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Yankees creeping closer to second Wild Card Spot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mark Reynolds vs. Lyle Overbay: Take Your Pick

Coming into the stretch, would you put Mark Reynolds (pictured above) in the lineup, or Lyle Overbay?

Coming into the stretch, would you put Mark Reynolds (pictured above) in the lineup, or Lyle Overbay?

There’s no denying two things:

1) Mark Reynolds is carrying a hot bat into this Baltimore Orioles series, having three hits last night and simply demolished the Toronto Blue Jays;  going 5-for-8 in his two games.

2) Lyle Overbay is seriously struggling coming into this series He hasn’t had a hit since August 18 vs. the Boston Red Sox.

The way that it was designed since the New York Yankees had picked up Mark Reynolds was simple; Reynolds will hit vs. LHP and Lyle Overbay will hit vs. RHP. However, the stakes are high and the times have changed. The Yankees are fighting for the final WC spot (along with the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics). They need the hottest bats in the lineup. They need Mark Reynolds. Reynolds is slowly forming back into his April form, hitting .319 in August. after having a sluggish May-July which ultimately caused him to lose his job with the Indians. Lyle Overbay however is hitting .231 in August and is 0-for his last-15.

If I’m the manager of the Yankees, Reynolds would be in the lineup today over Overbay. I like Lyle Overbay, I do–but this is a time where people’s feelings can’t get hurt. If you’re not producing whether on the mound or at the plate, you’re either getting pulled early or you’re not getting the start. It’s as simple as that. Right now, Overbay wouldn’t get the start; Reynolds would. It sounds mean and sounds cruel but looking at numbers, that’s how it would have to be done if the Yankees want to keep their playoff hopes alive. So take your pick, would you take Mark Reynolds…or Lyle Overbay going forward in this stretch?

Winter Meetings Day 3: Chavez, Keppinger off the market as Yanks do nothing

It’s Day three of the Winter Meetings and every team in the AL East has done something to spice up their team. Every team, except for the New York Yankees. After being told that they were the favorites for Eric Chavez, he went and inked a 1 year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jeff Keppinger who was the Yankees main target for a replacement third baseman since Alex Rodriguez went down went ahead and signed with the White Sox, avoiding New York once again.

Once again what the Yankees are doing is simply “talk.” The Yankees have been asking around for players such as Kevin Youkillis (who the Yankees asked for his medical records) and most recently Mark Reynolds. We could call him “Curtis Granderson 2.0″ if you’d like. He doesn’t hit for average, he strikes out a lot but–he has enough power to send the ball over the right field porch at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees don’t have a lot of options and they don’t have a lot of backup.

A lot of speculation went around today, wondering if the Yankees would now consider Eduardo Nunez for the 3B role (part time of course) and if the Yankees would move Mark Teixeira from 1st to 3rd since Tex played 3rd base in the minor leagues. Both ideas were shot down with a firm “no”.

The Yankees haven’t been close to making a deal with a new player all winter (Kuroda, Pettitte and Mariano don’t count) and all they’ve been doing is asking around.

To quote a famous Neon Trees song: “Oh my, my dear. Everybody Talks too much.” Apparently, that’s all the Yankees have been doing: talking too much and not getting anything done. There’s still two more days of the Winter Meetings, but don’t hold your breath for something exciting to happen.

One other note to think about:

Here is how many legit starters the Yankees could have by Opening Day:

Derek Jeter
Curtis Granderson
Mark Teixeira
Brett Gardner
Robinson Cano

Right now it doesn’t sound too promising for Opening Day, now does it?

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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