Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yanks See Nunez As Jeter's Sees Heir


From Bill Madden (hat-tip to Was Watching):
Now that Cliff Lee has proven to be postseason beatable after all – albeit one series too late for the Yankees – it is worth reviewing the behind-the-scenes circumstances that made him a Texas Ranger. It wasn't just the Rangers giving in on first-base prospect Justin Smoak at the last minute and trumping the Yankees' trade-deadline offer to the Seattle Mariners for Lee that centered around slugging catching prospect Jesus Montero.

No, the real deal-breaking prospect, as far as the Yankees were concerned, was infielder Eduardo Nunez. Yankee GM Brian Cashman was willing to sacrifice Montero - despite all the scouts' raves about his power potential - because he has a surplus of catchers. Nunez, on the other hand, is viewed by Cashman as a big part of the Yankee future which is why, when Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik asked for his inclusion in the deal as a substitute for injured second-base prospect David Adams, the Yankee GM essentially said: "Enough!" Turns out Zduriencik was right about Adams being potentially damaged goods.... but in asking for Nunez he was asking for the player the Yankees are now viewing as Derek Jeter's successor. Though no one in the Yankee high command is ever going to even speculate about the future after 2011 - especially with the very sensitive contract negotiations with Jeter about to get underway – but it's becoming increasingly clear the plan is to phase out Jorge Posada next season when his contract expires, opening up the DH slot for Alex Rodriguez, thereby allowing Jeter to move to third, making room for a more athletic shortstop, which would be the 24-year-old Venezuelan, Nunez, who hit .289 with 50 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 118 games at Triple-A Scranton this season.

So what's the deal with Nunez? Is he the real deal? Here's what a couple of scouts had to say about him...

"Nunez is your consummate 'tools' guy," said the first scout. "He's got a plus arm, he can hit, has some pop and can run. He has a tendency, however, to get lackadaisical in the field and he needs to learn not to chase so many pitches."

"Do I think Nunez can be a 'plus' major league shortstop?" asked the other scout. "Yes, but he's still got a lot to learn. The ability's there. Will he perform to it? I don't know. I'm just not sure about the makeup. (Robinson) Cano was the same way when he was that age, and he grew up. It says a lot for Nunez that he batted third most of the season at Triple-A. He hit a lot of mistakes which he won't see that much of in the majors."
I knew the Yankees had high hopes for Nunez but this is somewhat surprising. However, with no real good SS options hitting the FA market any time soon, Nunez may be their best bet.

This Week in Yankees History (10/31-11/6)

This Week in Yankees History 

October 31st - November 6th


October 31st

1882 - Former Yankees OF Bert Daniels (1910-1913) was born. Marty hit .257 in 455 games with the New York Yankees, before being sold to the Cincinnati Reds in October of 1913.

1948 - Former Yankees OF John “Mickey” Rivers (1976-1980) was born. On December 11, 1975, he was traded by the California Angels along with P Ed Figueroa to the Yankees for All Star OF Bobby Bonds. In 1976, he hit .312 and was named to the AL All Star Team. He would hit .326 in 1977, but dropped to .266 playing with injuries. On August 1,1979, the Yankees traded Mickey along with players to be named later to the Texas Rangers for players to be named later, OF/DH Oscar Gamble and Amos Lewis (minors). The Rangers would send pitchers Ray Fontenot and Gene Nelson on October 8,1979 to the Yankees to complete the trade. The Yankees would send minor league hurlers Bob Polinsky, Neal Mersch and Mark Softy on October 8, 1979 to the Rangers to complete the trade.

1957 - New York Yankees All Star C Yogi Berra says the team returned fine money to the Yankee players involved in the Copacabana nightclub fight in May. Billy Martin, now with the Kansas City A’s doesn’t get a refund of the fine money by Yankees General Manager George Weiss.

1958 - Former Yankees reserve INF Paul Zuvella (1985-1986) was born. On June 30, 1986, Paul was traded by the Atlanta Braves along with OF Claudell Washington to the Yankees for 1B/OF Ken Griffey Sr. and INF Andre Robertson. Paul appeared in only 35 games for the Yankees, hitting just .172, spending most of his time at Columbus (AAA). On October 15,1987, Paul was released by the Yankees.

