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Errors & RISP struggles sink Yankees with 7-3 deficit to Rays

You had to figure coming into tonight that the Yankees were going to have a tough match-up with David Price on the mound, and that was exactly what David Price gave the Yankees; a tough match-up. The Yankees were only able to muster 1 run off of Price but it could have been more if the Yankees hadn’t blown their chances.

In the 5th inning the Yankees had a great chance to get back into the game when it was 5-1 at the time with the bases loaded and one out, but Alex Rodriguez & Robinson Cano didn’t get the job done which sealed the Yankees fate. An Alex Rodriguez error also played a big part of the night which allowed a runner to score early. A Nick Swisher error in the top of the 9th gave the Rays a chance to seal the deal and finish the night scoring 7 runs. Curtis Granderson had an abysmal day at the plate going 0 for 5 with 4 K’s & a ground ball out to the pitcher. Yep, the Rays made the Yankees look like the way the Rays were playing when they entered Yankee Stadium.

Chris Stewart (who is not “CC’s personal catcher”) grounded out to bring home one run, Raul Ibanez (who pinch hit for Andruw Jones) lined a base hit to get another run home and Russell Martin (who pinch hit for Chris Stewart) hit a HR in the 9th and was able to keep the Yankees record of not hitting HR’s in a game to 0-12.

The crosstown rival New York Mets come to the Bronx tomorrow to kick off interleague play in the month of June (still don’t really consider it a  “road ” game for the Mets since they are in New York after all.)  Tomorrow’s match-up is Johan Santana vs. Hiroki Kuroda and first pitch (weather barring) is at 7:05pm.

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Pettitte K’s 10 as Yanks blank Rays 7-0

Coming into tonight’s game, the Yankees and the Rays plan to compete for one thing. That one thing is the lead for the AL East. The Yankees turned to Andy Pettitte to close the gap between third and first place and sure enough, Pettitte delivered as the Yanks blanked the Rays 7-0.

Andy Pettitte was his usual self going 7 1/3 innings giving up 0 runs, 2 hits and 10K’s, the most strikeouts Pettitte had since throwing 10K’s on July 6, 2003 vs. the Boston Red Sox.  Freddy Garcia (who hasn’t pitched in exactly 2 weeks) went 1 2/3 giving up 0 runs on 2 hits and 1 K.

The Yankees were aided by 3 Tampa Bay errors which led to 2 of the 7 runs. Russell Martin hit a grand slam as apart of his 3 hit day which was just enough to seal the win.

Tomorrow Ivan Nova goes to the mound vs. Alex Cobb for the Rays. The game is on YES and first pitch is at 7:05pm.

NOTE: With the Tampa Bay loss and the Baltimore Orioles win, the Yankees are only a half game back behind both teams for first place. Let’s see what the Yankees do tomorrow.

What Happened To The Catchers?

The catching position was considered to be the strongest position in the Yankees organization at the start of the season.  That is really hard to believe at this point in the season. Russell Martin has completely fallen off the cliff this season after a solid season last year in which he provided clutch hits and good fielding. In the minors Jesus Montero was traded, Austin Romine has a serious back injury that has kept him out the whole season, Francisco Cervelli will never be anything more than a backup, and Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy are years away. The worst part is there is really not much the Yankees can do to fix this problem.

The Yankees are very fortunate that Martin turned down a 3 year extension worth $20 million. Martin missed his chance as he will not make that much in the open market this winter. Martin is hitting .187, with 4 HR, 12 RBI, and a .667 OPS. The only good thing you can say is his .333 OBP is good for only hitting .187. However, that also makes this all the more worrying. Martin has not been pressing or swinging out wildly out of the strike zone, so him not getting the job done may just mean he is not talented enough. Martin LD % is down to 15% and is BABIP is a brutal .209. Martin did come up with a few big hits in Anaheim so maybe that will help his confidence.  The Yankees would be able to handle Martin’s hitting ineptitude if the rest of the lineup was hitting to its capabilities.

