mason Williams will play in Tampa vs. the Twins while Yankees first round 2011 prospect Dante Bichette Jr. will head to Clearwater and join the other half of the Yankees for the game vs. the Phillies. The game vs. the Twins will broadcast on YES & MLB.TV while the game @ the Phillies will be only on MLB.TV.

Offense comes to life as Yankees beat the Pirates 10-3

For the first three innings the story revolved around Michael Pineda. He was scheduled to have a 75-80 pitch count which should have lasted about 5 innings. He needed 30+ to get out of the 1st inning. Pineda had fastball control issues, getting into multiple full counts before allowing a 2 run HR to Andrew McCutchen. The Yankees were able to back Pineda up and prevented him from getting the loss.

Justin Maxwell (who went in for an injured Nick Swisher) got 2 RBI’s while Alex Rodriguez recieved 3. Mark Teixeira, Andruw Jones, Robinson Cano & Colin Curtis each had an RBI as well.

Mariano Rivera (2-0) came in and pitched for the Yankees in the 4th with another dazzling inning, Boone Logan was able to get out of a small jam by getting the double play (and ended the 5th Inning with Joe Girardi segment), Cory Wade allowed 1 run, Juan Cedeno had a scoreless inning, George Kontos had a scoreless inning & Branden Pinder had a scoreless 9th to seal the Yankees 9th Spring Training win of the season.

THE GOOD: Curtis Granderson made it on base all 4 times (2 hits, 2 walks), Russell Martin showed that a groin injury wasn’t going to stop him & Brett Gardner had a bunt base hit today, and if you didn’t see it boy it was a beauty. Also today, Andy Pettitte threw a 50 pitch bullpen session today and impressed everyone who was there, including pitching coach Larry Rotschild. Pettitte set his return to the Major Leagues to May 1, so pitchers in the rotation…beware.

THE BAD: Nick Swisher had to come out of the game after aggravating his right groin. Girardi said that Swisher will have 4-5 days off before coming into another game. Derek Jeter is not scheduled to play until Friday.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees will take a trip to Pt. Charlotte where they will face the Tampa Bay Rays. The game is at 1:05pm on ESPN & MLB Network. Phil Hughes (who has been impressive all season) will make the start.

Cano homers as Yankees beat Astros 6-3

Before the game, the Yankees had some great news. Eduardo Nunez returned after missing 2 weeks with a bruised hand, Nick Swisher‘s MRI returned negative meaning that he’s okay to play and Russell Martin is slated to travel tomorrow with the team to Sarasota. So you would imagine that all of the good news that the Yankees had today would translate into today’s game. If you thought so … you were correct.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched 4 innings of 1 run ball, showing everyone why he is the Yankees #2 starter. Mariano followed with a scoreless inning, Cory Wade had 2 scoreless innings, Boone Logan gave up 2 runs in his inning of work and Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless inning, but it wasn’t easy.

Offense appeared today as the first 3 batters in the lineup (Gardner, Granderson & Cano) all scored the 5 runs on the board. Gardner had 2 walks, a stolen base, a strikeout, a ground out and 2 phenomenal catches in the outfield. Yep, not a bad day for the speedy left fielder. Granderson doubled Gardner home in the first followed by an Andruw Jones RBI single shortly after which put the Yankees up 2-0, but the Robinson Cano 3 run blast was really a 3 run blast. The ball left the ballpark and gave the Yankees a 5 run lead for the time being.

WHAT’S NEXT: With Derek Jeter out of the fold, Brett Gardner will get his second start in a row as he, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira & Russell Martin head to Sarasota for the Baltimore Orioles night game. The game is at 7:05pm on MLB Network. Ivan Nova will get the start.

Ranking AL East Bullpens and Benches

Our week long series continues with ranking the AL East Bullpens and Benches.

