Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson DH
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C
LHP Andy Pettitte
- Ex-Yankee Hector Noesi will be on the mound for Seattle. Aaron Harang was scratched.
- Andy Pettitte trys to right himself after a couple of rough starts
- Yankees called up Dellin Betances from Scranton and sent down Brett Marshall who was spent after throwing 108 pitches yesterday
- Jayson Nix gets his shot batting 2nd today. Nix has had a very quiet season offensively but suprisingly, his .319 OBP% is 4th among healthy regulars behind Wells, Cano & Gardner. Nix has hit 2nd 6 times this year and has hit .261/.293/.261 (6 for 23 with 5 Walks). Not many Yankees have faced Noesi but Nix is 1 for 3 with a HR.
Outside of baseball, 42 is a random number. It could be an age or how much of something one person possesses.
But in baseball, 42 takes on a whole new meaning.
42 was the number that belonged to none other than Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier on April 15, 1947 for the Brooklyn Dodgers (now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers). And because of Jackie Robinson, baseball is what it is today.
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, the youngest of five children. When he was a high school student, he took up multiple sports ranging from track-and-field, football, tennis, basketball and most importantly of all, baseball. He was the shortstop and catcher on his school baseball team, quarterback on the football team and guard on the basketball team. It was no secret that Jackie Robinson was an athletic individual but he would face challenges that gave him a whole new perspective on the game.
When Robinson enrolled in Pasadena Junior College, he made the baseball team. He was the lead-off man and the shortstop but most importantly, most of his teammates were white. Robinson developed his combativeness towards racial antagonism when he was arrested in 1938 after he vocally disputed the detention of a black friend to police. Robinson was hit with a two-year suspension and after his brother Frank Robinson was killed in an automobile accident, he transferred to UCLA to be closer to Frank’s family.
Like other ball-players in the early 1940′s, Robinson was in the Army although he was never sent overseas. He served as an army athletics coach until he was honorably discharged in 1944. It was then when a former player of the Kansas City Monarchs suggested that Robinson write a letter to the Monarchs co-owner Thomas Baird to ask for a tryout. And that’s exactly what Robinson did. He received an offer in 1945 from the Monarchs to play for their ball-club. The contract was $400 ($5,101 in 2013 dollars) per month, and Robinson couldn’t say no.
While Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs, few major league teams were interested in adding a black player to their ball-club. The Red Sox were one of the first teams to show interest, although it was later revealed to be a farce, and were the last team to integrate their roster fourteen years later. The team that showed the most interest in Jackie Robinson–the Brooklyn Dodgers, run by Branch Rickey. Rickey interviewed Robinson, and in a famous three-hour conversation, questioned whether or not Robinson could control his tempter against racial antagonism.
”Are you looking for a Negro who’s afraid to fight back?” Robinson was aghast.
”No.” Rickey replied. “I need a Negro player with guts enough not to fight back.”
Robinson agreed to turn the other cheek and on November 1, 1945, Robinson was signed to a minor league contract, beginning the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals.
In 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers purchased Robinson’s contract, making him their opening day first baseman. He didn’t have a base-hit his first game, but walked and scored in the Dodgers 5-3 victory. Robinson was received generally positive, although mixed with newspapers and white major-league players. However, there was racial tension in the Dodgers clubhouse. Players would sign petitions and order they wouldn’t play unless Robinson didn’t, but Dodgers managing wouldn’t have it. Robinson was here to stay.
He also faced racial discrimination among other teams, some teams targeting Robinson physically during games. With the antagonism and despair, most players would have given up. But not Jackie Robinson. Robinson had support from players such as his own teammate Pee Wee Reese, who put his arm around Robinson’s shoulder in response to the racial slurs Robinson was receiving during a game in Cincinnati. Pee Wee Reese once famously said these words:
”You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them.”
At the end of his rookie season, Robinson’s line was .297/.383/.427, earning him the award for Rookie of The Year.