1960 - Former Yankees INF Mike Gallego (1992-1994) was born. On January 9, 1992, Mike was signed as a MLB free agent by the Yankees. He appeared in 261 games, hitting .261 for the team. On October 24,1994, Mike was granted MLB free agency, he would sign with the Oakland A’s in the spring of 1995.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Offseason To-Do List

01. Re-sign Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not quite sure what the Yankees can really expect out of Jeter. 2008 and 2010 certainly look like something of a decline, but I'm not quite sure that 2009 is a complete outlier. I'm hopeful that the Yankees won't break the bank here, but I do recognize Jeter's off the field value to the franchise, as well as the fact that it'd be damn near impossible to replace him on the field. Even in a down year, Jeter ranked tenth among shortstops in WAR, and eighth in wOBA. Rivera remains the among the very best in the business, and I'd like to see the Yankees go year-to-year - and I'd be comfortable with a two-year deal, as well.

02. Sort out the starting rotation.
Sabathia, Hughes, and, sadly, Burnett are locks for the rotation. Should Pettitte decide he'd like to pitch another year, I'm sure the Yankees would accommodate him, as would I. My main issue here is that I don't think that it's as simple as finding a fifth starter. With Sabathia's knee surgery, Hughes' inexperience, Burnett's ineptitude, and Pettitte's age and injury issues, I'm not quite sure that I'd be comfortable without another battle-tested starter. As fantastic as Cliff Lee is, I'm not sure he's the answer - I don't trust a balky-backed 30-something to live up to a long-term, high-cost deal. I'd like to see the Yankees scour the market for an arbitration-eligible that may be too pricey for their current team - Wandy Rodriguez, Ricky Nolasco, Chad Billingsley, Shaun Marcum, and John Danks have been mentioned here.

03. Don't hesitate to deal Joba Chamberlain or Brett Gardner
Chamberlain appears to be the very definition of a player needing a change of scenery. As it stands, the Yankees appear dead-set on using him as a reliever and, while his stock may not be terribly high right now, it will only get lower as he garners arbitration raises and grows accustomed to relieving. While Gardner was a revelation in 2010, I suspect that he's likely to have peaked. His base-stealing instincts and reads are questionable, he's very inconsistent, and he can be beaten by a pitcher that's willing to throw strikes. I'm not suggesting that the Yankees deal either for table scraps, but I would hope that Cashman would be open to using either (or both) in the right deal.

04. Bring Leo Mazzone on-board
Mazzone's body of work took an apparent hit when the Orioles staff struggled under his watch, but I'm confident that he could work wonders with the talent the Yankees have on-hand. He has a good reputation as a player's coach, a track record of success, and a desire to come to New York ... and the Yankees wouldn't have to hurt their farm system to hire him, as opposed to promoting Nardi Contreras.

05. Solidify the bench and bullpen
I combine the two as both should be done rather cheaply. Bring back Thames, find a competent fourth outfielder for defensive purposes (Golson works, I suppose), and sort out the utility infielder spot (I prefer Nunez to Pena). A lefty off the bench could work, as well, but they seem harder to find, as most teams can offer more time to such a player. With the bullpen, I'd like to see another lefty. From there, I'm comfortable with working from within the organization. Rivera, Chamberlain, Robertson, Logan, pray for health from Aceves, then filler. Wood is likely to be too pricey, but I'd like to see him back for the right price.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Girardi On Changing The Lineup

From Chad Jennings:
This afternoon, Joe Girardi was asked specifically about the top of the lineup, but he turned the question into a second-guessing of the entire lineup.

“I think we have to look at our whole lineup when we go into next season,” Girardi said. “I don’t think you just look at the leadoff spot. I think you look at every slot and how our club is made up. You always talk about that you can’t look at one guy independently. You have to look at all of your guys and how the parts fit. Our lineup is something that could maybe change a little next year.”

...

“I think you have to look at all the parts we have next year, and do we think about changing it?” Girardi said. “Who’s going to DH for us most of the time? You try to split up all your lefties. I think you evaluate your lineup every year similar to what we did from 2009 to 2010. The parts are going to be different again in 2011.”
The last part is the most important thing right now. It's far too early to have any real idea of what the lineup is going to look like. A signing here, a trade there and the whole thing is completely different. At least we now know there could be changes at the top. After all, Jeter should have been removed from the leadoff spot back in August.

News & Notes: Girardi, CC, Pitching, Parking

- The Yankees and Joe Girardi made his three-year, $9M deal official today.

- CC Sabathia had his knee surgery.

- The Yankees began internal discussions about the pitching coach job today...
“We want to get it done as quickly as possible,” Girardi said. “But we want to make sure we cover all our bases and make sure we interview as many people as we need to.”
I assume one of the writers asked him about Mike Harkey and Scott Aldred, because according to Chad Jennings, Cashman said he would consider them for the job.