Bullpens

1. Yankees

2. Blue Jays

3. Red Sox

4. Rays

5. Orioles

The Yankees have the best bullpen in the AL East by a good margin led by Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, and Cory Wade.  Rivera, even at age 42, is one of the best closers in MLB and the most trustworthy in a big spot. Robertson had a breakout season by posting a 1.08 ERA and striking out a staggering 13.5 batters per 9 innings. Soriano came on at the end of last season and is a tremendous talent to have as a 7th inning guy ,when on pretty much any other team he would be closing or be in the 8th inning. The Red Sox and Blue Jays both have completely revamped bullpens and it was a close race for 2nd. The Blue Jays picked up Sergio Santos and Francisco Cordero this offseason while the Red Sox picked up Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon. Bailey is the best of the 4 when healthy, but he has rarely been able to stay healthy so I gave the edge to Toronto. Toronto also has better depth than the Red Sox behind their 2 new additions in Jason Frasor and Darren Oliver, whom they also signed this offseason. Cordero had 37 saves for the Reds last year, while pitching to a 2.43 ERA and Santos had 30 saves for the White Sox, while striking out an amazing 13.1 batters per 9 innings. That is almost as much as David Robertson. So that is a very good combo for the Blue Jays for the backend of their bullpen. The Red Sox lost Jonathan Papelbon and replaced him with Bailey. Bailey has been one of the best closers in MLB when healthy. He made the All- Star team his first 2 seasons and won rookie of the year. Ex Yankee farmhand Mark Melancon will replace Daniel Bard as the setup man. Melancon saved 20 games for the Houston Astros last season. The Rays bullpen had a surprisingly good season last year after loosing virtually everybody who contributed to it in 2010. Kyle Farnsowrth had a good year last year closing, but it is still Kyle Farnsworth and he is tough to trust. Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom, and Kevin Gregg will battle for the closers job in Baltimore.   Read the rest of this entry

Yankees Bullpen Among MLB’s Best

When the Steinbrenners went against Brian Cashman’s wishes to sign Rafael Soriano they envisioned a lockdown bullpen that would be among the best in MLB.  They got what they were looking for, although probably not the way they envisioned it.  Soriano struggled early and got hurt. Joba Chamberlain had to have Tommy John surgery.  David Robertson became a savior and was one of the best setup men in MLB.  Once Soriano came back he pitched well. Along with Robertson and Mariano Rivera the trio formed one of best 7-8-9 combo’s in baseball.

Having a lockdown bullpen is crucial in baseball. It is devastating for a team to waste a good starting pitching performance or a good offensive performance because the bullpen blew it. The bullpen can also bail out a bad start from a pitcher to allow the offense to comeback. The 2011 Yankees bullpen finished 4th in MLB in bullpen ERA at 3.12.  They only blew 16 saves, which was good for 5th best in MLB, and 8.46 K/9 which was good for 6th best in MLB.  Once Soriano and Chamberlain went down all the pressure went to David Robertson. If he hadn’t stepped up his game, the Yankees season could have gone with him. He responded in a way nobody could have ever dreamed off.  Robertson went 4-0, with a 1.08 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and an unprecedented 13.5 K/9.  Robertson did allow to many walks (2.86 BB/9), but he always seemed to get strikeouts to cancel them out. With the help of a deceptively fast fastball and a devastating 12-6 curve, Robertson always came through in the clutch.

Mariano Rivera continued to defy the odds to be almost as dominant as in his prime. Rivera had 44 saves, pitched to a 1.91 ERA, and an impeccable .897 WHIP. He displayed his amazing control by only walking 8 batters all season.  He did have his usual stretch of the season, last year in August, when people questioned whether he was done based off a few blown saves in a row. Of course the answer was as it has always been. No he is not done. There are still not many closers, if any, you would rather want on the mound for a big save other than Mo.

Cory Wade, Hector Noesi, Boone Logan and Luis Ayala also made nice contributions to the bullpen last season. These guys fulfilled many different roles and were versatile enough to perform. When Wade was going well he was even the 7th inning guy. Noesi performed great as a long man and middle innings guy.  Logan was the Yankees only lefty reliever but was also capable of getting righties out due to his plus fastball and slider.  Ayala got off to a good start, but struggled down the stretch. These guys provided great depth behind the Yankees great back end of the bullpen pitchers.          

Going into this year I see the Yankees having the 2nd best bullpen in MLB behind the Atlanta Braves. The San Francisco Giants are a very close 3rd. A 7-8-9 of Soriano, Robertson, and Mo the Yankees will be in great hands at the end of the game. Chamberlain is a wild card coming off Tommy John surgery because he was pitching extremely well before he got hurt. Combine the great Yankees bullpen with an improved starting staff,and you are looking at one of the best overall pitching staffs in MLB.  The Yankees bullpen was a huge reason for the teams’ 2011 success and should be about just as good heading into 2012.

Grading 2011 and Looking Ahead: Bullpen

Mariano - The Greatest just keeps on going

The last part of the team we’ll look at is the bullpen. This was the strongest unit on the team as the pen led the American League with a 3.12 ERA, and was 2nd in OPS against (.677) and K/9 (8.46).