Obviously Martin’s play should call for a benching of some sort, but the problem is they have nobody to replace him with.  Chris Stewart is a career backup for a reason and I have no problem with him as a backup. He has provided some clutch hits this year and has thrown out 38% of base stealers this season. He has a few to many passed balls but between his pitch framing and his arm he is a great defensive catcher. However, given regular AB’s his bat would be exposed just as much as Martin’s has. The Yankees could call up somebody from the minors, but as I previously mentioned there is nobody that would make a big difference. Cervelli has hit worse in Triple A (.254/.322/.333) than he did in the majors last year. While he has shown he can get big hits as a backup, I think if he got everyday AB’s his bat would also get exposed as nothing more than a .220 hitter. While that would even be an upgrade over Martin his defense does not compare to Martin’s or Stewart’s. Cervelli threw out an egregious 14% of base runners last year and with the current state of the Yankees rotation they don’t need players to be having a parade on the base paths against them.

With no internal help at catcher, the Yankees would be wise to look outside the organization for help. Unfortunately there is not much help to be found there either. There are very few good hitting catchers in MLB and teams would be reluctant to trade them at the deadline. Also, this winter’s free agent crop is weak.  Miguel Montero and Yadier Molina have already signed extensions with the D’Backs and the cardinals. Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz are sure bets to have their options picked up by the Braves and the Phillies. Mike Napoli cannot field and will likely command a high salary. A.J. Pierzynski is having a nice year, but is very old, so it s is slim pickings out there. Unfortunately, with no internal options and probably no external options the Yankees probably do not have a choice but to ride Martin out this year . What do you guys think the Yankees should do about the catching position?

Morning Bits: Teixeira, Robertson, Maine, Martin

Good morning everyone and a Happy Saturday to you. Yankees play at 4:05pm today (it’s 1:05pm on the West Coast) and CC Sabathia will take the mound in hopes of having a great outing (he lost the last 2 in a row). Let’s get to the morning links, shall we?

– Mark Texieira seems to be feeling a little better. He hit a 2 run homer and he tried to stretch a double into a triple. The best part? He didn’t cough.

– Looks like David Robertson won’t go ‘Tiger’ hunting after all. Joe Girardi said that it’s impossible that D-Rob will be with the team during the Yankees & Tigers series.

– You guys remember John Maine, 15 time winner for the Mets in 2007 right? Well, he’s a Yankee now. Yankees signed him to add pitching depth since Manny Banuelos is on the DL.

– We all know Russell Martin’s bat has been ice cold for the past couple of weeks, waiting for it to thaw out. But Joe Girardi says that they are sticking by Martin no matter what.

Morning Bits: Tweaking the lineup, Jeter, Martin

Good Morning all.  Good start from Pettitte yesterday only two mistake pitches away from getting the win.  New week and a new series starts tonight.  Let’s start the week of right with some links….

– Not sure if everyone saw this before the game but the Yankees honored former Marine and purple heart recipient Megan Leavy and bomb sniffing dog.  Article is from The Daily News written by Sean Brennan.

– Yesterday the Yankees wore Pink for breast-cancer awareness writes Joey Nowak of mlb.com.

Bryan Hoch of mlb.com has a story about how Russell Martin’s mom is never far from his thoughts.

– Yesterday Jeter tied Robin Yount for 16th all time on the career hit list writes Nowak of mlb.com.

– Everyone check out this article by Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.COM about tweaking the Yankees lineup.  Thoughts?

Kuroda struggles; Yanks fall to Royals 5-1.

You never know what you are going to get from Hiroki Kuroda. You could get “good” Kuroda or you could get “bad” Kuroda. Tonight, it seemed the Yankees got “bad” Kuroda as the Yanks fell to the Royals 5-1.

KURODA STRUGGLES: Hiroki Kuroda was supposed to give the Yankees some depth tonight. Instead, he went 4.1 IP giving up 3 runs on 6 hits. Kuroda honestly to me looks like another A.J Burnett. What I mean by that? Both players show inconsistency when it comes to their starts. Kuroda needs to start being consistent, or this is going to be a long–long year for the Yankees.

MARTIN WAKES UP: For the past couple of weeks, Russell Martin had been struggling mightily. Tonight, Martin’s bat woke up. As a matter of fact, he was the only bat to wake up. Martin went 3 for 4 with a double, a single and a HR, the only run that scored for the Yankees.

