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Miraculous 8th Inning Comeback Propels Yanks To 6-4 Win

APTOPIX White Sox Yankees Baseball.JPEG-01d77

Despite going up against arguably the best pitcher in baseball in White Sox ace Chris Sale, it still would’ve been a disappointment had the Yankees lost last night. There’s no need to explain that the team has to go on a 2011 Cardinals-esque run to even have a shot at the playoffs in a few weeks, so any loss against a lesser team is simply unacceptable.

Unfortunately, it looked like the Yanks had accepted their fate in last night’s game, as Sale had gone out and completely dominated the lineup. If it weren’t for yet another defensive miscue by Chicago that allowed Vernon Wells to steal home in the 2nd inning, the 24-year old lefty would’ve been working on a shutout as  he started the 8th inning after allowing just three hits.

After recording an out, Sale surrendered a single to Derek Jeter and a double to Robinson Cano that put runners on second and third. Manager Robin Ventura elected to bring in Nate Jones to face Alfonso Soriano with Chicago’s  4-1 lead still in-tact.

But, it probably shocked no one who was on the field when Soriano poked a single into center field, scoring Jeter and Cano to make it a 4-3 game. Even on nights when he may not have his A-game, Sori just keeps on producing and coming through in the clutch. It’s pretty remarkable.

Anyway, Jones stayed in there to face Alex Rodriguez who singled to center as well, putting runners at the corners. As Joe Girardi went to his bench and pinch-hit Curtis Granderson for Vernon Wells, Ventura did some match-making of his own by bringing in Donnie Veal.

Yet, it was Joe who won this battle of the skippers as Grandy picked up the Yankees’ fifth straight hit of the inning with an RBI single. The game was now tied up at 4, and fans who were watching could swear a DeLorean picked them up and brought them back to 2009. It was that magical of a comeback, and the best part was that it was far from over.

Mark Reynolds struck out, but Ventura again went to the bullpen, bringing in Matt Lindstrom. Although it really didn’t matter who was on the mound, because the momentum had shifted completely. People knew that the Yanks were going to find a way to get it done no matter what.

So when Eduardo Nunez laced a two-run double down the left field line, the Yankees had a 6-4 lead and it was time to “put it on the left side”, as Michael Kay once said. In came Mariano Rivera and in a matter of minutes the ballgame was over, as Mo racked up his 40th save of the season.

While the Yanks may not have gained any ground as the Rays defeated the Angels, they luckily did not lose any. The team was well on its way to a well-deserved loss through the first 7 1/2 innings, but luckily they found a way to claw back in what may turn out to be their best game of the season.

But as is the case during a playoff chase like this, last night’s likely Yankee Classic is exactly that – in the past – and the Yanks have to focus on winning TODAY. It’ll be our former ace CC Sabathia going up against right-hander Erik Johnson, who is making his Major League debut. Game time is 7:05pm, and it’s can’t-miss television, folks. Now is the time to be fully invested in this Yankee team. It’s got talent, it’s got heart, it’s got pride, and it’s got the mentality Mariano Duncan and the 1996 world championship team had – that “We play today, we win today, das it!”

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Yankees creeping closer to second Wild Card Spot

Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter and the Yankees have a big task this September--get into the second Wild Card spot.

Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter and the Yankees have a big task this September–get into the second Wild Card spot.

All right, let’s play a quick game. Raise your hand if on May 1st you thought this team was going to be in a position to take the second Wild Card spot in September with a lineup that didn’t have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson or Mark Teixeira. Be honest, because from Twitter from May-July there were some pessimistic tweets about them.

It is September 1st. The Yankees are 3.5 games back for the second Wild Card spot entering play today and they have 27 games remaining. The Tampa Bay Rays have been fading recently, going 3-7 in their last ten games, playing the first Wild Card spot team the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees in their last 10 games are 7-3.  The team the Yankees need to keep below them in the Wild Card, the Baltimore Orioles are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Yes, the Yankees have been playing with the cards that have been dealt to them but it’s easier now, considering the Yankees have some power in the lineup.