Mariano Rivera

He just keeps rolling along. Another year with a sub-2.00 ERA, his 4th in a row and 8th time in last 9 years.  Mo was consistent all season and finished with 44 saves in 49 chances to break the All-Time record for most career saves with 603.  The Sandman had a 1.91 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and a ridiculous 7.5 strikeout to walk ratio.  While he doesn’t throw as hard as he did when he was 27, his velocity was actually his highest since 2008 averaging 92.3 on his FB and 91.6 on his Cutter.   Grade:  A

2012 Outlook:  He is signed for one more yr @ $15M and will turn 42 in a month.  We all know he has to fade at some point but until he does he’s welcome as my closer for as long as he wants to pitch.

David Robertson

Maximum extension & follow through is how a 5'11, 180 pounder can blow Fastballs by MLB's best hiters

Robertson began the yr as the man Girardi used in the middle innings to get out of jams.  He did so well in that role he was the natural guy to take the 8th inning role after injuries to Joba & Soriano.  DRob flourished in that role the way he did in every situation Girardi used him in.  He led A.L. relievers in ERA (1.08) & K/9 (13.5) as he used his sneaky Fastball and knee-buckling Curveball to get big outs whenever he needed them.  His only blemish is he still walks a lot of hitters (4.7 BB/9) but makes up for it by getting strikeouts whenever he needs them and inducing a lot of groundballs.  He saw a big 7% increase in his GB rate and his velocity was up 1.2 mph to an average FB of 93.1 MPH.  Robertson showed a filthy Changeup and Cutter at times but his FB/Curve combo is so dominant he rarely needs his 3rd and 4th pitches.  Grade: A+

2012 Outlook: Robertson was one of the best bargains in baseball at $462,450 in 2011.  He’ll see a raise to around $1.5-2M in his first yr of arbitration in 2012.  He’ll have to be in the 8th inning role again and heir to the closers role if Mo ever retires.  With his 4 nasty pitches one can’t help to imagine DRob throwing 200+ IP as a starter but with his max effort delivery and small frame he may be best suited as a 1-2 inning guy.

Rafael Soriano

Didn’t look right in beginning of yr and soon went down with arm injury.  After nearly 3 months on the DL was much better when he returned in August. Finished with 4.12 ERA in just 39.1 ip.  His K rate (8.2) was the same as his dominating 2010 yr in Tampa but his Walk rate more than doubled to 4.1.  Grade: C-

2012 Outlook:  He has an opt-out he won’t exercise so will be back for $11M to pitch the 7th Inning.  Hopefully he will get comfortable in the role as the highest paid middle reliever in MLB. He has the stuff and track record to give the Yanks a shutdown 7th thru 9th inning unit.

Boone Logan

Logan was off to a lousy start through April & May then he lowered his arm angle a little and things turned around for him. After striking out just 7 in his first 13 innings he K’d 39 in his final 28 innings to finish the yr 5-3, 3.46 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9.  He was fairly good against lefties but was prone to HRs vs them with a 1.32 HR/9 vs them and 0 HRs vs Righties.  Grade: B

2012 Outlook:  In his 3nd yr of Arbitration he’ll get a small raise on his $1.2M salary and be back in his lefty relief role.

Luis Ayala

Ayala was  a nice find and had a surprising season although he pitched to a lot of luck.  He had a tidy 2.09 ERA but a 4.19 FiP.  He’s not a strikeout pitcher (6.2 k/9) but induced a lot of grounders (50% GB rate) and gave the team 56 quality IP.  for $650,00.  Grade:  B

2012 Outlook:  He was solid but I doubt he’ll be back as the Yanks are loaded with bullpen arms and could insert a younger guy with a higher upside.

Cory Wade

Wade is a feather in the cap of Billy Eppler’s pro scouting department as he was plucked off of Tampa’s Triple A team in late June and was brilliant in New York.  He finished 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA & 1.03 WHIP. While he dominated righties (.541 OPS against) his ChangeUp & Curve were also effective vs Lefties as he held them to a .730 OPS.  Grade:  A-

2012 Outlook:  Wade will definitely be back in the bullpen mix in 2012

Others:  Joba Chamberlain was pitching well with a 2.83 ERA/1.04 WHIP til he blew his elbow out.  His surgery will likely keep him from being effective until around June or later.  Hector Noesi showed some promise while riding the Scranton to NY shuttle and being moved back and forth from starter to reliever.  He may be in the mix as a #5 starter or long man in 2012.  Late inning call-ups George Kontos and Andrew Brackman will be candidates to make the pen in ST as both showed good stuff in Sept.  Cashman will look to bring in a second lefty in the Winter but other than that the bullpen appears set with almost everyone coming back and a lot of young guys looking to make the team.

