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Five Yankees Questions For the Second Half

We will find out a lot about the Yankees very quickly as they begin the second half of the season tonight in Boston.

They currently sit six games back of Boston in the AL East and three back in the AL wild card race. The first 10 games for the Yankees after the All-Star break have the potential to be a disaster. They play three at the first place Red Sox, four in Arlington against a very talented Texas team and three at home against red hot Tampa Bay.

If I were Brian Cashman I would have desperately been working the phones trying to get an impact bat over the All-Star break because if he waits until after this 10 game stretch it might be too late.

Here are five things to watch over the Yankees second half of the season:

1. What happens at the trade deadline?

The Yankees have recently been linked to Chase Headley and Asrdubal Cabrera and both would be huge gets for the Yankees. Unfortunately, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com wrote that Padres have little interest in dealing Headley despite his down year.

Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be continued to be shopped by the Yankees, and it will be interesting to see what happens with them. I do believe that Hughes will be moved because the starting pitching market is very thin, and the Yankees can sell teams on his home/road splits this year. Although, Joel Sherman of the New York Post, wrote that the Yankees would be o.k. with keeping Hughes and offering him a qualifying offer this winter.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that the time for Cashman to try to strike is right now with this brutal 10 game stretch upcoming. I would be looking for players who are under team control for a few years. I would not be giving up big prospects for rentals this year, since I believe that the Yankees are more than one bat away from being championship contenders this season.

2. Will Ivan Nova’s progression continue?

Nova’s development will probably be the number one thing I will be watching for over the second half. He has looked terrific over his last two starts, as he has 17 strikeouts to only three walks. Nova has always had the talent and if he can finally put it together it will be huge for the future for the Yankees, who have had a tough time developing their own starting pitchers.

What is fascinating about Nova is how he has completely transformed himself as a pitcher from his solid rookie season in which he went 16-4. He only averaged 92.6 MPH and he only was not a strikeout pitcher (5.33 K/9) in that rookie season. He had success because he was able to keep the ball on the ground with his sinker (52.7 GB%), but most thought that he would not have long term success unless he was able to get more strikeouts.

Nova added a slider to his repertoire in 2012 to try to remedy this issue. He threw it 14% of the time and he raised his K/9 to 8.08, but he also allowed a lot of hard contact (16.6% HR/FB%) because he missed location to often with his fastball and that new slider. Also, Nova’s GB% went down to 45.2%.

This year, Nova has mostly scrapped the slider, as he has only thrown it 3.4% of the time compared to 33.5% for his curve ball. Over his last two starts, Nova has thrown 66 curves, 43 of them have been for strikes and 17 of them have induced whiffs. When you combine that dominant curve with a fastball that has been in the 94-97 MPH range, you have a pitcher that has the potential for greatness. His  GB% is back up to 51.4% this year, so hitters are really having a hard time getting good contact on his hard sinker.

3. How much will Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez contribute?

The first question with them is how much will they play? Rodriguez hit a home run for Triple-A Scranton last night and appears set to rejoin the Yankees in Texas on Monday. We should find out more about Jeter’s status today. If Jeter and Rodriguez can stay on the field it will be pretty much impossible for them to not be upgrades, as Yankee shortstops have a slash line of .214/.271/.268/.539 with a 46 wRC+ and Yankee third basemen have a slash line of .218/.281/.293/.574 with a 57 wRC+. They should also add some much needed excitement and buzz to the team as well.

4. What is the plan for Michael Pineda?

At Triple-A Scranton last night, Pineda threw 4.2 scoreless innings and struck out eight. He was dominant in the first three innings before throwing a lot of pitches over the fourth and fifth innings. Right now, with Nova pitching well and Hughes still in New York, the Yankees do not have room for Pineda in their rotation. If there is an injury, or Hughes is traded, than Pineda can slide right in. The Yankees should try to get Pineda to New York as quickly as possible to get more information on what they can expect out of him next year.

If the Yankees continue with their $189 million plan they will need cheap starting pitchers, and Pineda can be one of them. It would be good for him to get as much experience as he can this year and it will be very interesting to see what he looks like if he does come up to the big league club.

