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Offseason decisions coming back to haunt Yanks as deadline looms

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Well, it’s finally here. It’s July 31st, otherwise known as the non-waiver trading deadline, and in a matter of hours the Yankees will have either added another bat, or decided  to ride out the remainder of the season with the guys they have.

Coming off a stinging loss by way of a walk-off single by Dodgers’ second baseman Mark Ellis, the team now stands at 55-51. Slowly sinking closer to the mediocre .500 mark, the Yanks have now fully embodied the club we all expected them to be when the season opened – a power-less, atrocious offense coupled with good, but not great pitching.

Sitting 8.5 games out of first place in the A.L. East and somehow just 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race, the Yanks are by no means “done”. Brian Cashman Ownership brought back Alfonso Soriano, Jeter has returned, and Curtis Granderson is finishing up his rehab assignment, so the lineup will certainly be given a boost by having those guys back.

Meanwhile on the pitching front, (aside from CC and when Hughes starts at the Stadium) things have been improving. Pettitte is finding his groove again, Nova is pitching even better than in his breakout 2011 season, and Kuroda continues to be a dark horse in the A.L. Cy Young race. The bullpen continues to impress with the likes of Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan, D-Rob, and of course Mo, so there is nothing to really be concerned about there.

This is stating the obvious, but for the first time in years, the lineup is the overwhelming achilles heel to this season. Even with Sabathia’s treacherous season and Hughes’ long-ball woes, this current pitching staff coupled with any Yankees lineup from the past decade would easily win 90+ games.

But that’s the thing – this isn’t any Yankees lineup from the past decade. It’s 2013’s.

There’s no Sheffield, no Bernie, no Giambi, no Abreu, no Matsui, no Posada, no Swisher, no Teixeira, no A-Rod…must I keep going? Even with Sori, Jeet, and Grandy, they would need a Giancarlo Stanton-caliber bat added to the mix to really make them a threatening team. With the way Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Boston are all playing, even if there are signs of improvement from the players currently on the roster, I can’t imagine it being enough in the end.

As mentioned, the Yankees are either going to make a move, or they won’t. Stanton is not on the block, nor does the team have the caliber of prospects needed to make a deal even if he was. The best hitter that could be on the move is Hunter Pence, followed by Michael Young, Nate Schierholtz, and [depending on Schierholtz] David DeJesus. Pence is adamant about staying with San Francisco, Young prefers Boston than the Bronx, and the Yankees have too many outfielders to realistically take on a Schierholtz or DeJesus.

Like I said, even if any of those guys were to be fitted for pinstripes in the next few hours, it wouldn’t make much of a difference when comparing this “Bombers” lineup to that of the Orioles, Red Sox, or even the Rays. Power is not the tell-all, be-all factor of a team, but all three clubs have, and can out-slug the Yanks, even in their own bandbox known as the new Yankee Stadium.

It would be great to see the team rally around Mariano Rivera’s final season and go out and make a valiant playoff push, but I just don’t see it happening. At it’s worse the pitching has been steadily above-average, but at it’s best the lineup is nothing close to deserving of a spot in October.

Maybe I’m being harsh, and perhaps this club as constructed could have been better in another season with less competition. But the fact remains that the Yankees picked the worst year possible to let so many core guys (Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Raul Ibanez) leave via free agency, and just hope that the oldest team in baseball would have one last magical run in them.

Clearly they don’t, and no matter what happens by 4 o’clock PM today, the Yanks should begin making plans to go golfing come this fall. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t act like we didn’t see this coming.

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A Week In Review: Swisher, Ibanez, Diaz, Jones

Good evening everyone. Since I was on vacation for the past week, instead of doing an offseason note article, this article is the week in review. In other words, it’s all the stuff I didn’t report that happened during the week that I am reporting now. Let’s get to it.

Nick Swisher becomes a Cleveland Indian

Yep, Nick Swisher traded in his pinstripes in New York for a cream colored uniform in Cleveland, Ohio. According to MLB Network, Swisher signed a 4 year, $56 Million deal to play RF for the Cleveland Indians next season. We all knew it was coming since the Yankees weren’t going to re-sign him and the Indians front office showed their interest by having breakfast and lunch meetings with him. Looks like all those meetings paid off, because while they have a right fielder–we have Ichiro.

Raul Ibanez going to Seattle

Raul Ibanez who was our hero in the postseason has decided to also trade in his pinstripes…this time to head to Seattle where he played earlier in his career. According to Bleacher Report, the Yankees reportedly never made an offer to Ibanez which probably added into his decision to take a contract with the Seattle Mariners. Looks like the Yankees are going to have to look for a new DH…along with a catcher…and maybe a new bench…oh boy.

Yankees sign Matt Diaz to minor league deal

The Yankees made a deal the day after Christmas with Matt Diaz, whose season was cut short in 2012 due to a thumb injury. Diaz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. If he makes the team, he’ll get a guarenteed $1.2 Million deal. Yankees mainly signed him because he can do something that the Yankees struggle with–hitting against left handed pitchers.

Former Yankee Andruw Jones arrested

Congratulations to Andruw Jones. He’s joined the exclusive “Former/Current Yankees Players to get arrested” club. All jokes aside, Jones was arrested yesterday morning (on Christmas) after an altercation with his wife. We all know Jones decided to join a Japanese team for the 2013 season–an indication that he knows that it’s going downhill from here career wise. No word if the arrest effects his current contract.

