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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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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.

Almonte and Ichiro Improving Outfield

The Yankees outfield has been a mess for most of the season. Outside of Brett Gardner and a hot start from Vernon Wells, they have gotten little production from their outfielders. However, recently, Zoilo Almonte and Ichiro Suzuki have been very productive, and if they can keep on playing well the outfield situation will look a lot better.

Ichiro’s walk-off home run last night was not his only contribution of late. Ichiro has hit .299/.341/.390/.731 with a 101 wRC+ and .323 wOBA in the month of June. Overall, he only has a .289 wOBA, 78 wRC+ and .6667 OPS, which are very poor numbers. However, the Yankees would be ecstatic if he could keep those numbers from June up for the rest of the season. Ichiro has also made a lot of sparkling plays in the field of late.

In only 18 at-bats, Almonte has hit .438, with a home run and 4 RBI. He has provided a spark to the team like few players have for the Yankees so far this season. Obviously, the sample size is extremely small, but Almonte has shown he has some skills to work with. It has not only been his skills, but his approach at the plate that has been impressive, as Almonte has not looked over matched by MLB pitching so far. Almonte hit .297/.369/.421/.789 in Triple-A before he got called up.

Almonte is not considered to be one of the Yankees’ best prospects, but then again neither were Gardner or Robinson Cano, so you just never know. The Yankees are in desperate need of a young breakout player, so they will give Almonte every opportunity to do that. They could really use young and cheap players not only for this season, but next year when they try to get under $189 million in payroll.

If Almonte and Ichiro can keep up their hot streaks, the Yankees might look more at infield help at the trade deadline. That is not to say that if a good deal for an outfielder comes along the Yankees shouldn’t jump on it because they need bats at any position they can get them. However, the infield seems to be in worse shape than the outfield at this point.

David Adams and Jayson Nix may just be the left side of the infield combo in all of MLB at this point. After a hot start to his Yankees career, Adams looks absolutely lost at the plate right now. He has hit .105/.171/.105/.276 in the month of June, which is pretty much as bad as a player can possible be at the plate. Despite the love Joe Girardi has given Nix at times he is not a MLB caliber starting shortstop. His .280 wOBA, 71 wRC+, and .066 ISO are just not good enough.

The Yankees are also getting horrible production out of first base and catcher. Despite the perception of how good he has been this year, Lyle Overbay really is not very good. Yes, he has had some key hits and has been better than expected, but that is still not saying much. Overbay’s .232 avg, .289 OBP, 90 wRC+ and .1 WAR are just not very impressive.

Like their left side of the infield combination, the Yankees’ catching combination is also in the running for the worst combo in MLB. Chris Stewart is nothing more than a backup catcher and Austin Romine is nothing more than a Triple-A catcher right now. This is the bed the Yankees made when they refused to pony up money for Russell Martin or A.J. Pierzynski. Hopefully, Francisco Cervelli is on his way back soon.

Despite all of this, the Yankees are still only one game behind the Red Sox in the loss column in the AL East. They still have great pitching and with some offensive reinforcements coming back and some potential trades the Yankees can still win the division.

With a little more than a month to go until the trade deadline a lot of the potential trade targets are still just speculation. However, with Ichiro and Almonte playing well and Curtis Granderson returning the Yankees may need infielders more than outfielders. Ideally, the Yankees could trade for a versatile players like Chase Headley, Mike Morse, or Corey Hart who could play both. The trade deadline season is just beginning and it will be a very interesting time for the Yankees.

Teixeira and Youkilis Desperately Needed

Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis began their rehab assigment in Double A Trenton this morning and it could not come at a better time for the Yankees. When the Yankees were playing great baseball behind great pitching and newcomers like Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, and Lyle Overbay getting the job done, many Yankees fans were saying how they did not want veterans like Mark Texiera, Kevin Youkilis, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez to come back.  That was an insane notion then and it is proving true right now.

The Yankees are now 6-7 in their last 13 games and have scored four or fewer runs in nine of those 13 games, including less than two runs in five of those games. The Yankees have averaged a pitiful 3.7 runs per game in May. You can only ask your starters to pitch great under those circumstances for so long and expect your bullpen to hold every one run lead you give them. Obviously, over the last two games David Robertson and Mariano Rivera each blew a game, but those losses were on the offense for only scoring a combined two runs in those games.