GARDNER & SWISHER CLOSE TO RETURNING: The Yankees received good news regarding Brett Gardner & Nick Swisher. Gardner hit on the field and ran the bases and felt no pain whatsoever. Gardner will do it all over again tomorrow and if everything works well then he will have a rehab assignment on Monday and Tuesday. Girardi hasn’t disclosed which minor league team Gardner will play for. Nick Swisher ran from 1st to third approximately 3 times and on 2 of the 3 times, Swisher bowed to his teammates, probably sending a message that he was ready to return.

WHAT’S NEXT: Phil Hughes will get the ball for the series finale vs. the Royals as the Yankees try to even the series at 2 games apiece. First pitch is at 2:10pm on YES Network.

What a wild one! Yanks win 7-6 on wild pitch in 9th inning

NEW YORK– As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Detroit Tigers (10-10). After not having Delmon Young for tonight’s game (he was stuck in court after being arrested), Justin Verlander struggled, Yankees tied the game and the Detroit bullpen let them down as the Yankees (11-8) won 7-6 on a wild pitch.

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE: Ivan Nova didn’t look very comfortable on the mound today but it might have something to do with the cold weather. Game time temperature during first pitch was 45 degrees and it didn’t get any warmer from there. Nova struggled a bit as he gave up 6 runs on 11 hits with 3 walks & 5 strikeouts. It shouldn’t be cold for long, but I bet the Yankees are wishing for 70 degree weather.

Not only did the cold affect Ivan Nova, but Nova felt that he was being squeezed by home plate umpire Joe West. When asked about the squeezed strike zone,  Nova said that he felt that he had balls for strikes but wasn’t getting the calls because of the zone. “At the end of the day it’s the us vs. Verlander. It’s not about me. You’ll see me in 5 days.”

Russell Martin somewhat blames himself for not adjusting his calls due to the squeezed zone. “If I had told him to throw more fastballs, then it could have been a lot different.”

A-ROD HITS 633: Alex Rodriguez had an insane day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a HR. That homer was #633. A-Rod was also at the plate when the wild pitch went past him and scored Jeter.

JETER SNAPS HIT STREAK: Derek Jeter couldn’t get a hit today which snapped his 15 game hit streak. Jeter did get on base in the 9th inning and scored the winning run on a wild pitch. His average dropped from .420 to .400.

IT’S HOUDINI, THE MAGNIFICENT: David Robertson once again had a scoreless inning and even had a runner on base. Robertson is the only pitcher in the Yankees bullpen (aside from Cody Eppley) who has a 0.00 ERA. Robertson also has 24 scoreless innings, dating back to September of last year.

YOUR OUTTA HERE: This has been an interesting game for Joe Girardi. For the 13th time in his Yankees career, Girardi was ejected in the 7th inning. If you didn’t see Girardi’s ejection during the 7th inning then you missed an interesting intermission. Girardi jumped over the Yankees dugout fence to get to home plate umpire Joe West before commencing his argument.

GARDNER TAKES (BUNTING) BP: Brett Gardner was back on the field before the game today taking batting practice, but he wasn’t swinging for the fences. Gardner was cleared to do hitting drills and one of them was bunting. Gardner was only allowed to bunt and do running drills today. If everything goes well, then Gardner will come off the DL next Thursday vs. the Royals.

WHAT’S NEXT: Freddy Garcia will take the mound for the Yankees as the Yankees face a pitcher that they have never seen before; Drew Smyly and once you see his pitches when he’s on track, there is nothing to smile about. The game will start at 4:05pm.

Nova dazzles as Yanks beat Red Sox 6-2 on Throwback Day

The day was supposed to be all about the Red Sox. It was the 100th anniversary of when Fenway Park opened, the Red Sox had every player that was still alive come to the ballpark (except for a select few) and they wore throw back jerseys along with their rivals, the Yankees. There was just one problem; the Yankees diverted the attention from the Red Sox, to them. The Yanks hit 5 HR’s and Nova pitched 6 brilliant innings as the Yankees went on to defeat the Red Sox 6-2 in the first game of a 3 game set.