  W L ERA SV IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
                       
Mariano Rivera 1 2 1.91 44 61.1 0.897 6.9 0.4 1.2 8.8 7.50
David Robertson 4 0 1.08 1 66.2 1.125 5.4 0.1 4.7 13.5 2.86
Luis Ayala 2 2 2.09 0 56.0 1.268 8.2 0.8 3.2 6.3 1.95
Boone Logan* 5 3 3.46 0 41.2 1.344 9.3 0.9 2.8 9.9 3.54
Rafael Soriano 2 3 4.12 2 39.1 1.297 7.6 0.9 4.1 8.2 2.00
Hector Noesi 2 2 4.47 0 56.1 1.509 10.1 1.0 3.5 7.2 2.05
Cory Wade 6 1 2.04 0 39.2 1.034 7.5 1.1 1.8 6.8 3.75
Joba Chamberlain 2 0 2.83 0 28.2 1.047 7.2 0.9 2.2 7.5 3.43
Scott Proctor 0 3 9.00 0 11.0 2.818 15.5 4.9 9.8 9.0 0.92
George Kontos 0 0 3.00 0 6.0 1.167 6.0 1.5 4.5 9.0 2.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

Yanks lose 5-4 to Jays in series opener

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NYY
0 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 4 5 0
TOR
1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 5 13 0
W: Janssen (5-0)
L: Logan (5-3)
NY Yankees AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Jeter, SS 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .292
Granderson, CF 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .264
Teixeira, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .244
Cano, 2B 4 2 2 0 0 0 1 .306
Swisher, RF 4 1 2 2 0 0 0 .263
Chavez, Er, 3B 4 1 1 2 0 0 1 .273
Posada, DH 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .238
Martin, C 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 .234
Gardner, LF 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .259
Totals 31 4 5 4 2 5 4 .264
NY Yankees IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Sabathia 5.2 10 4 4 4 8 0 3.01
Ayala 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.79
Soriano, R 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 3.93
Robertson 1.0 1 0 0 2 1 0 1.14
Logan(L, 5-3) 0.1 1 1 1 1 0 0 3.03
Wade 0.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2.16
Totals 8.1 13 5 5 7 12 0 3.70
And here is the game recap from MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez:

TORONTO — Be it fatigue or too much rest, a problem that needs fixing or an anomaly that will right itself, it’s clear that CC Sabathia hasn’t been the same lately. He notices it, Joe Girardi will profess it, and Friday’s events provided further evidence of it.

The series opener at Rogers Centre offered up quite a rarity — Sabathia being given a two-run lead midway through the game and not being able to keep it. Sabathia’s rough outing, Adam Lind’s clutch three-run double against him and Jose Molina’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Blue Jays a 5-4 win and handed the Yankees their second straight loss.

The best and most important cog in the Yankees’ rotation continued to get hit around.

While giving up four runs in his quest to join Justin Verlander as the only 20-game winner in the Majors, Sabathia gave up 10 hits for the fifth time in his last nine starts — after doing it only once in his previous 23 outings — and walked four for the second straight game while failing to pitch six full innings for the first time since April 10.

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Nova’s great start goes to waste in extra-innings loss

Ballgame over, Yankees lose in extras.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 R H E
NYY 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
SEA 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 9 0
W: Delabar (1-0)
L: Wade (5-1)
NY Yankees AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Jeter, SS 5 0 1 0 0 2 2 .295
Granderson, CF 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 .265
Teixeira, 1B 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 .246
Cano, 2B 4 0 1 0 0 2 0 .305
Swisher, RF 4 1 1 1 1 0 1 .261
Montero, DH 5 0 0 0 0 3 3 .286
Jones, An, LF 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .241
1-Gardner, PR-LF 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .261
Martin, C 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .236
Nunez, E, 3B 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 .254
a-Chavez, Er, PH-3B 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .274
Totals 38 1 4 1 2 9 10 .265
NY Yankees IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Nova 7.1 5 1 1 4 5 0 3.81
Robertson 0.2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.16
Soriano, R 1.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 4.05
Logan 1.1 2 0 0 1 1 0 2.82
Wade(L, 5-1) 0.2 1 1 1 0 1 1 2.16
Totals 11.0 9 2 2 5 10 1 3.68
And here is the game recap from MLB.com’s Taylor Soper:

SEATTLE — Mariano Rivera’s 601st save will have to wait for now.

