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Could the Yankees upgrades already be on the team?

Brett Gardner could be one of the Yankees biggest "upgrades" going into the 2013 season

Brett Gardner could be one of the Yankees biggest “upgrades” going into the 2013 season

As the offseason winds down, aside from the Alex Rodriguez drama and the small signings of Matt Diaz, Kevin Youkilis and Juan Rivera, the Yankees seem to be almost the exact same team as in 2012 minus a few losses. Nick Swisher packed his bags and went to the Cleveland Indians, Russell Martin did the same and rejoined former Yankees teammate A.J Burnett with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Raul Ibanez decided to take his bat to Seattle where he could end his career on a good note and Andruw Jones went to Japan, one of the few loses the Yankees won’t mind at all. However, as the 2013 season comes upon us, the Yankees look as if they hadn’t done much on the market. The 2013 team has been predicted by multiple fans that they will finish from either 2nd place – 4th place in the AL East.

The Yankees may look like the same old Yankees as the 2012 season, but there’s one small detail that the Yankees completely missed: some of the players that are ready to play this season, weren’t available last season due to injury or health issues. Some of the big names on the team spent quite some time on the DL and the reason that the Yankees didn’t make a deal with other players, is because they believe there’s someone on the team that can do the job better than someone on the market.

Brett Gardner – OF

Last season looked very promising for Brett Gardner. Once April came around, he was hot right off the bat. He looked as if he was going to bounce back from his so-so 2011 season–until injury struck. Gardner was unsure what was going on with his elbow. At first he went on the DL believing that 15 days later, he would be back to help the team. Once he started to swing a bat again, he felt the pain again. The Yankees tried to rehab him for a third time and he still felt pain in his elbow. A concerned Gardner was then sent to a surgeon to see if there was something wrong with his elbow. Alas, the young outfielder once again needed surgery. Gardner is now back for the 2013 season and this time he’s healthy. In the 2010 season, he proved that he was a starter, but his most impressive stat was his stolen base numbers. Although his hitting was down in 2011, Gardner outdid his stolen base numbers from 2010, going from 47-49. A healthy Brett Gardner can steal bases, is the only Yankee that truly knows how to play small ball and can work the count with his impressive patience at the plate. No need for Michael Bourn. Brett Gardner is already an upgrade from what’s on the market.

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Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees sign Juan Rivera; The Captain is back on the field!

Yankees sign Juan Rivera

So while I was at the doctor’s office earlier today, I was skimming through my Yankees twitter feed when I saw that the Yankees had signed none other than Juan Rivera to a minor league deal which includes an invitation to Spring Training. Rivera (no relation to Mariano Rivera), will compete with Russ Canzler, Matt Diaz, Thomas Neal, Ronnie Mustelier and other options to be the fourth outfielders. Rivera if he can stay healthy, is a good signing since he has a career .285/.332/.488 against left handed pitching and could be the bat that the Yankees were looking for this offseason.

Who do you think will ultimately win the fourth outfielder position?

Derek Jeter is back on the field!

Derek Jeter is one inch closer to getting on the field for Opening Day after taking drills at the Yankees minor league complex today. The captain of the Yankees fielded 55 grounders in front of the dirt at shortstop today and also hit in the batting cage.

Jeter was also joined by teammates David Robertson, Francisco Cervelli and Michael Pineda at the complex. Robertson recently signed a deal with the Yankees, Cervelli is competing for the catcher spot (oy vey), and Pineda is working on making his comeback by June of this season.

Mark Teixeira to join Rock of Ages cast for one night only!

It’s no secret Mark Teixeira loves Broadway Musicals and tomorrow he is going to see the Rock of Ages cast for tomorrow’s show. Hmm, I figured that he would have been asked to join the cast of Les Miserables since that is his favorite musical.

Want to sing the National Anthem for the Staten Island Yankees?

The Staten Island Yankees are looking for singers to perform the National Anthem or God Bless America for the upcoming 2013 season. Fill out the form here if you are interested. Tryouts are on February 23 from 12-3pm.

