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Five Yankees Questions For the Second Half

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

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

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

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

1. What happens at the trade deadline?

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

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

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

2. Will Ivan Nova’s progression continue?

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. What is the plan for Michael Pineda?

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

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

5. Can CC Sabathia turn it around?

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

 

 

 

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Three years later, George’s death looms large over the Yankees

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’
A
nd the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

The last verse of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” can perfectly be applied to the current state of baseball’s most championed franchise, the New York Yankees.

Yes, the team has continued to make the playoffs and be perennial contenders, but things haven’t been the same and the times surely began to change when the “dynasty” era of Yankees baseball came to a crashing end on July 13th, 2010.

New Yorik Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner speaks at a new

This of course was when George Steinbrenner passed away due to a massive heart attack at the age of 80. His death came just two days after long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, known as “The Voice of God”, passed on as well at the ripe old age of 99. Two seemingly immortal figures of the organization were gone in a flash.

Admittedly, both legendary men had disappeared from the public years prior. Due to deteriorating health, Sheppard could no longer muster the strength needed to do his job, as he announced his last game in person on September 5th, 2007. He would later officially retire in November of 2009.

The Boss, on the other hand, made the decision himself to step down as the day-to-day operator of the team. On November 20th, 2008, his sons Hal and Hank Steinbrenner officially became the co-owners of the Yankees, with Hal becoming the managing general partner as well.

George had faith in them, so everyone else did too. And Hal gave no reason to think otherwise when he went out and signed CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixiera all to huge free agent contracts during his first winter as the owner of his dad’s most prized possession. Spending in excess of $400 million, the phrase “like father, like son” held true when he put the Yankees in a position win the World Series in 2009.

Which they did on November 4th, 2009, with George Steinbrenner watching from his home in Tampa, Florida. The Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games to capture, what seemed like, an elusive 27th championship since losing the 2001 Fall Classic to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

100_0806Sitting high up in the grandstands that night, I can recall, “Boss, this is for you!” displayed across the Yankee Stadium jumbo-tron. And it was true – the Yanks had won this for George. They sensed his morality and Hal wanted to ensure that if his dad’s life was coming to an end, one of his last memories could be watching his Yankees win the World Series, as George once said that breathing is the only thing better than winning.

So, when The Boss did pass on eight months later, the Bombers were the defending champions and in first place, which was probably the only way he could envision leaving the earth.

And it was that day, as I said, when times really started to change. The Yankees lost control of the AL East and settled for the Wild Card in 2010, losing in the ALCS to the Texas Rangers. Of course, the Yankees had far worse seasons under The Boss’ reign, but you really felt his absence, especially in the following offseason. The Yanks attempted to sign lefty ace Cliff Lee to a contract similar to the one Sabathia received, yet they couldn’t quite close the deal as Lee went back to the Phillies.

Once Cliff spurned the Yankees, the team didn’t know what to do, and most probably were looking back on some foolish moves made once The Boss stepped down as the team’s owner. On December 9th, 2009, the Yankees traded two of their most highly touted prospects, Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, in a three-team deal to get Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson. New York had decided to sacrifice its future for immediate success, something that George had been turned away from doing for years.

Now, there is no denying that The Boss had looked into, and nearly pulled the trigger on, trading the Core Four and other players such as Bernie Williams and Robinson Cano early in each of their respective careers. But when George felt the need to upgrade the team for a particular season, there were guys like Buck Showalter and Gene “Stick” Michael to convince him to hold onto the future stars.

Buck was, of course, fired by George after 1995, and Stick left his position as vice president of the team in 2002. It can be argued that with their departures, went the genius scouting of the Yanks that they had lacked for decades, and once again are in need of. As mentioned, with the Granderson trade, the Yankees mindlessly dealt top prospects for what will turn out to be a three-year rental of a potent, yet strike-out prone outfield bat. Meanwhile, Jackson has become one of the best lead-off men in the game with the Tigers, and Kennedy was an N.L. Cy Young candidate in 2011 with Arizona.

