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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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Off Day News and Notes

Yankees are off today but there has been some interesting news today:

- Alex Rodriguez is closer to playing rehab games, but Brian Cashman refuted a NY Post report that Rodriguez would start on July 1st.

“He has not been cleared by our doctors to play in rehab games yet,” Cashman told Wally Matthews of  ESPNNewYork.com. “He’s getting closer, there’s no doubt about it, but we don’t have a date for him to start playing games yet,” Cashman said. “It could be July 1. It could also be July 5, or maybe June 25.”

- Rodrgiuez also got his twitter account verified today, so he is officially on Twitter. You can follow him at @AROD. Pretty interesting timing for him

- Mark Teixeira’s wrist does not appear to be getting any better, as Teixeira is still experiencing soreness. Surgery might seem like a good bet at this point.

“He’s still sore, even after the shot,” Cashman told Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. “So our doctors are obviously working through it, trying to analyze the situation. It’s clearly not a good situation.”

- McCullough also tweeted that Cashman told him that the Yankees haven’t decided what to do with Ivan Nova yet, but said “I don’t view Nova as a threat right now to Hughes.”

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.”

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?

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.

Some Notes: Robertson, Nelson, Teixeira, Granderson,

Here are some notes from today:

– David RobertsonDavid Robertson looked as if he turned on his ankle during the last pitch of his outing and immediately went to the clubhouse. According to Girardi, Robertson is fine after icing his ankle and he should be ready to go on Friday.

– Chris NelsonAfter the game, the Yankees announced that they traded either cash or a player to be named later to the Colorado Rockies for INF Chris Nelson. Nelson is batting .242 (16-for-66) with 0 HR and 4 RBI’s with his time in Colorado. The Yankees have not made a 25-man roster move but they did move Francisco Cervelli to the 60-Day-DL.

– Mark TeixeiraMark Teixeira is one step closer to returning to the Yankees lineup. Texieria hit balls off a tee and hit baseballs that were thrown by the coaches towards him. He’s not close to getting into a rehab game and he’ll continue to build strength in his wrist.

– Curtis GrandersonCurtis Granderson is the closest to returning to the Yankees lineup. Granderson had two AB in an extended Spring Training game today (there was rain in the forecast that suspended the game) and said he felt great. He feels he needs at least 50 AB before he could return to the Yankees which puts him to return in 2 weeks.

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.

Behind the music: The 2013 Yankees walk-up songs

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When the baseball season starts, fans usually go to the ball park in order to take in nine innings of glorious baseball. As much as I enjoy going to the ball park to hear the crack of the bat, the fans cheering loudly and the food, I usually love going to the ball park in order to listen to the walk-up music of the Yankees. Music is one of my biggest passions, and to me the Yankees have done more than play great baseball over the years; they’ve also introduced me to new music and have filled up my iTunes with songs that I listen to on a consistent basis. Since Opening Day for the Yankees is tomorrow, I went on the Yankees website, found the list to some of the Yankees walk-up songs and took a listen to them, introducing myself to the different types of music that our players listen to.

1. Brennan BoeschBrennan Boesch didn’t waste any time in choosing his songs for the 2013 season as he went and chose two songs for his walk-up music. The first song was “Sail” by Awolnation. When I first took  a listen to the song, I found it intimidating in a good way. It’s not as intimidating as Evan Longoria‘s walk-up song (which is arguably one of the best walk-up songs in the Major Leagues), but it makes you think that something big is coming. The second song that Boesch chose was “We’ll Be Fine” by Drake. This is one of those songs that has you nodding your head while Boesch comes to the plate. Boesch hasn’t played a real game for the Yankees yet, but if I must applaud him on one thing, it’s his good taste in music.

2. Brett GardnerI have to admit that before I started watching Gardner play baseball, I did not listen to country music; at all. But in 2011, Gardner had “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean as one of his walk-up songs and ever since then, half my iTunes is consumed with country music. This year, Gardner went with “Hell On Wheels” by Brantely Gilbert which is another great country song. Now, let’s hope that Gardner’s 2013 season is as dynamite as his walk-up song choice.

