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Teixeira & Youkilis’ return serves as a sign of urgency for Yankees

YankeesInjuredPlayersBaseball161418--415x415Publicized to incredible heights, Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira were in the Yankees’ lineup last night as they opened up a three-game set with the Red Sox. After being swept by the Mets in a Subway Series where the offense never really posed a threat, re-acquiring [in a sense] two former All-Stars to bolster the middle of the order certainly is the biggest boost the Yanks will get all year.

Up until this week, the team had been excelling with the likes of Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner, but right now it appears they all are out of gas. The lineup’s struggles do not fall on their shoulders alone, but all three look lost at the plate and are shells of the .300 hitters they were for the month of April. Even Robinson Cano went through a cold streak, as he fell into the habit of trying to make contact with anything near the strike zone, which resulted in pop ups, ground outs, strike outs, and only the occasional bloop single.

Robbie did go 2 for 4 with a home run in Thursday night’s loss to the Mets, so he may be coming out of it. But the fact remains that he alone cannot carry the offense, and though the pitching has been solid the saying holds true that, “you can’t win if you can’t score.”

So unfortunately as we expected, the return of Tex and Youk can not just be a sight for sore eyes. These two sluggers must produce like they have in the past, otherwise the team could find itself battling it out with the Blue Jays in last place by the end of next week.

Maybe I’m over-exaggerating, but the upcoming schedule offers little time for the Yankees to struggle like they just did. As detailed the re-tooled Red Sox are at the top of the division and intend to stay there through the weekend, while next week Terry Francona will look to re-establish himself as a man no one wants to see in the opposing dugout when his Indians come for a visit. After that it’s off to the West Coast to battle it out with the Mariners, Athletics, and Angels – all of them improving and posing a real threat. Anything worse than a .500 record in those games and this joyful, miracle-like season could quickly turn to despair and doubt.

Am I saying Teixeira and Youkilis will decide our fate? Of course not. Robinson Cano needs to start hitting like he’s capable of doing, and Vernon Wells needs to stop hitting as he did with the Angels, as in, poorly. Overall, the Yankees have hit better than predicted, as they’ve scored just enough to win in numerous games. But now they aren’t, and it concerns me greatly.

Perhaps it’s the simple fact that the replacement-level guys such as Overbay, Pronk, and Wells couldn’t carry the team as much as we thought they could when everything was dandy in Yankeeland. Ultimately they were going to break down, and it looks like now is the time. Getting back Teixeira and Youkilis is a huge boost, but if that boost isn’t visible over the next two weeks, to paraphrase a baseball quote to fit this new month – “you can’t win a division in June, but you sure can lose one.”

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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?

Finally, a Yankees team we can love

Let’s be honest. When the “Yankees” lined up down the first base line on Opening Day, was this a team you were ready to watch for 162 games? Probably not.

Sure, there was Robinson Cano. You may have spotted Brett Gardner and Ichiro as well. But besides them, did anyone else catch your eye? Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes was “something else”, but what I mean is, did you feel comfortable relying on Lyle Overbay at first, or Vernon Wells in left? I don’t think so.

Where was Nick Swisher, the heart and soul of the team the past four seasons? What about Russell Martin, our Munson-esque backstop? How could we possibly win with these replacement-level, over the hill scrubs?

These questions and more swirled through many fans’ heads as the Yankees opened up the season back in April. Numerous analysts were picking them to finish last, and if they weren’t that harsh, they still predicted them to miss the playoffs.

Now of course it’s still early in the season, but who could have thought just how different the first month and a half would play out on the field, than we thought it would in our minds.

Here are our 2013 Yankees, at 22-13, first place in the A.L. East. A familiar sight without a doubt, but how they’ve gotten to the top of the division is as unusual as it’s ever been in the Bronx. Absent are the headlining stars – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson – and present are former big name players revitalizing their careers, and youngsters trying to sink their teeth into the major leagues.

They still hit home runs like the usual Bombers, but win close games more often than not with solid pitching and nearly flawless defense. When was the last time those two aspects were keys to winning for the Yankees? It may have been in the playoffs, but certainly not on the path to get them there.