That trade, along with the one for Javier Vazquez weeks later, are moves that wouldn’t have happened if The Boss and his “cabinet”, if you will, were still here. They had the guts to stand up to George and tell him he was wrong, and he had the trust in his advisors to realize that and pull back or prevent any franchise-altering moves to go down. In the three years since he died, there’s already been a slew of those types of trades, and not for the better. Don’t even remind me of the Montero-Pineda deal, which, while we can’t judge quite yet, certainly hasn’t benefited the Yankees at all.

At the same time, while trading away and failing to develop solid prospects, the Yankees haven’t dipped back into the free agent market for any impactful players either. This has left them to piecemeal together their roster over the past few years, signing players off the scrap-heap and simply getting lucky that they actually perform well. The Yanks ran out of such luck towards the end of 2011, resulting in a disappointing ALDS loss, and in 2012 Derek Jeter broke his ankle and the team was subsequently swept out of the ALCS.

While consistently making it into October is universally considered a successful streak of seasons, every year since George Steinbrenner died, it just feels like the franchise is pushing itself farther and farther away from a championship. Although 2013 can perhaps be considered a fluke season considering all the injuries, the Yankees are in a dire situation for the future. Their top prospects are either just drafted or still in the lower levels of the minor league system, and their lone star is Robinson Cano, who is an impending free agent. Their headlining talent of the past such as Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia, are all either injured, aging, and past their primes, or perhaps a combination of all three. Relying on them to be key contributors at this point is downright foolish, and won’t garner the results the team may hope for as far as October appearances are concerned.

A reluctancy to spend, coupled with an ignorance to focus on developing the farm system, the Yankees have little to offer their fans that would make them, first of all, return to Yankee Stadium and turn their TVs back on to the YES Network. And second, sense a 28th world championship soon to be won.

You may blame it on the scouting. You may blame it on the front office. Heck, you may blame it on the baseball gods giving the Yankees hell for the first time in decades. But the fact remains that since The Boss passed away three years ago today, things haven’t, and probably never will be the same.

Pineda on the Rebound

Michael Pineda finally pitched in his first official game for the Yankees at Single-A Tampa on Saturday.

Pineda was very impressive, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run. He only allowed two hits: a bunt and a bloop to right. Also, his fastball touched 95 MPH, he struck out four batters and only walked one.

“His fastball had life,” a scout told Anthony Rieber of Newsday. “His fastball had good life to it. Looks like the guy I saw in Tacoma a couple of years ago. . .Unfortunately for us.”

“I expected to see some red flags,” said the rival scout. “None that I saw. The arm action looked good. All the check marks you want to cross off for a guy’s first outing in a long time, the checkmarks were all there. He threw strikes, competed, held his velocity. Looked good. Looked good.”

This is great news for the Yankees, as they may finally see a return in their investment of Pineda when they traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for him and Jose Campos on January 13th, 2012. After Pineda went down with a torn labrum in his right shoulder last season the Yankees were getting killed for the trade. However, Montero has been terrible for the Mariners (.208/.264/.327/.590 this season) and was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma on May 23rd. The Yankees still have a solid chance of winning the trade.

The Yankees were hoping that they acquired a top of the rotation starter in Pineda, and he still has the talent to be that guy. In 2011 in Seattle, Pineda was 9-10, with a 3.74 ERA, a 3.42 FIP and 9.11 K/9. Pineda wowed people with his blazing fastball (94.7 average MPH) and a devastating slider (19.27 Whiff %). The key in Pineda’s development was developing his changeup to keep hitters off balance.

Pineda was dominant in the first half of the 2011 season, as he was was 5-4 with a 2.92 ERA and made the AL All-Star team. However, he struggled in the second half going 4-6 with a 4.40 ERA. What those numbers don’t tell you is that Pineda was more unlucky in the second half than he was poor.

Opponents only hit .236/.298/.391/.688 against Pineda in the second half of the season and he struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings. His BABIP went from .247 in the first half to .286 in the second half. Also, his second half FIP was still a solid 3.78, so Pineda did not pitch as badly in the second half as his standard numbers would indicate.