3. Chris StewartChris Stewart is close to having one of the best walk-up songs on the Yankees if he only played the first twenty seconds of the song over the P.A. Stewart’s song choice is “Forsaken” by Skillet and if there’s one thing I must say, is that the guitar riffs were amazing. I wouldn’t normally listen to music like this, but after today now I would. Now, all he has to do is play on a consistent basis so I could heart this song over and over at the ball park. I wouldn’t mind paying money for that.

4. Curtis GrandersonWe all remember the famous video where Curtis Granderson was picking his at-bat music and then almost cried when he chose “Friday.” Well, maybe all those hours of going through his laptop did the Grandy Man some good. His walk-up song (when he comes back) is none other than “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See (Instrumental)” by Busta Rhymes. Not too fond of the lyrics, but I do love the beat, so a smart move by Granderson in just using the instrumental.

5. David RobertsonWe all know that David Robertson is an Alabama boy. He was born in Tuscaloosa and he is constantly helping his hometown with High Socks For Hope. So it doesn’t surprise me that his walk-up song is the awesome “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s actually a good thing I know about this now because I made a deadly mistake in asking my Twitter followers last season what D-Rob’s walk-up song was. Let’s just say they weren’t too happy with me during the game when they found out I seriously didn’t know. Well, I know now and it’s an awesome song. I’m looking forward to the 8th inning where I could sit back and listen to the tune that introduces us to the Yankees favorite set-up man.

6. Derek JeterThe Captain won’t be there on Opening Day for us to hear his walk-up music but he made sure that he chose a song. I’m not too fond of rap music but, “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West was a decent choice by Jeter. It would be nice to hear it at Yankee Stadium when The Captain returns, but in the meantime I guess the closest we can hear this song is on Youtube (and on iTunes if you have it already).

7. Hiroki KurodaHiroki Kuroda has some great taste in music! Kuroda’s walk-up music is “The Whip” by Locksley and when I heard it for the first time, I heard some influence of ‘The Beatles’ in the chorus of the song. It’s nice that Kuroda was able to take us back to the good music–without actually taking us all the way back to the 1960′s.

8. Ivan NovaAh, is there nothing better than listening to some awesome Spanish music at Yankee Stadium? That’s what Ivan Nova introduced to the fans when he made his walk-up choice “Marta La Reina” by Antony Santos. This is one of those songs where you can’t help but get up from your seat and start dancing. According to the Yankees website, I don’t think it’s available for purchase but they have the song on Youtube where you can hear it over and over and over. It’s actually a great song to hear on a Sunday morning (with your headphones on).

9. Mariano RiveraMariano Rivera’s song choice is as fitting as his role on the Yankees. When the Yankees have a lead and they go to the 9th inning, Mariano Rivera comes in the game and puts it to bed, dubbing him “The Sandman.” Rivera’s song choice is the best song choice by far on the Yankees with “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. The guitar riffs in the song are simply amazing and when Yankees fans hear it, they can’t help but get excited, knowing that the greatest closer of all time is coming in to make the opposing team’s offense go to sleep. Yankees fans better soak in all of “Enter Sandman” that they can this season, since Rivera plans on retiring at the end of the season. I know I’ll soak up every moment.

10. Mark TeixeiraIf there’s anyone that we can count on to take us back to when rap music was at it’s best, it’s Mark Teixeira. His song choice “It’s Tricky” by Run D.M.C  is a great way to pay a homage to rap at it’s finest. Of course, we expect nothing less of Teixeira since he has been famously known of using classics from the Twisted Sisters in the past. But Teixeira didn’t stop there. His second song choice was “This Town” by O.A.R. which is one of my favorite songs. Teixeira hit a home run with his song choices and I can’t wait until he gets back on the field so we can hear it blaring from the P.A speakers.

11. Phil HughesPhil Hughes’s walk-up song is pretty vague. There’s no artist next to his song choice “Tomorrowland” so I did a search on Youtube and it sounds more like Hughes is ready for summer in a club than ready to play baseball. If this is his song, I’m not too fond of the techno-beat, but I can see it getting fans excited.