NOVA DAZZLES: Ivan Nova pitched 6 innings of 2 run ball (although one of the runs shouldn’t have scored) and looked very poised on the mound. Since Nova came back to the Majors last year, he has won every decision and doesn’t look like he plans on stopping. It seems that Nova is going nowhere when it comes time to make the decision about the rotation. It might also possibly be that Nova will head to the #2 spot after pitching like a true #2 starter.

YANKEES CRANK 5 HR’S: The day after Curtis Granderson hit 3 HR’s in a game, some other Yankees were inspired so they hit HR’s themselves. Eric Chavez led the Yankees with 2 HR’s in the game, coming in back to back appearances. Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez & Nick Swisher all added to the fun. It was Martin’s first of the year, A-Rod’s 2nd of the year, Swisher’s 3rd of the year and Chavez’s 1st & 2nd HR’s of the year.

GIRARDI MAKES HEAD SCRATCHING MOVES: The Yankees had a 4 run lead, so there was really no need to bring in David Robertson & Mariano Rivera. Cory Wade seemed to have been doing very well on his own. Robertson had a scoreless inning although he gave up a single and Mariano pitched the 9th, but not before Cody Eppley came in the game to start the 9th inning. He gave up a base hit to Jarrod Saltalamacchia before being lifted by Girardi. For those of you who don’t know who Eppley is, he was claimed on waivers from the Texas Rangers and was placed on the roster after Brett Gardner was moved to the 15-day DL. The only player on the current Yankees team that Eppley knows–Clay Rapada.

WHAT’S NEXT: Yankees and Red Sox will continue with Game 2 of the 3 game set tomorrow afternoon. Freddy Garcia is slated to take the mound for the Yankees (meaning the Yankees might want to make sure that David Phelps is available to pitch if he has to come in during the 2nd or 3rd inning. Just saying.) First pitch is at 4:05pm and it is a FOX game (just letting all the fans that aren’t crazy about Joe Buck & Tim McCarver know ahead of time.)

Spanning the Yankee Blogs: Hughes, DJ4K, Teixeira, Nunez, The Shift

Check out these other great article’s from around the Yankee Blogs.

* An A-Blog for A-Rod is Phrustrated with Phil Hughes.

* Bleeding Yankee Blue asks why not make Nunez and outfielder.

* Bronx Baseball Daily has a story on the Yankees bringing back Jim Leyritz to work for the organization.

* It’s About the Money Stupid takes a look at Russell Martin’s odd offensive start.

* Lady Loves Pinstripes writes how the Yankees are out of Phil Hughes excuses.

* New York Baseball Digest asks where does Derek Jeter’s ascent up the hit chart take him?

* Pinstripe Alley asks what makes a good baseball broadcast?

* River Ave Blues has a great article analyzing Teixeira’s performance as a right-handed batter.

* The Captain’s Blog ponders if Ivan Nova is lucky or good.

* The Greedy Pinstripes writes about whether or not the shift is just a fad.

* The Yankee Analysts asks if Jeter’s hot start will last.

* Yanks Go Yard writes to not bet on DJ4K.

Marlins Park no match for Yankees as Yanks defeat Marlins 10-8

This was the series that was the most talked about all Spring Training. It wasn’t the fact that the Yankees were going to face the new Miami Marlins in an exhibition game. It was the fact that the exhibition game took place at the brand new Marlins Park in Miami which included state of the art scoreboards, a retractable roof, a fish tank (with bulletproof glass) behind home plate, a night club and a swimming pool where fans could leisurely watch and enjoy the game. Still, there was baseball to be played, which the Yankees did in the beginning of the 2 game set vs. the Marlins.

CC Sabathia went 4 innings giving up 3 runs on 4 base hits, Mariano Rivera broke his 28 inning scoreless streak (which dated back to 2008) by giving up 1 run on 2 hits, Rafael Soriano gave up 1 run on 3 hits, Cory Wade gave up 3 runs on 2 hits, George Kontos had a scoreless inning and a third while giving up 1 hit and Juan Cedeno faced 2 batters in the 9th inning without giving up a run and securing the save.