As mentioned, injuries have paved the way for players young and old to make an impact in pinstripes. Vernon Wells is second to Robbie Cano in runs scored, home runs, and average, Lyle Overbay already has 20 RBI, and Travis Hafner has made a fairly big impact when it matters with his still ferocious bat. Austin Romine, Preston Claiborne, Adam Warren, [and soon David Adams] have all made their big-league debuts and figure to be relied upon more as the days get longer and the season moves into the dog days of summer.

It’s hard to pinpoint the last time the Yankees have had so many role players, rather than superstars, and have been A) successful, and B) fun to watch. Maybe sometime in the 90’s, but they never went anywhere.

Sensing the sarcasm, no, this roster right now is not world championship worthy, and it will be a big help when everyone comes back off the DL. But, when they do, don’t be so willing to part with the Overbays, Hafners, and Wellses of the world.

Because truth be told, they’re the reason why Tex, Grandy, A-Rod and the Captain will jump right back into a pennant race they can win.

Keep it up guys…

Injury Update: Cervelli, Nova, Youkilis

Despite having a 6-4 win, the Yankees had multiple injury issues. Let’s address them one by one as if it’s one big sandwich.

– Let’s start with Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli was hit in the knuckles by a pitch from Ivan Nova in the first inning. Cervelli was taken for x-rays and the results weren’t good. Cervelli has a broken hand that requires surgery, and he’s expected to be sidelined for a minimum of 6 weeks. Having surgery means that the fracture wasn’t a clean fracture and the doctors would have to open him up to see how bad the damage in his hand is. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. A huge blow for the Yankees and bad luck for Cervelli who was playing so well for the first couple of weeks.

– Let’s continue onto Ivan Nova. Two innings later, Ivan Nova was pulled out of the game by Joe Girardi and fans initially thought that he pulled a hamstring. It was revealed that he had pain in his elbow and was sent for an MRI. The results of the MRI weren’t back by the time the Yankees finished the game, so we’d have to wait until tomorrow to see the results.

– And Finally, we shall end it with Kevin Youkilis. Kevin Youkilis has been out of the lineup for almost a week (tomorrow makes seven days) and the Yankees were attempting to avoid the DL with him. However, if his back isn’t well by tomorrow then the Yankees could possibly place him on the 15-day DL. Now, he wouldn’t have to spend an extra fifteen days sidelined. The Yankees could retroactive his DL from the day he stopped playing.

The Yankees have been the walking wounded since the season began…and now they’re going to have to walk wounded some more.

Love them or hate them: The John Sterling home-run calls

imageEver since 1989, John Sterling has been in the broadcast booth calling Yankees games through thick and thin. He’s entertaining, he’s interesting and one of the few radio announcers I can turn to when it’s time to mute a FOX game. One of the reasons that I enjoy listening to Sterling is for his inventive and interesting home-run calls. His home-run calls are one of those staples that are needed to be memorized by every Yankees fan. Over the years, he has created home-run calls that cannot be forgotten. Remember Bernie William’s famous home-run call “Bern Baby Bern” or Tino Martinez‘s “Bam-Tino?” Yep, that was John Sterling’s entertaining mind. When a new Yankee hits a home-run, fans turn and ask “What’s John Sterling’s home-run call for this player?” Well, being the John Sterling radio fanatic that I am, I compiled a list of some of our favorite New York Yankees home-run calls for the players on the current team. (that includes our new Yankees brethren as well).

Brett GardnerBrett Gardner has two home-run calls, depending of the mood that John Sterling is. Personally, I love hearing them both since Gardner rarely hits HR’s. The first one is fun to say because he went yard, yet the second one is a pun on his last name ‘Gardner’ which is an actual word.

1) “Gardy goes Yardy!”

2) “Gardner plants one in the (left or right) field seats!”

Ichiro SuzukiIchiro’s home-run call. I felt like John Sterling could have been more inventive with Ichiro’s home-run call, but it is what it is.

“Ichiro, the Yankees rising son, says sayonara.”

Curtis GrandersonThe second home-run call is one of my favorites. The first one is a pun on his last name, but the second one you get to sing! Every time Granderson goes to bat, I find myself singing it. I can’t wait to start singing it when Granderson comes back from the DL.

1) “Isn’t he something sort of Grand-ish?”

2) “Oh, the Grandyman Can! Oh, the Grandyman can!”