12. Robinson CanoRobinson Cano simply outdid everyone when it came to choosing songs. He didn’t choose two songs, he went the extra mile and chose three! His first song was “El Que No Aguante La Presion” by Secreto El Biberon which is a great song choice. It reminds me of summer like Hughes’s song choice, but Cano’s song reminds me more of running through fire hydrants that have water coming out of them than the club. Cano’s second song choice was “Me Kitee” by Black Point. Again, it reminded me of  summer. Cano’s last song was “Te Prendo” by Chimbala. As far as Spanish songs go, all three of Cano’s song choices hit it out of the ball park. Simply great. If his goal was to get Yankees fans on their feet while he comes to bat, he succeeded.

13. Vernon WellsI’m not a fan of rap music, but if you choose a song with Dr. Dre and Eminem, then you are in my good graces for the entire season. And that’s exactly what Vernon Wells did by choosing “Forgot About Dre” by Dr. Dre & Eminem. The beat is fantastic and this was when rap was still at it is greatest. It’s great that someone chose a throwback song, and now I will await his arrival to the plate just to hear this awesome song.

The Yankees choosing their own walk-up music is a way for them to connect to their fans. It shows fans what kind of music their idols like and in their own way, they introduce you to music you may have never heard of before. The Yankees are always winners in the fans eyes, but they’ve become more than. They’re role models with impeccable taste in music. So the next time you go to the ball park, open your ears when your favorite Yankee goes to the plate. You just might have a new favorite song that you’ll want as soon as you get home.

The roster begins to shape up for the Yankees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Spring Notes: Rivera, Boesch, Overbay, Mustelier, Francisco, Teixeira, Jeter, Granderson

Spring Training has come to close and GMS Field is done with Yankees games until next March, but the Yankees still have a job to do before Opening Day on Monday. That includes making cuts, adding people and setting their roster for Opening Day. Here’s what happened after today’s game.

Juan Rivera Juan Rivera was released by the Yankees following today’s game, so it’s apparent that he won’t make the Yankees. The Yankees had to pay $100,000 in order to keep him on Tuesday and cut him today. Hopefully he’ll attach to another team. Unfortunatley, that team won’t be the Yankees.

Ronnier MustelierRonnier Mustelier had a slim chance of making the roster but he was very impressive this Spring. Brian Cashman made it clear that Mustelier didn’t make the team after suffering a knee bruise. He was supposed to play last night in Sarasota but was scratched. Mustelier will stay in Tampa instead.

Brennan Boesch, Ben Francisco & Lyle OverbayThe Yankees seem keen on having Brennan Boesch, Ben Francisco and Lyle Overbay on the Yankees, and Cashman coy-fully suggested that the three of them would be at Yankee Stadium on Monday. I know we only saw Overbay for two days, but his defense was impressive and I wouldn’t mind having him on the team. Francisco and Boesch since coming to Yankees camp impressed, so it’s not surprising that they’re being considered for a role with the ball club.

Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson & Derek JeterThe Yankees are breaking camp today and only one of these three players will actually go north with the team. Mark Teixeira will go with the Yankees and will get checked on Monday by the doctor for his wrist. If all goes well, Teixeira can take off the brace and will start strengthening his wrist. Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter are staying in Tampa because they are closer to baseball activities than Teixeira. For example, Granderson can shag fly balls, pick up a bat and grip it without the arm hurting. Derek Jeter will get into a baseball game next week. Teixeira is a little far off from doing those quite yet.

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.

With Teixeira out, who plays first?

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If the Yankees weren’t in trouble when Curtis Granderson went down, then they were really in trouble when Mark Teixeira went down. With two-thirds of the Yankees power bats down due to injury, the Yankees have to scramble to figure out who is going to take the coveted honor of being the Opening Day first baseman. Out of curiosity yesterday, I asked my Twitter followers what they think the Yankees should do about the first base situation. Their answers actually made more sense and gave more insight than anything Brian Cashman has said so far. Here were some of their suggestions (and me adding commentary).

My thoughts: The Mark Reynolds idea, I actually liked but there was a small problem. If we sign Mark Reynolds he would basically be Curtis Granderson 2.0. He has the power but he also strikes out a lot. The second suggestion of moving Youkilis to first and Nix to third is a more realistic idea. Youkilis has played first in his career so him moving him there would be a good idea and for the meantime have Nix go to third. Defensively that would work out great. Offensively, Nix would have to step out (and so would Youkilis).