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

Ibanez made Girardi look smart

Ibanez had a historic night

Call it a great move, call it desperation call it whatever you want – but Girardi finally saw the light and pinch hit for ARod against a tough RHP in the 9th inning last night.  Jim Johnson had made Alex look helpless, striking him out in Games 1 & 2 challenging him with his sinking Fastball.  So staring a 2-1 series deficit and a potential elimination game in the face, Girardi finally let egos be damned and made a move that was long overdue.  Obviously the move looks genius now because of Ibanez’ game-tying and game-winning HRs but it would have been the right move even if Ibanez struck out. Ibanez & Chavez have worn out RHP all year-long while Alex has clearly had trouble posting a .391 SLG% and .717 OPS.

Some people have said fans are overreacting about ARod after 3 poor games in the playoffs. But it has been a season long problem with RHP that Girardi should have addressed long before the playoffs. However, in Joe’s defense, he didn’t have his full starting lineup for much of the final 2 months so lineup changes were difficult.   The question now is, after pinch-hitting for Alex, will Joe finally move him down in the lineup or take him out all together versus tough RHP? He definitely needs to do it BUT Game 4 is not the game to do it.  Hitting against LHP has not been a problem for Alex as evidenced by his .308 BA and .924 OPS in 2012  – and he belongs in the 3 or 4 spot today.  Lefty Joe Saunders will be on the mound and like several other Yankees, ARod has had success against Saunders.  Here are the career #s vs Saunders:

PA AB H HR RBI SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Robinson Cano 19 18 5 0 4 2 .278 .316 .444 .760
Eric Chavez 10 9 2 0 1 1 .222 .300 .222 .522
Curtis Granderson 19 16 4 1 1 5 .250 .333 .438 .771
Raul Ibanez 24 23 8 2 6 2 .348 .375 .652 1.027
Derek Jeter 25 22 10 2 3 1 .455 .520 .773 1.293
Russell Martin 11 9 3 1 1 0 .333 .455 .667 1.121
Jayson Nix 11 10 3 3 3 1 .300 .300 1.200 1.500
Alex Rodriguez 24 20 8 2 6 4 .400 .458 .800 1.258
Ichiro Suzuki 43 41 14 0 5 3 .341 .372 .439 .811
Nick Swisher 33 28 7 1 6 3 .250 .364 .357 .721
Mark Teixeira 27 24 5 0 0 2 .208 .296 .250 .546
Total 246 220 69 12 36 24 .314 .377 .532 .909

Based on Nix’s 3 for 10 with 3 HRs vs Saunders and his more reliable glove than Nunez, Joe may have to go with Nix at SS to give Jeter a day at DH to rest his foot.  The other guy you have to find a space for is Ibanez.  Not only has he been amazingly hot in big situations but he has had success for Saunders in the past. Ibanez could play OF with Swish Tex or Granderson sitting out.  With Hughes on the mound, Granderson’s speed in CF is important so I’d probably sit Tex or Swish.

Winning the Bullpen Battle

Coming into the Series, it seemed Baltimore had an edge over the Yanks in 1 category – the Bullpen.  However, the Yankees pen has been excellent while the O’s have lost both games because of their pen.  Baltimore relievers have thrown 10 innings and have allowed 6 Earned Runs. By comparison, their starters have allowed just 4 ERs in 19 ip.  All-Star closer Jim Johnson led the A.L. with 51 saves in the regular season but has allowed 5ER already.

Yankee relievers have thrown 5 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits with David Robertson pitching 3.1 ip of that. DRob was a concern as he didn’t pitch well down the stretch but he’s been awesome so far.  He’s mixed in his Curveball much more often than he had been in September and it’s been a very effective pitch for him.  One of the resons for the bullpen’s success is the length given by the starters.  Both CC & Kuroda pitched into the 9th inning and Pettitte gave 7 solid innings.  This has enabled Joe to skip over his middle relievers and go straight to his set-up men and Closer.  Game 4 may require more work from the pen since Hughes averaged 6.0 innings per start and had a shaky September with a 5.19 ERA.  Soriano (1.1 ip) and DRob (2 ip) both went more than an inning last night so guys like Logan, Joba, Lowe & Phelps could play a larger role tonight.

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.

Who should be on the Yankees 2013 roster?

Some of the Yankees that most likely will make the 2013 roster are Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. But who are the others?

Looking ahead is not a bad thing. The Yankees looked ahead when it came to releasing the 2013 schedule, so why not look ahead to see who could be on the field when you go to a game in 2013. Here is how I picture the Yankees having their alignment of players in 2013.

Let us start in the outfield, shall we? In left field, we have none other than the Yankees speedster Brett Gardner (2012:  .321 AVG, 0 HR, 3 RBI). Now keep in mind that Gardner has only played in nine games and was shut down for the duration of the season due to elbow surgery. Gardner is a catalyst for the Yankees and plays the game Joe Girardi hates to play–small ball. He gets on base, he steals, he bunts and he is one of the best defensive players in baseball. Gardner is arbitration eligible so do not expect there to be much of a fight since Gardner has not played most of the year.

In center field, we have another speedster but he is known for his power bat, Curtis Granderson (2012: .233 AVG, 37 HR, 89 RBI). 2013 is Granderson’s free agent year and after the Kevin Long tutorial in 2010; Granderson has become a home run hitter. Now, Granderson does not hit for singles or doubles (note the .233 average) but he is a power bat, which is something the Yankees could use in the heart of the lineup. What happens after 2013, we do not know but—at least the Yanks could see Granderson’s bat in the lineup in 2013.