Derek JeterDerek Jeter is the captain of the Yankees, so his home-run call is rather fitting.

“El Capitan.”

Mark TeixeiraMark Teixeria is another one of those Yankees that has two home run calls. I actually enjoy the first one more since it’s a pun on getting a  text message. (And I like to look at my smartphone and ask why haven’t I got a ‘Tex’ Message yet when he goes to the plate).

1) “Mark sends a Tex Message to the (left or right) field seats!

2) “You’re on the Mark, Teixeira”

Alex Rodriguez: Everyone knows A-Rod’s HR call. It’s not a secret.

“An A-Bomb for A-Rod.”

Robinson CanoIf I were John Sterling, I would trademark this home-run call. It’s became a very popular saying among Yankees fans.

“Robbie Cano, Don’t Ya Know!”

Francisco CervelliI personally am a sucker for this home-run call. It simply reminds me of food.

“Cisco the Kid Cerv’s one up!”

Travis HafnerAll right, I love John Sterling and all but…this call was L-A-M-E! It lacks the magic. Did Sterling figure that he wasn’t going to be a Yankee past this season and gave him a home-run call that was sad yet lame?

1) “The Pronx Bomber.”

2) “A Hafner Homer.”

Vernon WellsSo Vernon Wells has two HR calls that are slightly better than Travis Hafner’s. Wells’s walk-up song may be awesome…but his HR call is something that’s almost cringe-worthy.

1) “The Bronx is Vernon.”

2) “Wells rings the bells.”

Kevin YoukilisSo all of my favorite things in life has to have carbon copies of something? My favorite T.V show has carbon copies of the original characters and Kevin Youkilis’s HR call is a carbon copy of Alex Rodriguez’s.

“A Nuke for Youk.”

Yeah, that was really inventive.

Yep, we may love them and we may hate them but the John Sterling HR calls are iconic to the Yankees. When a new Yankee hits a home-run, you never know what call John Sterling could come up with.

Accept it: Kevin Youkilis is a Yankee

kevin_youkills--300x450

Not even one full day into his first day at spring training, the few sentences said by Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis sent fans and the media into a frenzy. Likely a few hours after he was sized for his pinstripes, Youk was telling reporters he’d always be a Boston Red Sox.

He’s learned now, but that’s a big no-no and certainly not something that will go unnoticed in the big New York spotlight. Of course, his allegiance to Boston spread all over the back pages of newspapers was not the only quote he gave, but it was the only one people cared about.

Already on Yankees fan’s bad side, Kevin Youkilis said he will always remember the first nine seasons of his baseball career, which just so happened to take place with the Bombers’ biggest rival. Two World Series rings, three All Star appearances, a Gold Glove and Hank Aaron Award, and he is being ridiculed for saying he enjoyed what he accomplished there? Are fans truly clinging to any little thing he says that sounds the slightest anti-Yankee? That is truly pathetic.

Now, there’s not a fiber in my body that tells me a clean-shaven Kevin Youkilis wearing our beloved Yankee pinstripes is right. This is not a plea of defense nor show of love to the  guy who batted .235 last season and yet received $12 million, from an apparently penny-pinching Yankees front office. But it’s just me accepting it.

Many people have brought up the argument that players like Sparky Lyle, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Johnny Damon all started out as hated rivals in Beantown, and ended up becoming fan favorites [and more importantly, World Series champions] in the Bronx. Did any fan really expect those four “idiots” to put on the pinstripes, play with Yankee pride and partake in some of the greatest moments the team has ever had? I don’t think so.

I’ll give you a moment to reminisce about Sparky’s 1977 Cy Young season. Or Boggs riding the horse after ’96. Don’t forget Clemens’ postseason dominance either. Or Damon’s double-steal.

That is not my number one point, but it largely contributes to the idea that fans need to just wait and see what happens this season. The fact is, no one knows what Kevin Youkilis will do for the Yankees this year. I don’t expect anything outstanding, but I don’t expect anything horrible either.

Yankees fans have been considered vulgar, ignorant, downright stupid and clueless in the past. They have also been known as classy, every now and then, for cheering for whoever is wearing the pinstripes. I’m not a fan of A-Rod and a number of guys on the team. But I still support them and cheer for them. Why? Because they’re Yankees. And Kevin Youkilis is now one too.