Five Most Important Yankees For 2013

Spring Training is only a little bit over two weeks away and that usually brings about optimism for every baseball fan. There has not been a lot of reason for optimism for Yankees fans this winter. Ownership has not allowed Brian Cashman to spend freely, due to the mandate of getting the payroll under $189 million by 2014. This has led to very little activity from the Yankees this offseason. They have seen other teams in the American League get better like the Angels and Blue Jays. While the pessimism is certainly justified, it is not all doom and gloom for the Yankees. While the Angels and Tigers are a step above them right now, the Yankees should still have a solid team. Toronto is the favorite in the AL East right now, but it certainly is not impossible for the Yankees to win the division. Here are the five most important players for the Yankees to have a successful year this season:

1. Mark Teixeira- While Mark Teixeira has performed like a very good player over the last three years with the Yankees, he has not been the superstar that they were hoping for and that he was in 2009. The Yankees will be counting on Teixeira to bat cleanup and provide protection for Robinson Cano. That means an .OPS in the low .800’s and a batting average around .250 isn’t going to cut it. The Yankees need his OPS back around .900 and his average around .270 or .280. Teixeira is the Yankees’ only power threat from the right side and they need him to produce. Power won’t be the issue as Teixeira has hit close to 40 home runs even in his down seasons. If the Yankees can get anything close to the 2009 version of Teixiera him and Cano would be one of the best 3-4 duo’s in MLB.

2. Curtis Granderson- Curtis Granderson is in a similar situation as Teixeira. While he hasn’t had the career success that Teixeira has had, Granderson needs to get back to his 2011 season like Teixeira needs to get back to his 2009 form. There is a ton of pressure on Granderson this season because the Yankees did not go and add another bat for the 5th spot in the lineup. Justin Upton or Michael Morse would have been perfect, but obviously the Yankees did not acquire either of them. So, the Yankees will be counting on Granderson to return to his 2011 form. Granderson hit 43 home runs last season, but his line of .232/.319/.492/.811 was simply not good enough. Worst of all, he had an egregious 28.5 K% and looked completely lost at the end of the year. Kevin Long will need to work his magic on Granderson again for the 2013 season.

3. Mariano Rivera- The biggest strength the Yankees have right now is their bullpen. David Robertson, Joba Chamberlian, David Aardsma, Boone Logan and Clay Rapada make up a very solid middle relief core. There is one question about the bullpen Can Mariano Rivera be the Mariano Rivera that we know him to be at age 43 coming off a torn ACL and meniscus? Even for the immortal Rivera it is a legitimate question. If Rivera is injured or ineffective, the Yankees would still have a good bullpen, but probably not an elite one like they do if Rivera is his dominant self. However, I will never bet against Rivera, so I expect him to be just fine.

4. Brett Gardner- The Yankees sorely missed Brett Gardner last season, as a wrist injury in April caused him to miss most of the 2012 season. Gardner, the only Yankees regular starter under 30, will be a key piece for the Yankees this season. Last season, New York’s left fielders hit .253/.315/.444/.759. They largely depended on the power of Raul Ibanez. While Gardner won’t provide that, he will provide many other good qualities. Gardner will provide great patience at the plate, as his career walk percentage (11.0%) and pitches per plate appearance (4.29) are extremely good. Gardner will be huge on the base paths, as he has stolen 47 and 49 bases in his last two healthy seasons. His defense in left field is probably the best in MLB. While we know his defense and base running will be great, his hitting is still a question mark. His career line of .266/.355/.368/.723 is only OK for a non power hitter. Also, he has been poor against lefties for his career (.256/.362/.355/.731). For the Yankees to be an elite offense, they will need Gardner to have a close to .290 average at least. He has never done that in his career, but at age 29 Gardner should be peaking.

5. Phil Hughes- Like the bullpen, the rotation is a strength of the Yankees. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda form a very solid top of the rotation and Phil Hughes is a little bit of a wild card. Hughes overcame a rough April to have a solid season. He improved on his slider and changeup to help put more hitters away. This helped him to strikeout 7.8 per nine innings and only walk 2.2 per nine innings. Hughes is in a contract year, so he should be motivated to have a great season, as he can cash in big at the end of the year. From June through August, Hughes had a 3.19 ERA. If he can pitch even close to that for the whole 2013 season the Yankees will have a dominant rotation.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Teixeira, Cano & Cervelli make WBC rosters

The World Baseball Classic rosters were released today, confirming that Mark Teixeira made the Team USA roster while Robinson Cano and Francisco Cervelli made different teams. Robinson Cano will play for Team Dominican Republic while Francisco Cervelli will play for Team Italy. One name that was noticeably not on the roster was Andy Pettitte despite reports swirling earlier this week about Pettitte being on the roster. Here are the rosters for Team USA, Team Italy and Team Dominican Republic.

