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Yankees First-Half Awards: Results

Will Brett Gardner take home BOTH the Defensive MVP and Offensive MVP award? Read to find out!

Will Brett Gardner take home BOTH the Defensive MVP and Offensive MVP award? Read to find out!

Welcome back Yankees fans! Now, on July 6th, I posted a poll about the Yankees First-Half awards. The poll had now closed and now it’s time to give the results.

DISCLAIMER: I was not allowed/couldn’t vote for anyone in any category in anyway. All of these votes are from you guys.  Now that we are perfectly clear, let’s start with the Pitching Category, shall we?

Who Is the Yankees Starting Pitcher MVP?

For this category, I listed the pitchers that have had either great or s0-so years. (Ivan Nova wasn’t added because he wasn’t in the rotation the entire half and Phil Hughes was plain terrible when I made the poll). So, here were your nominees for the Starting Pitcher MVP.

1) CC Sabathia

2) Hiroki Kuroda

3) Andy Pettitte

4) David Phelps

The Winner Is:

Hiroki Kuroda!

Hiroki Kuroda had a whopping 92% of the vote among Yankees fans. Andy Pettitte was second in the voting at 3% and CC Sabathia and David Phelps were tied with 2%. So pretty much Kuroda had this category in the bag.

Who is the Yankees Bullpen MVP?

Our next category takes us to the bullpen, where we have some of our top relievers that have outperformed above and beyond. (Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne and Adam Warren were not listed in this category because there was a specific category for them. We all know why Joba Chamberlain wasn’t nominated in any category, so that’s that.) Here were your nominees for Yankees Bullpen MVP.

1) Mariano Rivera

2) David Robertson

3) Boone Logan

The Winner Is:

Mariano Rivera!

Mariano Rivera had 85% of the vote, so it wasn’t shocking who won. It was shocking who came second. Boone Logan had 11% of the vote and David Robertson came in third with 4% of the vote. I would have figured more people would have voted for D-Rob. Interesting.

Who is the Yankees Bullpen Standout?

Here is the category where I listed some pitchers that weren’t in the other category. (Again, Joba is not in this category). These are some first time Yankees that have opened everyone’s eyes with what they could do. Here are your nominees for Yankees Bullpen Standout.

1) Shawn Kelley

2) Preston Claiborne

3) Adam Warren

The Winner Is:

Preston Claiborne!

Preston Claiborne had 63% of the vote among Yankees fans while Shawn Kelley had 34% of the vote. Adam Warren finished last in this category with 2%. I was surprised with Warren getting the least amount since he has helped out the bullpen so much as well

Now we move on to the Defense Category. 

Who Is The Yankees Defensive MVP?

This category involved multiple players that have opened our eyes with their defense. Luis Cruz wasn’t added to this category because he came after I already made the poll, but we could give him a pat on the back for the great defense he provided. Here are your nominees for Yankees Defensive MVP:

1) Robinson Cano

2) Brett Gardner

3) Ichiro Suzuki

4) Jayson Nix

5) Vernon Wells

The Winner Is:

Brett Gardner!

Brett Gardner quickly ran away (pun not intended) with this category with 69% of the vote. Robinson Cano came in second with 17% of the vote while Ichiro Suzuki came in third with 11% of the vote. Jayson Nix had 2% of the vote while Vernon Wells had 1%.

Onto the biggest award: The Yankees Offensive MVP

This is the final category of the awards. It also was the tightest race out of all the categories. I pulled up the Yankees best three offensive players throughout the first half and the winner…may shock you. Here are your nominees:

1) Robinson Cano

2) Brett Gardner

3) Ichiro Suzuki

The Winner Is:

Robinson Cano AND Brett Gardner!

I know what you’re thinking, how could BOTH of them win the Offensive Award? It was simple. The race was SO tight that by the time voting closed–they were tied. Both Gardner and Cano had 47% of the vote. Ichiro unfortunately was left in the dust with 7% of the vote.

And those are your winners for the Yankees First-Half Awards! Join me again in September after the regular season when we have 2013 Yankees Awards (awards that are for the entire year, instead of the first half).

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Pineda on the Rebound

Michael Pineda finally pitched in his first official game for the Yankees at Single-A Tampa on Saturday.