After nine years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson retired from baseball, but his impact on the game will forever be imprinted on the number Robinson wore the last nine years: number 42.
On April 15, 1997, Major League Baseball universally retired the number 42, although players that already had the number would be grandfathered in, allowing them to keep the number until the day they retire. Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera is the last player to wear the number 42. Rivera considers it an honor, and is thankful for what Jackie Robinson had done for baseball.
”Jackie Robinson was a great man.” Rivera told ESPN over the weekend during the Baltimore Orioles series at Yankee Stadium. “I have always said that wearing this number is a privilege and a great responsibility. To represent what Jackie Robinson represented for us, as a minority, and for all of baseball in general, it’s tremendous.”
To the Yankees, Jackie Robinson represents a lot. If Jackie Robinson didn’t have the courage or strength to do what he did, we wouldn’t see players such as Curtis Granderson, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia or Robinson Cano on the roster–or in the Major Leagues.
”As a baseball player, number 42, without it, I’m not here talking to you.” Curtis Granderson said during an interview with MLB.com. “42 has done amazing things for not only Africans-Americans…but for the globalization of the game.”
”The way he handled himself was unbelievable.” Cano, who pays homage to Jackie Robinson by wearing 24 (the reverse of number 42) said. “I don’t know if I would of had the same courage he had back in the day. That’s somebody that we truly learn from. Not only fighting for ourselves but look how he opened the doors for everybody. Look how different is baseball today. It’s not about one country, it’s about one world. “
”Doesn’t matter where you came from, doesn’t matter what your background is. Your effective impact moving forward is the way that your life should be, and that’s what Jackie did.” Granderson said. “He came from where he was, he broke through the barriers, continued to move in and we still continue to talk about his name now and we will continue to talk about his name forever.”
Ever since 1989, John Sterling has been in the broadcast booth calling Yankees games through thick and thin. He’s entertaining, he’s interesting and one of the few radio announcers I can turn to when it’s time to mute a FOX game. One of the reasons that I enjoy listening to Sterling is for his inventive and interesting home-run calls. His home-run calls are one of those staples that are needed to be memorized by every Yankees fan. Over the years, he has created home-run calls that cannot be forgotten. Remember Bernie William’s famous home-run call “Bern Baby Bern” or Tino Martinez‘s “Bam-Tino?” Yep, that was John Sterling’s entertaining mind. When a new Yankee hits a home-run, fans turn and ask “What’s John Sterling’s home-run call for this player?” Well, being the John Sterling radio fanatic that I am, I compiled a list of some of our favorite New York Yankees home-run calls for the players on the current team. (that includes our new Yankees brethren as well).
Brett Gardner: Brett Gardner has two home-run calls, depending of the mood that John Sterling is. Personally, I love hearing them both since Gardner rarely hits HR’s. The first one is fun to say because he went yard, yet the second one is a pun on his last name ‘Gardner’ which is an actual word.
1) “Gardy goes Yardy!”
2) “Gardner plants one in the (left or right) field seats!”
Ichiro Suzuki: Ichiro’s home-run call. I felt like John Sterling could have been more inventive with Ichiro’s home-run call, but it is what it is.
“Ichiro, the Yankees rising son, says sayonara.”
Curtis Granderson: The second home-run call is one of my favorites. The first one is a pun on his last name, but the second one you get to sing! Every time Granderson goes to bat, I find myself singing it. I can’t wait to start singing it when Granderson comes back from the DL.
1) “Isn’t he something sort of Grand-ish?”
2) “Oh, the Grandyman Can! Oh, the Grandyman can!”
Derek Jeter: Derek Jeter is the captain of the Yankees, so his home-run call is rather fitting.
Mark Teixeira: Mark Teixeria is another one of those Yankees that has two home run calls. I actually enjoy the first one more since it’s a pun on getting a text message. (And I like to look at my smartphone and ask why haven’t I got a ‘Tex’ Message yet when he goes to the plate).
1) “Mark sends a Tex Message to the (left or right) field seats!