Anything the Yankees get out of Pineda this year would have been considered a bonus at the beginning of the year, but they have to be pleased with his progress so far. Considering how much they gave up for Pineda, the Yankees are very likely to insert him into the rotation once he is ready to come up to the Bronx. Assuming there are no injuries- which is never a safe assumption with the Yankees- it will be very interesting to see who is the odd man out in the rotation. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are all safe, which leaves Phil Hughes and David Phelps.

Phelps has continued to prove me wrong this season and has done a great job since he has been inserted into the rotation. Phelps’ ERA as a starter this season is 3.38 and his overall FIP this season is 3.37. The most surprising thing about him is that he has averaged 9.10 K/9 this season without what you would call great stuff. His poise and confidence on the mound are also big for him.

While Phelps has gotten the most out of his talents this season, the opposite can be said for Hughes. Hughes has a 4.80 ERA this season and has been very inconsistent again. It has usually been either a very good game or a brutal game with no in between. Home runs have once again been an issue, as Hughes has allowed 12 long balls already this season. His fly ball percentage is 50.5%, which is a career high even for Hughes.

The Yankees should try and trade Hughes if Pineda comes back healthy, although he probably would not fetch much with him pitching poorly and being a free agent this upcoming winter. Hughes and Phelps both have bullpen experience so they can make the transition easily.

With Jayson Nix, Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells and Chris Stewart as regulars in the Yankees lineup they need all the pitching help they can get. The Yankees already have one of the best starting pitching staffs in all of baseball, but a healthy Pineda would only make it better if he can perform like he did in Seattle.

The Yankees need to find out what they have for Pineda not only for this season, but for down the road since Sabathia is the only top of the line starting pitcher under contract for next season. With everybody talking about the offensive reinforcements Pineda has kind of been the forgotten man, but he can have a big impact and give the Yankees a great boost for the stretch run.

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.

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

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

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

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

“Tomorrow we’ll hug.” Youkilis said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ivan Nova

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

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

Nova vs. Phelps: Who gets the fifth spot?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Pineda loses weight and could be ready by June

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

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

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

Youkilis comes to camp

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

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

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

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

Photo taken by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News

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

Girardi on Alex Rodriguez:

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

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

Girardi on the 2013 team:

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

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

Girardi’s biggest concern:

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

Girardi on Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki:

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

Girardi on concerns of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera:

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

MORE AROUND YANKEES CAMP

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

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

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

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

Morning Bits: Yankees free agent, Pineda might not return in 2013?, Gardner, Granderson

Good morning everyone and Happy Saturday to all. Let’s get with the morning links, shall we? 

– The Yankees started off the Winter offseason with a bang by giving Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano and Hiroki Kuroda a qualifying offer. The Mets however have started their winter–very silently.

– Pitching coach Larry Rostchild said that he expects Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Hiroki Kuroda to return. Michael Pineda–might not return in 2013.

– The Yankees might consider moving Curtis Granderson to LF and move Brett Gardner to CF after Granderson’s fielding has diminished over the last two years.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Cashman on Nunez, Pineda, Long, CC & A-Rod

Good evening everyone. Hope everyone is enjoying the offseason (and if not, hope you’re counting down to Spring Training). Tonight is Game 7 of the 2012 NLCS with the Cardinals and Giants so if you are still watching baseball, watch that game. A reminder that tomorrow night at 7pm, I will be hosting a live chat so make sure to come with questions or comments about the Yankees, free agent market, possible trades, etc. Here are some notes that have been floating around today that have to do with the Yankees.

Brian Cashman had a radio interview yesterday and covered some topics on certain players. Players like Eduardo Nunez, Michael Pineda (I know, you probably forgot all about him), Kevin Long, CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez. Here is what Brian Cashman had to say about each player.

On Eduardo Nunez: “I don’t look at Nunez being valuable in an everyday role other than a shortstop, and we have a shortstop. In terms of everyday status for Nuney, I don’t see one as long as Derek Jeter is standing there.” When asked about why Nunez can’t/won’t be in the outfield, Cashman said “All the calls of putting him in LF. I don’t understand.”