Pineda was very impressive, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. He only allowed two hits: a bunt and a bloop to right. Also, his fastball touched 95 MPH, he struck out four batters and only walked one.

“His fastball had life,” a scout told Anthony Rieber of Newsday. “His fastball had good life to it. Looks like the guy I saw in Tacoma a couple of years ago. . .Unfortunately for us.”

“I expected to see some red flags,” said the rival scout. “None that I saw. The arm action looked good. All the check marks you want to cross off for a guy’s first outing in a long time, the checkmarks were all there. He threw strikes, competed, held his velocity. Looked good. Looked good.”

This is great news for the Yankees, as they may finally see a return in their investment of Pineda when they traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for him and Jose Campos on January 13th, 2012. After Pineda went down with a torn labrum in his right shoulder last season the Yankees were getting killed for the trade. However, Montero has been terrible for the Mariners (.208/.264/.327/.590 this season) and was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma on May 23rd. The Yankees still have a solid chance of winning the trade.

The Yankees were hoping that they acquired a top of the rotation starter in Pineda, and he still has the talent to be that guy. In 2011 in Seattle, Pineda was 9-10, with a 3.74 ERA, a 3.42 FIP and 9.11 K/9. Pineda wowed people with his blazing fastball (94.7 average MPH) and a devastating slider (19.27 Whiff %). The key in Pineda’s development was developing his changeup to keep hitters off balance.

Pineda was dominant in the first half of the 2011 season, as he was was 5-4 with a 2.92 ERA and made the AL All-Star team. However, he struggled in the second half going 4-6 with a 4.40 ERA. What those numbers don’t tell you is that Pineda was more unlucky in the second half than he was poor.

Opponents only hit .236/.298/.391/.688 against Pineda in the second half of the season and he struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings. His BABIP went from .247 in the first half to .286 in the second half. Also, his second half FIP was still a solid 3.78, so Pineda did not pitch as badly in the second half as his standard numbers would indicate.

Anything the Yankees get out of Pineda this year would have been considered a bonus at the beginning of the year, but they have to be pleased with his progress so far. Considering how much they gave up for Pineda, the Yankees are very likely to insert him into the rotation once he is ready to come up to the Bronx. Assuming there are no injuries- which is never a safe assumption with the Yankees- it will be very interesting to see who is the odd man out in the rotation. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are all safe, which leaves Phil Hughes and David Phelps.

Phelps has continued to prove me wrong this season and has done a great job since he has been inserted into the rotation. Phelps’ ERA as a starter this season is 3.38 and his overall FIP this season is 3.37. The most surprising thing about him is that he has averaged 9.10 K/9 this season without what you would call great stuff. His poise and confidence on the mound are also big for him.

While Phelps has gotten the most out of his talents this season, the opposite can be said for Hughes. Hughes has a 4.80 ERA this season and has been very inconsistent again. It has usually been either a very good game or a brutal game with no in between. Home runs have once again been an issue, as Hughes has allowed 12 long balls already this season. His fly ball percentage is 50.5%, which is a career high even for Hughes.

The Yankees should try and trade Hughes if Pineda comes back healthy, although he probably would not fetch much with him pitching poorly and being a free agent this upcoming winter. Hughes and Phelps both have bullpen experience so they can make the transition easily.

With Jayson Nix, Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells and Chris Stewart as regulars in the Yankees lineup they need all the pitching help they can get. The Yankees already have one of the best starting pitching staffs in all of baseball, but a healthy Pineda would only make it better if he can perform like he did in Seattle.

The Yankees need to find out what they have for Pineda not only for this season, but for down the road since Sabathia is the only top of the line starting pitcher under contract for next season. With everybody talking about the offensive reinforcements Pineda has kind of been the forgotten man, but he can have a big impact and give the Yankees a great boost for the stretch run.

Middle Relief An Issue Early On

The Yankees bullpen was supposed to be a strength this year, just like it has been throughout the Joe Girardi era.  One of Girardi’s biggest strengths as a manager has been his bullpen management, as he usually never overworks anybody.  Bad starting pitching has forced his hand this year, and other than David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, the bullpen has been terrible.