Team Dominican Republic

IF Eric Aybar
IF Adrian Beltre
IF Robinson Cano
IF Edwin Encarnacion
IF Hanley Ramirez
IF Jose Reyes
IF Miguel Tejada
OF Melky Cabrera
OF Nelson Cruz
OF Carlos Gomez
C Miguel Olivo
C Carlos Santana
P Santiago Casilla
P Octavio Dotel
P Pedro Figueroa
P Kelvin Herrera
P Alexi Ogando
P Joel Peralta
P Fernando Rodney
P Wandy Rodriguez
P Esmil Rogers
P Pedro Strop
P Edinson Volquez

Team USA

IF Willie Bloomquist
IF Brandon Phillips
IF Jimmy Rollins
IF Mark Teixeira
IF David Wright
IF Ben Zobrist
OF Ryan Braun
OF Adam Jones
OF Giancarlo Stanton
OF Shane Victorino
C J.P Arencibia
C Jonathan Lucroy
C Joe Mauer
P Jeremy Affeldt
P Heath Bell
P Mitchell Boggs
P Steve Cishek
P Tim Collins
P R.A. Dickey
P Luke Gregerson
P Derek Holland
P Craig Kimbrel
P Kris Medlen
P Chris Perez
P Glen Perkins
P Vinnie Pestano
P Ryan Vogelsong

Team Italy

IF Jeff Bianchi
IF Chris Colabello
IF Anthony Granato
IF Alex Liddi
IF Nick Punto
IF Anthony Rizzo
IF Alessandro Vagilo
OF Lorenzo Avagnina
OF Mario Chiarini
OF Chris Denorfia
C Drew Butera
C Francisco Cervelli
C Tyler LaTorre
P Chris Cooper
P Yovany D’Amico
P Tiago Da Silva
P Jason Grilli
P Alex Maestri
P John Mariotti
P Luca Panerati
P Nick Pugilese
P Dan Serafini
P Brian Sweeney
P Matt Tora

The 2013 World Baseball Classic begins in March. Which team will be victorious? Tune into MLB Network to find out, all through March.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Teixeira + Pettitte = USA! USA!

The roster isn’t supposed to be announced until Thursday but some names have been confirmed for the World Baseball Classic. Mark Teixeira and Andy Pettitte made that list and they will represent Team USA in March. That would mean that they would miss Yankees Spring Training, yes (along with Robinson Cano who is playing for Team Domincan Republic) but they will get the workout they need to be prepared for the upcoming 2013 season. Pettitte would be reunited with former Yankees manager Joe Torre so it would be great to see those two working together again, although it will only be for as long as Team USA plays in the World Baseball Classic.

While we worry about Pettitte and the workload that the World Baseball Classic will give him (let’s remember, Andy is 40), this could be just the thing for Teixeira (who is notorious for slow starts to seasons). As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com said, “Given his history of slow regular season starts, perhaps this is a new way of trying to avoid those April struggles.” Yes, let’s hope that’s the case. The rest of the rosters will be released on Thursday and you can check back here to see which of your Yankees (besides Pettitte and Teixeira) will get the prestigious honor of representing their country.

In Other News:

Derek Jeter is still working hard towards Opening Day. Good for the Captain!

– I had an article about the Hall of Fame shutout published on Yahoo! that discusses how much of the voting process focused on Steroid Speculation. Read it and if you like it, tell your friends to read it. Tell your neighbors to read it! Tell your cat to read it! Tell anyone you know to read it!

Yankees Offseason Notes: Mariano to start throwing soon

The Yankees may have continued to be extremely quiet this offseason, but Mariano Rivera isn’t afraid to make news that has fans buzzing. While hosting a pitching clinic session with young children in Danbury, Connecticut, Rivera stated that he’ll start throwing again in about of week. He also gave more promising news that his knee feels at about “95 percent.”

“It’s not 100 percent.” Rivera told the media. “By the time Spring Training starts, it’ll feel 100 percent.”

Rivera will continue going through the motions, possibly also reporting a bit late to camp as he does every year but he believes that he will be ready to start closing and saving games by Opening Day.

“It needs more strengthening. The five percent will come quick.”

In Other News:

– If the Yankees were hoping for a Lance Berkman reunion–then they will be heavily disappointed. Berkman reportedly signed a deal with the Texas Rangers, possibly to be their DH. The Yankees are still having woes of their own–they don’t have a legitimate catcher (in the fans eyes) and a DH. What could possibly become of the Yankees.