- Parking at Yankee Stadium will go up again next year.
The owner of the financially troubled Yankee Stadium parking system plans to hike game-day rates by as much as 50% next year in a last-ditch effort to avert defaulting on millions in tax-exempt bonds.

Stadium self-parking prices will zoom from the current $23 to $35, while valet prices will go from $36 to $45. That's according to financial documents filed last month by garage owner Bronx Parking Development.
Take the train.

No Yankees = Bad World Series Ratings

From Chad Jennings:
Game 1 of the World Series was the top-rated program on television last night, and drew the fifth-largest prime time audience of the week. Among Adults 18-49, last night’s game averaged a 4.7 rating to give FOX its best night of prime time television in that demographic since the network’s American Idol finale in May.

Even so, compared to last year’s World Series Game 1, last night’s audience was down 25 percent in ratings and down 23 percent on average audience. Compared to the last non-Yankees World Series Game 1 — Phillies-Rays in 2008 — the opener was up 3 percent on viewership.
Not surprised by this at all. Are you?

Official Elias Rankings Released

The official Elias rankings for the upcoming offseason were released yesterday, here how the Yankees free agents ranked:

Type A:
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Derek Jeter
  • Andy Pettitte
Type-B:
  • Lance Berkman
  • Kerry Wood
  • Javy Vazquez
Having these guys qualify as Type-B's means the Yanks would receive a supplemental first round draft pick in next year if they sign elsewhere. However, to receive those picks the Yankees would first have to offer each player arbitration. Considering they haven't done that in two years, and the money it could cost if one or more players accept, I wouldn't expect that to happen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mazzone Hoping To Join Yanks (or Mets)

From Justin Terranova:
Leo Mazzone is looking for a job in New York.

The former Braves pitching coach said Thursday he would love to take on the same job with either the Mets or Yankees. Mazzone was asked on Sirius/XM’s Mad Dog Radio if there was any particular job he would be interested in.

“Yeah, there certainly is,” Mazzone said. “And it has New York in front of it, too. I mean, it can be in the American League or the National League.”
I'd have no problem with bringing on Mazzone and seeing what he can do with this staff. He certainly did the job in Atlanta, not only with the great pitchers on that staff, but with the mediocre ones he helped turn into to quality starters. And while he clearly didn't have the same success when he came over to the Orioles a few years ago, he didn't really have that much to work with.

Girardi & Yanks Agree on 3-Year Deal

From Mark Feinsand:
The Yankees and Girardi agreed to a three-year contract worth $9 million, the Daily News has learned. The two sides are putting the finishing touches on the deal, which could be announced as early as today.
No surprises here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Un Be LEE Vible!

Yeah....I know....I'm a hypocrite...I said I didn't want to hear anything more about "Superman" but nothing was sweeter than watching Cliff Lee get pummeled by the Giants and their apparent use of KRYPTONITE tonight! Look at him almost running away from the mound. Don't worry Cliff, it'll be okay....just don't stop running till you hit the Bronx!

CC on His Surgery: "It's no bid deal"

From Joel Sherman:
"It's no big deal," Sabathia told the Daily News in a text message. "I'll be ready to throw by December 1 like always."

Sabathia will begin therapy immediately after the surgery, according to the Yankees. The lefthander is scheduled to begin his regular routine in preparation for spring training between 3-6 weeks after the surgery, which goes with the timetable the pitcher described.

...

"It's been nagging me all year," Sabathia said. "It never affected me on the mound, just the days after my start."
I know some of you are very concerned by this, but I'm not. It seems very minor. If he has another knee injury next season, then I'll start to worry. A lot.

Options Declined For Berkman, Johnson, and Wood

From the Yankees PR department:
The Yankees today declined the options for Lance Berkman, Nick Johnson and Kerry Wood; excercised option for Andrew Brackman
Those options were $11M for Wood, $15M for Berkman, and $5.5M for Johnson, so these were obvious decisions for the Yanks. Berkman gets a $2M buyout and Johnson get $250K.

I do think they should look try to resign Wood, just not for anything near $11M.

Winter League Weekly Update - 10/27/10

Arizona Fall League

Through thirteen team games, the Yankees farmhands have been somewhat up and down, which is to be expected. My primary concern lay not in the raw numbers produced over the short-season, but rather the peripherals and approaches demonstrated. The pitchers have thrown a tremendous amount of strikes, limited walks, and induced a fair amount of grounders. The hitters have been incredibly aggressive, which has paid off for Laird, but not Romine and Pirela, it seems. And with the gloves ... that's another story altogether.