On Michael Pineda: “We have to keep [Pineda] off our radar for now. We’re talking June of next year.” – on Pineda’s shoulder injury.

On Kevin Long: “Kevin Long without question is one of the best hitting coaches in the game. And what took place here is a collective failure  not an individual one, and no one is going to be pointed at as a scapegoat.”

On CC Sabathia: “If he has anything, it’s not considered major, but it’s obviously the time of year to really focus on it.” – on CC’s elbow.

On Alex Rodriguez: “Is he a superstar at that position (third base)? No. But I think when anyone signed that contract, expecting him to be at that level at that age would be unrealistic also.”

Michael Pineda busted for DUI

Michael Pineda busted for DUI

By Delia E.

Michael Pineda once again made headlines for the Yankees during the 2012 season but this time it had nothing to do with his progress of returning to the mound. Pineda, who had season ending surgery prior to the 2012 season and has yet to throw a pitch for the Yankees, was arrested and charged with DUI in Tampa, Florida at around 2:45 this morning. The arresting office wrote in the arrest report that he was able to “smell the distinct odor of alcohol while talking with Pineda.”

For Pineda to make this much of a commotion without throwing a single pitch for the Yankees is quite disturbing and brings unwanted attention to the front office.

Courtesy of Marc Carig of the Star Ledger, here is Michael Pineda’s mug shot.

The Yankees declined to comment about Pineda’s arrest but I’m sure the Yankees aren’t to happy with him at the moment.

The Injury Update

The last 4 weeks of the season have been very eventful. The Yankees have been on an up and down rollercoaster with their offense, their pitching isn’t up to par and the Yankees have caught the bug that no team wants; the injury bug. Star players that make an impact in the lineup or on the bench are either shut down or put on the disabled list. It’s only the beginning of May and the Yankees have lost key players to injuries. Let’s take a look at some key players and where they are coming along on their road back to the lineup/rotation/bullpen.

Brett Gardner
Injury: Bone bruise on elbow, muscle strain
Placed on DL: April 19, 2012

Yankees OF Brett Gardner

Let’s put it this way: Brett Gardner didn’t have a good April. Oh, there was nothing wrong with his numbers–the numbers were perfect. It was just the issue of bad luck. A couple of days before Gardner was placed on the DL, he had a stomach bug that was going around the clubhouse. Gardner was able to recover from that quickly, but the Yanks would lose him once again; this time a bit longer.

After making a spectacular catch the night before, Gardner felt soreness in his elbow just 20 minutes before the game was to begin. Gardner had an MRI and it revealed that he had a bone bruise in his elbow. He also had a slight muscle strain. Gardner was placed on the 15 day DL and was eligible to come back on Thursday. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be so.

Gardner still felt a bit of pain from the bone bruise (the muscle strain has healed) and he was shut down once again by Girardi. Gardner will most likely not play through the Kansas City series but the Yankees are anticipating having him back by next week.

Nick Swisher
Injury: Low Grade A Hamstring strain
Placed on DL: N/A

Yankees OF Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher was hoping for another good start to the season. Unfortunately 3 weeks into the season, Swisher suffered a low grade A hamstring strain during a game. Swisher was given a time-able that he would return in 1 week, but Swisher was optimistic thinking that he could be back by the time the Royals series started.

Girardi put his foot down, saying that Swisher will not play until next week.  Swisher hadn’t done much work since the injury occurred which would make the Royals series impossible for Swisher to return to. The good news is that this isn’t a DL situation–yet.

Just noting: It’s been May and this is Swisher’s 3rd calf/hamstring injury. 2 of them happened in Spring Training. How many calf injuries do you think Nick will go through before the season is over?

Eric Chavez
Injury: Whiplash Concussion

Placed on DL: May 3, 2012

Yankees IF Eric Chavez

Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me. Eric Chavez was supposed to be one of the strong bench players that could have gave the Yankees the bat that they need. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case when he went down during the series finale between the Yankees & Orioles. After trying to dive for a ball to prevent it from being a base hit, Chavez suffered a whiplash concussion and was taken out during his at-bat.