5. Can CC Sabathia turn it around?

Sabathia had an uncharacteristically average first half, as he was only 9-8 with a 4.07 ERA. His average fastball velocity has only been 90.6 MPH, although it has been better later in the season. Sabathia has not fully adjusted to pitching with his loss of velocity yet and when he has missed location with his fastball he has gotten hit hard. Sabathia has also had a bit of hard luck this season, as his 3.53 xFIP is very solid. His slider and changeup are still great pitches, and Sabathia has still been an innings eating machine, which is still an under appreciated aspect of his game. I still believe that he is capable of pitching like the Sabathia of old and hopefully we see that in the second half of the season.

 

 

 

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The time is now to trade Joba and Hughes

image-6It still seems like yesterday when, in 2007, two Yankee mainstay pitchers of the past seven seasons made their first appearances in pinstripes.

First, there was 20-year old Phil Hughes, a hard throwing right-hander who drew comparisons to Roger Clemens as he advanced through the farm system. Drafted 23rd overall in the 2004 amateur draft, the Yankees had high hopes that finally, after a dry spell of All-Star caliber players emerging from the minors, that Hughes would become their ace for the next decade. Due to injuries to the pitching staff, he came up and made his debut on April 26th, 2007, finishing the year with 72.2 innings under his belt and a respectable 4.46 ERA for such a young starting pitcher in such a ferocious AL East division.

Then there was Joba Chamberlain, who was drafted 41st overall in 2006. Not even a full calendar year after signing his first contract, the then 21-year old Joba burst upon the scene when he pumped 100 mph fastballs past a dazed Blue Jays team in Toronto on August 7th. His pure dominance of each batter he faced allowed Joe Torre to entrust him with the eighth inning job, setting up Mariano Rivera. Like Mo had done years prior, it was the hope of the organization that Joba would start out as the bridge to a dominant closer, and then become one. Allowing one earned run in 24 innings surely reassured any of the doubters.

Since such promising starts to their careers in ’07, both Hughes and Chamberlain have endured injuries, moves into and out of the bullpen, and flat out inconsistent performances. There have certainly been bright spots along the way for both hurlers, however.

Hughes pitched to a 3.03 ERA in 2009, starting out as a starter and then filling the role of set-up man admirably. And after permanently being put back into the rotation in 2010, he won 18 games. Also, Joba was putting together a terrific 2011 season [2.83 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched] before he underwent Tommy John surgery.

Yet, to claim their Yankee careers to date have been successful ones would probably be a misguided belief. They are now in what are considered their “prime” years, and yet 2013 has been one of the ugliest for Joba and Phil. Of course, with the offense the pitching staff has to deal with or lack thereof, both are certainly under a lot of stress and any small mistakes they make are magnified like never before. But, there is no escaping the fact that both of them have underperformed, no matter the circumstances.

Yes, Hughes has had his share of good starts this season, but they are normally sandwiched in-between horrible outings. It is still fresh in this fan’s mind that he allowed 7 runs in the first inning to the Mariners, who in all respect have a better offense than last season, but certainly not good enough to put up rallies like that against even an average starter. But as I said, then he goes out the other night in Seattle against the very same team and throws seven shutout innings. It’s frustrating, bizarre, and as much potential as he has to be great every night, the times that he isn’t have really cost the Yankees so far this year.

At this point it really doesn’t matter what Joba Chamberlain does, because he is in the doghouse for eternity with Yankee fans. No matter how he “shushed” Mariano Rivera, all I care about is what happens on the field, and even still Joba has been disappointing. Granted, he did miss practically the whole month of May with a strained right oblique, but collectively in 2013 he has given up three more hits than innings pitched, a red flag right off the bat. Even when he has an “effective” outing, he still often gets into trouble  by nibbling at the corners and forgetting that he boasts a 95 mph fastball that still has some bite left in it. He too has been such a streaky pitcher, and ultimately you’d have to hope it wouldn’t last long in New York. Right?

Well, that is why I strongly consider that the Yankees trade not just one of them, but both Joba and Phil. Like I started the article saying, these two guys have been here for a long time, and it certainly would be odd not seeing them in the dugout or on the mound every other day. But it’s been shown that when they are “on”, Chamberlain and Hughes can be two of the most dominating pitchers in the American League, and that potential alone attracts pitching-deprived teams.