THE GOOD: Aside from the Marlins Ballpark (which is gorgeous, but not as historic as Yankee Stadium) the Yankees came to play in Miami. Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher each had 2 hits apiece while Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Raul Ibanez, Russell Martin & Brett Gardner all had 1 hit apiece. Nick Swisher returned to the lineup after battling a sore groin and came back in style, hitting a HR in the 6th inning which extended the Yankees lead.

THE BAD: Mark Teixeira was 0 for 3 today and the Yankees pitchers (aside from George Kontos & Juan Cedeno) didn’t look sharp today. Maybe it was the fact that they were in a new ballpark. I’ll give Mariano Rivera the benefit of the doubt since this was the first time in a long time that he has traveled with the team during Spring Training.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees stay in Miami for one more game and play against the Miami Marlins. The game (I’m sure of it this time) is at 7:05pm on MLB Network.

Garcia shuts down Tigers as Yankees beat Tigers 4-2 in 10 innings

In game 1 of this 2 game set, the Yankees traveled to visit the Detroit Tigers in a 2011 ALDS rematch. Freddy Garcia & Max Scherzer turned the game into a pitchers duel with the Yankees & Tigers getting to the 7th inning in an hour and 35 minutes since the first pitch until the game got interesting.

Freddy Garcia made it through 4.1 IP with 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 BB & 4 K’s,Kevin Whelan took over for Garcia and pitched a perfect inning, Boone Logan went through 0.2 IP with 1 K , D.J Mitchell went 3 innings giving up 2 runs on 3 hits with 3 BB & 1 K. Cesar Cabral came in the 10th and pitched a perfect inning to get the save.

Raul Ibanez who did not have a good Spring, had a 2 run homer in the 7th inning off Max Scherzer who had a no hitter going until Colin Curtis broke it with a single. Mark Teixeira singled before the homer. The Tigers were able to tie the game in the 9th but the Yankees rallied and won the game on a RBI double by Dewayne Wise that scored Justin Maxwell & Bill Hall.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees will play Game 2 vs. the Tigers but this time at Steinbrenner Field. Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Russell Martin & Curtis Granderson are slated to be in the lineup. Michael Pineda will get the start.

Kuroda, Nova pitch well as Yankees sweep split squad 5-3 vs. Phillies & 6-4 vs. Twins

Today was a bit of a somber day for the Yankees. After hearing news that Joba Chamberlain might not come back this season due to a freak trampoline accident, the Yankees were a bit taken aback and worried. Nevertheless, Joe Girardi was able to send Ivan Nova & Hiroki Kuroda on the mound as the Yankees sweeped the split squad games 5-3 vs. the Phillies & 6-4 vs. the Twins.

Let’s start with the Phillies game. Hiroki Kuroda looked sharp throughout the game. He went 5.2 of an inning giving up 1 run on 6 hits, 1 BB & 3 K. David Phelps finished the game, going 3.1 IP with 2 runs on 3 hits. He had no strikeouts but allowed 1 HR. The 2 regulars Brett Gardner & Robinson Cano made the trip to Clearwater (which is 20 minutes from Tampa) and both did pretty well today. Gardner went 1 for 4 with a double & run scored while Robinson Cano went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI’s & 1 run scored. Francisco Cervelli (who will be the backup catcher to Russell Martin) went 2 for 4 today.

Let’s take a trip to Tampa where the Yankees played vs. the Twins. Ivan Nova was trying to come back from his last outing which we all had to admit wasn’t so good. Nova pitched 7 innings giving up 4 runs on 7 hits and 5 strikeouts. Mariano Rivera came in the 8th & Rafael Soriano came in the 9th and of course, two brilliant scoreless innings. Derek Jeter left the game in the 3rd inning, but there was nothing wrong. Girardi just wanted to slowly ease Jeter back into the game. Before today, Jeter had not played since March 14. Ramiro Pena hit a solo shot while Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s. It would be a wacky thought if Nunez didn’t throw anymore errors because of the HBP in the beginning of the Spring.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Yankees are slated for an ALDS rematch with the Detroit Tigers. The game will not be televised or on the radio. On Sunday the Yankees return to T.V to play once again, the Tigers. Coverage will be on YES Network & WCBS.