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have returned. The Yankees have traded for Alfonso Soriano. They claimed Mark Reynolds off waivers. The world (and the season) no longer falls on Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki‘s shoulders. They are now a small (but important) part of a large puzzle. The rotation has been getting quality work from Ivan Nova and Andy Pettitte. Hiroki Kuroda is expected to turn it around after a dismal August, which could be because of fatigue. The bullpen has been flawless this year (well, majority of the bullpen). The Yankees pieces are all clicking together at the right time and if they keep playing the way they are playing, they have a legitimate chance to knock Tampa Bay out of the second spot and claim it for themselves.

Two weeks ago, the Yankees chances seemed slim. They had to hop over three teams to even get behind the Rays. Going into September…the Yankees hope to pass the Rays and get into postseason contention and prove all the naysayers wrong. This team could be good enough to get into the playoffs, but how far could they possibly go?

Starting Pitching Needs to Step Up

The New York Yankees have completely turned their offense around during the month of August behind Alfonso Soriano, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.

The Yankees are third in the AL in homers in August (29), fifth in wOBA (.330) and sixth in OPS (.751)  The Yankees have averaged nearly 4.5 runs per game in Soriano’s 30 games as a Yankees and he trails only Miguel Cabrera in home runs after the all-star break.

Rodriguez (.284/.369/.473/.842 with a 133 wRC+) and Granderson (.291/.412/.456/.868 with a 140 wRC+) have both been terrific since they returned from the DL. Assuming that this continues, the Yankees should have plenty of offense for them to make a run at the second wild car in September. The question will be whether the starting pitching can be good enough.

There have been some good signs and some bad signs out of the starting pitchers lately. Andy Pettitte turning it around and Ivan Nova maintaining his performance have been good ones.

Over his last three starts, Pettitte has allowed just two runs on 15 hits over 19.2 innings. The first of those three starts was the biggest, as Pettitte delivered a huge performance in the opening game of the series in Boston. He allowed three unearned runs over 6.2 innings and gave up six hits, one walk and struck out five. He was given a huge first inning lead to work with, but big leads can evaporate quickly at Fenway Park.

Pettitte’s last two outing came against the Blue Jays and he allowed only one run over 13 innings. Toronto is not a great team but the starts were still very encouraging. When the stakes get raised Pettitte raises his game, which is why I have a lot of confidence in him pitching big games down the stretch in September. You know he is going to battle and not be afraid of any moment. Pettitte’s ERA is now down to a respectable 4.05 for the season.

Nova has not been as dominant in his last three starts, but he has still battled and managed to have good results. That is big for a pitcher who has had the physical tools, but lacked knowledge in just how to pitch. Nova has allowed 27 hits to only 11 strikeouts over those last three starts, but the most amount of runs that he allowed was four over 6.1 innings on August 20th against Toronto. In his previous start, he allowed three runs over 7.1 innings against the Angels and came up with a big performance in a game the Yankees had to have Sunday in Tampa.

The problems in the Yankees rotation are CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Hiroki Kuroda has struggled as well over his last two outings, but I will chalk that up to just a blip on the radar for him.

Sabathia has shown signs of improvement but has still been unable to put it all back together. His fastball velocity has improved lately, as he has averaged 93.24 MPH on his fastball in August, including averaging 93.88 MPH and 94.07 MPH over his last two starts. However, as Sabathia has added velocity his control has vanished. He has allowed an abysmal 4.70 walks per nine innings in August.

Sabathia has thrown quality starts in three out of his last four outings, but he still has not been the dominant Sabathia we have come to know over the last few years. He had an egregious performance in the rubber match of the Boston series but got bailed out by his offense.

Then, on Saturday, Sabathia blew a 2-0 lead when he imploded in the sixth inning. He was absolutely dominant over the first five innings with his fastball humming at over 94 MPH and his slider breaking as sharply as it had all season. It all fell apart when Sam Fuld hit a bloop single to lead off the sixth inning and Sabathia could not find the plate out of the stretch. That game is the type of game that the Yankees will need Sabathia to finish down the stretch of the season if they want to make the playoffs.