The middle of the order for the Yankees struggling has been the main reason for their terrible offensive output in May. Robinson Cano is only hitting .247/.311/.464/.775 in May and the Yankees need him to carry them like he did in April. Cano is hitting .328/.403/.672/1.075 with 11 home runs in Yankee wins and .235/.261/.341/.603 with two home runs in Yankee losses. That tells you all you need to know. Cano has not gotten much support in May either, as Vernon Wells (.229/.260/.375/.635 in May) and Travis Hafner (.190/.309/.328/.636 in May) have cooled off considerably. When you combine those players not playing well with the black holes the Yankees have at catcher, shortstop and right field, you are not going to score many runs.

It  is obvious that Teixeira and Youkilis are needed. However, as Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues points out, they are coming back at postions where the Yankees have gotten good production. Lyle Overbay and David Adams have held up very well at first and third base. Texiera and Youkilis will be upgrades over them, but their real issues are at shortstop, catcher, and the outfield.

However, they will not be getting reinforcements at those positions anytime soon. Curtis Granderson will be inactive for at least four weeks and will probably take about two more weeks to rehab. Derek Jeter is nowhere near returning and Francisco Cervelli just got the pins out of his hand and has not started to rehab yet. The Yankees made their own bed at these positions in the offseason, as they willing let Russell Martin and Nick Swisher go and did not adequately replace them. Also, they did nothing to upgrade at utility infielder when they knew Jeter was an injury question mark.

The Yankees have a tough roster conundrum with Teixeira and Youkilis coming back. The Yankees are short on outfielders and it will be hard to carry Overbay and Hafner, since between them both they can only play one position. Ivan Nova will probably be the pitcher out of the bullpen sent to Triple A, but who goes with him is the question. The options are to send Brennan Boesch or Adams to Triple A or DFA Overbay. Sending Adams down would be the easy call, since you can always bring him back up, but he would be the best option as a DH against righties at the moment. Boesch is easily the worst player out of the three, but if you send him down than Jayson Nix is your fourth outfielder. You can probably get by like that for a little while, but long term having Nix as your fourth outfielder will not work. That is why Overbay may not be on this team for much longer.

This is not meant to discredit Overbay at all, as he has filled in better than anybody could have hoped for, but people need to pump the brakes on him a little bit. He is only hitting .251/.295/.468/.763, which is not great for a first baseman. Teixeira at his worst does much better than that. Overbay has been a great clutch player for the Yankees this season, but you cannot rely on that to continue. Good “clutch” hitting is more statistical randomness than anything sustainable because it is not really a skill.

For people who say Teixeira isn’t clutch he hit .390/.466/.932/1.398 in late and close games last year, .289/.360./.578/938 in high leverage situations and .285/.370/.646/1.016 in innings 7-9, so that is just a narrative and a fallacy that he doesn’t get any big hits. Unfortunately, if Teixeira starts out slow he will hear about it, but that is just silliness, as Overbay is nowhere near the player Teixeira is and there is a reason he was released by Boston three days before the end of spring training. Once Teixeira proves he is healthy there is not really room for Overbay on the team anymore. Obviously, that is not fair to him, but unfortunately it’s the business and the reality of the situation.  Overbay would be a great option to pinch hit late in games for the catcher, shortstop or Ichiro, but again can you really afford to have Nix as your fourth outfielder for six weeks?

I am really excited to get Teixeira and Youkilis back. It has been frustrating watching bad hitters take bad at bats lately. Unfortunately, like I said before you will still have three terrible hitters batting seventh, eighth and ninth but at least the middle of the order will be more intimidating.  People telling themselves that the Yankees are better off without the veterans hopefullt have seen over the last few weeks why they are dead wrong. What do you guys think should happen when Teixeira and Youkilis come back? What would your roster moves be?

Game 41 Lineup: Mariners vs . Yankees

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson DH
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

LHP Andy Pettitte

- Ex-Yankee Hector Noesi will be on the mound for Seattle.  Aaron Harang was scratched.

- Andy Pettitte trys to right himself after a couple of rough starts

- Yankees called up Dellin Betances from Scranton and sent down Brett Marshall who was spent after throwing 108 pitches yesterday

- Jayson Nix gets his shot batting 2nd today.  Nix has had a very quiet season offensively but suprisingly, his .319 OBP% is 4th among healthy regulars behind Wells, Cano & Gardner.  Nix has hit 2nd 6 times this year and has hit .261/.293/.261 (6 for 23 with 5 Walks).  Not many Yankees have faced Noesi but Nix is 1 for 3 with a HR.