Manny Banuelos, LHP
10.0 IP, 15 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 3.60 ERA, 0.85 G/F

Banuelos was knocked around a bit in his last start, mostly due to his fastball being straight, with little movement (perhaps his biggest issue). However, his fastball continues to top-out around 95 MPH, a marked improvement over the past couple of years, and his command of his offspeed stuff is commendable.

Craig Heyer, RHP
7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 2.57 ERA, 2.80 G/F

While I still believe his fate lie in the bullpen, Heyer has impressed thus far in the AFL. He doesn't garner many swings and misses, but his pitch-to-contact approach has worked quite well as he's induced very weak contact (with the majority of balls in play on the ground) through three appearances.

George Kontos, RHP
7.1 IP, 12 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 4.91 ERA, 2.0 G/F

That Kontos has been knocked around a bit in three of five appearances is somewhat disconcerting at face value. However, the context of the AFL is incredibly hitter-friendly, and a priority isn't placed on glovework. Truth be told, Kontos is controlling the strikezone, garnering swings and misses, and keeping the ball on the ground. His fastball has also ticked back upwards a bit, a good sign.

Ryan Pope, RHP
7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 2.57 ERA, 1.29 G/F

Pope has looked fairly strong thus far, with his fastball and breaking ball gaining movement and velocity as he becomes more accustomed to pitching in relief. With the Yankees bullpen in constant flux, continued progress from Pope could see him with the club in April.

Austin Romine, C
.242/.265/.333, 0 HR, 1 SB, 1:7 BB:K, 33 AB

From Fangraphs: "If anything stands out from today, it’s that Austin Romine is not the polished defender that Yankees fans hope. Romine is actually a bit of a mess defensively, allowing three balls to the backstop that shouldn’t have been throughout the day. On one occasion, the ball went back because Romine was more worried about showing off his plus arm to the scouts, with the runner on first stealing second ... Romine’s power grades out the best, as he hit a ball that he didn't square up perfectly off the top of the wall in right center, about 400 feet in all."

Jose Pirela, SS
.094/.147/.094, 0 HR, 2 SB, 2:9 BB:K, 32 AB

And his glove may have been just as bad as his bat thus far. Moving along.

Brandon Laird, OF
.341/.386/.634, 2 HR, 0 SB, 3:8 BB:K, 41 AB

Laird has swung a hot bat thus far, and his glovework in left field has been reasonably decent. Check out this interesting piece on Laird from Baseball America.

Mexican Winter League

I'm not sure that any of these players are a factor in the Yankees plans for the future, barring occasional garbage time duty. Gil is an interesting pitcher, with solid stuff and some success in the low minors, I suppose.

Eric Wordekemper, RHP
5.1 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 2.00 G/F, 10.13 ERA

Francisco Gil, RHP
4.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 3.50 G/F, 13.50 ERA

Justin Christian, OF
.418/.439/.636, 3 HR, 8 SB, 2:8 BB:K, 55 AB

The optimistic side of me asks, "The next Andres Torres?" The realistic side of me says, "I'm an idiot for even acknowledging my optimistic side."

Walter Ibarra, SS
.268/.340/.341, 0 HR, 1 SB, 4:9 BB:K, 41 AB

Venezuelan Winter League

My interest in Schmidt is not quite enough to make me care, as Montero has yet to make an appearance.

Josh Schmidt, RHP
14.0 IP, 9 H, 7 BB, 15 K, 2.57 ERA, 0.60 G/F

I still like Schmidt as a potential middle reliever - he's essentially a poor man's Kyle Farnsworth, who really wouldn't have been as much of a disaster had he not been counted on as the 'Bridge to Mo.' His flyball numbers are a bit disconcerting, though.

Jose Gil, C
.367/.375/.567, 1 HR, 0 SB, 0:5 BB:K, 30 AB

Gil could be an interesting back-up catcher, as he has a solid glove and some pop ... but there's a long list of catcher waiting to make their mark with the Yankees.

Luis Nunez, SS
.200/.200/.200, 0 HR, 0 SB, 0:0 BB:K, 10 AB

Marcos Vechionacchi, 1B
.343/.378/.400, 0 HR, 3 SB, 2:5 BB:K, 35 AB

Edwar Gonzalez, OF
.143/.250/.286, 0 HR, 0 SB, 1:3 BB:K, 7 AB

Puerto Rican Winter League

Albaladejo is here, as well, but has yet to make an appearance.