With the way the Yankees lineup has fallen into its worst slump since likely before I was born, I am shocked there aren’t many rumors going around about the team trading some of its pitchers. The pitching has been tremendous, Hughes and Joba aside, so what is holding back Cashman from dumping them off for a bat? I’m not talking players. A literal bat.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but the fact remains that the Yankees are not a better team with Joba and Hughes on the roster than they are with them off it. Now I have no specific players I would target, which may be where my argument falls a bit flat, but there has to be a match somewhere. There always is, if the Yankees want one. It would be bittersweet to trade Joba, and especially Hughes, but giving up on these guys in a trade would be a signal to me that the Yanks are not by any means ready to surrender their AL East crown, which is still very much in reach with the right reinforcements.

Get to work Cash. You too Joba and Phil.

Off-Day Notes: Chamberlain, Robertson, Rodriguez, Jeter, Teixeira, Pineda, Nelson, Granderson

Beauty comes with a price, doesn’t it? On a day where it’s 73 degrees in New York City…there had to be some news about the Yankees somewhere. Let’s get to them.

Joba Chamberlain

– Joba Chamberlain was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a tight oblique. He said he felt something when he was warming up to pitch on Tuesday and complained of soreness when he arrived at the stadium yesterday. Brian Cashman said that the strain is “mild” and Joba should be back to pitch in two weeks. There wasn’t a move on the roster to replace Chamberlain but Cashman did say that he had three names in mind when it came to taking that roster spot: Mark Montgomery, Preston Claiborne and Sam Demel.

David Robertson

– David Robertson spent his off-day at the doctors office after feeling discomfort near his knee/hamstring. The doctors did an MRI and the diagnosis is a “cranky hamstring”. Robertson won’t have to go on the DL; instead he is day-to-day.

Alex Rodriguez

– Alex Rodriguez posted on Facebook that he had been cleared to do baseball activities and that he will head to Tampa on Monday in order to join Curtis Granderson rehabbing their way back to the team. Rodriguez is still expected to be back after the All-Star break, along with Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter

– Derek Jeter is still in the walking boot, but he’s able to remove it to do exercises. He’s expected to be back after the All-Star Break.

Mark Teixeira

– After doing tee and toss, Teixeira will stay with the Yankees until the end of the homestand, then head off to Florida to rehab with A-Rod and Granderson. Teixeira is expected to be back in June.

Michael Pineda

– Michael Pineda is throwing to hitters down in Florida. He’s reached 93-95 MPH on his fastball.

Chris Nelson

– After being acquired by the Yankees late last night, he’s officially been put on the 25-man roster and is activated for tomorrow. Corban Joseph was optioned to Triple-AAA to complete the roster move.

Curtis Granderson

– Curtis Granderson is on the road back to the Yankees today. He took more at-bats in an extended Spring Training game. If all goes well, Granderson is slated to come back in about two weeks.

Middle Relief An Issue Early On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a little less than three weeks, the Yankees will begin their home-opener against the Boston Red Sox with CC Sabathia on the mound. However, this year’s Opening Day lineup might be a little different than what we’re used to due to all of the injuries the Yankees were plagued with during the 2013 season. The Yankees are missing Curtis Granderson (broken forearm), Mark Teixeira (strained forearm) and Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery) in their offense which is sure to look like the ‘Robinson Cano Show’ for the first month and a half. But with still some time to go, just how are the Yankees shaping up as they prepare for the season?

Lineup:

The Yankees lineup has many question marks after losing so many players to free agency and injuries. The bats of Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez will be with different ball clubs, while we will most likely have to wait for Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson to return to their post in early to mid-May. However, the lineup hasn’t looked as puzzling as it did when Spring Training started. The Yankees proved that they can manufacture runs by using a key element that they possess: speed. Players like Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez are capable of getting on base, going station to station on their own before a key teammate has to drive them in with an RBI. Speed will play an important part this season since the Yankees have lost over 100 home runs than in season’s past. But just because the Yankees are relying on speed, it doesn’t mean we should start calling them the ‘Bronx Bunters’. They will still find a way to hit home runs with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira making their way back into the starting lineup.

Starting Pitching:

Throughout the course of Spring Training, the starting pitching has been one early glimpse of how our starters will perform during the 2013 season. It looks as if they left off from last season. Hiroki Kuroda looks to be in mid-season form, David Phelps has a 0.63 ERA 14 Spring appearances  Ivan Nova has an ERA of 1. Andy Pettitte has still proven that his pitches are effective although he’s the oldest starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. And as expected, there is no concern over CC Sabathia, whatsoever. The starting pitching looks to be one of the Yankees strong points like it was in season’s past. Let’s hope that the pitching can carry the Yanks this season.