The Good and Bad of Spring Training

Joe Girardi (l.) & Brett Gardner (r.) during Yankees Spring Training

During the last couple of weeks, the Yankees have done what the other 29 teams in the league have done; prepare for the regular season in Spring Training. We’ve gotten a sense as to what the pitchers have, what the hitters are bringing to the table and the moves that the Yankees are making as the course of Spring Training goes on. So far in Spring Training, the Yankees have made improvements, but at the same time we are questioning some of the moves that were made.

The Good

1. Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees

When Jack Curry of YES Network first reported the Andy Pettitte signing, I thought it had to be an early April Fools joke. As he continued on, I realized that it wasn’t a joke, that it was actually real. Another core part of the Yankees had returned. While Pettitte may not be ready until May, this was a good signing by the Yankees during Spring Training, as now they have more depth to the rotation in case someone gets injured or if Michael Pineda gets sent to Triple-A (since he still has options). The question is, will we be able to see Pettitte in the Bronx for his first game of the 2012 season or will he decide that pitching wasn’t what he really wanted and re-retire?

2. Alex Rodriguez‘s offense has returned

Yankees fans were pretty iffy, wondering if Alex Rodriguez was going to be able to come back after he posted not so stellar numbers in the 2011 season due to injury. In Alex Rodriguez’s first at-bat, he silenced my doubts. So far in the Spring, Alex Rodriguez has hit 2 HR, 6 RBI’s and is hitting over .300. Not that Spring Training means anything, but so far, Alex Rodriguez is looking good! It would be nice to see Alex keep up the pace when the Yankees play the Rays in 2 1/2 weeks.

3. Phil Hughes keeps having good outings

Phil Hughes is certainly doing all he can to claim a spot in the rotation, and so far he’s doing a really great job. Hughes has 1 loss in Spring Training but other than that, his ERA, his HR number & his BB are pretty sparkling: 1.08 ERA, 0 HR allowed & 1 BB. If Hughes continues pitching the way he’s pitching then there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be in the rotation. Again, I know that Spring Training means absolutely nothing (although it means something to Phil Hughes). In 2010, Hughes was 0-4 with a 4.35 ERA. Who walked away with 18 wins in 2010?

4. Bill Hall has impressed

When the Yankees signed Bill Hall to a minor league contract with the invitation to Spring Training, I was pretty excited to watch him fight for a bench spot on the 25 man roster. If I were Girardi, he would get one of the spots on the roster. So far, Hall has played amazing defense, almost looking like Robinson Cano when he plays 2nd base. His bat is coming along as well, having 3 RBI’s under his belt as well as a HR. Hall also has a desire to play baseball and he looks like he’s having fun out there while doing it. That’s the type of player that the Yankees could use on the bench.

5. Gardner aims to be consistent

During Spring Training, Brett Gardner had one thing in mind that he would like to do this season; he would like to be more consistent. The good news with that is Gardner has done multiple things to work on his game. He has seen Kevin Long where the both of them had worked on his swing, he was spotted trying to bunt baseballs into a white bucket by the second baseline after practice & he likes to lead the Yankees in running drills. Can you blame him? The man loves to run. When this translates into a game, Gardner’s defense is still consistent. He has flashed the leather over the last couple of games and has shown arm strength. He also seems to start to get his hitting together and getting on base more often. Yep, Gardner is looking in great shape coming into Spring Training this year, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 100% healthy coming into the Spring unlike in 2011 when he was coming off of wrist surgery.

The Bad

1. The injury list

No manager wants to go into the clubhouse early in the morning to ask his players how they are feeling and the answer he gets is something that he wouldn’t expect. That’s the kind of spring Joe Girardi has had so far. Girardi has had to deal with injuries from Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eduardo Nunez, David Robertson…the list goes on and on. Luckily all of the players that I listed, don’t have serious injuries. But still as a manager it’s frustrating to go through the spring trying to get your guys healthy and because they are a bit rusty, something hurts. Hopefully the Yankees won’t have a lot of injuries to deal with this season.