Rene Rivera, C
.286/.375/.714, 1 HR, 0 SB, 1:4 BB:K, 7 AB

I think he could be a solid back-up catcher - potentially better than Cervelli, for what it's worth.

Dominican Winter League

A potentially solid bullpen arm, and...

Jonathan Ortiz, RHP
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.0 G/F

Ortiz has showcased good control and swing-and-miss stuff in the low minors. He's older for the level, at 25, but I'd like to see him given a heavy push upwards.

Wilkins Arias, LHP
1.2 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.0 G/F

Zack Segovia, RHP
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.0 G/F

CC To Have Minor Knee Surgery

From the NY Post:
CC Sabathia was diagnosed with a minor meniscus tear of the right knee that will require surgery, The Post has learned.

Sabathia was diagnosed yesterday at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and is expected to undergo surgery in the coming days. The Yankees do not consider the procedure significant and expect Sabathia to recover within three weeks and be fully ready for spring training.

Nevertheless, the worry with signing Sabathia to the largest-ever pitching contract always had been the two Ws: weight and workload. He has carried a lot of both, and, thus, it is hard to look at any surgery -- especially on a joint -- as minor.

A Painful Finish, An Uncertain Future

Some time has passed. The wounds are still fresh, but rehashing the injury won't remedy the situation. To be blunt, the better team won. It isn't often that phrase is uttered with the Yankees not being the team referred to. A lack of clutch hitting, subpar pitching, and questionable managing will doom a team, and this most recent ALCS demonstrated just that. Give the devil their due: Texas hit, pitched, and ran better than the Yankees, and while Ron Washington certainly had a quick hook for pitchers not named Cliff Lee, he looks a lot more astute than Joe Girardi and his black binder. The Yankees got beat. Nobody took it from them. Nobody cheated them. They only have themselves to blame, and as they were cleaning out their lockers, I hope they took enough time to tip their collective hats to the Rangers. I underestimated the erstwhile Senators, and I'm sure that I'm not alone in that statement.

What to do about making this a blip on the radar and not a disturbing trend will be the true test of Brian Cashman's mettle this offseason. Age and under-performance, when coupled together, aren't easy demons to exorcise. That is not to say that the situation is dire and we are looking at a return of the days of Horace Clark or Dallas Green, but some work needs to be done.

Obviously, age is a concern. Derek Jeter struggled for the better part of the year, and the other members of the Core Four all suffered injuries at some point. Mariano still appears to be the most effective closer in the game when healthy, but Jorge looks to be better suited to being a full-time (or at least 75%) DH, and Andy is always teetering on the brink of retirement, Brett Favre without the huge downturn in public image. I have no real concern that Jeter and Rivera will not be resigned. I just wonder if Father Time and large, lengthy contracts will prove bitter enemies.

Ineffectiveness plagued the Yankees in 2010, and for them to return to the promised land in 2011, that needs to be rectified. Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher are productive regular season players, but the postseason seems to be their bugaboo. Tex is locked in for 6 more years, so he isn't going anywhere, which is good, as his glove is almost as valuable as his bat, and to lose him would create two voids that wouldn't be easily filled. However, I wonder if the Yankees will try to move Swisher, as they may see him as expendable, especially for a starting pitcher. Perhaps Swisher, Romine, and Joba (another ineffective performer) would be a good starting point for Kansas City to consider trading Zack Greinke.

On the surface, it seems laughable, but consider these elements: Swisher would give Kansas City a much-needed power source for the middle of their lineup, Romine has fallen behind Montero on the Yankee catching depth chart, and Posada's presence muddies the waters and hinders both players' growth, while Joba is from nearby Nebraska, and after the constant juggling of his role, he may welcome a change of scenery, which would come with a chance to start and be closer to his family. Kansas City would get three fairly cheap players capable of producing for them immediately in a competitive division, while moving a player who will become increasingly expensive in Greinke. That also hedges the Yankees' bet if Cliff Lee's wife really hates New York after her treatment by the fans during the ALCS. However, I don't know if Greinke has the right makeup for New York. Lest we forget, he did leave the game for a year to deal with personal problems. Assuming he is up to that task, a rotation of CC, Greinke, Pettitte, Hughes, and the unmovable AJ Burnett or Ivan Nova would be quite acceptable.