Chavez has a streak of being placed on the DL. As a matter of fact, he was on the DL last season due to a broken pinky toe–in May. ‘May’be it’s not Chavez’s month.

Michael Pineda
Injury: Shoulder Soreness
Placed on DL: March 30, 2012

Yankees SP Michael Pineda

Yankees fans will not see Michael Pineda pitch in 2012. After a somewhat puzzling 2012 Spring Training where his velocity went down, Yankees put Pineda on the DL. Only a matter of time later, Pineda was diagnosed with having an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder. Pineda had shoulder surgery and that unfortunately ended his season.

There hasn’t been a word on when Michael Pineda will start rehabilitating but Pineda is scheduled to be back on a mound by May of 2013.

I wonder what Brian Cashman is thinking of the trade right at this very moment?

Joba Chamberlain
Injury: Tommy John Surgery/Trampoline Accident

Placed on DL: June 8, 2011

Yankees RP Joba Chamberlain

Joba Chamberlain was supposed to be on a mound by next month. Now Yankees fans are sure that they won’t see Chamberlain in June. Chamberlain was coming back from Tommy John Surgery when he injured his foot during a freak trampoline accident during Spring Training.

Yankees are now uncertain when they are going to get Chamberlain back, but there was some enlightening news. Just yesterday, Chris Dickerson tweeted that Joba was walking around and beginning to rehab, so maybe we will see Chamberlain when the year ends after all.

Mariano Rivera
Injury: ACL Tear, Meniscus Tear

Placed on DL: May 4, 2012

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera

Probably one of the most devastating injury in the history of Yankees baseball. While shagging fly balls yesterday, Rivera slipped on the warning track and fell but as soon as he fell, he gripped his right knee in pain. When the team saw Mariano go down, they knew that it was something very serious.

Mo was carted off the field and was on the way to the hospital to get an MRI. After the game, a teary eyed Mariano Rivera sat in the Yankees clubhouse explaining to reporters that it was a torn ACL and a meniscus tear, and that he was to see the New York doctors. Mariano’s teammates were shaken up, Girardi was somber and Mo was disappointed that his season had to end that way.

Mariano Rivera revealed that he will pitch in 2013 for the Yankees which was a sigh of relief for fans and for the team.  For now, David Robertson seems to be the new closer but for the next 5 months, the team will not be the same without Mariano Rivera.

Being plagued with the injury bug isn’t fun, but I like to think of it this way; it’s better to be injured now than in October. Of course, the players that are healthy have to hit their way into October baseball. Yep, like I said. Injuries are not fun.

The Pineda trade: the trade isn’t a bust–yet

When the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade came to light on January 13, 2012  fans were excited to see the young right hander pitch for the New York Yankees. But starting in Spring Training, there were concerns about Pineda which made fans a little wary if this was a good trade. First of all, Pineda’s velocity wasn’t what it used to be when he was with the Seattle Mariners. In Seattle he would hit 95-97 mph on the radar gun while in Spring Training with the Yankees, his fastball would top at 90-93 mph. When Pineda was placed on the 15 day disabled list with shoulder tendonitis, it seemed that the Yankees had found the problem to Pineda’s low velocity. But fast-forward to late April, last week in fact, when Michael Pineda was shutdown after feeling soreness in his right shoulder. He made a trip to New York to get an MRI and soon his agent requested a second opinion to see Dr. Altchek, the Mets team doctor.

Michael Pineda is on the DL which makes fans wonder, was the trade a bust?

In the end it was revealed that Michael Pineda had an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder that would require season ending arthroscopic surgery. After it was revealed that Pineda needed surgery, fans took to Twitter and Facebook and wrote how the Mariners got the better part of the trade which was a young 21 year old that was the #1 prospect in the Yankees farm system. I don’t think the Pineda trade was a bust–just yet. There are certain factors that come into play that make it almost impossible to assess the Michael Pineda trade at this point.