In right field, you may be a bit surprised by my choice but I believe Nick Swisher (2012: .258 AVG, 20 HR, 78 RBI) will be in Yankees pinstripes in 2013. Now, why do I think Swisher will be a Yankee? Because along with Swisher’s good bat in the lineup, he has a charming and bubbly personality that would be sorely missed if he ever left the team. The Yankees were a serious bunch before Swisher came along and now the team seems livelier. Swisher has left an imprint on the team—but if Swisher signs with the Yanks, he cannot expect a $100 Million contract. We are still recovering from 3 of those.

In the infield, we have of course the third baseman Alex Rodriguez (2012: .276 AVG, 17 HR, 50 RBI). A-Rod this season is not A-Rod but he has come back a hot hitter since getting off the DL. In addition, A-Rod is stuck with the Yankees until his contract expires in 2018 (Yikes).

At shortstop, we have the Captain Derek Jeter (2012: .323 AVG, 15 HR, 53 RBI) who becomes a free agent in 2014. There is not much to explain about Jeter except for the fact he is having his best year average wise since 2009.

At second base, there is the young Robinson Cano (2012: .299 AVG, 30 HR, 77 RBI) who is by far the Yankees best player. He plays second base so smoothly and has a great pop to his bat. For a person who does not think he has home run power—he is mistaken. He is a home run hitter. That is all.

Finally, to round out the infield, we have Mark Teixeira (2012: .255 AVG, 23 HR, 81 RBI). Teixeira is stuck with us until 2017 and even if the Yankees wanted to trade Teixeira (they do not), they cannot because of Teixeira’s no trade clause. We might as well make the best of it so Tex…we are going to need lots of game winning and World Series winning HR’s until then.

Teixeira and Chavez go back-to-back as Yankees split series with 4-3 victory over Tigers

After it looked like the Yankees and Tigers weren’t going to play the game due to rain, the rain stayed away and let the Yankees and Tigers play the whole game but there was more than enough drama as the Yankees scratched out a 4-3 victory over the Tigers to even the series at 2.

After a delay of game, the Yankees quickly got two runs in the 2nd inning against Doug Fister after Raul Ibanez tripled to knock in a run, followed by Ichiro Suzuki getting his own RBI. The Yankees game was very emotional when in the 5th inning the Tigers tacked on three runs. The third run never should have scored. Andy Dirks hit a fly ball to left field that umpire Tim Welke called foul, but when the ball hit the ground and rolled away, Welke changed his call to a fair ball, which allowed the third run to score. Joe Girardi immediately came out of the dugout to argue the call and after the umpires felt Girardi was questioning them, they ejected him for his third ejection of the season (all three of his ejections this season came against the Tigers).

The Yankees scored the third and fourth runs in the 8th inning after Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez hit back-to-back homers to give the Yankees the 4-3 lead. However, the Yankees tight roped their way to the victory after they called upon David Phelps to get two of the three outs in the 8th inning and asked Rafael Soriano to get a four out save. Soriano got into trouble in the 9th inning after Alex Avila doubled and Omar Infante singled to give the Tigers first and third with no one out. However, Soriano was able to induce popups from Ramon Santiago and Quintin Berry and for the final out was able to get Andy Dirks to sky out to Curtis Granderson.

The Yankees now head to Canada where they will face the Blue Jays in a three game set. First pitch tomorrow night is at 7:05pm.

Yankees Report Card: July

It’s that time of the month again where we decide which Yankees were at the top of their class and which Yankees just didn’t make the grade in July’s Yankees Report Card. After a stellar June, the Yankees had a so-so July but some Yankees players that were struggling really improved their game and earned a higher grade. If you don’t agree with the grade that any Yankee gets, put the grade that you believe they deserve in the comment section below. Now, onto grading those Yankees!

Derek Jeter (A): Derek Jeter was on fire in the month of July, hitting a .346 average with 37 hits and 7 doubles. Jeter doesn’t hit for power (he only has 1 HR in July) but he has been able to get on base so his fellow teammates can make some damage. Maybe Jeter can continue his hot-streak in August. I know one thing–Derek Jeter is not too old to play baseball.

Curtis Granderson (B+): Curtis Granderson only had a .245 average this month, but he has been the one that has helped pick up this team with 5 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 2 doubles and 2 triples. Granderson is now required to pair up with Robinson Cano to supply power since A-Rod is currently on the disabled list but if there is anyone that can do it, it’s Curtis Granderson (also, he might be interested in hitting a HR whenever he can since he gets rewarded with ice pops.)

Mark Teixeira (A+): Mark Teixeira had his best month in the month of July with a .298 average. He also had 7 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 12 walks, 5 doubles and a triple. Teixeira would have normally have gotten an A, but after hitting a HR off Vicente Padilla during the Yankees/Red Sox series, Teixeira deserved a higher mark for 2 reasons. One, he was the bigger man in their rivalry and two, what other way can you say don’t mess with me by hitting a 2 run homer that temporarily tied the game?

Alex Rodriguez (A): The month of July was A-Rod’s best month average wise with a .314 average. His HR and RBI numbers had slightly decreased from June since he only had 2 HR’s, 9 RBI’s, 5 doubles, 1 triple and 1 walk. It seemed as if A-Rod was getting everything together–until Felix Hernandez took that all away with one pitch that hit him in the wrist, thus forcing him to go on the DL for 6-8 weeks. Yankees may not see A-Rod until the end of September, but the Yankees were able to add depth by trading Chad Qualls for Casey McGhee. Let’s see how A-Rod returns: will he be the one that the Yankees can rely on, or will he get into his early season funk once again.