My Thoughts: Not well, but they can play. That would be a great way to describe the two suggestions, mostly Rivera. Johnson has actually been impressive at first when he’s played during the Spring. His defense this Spring has almost been Teixeira-like. Almost. But I think Dan Johnson could be a good defensive first baseman in the meantime while we wait for Teixeira to come back. It’s not like we’re really missing anything with Teixeira’s bat in April, anyway. It’s more about defense for the first month.

My Thoughts: Again, good idea to move Youkilis to first but the Yankees would never move Nunez to third. Yankees made it clear he was just the shortstop. Nothing else. Besides, moving around and committing errors was what got Nunez sent to the minors last season in the first place.

My Thoughts: Carlos Lee and Aubrey Huff as replacements for Teixeira. All right, that sounds like a good idea but what happens to them after Teixeira comes back? They’d have to go somewhere and I don’t think either of them have minor league options. Staying in house with Dan Johnson seems more realistic.

My Thoughts: I’m sold! I’m sold! I am sold! Johnny Damon did offer his services to the Yankees for the outfield position but Cashman said no. Maybe Johnny would like to come back at the first baseman. But, we can’t get our hopes up. Cashman would most likely say no again. And losing Raul Ibanez does hurt a lot more now. Ibanez had a great bat and wasn’t bad when you put him in the outfield. It now hurts a lot that the Yankees didn’t even bother making an offer for Ibanez. That could have helped.

My Thoughts: It hurts even more now that the Yankees don’t have Eric Chavez. Chavez had been one great bat and a good defender for the Yanks, so having him back would be a great idea. Only question would be, what would the Yankees have to give in order to get Chavez, and would the Arizona Diamondbacks want to actually give up Chavez. He’s there now, and the Yankees doing nothing to bring him back in the offseason is coming back to bite them.

It seemed the popular option when I asked was Dan Johnson to be the first baseman. I wouldn’t mind Dan Johnson taking over for Teixeira in April, and he can’t possibly hit any worse in April than Tex. Choosing a first baseman for the Yankees leads to fans thinking of a lot of possibilities for the team. So, who would you choose?

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.

Phelps looks sharp as Yanks clobber Braves 8-3 in Spring opener

David Phelps knew how vital this start could be in the factoring decision on whether or not he would get the fifth rotation spot. So far, so good for the young pitcher who is entering his sophomore season in the majors with the Yankees and is desperately trying to win a roster spot, whether it be in the rotation or in the bullpen.

Yesterday, Joe Girardi said he expected Phelps to go two innings or throw 37 pitches. Phelps made it through his two innings, not allowing a single run. Phelps’s final line was 2 innings, no runs, three hits, no strike outs and no walks.

The Yankees bats were quiet for the first two innings but a third inning where the Braves committed two errors, a pass ball and a wild pitch opened the door for them when Zolio Almonte hit a two run homer, bringing home Melky Mesa. Eduardo Nunez also reached on an error and Robinson Cano reached on poor fielding, putting on a four spot in the third. Cano homered in the fifth inning, extending the Yankees lead while Austin Romine hit a two run single with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.

The Yankees displayed both Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine in the game, Cervelli throwing out a runner in the second and Austin showing off his bat in the seventh.

Major League Players Look

– Robinson Cano went 1 for 3 with a HR and an RBI.

Mark Teixeira went 0 for 3, grounded into a double play and has an RBI on a fielders choice.

Back at Yankees camp:

Derek Jeter ran on the field back in Tampa, showing progress on trying to make it back to the Yankees by Opening Day.

What’s Next?

The Yankees will take on the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m, the first televised Yankees game by YES. Players such as Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and Kevin Youkilis are expected to be in the lineup. Adam Warren is slated to start the game.

Spring Training Notes 2/17/12: Jeter, Teixeira

Photo courtesy of Lohud Yankees

Photo courtesy of Lohud Yankees

Derek Jeter just heard of Kevin Youkilis making the back of every paper in New York City with his “I’ll always be a Red Sox” comment. Andy Pettitte suggested it would be a good idea for Jeter to start some controversy to get everyone’s mind off of Youkilis.

“Pettitte just told me. He told me to say something controversial in this press conference so that I can get Youkilis off the back pages.” Jeter said. “I’ll let him have it. Welcome to New York.”