– Also in other news, Yankees PR reported that Mark Teixeira had found a new way to connect with NY Yankees fans–hopping in the same taxi cabs as unsuspecting fans in New York City. I have to say–I’m kind of jealous. Was anyone lucky enough to get a ride with Mark Teixeira?

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?

Yankees Offseason Notes: A lot of questions left unanswered for the Yankees

It’s November 30th and Winter Meetings are on Monday. But when this should be a joyous time of year to watch other teams moves, hear other team rumors, this year it’s slightly different. The Yankees have no right fielder, no legitimate catcher and ten million questions for Brian Cashman. Although Cashman says the first priority is a right fielder, fans can’t help but worry about if the catcher should be first on the list. They are the ones that stop the pitches from hitting the backstop in every game you know. Given the Yankees current roster, here is how the Opening Day lineup would look (I factored in that Jeter most likely will be able to play shortstop on Opening Day)

SS Derek Jeter
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
DH ???
CF Curtis Granderson
RF ??
C ???
LF Brett Gardner

Some of the main questions for the Yankees could possibly, who will the Yankees bring to be the everyday catcher? Can the Yankees really count on Austin Romine to be ready for Spring Training despite the back issues? Can the Yankees really count on Francisco Cervelli‘s bat? Can the Yankees count on Chris Stewart to take on a bigger role? Can the Yankees bring back Ichiro Suzuki to the team for another year? Who will the Yankees chose to be the DH for the 2013 season? Can they get Raul Ibanez or Eric Chavez back into their roles for another year?

And…the questions go on and on. What questions will be answered and which ones will remain a mystery? Stay tuned to find out.

In Other News

– Curtis Granderson signed up to be an ambassador this off-season and will fly to Korea and Japan.

– Who remembers seven years ago to this date where Brian Cashman was planning to use Bubba Crosby as the everyday CF for the 2006 season? Then they signed Johnny Damon and Bubba Crosby was traded. Well, the first part mirrors the catcher predicament. Cashman believes that any of the catchers in the organization can replace Martin. I bet he makes some kind of deal for a catcher by January.

Morning Bits: Gold Glove Winners, Free Agent List, Mariano Rivera

Good morning everyone and Happy Halloween! Hope everyone is staying safe and inside their homes on this cloudy, cold day. Here are the morning links!

– Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano both were awarded the Gold Glove Award for 1st and 2nd base respectively. Russell Martin was nominated but lost out to Matt Wieters.

– Here is the free agent list (not just the Yankees) for this winter. Maybe one of these players will be what the Yankees are looking for?

– The Yankees are going to get underway with receiving a makeover in 2013 but before they can do that–they’re going to wait on Mariano Rivera and his decision.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankee Stadium, Who the Yankees should get?

Good evening everyone. I hope everyone is doing well in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and hope that everyone safe.If you have power, you can read this. If not–this article will be here when your power comes back. Anyway, here are some notes from today.

– Yankee Stadium was left unscathed in Hurricane Sandy. The power is on, there’s no flooding but there are a few broken windows.  Nothing money can’t fix.

– The New York Post mentions the 5 players the Yankees should probably look into this offseason: Carlos Beltran, Torii Hunter, Jeff Keppinger, A.J Pierzynski and Scott Hairston. If the Yankees want to talk money and short term they should go with Hunter. If they want a consistent bat that will also hit in the playoffs, they should go with Beltran though Beltran is a risk.

– The Gold Gloves will be announced tomorrow and there are 3 Yankee candidates for the award: Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin. Remember guys, if you don’t win the award that doesn’t mean you aren’t the best at your position. Remember the Gold Gloves last year and how Brett Gardner was robbed.

– There are seven Yankees that are arbitration eligible. Here is the complete list of Yankees that are arbitration eligible.

2012 Yankees: Keep Em’ or Dump Em’?

It had been a long, trying season for the Yankees where so much has happened. Yankees have lost Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, at a point lost Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, suffered through hitting slumps by Russell Martin, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson and a surprisingly good regular season by Nick Swisher. But the Yankees didn’t realize that the season doesn’t end after 162 games and fell flat against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS and will now spend their offseason trying to piece it all together. The Yankees have to make decisions before the 2013 offseason, but if you were the GM of the Yankees who would you keep and who would you dump? Infield

Keys to winning in the play-offs

Robinson Cano could be one of the keys to a successful postseason–but what are the others?

The Yankees are ¼ of the way to another World Series Championship. After winning the AL East and outlasting the Orioles, the Yankees will have to take the hot hitting they have had at the end of the year and transfer it to the ALDS and for the rest of the play-offs should they advance. Here are some key tips that the Yankees might want to do in order to go all the way in the play-offs.