The roster begins to shape up for the Yankees

The Opening Day 25-man roster has to be set by Sunday, but the Yankees got a head start and started making some cuts and additions. Here’s what manager Joe Girardi and the Yankees did after the Yankees 4-2 win over the Nationals.

1. The Yankees optioned Melky Mesa to Triple-A Scranton along with newly acquired pitcher Sam Demel.

2. Lyle Overbay officially made the team today. Overbay’s defense impressed Joe Girardi enough that he will be the 1B against right handed pitchers while Kevin Youkilis plays third base.

3. Ben Francisco and Jayson Nix also made the team as the 4th OF and a utility guy off the bench.

4. David Aardsma was designated for assignment by the Yankees today. The reason behind it was that Girardi felt the Yankees already felt that they had enough one inning pitchers. Didn’t seem the need to carry another one.

5. Shawn Kelley made the team. Girardi liked his approach on the mound as well as the fact that he’s a strikeout pitcher.

6. Vidal Nuno along with a handful of other players were reassigned to minor league camp. I guess winning the Dawson Award didn’t mean much in the Yankees eyes.

7. Before the game today, Joe Girardi and Mark Teixeira were watching Brennan Boesch do first base drills while Teixeira was giving him pointers. It seems as if the Yankees plan on carrying Boesch as the emergency first baseman although the Yankees didn’t officially announce that as of yet.

8. After the Yankees released David Adams, he became a free agent today and the Yankees re-signed him. Seemed like a lengthy process to get him off the 40-man roster and back into the organization.

Yanks edge Red Sox 5-2 with three run outburst in 6th

The Yankees hadn’t exactly played their best baseball to start off Spring Training, but they racked up another win against the Boston Red Sox, giving fans a small preview of their Opening Day match-up. The Yankees remained silent until the 6th inning where all nine hitters batted around, pushing three runs across with the aid of a Corban Joseph single, an error that allowed Bobby Wilson to reach first, a Brett Gardner walk, an RBI single for Eduardo Nunez, a fielder’s choice from Jayson Nix and an error that allowed Juan Rivera to reach first.

The Yankees pushed two more runs across in the eighth inning after an RBI double by JR Murphy plated Jose Pirella and in the ninth inning on a homer by Thomas Neal. Before the three run outburst in the 6th inning, the only hit going into the 6th was the lead-off single by Brett Gardner in the 1st. Gardner has now hit  safely in every game he’s played in Spring Training thus far.

Notes:

– After the game, Joe Girardi confirmed that once Curtis Granderson comes back, Granderson will be the CF and Gardner will move to LF.

What’s Next:

The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow, meaning that there will be no news at all. No one will be at the ballpark except for a few players to get treatment but other than that, no one will be there. On Tuesday, the Yankees will host the Atlanta Braves in the first night game of the Spring Training season. That game will be on YES Network and coverage will start at 7:00 p.m with play-by-play at 7:05 p.m.

Gardner gets work in while Yanks fall to Orioles 5-1

The travel roster for today’s Yankees/Orioles game seemed a bit off. Only one locked in Opening Day starter made the trip while the rest of the travel roster included non-roster invitees, minor leaguers and players off the 40-man roster. The Orioles played a lot of their regulars, overpowering the young minor leaguers while the Yankees dropped their second straight Spring Training game 5-1 in Sarasota.

There wasn’t much offense for the Yankees but today’s game seemed more about getting work in for  Brett Gardner. The Yankees had seven hits. Gardner had three of them. Jayson Nix, who is expected to make the team in a bench role had two hits. Not a lot of offense for the Yankees today but one of the hits that Brett Gardner did cause a bit of concern.

While Yankees fans and staff enjoy Gardner’s grittiness, Gardner dove into first base to confirm a lead-off infield single. The single was good. The issue? Gardner dove into first base one day after Curtis Granderson broke his forearm. Gardner quickly erased his small error, perfecting a bunt single and hitting a line drive into left center field.

The lone run for the Yankees came in the 9th inning after young Corban Joseph prolonged the inning with a single, then stealing second which was a risky move since there were two outs in the inning.