The Yankees bullpen has allowed 21 runs and 52 base runners over 25.2 innings this season. Yesterday, they turned a painless game into an annoying one, as they made closing out a 11-3 game a lot harder than it should have been. Shawn Kelley was awful, as he allowed three runs, three hits and a walk, over 1.1 innings. Kelley was selected to be on the roster over David Aardsma for his ability to pitch multiple innings, but in the second inning of his last two appearances he has allowed two and three runs respectively. His career fly ball percentage of 51.3% may not play well in Yankee Stadium, and his fastball has been down two MPH this year (90.4).

Also, contributing to yesterdays and this season’s poor bullpen performance was Joba Chamberlain. He did not allow a run yesterday, but he did walk two batters in the ninth inning of a 11-6 game, which is brutal. Chamberlain was throwing full count sliders with that 11-6 lead, which just made no sense. This is when he gets into trouble. He over thinks things and does not attack hitters enough. He has great stuff, yet is still always nibbling at the corners, as he has six walks already this year in only 2.2 innings.  The Yankees desperately need Chamberlain to get consistent and become a reliable pitcher in the seventh inning.

Boone Logan has not looked good for the Yankees either, which is a big problem since he is their only lefty. Clay Rapada got released because he was injured and the Yankees had a tight squeeze on the 40 man roster. Logan allowed a big three-run home run to Prince Fielder on Friday that blew the game open and could not retire him again on Saturday either, allowing a single. He threw 80 innings last year, which you might think could be the reason for his struggles now, but his velocity is essentially the same as last year, so it might just be a slow start. Logan was very good last year, as lefties only hit .231/.293/.372/.665 against him, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt. If he continues to struggle the Yankees could call up Vidal Nuno, who lit it up spring training, but he is not on the 40 man roster.

Chamberlain and Logan are the two most important players that have to get going because they are the most proven and have the talent. The Yankees have often gotten in-season reinforcements in the bullpen that nobody saw coming, so that is always possible. David Phelps, who has also been bad, Adam Warren and Kelley all have minor league options available. The Yankees might want to consider sending Phelps or Warren down to be stretched out as a sixth starter if one of the starters gets injured.

Obviously, we are dealing with a small sample size, so this is nothing to go crazy over yet, but it is something to keep a close eye on. On some level everybody team’s middle relief is bad, since they are always the worst pitchers on a baseball team. Also, the starting pitchers pitching at least six innings is a good way to improve your middle relief, which has not been happening for the Yankees. This is a much better problem to have than having late inning issues or starting rotation issues because it is less important. However, if Rivera or Robertson were ever to get hurt than it would become a huge problem. The bullpen was supposed the be the biggest strength on the team and it needs to get turned around.

Yanks fall flat on Opening Day in 8-2 loss to Red Sox

Looking back at the game, the second inning is where the Yankees fell flat. CC Sabathia made some costly pitches which resulted in the Red Sox scoring four runs off of the Yankees ace. The three run ninth inning by Joba Chamberlain didn’t make matters any easier. In the end, the Yankees looked as flat as Sabathia’s fastball in the fourth inning. The offense was barely existent, minus the two run single by Francisco Cervelli in the fourth. To put it in perspective, the Yankees as a team looked sluggish. So sluggish that by the time the ninth inning rolled around, no one was in their seats.

The Yankees had one chance to score some more runs in the seventh when Cervelli and Brett Gardner got on base with back to back walks, but Eduardo Nunez, Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis struck out to end the inning, and any chance of the Yankees coming back in the game.

The Yankees pitching wasn’t as sharp either. David Phelps was able to tightrope out of danger in the sixth inning due to a base-running blunder by Jacoby Ellsbury, but the seventh was where everything fell apart. Phelps gave up a run with the assistance of Boone Logan, Chamberlain gave up three in the ninth. Now it’s back to the drawing board for the Yankees, as they prepare to take on the Red Sox again on Wednesday night.

Some Notes:

Mark Teixeira went to visit the doctor today and got the OK to take off the brace on his wrist–but he has to wear it when he works out.

Derek Jeter had some treatment done in Tampa today and played catch in the OF. Although Jeter could come off the DL on Saturday, I doubt he would since the Yanks want him to play a full nine innings before he returns.