Bullpen:

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

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

The Yankees bullpen was another one of their key pieces that helped define the Yankees last season. With pitchers such as David Robertson, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, it seemed like an easy task to get the ball to the 9th inning before handing it off to the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera. Last season’s bullpen dynamic was different since there was no Mariano in the bullpen due to an ACL injury, giving the Yankees a glimpse of what it would look like if Mariano Rivera wasn’t there. With Rafael Soriano, the Yankees were able to still close games with a dominant force but this year there is no Rafael Soriano. Mariano Rivera plans to retire after the 2013 season, which gives Yankees fans one last look of the greatest closer before he hangs up his cleats and says goodbye to the game. The bullpen is expected to be a strong part of the Yankees once again, and from Spring observations, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawn Kelley and David Phelps get spots in the bullpen. With both of their arms this spring, the Yankees bullpen could become an iron gate to prevent runs from scoring.

There’s only 17 days until Opening Day so from now until Spring Training is over, it would be a good time to start watching the games to see who has a legitimate shot of making the team. And from what I’ve seen all Spring so far, there are quite a few who have a chance to go north.

Teixeira, Ichiro, Murphy provide offense as Yanks fall to Phillies 4-3

Spring Training is Spring Training so the Yankees losing three in a row shouldn’t be that alarming, especially since the Yankees placed all their minor leaguers in during the 6th inning. However, if you’re a fan, you’d like to see more than one win come from the Yankees so the Yankees are going to have to try and go back to the drawing board to figure out what they have to do to win tomorrow. But instead of talking about how the Yankees lost, let’s take a look at some positives from today’s game.

Mark TeixeiraTeixeira provided the Yankees with an early lead in the ball game, hitting an RBI double that scored Ichiro Suzuki. Teixeira was 1-for-3 on the day, but we’ll take the RBI.

Ichiro SuzukiIt looks as if Ichiro and Brett Gardner are having their own little competition. After Gardner had a three-hit day yesterday, Ichiro answered back with a three-hit day of his own. He also showed hustle and was a thrill to watch as he ran around the bases. Typical Ichiro.

David RobertsonDavid Robertson made his Spring debut today and proved that he still had it, pitching a scoreless inning although he gave up a walk. I would say Robertson is in mid-season form if he can have constant 1-2-3 innings.

Joba ChamberlainJoba Chamberlain (along with his unpopular mustache) made his Spring debut as well, also working a scoreless inning although he gave up the first hit for the Phillies to Ryan Howard. Still, it was a good outing. He also made sure to ruffle some feathers when he said that he believes he could be a starter again.

J.R Murphy: J.R Murphy came into the game during the 7th inning, but he made a lasting impression during the end of the game when he hit a towering 2-run HR to give the Yankees at the time a 3-1 lead. He then doubled in the 9th while the Yankees were trailing 4-3 yet he just missed his second HR of the game.

HONORABLE MENTION

Eduardo NunezNunez went 0-for-3 today, I know–but at first he gave some fans a warm and hearty laugh when his helmet fell off after showing some hustle to first base. The warm and hearty laughter soon turned into annoyance after his helmet fell off another two times, making us wonder if Nunez might want to consider getting a new helmet size.

WHAT’S NEXT: 

– Tomorrow the Yankees will play the Baltimore Orioles at GMS Field at 1:05 p.m. only on YES Network.

Spring Training Notes 2/16/13: Rivera, Sabathia, Chamberlain, Cervelli

Mariano Rivera watching Andy Pettitte throw a bullpen session

Mariano Rivera watching Andy Pettitte throw a bullpen session

The main event for the Yankees today was the bullpen pitching, provided by none other than Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. Rivera threw his second official bullpen of the Spring, and feeling more and more comfortable on the mound.

“There’s no piece of mind when I say ‘OK, I feel good now.” Rivera said. “No, I knew the job that I put in during the whole year, it’s been a hard job and I always tell you guys I trust myself. I trust God first, then I trust myself. I’m capable to do this. I was expecting this, it feels good. I feel good.”

So what would be the biggest test for Rivera as he gets ready for the season while wearing a knee brace?

“Bunting. Comeback liners. Cover first. All that stuff. You can’t think, you have to react.” Rivera said. “That will be, what I think, the biggest test.”