What’s Next:

– The Yankees will play the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, tomorrow at 1:05pm. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, Kevin Youkilis, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson are expected to make the 20 minute bus trip. The game will air on MLB.TV and I was also told it would air on MLB Network.

Seven Yankees head into arbitration

It’s that time again where not only the free agents prove valuable, but this is also the time to re-sign some players under arbitration. This year there are seven Yankees that could expect a raise, another contract or head to another team on a shifting payroll. MLB Trade Rumors placed the projected salaries of what they believe each player will get in 2013.

Phil Hughes (SP)
2012 Salary: $3.2 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $5.7 Million

I have to admit that a $2 million raise is a bit significant for a pitcher that isn’t consistent but to be honest unless the Yankees pull off a blockbuster trade this off-season, Hughes will be in Yankees pinstriped in 2013.

Casey McGehee (INF)
2012 Salary: $2.5 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.9 Million

Casey McGehee might end up being non-tendered since the main reason the Yankees acquired him was due to Alex Rodriguez being on the disabled list. The Yankees don’t really need McGehee, but I’m pretty sure another team does.

Brett Gardner (OF)
2012 Salary: $2.8 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.8 Million

Even though Gardner not playing proved to the Yankees that he’s valuable, it looks as if Gardner’s not getting a raise. What did you expect? The guy injured his shoulder in April and didn’t swing a bat again until October. Well, at least it helps the Yankees payroll.

Boone Logan (LHP)
2012 Salary: $1.9 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.8 Million

Yes, let’s just give the Yankees #1 lefty in the bullpen a raise. He certainly deserved it after last season. Also if you’re one of members of the “Get Boone Logan out of NY” fan club–it’s not happening.

David Robertson (RHP)
2012 Salary: $1.6 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $2.7 Million

One of the best set-up men in baseball getting a raise? Sounds about right, but I would have given Robertson more money. After all, he’s one of the constants in the bullpen that all Yankees fans can count on.

Joba Chamberlain (RHP)
2012 Salary: $1.67 Million
Expected 2013 Salary: $1.8 Million

Chamberlain could get a small raise but he has been inconsistent since coming back from a freak ankle injury along with Tommy John Surgery. Maybe he has to work the kinks out this winter and we’ll see a consistent Chamberlain in 2013.

Jayson Nix
2012 Salary: Minimum
Expected 2013 Salary: $900,000

Give the kid the $900,000. Let him come back and be a reserve infielder. He did a great job in 2012 playing the field and even had some key hits in games that would end up determining the Yankees as AL East victors.

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 Off-Day Notes: 25 Man Roster, Sabathia, McGehee, Nix, Jeter, Rangers or Orioles?

Good evening everyone. The Yankees don’t play again tonight but there was baseball to be played since the 2 Wild Card games were on TBS. The Cardinals (controversially) won the NL Wild Card game which sent the Braves packing and the Cardinals to the NLDS. Tonight the Yankees will find out whether they are heading to Baltimore or whether they are heading down to Texas. While we wait for that, here are some notes from today.

– The Yankees won’t release the 25 man roster until tomorrow but the Yankees did reveal that Casey McGehee did not make the postseason roster. He reportedly took it hard.

– Joe Girardi confirmed that CC Sabathia would pitch Game 1 of the ALDS but he didn’t say who he was going to pitch in Game 2.

Jayson Nix says that he feels he’s well enough to make the postseason roster but he’s not sure whether he will make the roster.

– I wrote an article for Yahoo! about why I believe Derek Jeter is a Fall Classic legend by becoming “Mr. November” in 2001.

– While watching tonight’s Orioles and Rangers game, who would you rather see play the Yankees in the ALDS: The Orioles or the Rangers?

Nightly Notes: Postseason, Hughes, Teixeira

Good evening everyone and what a great game by the Yankees that was jump started by the Eric Chavez home run in the 3rd inning. Orioles and Yankees win but Texas lost the first game. If Texas Rangers win the second game then the Yankees, Orioles and Rangers would all punch their ticket into the postseason whether it would be the division or the wild card. Here are some nightly notes.

– Speaking of the postseason, in case you haven’t read it, I posted an article of what the 25 man roster should be for the 2012 postseason. It could work whether the Yankees get the wild card or get the division.

– ESPN New York is calling Phil Hughes ‘useless’ after giving up 5 runs in 4 2/3 inning today in the Yankees 9-6 victory over the Blue Jays.