Pitch Effectively: The Yankees are going to start with CC Sabathia for the first game and with Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and (possibly) Phil Hughes taking a turn on the mound, the Yankees need to make sure that they pitch effectively and try to limit runs as much as they can. If they can do that then it could give the Yankees a chance to score some runs and win some games.

Hit with RISP: Speaking of scoring runs, the Yankees need to hit with runners in scoring position. That has been their Achilles heel throughout the regular season. The Yankees have gotten a bit better with RISP coming down the stretch when it came to clinching the AL East. Let’s see if that transfers into the play-offs.

Play ABC Baseball: I know this is not the Yankees style but this is one of the few effective ways to score runs without trying to swing for the fences. The Yankees have players with some serious speed now that Brett Gardner is healthy; Ichiro Suzuki is playing the outfield and Eduardo Nunez is available off the bench. With guys like that able to steal bases, it allows the Yankees to get base hits and score them. Remember, homers hurt but speed kills.

A-Rod, Teixeira, Swisher—Wake up: The Yankees need Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher to wake up from their postseason funks and hit the baseball with authority if they want to make it far. Swisher seemed to have been hitting towards the end of the season but Mark Teixeira since coming back from hurting his calf looks lost at the plate and A-Rod has looked lost at the plate all year. A-Rod and Teixeira are pretty lucky they can’t be traded—Swisher not so much so this would be a great time for Swisher to start hitting.

Robinson Cano, Don’t Ya Know: Robinson Cano has been hitting out of this world for the past week and Yankees fans are only hoping that Cano is able to transfer his hitting skills from the end of the season to the postseason. Cano has looked red hot and he could be the person that carries this team all the way to the World Series—kind of like A-Rod did in 2009.

Are there any other keys to the play-offs that you think the Yankees should follow for a successful postseason? Place your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

 

 

Morning Bits: Soriano = Mariano?, Orioles, Ichiro, Teixeira, Gehrig

Good morning everyone and a happy Saturday to you all! The Yankees finally have a play-off opponent and it’s a very familiar AL East foe–it’s the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees will fly down to Baltimore today and continue workouts there before tomorrow’s Game 1 of the ALDS. Here are the morning links for the day. 

– With no Mariano Rivera in the play-offs for the first time in a long time, can Rafael Soriano fill Mo’s shoes and give the Yankees victories?

– Looks like the Yankees and Orioles aren’t done yet. The Yankees start the ALDS at Camden Yards (where they had a 6-3 record in 2012) and will continue for 3* (if necessary) games in Yankee Stadium.

Ichiro Suzuki hasn’t been to the play-offs in 11 years–yes, I said 11. So to finally be able to play in a meaningful game means a lot to the ex-Mariner.

– The Yankees are looking for some Tex supportMark Teixeira support that is. Teixeira is determined to get out of his postseason rut and help the Yankees defeat the Orioles.

– A group of legislators want to investigate if Lou Gehrig’s disease is what actually killed Lou Gehrig.

Yanks’ Have What It Takes, But Will It All Come Together?

One month ago, many people including myself were incredibly worried about the Yankees potentially missing the playoffs. The Bombers’ huge ten game lead in the division had dwindled down to one, as the Baltimore Orioles played their best baseball in 15 years. Not only that, but the Yankees themselves were playing absolutely terrible baseball, and many were calling for Joe Girardi’s head.

But by re-gaining some important sidelined players and taking advantage of an easy schedule to end the year, the Yankees came together and wound up making the playoffs and could clinch the A.L. East tonight with a win over the Red Sox. The calendar has now flipped to October, and this postseason is shaping up to be an uphill battle for baseball’s winning-est franchise.

As displayed in September, this Yankees team is not one to be taken lightly, and very easily could the club come together on all aspects and make a fierce run for their 28th world championship. For that to happen, the team will need to play as one unit, consistently producing by way of clutch pitching AND hitting – something we haven’t seen from the Yankees on a nightly basis really all year.

And ironically every time the playoffs roll around, the Yankees go about it saying, “it’s just another game on the schedule”. Yet for the past few years, they’ve played their worst baseball in October. Last year they couldn’t buy a run with men on base; and in 2010 their pitching (besides Andy Pettitte) tanked against Texas in the ALCS. Besides the glorious season of 2009, you can trace every Yankee playoff loss in the past 10 years to a lack of either clutch hitting/pitching, or both in the same series. Don’t even get me started about Jaret Wright or Chien-Ming Wang.