2) “You’re on the Mark, Teixeira”
Alex Rodriguez: Everyone knows A-Rod’s HR call. It’s not a secret.
“An A-Bomb for A-Rod.”
Robinson Cano: If I were John Sterling, I would trademark this home-run call. It’s became a very popular saying among Yankees fans.
“Robbie Cano, Don’t Ya Know!”
Francisco Cervelli: I personally am a sucker for this home-run call. It simply reminds me of food.
“Cisco the Kid Cerv’s one up!”
Travis Hafner: All right, I love John Sterling and all but…this call was L-A-M-E! It lacks the magic. Did Sterling figure that he wasn’t going to be a Yankee past this season and gave him a home-run call that was sad yet lame?
1) “The Pronx Bomber.”
2) “A Hafner Homer.”
Vernon Wells: So Vernon Wells has two HR calls that are slightly better than Travis Hafner’s. Wells’s walk-up song may be awesome…but his HR call is something that’s almost cringe-worthy.
1) “The Bronx is Vernon.”
2) “Wells rings the bells.”
Kevin Youkilis: So all of my favorite things in life has to have carbon copies of something? My favorite T.V show has carbon copies of the original characters and Kevin Youkilis’s HR call is a carbon copy of Alex Rodriguez’s.
“A Nuke for Youk.”
Yeah, that was really inventive.
Yep, we may love them and we may hate them but the John Sterling HR calls are iconic to the Yankees. When a new Yankee hits a home-run, you never know what call John Sterling could come up with.
When the baseball season starts, fans usually go to the ball park in order to take in nine innings of glorious baseball. As much as I enjoy going to the ball park to hear the crack of the bat, the fans cheering loudly and the food, I usually love going to the ball park in order to listen to the walk-up music of the Yankees. Music is one of my biggest passions, and to me the Yankees have done more than play great baseball over the years; they’ve also introduced me to new music and have filled up my iTunes with songs that I listen to on a consistent basis. Since Opening Day for the Yankees is tomorrow, I went on the Yankees website, found the list to some of the Yankees walk-up songs and took a listen to them, introducing myself to the different types of music that our players listen to.
1. Brennan Boesch: Brennan Boesch didn’t waste any time in choosing his songs for the 2013 season as he went and chose two songs for his walk-up music. The first song was “Sail” by Awolnation. When I first took a listen to the song, I found it intimidating in a good way. It’s not as intimidating as Evan Longoria‘s walk-up song (which is arguably one of the best walk-up songs in the Major Leagues), but it makes you think that something big is coming. The second song that Boesch chose was “We’ll Be Fine” by Drake. This is one of those songs that has you nodding your head while Boesch comes to the plate. Boesch hasn’t played a real game for the Yankees yet, but if I must applaud him on one thing, it’s his good taste in music.
2. Brett Gardner: I have to admit that before I started watching Gardner play baseball, I did not listen to country music; at all. But in 2011, Gardner had “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean as one of his walk-up songs and ever since then, half my iTunes is consumed with country music. This year, Gardner went with “Hell On Wheels” by Brantely Gilbert which is another great country song. Now, let’s hope that Gardner’s 2013 season is as dynamite as his walk-up song choice.
3. Chris Stewart: Chris Stewart is close to having one of the best walk-up songs on the Yankees if he only played the first twenty seconds of the song over the P.A. Stewart’s song choice is “Forsaken” by Skillet and if there’s one thing I must say, is that the guitar riffs were amazing. I wouldn’t normally listen to music like this, but after today now I would. Now, all he has to do is play on a consistent basis so I could heart this song over and over at the ball park. I wouldn’t mind paying money for that.
4. Curtis Granderson: We all remember the famous video where Curtis Granderson was picking his at-bat music and then almost cried when he chose “Friday.” Well, maybe all those hours of going through his laptop did the Grandy Man some good. His walk-up song (when he comes back) is none other than “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See (Instrumental)” by Busta Rhymes. Not too fond of the lyrics, but I do love the beat, so a smart move by Granderson in just using the instrumental.