– Mark Teixeira is slated to return to the Yankees lineup tomorrow. That could give the Yankees some great depth in their lineup.

Also some notes:

– Jayson Nix will miss 10-14 days with a Grade 1 strain to his left hip flexor. He received the injury on Thursday while diving for a groundball and said it had been sore ever since.

– IF the Yankees have to play a tie breaker with the Orioles then Andy Pettitte would get the start. Not CC Sabathia.

– Also Eduardo Nunez said that he’s going to play Winter Ball this winter as the shortstop. Great. So that means he’ll be in top notch shape come Spring Training, right?

Morning Bits: Backup infielders, Tied for AL East, Hughes

Good morning everyone. A bad day in baseball for the Yankees as they now share the AL East lead with the Orioles (again). Today is a must win game with Phil Hughes on the mound. Here are your morning bits.

– With the injury to Jayson Nix and Joe Girardi making a panic move to take Eduardo Nunez out of the game yesterday, sometimes it leaves fans wondering–where is Ramiro Pena now.

– The Yankees were supposed to use this time to gain some distance between themselves and the Baltimore Orioles. Instead the Yankees lost a 1.5 game lead in 3 days and are now tired with the Orioles again.

– The Yankees have to win today–and they turn to Phil Hughes to get that possible win. Yankees will also be scoreboard watching the Red Sox and Orioles and will try to (once again) gain some ground.

Standings from Foxsports.com

Yankees Report Card: July

It’s that time of the month again where we decide which Yankees were at the top of their class and which Yankees just didn’t make the grade in July’s Yankees Report Card. After a stellar June, the Yankees had a so-so July but some Yankees players that were struggling really improved their game and earned a higher grade. If you don’t agree with the grade that any Yankee gets, put the grade that you believe they deserve in the comment section below. Now, onto grading those Yankees!

Derek Jeter (A): Derek Jeter was on fire in the month of July, hitting a .346 average with 37 hits and 7 doubles. Jeter doesn’t hit for power (he only has 1 HR in July) but he has been able to get on base so his fellow teammates can make some damage. Maybe Jeter can continue his hot-streak in August. I know one thing–Derek Jeter is not too old to play baseball.

Curtis Granderson (B+): Curtis Granderson only had a .245 average this month, but he has been the one that has helped pick up this team with 5 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 2 doubles and 2 triples. Granderson is now required to pair up with Robinson Cano to supply power since A-Rod is currently on the disabled list but if there is anyone that can do it, it’s Curtis Granderson (also, he might be interested in hitting a HR whenever he can since he gets rewarded with ice pops.)

Mark Teixeira (A+): Mark Teixeira had his best month in the month of July with a .298 average. He also had 7 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 12 walks, 5 doubles and a triple. Teixeira would have normally have gotten an A, but after hitting a HR off Vicente Padilla during the Yankees/Red Sox series, Teixeira deserved a higher mark for 2 reasons. One, he was the bigger man in their rivalry and two, what other way can you say don’t mess with me by hitting a 2 run homer that temporarily tied the game?

Alex Rodriguez (A): The month of July was A-Rod’s best month average wise with a .314 average. His HR and RBI numbers had slightly decreased from June since he only had 2 HR’s, 9 RBI’s, 5 doubles, 1 triple and 1 walk. It seemed as if A-Rod was getting everything together–until Felix Hernandez took that all away with one pitch that hit him in the wrist, thus forcing him to go on the DL for 6-8 weeks. Yankees may not see A-Rod until the end of September, but the Yankees were able to add depth by trading Chad Qualls for Casey McGhee. Let’s see how A-Rod returns: will he be the one that the Yankees can rely on, or will he get into his early season funk once again.

Robinson Cano (A): Robbie Cano has been the one that had carried the Yankees to first place, he had been the one that carried them when they were struggling (even when he was struggling himself) and Robbie Cano continues to carry this team with a .314 average. Cano had 4 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 5 walks and 6 doubles which proves that even when Robbie gets base hits, a lot of them count for something. Let’s hope Robbie can continue his streak in August (we know he will, he’s Robbie Cano!)