Jeter then became serious while throwing in some quips now and again about how hard he was working to get into shape. He then poked fun of the New York Post cover where Jeter was considered “overweight.”

“It’s going to be a little harder to to get back in shape–in baseball shape. The Post is here. Gotta say baseball shape.” Then Jeter’s conference got down to business. Where was he in his Spring Training schedule?

“I’m on Mo’s schedule.” Jeter quipped. “Five innings and I’m done. But I’m not concerned with re-injuring the ankle. I know I won’t play be playing when they start playing in a week. You can write that down. I’m not playing in that game. I don’t necessarily think you need all of Spring Training to get ready. I don’t know exactly the date I’m going to play, but it will probably be somewhere there after a couple of weeks.”

The most interesting part of the whole conference? Derek Jeter thought that sitting on his couch for 5-6 weeks was boring and this was the “worst offseason ever”. 5-6 weeks on the couch doing nothing sounds like a dream to me.

– Along with Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira spoke to the media today and basically disclosed what he wanted to do this season.

“Stay healthy and have fun.” Teixeira said.

Teixeira had also done his workouts earlier since he is slated to play in the World Baseball Classic on March 1st. He figures that the World Baseball Classic will help him with not slumping in April, which sounds like a good idea. Teixeira also spoke about his offensive approach this season.

“There’s really no reason for me at this point in my career to try and start things differently. I’ve had such a successful career playing to my strengths. Now that being said, I want to be the best at what I do well, and that’s hitting home runs, driving in runs and playing Gold Glove defense. I know if I do those three things, I’m going to help my team. At the end of the day, that’s why I’m here. I’m here to help my team win. Not put up certain types of numbers.”

Last question. Was it strange not seeing Alex Rodriguez in camp?

“There’s 90 guys in here right now.” Teixeira said. “Even if he was here, I’m not sure I’d see him.”

Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, Travis Hafner and Curtis Granderson all reported to camp today and took their physicals. They all passed, don’t worry.

– Backtracking  to Ichiro, he was reportedly wearing one ‘glittery’ hat. He came into camp this morning with a Yankees hat but the Yankees logo had glitter on it instead of the normal logo.

Joe Girardi made it clear that Travis Hafner would be the Yankees DH against right handed hitters and wouldn’t take the field unless he was a backup first baseman. Girardi also said that Jeter could possibly DH against left-handers as the season begins, allowing Eduardo Nunez to play shortstop.

Mark Teixeira admits he’s overpaid

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Mark Teixeira is a key piece to the Yankees organization. He’s one of the best first baseman defensively and he’s a good home run hitter, but during an interview with Dan Barbirisi from the Wall Street Journal, Teixeira had a shocking (okay not really) confession to make: He’s completely overpaid!!

“I have no problem with anybody in New York, any fan, saying you’re overpaid. Because I am.” Texieria said. “We all are.”

“Agents are probably going to hate me for saying it, you’re not very valuable when you’re making $20 Million. When you’re Mike Trout making the minimum, you are crazy valuable. My first six years, before I was a free agent I was very valuable. But there’s nothing you can do that can justify a $20 Million contract.” Teixeira added.

In the interview, Teixeira also spoke about him being almost past his prime. Teixeira turns 33 in April, meaning that he’s slowly accepting the fact that his body will start to break down.

“Maybe I’m slowing down to a tick. Look, I’m not going to play forever. Eventually you start, I don’t want to say declining but it gets harder and harder to put up 30 homers and 100 RBI’s.”

Teixeira had admitted that he had tweaked his swing in order to please the fans, wanting to be that .290 hitter that he was when the Yankees signed him to an 8-year deal in 2009. The reality is, Teixeira realized that he wasn’t playing to his strengths, getting off to another slow start before changing his adjustments again in order to fit the way he plays the game. 

“You can’t make everyone happy.” Teixeira said. “I need to concentrate on what I do well. And what I do well is hitting home runs, driving in a lot of runs and playing great defense.”

“I’d love to be the player who hits home runs, drives in runs. I’d love to get back to the player that I’ve always been, but if I hit .250, .260 instead of .280, so be it.”

*     *     *     *     *

Click to read the entire Mark Teixeira interview with quotes from Brian Cashman on the Wall Street Journal
Follow Delia on Twitter: @dfiregirl4
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