CC Sabathia is also coming back from surgery, and hopes to make all his starts while staying healthy.

“After the season I had last year, being on the DL a couple of times, getting a little older, I just want to concentrate on staying healthy.” Sabathia said. “Any kind of numbers I feel will be there if I’m healthy, so that’s the only thing I’m worried about.”

Francisco Cervelli has confirmed that he will not play in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy and made sure that he let the manager know.

“I talked to the manager a couple of days ago, and he understood the situation.”

So what was the situation? Apparently, Cervelli wants to win the catching job with the Yankees in Spring Training.

“This is what I’ve been waiting for.”

– In…interesting…news, Joba Chamberlain has been reportedly been acting a little–out there at camp today. According to Bryan Hoch, he got into a laundry cart and asked Boone Logan to push him in it. That just shows that 1) Chamberlain has an awesome child-like imagination and 2) it’s not all work and no play with that guy.

– Even the manager of the Yankees has to get in some Spring Training workouts this season. After workouts were finished, Joe Girardi spent time doing batting practice with his son Dante, warming up his catching arm. I wonder if Girardi is considering the role of ‘emergency catcher’ this season. I think he still has some game in him.

Spring Training Notes 2/15/13: Youkilis, Chamberlain, Pineda

When your a famous ball player (or a famous anything) one of the main rules of stardom is not to search yourself on the internet to prevent what people are saying about you. It could be spiteful, it could be hurtful, it could be someone taking something you said completely out of context and publishing it as if you’re a bad person. Option number three happened to Kevin Youkilis, the brand new Yankees third baseman. Youkilis yesterday made a comment about how he will always be a “Red Sock.” The next thing he knew, he was being written about in every gigantic publication from the New York Daily News to ESPN. After reading the ESPN article last night, Youkilis cleared the air for reporters as he discussed what he actually meant by his comment.

“The whole thing for me, I look at it, when I was saying it, it was more like a baseball card.” Youkilis said. “When you look at it, there’s going to be nine seasons or whatever (with the Red Sox) and that’s why I said it. But in context of what I said, if you read it as ‘I’m always a Red Sock,’ it looks bad. But it’s not that way. I’m a Yankee today, and I’m excited. I’m proud to be a Yankee, and I’m proud for Opening Day and playing against the team that I spent all those seasons with. Trust me, if you know my personality and know who I am, it doesn’t matter what team’s along the way. I want to beat everyone. I want to beat the Red Sox because I want to start out with a win at Yankee Stadium.”

Not only did Kevin Youkilis address the media about his comments but he also made nice with Joba Chamberlain, and it looks like the two became buddies. Their first conversation of the spring? They talked about mustaches. Chamberlain is growing out a mustache and wants Youkilis to do the same. Today the two new teammates gave each other a handshake.

“Tomorrow we’ll hug.” Youkilis said.

Michael Pineda had a side session earlier this morning and threw 25 pitches (all of them fastballs). He said he felt good and he’s still on track to return in June.

– Do you guys remember this pitcher named Cesar Cabral, who was a Rule 5 draft pick, slated to take a bullpen spot last season, only to hurt his elbow forcing the spot to go to Clay Rapada instead? Well he threw a 25 fastball side as well, and could be scheduled to return in May.

– The Yankees writers have all been following the Washington Nationals camp, waiting to see how Rafael Soriano is doing adjusting to his new team. The problem is…he never showed up to camp, prompting another edition of “Where In The World Is Rafael Soriano.” The answer? The Dominican Republic having a visa issue. Nationals say that he should be in camp over the weekend, which would give everyone a chance to continue to keep an eye on him.

– And some somber news for another former Yankee. Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher left the teams workouts to attend his mothers funeral in Ohio. Condolences go out to Nick Swisher and his family.

– And finally, do you plan on watching a Spring Training game this season but don’t know what channel its on? Yesterday, I made the 2013 Spring Training schedule for the Yankees, including the channels for which game will be broadcast. If you have (or are planning to get) MLB.TV 2013, then you’re in luck since you’ll get to see most of the games this Spring. Here’s the complete list of games, times and channels.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees sign Dan Johnson; And then there was one; Game times for season

The Signing of Dan Johnson

The Yankees are still being quiet in the Major League department, but the Yankees have another player that they signed for a minor league job. The Yankees signed 1B/3B/DH Dan Johnson to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Now, those of you may know Johnson as the player who hit the game tying HR for the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 162 in 2011 against the Yankees (which allowed Tampa to make it to the playoffs and the Red Sox to go home). He played for the Chicago White Sox Triple-A affiliate last season batting .267 with 28 HR’s and 85 RBI’s. He also got a spot in the Triple-A All Star Game and placed second in the Home Run Derby.