Nick Swisher (B-): Nick Swisher didn’t hit for average in the month of July, only hitting .222 but he could have done more if he wasn’t injured with a strained muscle near his hip. Swisher hit 2 HR’s, 8 RBI’s, and hit 3 doubles all in 63 at-bats. When Nick Swisher is healthy, he is able to change his team. When he’s not healthy, then–the team somewhat misses him. But with Ichiro Suzuki possibly vying for a right field spot next season and this being Swisher’s walk year, he might want to consider getting on a gigantic hot streak. But–Swisher’s smile and personality might win his teammates, the fans and the front office over.

Raul Ibanez (B): One of the best acquisitions of the 2012 season has to have been Raul Ibanez and he continues to prove that he is an important piece to the Yankees bench. In the month of July, Ibanez hit .279 which is his second best month (May was .288). Ibanez has 3 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 5 walks, and 4 doubles. The one flaw this month from Ibanez was that he struck out 17 times which was the most he struck out in a month this season. As long as Ibanez hit’s HR’s for power, then I don’t care.

Russell Martin (D): Russell Martin continues to struggle at the plate which is making the Yankees scratch their heads. Martin hit .183 in the month of July which means his average is still below the Mendoza line. Martins’ best month? May with a .203 average. I know the Yankees aren’t expecting much out of Russell Martin, but the least he could do is hit! Is it too much to ask? Hopefully August he’ll turn it around?

Andruw Jones (B-): Andruw Jones didn’t hit for average this month, but he played an important part for the Yankees in July. While Jones only hit .218 in the month of May, he did have 5 HR’s, 11 RBI’s, 2 walks and 2 doubles. Jones is an important part to the Yankees when he plays and although his average doesn’t say much, he is always doing something to help his team win.

Chris Stewart (B-): Chris Stewart has been a delightful surprise for the Yankees due to his catching skills and his ability to call a ballgame. Although his bat is nothing to ‘ahh’ over, he has done everything the Yankees wanted (and he has a higher batting average than the primary catcher Russell Martin). Yep, I think that Chris Stewart is going to fit in quite nicely around here.

Jayson Nix (B): Jayson Nix is another pleasant surprise for the Yankees, since he is doing exactly what the Yankees wanted. He plays great defense, he gets base hits when they matter and in July, Nix has shown power. Nix hit 2 HR’s and has 6 RBI’s in the month of July which means when it’s up to him, ‘Nix Knocks’.

Eric Chavez (B+): Chavez continues to prove just how important he is to the Yankees bench and once again, he has done what he has to do. In July he hit a .264 average with 4 HR’s, 9 RBI’s and 7 walks. Chavez is another Yankee that proves that age isn’t anything but a number. Let’s keep it up Chavez, shall we?

CC Sabathia (B-): For the ace of the Yankees, this wasn’t exactly the month that CC Sabathia was hoping for. After being on the disabled list in late June-early July, CC hasn’t exactly came back into form yet. For the month of July he holds a 4.26 ERA and a 1-0 record (he has 2 no decisions). In good news he only gave up 9 runs this month which was his low point during the year. The Yankees expect to see their ace back in August–and we are sure CC expects to see himself return to form as well.

Hiroki Kuroda (B-): Hiroki Kuroda has had worst months in the past, so looking at his numbers here it was pretty good. In the month of July, Kuroda has a 2-0 record and a 3.60 ERA. The good news is that he’s 2-0. The bad? In the month of July he gave up 15 runs (14 of them were earned, but they all count in the game). Kuroda isn’t supposed to be lights out, but he has to get better at stranding runners when there is an error.

Ivan Nova (D): Ivan Nova is usually one of the Yankees youngest and brightest stars on this team, which is why I don’t understand how he could have a 5.97 ERA in the month of July. Nova had seemed to have been getting it together last month, but this month makes everyone question what’s wrong with Nova. Is something wrong with his mechanics? Is he not hitting spots because he’s concerend that the might get hit hard? And why did he give up 27 runs (23 earned)? Nova has to do better in August because if he doesn’t then he could quickly find himself back at Scranton. Remember–he has options.

Freddy Garcia (B-): Now, we aren’t expecting Freddy Garcia to throw shut-outs in each and every game. It’s not going to happen. But the month of July has been a solid month for Garcia after having a 2-3 record and a 4.00 ERA. I know what you’re thinking, a 2-3 record is not solid. It should be if this team is the Yankees. In the 3 starts that he lost, he had given up no more than 4 runs. After going from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Garcia has done okay, but he’s doing well enough to stay in the rotation.