2. Was the Pineda for Noesi/Montero deal a mistake?

During the offseason, Brian Cashman made a big splash by trading away #1 prospect Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda. Now as we are watching in Spring Training we are wondering if the trade was such a big splash after all. Along with Russell Martin, Michael Pineda has been working on his change up which isn’t the problem; it’s his fastball. Pineda’s fastball’s velocity last year was 95-98 MPH. This year when he came into camp he would hit 94 MPH on the radar gun occasionally but would periodically hit 91-92 MPH. That’s a dip in velocity, the same issue that Phil Hughes had last year. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi aren’t concerned about it, but should we really be concerned?

3. Raul Ibanez‘s horrid Spring

The Yankees signed Raul Ibanez in the offseason to be their DH after Jorge Posada retired this past offseason. So far, we aren’t seeing what we paid for. Raul Ibanez is hitting .071 this Spring with only 2 hits and 7 K’s. Couldn’t the Yankees have just paid Jorge Posada to come back 1 more year and he would’ve  hit better in the Spring? I’m not going to give up on Ibanez just yet, but he isn’t getting off on the right foot with Yankees fans.

4. Ivan Nova‘s poor outings

Coming into Spring Training, Ivan Nova looked as if he was to be the favorite to get a spot in the rotation. At first when Nova wasn’t pitching all that great, we assumed that it was just some rust. But as time went by, we realized that it wasn’t exactly rust, and that Ivan Nova was having trouble on the mound. Nova so far this Spring is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA. He’s pitched in 8.2 innings and allowed 7 runs on 9 hits. Girardi said that he was going to start observing the pitchers in the rotation around this time, so this should be where Ivan Nova picks his game up. If he keeps having outings like this in Spring Training & the regular season then he’ll get a one way bus ticket to Scranton.

Cano homers as Yankees beat Astros 6-3

Before the game, the Yankees had some great news. Eduardo Nunez returned after missing 2 weeks with a bruised hand, Nick Swisher‘s MRI returned negative meaning that he’s okay to play and Russell Martin is slated to travel tomorrow with the team to Sarasota. So you would imagine that all of the good news that the Yankees had today would translate into today’s game. If you thought so … you were correct.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched 4 innings of 1 run ball, showing everyone why he is the Yankees #2 starter. Mariano followed with a scoreless inning, Cory Wade had 2 scoreless innings, Boone Logan gave up 2 runs in his inning of work and Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless inning, but it wasn’t easy.

Offense appeared today as the first 3 batters in the lineup (Gardner, Granderson & Cano) all scored the 5 runs on the board. Gardner had 2 walks, a stolen base, a strikeout, a ground out and 2 phenomenal catches in the outfield. Yep, not a bad day for the speedy left fielder. Granderson doubled Gardner home in the first followed by an Andruw Jones RBI single shortly after which put the Yankees up 2-0, but the Robinson Cano 3 run blast was really a 3 run blast. The ball left the ballpark and gave the Yankees a 5 run lead for the time being.

WHAT’S NEXT: With Derek Jeter out of the fold, Brett Gardner will get his second start in a row as he, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira & Russell Martin head to Sarasota for the Baltimore Orioles night game. The game is at 7:05pm on MLB Network. Ivan Nova will get the start.

Pineda & Wang duel as Yankees win 8-5 over Nationals

Sure Michael Pineda gave up 2 runs. What pitcher doesn’t give up 2 runs and makes mistakes. Besides of the 2 runs, Michael Pineda looked sharp as the Yankees defeated the Nationals 8-5 in the first game of a 2 game set. The Yankees were facing their former teammate Chien-Ming Wang who looked sharp until a Russell Martin collison at 1st forced him to leave the game with a left hamstring injury.

Pineda’s line was pretty good. He went 3.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 base hits while striking out 4. Clay Rapada is making his case to be the second lefty in the bullpen by going 1.1 innings and giving up only 2 walks. Juan Cedeno went 0.2 innings while giving up 1 run on 1, Brett Marshall went 2.2 innings giving up 2 runs on 2 base hits while striking out 3. Michael O’Connor pitched 0.2 innings giving up 1 hit and Adam Warren ended the Nationals threat by getting out the only batter he faced.

The Good: Bill Hall made his case for a spot on the 25 man roster today, having 2 base hits and driving in 2 runs.Russell Martin also had a base hit for the Yankees. He came out of the Chien-Ming Wang collision unscathed so that was also good news.