Robinson Cano (A): Robbie Cano has been the one that had carried the Yankees to first place, he had been the one that carried them when they were struggling (even when he was struggling himself) and Robbie Cano continues to carry this team with a .314 average. Cano had 4 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 5 walks and 6 doubles which proves that even when Robbie gets base hits, a lot of them count for something. Let’s hope Robbie can continue his streak in August (we know he will, he’s Robbie Cano!)

Nick Swisher (B-): Nick Swisher didn’t hit for average in the month of July, only hitting .222 but he could have done more if he wasn’t injured with a strained muscle near his hip. Swisher hit 2 HR’s, 8 RBI’s, and hit 3 doubles all in 63 at-bats. When Nick Swisher is healthy, he is able to change his team. When he’s not healthy, then–the team somewhat misses him. But with Ichiro Suzuki possibly vying for a right field spot next season and this being Swisher’s walk year, he might want to consider getting on a gigantic hot streak. But–Swisher’s smile and personality might win his teammates, the fans and the front office over.

Raul Ibanez (B): One of the best acquisitions of the 2012 season has to have been Raul Ibanez and he continues to prove that he is an important piece to the Yankees bench. In the month of July, Ibanez hit .279 which is his second best month (May was .288). Ibanez has 3 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 5 walks, and 4 doubles. The one flaw this month from Ibanez was that he struck out 17 times which was the most he struck out in a month this season. As long as Ibanez hit’s HR’s for power, then I don’t care.

Russell Martin (D): Russell Martin continues to struggle at the plate which is making the Yankees scratch their heads. Martin hit .183 in the month of July which means his average is still below the Mendoza line. Martins’ best month? May with a .203 average. I know the Yankees aren’t expecting much out of Russell Martin, but the least he could do is hit! Is it too much to ask? Hopefully August he’ll turn it around?

Andruw Jones (B-): Andruw Jones didn’t hit for average this month, but he played an important part for the Yankees in July. While Jones only hit .218 in the month of May, he did have 5 HR’s, 11 RBI’s, 2 walks and 2 doubles. Jones is an important part to the Yankees when he plays and although his average doesn’t say much, he is always doing something to help his team win.

Chris Stewart (B-): Chris Stewart has been a delightful surprise for the Yankees due to his catching skills and his ability to call a ballgame. Although his bat is nothing to ‘ahh’ over, he has done everything the Yankees wanted (and he has a higher batting average than the primary catcher Russell Martin). Yep, I think that Chris Stewart is going to fit in quite nicely around here.

Jayson Nix (B): Jayson Nix is another pleasant surprise for the Yankees, since he is doing exactly what the Yankees wanted. He plays great defense, he gets base hits when they matter and in July, Nix has shown power. Nix hit 2 HR’s and has 6 RBI’s in the month of July which means when it’s up to him, ‘Nix Knocks’.

Eric Chavez (B+): Chavez continues to prove just how important he is to the Yankees bench and once again, he has done what he has to do. In July he hit a .264 average with 4 HR’s, 9 RBI’s and 7 walks. Chavez is another Yankee that proves that age isn’t anything but a number. Let’s keep it up Chavez, shall we?

CC Sabathia (B-): For the ace of the Yankees, this wasn’t exactly the month that CC Sabathia was hoping for. After being on the disabled list in late June-early July, CC hasn’t exactly came back into form yet. For the month of July he holds a 4.26 ERA and a 1-0 record (he has 2 no decisions). In good news he only gave up 9 runs this month which was his low point during the year. The Yankees expect to see their ace back in August–and we are sure CC expects to see himself return to form as well.

Hiroki Kuroda (B-): Hiroki Kuroda has had worst months in the past, so looking at his numbers here it was pretty good. In the month of July, Kuroda has a 2-0 record and a 3.60 ERA. The good news is that he’s 2-0. The bad? In the month of July he gave up 15 runs (14 of them were earned, but they all count in the game). Kuroda isn’t supposed to be lights out, but he has to get better at stranding runners when there is an error.

Ivan Nova (D): Ivan Nova is usually one of the Yankees youngest and brightest stars on this team, which is why I don’t understand how he could have a 5.97 ERA in the month of July. Nova had seemed to have been getting it together last month, but this month makes everyone question what’s wrong with Nova. Is something wrong with his mechanics? Is he not hitting spots because he’s concerend that the might get hit hard? And why did he give up 27 runs (23 earned)? Nova has to do better in August because if he doesn’t then he could quickly find himself back at Scranton. Remember–he has options.

Freddy Garcia (B-): Now, we aren’t expecting Freddy Garcia to throw shut-outs in each and every game. It’s not going to happen. But the month of July has been a solid month for Garcia after having a 2-3 record and a 4.00 ERA. I know what you’re thinking, a 2-3 record is not solid. It should be if this team is the Yankees. In the 3 starts that he lost, he had given up no more than 4 runs. After going from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Garcia has done okay, but he’s doing well enough to stay in the rotation.

Phil Hughes (B): Phil Hughes has easily been the Yankees best starter in the month of July with a 2-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. Although Hughes’s issue is the home run ball (He gave up 6), he really has done a fantastic job for the Yankees and is definetely looking like the Phil Hughes of 2010. Also, his ERA as a whole is 3.96 which is much better than where he started the season at.