Now, I know that Dan Johnson could be a good signing for the minor leagues, but the Yankees main focus should be the Major Leagues. They are basically without a catcher and they don’t have depth on their bench. Spring Training is in less than three weeks and this is the team that the Steinbrenner’s and Cashman want to put on the field?

Johnson has a slight chance to make the 25-man roster as the Yankees DH if he does well in Spring Training, but he could start the season in Triple-A which will once again, leave the Yankees with a thin roster.

Only One Left in Arbitration

I know I didn’t update about this since I was on vacation, but now I can officially report that almost all of the Yankees that were arbitration eligible have signed through the 2013 season–except for one. While Brett Gardner, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Boone Logan don pinstripes for the season, David Robertson will go to an arbitrator with the Yankees if they don’t reach a deal before then. Robertson is the lone Yankee in arbitration and it’s puzzling why the Yankees haven’t worked out a deal with him as of yet. Just give Robertson what he’s asking for since he actually deserves it.

Yankees announce Game Times for 2013 season 

MLB announced today the times for the upcoming season for the Yankees. Now, while the Yankees calendar hasn’t been fully updated, here are some dates and times that have been updated.

April 5-7 (vs. Tigers): 1:05pm, 4:05pm, 1:05pm
April 8-11 (vs. Indians): 4:05pm, 7:05pm, 7:05pm, 7:05pm
May 10-12 (vs. Royals): 7:10pm, 6:10pm, 1:10pm
May 25 (vs. Rays): 4:10pm
June 16 (vs. Angels): 3:35pm
August 2-4 (vs. Padres): 7:10pm, 5:40pm, 1:10pm (All Eastern Time)
Final Series of Year (vs. Astros): 7:10pm, 6:10pm, 1:10pm

Yankees Offseason Notes: Mr. Soriano goes to Washington; 4 Yankees file for arbitration

– Well, it took from October to January but Rafael Soriano finally has a new home and that is with the Washington Nationals. He signed a two year, $28 Million with an option for a third year. Soriano’s contract makes him the highest paid reliever in baseball but second all time to New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. When Soriano didn’t take the option that the Yankees were offering him, it had fans wondering if he would ever find a job. Well, it took him a while since teams don’t really want to give up a draft pick just to sign a player.

The Yankees now have three draft picks in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft. They are #27 (which was their original draft pick), #31 (since Nick Swisher signed with the Cleveland Indians) and #32 (since Soriano signed with the Nationals). But if you’re sad that you won’t see Soriano as much and you’re a Yankee fan–don’t be. The Yankees and Nationals meet up on March 29, 2012 for an exhibition game. Although it’s the end of the ‘untuck’ era, I’m sure someone on the Yankees can one-up that this season.

– In our second major story of the day, four Yankees have decided to file for arbitration after not being able to agree on a contract offer. Those four Yankees are Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, David Robertson and Boone Logan. Now, the four players still have time to work this out, but the issue at hand could be that they all feel they are worth what they want. I’ve seen what Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are reportedly asking for and they should go to an arbitration hearing. They aren’t worth what they’re asking for, especially Hughes. Give Robertson and Logan what they want since they were more dominant but there has been some cries from Yankees fans that maybe it’s time for Boone Logan to go since he only has one year remaining.

Honestly guys, why couldn’t you have made it as easy as Brett Gardner did. The guy took what the Yankees gave him, no questions asked. Then again, he was injured for most of the year. It would be exciting to see how all of this plays out in the end.

In Other News:

– Before signing with the Yankees, Kevin Youkilis spoke to Johnny Damon about the transition from Boston to New York. Luckily for Youkilis, Damon gave the transition two thumbs up. Also dealing with Youkilis, he began working with Kevin Long to prepare for the upcoming season. Sounds like a good idea if you want to get off on the right foot with the Yankees organization.

 

Yankees Offseason Notes: Who else needs to avoid arbitration?