The Bad: Brett Gardner had a very tough game, striking out all three times he was at the plate. I know this is Spring Training, but his performance is beginning to worry me (along with Robinson Cano‘s who didn’t play today.)

WHAT’S NEXT: The Nationals will travel down to Tampa and face the Yankees on their turf this time. CC Sabathia is slated to start for the Yankees.

Spring Training Notes: 3/11/12

Today was a CRAZY day for baseball! Yankees played 2 games at the same time which was pretty confusing to follow both games at once, but somehow I managed to get it done! Yankees won vs. the Phillies but lost to the Twins, so that makes their record for the Spring 5-5. Onto today’s notes.

CC Sabathia & Phil Hughes both had GREAT starts today. Here are CC & Phil’s lines for today.

CC Sabathia: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

Phil Hughes: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Here was what CC Sabathia had to say about his start.

 “Felt good. The fastball command was pretty good, the secondary pitches were working. I still got a little ways to go, you know. I still want to work on my two-seamer. But I feel good today… Fastball command (improved). Getting it in on righties, and Russ did a good job making sure we got a lot of those. He called a lot of two-seamers which is something that we’ve been working on all spring. He did a good job of working in things we were trying to do.”

Here was what Phil Hughes & Joe Girardi said about Hughes’s start:

Hughes: “The cutter wasn’t as good as it was last time, but the curveball was much better. Fastball location was much better, as well. Command-wise, it was a lot better, especially in the second and third innings… It seemed like my fastball was good. It was jumping on hitters a little bit based on the swings I was getting. That was a positive thing. Being able to work out of some trouble with guys on, they put together some good at-bats in the first and I was able to get around those.”

Girardi: “I thought he had everything today. Fastball location was much better, he threw some good changeups, curveballs and cutters. I was very pleased. I thought it was a nice step in a positive direction for him. A lot of times at this point in the first couple starts, I’m focusing on the good things. Knowing that they are rusty, you don’t expect them to have their A stuff a lot of times. You want to see what they’ve got the first couple starts. I was pleased.”

– Joe Girardi revealed that Hughes & Sabathia will split their next start, each pitcher to go 4 innings.

– If you think that there is a race to see who can get the most stolen bases this Spring, you might be right. When reporters asked Russell Martin what he thought about that, he said “I’m putting a little pressure on Gardy. That’s all I’m doing.” Well Russell, it seems that Brett got the message because he swiped a bag as well today. Martin has 4. Gardner has 2. Stay tuned for ‘The Stolen Base Race” all Spring long.

David Robertson ditched the crutches today and is walking with the boot. Robertson himself will determine if the boot will come off tomorrow, according to Girardi.

Eduardo Nunez is expected to see some game action on Tuesday vs. the Red Sox. Nunez was shut down yesterday after feeling discomfort in his wrist from a hit by pitch.

– David Robertson has someone to join him on the Yankees injured list: Dan Burawa. Girardi says that Burawa hurt his ribcage and has been shut down for a bit. Burawa wasn’t slated to make the Major League team this year anyway.

– A.J Burnett has returned to Pirates camp after having surgery on his eye following a fracture of his orbital bone while bunting. He’s still slated to miss 2-3 months.

Mariano Rivera makes his own schedule. When asked when Mariano will pitch again, Girardi sounded a bit clueless when he said, “He’ll probably have some days where he has a couple days off. He might throw an inning, do a bullpen the next time, then throw an inning again. He usually gets his seven or eight appearances in, so he’s got plenty of time to do that. There’s no rush.”

Tomorrow’s Yankees game is vs. the Braves and as I mentioned it is on the radio. The next YES game will be on Tuesday night at 7:05pm which is one you don’t want to miss. Michael Kay, Paul O’Neil & Lou Pinella (by the way, my new favorite announcer on YES) will call the Red Sox vs. Yankees game! But we have to get through Monday first…

Not sure if everyone saw this video, but this was during Yankees Baseball Daily a couple of weeks ago with Jack Curry interviewing Brett Gardner. Thanks Alyssa (@TeamDRob) for sending in the video!

http://web.yesnetwork.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=20112211&width=400&height=224&property=yesnetwork

Have a good night everyone!

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