Lance Berkman showed that from the left side, he can still rake, but I think that he will look for a starting first base job elsewhere, creating a vacancy at DH. Replace the Big Puma with the Big Donkey. Adam Dunn's swing, when he connects, is tailor-made for Yankees Stadium. Moving Swisher would also open the door to signing Carl Crawford, and the Yankees would then have the fastest outfield in baseball, almost without doubt. A Rays fan that I know has said that Crawford seems to take days off, but I wonder if his attitude would change in front of 45,000 a night as opposed to 18,000 at the Trop. If the lineup plays out as Crawford, Jeter, Tex, A-Rod, Dunn, Cano, Posada/Montero, Granderson, and Gardenr, that would be formidable to say the least.

Bullpen-wise, I would love to see Kerry Wood return, but the Yankees won't pick up his option, and he may look to close for another team. That would mean that David Robertson, in all likelihood, would assume the mantle of the eighth inning. Maybe the Yankees will see if Bobby Jenks is available, although physical conditioning and attitude may be issues with him, although that hasn't dissuaded them in the past.

In order for the Yankees to avoid a slide due to aging and ineffectiveness, they need to make quite a few difficult decisions for the 2011 campaign. I don't envy Brian Cashman right now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heyman: Yanks to Give Girardi 3 Years, $9 Million

Jon Heyman is reporting that the Yankees will begin talks with Joe Girardi on Monday and that the team is expected to resign the manger for three years and between $9 amd $10 million.

Lee's Agent Says Angry Fans Won't Keep Lee Out of NY

From Andrew Marchand:
During the AL Championship Series games in New York between the Yankees and Rangers, fans were extremely rude to Kristen Lee, spitting and throwing beer in her direction and shouting obscenities, according to USA Today.

But the treatment apparently did not change how the Lees feel about New York.

"The story is not an issue to us," Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, told ESPNNewYork.com. "Her experience in New York is certainly a non-issue. She enjoys New York as much as anyone enjoys New York."

...

On the flip side of Kristen Lee's bad experience in New York is her close relationship with CC Sabathia's wife, Amber. They have been close since Sabathia and Cliff Lee played together in Cleveland.

Cliff Lee and Sabathia are friends as well. The Sabathias and Lees already were discussing where the Lees should live when it appeared as if the Yankees were going to make a trade for Lee in July.
All anyone should take from this report is that Lee's agent is doing his job.

How much does the asking price for Lee drop if other team's knew the Yankees were out of the sweepstakes?

That's right, a lot less, 10's of millions of dollars less, which means everyone loses including Darek Braunecker.

Yankees Sign Dominican Prospect Wilmer Romero

From Melissa Segura:
Source: Yankees sign standout July 2 prospect Wilmer Romero, cf of DR's La Academia. Don't have bonus info now but imagine it's significant
All I could find out about his age is that he's supposedly 16, but you never know with players out of the DR. Blake Bentley ranked the center fielder 5th in his Dominican Republic July 2nd prospects top ten list. A few weeks earlier he wrote this about Romero:
Wilmer Romero, an outfielder from Santo Domingo, has the toolset to demand seven figures, writes Bentley. The previous unknown stands 6'2'', has good speed, a strong arm and plus power.
Since I know nothing more about him, here's a couple videos of Romero taking batting practice:

Did Yankees fans hurt Yanks chances of landing Lee?

From Bob Nightengale:
Perhaps the Rangers' greatest sales pitch simply was having Kristen sit in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.

"The fans did not do good things in my heart," Kristen says.

"When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it's hard not to take it personal."
It's bad enough that the fans at the stadium this October were a quiet embarrassment, but now we find out that a few morons may have actually hurt the Yankees chances of landing Cliff Lee.

If you want to make light of this that's fine. There is a good chance this will all come down to money anyway. But remember how important CC's wife was in his decision making process, and then imagine a few months earlier a New Yorker, and better yet, a Yankees fan, spit and threw beer on her?

Monday, October 25, 2010

No Front-Runners For Now Vacant Pitching Coach Job

From Ken Davidoff:
Yankees will look inside and outside organization for Eiland's replacement. No obvious favorite.
Does anybody top your list?

Cashman: People Are Telling Me Montero is Ready

From Ben Shpigel:
Girardi said he would have to “think long and hard about” whether Jorge Posada can be expected to catch 120 games next year. The Yankees believe that Jesus Montero, their top catching prospect, will challenge for playing time next year.

“Is Montero ready for the big leagues?” Cashman said. “I have people who believe he is. He’s going to have to prove that.”

I think it's pretty obvious that Posada's days as an everyday catcher are coming to an end. Could the Yankees afford to leave him behind the plate for 100+ one more year? Sure they could, but why push it?

If Montero is ready, or if enough people within the Yankees organization believe he's ready, I'd love to see the Yankees give him a shot to start next year.

As for Jorge, I think he could be a very valuable DH.