Curtis Granderson had X-Rays on his forearm and told reporters in Tampa that his arm is feeling better. He’s allowed to shag fly balls but he can’t throw them back in the infield.

Phil Hughes pitched in an extended Spring Training game today, and went seven innings. Hughes will next pitch for Scranton Wilkes-Barre in five days, meaning he’s on track to return on April 11. Girardi left open the option that Hughes could return by Saturday but David Phelps is still in line to make that start.

Opening Day is coming, so how’s the team shaping up?

Brett Gardner could be a valuable player in the Yankees lineup...

Brett Gardner could be a valuable player in the Yankees lineup…

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?

Lineup:

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.

Starting Pitching:

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.

Bullpen:

...while Mariano Rivera could be a dynamic piece to the Yankees bullpen

…while Mariano Rivera could be a dynamic piece to the Yankees bullpen

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.

Gardner continues to swing hot bat as Yanks fall to Braves 2-0

The Yankees were unable to push any runs across the board, falling to the Braves 2-0. Now, I won’t say that a lot of things went wrong because other than the fact that the Yankees bats weren’t hitting, some of the Yankees looked really good. Here were some of the players that stuck out to me during the game.

Brett GardnerI seem to write about Gardner every time he plays, and there’s a good reason to. Gardner swung a hot bat from day one, and now currently has a seven game hit streak to begin the Spring Training season. To me it feels like last season, Gardner saved all his hits in a jar, kind of like a kid saving pennies on a rainy day. And just like a kid spending the pennies, he’s using the hits in Spring Training as if to make up for last season. Let’s just hope he saves some of those hits for the regular season.

David Phelps: Although he got the loss (Bad Yankees offense! Bad!), David Phelps pitched incredible, giving up just one run on two hits through four innings. Although he’s competing for a rotation spot, it would’t be the worst thing in the world to see Phelps in the bullpen. Like I said before, I don’t see Phelps going down to the minors if he continues to pitch this way. The minors are not an option.

Francisco RondonMark Montgomery didn’t have his stuff tonight, and it was evident that the Yankees were in a big jam when Joe Girardi came to get him in the 7th inning after the bases were loaded. When Girardi brought in Francisco Rondon, he automatically was able to get out of the jam without giving up a run.  I know everyone rants and raves about Mark Montgomery, but Rondon has been like David Robertson 2.o this Spring, getting out of jams when needed. If he does get cut from Major League camp, I expect him to be one of the last cuts since he’s doing so well so far.

WHAT’S NEXT

Robinson Cano will be at GMS Field tomorrow…in the visitors clubhouse. Team Dominican Republic on the road to the World Baseball Classic will take a pit stop and play against the Yankees in a 1:05 p.m. afternoon game. Hiroki Kuroda will get the start for the Yankees and if you’re going to watch the game…don’t cry when you see Robbie in a different uniform. He’ll be back in about two weeks.

Morning Bits: Lack of power in 2013, David Phelps, Switch Pitching Prospect Venditte

mug3Good morning all.   Away with the links….

– The Star Ledger writer Dave D’Alessandro believes that a lack of power will doom the 2013 Yankees.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY writes that it is now judgement days during spring training to evaluate talent such as David Phelps who pitches tonight.

– MLB.COM writer William Boor has an article about Yankees switch pitching prospect Pat Venditte who is proud to pitch for team Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

Yanks drop both split squad games vs. Blue Jays, Astros

Ir seems to me that things aren’t turning out the way the Yankees planned during Spring Training. However, we have to remember a couple of things before we get crazy about the standings (which we shouldn’t be doing).

1. The Yankees Major League starting pitchers haven’t even been in a game so far.

2. The Yankees hitters have only went about 5-6 innings before getting taken out.

3. It’s Spring Training. Almost everyone’s rusty.

However, it would be nice to see the Yankees win a game or two. Let’s break down the good (and bad) that came out of each game. That seems like an easier way to recap the split-squad games.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees

Gardner & Ichiro are locked in: If the season started today, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki wouldn’t mind. At all. Both of them as of right now are easily the best hitters on the team, with both of their batting averages over .500. Gardner went 1-for-3 today, now successfully hitting in four-straight games. Ichiro also had a 1-for-3 day, extending his hitting streak. It’s nice to know that out of the gate the two speedsters are ready for the 2013 season. Now if everyone else behind them can catch up, that would be great.