So forget what he was, as he is now a player for our favorite team. Forgive and forget. Give him a chance. All those statements and more apply. The fact is, you don’t know anything until you know everything. Who knows what these upcoming 162 games have in store for Youk. Only time will tell. Not me or you.

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.

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

Ivan Nova

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

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

Nova vs. Phelps: Who gets the fifth spot?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Pineda loses weight and could be ready by June

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

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

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

Youkilis comes to camp

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

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

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

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

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

Girardi on Alex Rodriguez:

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

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

Girardi on the 2013 team:

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

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

Girardi’s biggest concern:

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

Girardi on Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki:

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

Girardi on concerns of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera:

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

MORE AROUND YANKEES CAMP

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

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

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

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

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.

 

What Are Some New Year’s Resolutions For Our Yankees?

A new year is upon us and with only 43 days until Pitchers and Catchers report, it would be a good time to list some New Year’s resolutions for some of our favorite Yankees. How could some of our players better themselves coming into the season? Let’s take a look.

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Brett Gardner‘s New Year’s Resolution should be to have a healthy 2013 season

Brett Gardner: Have a healthy and productive 2013 season.

Brett Gardner had a frustrating 2012 season only playing in 9 games before becoming sidelined with an elbow injury for majority of the season. Gardner is in serious need of a bounce back season. After hitting  a career high .277 in 2010, Gardner dipped a bit in 2011 with a .259 average. Gardner started on his bounce back season in 2012 before an injury and surgery sidelined him until the ALCS series in October when he clearly wasn’t ready to play yet. 2013 is practically a do or die season for Gardner especially with the way the Yankees are heading. Gardner could be used to his full potential–if he can stay healthy.

Mariano Rivera: Go out in style.

2013 is most likely Mariano Rivera’s final year in Yankees pinstripes before he retires and one thing that the veteran closer could do before hanging it up is going out in style. It’s easier said than done since Rivera had surgery on his ACL that he tore last May. Of course, Mo is practically drinking from the fountain of youth. Him going out in style shouldn’t be too hard for him. 

Kevin YoukilisEarn the Yankees fans respect.

Kevin Youkilis is entering enemy territory after signing a one-year contract with the New York Yankees after being with the Boston Red Sox for most of his career. Of course, he’s not exactly welcomed with open arms since Yankees fans know where he came from. Youkilis could use 2013 in order to win the Yankees fans over by having hits with RISP. If he can do that on a consistent basis then I’ll be sold, but until then…he has some work to do.

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David Robertson‘s New Years Resolution should be to outperform the bullpen in hopes of becoming the closer.

David Robertson: Emerge as a closer role figure.

The Yankees are going to need a new closer most likely after this season. One of the consistent figures in the bullpen is none other than David Robertson but of course earning the closer role is going to be tougher than he thought. Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma are in the bullpen this season as well and we all know that they will try to fight for the closer spot. David Robertson has the stuff. He just has to put it into play and if he plays his cards right, he could be the future closer of the Yankees.

Curtis GrandersonMake contact on the ball!

Yes, we all know Curtis Granderson can hit HR’s and they are mighty impressive, but it would be helpful if he could hit for average and not strike out so much. Yankees fans are grateful for the Kevin Long tutorial that took place a couple years ago, but lately it seemed that Granderson is swinging at everything over the moon. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Granderson’s strikeout numbers. In 2011, Granderson had 169 K’s. His 2012 numbers are worse. In 684 AB he had 195 K’s! That’s almost a third of his at-bats! Grandy, as much as we love your HR’s…you need to hit for average. And while you’re at it, just tell Mark Teixeira the same thing.

New York Yankees: HIT WITH RISP!!!!

I don’t know if I can emphasize this of it’s importance (do the caps help?). The Yankees need to hit with RISP. That’s what done them in during the playoffs for the past 3 years! If it weren’t for A-Rod and Hideki Matsui during the 2009 World Series run, then that playoff could have been a bust as well. I know the Yankees are called the Bronx Bombers for their home runs, but would it kill them to play small ball once in a while?!