5. David Robertson: We all know that David Robertson is an Alabama boy. He was born in Tuscaloosa and he is constantly helping his hometown with High Socks For Hope. So it doesn’t surprise me that his walk-up song is the awesome “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s actually a good thing I know about this now because I made a deadly mistake in asking my Twitter followers last season what D-Rob’s walk-up song was. Let’s just say they weren’t too happy with me during the game when they found out I seriously didn’t know. Well, I know now and it’s an awesome song. I’m looking forward to the 8th inning where I could sit back and listen to the tune that introduces us to the Yankees favorite set-up man.
6. Derek Jeter: The Captain won’t be there on Opening Day for us to hear his walk-up music but he made sure that he chose a song. I’m not too fond of rap music but, “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West was a decent choice by Jeter. It would be nice to hear it at Yankee Stadium when The Captain returns, but in the meantime I guess the closest we can hear this song is on Youtube (and on iTunes if you have it already).
7. Hiroki Kuroda: Hiroki Kuroda has some great taste in music! Kuroda’s walk-up music is “The Whip” by Locksley and when I heard it for the first time, I heard some influence of ‘The Beatles’ in the chorus of the song. It’s nice that Kuroda was able to take us back to the good music–without actually taking us all the way back to the 1960′s.
8. Ivan Nova: Ah, is there nothing better than listening to some awesome Spanish music at Yankee Stadium? That’s what Ivan Nova introduced to the fans when he made his walk-up choice “Marta La Reina” by Antony Santos. This is one of those songs where you can’t help but get up from your seat and start dancing. According to the Yankees website, I don’t think it’s available for purchase but they have the song on Youtube where you can hear it over and over and over. It’s actually a great song to hear on a Sunday morning (with your headphones on).
9. Mariano Rivera: Mariano Rivera’s song choice is as fitting as his role on the Yankees. When the Yankees have a lead and they go to the 9th inning, Mariano Rivera comes in the game and puts it to bed, dubbing him “The Sandman.” Rivera’s song choice is the best song choice by far on the Yankees with “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. The guitar riffs in the song are simply amazing and when Yankees fans hear it, they can’t help but get excited, knowing that the greatest closer of all time is coming in to make the opposing team’s offense go to sleep. Yankees fans better soak in all of “Enter Sandman” that they can this season, since Rivera plans on retiring at the end of the season. I know I’ll soak up every moment.
10. Mark Teixeira: If there’s anyone that we can count on to take us back to when rap music was at it’s best, it’s Mark Teixeira. His song choice “It’s Tricky” by Run D.M.C is a great way to pay a homage to rap at it’s finest. Of course, we expect nothing less of Teixeira since he has been famously known of using classics from the Twisted Sisters in the past. But Teixeira didn’t stop there. His second song choice was “This Town” by O.A.R. which is one of my favorite songs. Teixeira hit a home run with his song choices and I can’t wait until he gets back on the field so we can hear it blaring from the P.A speakers.
11. Phil Hughes: Phil Hughes’s walk-up song is pretty vague. There’s no artist next to his song choice ”Tomorrowland” so I did a search on Youtube and it sounds more like Hughes is ready for summer in a club than ready to play baseball. If this is his song, I’m not too fond of the techno-beat, but I can see it getting fans excited.
12. Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano simply outdid everyone when it came to choosing songs. He didn’t choose two songs, he went the extra mile and chose three! His first song was “El Que No Aguante La Presion” by Secreto El Biberon which is a great song choice. It reminds me of summer like Hughes’s song choice, but Cano’s song reminds me more of running through fire hydrants that have water coming out of them than the club. Cano’s second song choice was “Me Kitee” by Black Point. Again, it reminded me of summer. Cano’s last song was “Te Prendo” by Chimbala. As far as Spanish songs go, all three of Cano’s song choices hit it out of the ball park. Simply great. If his goal was to get Yankees fans on their feet while he comes to bat, he succeeded.