Clay Rapada is unstoppable (and undefeated): Clay Rapada had the quickest 1-2-3 inning, that if you went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and come back, the inning would be over due to his sheer brilliance on the mound. There’s also an interesting fact that YES gave about Rapada: He’s been in 148 games and his overall record is 8-0 in the Majors. That means that Clay Rapada has never lost a game in his Major League career. Never. Ever. Just judging by today’s game, I would already have a nice roster spot for Mr. Rapada. He looked in mid-season form.

Chris Stewart ejected: Chris Stewart only had one at-bat. And that one-at bat would be the last at-bat that he would have on the day. He hit into a bang-bang play at first base. YES instant replay showed Stewart’s foot touched the bag before the ball went into the first baseman’s glove. However, Marty Foster called him out. Stewart said something and then was ejected from the game, making him the first ejection of the Spring. Just so you know, Spring Training ejections don’t happen very often, so that must mean Marty Foster in in mid-season form.

David Phelps pitches strong: David Phelps had another strong outing, going 3 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk and 1 strikeout. Phelps’ future with the Yankees could be either one of two things at this point: he could either be in the rotation, taking the 5th spot from Ivan Nova, or he could be in the bullpen, helping out in later innings. I don’t see him going back to the minor leagues, at all.

Yankees vs. Astros:

Melky Mesa has great game: The young CF looks to be in the front running of who could take Curtis Granderson‘s job for the next 4-6 weeks after the big day he had at the plate. The young CF went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI’s on the day. I wonder what John Sterling’s HR call would be for the young OF if he ever had a chance to play on the big league club–and if he homered.

Nunez helmet won’t stay on: Another day, another chance to see Eduardo Nunez‘s helmet fall off his head. Just as I had hoped that Nunez would be able to keep the helmet on while running down the first baseline, it came off when he hit a lead-off single in the first inning. Maybe someone should add a chin strap or get him a helmet like Francisco Cervelli‘s. That way it can’t come off.

Cervelli’s strong day behind the plate: Speaking of the young catcher, Cervelli had a great day behind the plate, throwing out two runners who were attempting to steal. Offensively, he went 0-for-3. Maybe it didn’t help that Chris Stewart was ejected because judging by what happened today, it looks like Cervelli took the lead in the catching competition.

Marshall has a good start: Another Brett on the Yankees ball-club had a great day as well, and his name is Brett Marshall. Through three innings, he struck out three and only allowed one hit. Now that is some impressive numbers from the young starter, who is one of the few players actually impressing this Spring Training.

WHAT’S NEXT:

– The Phillies will take the drive from Clearwater to Tampa in order to play the Yankees at GMS Field tomorrow. Robinson Cano is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow and Saturday before leaving on Sunday for the World Baseball Classic. The game will be at 1:05 p.m. on the YES Network.

Phelps looks sharp as Yanks clobber Braves 8-3 in Spring opener

David Phelps knew how vital this start could be in the factoring decision on whether or not he would get the fifth rotation spot. So far, so good for the young pitcher who is entering his sophomore season in the majors with the Yankees and is desperately trying to win a roster spot, whether it be in the rotation or in the bullpen.

Yesterday, Joe Girardi said he expected Phelps to go two innings or throw 37 pitches. Phelps made it through his two innings, not allowing a single run. Phelps’s final line was 2 innings, no runs, three hits, no strike outs and no walks.

The Yankees bats were quiet for the first two innings but a third inning where the Braves committed two errors, a pass ball and a wild pitch opened the door for them when Zolio Almonte hit a two run homer, bringing home Melky Mesa. Eduardo Nunez also reached on an error and Robinson Cano reached on poor fielding, putting on a four spot in the third. Cano homered in the fifth inning, extending the Yankees lead while Austin Romine hit a two run single with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.

The Yankees displayed both Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine in the game, Cervelli throwing out a runner in the second and Austin showing off his bat in the seventh.

Major League Players Look

– Robinson Cano went 1 for 3 with a HR and an RBI.

Mark Teixeira went 0 for 3, grounded into a double play and has an RBI on a fielders choice.