Pettitte Dealt With Back and Hamstring Issues During Playoffs

From Marc Carig:
Pettitte's back was locked up, hamstrings tight, leg grabbed in G2 of ALDS. Pitched G3 in ALCS to give him extra time to recover.
Ben Shpigel also reports that if the ALDS had gone five games Pettitte probably wasn't going to be able to pitch. So now know why Girardi decided to flip Pettitte and Hughes in the rotation.

Even with all the injuries, Pettitte was easily the Yankees best pitcher this October. In 14 postseason innings, Andy allowed just 4 earned on 10 hits, walked 1 and struck out 9.

I really hope this wasn't the end for Pettitte. Not only do I think he's still got at least another year or two in that arm, but with a rotation full of question marks the the Yankees are going to need him in 2011.

Dave Eiland Is The First To Go

Dave Eiland is the first casualty of this year's ALCS collapse. Here's a quote from Cashman via Mark Feinsand:
"He's not being blamed for what took place. ... I hope you believe me on that.
I would assume a lot of this has to do with A.J. Burnett turning into one of the worst pitchers in baseball this year. However I think that has a lot more to do with Burnett's weak mind than Eiland not doing his job. So not only did A.J. probably cost the Yankees the division with his horrible season, but he cost Eiland his job. Well done, A.J.

The regressions of Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson couldn't have helped much either.

What Could Have Been...


Wonder what happens to all these things....I actually wouldn't mind getting my hands on one of these....kind of a sick, twisted, collector's item...wouldn't you say?

I know the T-Shirts and hats go to impoverished nations, but Pennants?

Case in point....take a look at this lovely T-Shirt celebrating the 19-0 season by the Patriots....oh wait...that didn't happen either (Thank You David Tyree!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Week in Yankees HIstory (10/24-10/30)

This Week in Yankee History 

October 24th - October 30th


October 24th

1887 - Former Yankees OF Hugh “Lefty” High (1915-1918) was born. On February 4, 1915, Hugh was purchased by the New York Yankees from the Detroit Tigers. His best Yankees season was in 1916, when hit .263 for the Yankees.

1904 - Former Yankees P William “Harry” Smythe (1934) was born. Harry went 0-2 in 8 games with Yankees before being picked up by the Brooklyn Dodgers on waivers.

1927 - Former Yankees minor league OF Jim Greengrass was born. Before the 1944 MLB season, Yankees signed Jim Greengrass as an amateur MLB free agent, as a 16 year old outfielder. He spent 2 seasons (1944-1945) in the low minors before going into the military for 2 years (1946-1947). After his military service was over, Jim worked his way up in the New York Yankees organization to the Newark Bears (AAA) in 1949, but then was sent back to the lower minors to work on becoming a pitcher. But after losing 5 games, Jim was switched back to the outfield. In 1951, Jim would have his best professional season yet, for the Muskegon Reds (Central), hitting a league leading .379 BA with 18 HRs. In 1952 for the Beaumont Roughnecks (Texas), he would hit .276 with 22 HRs. On August 28,1952, he was traded by Yankees along with pitchers Johnny Schmitz and Ernie Nevel and OF Bob Marquis and $35,000 to the Cincinnati Reds for veteran hurler Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell. Jim would play for the Reds and then the Philadelphia Phillies until 1956.

1930 - The New York Yankees released reserve C Bubbles Hargrave (1930). Bubbles Hargrave hit .248 in 45 games as a reserve catcher for the 1930 Yankees.

1939 - The New York Yankees CF Joe DiMaggio is named the 1939 AL MVP, with 1B Jimmie Foxx of the Boston Red Sox as the runner-up. Joe hit .381 in 120 games with 176 hits, 30 HRs with 126 RBIs for the Yankees. The Yankee Clipper was the top hitter in the AL with his .381 BA.

Out Of Left Field: Postseason Wrapup Edition

Wow...what a difference a year makes! One year ago today, we were getting ready for the next night's Game 6 of the 2009 ALCS, Greg posted the story of my son Tyler here on the blog, and I posted my first comments on the site that would become a second home to me. Here we are, 365 days later, saddened by the ultimate outcome of our season, and resigned to the fact that we will not be playing in the World Series.

I have seen many headlines over the past few days calling our Yankees a $210 Million Dollar Bust, among other things, and I just can't accept that. While some (players and fans alike) believe that is is always World Series or BUST with our Yankees, I don't tend to feel that way. Would I like it if the Yankees won every single year? Sure I would...but that is just not feasible. The only thing that disappointed me in this last series, was that the Yankees seemed to play without any heart or determination. They were flat out embarrassed. Outplayed in every aspect of the game, they really should have been swept. At least if they had shown some signs of life and made each game somewhat competitive, I could appreciate it more...but this time there was none. That is how our season ended this time. So who's to blame.