There seems to be little hope for Hughes to be an effective pitcher at all this season. Hughes has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season with an ERA of 4.91, which ranks 80th out of 85 qualified starting pitchers.

With only 30 games remaining in the season the Yankees cannot afford to give any games away, which is essentially what they have been doing by running Hughes out there every five days.

Unfortunately, the options that the Yankees have to replace Hughes are not very appealing. David Huff and Adam Warren are the only in-house options with David Phelps, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno all injured.

Huff has thrown 8.1 innings of shutout baseball over his last two relief appearances against Toronto and has only allowed one hit. However, Huff’s 5.25 ERA and 4.74 FIP in almost 300 career innings inspires little confidence. Warren has been o.k. this season, but I still do not believe that he has the stuff to be a good MLB starting pitcher. At the very least the Yankees need to skip Hughes’ start this weekend in Baltimore.

The Yankees are currently five games behind Oakland in the chase for the second wild card. They will have to play close to flawless baseball in September to catch them and they cannot do it without great starting pitching. They have not gotten that consistently since the beginning of the season and it needs to reappear right now for the Yankees to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

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).

Yankees First Half Awards Poll

Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner are MVP's for the Yankees, but who will take home  the Offensive and Defensive MVP?

Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner are MVP’s for the Yankees, but who will take home the Offensive and Defensive MVP?

With the All-Star break approaching us, it’s time to reward the Yankees on the team for their hard work that they’ve done for half of the year. It’s been a tough 3 months, but with a loss of many players, the Yankees are still in the hunt for a play-off spot (yes, I know it’s hard to fathom). So, with the first half of the season closing in, it’s time to have a poll on some deserving players who have went above and beyond in trying to help the Yankees. So here are the categories:

Yankees Offensive MVP:

The Yankees have been through a lot through the last 3 months of the season, some good, some bad, some terrible and some horrendous. However, for the Yankees there have been a few bright spots on the team. I had to find at least three players to be nominated for this award and with this lineup–it was very easy to make my decision. So thank you to the rest of the lineup for constantly struggling. Anyway, here are your nominees for Yankees Offensive MVP:

Yankees Starting Pitching MVP:

There haven’t been a lot of bright spots for the Yankees Starting pitching, but so once again it was pretty easy to find at least three (or four) nominees for this subject. So here are your nominees for Yankees Starting Pitching MVP:

Yankees Bullpen MVP:

The Yankees bullpen MVP was the hardest part to choose Yankees nominees (thanks for being so good guys). These nominees went above and beyond to protect the leads for the most part, and even shut down the opposing team’s offense. Here are your nominees for Yankees Bullpen MVP:

Yankees Bullpen Standout:

Now, there are Yankees MVP, and then there are players that have joined the Yankees in the pen for the first time in 2013 and have shut down the offense. So this category is for those players. Here are your nominees for Yankees Bullpen Standout:

Yankees Defensive MVP:

Now, there are some good catches…and then there are catches that leave the offense wanting to throw their helmets down on the floor in anger. Here are your nominees for the Yankees Defensive MVP for the first half of 2013:

Here are the polls, Yankees fans! You have until July 14th to get your votes in and I’ll have the winners posted up during the All-Star Break! You can vote as many times as you want for a player, so good luck and may the best player win.

Yankees That Should Go To The All-Star Game

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees

The 2013 All-Star Game is quickly approaching and it’s sure to be a week of festivities in New York City. Players from all 30 teams will go to Queens and fight for one of the most glorious prizes: home field advantage during the World Series. Now, there are multiple ways for players to go to the All-Star Game. There’s the famous voting for your favorite player 25-35 times on MLB.com (by the way you have till July 4 to do so), and there’s the manager selection. For those of you unfamiliar with the manager selection here is the rule:

The manager of each leagues All-Star Team–in consultation with other managers in his league and the Commissioner’s office– will fill his team’s roster up to 33 players .

So with that rule in effect and with the ballot voting, it’s time to decide which Yankee should (in my opinion) should make it to the All-Star Game.

1. Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano obviously should be on the All-Star Team (and if voting went his way, he should be the starting second baseman). Robbie Cano is having a slight off-year in the batting average department but he leads the team in HR’s and RBI’s and is one of if not the best second basemen defensively in the game. I know defense isn’t going to mean anything in the All-Star Game, but Cano has many other aspects. And if (for some odd, strange reason) Cano doesn’t make it to the All-Star Game, we will see him during All-Star Week, since he is the Captain of the AL HR Derby Team.

2. Mariano Rivera

This is an obvious no-brainer. It’s Mariano Rivera’s final year, he’s having another All-Star season and I bet if it weren’t for his season ending ACL injury, he would of been on the 2012 All-Star Game Roster. The only issue is where would Mariano Rivera pitch in the game. Fans want him to start the All-Star Game but Mariano Rivera wants to close the All-Star game. If I could have a say, I would love it if Mo got the last three outs of the game. It would be a fitting end and it would be better than getting the first three outs of the game. Plus, if Mo does go in the game, can we hear Enter Sandman as a loving tribute to the greatest closer ever?

3. Preston Claiborne

The good news with pitchers is the league decides and not the fans. And I know Preston is a rookie and has only been here for roughly 2 1/2 months, but he has done a phenomenal job in the Yankees bullpen. Maybe with the roster moves that the league would have to do with the pitchers that pitched the Sunday before the game, Claiborne can somehow squeeze his way on the roster. David Robertson did so in 2010 when he wasn’t originally listed on the roster, yet made it after the plethora of changes the day before the All-Star Break.

4. Brett Gardner

Brett  Gardner

Before you say that ‘Gardner is not an All-Star’ and ‘There are a bunch of players that are better than Gardner for the manager’s vote’ just hear me out here. For most of the season, the one who has been carrying the Yankees on their backs (along with Robinson Cano) is Brett Gardner. He has the most hits on the team, is tied for the most stolen bases on the team and numbers show that he is the fourth best outfielder defensively. Gardner’s not a power-hitter but he already has 6 HR’s on the season and has shown some power with his booming doubles and triples that almost leave the park. If anyone should at least be considered for the manager’s vote, it’s Gardner. Right now, he’s the Yankees best player hitting with consistency.

5. Hiroki Kuroda

CC Sabathia is the ‘ace’ of the Yankees staff, but the one that has been pitching like an ace this season is Hiroki Kuroda. Other than his two starts to begin the season, Kuroda has not had a ‘bad’ outing. He considers a couple of his starts bad when he gives up three runs (which isn’t bad at all) but if you look at his numbers, he has been the guy that they go to in order to shut down the other team’s offense. The only reason Kuroda has those losses is because–the Yankees can’t score. But his ERA and his numbers should tell the story as to why he’s having an All-Star year.

So now that I have given my five players that I think should make it to the All-Star game (whether by the fans or managers vote), it’s time for you to decide. If you had five players that you wanted to take to the All-Star game, which five players would it be?

Yanks drop second straight game to Sox in 7-4 loss

On Monday, the Yankees offense (besides Cervelli) was absent. Tonight, the Yankees hit two home runs but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Red Sox, as the Yanks dropped their second straight game at Yankee Stadium by the score of 7-4.

Hiroki Kuroda was forced to leave the game in the second inning after a line drive hit him in his middle finger. The results came back as a finger contusion but the Yankees were going to send him to get x-rays just to make sure that’s all it was. Cody Eppley came in afterwards, allowing four runs, who was then relieved by Adam Warren who only gave up one run. Shawn Kelley was the only Yankee pitcher who didn’t give up a run to the Red Sox.

The Yankees had two home runs during tonight’s game, one by Travis Hafner and one by Vernon Wells, both of those accounting for the four runs the Yankees scored; Hafner a solo shot. Wells a three-run shot.

Tomorrow the Yankees will send Andy Pettitte on the mound in order to break the losing streak, as they fear that they’ll be behind 0-3 to start the season.