13. Vernon Wells: I’m not a fan of rap music, but if you choose a song with Dr. Dre and Eminem, then you are in my good graces for the entire season. And that’s exactly what Vernon Wells did by choosing “Forgot About Dre” by Dr. Dre & Eminem. The beat is fantastic and this was when rap was still at it is greatest. It’s great that someone chose a throwback song, and now I will await his arrival to the plate just to hear this awesome song.
The Yankees choosing their own walk-up music is a way for them to connect to their fans. It shows fans what kind of music their idols like and in their own way, they introduce you to music you may have never heard of before. The Yankees are always winners in the fans eyes, but they’ve become more than. They’re role models with impeccable taste in music. So the next time you go to the ball park, open your ears when your favorite Yankee goes to the plate. You just might have a new favorite song that you’ll want as soon as you get home.
In a little less than three weeks, the Yankees will begin their home-opener against the Boston Red Sox with CC Sabathia on the mound. However, this year’s Opening Day lineup might be a little different than what we’re used to due to all of the injuries the Yankees were plagued with during the 2013 season. The Yankees are missing Curtis Granderson (broken forearm), Mark Teixeira (strained forearm) and Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery) in their offense which is sure to look like the ‘Robinson Cano Show’ for the first month and a half. But with still some time to go, just how are the Yankees shaping up as they prepare for the season?
The Yankees lineup has many question marks after losing so many players to free agency and injuries. The bats of Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez will be with different ball clubs, while we will most likely have to wait for Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson to return to their post in early to mid-May. However, the lineup hasn’t looked as puzzling as it did when Spring Training started. The Yankees proved that they can manufacture runs by using a key element that they possess: speed. Players like Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez are capable of getting on base, going station to station on their own before a key teammate has to drive them in with an RBI. Speed will play an important part this season since the Yankees have lost over 100 home runs than in season’s past. But just because the Yankees are relying on speed, it doesn’t mean we should start calling them the ‘Bronx Bunters’. They will still find a way to hit home runs with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira making their way back into the starting lineup.
Throughout the course of Spring Training, the starting pitching has been one early glimpse of how our starters will perform during the 2013 season. It looks as if they left off from last season. Hiroki Kuroda looks to be in mid-season form, David Phelps has a 0.63 ERA 14 Spring appearances Ivan Nova has an ERA of 1. Andy Pettitte has still proven that his pitches are effective although he’s the oldest starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. And as expected, there is no concern over CC Sabathia, whatsoever. The starting pitching looks to be one of the Yankees strong points like it was in season’s past. Let’s hope that the pitching can carry the Yanks this season.
The Yankees bullpen was another one of their key pieces that helped define the Yankees last season. With pitchers such as David Robertson, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, it seemed like an easy task to get the ball to the 9th inning before handing it off to the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. Last season’s bullpen dynamic was different since there was no Mariano in the bullpen due to an ACL injury, giving the Yankees a glimpse of what it would look like if Mariano Rivera wasn’t there. With Rafael Soriano, the Yankees were able to still close games with a dominant force but this year there is no Rafael Soriano. Mariano Rivera plans to retire after the 2013 season, which gives Yankees fans one last look of the greatest closer before he hangs up his cleats and says goodbye to the game. The bullpen is expected to be a strong part of the Yankees once again, and from Spring observations, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawn Kelley and David Phelps get spots in the bullpen. With both of their arms this spring, the Yankees bullpen could become an iron gate to prevent runs from scoring.
There’s only 17 days until Opening Day so from now until Spring Training is over, it would be a good time to start watching the games to see who has a legitimate shot of making the team. And from what I’ve seen all Spring so far, there are quite a few who have a chance to go north.