1. It’s too early to tell: As we all know, the trade happened in January. We can’t determine that it was a good or bad trade in 4 months; it’s not possible. The Yankees viewed Michael Pineda as a plan for more of the future, kind of like how they signed David Aardsma more for 2013 than for 2012. Michael Pineda is under team control for the next 5 seasons, so we might want to hold off on jumping to conclusions saying that the trade was ” the worst trade Brian Cashman ever made.”

2. Age: We aren’t talking about guys that are in their 30′s and their baseball careers are almost over. We are talking about Michael Pineda who is 23 and Jesus Montero who is 21; both just beginning their Major League careers. They are both young so they have a while to prove themselves. It’s not like their Major League careers end tomorrow.

Michael Pineda might be able to make a full recovery, although it's not guarenteed

3. Pineda might come back strong: I know that arthroscopic surgery isn’t the best bet for a pitcher and it’s also a risk, but Michael Pineda might come back and be a better pitcher that he was before. A lot of pitchers have had surgery and they have never been the same, but there are some pitchers (2 that come to my mind) that have had arthroscopic surgery and have succeeded in their Major League careers: Chris Carpenter & Curt Schilling. Carpenter had surgery in 2002 and won the Cy Young award in 2005. Curt Schilling had a slight labral tear in 1995 and returned posting the best numbers of his career (especially with the Red Sox from 2004-2008). The odds seem to be against Pineda in this category, since many pitchers that were successful in the beginning had labrum surgery, which hurt the rest of their careers. Examples: Jason Schmidt (he spent a lot of time on the DL after the surgery) & Erik Bedard (he had multiple set-backs while rehabbing his shoulder but he’s now a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates). But Curt Schilling himself believes that Michael Pineda will make a big bounce back when he returns next season. Let’s hope Schilling is right.

Who knows where the trade will be in 5 years or so. Maybe Michael Pineda might be the best thing that the New York Yankees ever had while Jesus Montero struggles mightily for the Seattle Mariners. Or maybe it’s Jesus Montero that goes onto play in All-Star games while Michael Pineda is struggling in the Yankees rotation, or he might be with another team. We can’t judge the trade right now because of all that’s happened so far. It’s only been 4 months. Once Montero & Pineda finish their tenures with the Yankees & Mariners then we can decide if the trade was worth it. But for now, all we can do is sit and wait.

 

Morning Bits: Pineda, New Stadium for AAA Yanks, Pettitte

Good morning all.   It’s Friday and who can’t be excited for that?  New series tonight as the Tigers roll into the stadium.  Should be an interesting series.

Let’s get right to the links….

The Star Ledger reports that Cashman is facing heat now after the Pineda injury.   My opinion you can’t predict injuries he shouldn’t be put to the fire over this.

Dan Martin writes that Mo says “We need Pettitte Back” ,  I and many Yankee fans agree with you Mo.

– The Empire Yankees/ Scranton Wilks-Yankees were sold to Mandalay.   The new stadium looks very nice and much better than the previous one if any of you haven’t been before it wasn’t that nice.

The Daily News writes that Mariano has felt injured Pineda’s pain quite literally.

ESPN New York has a cool feature showing what the Yankees who were traded or let go are doing this year.

How Aw-Phil! Yanks fall to Rangers 7-3 in series finale

Tonight’s story before the game may have been about Michael Pineda, who will be out for the rest of the 2012 season. Tonight’s story after the game was Phil Hughes’s horrid outing as the Yanks fell to the Rangers 7-3 in the final game of a 3 game set.

HUGHES WAS AW-PHIL: This was supposed to be a game that could have spelled ‘redemption’ for Hughes. Instead, Hughes went 2.2 IP giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and allowing 1 HR. Hughes had issues with getting hitters out when he let them reach on base. It looks like Phil Hughes is in the same boat as Freddy Garcia at this point; both of them are pitching badly for the Yanks.