Yankees Offseason Notes: Kevin Youkilis deal becomes official and ‘El Nino’ signs elsewhere

As of early this morning–Kevin Youkilis is officially a New York Yankee. The Yankees agreed to a one year contract for the former Boston Red Sox infielder, who said that family influenced his decision to come play in New York.

“The first thing was family.” Youkilis said during a conference call. “I wanted to make sure with all these options what was best for the family.” Youkilis’s family believed that being in New York City for a year would have been unbelievable and the fact that the Yankees could of had a chance to win the World Series in 2013.

During the conference call, Youkilis said that he had received a voice mail from Joba Chamberlain–the both of them have had a rough history together. Youkilis said that he hasn’t worked out on trying to reach out to Chamberlain as of yet due to multiple voice mails and calls to return. “For me personally, it’s a new teammate.” Youkilis said of Chamberlain. “We’re going to go out there and take the field together. He goes out there to pitch and hopefully I can play great defense behind him. And if he gets in a jam, we can stop it.”

Before you ask, no Youkilis will not play in the outfield as a Yankee. He will be used as a third baseman, a first baseman and a DH. When Alex Rodriguez returns from surgery, both Youkilis and A-Rod will be in the lineup somehow. Just don’t ask him to play shortstop. “If they put me at short, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble there.”

In Other News

– The Yankees will have to deal with one more familiar face joining another team. Ramiro Pena (or as known in New York as ‘El Nino’) has signed a major league contract with the Atlanta Braves. It’s not surprising that Pena is going to a different team since he barely had time to play for the Yankees, but the fact that’s surprising is that he signed a major league contract. Pena’s fielding is tremendous–but his hitting makes you want to cringe every time there’s an RBI situation and he’s up to bat. We’re going to miss you Pena.

Kevin Youkilis signs with the New York Yankees

Yep, the Kevin Youkilis waiting game is over. According to Ken Rosenthal, Kevin Youkilis signed with the Yankees for a one-year, $12 Million contract, marking this the first signing of the offseason for the Yankees that wasn’t a re-signing (Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Brett Gardner all on one year deals). Here’s the tweet from Rosenthal:

Yankees Offseason Notes: February 12 = Spring Training!

So for all of you Yankees fans that can’t wait until the Yankees get back in action, here’s some good news for you–this year, your wait for baseball will be shorter. Yes, Pitchers and catchers will report on February 12th, 2013 and games will start on February 23rd. Why so early for Spring Training games? The answer is simple: the World Baseball Classic is in March, meaning that teams that aren’t from the USA will play against–the USA. Also a special treat, the Yankees will host the Dominican Republic baseball team and Robinson Cano will play for the DR team (it’s just one game vs. the Yankees so I’m sure that it will be fine). Here’s some more information (along with the schedule for this Spring Training season):

Pitchers and Catchers report: February 12, 2013
First Workout: February 13, 2013
Position Players report: February 17, 2013
Team Workout: February 18, 2013

Spring Training Schedule

February 23:  New York Yankees @ Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista @ 1:05pm)
February 24: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
February 25: New York Yankees @ Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota @ 1:05pm)
February 26: New York Yankees @ Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater @ 1:05pm)
February 27: Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
February 28: Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm) (ss)
February 28: New York Yankees @ Houston Astros (Kissimmee @ 1:05pm)  (ss)
March 1: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 2: Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 3: New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox  (Ft. Myers @ 1:05pm)
March 4: OFF DAY 
March 5: Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 6: Dominican Republic vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 7: New York Yankees @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jupiter @ 1:05pm)
March 8: New York Yankees @ Miami Marlins (Jupiter @ 1:05pm)
March 9: Atlanta Braves vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 10: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin @ 1:05pm)
March 11: St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 12: New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte @ 1:05pm)
March 13: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 14: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin @ 1:05pm)
March 15: Miami Marlins vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 16: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm) (ss)
March 16: New York Yankees @ Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista @ 5:05pm) (ss)
March 17: New York Yankees @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton @ 1:05pm)
March 18: OFF DAY
March 19: New York Yankees @ Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater @ 1:o5pm)
March 20: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:o5pm)
March 21: Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 22: New York Yankees @ Minnesota Twins (Ft. Meyers @ 1:05pm)
March 23: New York Yankees @ Detroit Tigers (Lakeland @ 1:o5pm)
March 24: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)
March 25: OFF DAY
March 26: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees (GMS Field @ 7:05pm)
March 27: New York Yankees @ Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota @ 7:05pm)
March 28: New York Yankees vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (GMS Field @ 1:05pm)

In Other News:

– The Yankees are still waiting on an answer from Kevin Youkilis. We can expect an answer in the coming days.