The Yankees hadn’t exactly played their best baseball to start off Spring Training, but they racked up another win against the Boston Red Sox, giving fans a small preview of their Opening Day match-up. The Yankees remained silent until the 6th inning where all nine hitters batted around, pushing three runs across with the aid of a Corban Joseph single, an error that allowed Bobby Wilson to reach first, a Brett Gardner walk, an RBI single for Eduardo Nunez, a fielder’s choice from Jayson Nix and an error that allowed Juan Rivera to reach first.
The Yankees pushed two more runs across in the eighth inning after an RBI double by JR Murphy plated Jose Pirella and in the ninth inning on a homer by Thomas Neal. Before the three run outburst in the 6th inning, the only hit going into the 6th was the lead-off single by Brett Gardner in the 1st. Gardner has now hit safely in every game he’s played in Spring Training thus far.
The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow, meaning that there will be no news at all. No one will be at the ballpark except for a few players to get treatment but other than that, no one will be there. On Tuesday, the Yankees will host the Atlanta Braves in the first night game of the Spring Training season. That game will be on YES Network and coverage will start at 7:00 p.m with play-by-play at 7:05 p.m.
I guess the odds weren’t in Curtis Granderson‘s favor. In the second Spring Training game of the season, the Yankees were faced with a gigantic blow when Granderson was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat of the Spring. After watching enough baseball, I knew the outcome wasn’t going to be pretty. Granderson’s original diagnosis was a bruised forearm, but as a precaution they sent the outfielder to get some x-rays.
The final diagnosis was a fractured forearm, putting Granderson and the Yankees in a bind for the next ten weeks–and giving Brett Gardner the CF position by default. The Yankees had already lost 100 home runs and now the Yankees could lose 43 more this season. Granderson however, told YES Network during the telecast that he was planning on conditioning the lower half of his body while his forearm heals, just so he could be up to speed and return as quickly as possible. Granderson did say this to the media, showing optimism during what seemed to be a dark road ahead.
“It’s just a little bump in the road. It’s definitely not the end of everything.”
Other In Game Notes:
– Adam Warren pitched two scoreless innings, which easily erased his start with the Yankees back in 2012. Warren most likely won’t get a spot on the roster as soon as Spring Training ends, but if a pitcher goes down, he could be one of the first they call to help.
– Kevin Youkilis had no hits today, but in all three at-bats he hit the ball very hard, his first at-bat coming close to hitting a Grand Slam.
Earlier in the post I said that I knew enough about baseball to know Granderson was going to miss some time. Here’s how I knew. Gardner: 2011. Alex Rodriguez: 2012. Both of them were hit by a pitch in the hand area. Gardner missed a few games and needed surgery after the season. Alex Rodriguez missed a lot of the 2012 season with a broken hand. Just know, when you get hit in the hand and you’ve seen as much baseball as possible–you know when it’s serious.
Good evening everyone and welcome to another Spring Training report! As we know all winter, there had been speculation about if Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson would switch positions when the 2013 season began. As of today, Joe Girardi is toying with the idea of having Gardner and Granderson switch during Spring Training.
“If we’re going to experiment, now’s the time.” Girardi told NJ.com.
Curtis Granderson had been repeatedly asked about the impending switch, causing the outfielder confusion. Granderson went to Girardi, wondering if there was fuel under the fire and apparently, there was. Girardi stressed to Granderson that none of the changes were permanent, and Granderson told the same thing to the media, along with the idea that he loved to play center field.
“I’d love to play center.” Granderson told the media. “That’s what I’ve been playing. At the same time, I want to play, in general. No matter where it happens to be, that’s where i want to be at.”
So is Granderson disappointed or upset with the move?
“Not at all.” Granderson said. “I’m playing. If I get benched, that’s a different story. But I’m still playing.”
To stress how differently this could feel for Granderson, he’s only played 22 games in LF in his entire career. The last time he played LF was in 2007. However, the switch seemed to make sense to the fans and of course to Brian Cashman.
“We have to decide whether it weakens us, or it makes us better.” Cashman told YES analyst Jack Curry. We understand how Joe Girardi feels about the situation, we understand how Curtis Granderson feels about the situation and now we understand how Brian Cashman feels about the situation. But how does Brett Gardner feel about the situation?