New York reliever Cory Wade gave up a 12th-inning walk-off solo shot to Luis Rodriguez, as the Mariners avoided the sweep with a 2-1 win over the Yankees on Wednesday night in front of 20,327 at Safeco Field.

Rivera, who picked up his 600th save on Tuesday night, still needs one more to tie Trevor Hoffmann atop the career saves list.

It was another one-run loss for the Yankees, who managed just four hits all night and had their three-game winning streak snapped.

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Evening Notes: Posada, Rotation, Romero, Wade

Good (early) evening folks. Here are some notes to hold you over on this off-day.

Sad but necessary: The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees released left-hander J.C. Romero by his request. He had fairly good numbers in Scranton for the Yanks, posting a 2.92 ERA, 10 K, 5 BB, in 12 1/3 IP. Lefties were only hitting .171 off him. For some reason, the Yanks just didn’t like what they saw out of him, as he was never called up to New York.

Jon Heyman says the Yankees may indeed go through the six-man rotation one more time. They do realize that Ivan Nova is their second best pitcher (arguably) and know he “has to stay in.”

— The Yankees will not cut Jorge Posada, says ESPN’s Buster Olney. Posada’s two choices are: (1) deal with being a “rarely used bench player” or (2) ask for his release. Any true Yankee fan can’t like the way this has turned out with Jorge, but when you are in a pennant race, winning is Rule #1.

— The starting rotation for this coming series at home versus the Angels has finally been confirmed. Tomorrow/Tuesday will be A.J. Burnett. Wednesday’s game is Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon will pitch on Thursday. Not that this is the reason why Colon is pitching in the day game on Thursday, but Colon has been dominant in day games this year. He has a 2.28 ERA, an 8.0 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, and only a .216 BAA in 8 day games this year. 6 of those 8 were starts.

— An interesting link here. Mike Axisa of RAB discusses how valuable Cory Wade has been this year. He even compares Wade to the “fireman” role David Robertson held before his 8th Inning GuyTM promotion. Noted is the fact that Wade is presumably under team control for cheap through 2015. Though as Axisa brings up, middle relievers don’t always (usually don’t) have lasting success from year to year. In fact they can’t be fairly inconsistent year in and year out.


Game 1: Colon grinds out a win with strong offensive support

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
BAL
0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0   3 9 1
NYY
0 0 2 3 3 0 0 0 x   8 11 1
W: Colon (8-6)
L: Tillman (2-4)
NY Yankees AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Gardner, CF 5 0 1 2 0 1 3 .280
Nunez, E, SS 5 0 0 0 0 3 4 .264
Teixeira, DH 4 1 0 0 0 1 1 .241
Cano, 2B 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 .288
Swisher, RF 4 2 3 2 0 1 0 .266
Chavez, Er, 3B 4 2 2 1 0 0 1 .295
Posada, 1B 4 0 1 1 0 0 3 .235
Dickerson, LF 4 1 2 1 0 0 1 .321
Cervelli, C 3 1 2 1 1 0 1 .244
Totals 36 8 11 8 2 8 15 .260
NY Yankees IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Colon(W, 8-6) 5.0 5 2 2 2 6 0 3.30
Wade 3.0 2 1 1 0 2 1 2.08
Logan 1.0 2 0 0 0 1 0 3.18
Totals 9.0 9 3 3 2 9 1 3.48

Game Review from MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

NEW YORK — Nick Swisher had the most powerful swing of the day for the Yankees, but the switch-hitting slugger was more pleased seeing the bottom of the lineup come through with plenty of run production.

Swisher belted a two-run homer among three hits, and members of the Bombers’ ensemble cast embraced their chances to shine as the Yankees defeated the Orioles, 8-3, in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

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Yankees Grades Part 2: Bullpen

Here are your grades for the New York Yankees Bullpen!

DAVID ROBERTSON

Final Grade: A+

Description: One of my favorite topics is David Robertson and apparently he is one of the Yankees fans favorite topic as well. Ever since Joba Chamberlain had Tommy John Surgery, David Robertson came up and took the task at hand. Robertson’s numbers were phenomenal, with a 2-0 record, a 1.27 ERA in 35.1 innings and if you think that’s not great, Robertson had 56 K’s. Robertson also has the second lowest ERA in the American League and has earned the name “Houdini” for his daredevil pitching style. If Robertson continues to pitch the way he did in the first half, then he could be in for a big contract with the Yankees.