It’s December 8th and the Yankees have done little to none since the season ended. The Yankees signed Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Hiroki Kuroda (all of which were expected from the get-go. What would have been shocking was Kuroda going to a different team). The Yankees have only just started taking care of their arbitration players and only have completed a contract with one player out of the six players that were on the list: Brett Gardner.

Gardner will get $2.85 Million for the 2013 season along with performance bonuses, $25,000 for each plate appearance milestone (375, 400, 425, 450, 475, 500).  So in other words, if Gardner played all 162 games (or at least 150) games with that many plate appearances  he could make up to $3 Million. Let’s see if the extra money can entice our lovely injury prone left fielder to try to not injure himself again. We need him.

The Yankees have four other players on the arbitration list after dealing a contract to Gardner and letting Casey McGehee walk. Here are the four players and their projections based off MLB Trade Rumors:

Phil Hughes: projected to make 5.7 Million in 2013
Boone Loganprojected to make $2.8 Million in 2013
David Robertsonprojected to make $2.7 Million in 2013
Joba Chamberlainprojected to make $1.8 Million in 2013.

If I were to guess why Gardner’s contract was the only one that was able to get completed so quickly, it’s probably because Gardner can’t really argue that he should get more money since he only played 12 games in the 2012 season due to an elbow injury. Now if you were to ask me if these players deserve the money that they’re asking for, here’s what I think.

Phil Hughes: Hughes looked better in 2012 than in 2011 but I don’t know if I would give him almost $6 Million dollars. Maybe if he continued winning 16+ games but lowered how many games he actually lost then I would say why not.

Boone Logan: Heck, for the great job he did in 2012, let’s give him $3 Million. Logan did a great job when the Yankees needed him, so maybe a small raise wouldn’t hurt.

David Robertson: Give the man more than what he’s asking for. He’s simply amazing and really should consider changing his middle name to “Houdini”. I wouldn’t be surprised if this man was the future closer of the New York Yankees. Money wise for 2013, I’d say give him $3 Million.

Joba Chamberlain: Yep, $1.8 Million sounds about right, especially since he just came back from Tommy John Surgery (and an ankle injury but that’s another story). Chamberlain seemed to have gotten it together towards the end of the season so that’s a sign of hope that he’ll be effective come Spring Training.

So if you were the Yankees (or an arbiter), what would you do with Chamberlain, Robertson, Hughes and Logan? Would you give them less money or more money depending on what they’re asking?

In Other News:

Eli Whiteside who was DFA’d by the Yankees has been picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays. No worries, the Blue Jays have to pay the contract that the Yankees signed Whiteside to prior to designating him for assignment.

Alex Rodriguez had a charity event in Miami today and answered questions to the press about certain subjects.

On  Kevin Youkilis: “Youk has always been a tough out. He’s a tough player…a winning player…I think that would be a good move for us.”

On why he didn’t disclose his injuries during the playoffs: “When I struggle,it’s on me. It’s a team sport. I have to do my part. There’s no excuses here”

– Also one more tidbit: If you’re following an account that says @realhankaaron on Twitter, you might want to unfollow it. Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN)  confirmed the account was a fake.

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

Morning Bits: AL East Champs, Sabathia, Jeter, A-rod, Ichiro & more…

Good morning all.  What a good feeling it is that the Yankees came out with the bats alive last night and took the division and the best record in the American League.   The Yankees will play October 7th (Sunday) against Baltimore or Texas winner.   That game is Friday night at 8:30PM EST.

Enjoy the day now for some links…

Ian O’Connor of ESPN mentions that these are not Jeter nor A-Rod’s Yankees anymore.   How the Yankees will do in the playoffs rest on the shoulders of Robinson Cano.

Girardi mentioned last night that Jeter’s season exceeded expectation writes Andrew Marchand.

Wallace Matthews writes that Cashman wants to win a championship this year for his father.  Matthews also looks into who the Yankees will play next.

Steven Miller of mlb.com writes that winning the division is a well rested C.C. Sabathia.

– Kristie Ackert of The Daily news mentions that Ichiro is enjoying a chance at the postseason after an 11 year drought.

Ackert also has a story on Joba who was very emotional after the game while reflecting on his injury filled off-season.

Flip Bondy of The Daily News mentions that Girardi and the Yankees have Jeter to thank for the AL East crown.

How should the 2012 postseason roster look?

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

Infield

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

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

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

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

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

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