Cody Eppley (B+): In the beginning of the year, it would have been very easy to send Cody Eppley back to Triple A because the Yankees knew they could, but that isn’t the case now. In the month of July, Eppley has a 2.53 ERA while only giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 10.2 innings pitched. Eppley has become such an important part of the bullpen and is trusted in preserving leads and getting out of situations with his right handed sidearm motion. As we all know, Eppley has been doing his job and he’s fantastic at it.

Clay Rapada (B): We can’t really grade Clay Rapada since he only pitched 4.2 innings in the month of July (the Yankees haven’t really needed him) but only giving up 2 runs isn’t all that bad. Rapada is still an excellent complementary pitcher to Cody Eppley (Rapada has a left handed sidearm motion), and without him the Yankees would only have 1 lefty in the bullpen (Mr. Boone Logan).

David Phelps (A+): The incredible David Phelps has done so much for the Yankees since he came back from Triple-A to get more work in. Phelps in July was known as the pitcher to give the Yankees some length when one of the starters only made it 5-6 innings, and he has stopped the Yankees opponents stone cold. In 13.1 IP, he has a 0.68 ERA while giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 21 strikeouts. Now, I don’t know who the other David Phelps with a 7.36 ERA in June is, but this is more like the David Phelps that we all know.

Boone Logan (D): Boone Logan is easily one of my favorite Yankees (we share the same birthday, so what’s not to like) but no matter how much I like him, I don’t like his numbers for the month of July. In July he has a 9.95 ERA which means in 6.1 IP he gave up 7 runs on 8 hits. That sounds like the starts that some of the starting pitchers have been having, and it’s not pretty. Hopefully Logan can get it together this month and if he can’t–then he’ll just be the lefty that no one can count on, and we don’t want that now do we?

David Robertson (A): David Robertson is once again back into form for the Yankees in the month of July after what seemed like he struggled after coming off the disabled list. Robertson in the month of July had a 1.54 ERA which easily means that Robertson is the pitcher the Yankees can count on before giving the ball to Rafael Soriano. We expect great things from you in August Mr. Robertson but please, can we ease up on the Houdini tricks? They are bound to give someone a heart attack.

Rafael Soriano (A): This hasn’t been Rafael Soriano’s best month but it certaintly wasn’t his worst. He was 9/10 for saves and even the great Mariano Rivera isn’t perfect when it comes to save situations. Soriano has been the most consistent in the bullpen which is why he is the best go-to person for the Yankees. Also, when he complete’s saves I really enjoy when he untucks his shirt to celebrate a Yankees win, and I’m sure a lot of Yankees fans enjoy it as well.

Complete game by CC gives Yanks a 6-3 victory over Mariners

CC Sabathia gave the Yankees exactly what they needed–a complete game and the bullpen was able to get some rest after the Yankees defeated the Mariners with a 6-3 victory.

Sabathia went 9 innings and pitched extremely well. All of the runs that the Mariners scored ended up scoring on a home run ball but the Yankees were able to score some runs of their own. In the bottom of the third inning, Curtis Granderson plated both Ichiro Suzuki and Russell Martin to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. In the 6th, Eric Chavez hit a 2 run homer and in the 7th, Raul Ibanez and Robinson Cano both had RBI base hits which equaled up to the Yankees 6 runs.

Ichiro was the first Yankees live ball player that started his Yankee career with 1 hit in his first 9 games. As Suzyn Waldman says, “there’s a stat for everything.”

Today, the Yankees will play the Mariners at 1:05pm.

What the Ichiro trade could mean for the Yankees

When the Yankees traded for Ichiro Suzuki on July 23, I thought that it was a practical joke just like when I thought it was a practical joke when the Yankees announced they re-signed Andy Pettitte. I soon found out along with the rest of Yankees universe that the Ichiro trade was real. Brian Cashman had traded Yankees minor league pitchers D.J Mitchell and Danny Farquahr while the Mariners had sent Ichiro and cash considerations.

Ichiro is supposed to be able to provide depth to the Yankees outfield after Brett Gardner went down with a season ending injury. Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones both platooned in the beginning when Girardi thought that Gardner would miss just 2 weeks, then a month, then two months, then the whole year. After he found out that the Yankees were going to be without Gardner for the rest of the year, they acquired Ichiro to fill their problems. There’s only one small problem: Ichiro has never played a game in left field his entire career. Ichiro is primarily a right fielder which happens to be the perimeter of Nick Swisher, at least for this season.

Ichiro could change everything for the Yankees since he’s a slap hitter and has tremendous amounts of speed, but he could change things so much that the Yankees might not need Nick Swisher at the end of the season when it’s time to decide which spare parts to keep and which spare parts to let go of. A lot of things come into consideration just how much the team could change during the 2012 off-season.

When I asked around on Twitter about how Yankees fans felt about the Ichiro trade, the responses varied:

@loverofbaseball: I was surprised at first. Seemed like a no lose trade, only cost the Yankees $2 Million and minor league pitchers.

@yankeeman76: I’m so ready for Ichiro I can hardly believe it! #stoked

@gobibs: I think he’ll be a good fit

@MichaelPacholek: Getting Ichiro could be good. Giving up only 2 “Who is he?” pitchers for him helps.

@aj_rotger: Pumped. Needed the speed and OF d-fence.

@grandchief415: It’s a smart move, no-cost and he’ll be re-energized.

@JeweleeYankee: Excited!…and nervous.

The trade could be one of the biggest trades that Cashman could do during this season. It could bring some new life to the Yankees and it could help them get into the play-offs and keep their gigantic American League East lead but the Yankees might not want to get their hopes up. Ichiro has declined since 2010 and isn’t the same player he was years ago. However, he could be just as useful as the rest of the Yankees bench and could be the answer to the Yankees problems in left field, but it never hurts to think ahead into the off-season where it could be time for Cashman to decide who stays and who goes.