Update: Hiroki Kuroda’s X-Ray’s came back negative and he’s day-to-day. However, Joe Girardi says it’s too early to tell whether Kuroda will make his next start or not.

Behind the music: The 2013 Yankees walk-up songs

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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 BoeschBrennan 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 GardnerI 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 StewartChris 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 GrandersonWe 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 RobertsonWe 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 JeterThe 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 KurodaHiroki 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 NovaAh, 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 RiveraMariano 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 TeixeiraIf 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 HughesPhil 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 CanoRobinson 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 WellsI’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.

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.

“Experienced” players will decide the outcome of 2013

Turning 39 years old this June, Derek Jeter has re-iterated over the past few years that age is simply just a number to him and the rest of his veteran teammates.

Of course, most baseball minds have thought otherwise, saying as they have in prior offseasons that this upcoming season will be the season the old guard finally breaks down and prevents the Yankees from making the playoffs.

“I’ve heard it before,” Jeter told the New York Post in response to the skepticism. “Regardless of how old anyone is, it’s our job to come here and be ready to play and help us compete. We’ve been able to do that pretty successfully over the years. Our plans don’t change.”

It’s definitely great to hear The Captain having that mindset, and he’s right. With the old age and doubt at its highest, the Yanks have won consecutive division titles and made two ALCS appearances in three years. Mind you, the reason there was even a chance for a pennant last October was thanks to a 40-year old carrying the team on his back in the late innings – Raul Ibanez.

So whether it’s the experience factor, fate, plain luck, or some other reason, time nor age has phased this Yankees team. They have remained just as big a threat to win the World Series as they were when Robinson Cano was a teenager in the late nineties.

Without saying its a problem, however, the oldest guys on the roster must do the un-expected once again to keep the Yanks at the top of the American League’s totem pole.

That may have been stating the obvious, but the team is definitely centered around a group of extraordinary, extra-old veterans who somehow have kept up with the rest of MLB over the past decade. Jeter (38), Andy Pettitte (40), Hiroki Kuroda (38), Ichiro Suzuki (39), and Mariano Rivera (43) are absolutely essential parts of this year’s ball-club. As I said, it’s not too often players their age are still in the game, let alone performing at a high level.

Now is it fair to doubt them, with all they’ve done in each of their careers? No. But people will, and have some reason to do so. To think that these players can lead the team through a six-month season and still have it in them to keep it up [hopefully] in October is a lot to ask. It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t consider it the most likely scenario.

I refuse to say this will be the year the Yankees’ age finally catches up to them, as each year in thinking that they surprise me and win the division. They are not too old to compete, but we’ve seen in the past few seasons the team dominating in the regular season, and just running out of gas come October. Things could change between now and September, but a realistic take on the 2013 Yankees is that they have the talent to return to the postseason. But their efforts to win in the postseason may again derail their quest for a 28th title.

Cervelli has good game, but Yanks fall to Phillies 10-5

The more we chant “It’s Just Spring Training”, the more frustrated we become. Why? Because the Yankees last (and only) win came one week ago, tomorrow. Now, the fans don’t like to see the Yankees lose, but the Yankees are playing sloppy baseball. That’s what summed up today’s 10-5 loss against the Phillies. Sloppy.

There was more bad than good that came out of the game, a game that was plagued with four errors. Now, let’s try to look at the bright side, because that’s all that we can do at this point.

Francisco CervelliFrancisco Cervelli is seemingly pulling himself away from the catchers competition, going 2-for-2 with a walk, and throwing out yet another runner. Chris Stewart hasn’t played since the second inning of yesterday’s game, where he was ejected for allegedly pointing at the umpire after the umpire warned him not to point, so it gives Cervelli an edge so far this Spring.

David RobertsonD-Rob came into another tight jam, relieving Hiroki Kuroda who only went 1.2 IP and allowing 4 runs (1 earned). In five pitches, Robertson got out of the jam and stopped the game from further damage at that point. I said it once and I’ll say it again: D-Rob is in midseason form.