Back at Yankees camp:

Derek Jeter ran on the field back in Tampa, showing progress on trying to make it back to the Yankees by Opening Day.

What’s Next?

The Yankees will take on the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m, the first televised Yankees game by YES. Players such as Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and Kevin Youkilis are expected to be in the lineup. Adam Warren is slated to start the game.

Spring Training Notes 2/19/13: Hughes, Montgomery, Ichiro, Gardner, Phelps, Teixeira, Cano

Phil Hughes

There are a lot of notes from a lot of players today, so let’s skip the chit-chat for today and review everything that went on in Yankee camp.

Phil Hughes has been shut down by the Yankees for a few days after experiencing soreness in his upper back. However, according to Girardi, we shouldn’t worry too much about Hughes’s injury since its in the upper part of his back.

“It’s upper back, up here by his shoulder blades, so we’ll see how he is in a couple of days. The good thing is he was ahead of where he probably would normally be at this time which helps. You’re usually more concerned about the lower lingering. But until it’s gone, it’s going to linger. That’s like, a Yogi-ism.”

– After experiencing discomfort in his back, Mark Montgomery played catch today. Montgomery was also throwing to hitters earlier in Spring Training, and the Yankees should expect to get the young pitcher back soon.

Ichiro Suzuki is known for his behind his back catches when he’s shagging fly balls in the outfield, and Brett Gardner wanted to see it for himself. After the media spotted Ichiro making a catch from behind his back, they went to Gardner who was in the outfield with him during outfield drills, and Gardner admitted that he was the one who told Ichiro to do it, with a smile on his face.

“It’s my fault.” Gardner laughed. “I told him to do it.”

Gardner is already one-up on Joe Girardi, since Girardi has heard of the catches but never had seen one in person. I guess all he has to do to see one is ask Ichiro. Honestly, Ichiro sounds like a lot of fun to be around.

– Joe Girardi chose David Phelps as the starter for Saturday’s game (which is not televised). Adam Warren will pitch in Sunday’s game (which is televised on YES).

Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are preparing for the World Baseball Classic, meaning that they both would leave camp earlier this year. Robinson Cano is leaving camp March 2nd while Mark Teixeira is leaving camp March 3rd. That gives both players to get in some Yankees games before heading out and representing their country. Don’t worry Yankees fans. Robinson Cano will be back on March 6th when Team Dominican Republic plays the Yankees at GMS Field. Should be a lot of fun.

Spring Training Notes 2/14/13: Nova, Pineda, Phelps, Youkilis

Ivan Nova

Day three of Spring Training has come to a close, meaning it’s time for another Spring Training report. Yesterday was all about Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Today, our Spring Training notes travel further back in the rotation (and briefly at third base). Today, we take you into the competition for the fifth starter spot between Ivan Nova and David Phelps, who had a great rookie season with the Yankees last year.

We should start by discussing the battle for the 5th spot between Nova and Phelps.

Nova vs. Phelps: Who gets the fifth spot?

Ivan Nova doesn’t know what went wrong last season after he posted  7.05 ERA after the All-Star Break. He does know that the fifth starter spot is his to lose to David Phelps.

“I was in competition when I had the season I had last year. Last year was a competition. This year’s going to be a competition. For me, next year’s going to be a competition. Like I told one of the guys, CC’s got 100-something million. With that contract, I can sit down and it won’t be a competition, but for me every year is a competition. I’m confident at the same time that I’m going to be there. I cannot sit here and let things happen. I’ve got to go and fight for it.” Nova told the media earlier today. One other person agreed with Nova’s words, Joe Girardi.

“He has to go out there and prove himself. That’s the bottom line.” Girardi said. “Because of what he went through the second half of the season, he has to earn a job. You’d like to think that every starter would go out and earn a job, but we know that’s not realistic. I don’t think we’re going to look at CC’s numbers real heavily, or (Hiroki) Kuroda’s.”

Coming into camp, it seemed that David Phelps had the disadvantage due to the fact that he was in a bullpen role last season? So does that mean Joe Girardi will judge Phelps on whether he’s a bullpen piece or not?

“We’re going to look at (Phelps) as a starter going into camp because that’s what we project him as in the future. And we’ll make adjustments if we have to.”