I’m not saying the Yankees lie about their approach to the postseason, but clearly something changes in them over the course of the days following Game 162 and Game 1 of the ALDS. They just aren’t the same Bombers we see throughout the summer.

Maybe this year though, that would be a good thing. No, a great thing.

I’m not saying it’s as simple as the law of averages, but the Yankees really haven’t been the consistent, overpowering force in the American League they normally are each regular season. Sure, they wound up on top of the division again, and you bet they were right there in the standings for the best record in Major League Baseball. But more often than not there was uncertainty and inconsistent play by New York. They’d sweep a series versus a pennant chaser, then lose 2 of 3 to a non-contender. The injuries piled up as well, largely the reason why the Yankees faltered in mid-August and nearly lost a grip on control of their playoff destiny.

Now, the Yankees are a much healthier and complete team then they were. Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira have returned and (for the most part) really haven’t skipped a beat. Not only that, but the past couple weeks the Yankees played some of their best baseball, getting hits with runners in scoring position that aren’t also known as “home runs”. Sure, they still heavily rely on the long ball, but guys who can’t crush a fastball 400 feet every night are learning to be better situational hitters, and looking to rather move a runner to third then trying to score him on one swing of a bat. As I mentioned, hitting with RISP has been the Yankees’ Achilles heel for most of this season and certainly a prime reason for their first-round exit last year. Hitting well now should have some level of a positive impact on how the Yankees swing the lumber as the playoffs begin in a couple days.

Not forgotten is also the pitching staff this year, which has had some streaks of success and streaks of utter failures. As mentioned earlier, the rotation is now re-stocked with the clutch southpaw Andy Pettitte returning from the freak injury he suffered in late June. He’s come back and shown no signs of slowing down, and is absolutely essential to any World Series run the Yankees want to make this year. If he didn’t come back from retirement, the Yankees may not have been back in the postseason.

The other pitchers who haven’t been gone as long – CC, Kuroda, and Hughes, all had solid seasons, Kuroda especially. From May on, he arguably was the ace over a hobbled and inconsistent Sabathia, posting a 3.34 ERA (as of the morning of October 3rd) with 15 wins. Hughes, as I tabbed him the Yankees “Comeback Player of the Year”, looked like his 2010 self here in 2012, hovering around a 4 ERA but putting in a number of quality/dominant outings. More importantly, CC has clearly re-gained his health and strength, as he finished the season with three outstanding starts following an up and down second half of the year.

Say what you want about them, but the Yankees’ bullpen still has many quality relievers who have postseason experience. That’s not something you can say about the Orioles and A’s, of course. It’ll certainly be bittersweet when instead of the Sandman entering, we have Rafael Soriano jogging out to some mamba music in the 9th inning. But he still did a fantastic job as the first successor to the great Mariano Rivera. Sori has been mostly automatic all year for New York, but of course, nothing is certain with closers in the postseason, so all we can do is hope Girardi doesn’t over-use him and he stays fresh enough to produce just as well as he did in the regular season.

The supporting cast, as I like to call them, also had good years, and should be able to transition into the fall. Set-up man David Robertson pitched to a tune of a 2.67 ERA, once again shutting down hitters and building the bridge to Rafi’s entrance in the 9th. Joba Chamberlain has emerged as the Yankees’ 7th inning man, returning back to pumping his 96 mph fastball and getting outs when needed. He’s nowhere near the superstar status he nearly achieved when he first burst onto the scene in 2007, but he’s definitely already had his share of moments in the playoffs and should be able to be relied upon to help the Yankees in those close game situations.

You’d figure the Yankees’ top flight starters of CC, Kuroda, and Andy should be able to get the Yankees to the 6th inning at the very least, but if not, you still have other options out of the ‘pen. Boone Logan, Cody Eppley, and David Phelps can all too contribute to the Yankees’ quest for another world championship.

All in all, this Yankees team is absolutely good enough to win it all. When they are firing on all cylinders, they are a very hard team to beat. The problem is, normally they aren’t. Stranger things have happened in the playoffs before, but the Yankees are going to have to do some quick soul searching and quick rebounding to try and play as a complete team and get those 11 more wins needed, for #28.

Nightly Notes: Postseason, Hughes, Teixeira

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

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

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

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

Also some notes:

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

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

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

How should the 2012 postseason roster look?

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

Infield

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

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

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

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

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

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