Hiroki Kuroda: Now, some people will argue that Kuroda had a bad outing, but when you watched the game, the numbers don’t translate to how he actually pitched. He actually got the ground-balls when he needed them, unfortunately, the infielders were unable to field the ball and their positions, allowing three unearned runs to score. Was Kuroda sharp? No. But did he look decent for his first time on the mound? Yes.

Melky MesaIf the Yankees are looking for someone to take Curtis Granderson‘s spot for the next 4-6 weeks, then I strongly suggest Melky Mesa. He played the entire game, and hit another home run. He hit one yesterday vs. the Astors as well, making his total 2 HR’s and 4 RBI’s in the last two days. His bat’s on fire, and just in time too. He’s planning on going to the World Baseball Classic.

What’s Next:

– The Yankees will try again to get their second win of the Spring tomorrow against the Detroit Tigers, who are coming from Lakeland to Tampa. Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira are both slated to play their last game with the Yankees before heading off to their separate teams for the World Baseball Classic. That game will be at 1:05 p.m. on YES Network.

Cashman goes into Winter Meetings with a lot on his plate

With Russell Martin going to the Pirates, Brian Cashman's winter list got a little bit longer

With Russell Martin going to the Pirates, Brian Cashman’s winter list got a little bit longer

When the Yankees ended their 2012 season with an ALCS loss to the Tigers, the pieces that the Yankees have to pick up again seemed legitimately small. They knew they were going to have to sign Hiroki Kuroda and Mariano Rivera to contracts. They knew they had to wait for Andy Pettitte’s decision on whether or not he would return in 2013–which came quickly this year. They knew they were going to have to replace the right fielder since Nick Swisher most likely won’t come back next season. They also knew that they were going to have to re-sign Russell Martin to another contract to play behind the plate in the Bronx. Well, as of last night Brian Cashman’s list got a little bit longer.

Although he was able to re-sign closer Mariano Rivera to a 1 year, $10 Million contract, he let another player get away–Russell Martin. The offseason plan has always been to take care of starting pitching first before going off and extending contracts to other players. Apparently, Russell Martin couldn’t wait for that, signing a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2 years and $17 Million, rejoining ex-Yankee A.J Burnett in the process. This leaves Brian Cashman heading into the Winter Meetings on Monday with no catcher and no right fielder, two moves that he has to fill up before Spring Training.

With Martin gone from the Yankees, heading to Pittsburgh there are two legitimate catchers on the free agent market that are still available: A.J Pierzynski and Mike Napoli. Although the Yankees aren’t reportedly targeting either catchers, at this point they don’t have much of a choice.

Last season if Martin had ever gotten hurt, Francisco Cervelli would have been the starting catcher. Now that Martin is gone, that looks to be the case with Chris Stewart at backup and Austin Romine as an emergency choice. As much as I like Cervelli (he’s a big fan favorite), he’s not a power hitter. The same goes for Chris Stewart. Although Stewart is an amazing defensive catcher, he doesn’t have the pop in his bat.

Brian Cashman believes that the answer to the catcher situation could possibly already be on the team, but with players like Cervelli, Stewart, Romine and new Yankee (who is currently in the process of clearing waivers) Eli Whiteside, I don’t see a legitimate starting catcher in the Yankees organization. 2014 is a year away Cashman. Time to take out your wallet and make a deal for someone for this year, no matter what it takes.

Yankees Offseason Notes: For Kuroda its the Yankees

Earlier this week, it was looking as if Hiroki Kuroda‘s chances of coming back to the Yankees were slim. The LA Dodgers were in the race as well as the LA Angels. Well, on Tuesday evening, a source claimed that the Dodgers were no longer in the mix for Kuroda. The Angels soon followed the Dodgers lead and weren’t interested in Kuroda. Now Kuroda has one of two choices–the Yankees or Japan. If Kuroda wants to pitch in the states, he could choose the Yankees. If he wants to go to Japan, he can sign there. This is relatively good news for the Yankees–and bad news for the Dodgers and the Angels. Now all Brian Cashman has to do is make Kuroda an offer he can’t refuse.