Phil Hughes (B): Phil Hughes has easily been the Yankees best starter in the month of July with a 2-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. Although Hughes’s issue is the home run ball (He gave up 6), he really has done a fantastic job for the Yankees and is definetely looking like the Phil Hughes of 2010. Also, his ERA as a whole is 3.96 which is much better than where he started the season at.

Cody Eppley (B+): In the beginning of the year, it would have been very easy to send Cody Eppley back to Triple A because the Yankees knew they could, but that isn’t the case now. In the month of July, Eppley has a 2.53 ERA while only giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 10.2 innings pitched. Eppley has become such an important part of the bullpen and is trusted in preserving leads and getting out of situations with his right handed sidearm motion. As we all know, Eppley has been doing his job and he’s fantastic at it.

Clay Rapada (B): We can’t really grade Clay Rapada since he only pitched 4.2 innings in the month of July (the Yankees haven’t really needed him) but only giving up 2 runs isn’t all that bad. Rapada is still an excellent complementary pitcher to Cody Eppley (Rapada has a left handed sidearm motion), and without him the Yankees would only have 1 lefty in the bullpen (Mr. Boone Logan).

David Phelps (A+): The incredible David Phelps has done so much for the Yankees since he came back from Triple-A to get more work in. Phelps in July was known as the pitcher to give the Yankees some length when one of the starters only made it 5-6 innings, and he has stopped the Yankees opponents stone cold. In 13.1 IP, he has a 0.68 ERA while giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 21 strikeouts. Now, I don’t know who the other David Phelps with a 7.36 ERA in June is, but this is more like the David Phelps that we all know.

Boone Logan (D): Boone Logan is easily one of my favorite Yankees (we share the same birthday, so what’s not to like) but no matter how much I like him, I don’t like his numbers for the month of July. In July he has a 9.95 ERA which means in 6.1 IP he gave up 7 runs on 8 hits. That sounds like the starts that some of the starting pitchers have been having, and it’s not pretty. Hopefully Logan can get it together this month and if he can’t–then he’ll just be the lefty that no one can count on, and we don’t want that now do we?

David Robertson (A): David Robertson is once again back into form for the Yankees in the month of July after what seemed like he struggled after coming off the disabled list. Robertson in the month of July had a 1.54 ERA which easily means that Robertson is the pitcher the Yankees can count on before giving the ball to Rafael Soriano. We expect great things from you in August Mr. Robertson but please, can we ease up on the Houdini tricks? They are bound to give someone a heart attack.

Rafael Soriano (A): This hasn’t been Rafael Soriano’s best month but it certaintly wasn’t his worst. He was 9/10 for saves and even the great Mariano Rivera isn’t perfect when it comes to save situations. Soriano has been the most consistent in the bullpen which is why he is the best go-to person for the Yankees. Also, when he complete’s saves I really enjoy when he untucks his shirt to celebrate a Yankees win, and I’m sure a lot of Yankees fans enjoy it as well.

Week 15 Yankees Player of the Week

The Yankees had a solid week going 3-2 vs. Seattle and Boston. The highlight of the week was the bases clearing double by Jayson Nix in the 8th inning on Wednesday that gave the Yankees the series win. It was a huge hit because it looked like the Yankees were about to go 1-6 on their west coast trip after another game of failed RBI chances. However, Nix changed all of that and the Yankees carried that momentum into a blowout win on Friday against Boston. The Yankees could have won yesterday after Mark Teixeira’s dramatic game tying home run off of rival Vincente Padilla, but Curtis Granderson misplayed Pedro Ciriaco’s fly ball and the Yankees lost 8-6. The nominations for Week 15 Yankees Player of the Week are Curtis Granderson, Jayson Nix, Hiroki Kuroda, and Mark Teixeira.

The Case For Granderson: While Granderson cost the Yankees yesterday’s game with his defense he did have a very nice week with the bat. Granderson hit .308, with 3 HR’s and 6 RBI on the week. Granderson hit a grand slam Friday vs. Boston to put that game to rest.

The Case For Nix: Nix only had 2 hits in 7 AB’s on the week but he made them count. The first hit, as I mentioned before, was a huge bases clearing double to give the Yankees the series win in Seattle. Nix also had a 2 run HR after Boston went up 6-1 to help get the Yankees back into the game.