Do the Yankees Have Too Many Platoon Players?

Brian Cashman has done an incredible this season of finding great players to produce that he got at a minimal cost. Guys like Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and now Ichiro Suzuki have done a great job in their roles. While these players have all been very good contributors to the Yankees they all have one thing in common. They’re all either platoon players or OOGY pitchers. This really hampers what Joe Girardi is able to do late in games. Yes, sometimes he over manages, but this roster configuration doesn’t do him any favors.

A perfect example of how having too many platoon players can hamper Girardi occurred in Wednesday’s win over Seattle. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 8th Raul Ibanez was due up against a lefty with the bases loaded and 1 out. None of Girardi’s options in this situation were good at all.  Ibanez has been on base a grand total of 7 times this season against lefties in 35 AB’s. He is batting .171, with 0 HR’s, 0 RBI, and a .452 OPS. Girardi’s only option to avoid using Ibanez in that spot was to pinch hit for Jayson Nix and most likely have Seattle manager Eric Wedge bring in a righty to face him. It worked out as Nix hit a bases clearing double, but Girardi was really handcuffed in that situation, as Nix was only 1-20 against righties this year prior to that AB. The same situation came up the previous game with Ibanez up against a lefty with the game on the line. This time Jones was available on the bench and Girardi should have went with him against the righty, but that situation is not really ideal either.

I probably noticed this more on this west coast trip due to Nick Swisher being out and Jones and Ibanez both having to play even more, but even with Swisher back the Yankees will be very vulnerable to left handed pitching with Alex Rodriguez out. A-Rod was the only right handed power player the Yankees have other than Jones and Mark Teixeira when he bats righty. Those fans who were booing him before will learn the lesson the hard way about what life is like without him. Losing a middle of the order guy with a team that is weak at the bottom of the order hurts greatly. Chavez is a fine replacement if he can stay healthy but he won’t be able to hit lefties and Jayson Nix will have to. I had no issues with the Ichiro pickup before A-Rod got hurt. He will be a very nice fill in for Brett Gardner and would have been a nice addition to the bottom of the order. Now he may have to hit lead off. He has very nice road numbers this year and getting out of Safeco Field and into a pennant race should revive him. However, if Cashman knew A-Rod was going to be out he might have tried to get somebody who could hit lefties as Ichiro is only hitting .236, with 0 HR’s, 8 RBI, and a .510 OPS against them. So now you have Ichiro, Chavez, and Ibanez who can’t hit lefties. You also have Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson who have not been as good against them this year as last year.  This all leaves them very vulnerable against lefties late in games and there is not anything Girardi can do about it.

The Yankees also have a similar problem in the bullpen. The Yankees have 3 OOGY pitchers in Logan, Eppley, and Rapada. They also have one guy in Chad Qualls who can’t get anybody out. The 3 OOGY pitchers have been great at what they do but that is what they’re limited to. So at the moment 4 of your 7 bullpen players are either OOGY’s or are incapable of getting anybody out. Fortunately, Joba Chamberlain has been lights out in the minors and should be coming to the Yankees real soon. He is a non OOGY pitcher who should be able to help solve this problem. You like to be able to matchup in the bullpen but you also like to have guys who can get both lefties and righties out so you do not have to burn through so many pitchers.

Nix carries Yankees to series win with 5-2 victory over Mariners

For the first 7 innings, the Yankees were looking at a 1-6 roadtrip after getting swept by the Athletics and almost giving the Mariners a series win. Then came Jayson Nix as the Yankees were able to claw their way back to the game with a 5-2 victory over the Mariners.

It was a tight ball game for the Yankees as they had a 2-1 deficit. The only run the Yankees scored at that point was a home run by Derek Jeter, but when the Yankees got to the 8th inning, everything changed. Derek Jeter was hit by pitch to start the rally and at the end of the rally was Jayson Nix. The bases were loaded for the Yankees when Nix pinch hit for Raul Ibanez and delievered a 3 run double to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Russell Martin scored the 5th and final run after Eric Chavez was intentionally walked.

Ivan Nova wasn’t as sharp as usual but he lasted to the 6th inning giving up 2 runs on 2 hits.

Tomorrow is a Yankees off-day and on Friday, the Yankees will take on the Boston Red Sox for the weekend series.

Why Victorino Is A Good Fit

About a couple of weeks ago, as the Philadelphia Phillies continued to fall hopelessly out of the playoff race, I thought about which of their players might be intriguing for the Yankees. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are good, but they both come with issues: Hamels would cost too much for a rental. Lee has a bad contract and has never shown a desire to pitch for the Yankees. However, Shane Victorino was a player who I thought fit what the Yankees needed perfectly. Then yesterday Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees are interested in Victorino, and right after that, it was reported that Brett Gardner had another setback and will go for yet another MRI. With Gardner potentially being done for the season, a trade for Victorino would be something I would endorse.

The Yankees are in a fantastic position up nine games in the AL East. Because of their position, they do not have to overspend for anybody at the trade deadline. If the Yankees were battling for a playoff spot I would feel differently, but they have their spot pretty much wrapped up. Anybody the Yankees can go out and acquire wouldn’t guarantee them a championship, so there is no reason to overpay. The Yankees can win a championship with this current team. Sure a guy like Cole Hamels would give them a better chance at a ring, but he guarantees them nothing but a playoff berth, which they already have. If you mortgage the future and don’t win the championship it is really bad for your organization.