MARIANO RIVERA

Final Grade: A-

Description: When you hear Enter Sandman in Yankees Stadium, it only means one thing: Mariano Rivera is coming. Mo has had a good season thus far, with a 1-1 record and a 1.84 ERA. The only reason Mariano Rivera gets an A- is because he had already blown 4 save opportunities for the Yankees. Last year Rivera had only blown 5 saves the whole year and this year he already has 4. But guess what? Mariano is human. Just like Robertson or Logan might mess up, Mariano messes up as well. Mariano overall has been dominant and is the best closer in baseball. Lets hope (and we all know) that Mariano will be dominant in the second half as well.

BOONE LOGAN

Final Grade: C-

Description: In the beginning of the year, Boone Logan looked like a lost cause. He couldn’t get either righties or lefties, and he was apparently the lefty specialist. Everything seemed lost for Logan, until the pitching whisperer sat him down and talked to him, and by pitching whisperer I meant Alex Rodriguez (running for future pitching coach anyone?). It was after Boone Logan plunked Joey Votto in the inter-league game against the Cincinnati Reds that A-Rod had a talk with him. Since then, Boone Logan had gained confidence and was always brought in to deal with the heart of the opposing team’s lineup, and easily retiring them. Logan still gets into trouble here and there, but he has learned the ways of “Houdini” and strands them there. If he can bring that into the second half, there will be no doubt that his grades will go up.

LUIS AYALA

Final Grade: B

Description: With all the talk of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, Luis Ayala has slowly made a name in the Yankees clubhouse. In 27 innings, Ayala has a 1-2 record with a 1.33 ERA & 19 K’s. Ayala is not as splendid as Robertson, but he has done his job in retiring hitters, and making it look easy as well. If Luis Ayala continues this into the second half of the season then he will be a valuable piece in the bullpen.

CORY WADE

Final Grade: B

Description: Cory Wade has been another valuable piece in the bullpen for the Yankees and he doesn’t seem to slow it down. Wade is currently 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA after signing a contract with the Yankees. Wade’s appearance between the Cleveland Indians was the reason that his ERA is creeping towards 2, with 2 earned runs on a homer. Ironically those are the only 2 runs that Wade has given to an opponent team. If Wade can continue this performance into the second half, again he would be another valuable piece as with Ayala.

SERGIO MITRE

Final Grade: F

Description: Oh Sergio Mitre, I am going to say this in the nicest way possible: why did the Yankees get you back? In the beginning of the season Mitre was traded to the Brewers for Chris Dickerson (Who I might add has done well for the Yanks, but we’ll get to him later). For whatever reason possible, the Yankees brought him back into the bullpen for an undisclosed amount. Well, I think the Brewers gave us a defunct pitcher cause Yankee fans are demanding a refund. In his 2 innings that he pitched as a Yankee he has a 15.43 ERA and opponents are batting .250 against him. Isn’t the job of a pitcher getting hitters out and not giving up runs? Unless Sergio Mitre picks it up in the second half of the season, then he will lose the faith that the Yankees fans have left in him. Want an example Mitre? Take a look at Mike Gonzalez for the Orioles.

RAFAEL SORIANO

Final Grade: D

Description: The Yankees had originally gotten Rafael Soriano as an 8th inning guy, and originally the Yankees had the bullpen layout JoSoMo (Joba in the 7th, Rafael in the 8th & Mariano in the 9th), but Soriano had not been able to get the job done. Soriano had a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA. To add to the Soriano drama, Soriano was placed on the 60-Day DL for elbow soreness. We’ll see how Soriano performs once he comes off the DL, or if he comes off the DL at all. From this point, Soriano has not sparkled, but hopefully he will open our eyes soon.

JOBA CHAMBERLAIN

Final Grade: B+

Description: I was surprised when a lot of people didn’t include Joba Chamberlain in there grading, as he was apart of the bullpen in the 1st half of the season before getting season ending Tommy John Surgery. From what I’ve seen of Joba Chamberlain, he had pitched very well. He had looked dominant. Chamberlain had a 2-0 record with a 2.83 ERA. If that’s not dealing then I don’t know what it is. It was a shame that Chamberlain had surgery which ended his season, cause he was on fire. Hopefully we will see more great things from Chamberlain next season, but till then even though his season was short, he had been a very important part of it.

UP NEXT: Yankees Outfielders

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