– The Yankees are closer in a one year deal for Ichiro, which could fill the RF hole if Ichiro can play a full year. The signing could also give the Yankees some leverage if they ever wanted to trade Curtis Granderson and sign Josh Hamilton.

– Also, the Yankees opted out of their contract with StubHub (I am personally outraged), and I ask myself–was stopping the contract between the Yanks and StubHub really necessary? Shouldn’t they be busy putting a team on the field instead of trying to find more ways to get money out of everyone’s pockets?

Yankees Offseason Notes: Gardner returns to OF for 2013 season

The Yankees didn’t add anyone new today but they did lock up someone for the 2013 season–their prized outfielder. The New York Yankees and Brett Gardner both agreed to a one year contract, avoiding arbitration. According to sources, Gardner is expected to make $2.8 Million in 2013 since he was sidelined for most of the 2012 season with an elbow injury. Now that Gardner has been officially signed to the club for the ’13 season, the speculation can begin on whether or not the Yankees plan to move Gardner to CF and Granderson to LF (should Granderson be with the team for the ’13 season). I personally believe that the Yankees should move Gardner to CF since you would want your best defensive outfielder in center, but that’s up to the Yankees to decide.

In Other News:

– The Yankees have conducted a background check on FA Josh Hamilton, which speculates that the Yankees have interest in the outfielder. However, the Yankees have to understand that signing Hamilton could be risky with his injury history. Signing Hamilton could also be quite expensive unless the Yankees plan on trading Granderson to free up some cash. It’s honestly been a dream of mine to see Hamilton in pinstripes. Heck, it was a dream of mine to see Cliff Lee in pinstripes when Lee was a free agent. But that’s all what those scenarios are–dreams.

– The Yankees haven’t heard back from Kevin Youkilis as of yet since placing a one year, $12 Million contract offer on the table. Youkilis was at a charity event last night in Boston so Youkilis’s decision might not be for another couple of days. Even if Youkilis signed with the Yankees–there will always be a bit of Boston in his blood. He’s married to the sister of New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. Thought I’d share that piece of information.

Ranking AL East Infielders

In a series of articles this week we will be ranking the starting players in the AL East for every position. Today the infielders are the focus. These rankings should provide good discussion so please give me your thoughts on rankings you may agree or disagree with.

Catchers 

1. Matt Wieters, BAL

2. Russell Martin, NYY

3. J.P. Arencibia, TOR

4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS

5. Jose Molina, TB

Matt Wieters started to live up to his potential last year. After a rough rookie season, Wieters stepped it up both offensively and defensively. Wieters hit .262, with 22 HR’s, 68 RBI, and a .778 OPS. He was also stellar behind the plate as he threw out 37% of all base stealers last season. It was a close call for 2nd but Martin got the nod over Arencibia due to experience and defense. Arencibia showed great power potential during his rookie year as he hit 23 HR’s, but needs to work on his average since he hit only .219. If he can take another step up like Wieters did, he can be quite good. Martin did a terrific job handling the Yankees pitching staff and provided timely offense. Saltalamachia has never lived up to his hype during his career, but did have his best year last year offensively. Molina is a great backup, but should not really be starting.

1st Basemen

1. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

2. Mark Teixeira, NYY

3. Adam Lind, TOR

4. Carlos Pena, TB

5. Chris Davis, BAL

Adrian Gonzalez definitely had a great first impression for the Red Sox last year with an MVP type season, batting .337, with 27 HR’s, 117 RBI, and a .957 OPS. Teixeira can definitely match Gonzalez’s excellent defense and has a similar level of power. However Teixiera batted 89 points lower so he is not really on the same level of production as Gonzalez. Since Lind hit .305 and 35 HR’s in 2009 he has just been ordinary, yet still pretty solid. Pena provides great power and defense, but has not hit above .230 for three straight years. Davis has been an all or nothing type hitter for his career.

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