However, there is nothing wrong with improving the team at the right price. With Gardner’s status looking extremely murky, an outfielder is the biggest need for the Yankees. The only other argument you can make is for starting pitching. Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova have all pitched solidly for about two months now give or take. CC Sabathia is coming back tonight and Andy Pettitte should be back by September. That is enough pitching to win in October in my opinion. However, they can definitely use another outfielder. Despite the grand slam from Raul Ibanez yesterday he hit only .162 in June and only has 3 HR’s since the start of June. He seems to be wearing down and it could be worse by October. Andruw Jones has been spectacular of late, but he is still only a platoon player. Getting Victorino would allow Ibanez and Jones to platoon the DH spot for October like they were supposed to originally, and it would improve the defense in left field greatly. Read the rest of this entry

Morning Bits: Joba, Ibanez, International Prospects, Luis Sojo, Prospect Promotions.

Let the over managing comments begin.   The team does have a winning record so I do feel 9 out of 10 times Girardi does get it right.  Though last night felt like a lot over managing though.  Anyone else agree with that?  First pitch tonight is for 7:10pm on the mound will be Shields vs. Nova.

Enjoy the day.  Now onto the links…..

Wallace Matthews of ESPN NY has the scoop on Joba’s rehab.

Matthews also has the rapid reaction from last night’s game.

Adam Berry has a bunch of tidbits in his article from mlb.com: Ibanez stitches, Yankees signing three international prospects, etc.  (def worth a read).

Luis Sojo who is the manager of the Tampa Yankees tied for a record with 418 wins in the Florida State League.  Good for Sojo always a good guy.

– Huge promotions happened in the minor league system for the Yankees check this article out Josh Norris.

Hughes cruises for 8 innings as Yanks beat White Sox 4-2 to tie series

In the first inning of the game, Phil Hughes was off to an inauspicious start as he let 2 runs score and left the Yankees in a 2-0 hole. Since the first inning he had put 0′s up on the scoreboard as the Yankees were able to defeat the White Sox 4-2 to tie the series at 2 games apiece.

Phil Hughes after the rocky first inning in which he gave up 2 runs and 3 hits went 7 more innings giving up 0 runs and 3 hits. Hughes went 8 innings with 2 runs on 6 hits with 8 strikeouts. Rafael Soriano came in the 9th inning to seal the deal and give the Yankees their 1st victory in July.

In the 2nd inning, Raul Ibanez singled and Eric Chavez hit a 2 run homer which tied the game at 2. In the 3rd inning Robinson Cano hit a 2 run homer with Mark Teixeira on base which gave them the 4 runs they needed to beat the White Sox.

Now the Yankees head on their final road trip of the first half of the season as they play 3 games in Tampa and 4 games in Boston (2 games on Sunday due to a doubleheader). Tomorrow it will be Freddy Garcia vs. the Rays pitcher Matt more as Garcia auditions for the rotation spot while Andy Pettitte & CC Sabathia are out with injuries. First pitch will be at 7:05pm.

Yankees Report Card: June

Here’s a new monthly article I like to call the Yankees Report Card. Every month based on the Yankees performances (pitchers included), I will give them a letter grade from A-F and explain why they got the grade they deserved. If there is a grade that you might not agree with, place the grade that you would have given a player down in the comment section below. All stats are as of June 26. 

Derek Jeter (B): Derek Jeter’s bat hasn’t been as hot as it was in April & May since his average is .240 in the month of June. However, Jeter hit 2 home runs in the month of June (He’s not a HR hitter so it’s remarkable) and he has 7 RBI’s.  It also helps that he kept his average over .300 for the past 3 months. A downside as to why Jeter didn’t get a higher grade? He struck out 17 times.

Curtis Granderson (B-): Curtis Granderson’s average for June is .211, but of course we all know Curtis Granderson isn’t hitting for average. In the month of June, Granderson hit 5 home runs, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 13 times in the month of June. Granderson’s strikeouts are however a little outrageous. He struck out 29 times in June which brings his total for the season so far to 86.

Mark Teixeira (B): Again, it looks as if Mark Teixeira isn’t hitting for average since he’s batting .241 in the month of June. Instead Tex is hitting for power and RBI’s. Although he’s only hit 3 HR’s, he’s driven in 13 runs and walked 13 times. He also doesn’t struck out a lot since he’s only done it 14 times. Teixeira also has been hitting with RISP lately which was why I bumped his average from a B- (which was his original grade) to a B.

Alex Rodriguez (B): Alex Rodriguez hit only .225 in the month of June, but he hit 6 HR’s, drove in 15 runs and walked 11 times. Although A-Rod is looking a little hotter at the plate, June wasn’t his best month. May was. If he keeps hitting home runs that help win games then he’ll continue to pass on his report card.

Robinson Cano (A): Robinson Cano’s bat in the month of June is “muy caliente”. After a slow start to the season, Cano is batting .325 in the month of June while also hitting 9 HR’s, driving in 16 RBI’s and walking 12 times. It seems to me with the 9 HR’s that Cano is hitting, he’s practicing for the Home Run Derby. Well then by all means, you don’t need the practice, but keep hitting them anyway Robbie. Chicks dig the long ball.

Nick Swisher (A): June has been Nick Swisher’s best month by far with a .338 average. Swisher hit 4 HR’s, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 10 times. Not only that, but Swisher has been making great plays in the outfield. Swisher makes watching him play in right field fun, and not only that but you can’t help but get a smile on your face just by watching Swisher play with a smile on his face.