“If we went out there and played right now, I’d go to center, I’d go to left, whatever. It doesn’t really matter to me. I feel comfortable in either one of those spots.” Gardner told New York Daily News reporter Mark Feinsand.
Did Gardner expect to be flip-flopped with Granderson in the outfield this season?
“Not really.” Gardner said. “I’ve heard rumblings the last couple of years and it hasn’t happened. I’m sure they’ll (Yankees management) will look at whatever they need and make that decision, but I’m prepared for it.”
In the meantime, the Yankees will test the move out in Spring Training, in order to see if it will work, but I believe switching Granderson and Gardner in the outfield is the right idea. Do you?
OTHER YANKEES NOTES
– Speaking of Gardner and Granderson, they along with Ichiro decided to play a trick on the beat writers at Spring Training today. While they were doing their normal routine, Gardner suddenly went to right field, Granderson went to center and Ichiro went to left, causing many of them to become confused. Ichiro then moved to center field and Granderson joined Gardner in right. When LoHud Yankees tweeted that he figured Gardner, Granderson and Ichiro were messing with them, it turns out according to Brett Gardner, he was right.
“We noticed a couple of you guys noticed when we were out there.” Gardner told LoHud. “So we tried to move me to right and Ichiro to center so you guys would really figure something weird was going on.”
I’m beginning to think the Yankees need to be careful when they put Ichiro and Gardner together. Those two together have been hilariously dangerous this Spring.
– Mark Montgomery is feeling a lot better in his back and went through drills with no issues. He’s scheduled to have a bullpen tomorrow.
– Whose starting in Center Field on Saturday for the Yankees? “Melky Mesa.” Girardi said. Not sure if he was joking, but it would make sense to put Mesa in a game or two. He’s playing in the World Baseball Classic (which I was sadly told is not going to be on MLB.TV).
Although camp technically begins tomorrow, since there is a reasonable amount of players at the complex, we might as well start the Spring Training reports today. Here are today’s top stories from Tampa, Florida.
Jeter begins to run
Derek Jeter told reporters that he received the green light to do all activities that do with baseball–including running. Jeter ran for the first time since the surgery and said he felt pretty good.
”I’m progressing like I told you. I’m right where I need to be. I’ve gotten the okay to do everything.”
Although Jeter is doing well in his recovery, don’t expect him to play Spring Training games right off the bat. Jeter’s goal is Opening Day, the day where everything begins to matter.
Granderson speaks out to the Media
Curtis Granderson reported to Spring Training a week before position players are slated to appear, and wasn’t shy in talking to the media about the topics that have been surrounding him all winter: the speculation that he will move to LF and his contract.
When talking about the speculation on whether Granderson could move to LF, Granderson said he was “open to it” and that he wouldn’t mind the move. Keep in mind fans, Granderson has barely played LF but of course, you want your best outfielder in CF and that’s not Granderson–no offense Grandy.
Granderson also talked about wanting to talk a contract extension with the Yankees. “I’d be a fool not to.”
“I’m so excited about this fourth season and hopefully this isn’t the last one.” Yeah…that’s what Nick Swisher said last season. Where is he now? Oh, right…CLEVELAND.
Granderson also seems serious about wanting to hit better this season, which is why he talked to Ichiro Suzuki about it. Granderson started working out and hitting earlier than usual, which could be useful since he is speedy and could help out the other speed demons on the team: Brett Gardner, Ichiro and Eduardo Nunez to name a few.