EL CAPITAN HITS AGAIN: Derek Jeter is an unstoppable force offensively. Jeter was 2 for 4 and his average reached a whopping .420. It looks like Jeter is not going to stop hitting, no matter whose on the mound. That sounds like a good idea Jeet. As a matter of fact, why don’t you spread it over to some of your teammates. They can use the hits more than you can.

ANDY PETTITTE’S FINAL LINE: Andy Pettitte pitched for the Trenton Thunder and his final line looked like this: 5 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 1BB, 3K. Pettitte was credited with the loss but the numbers aren’t important. Pettitte still feels that his legs are a bit weak so Cashman will have Pettitte pitch 2 or 3 more minor league games before he is called up to the Majors. The question when Pettitte returns; whose spot is he going to take?

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees have a day-off tomorrow while they prepare for the Tigers series. Joe Girardi released his rotation for the Tigers series and it looks a little like this:

1. On Friday, Ivan Nova will get the ball and face the Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

2. On Saturday, Freddy Garcia (no, they aren’t skipping his turn) will face the Detroit Tigers rookie Drew Smyly.

3. On Sunday, the Yankees ace CC Sabathia will face Max Scherzer.

SIDE NOTE: For all you fans with Brett Gardner in your fantasy leagues, expect him to come off the DL on May 3 during the Kansas City series if everything goes well the next couple of days. Gardner most likely won’t take batting practice until early next week since he doesn’t want to rush the elbow and make things worse.

Michael Pineda to have season-ending shoulder surgery

Michael Pineda to have season-ending shoulder surgery

By Brian D.

For one reason or another, this isn’t too shocking. The Yankees have confirmed that the big offseason acquisition Michael Pineda will have to wait until 2013 to make his Yankees debut. The 22-year old has a torn labrum and it will require season-ending surgery.

Pineda still had a decent spring minus his last start where he got injured. Though his velocity was not able to get up to 97 and 98 like it did last season, I still believed he’d be okay whether or not he ever regained the blazing fastball.

Anyway, now that this headache has finally settled, the Yanks are caught in a pretty tough spot. The rotation is already under-performing, and if Andy Pettitte wasn’t coming back, this would’ve been a much more catastrophic hit to the Bombers.

Bats fall silent as Rangers blank Yanks 2-0

Hiroki Kuroda went on the mound and gave the Yankees 6.2 strong innings of 2 run ball, but unfortunately Yu Darvish was better. Darvish blanked the Yanks 2-0 as the Yankees dropped the second game of the three game set.

ANYTHING YU CAN DO, YANKS CAN’T DO BETTER: Hiroki Kuroda had a good outing and did exactly what the Yankees wanted, but in the end Yu Darvish was what would decide the game. Darvish struck out 10 Yankees on a night where runs were a premium. Well the only thing we can really take away from the game was that Kuroda gave a good outing but Yanks couldn’t cash in. Hmm…this sounds oddly familiar to A.J Burnett last year where he would pitch well but Yanks couldn’t cash in. Oh well.

JETER HITS 14 IN A ROW: Derek Jeter extended his hit streak to 14 games tonight, giving Jeter one of his best April’s of his career. Jeter is batting .416 in the month of April and is giving pitchers a hard time in getting him out. Hey Jeet, can you keep this up for like…the whole year? We like it.

IBANEZ ENDS THE GAME…DP STYLE: Raul Ibanez had a chance to continue the inning…but of course he made things easier for Joe Nathan and the Texas Rangers. Nathan threw one pitch, and that was all that was needed to end the game as Ibanez bounced into a DP. That may be how they end games in Philly, but we don’t end games like that in New York, Raul.

PINEDA GETS SECOND OPINION: Michael Pineda will get a second opinion on his shoulder after getting an MRI today. Pineda’s agent spoke with reporters and said that the reason that they are getting a second opinion is not because of the MRI results. Pineda will meet with the New York Mets team doctor and get further evaluated before the press gets the prognosis & diagnosis.

WHAT’S NEXT: The final ball game in the Ballpark in Arlington comes near and Phil Hughes will get the mound. Hughesy needs to give the Yankees some depth (and not give Texas a lot of runs). First pitch is at 8:05pm.

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