So for those of you who plan on watching almost every Spring Training game (or if you have MLB.TV where you would technically only miss three games), then this is the year for you to watch who gets the fifth rotation spot.

Michael Pineda loses weight and could be ready by June

Michael Pineda went to Spring Training camp in better shape than he did last season, weighing in at 260 and ready to work towards returning to the Yankees in June. Brian Cashman answered questions about Pineda but mostly gave a prognosis on where Pineda was at this point.

“Mike’s doing well so far.” Cashman said. “He’s completing his first week on a full mound, he’s had no setbacks, he’s worked very hard and it’s a very serious surgery he’s coming back from. No guarantees but so far we’re optimistic.”

If all goes well, Pineda could be back with the Yankees before the All-Star Break.

Youkilis comes to camp

Kevin Youkilis came to Yankees camp for a few minutes earlier today, but he did get his work in while at the minor league complex with some of the other players. Youkilis seemed excited to see teammate Juan Cedeno, who he knew since they were both in the Red Sox organization at one point. Youkilis got to Tampa at 6:30 this morning and went to work out at the minor league complex. Eduardo Nunez was also spotted in the Yankees clubhouse. Probably getting his work in.

A big reminder, tomorrow is the voluntary report date for the Yankees position players but we should expect more of them coming in the coming days. To Girardi’s knowledge, none of them have visa or transportation issues. Also, someone might want to call Robinson Cano. Remember in 2010 when he showed up a day late to camp because he had the dates mixed up? Yeah…

Spring Training Notes 2/12/13: State Of The Yankees Address

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

Today may be the State Of the Union Address for the United States of America, but today was the State of the Yankees Address live from the minor league complex by none other than the Yankees manager Joe Girardi (who might I add is in the final year of his contract). Girardi covered a plethora of topics but one of the biggest topics that Girardi covered was Alex Rodriguez. Here’s some notes and news from today.

Girardi on Alex Rodriguez:

“There really isn’t a lot to talk about. My concern is for him to get healthy. This club is used to having what people might call distractions.”

Girardi hasn’t spoken to Alex Rodriguez about the PED topic and has confirmed that Alex Rodriguez will not be in camp this spring. Instead, Rodriguez will rehab in New York.

Girardi on the 2013 team:

“We’re going to have to find a different way to score runs. Our offense is going to be different but I believe [we're going to score runs].”

Girardi also believes that the Yankees are going to win 95 games and the World Series. “There’s a lot of talent in this room. If we play up to our capabilities, I believe we’re a very good team.”

Girardi’s biggest concern:

Girardi’s biggest concern is finding a right-handed DH bat before the actual season begins.

Girardi on Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki:

As of today, Brett Gardner will be in LF, Curtis Granderson will be in CF and Ichiro Suzuki will be in RF. There’s no plans on moving Gardner and Granderson as of yet, but it could change as he discusses it with his coaches.

Girardi on concerns of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera:

He doesn’t have any concerns on both Yankees who are coming off of injuries.

MORE AROUND YANKEES CAMP

Austin Romine came into camp thirteen pounds lighter and his back in very good shape. He believes he sees an opportunity.

CC Sabathia is also 100% after having elbow surgery over the winter. He says that the surgery was a relief and he now has complete mobility of his elbow. Sabathia also lost a lot of weight, now weighing in at 290. His first bullpen session will be on Thursday.

– We also have new locker arraignments and numbers in Yankees camp. Here they are:

-Travis Hafner takes Nick Swisher‘s old number and will now wear #33. Hafner’s locker is now next to Youkilis, formerly vacated by Eric Chavez.
-Francisco Cervelli will now wear #29, formerly worn by Rafael Soriano.
-David Phelps changed his number to #35. Mike Mussina used to wear #35 back in the day as did Michael Pineda last season (who we never saw during the season).
-Michael Pineda will now wear #43. His previous number was #35.
-Kevin Youkilis wears #36 and now has Nick Swisher’s old locker.
- David Aardsma will now wear #34.
- Matt Diaz will now wear #22.
- Dan Johnson will now wear #27.
- Juan Rivera will now wear #54.

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

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

Keep Em’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dump Em’

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 Yankees: Keep Em’ or Dump Em’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How should the 2012 postseason roster look?

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

Infield

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

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

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

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

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

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