BREAKING NEWS: The New York Yankees have signed Hiroki Kuroda to a 1 year, $15 Million contract for the 2013 season. The Yankees prevented one of their worst fears from happening. Now, Yankees need Pettitte.

In Other News:

– The New York Yankees claimed RHP Mickey Storey off waivers from the Houston Astros.

– The Yankees added LHP Manny Banuelos, OF Ramon Flores, RHP Brett Marshall, RHP Jose Ramirez, LHP Francisco Rondon and LHP Nik Turley to the 40 man roster.

– RHP Dave Herndon elected for free agency instead of being outrighted to Triple-A Scranton thus making the 40-man roster a 39-man roster.

– There’s still no word about if Andy Pettitte will return next year. Although Pettitte could most likely return, it’s not guaranteed.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees plan to offer Kuroda 1 year, but is that enough?

The Yankees are offering Kuroda a one-year deal, but could that be enough to keep him in pinstripes?

The Yankees continue to have a slow offseason while every other team around them is spending some type of  money on certain players. With the Winter Meetings occurring in 2 weeks, there are bound to be Yankees rumors, but until then–

– The Yankees reportedly want to offer Hiroki Kuroda a one year deal and Japan might be the reason that Kuroda could ultimately rejoin the Yankees in 2013. See, Kuroda wants to be able to pitch in Japan before he decides to hang up his cleats and ideally the best idea for him would be for him to join a team that is offering him a one year contract. the Los Angeles Dodgers and the LA Angels are offering Hiroki Kuroda a two year deal, which might be too much on Kuroda’s arm if he still wants to be effective to pitch in the States and in Japan in the near future.

The Yankees are in dire need of a top end starter in their rotation since the rotation after CC Sabathia is a bit hazy. Andy Pettitte is still debating whether he will return in 2013 (I believe he will), Ivan Nova was horrible and Phil Hughes is coming back from a bounce back year after a horrendous 2011 season. Kuroda who is 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA in 2012 for the Yankees, just might be worth more than the $13.3 Million the Yankees offered before he turned down. If Kuroda signs with the Yankees, it will solve their rotation woes to an extent. If not, then the Yankees could look forward to add more depth to their minor leagues should a different team sign him. If the Dodgers or the Angels sign Kuroda, they lose their first round pick while the Yankees would get another draft pick between the first and the second round.

Kuroda could possibly choose the Dodgers since he has two young daughters in Elementary School in California and has expressed desire that he would like to be near them. If Kuroda does sign elsewhere, then the Yankees might want to start thinking of a backup plan because right now, it seems like they don’t have one.

Morning Bits: Hunter, Rivera, Kuroda

Good morning everyone and a Happy Sunday to you all. Let’s get on with the Morning Bits, shall we?

– With Nick Swisher not likely to return, the most sought out right fielder on the free agent market is Torii Hunter. He had an OPS of .817 last season, he’s a good defender and he’s 37. What’s bad about it? He’s 37 and might want two years.

– While filming a commercial the other day, Mariano Rivera threw 25 tosses off a mound. He said he “felt great.” It was the first time he threw off a mound since tearing his ACL in May.

– If Hiroki Kuroda signs with another team, it could be tough for the Yankees this offseason.

It’s Official: Soriano, Swisher & Kuroda decline qualifying offers

Hiroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano have all declined their qualifying offer thus making them free agents. Should any of the three sign elsewhere, the Yankees will get draft picks in the 2013 MLB Draft. All nine players that were offered the deals declined but only 8 of them are free agents. David Ortiz signed a two year deal with the Red Sox last week. The following players also hit the free agent market: Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, B.J Upton, Kyle Lohse and Adam LaRoche.

Josh Hamilton might be too expensive for the Yankees (although he has power and the short porch in Yankee Stadium favors him) and he also has a history with problems off the field while Michael Bourn is equivalent to Yankees OF Brett Gardner although Gardner is injury prone, BUT Gardner is more affordable than Bourn. The Yankees have decisions to make this winter. Maybe B.J Upton? Kyle Lohse? Adam LaRoche?

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