Raul Ibanez (C-): In the month of June, Raul Ibanez has seemed to have faltered a bit after having a good April and May. In June, Ibanez is hitting .169 with 2 HR’s & 7 RBI’s. He also has only walked once. The good we can take away from this is that he only struck out 8 times. That’s something, right?

Russell Martin (D+): Well, June has been Martin’s best month so far–but the numbers are still pretty bad. Martin’s batting .217 in June with 4 HR’s & 9 RBI’s. The only reason he doesn’t get lower than a D+ is because he knows how to call games, but hitting the baseball is just as important as calling a game Russell. Maybe July will be your month?

Andruw Jones (D+): Andruw Jones hasn’t played a lot in June–but that’s no excuse for doing almost absolutely nothing at the plate. Jones only hit 2 HR’s & drove in 4 runs in 34 at-bats. His average is also at .206. He doesn’t get an F however because he does do well in the outfield when he’s in there but seriously Andruw, where’s the power?

Chris Stewart (B): Chris Stewart has 8 at-bats less than Andruw Jones and he has been able to do more with his at-bats. Stewart is batting .306 in June and has driven in 4 RBI’s but don’t expect the ball to go out of the park with him. He also is known for calling great games and his defense is good (I know he made a mistake in the Mets series finale game but come on, everyone makes mistakes). Stewart always does something when he plays which is probably why Cashman and Girardi thought it made most sense to go to him as a backup catcher. Well, wherever you got him from, don’t return him. He’s awesome.

Jayson Nix (B-): Nix hasn’t gotten a lot of at-bats in the month of June, but he has been able to get on base with a .263 average in June. Nix has no homers or RBI’s but he’s a bench player so it’s understandable. Whatever you’re doing to get on base Nix, don’t stop.

Eric Chavez (B): Eric Chavez is another one of those bench guys that is always doing something amazing (when he’s not injured). Chavez has a .294 average in June with 2 HR’s & 4 RBI’s but what really makes him deserve a B is that he’s a great defender at third base when Alex Rodriguez is out of the lineup. Of course did you expect anything less from Chavez? Chavez is a 6 time Gold Glover after all.

Dewayne Wise (B-): June has been Dewayne Wise’s best month so far with a .286 average. It also helps that he got his first home run of the season in the month of June–and how it was a 3 run homer.

CC Sabathia (B+): CC Sabathia is the Yankees ace but he has looked like he doesn’t have great command of his pitches. In 5 starts he’s 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA with 36 strikeouts. It however amazes me when CC doesn’t have his best stuff and then he ends up going into the 7th inning or so which gives the bullpen a break.

Hiroki Kuroda (A-): Hiroki Kuroda in the month of June has been flat out terrific. He’s 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA with 32 strikeouts. It’s also Kuroda’s first winning month of the season. Kuroda was 2-3 in both April and in May. Impressive, huh?

Ivan Nova (A+): Ivan Nova in the month of June has been flat-out dominant. He’s 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA  with 22 strikeouts. He’s also 9-2 on the season which is very impressive. Who said that Nova was going to have a Sophmore slump?

Andy Pettitte (B+): Andy has sure been good in the month of June, which is why his record is 1-1 with a 3.08 ERA. Both of Pettitte’s starts were good, even the loss (if you take out the 5 run 1st inning from the Mets). Andy, are you sure you’re 40, because you’re pitching like an All-Star.

Phil Hughes (B+): Phil Hughes has been great for the Yankees in June going 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA. The only thing that stopped him from getting an A-? He’s given up 7 HR’s in the month of June. Other than that, he looks like the Phil Hughes of 2010!

Cody Eppley (B+): Cody Eppley has been one of the biggest surprises in the Yankees bullpen only giving up 5 earned runs in 18 innings which results in a 2.50 ERA. He’s also held opponents to a .234 average against him. It helps to have a right handed side armer, doesn’t it?

Clay Rapada (A+): Clay Rapada has emerged from the Yankees bullpen and has became one of my favorite pitchers to watch. He is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and holds batters to a .071 average against him! I had been rooting for Rapada to make the team since Spring Training so it makes me glad that he has a chance to show Joe (Girardi) what he can do.

Freddy Garcia (A): Ever since being placed in the Yankees bullpen, Freddy Garcia has been dominant. He’s 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and holds batters to a .190 average. I’m still a little iffy about Garcia though since I don’t fully trust him, but he’s been doing well so I tip my cap to him.

Boone Logan (A):  Boone Logan is in Clay Rapada territory meaning that he has one of the lowest numbers in the bullpen. He’s 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA while holding batters to a .107 ERA. This bullpen just gets better and better, doesn’t it?

David Robertson (A-): David Robertson was on the DL for a bit but when he came back he was a little rusty in his first outing which explains the 2.45 ERA in June, but since then he’s been Houdini. Stranding batters and striking them is all apart of Robertson’s description. Girardi has been cautious of Robertson since he is just coming back from an oblique injury, but he’s having another great year.

Rafael Soriano (A+): Can anyone say ‘lights out’? Soriano is having a ridiculous month with a 0.96 ERA in the closer role. It makes the Mariano Rivera season ending injury a little less painful when you have someone who is already a closer in the bullpen. Soriano, keep it up.

Cory Wade (F): Cory Wade in June is very baffling. The guy has an 11.05 ERA and seems to be having trouble straightening himself out. Well, Wade better get it together soon or he might be wearing a new uniform in the Yankees organization. Maybe a Scranton Wilkes-Barre uniform?

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