Here’s today’s poll:
Spring Training is only a little bit over two weeks away and that usually brings about optimism for every baseball fan. There has not been a lot of reason for optimism for Yankees fans this winter. Ownership has not allowed Brian Cashman to spend freely, due to the mandate of getting the payroll under $189 million by 2014. This has led to very little activity from the Yankees this offseason. They have seen other teams in the American League get better like the Angels and Blue Jays. While the pessimism is certainly justified, it is not all doom and gloom for the Yankees. While the Angels and Tigers are a step above them right now, the Yankees should still have a solid team. Toronto is the favorite in the AL East right now, but it certainly is not impossible for the Yankees to win the division. Here are the five most important players for the Yankees to have a successful year this season:
1. Mark Teixeira- While Mark Teixeira has performed like a very good player over the last three years with the Yankees, he has not been the superstar that they were hoping for and that he was in 2009. The Yankees will be counting on Teixeira to bat cleanup and provide protection for Robinson Cano. That means an .OPS in the low .800’s and a batting average around .250 isn’t going to cut it. The Yankees need his OPS back around .900 and his average around .270 or .280. Teixeira is the Yankees’ only power threat from the right side and they need him to produce. Power won’t be the issue as Teixeira has hit close to 40 home runs even in his down seasons. If the Yankees can get anything close to the 2009 version of Teixiera him and Cano would be one of the best 3-4 duo’s in MLB.
2. Curtis Granderson- Curtis Granderson is in a similar situation as Teixeira. While he hasn’t had the career success that Teixeira has had, Granderson needs to get back to his 2011 season like Teixeira needs to get back to his 2009 form. There is a ton of pressure on Granderson this season because the Yankees did not go and add another bat for the 5th spot in the lineup. Justin Upton or Michael Morse would have been perfect, but obviously the Yankees did not acquire either of them. So, the Yankees will be counting on Granderson to return to his 2011 form. Granderson hit 43 home runs last season, but his line of .232/.319/.492/.811 was simply not good enough. Worst of all, he had an egregious 28.5 K% and looked completely lost at the end of the year. Kevin Long will need to work his magic on Granderson again for the 2013 season.
3. Mariano Rivera- The biggest strength the Yankees have right now is their bullpen. David Robertson, Joba Chamberlian, David Aardsma, Boone Logan and Clay Rapada make up a very solid middle relief core. There is one question about the bullpen Can Mariano Rivera be the Mariano Rivera that we know him to be at age 43 coming off a torn ACL and meniscus? Even for the immortal Rivera it is a legitimate question. If Rivera is injured or ineffective, the Yankees would still have a good bullpen, but probably not an elite one like they do if Rivera is his dominant self. However, I will never bet against Rivera, so I expect him to be just fine.
4. Brett Gardner- The Yankees sorely missed Brett Gardner last season, as a wrist injury in April caused him to miss most of the 2012 season. Gardner, the only Yankees regular starter under 30, will be a key piece for the Yankees this season. Last season, New York’s left fielders hit .253/.315/.444/.759. They largely depended on the power of Raul Ibanez. While Gardner won’t provide that, he will provide many other good qualities. Gardner will provide great patience at the plate, as his career walk percentage (11.0%) and pitches per plate appearance (4.29) are extremely good. Gardner will be huge on the base paths, as he has stolen 47 and 49 bases in his last two healthy seasons. His defense in left field is probably the best in MLB. While we know his defense and base running will be great, his hitting is still a question mark. His career line of .266/.355/.368/.723 is only OK for a non power hitter. Also, he has been poor against lefties for his career (.256/.362/.355/.731). For the Yankees to be an elite offense, they will need Gardner to have a close to .290 average at least. He has never done that in his career, but at age 29 Gardner should be peaking.
5. Phil Hughes- Like the bullpen, the rotation is a strength of the Yankees. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda form a very solid top of the rotation and Phil Hughes is a little bit of a wild card. Hughes overcame a rough April to have a solid season. He improved on his slider and changeup to help put more hitters away. This helped him to strikeout 7.8 per nine innings and only walk 2.2 per nine innings. Hughes is in a contract year, so he should be motivated to have a great season, as he can cash in big at the end of the year. From June through August, Hughes had a 3.19 ERA. If he can pitch even close to that for the whole 2013 season the Yankees will have a dominant rotation.