The Case For Kuroda: Kuroda had a dominating start Monday in the Seattle when the Yankees really needed one following a sweep at the hands of the Oakland A’s. Kuroda pitched 7 innings, allowed 1 run on 3 hits, and struck out 9.

The Case For Teixeira: Mark Teixeira has made himself a fixture on the nomination list for this award the last few weeks. This week he did not disappoint again this week. He hit .348 on the week, with 1 HR, and 7 RBI. He could have hit even higher because he had many hard hits in Seattle that he got robbed on. Teixeira had an RBI in 4 out of the 5 games this week. Also, as I mentioned before, Teixeira hit a game tying HR yesterday off rival and noted head hunter Vincente Padilla.

The Week 15 Yankees Player of the Week is Mark Teixeira. Teixeira’s HR off Padilla was my favorite moment of the season so far even though the Yankees lost. To see a class act like Teixeira hit that HR off of a guy like Padilla was great. Teixeira has had an amazing July and the Yankees will need him to continue it into August with the loss of Alex Rodriguez.  As always vote for your choice in the poll and discuss in the comments.

Do the Yankees Have Too Many Platoon Players?

Brian Cashman has done an incredible this season of finding great players to produce that he got at a minimal cost. Guys like Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and now Ichiro Suzuki have done a great job in their roles. While these players have all been very good contributors to the Yankees they all have one thing in common. They’re all either platoon players or OOGY pitchers. This really hampers what Joe Girardi is able to do late in games. Yes, sometimes he over manages, but this roster configuration doesn’t do him any favors.

A perfect example of how having too many platoon players can hamper Girardi occurred in Wednesday’s win over Seattle. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 8th Raul Ibanez was due up against a lefty with the bases loaded and 1 out. None of Girardi’s options in this situation were good at all.  Ibanez has been on base a grand total of 7 times this season against lefties in 35 AB’s. He is batting .171, with 0 HR’s, 0 RBI, and a .452 OPS. Girardi’s only option to avoid using Ibanez in that spot was to pinch hit for Jayson Nix and most likely have Seattle manager Eric Wedge bring in a righty to face him. It worked out as Nix hit a bases clearing double, but Girardi was really handcuffed in that situation, as Nix was only 1-20 against righties this year prior to that AB. The same situation came up the previous game with Ibanez up against a lefty with the game on the line. This time Jones was available on the bench and Girardi should have went with him against the righty, but that situation is not really ideal either.

I probably noticed this more on this west coast trip due to Nick Swisher being out and Jones and Ibanez both having to play even more, but even with Swisher back the Yankees will be very vulnerable to left handed pitching with Alex Rodriguez out. A-Rod was the only right handed power player the Yankees have other than Jones and Mark Teixeira when he bats righty. Those fans who were booing him before will learn the lesson the hard way about what life is like without him. Losing a middle of the order guy with a team that is weak at the bottom of the order hurts greatly. Chavez is a fine replacement if he can stay healthy but he won’t be able to hit lefties and Jayson Nix will have to. I had no issues with the Ichiro pickup before A-Rod got hurt. He will be a very nice fill in for Brett Gardner and would have been a nice addition to the bottom of the order. Now he may have to hit lead off. He has very nice road numbers this year and getting out of Safeco Field and into a pennant race should revive him. However, if Cashman knew A-Rod was going to be out he might have tried to get somebody who could hit lefties as Ichiro is only hitting .236, with 0 HR’s, 8 RBI, and a .510 OPS against them. So now you have Ichiro, Chavez, and Ibanez who can’t hit lefties. You also have Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson who have not been as good against them this year as last year.  This all leaves them very vulnerable against lefties late in games and there is not anything Girardi can do about it.

The Yankees also have a similar problem in the bullpen. The Yankees have 3 OOGY pitchers in Logan, Eppley, and Rapada. They also have one guy in Chad Qualls who can’t get anybody out. The 3 OOGY pitchers have been great at what they do but that is what they’re limited to. So at the moment 4 of your 7 bullpen players are either OOGY’s or are incapable of getting anybody out. Fortunately, Joba Chamberlain has been lights out in the minors and should be coming to the Yankees real soon. He is a non OOGY pitcher who should be able to help solve this problem. You like to be able to matchup in the bullpen but you also like to have guys who can get both lefties and righties out so you do not have to burn through so many pitchers.

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