If you must...you can start with Joe Girardi. Did he make some boneheaded moves, and rely on his binder too much? Sure he did, but he also didn't ground into DP's with men on base, or throw gopherballs to good hitters. Robbie Cano (.348), and Curtis Granderson (.294) couldn't make up for Tex (0-14), A-Rod (.190), Gardner (.176), Jeter (.231), or Thames (.125). On top of that when you throw in the fact that our ALCS ERA was 6.58, and I think that you get the picture...

Truth is, Texas wasn't that bad of a team this year. They sort of remind me of a younger version of our own Yankees. I don't think that continues next year if they don't lock up Cliff Lee, but with Hamilton, Andrus, Young, Cruz, etc. they have got a great lineup that could serve them well for years to come, and now that they have beaten us, I look forward to the revenge factor next year. These two teams make for an interesting rivalry.

What has amazed me so far, is the outcry of Yankees fans about how horrible this team is. What is all that about? I have been a Yankees fans since I was about 5. That puts us back in 1979. I suffered through the lean years of the 80's...when we didn't even know what the postseason was. I watched on WPIX 11 on July 1, 1990 as Andy Hawkins pitched a no hitter and LOST...I remember rooting for Hensley Bam-Bam Meulens (Congrats on it to the World Series with San Francisco as their hitting coach), and wondering when Stump Merrill and Dallas Green would get fired (Talk about your crappy managers). I remember the sheer agony I felt when the Yankees made it back to the dance in 1995, only to lose a heartbreaker in Seattle in game 5 of the ALDS. I also remember the sheer joy of the title in '96, and the three that followed in '98, '99, and '00. Oh yeah, I seem to remember something about a title last year as well.

The point is folks, we are (and I have said this before), a spoiled lot. We shouldn't be ready to bury a team just because they lost in the playoffs. That just makes us seem like Phillies fans. Be proud of the fact that we made it to game 6 of the ALCS, when 26 other teams were dying to be in our posistion. Be proud that we have the best owners in the sport, who will put as much money and resource behind this team as they can to bring you championship caliber baseball every year. Be proud to be a hated fan of the EVIL EMPIRE! They hate us for a reason...not because we buy up every one in sight...not because we have a certain air of arrogance around us...but because we are WINNERS! Yes folks, even when we lose...we are still winners at heart. We know what it takes to succeed, and when we get knocked down, we always rise again to fight another day!

I have enjoyed writing for SIH this year, and I wanted to thank Greg for giving me the opportunity to do so. He does such a great job with this blog, and he is to be commended. He is a person who never backs down from writing what he believes, and is never afraid to stand up against it when others try to smack him around for it. Congrats Greg on another great year at SIH!

I would also like to thank all the other writers here at SIH for continually trying to make this the best blog in the Yankee Universe. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming months to figure out what we can do next year to make this blog even better! Keep the ideas coming folks (I personally have a couple of things up my sleeve that I will divulge at a later date.

I would also like to thank YOU...the readers of the blog for chiming in on our posts. Whether or not you agree with us, you always keep us on our toes. Keep up the good work.

Finally, please do not forget that there is also a companion forum to this blog at


It is a great place to come and discuss whatever you feel like you want to discuss, Yankees related or not. There is even a chat room there that I am going to try to get a couple of events going in this offseason. We didn't have a lot of response this past season for it, but it is such a great tool, so get on over there and register!

Allright boys and girls, I have probably outlasted the attention span of some of you, so good night. I'll be seeing you this offseason. Hot stove is right around the corner, and soon enough it will be spring training (with a little bit of Cliff Lee throwing from the mound in Tampa maybe). And remember...LET'S GO YANKEES! DRIVE FOR #28 in 2011!



Some News & Notes Since The Season Died

I haven't looked at anything Yankee related in about 24 hours and apparently there's been some news. Here's some of it:

- The SF Giants beat the Phillies last night to set up what should be the least watched and cared about World Series in history.

- Damaso Marte had labrum surgery this Friday and will begin throwing again after the 2011 All-Star break.

- Javier Vazquez has already been linked to the Washington Nationals... See ya Javy, don't let the door hit you on the way out.... I still can't believe they gave up Arodys Vizcaino for this guy.

- Andy Pettitte isn't sure what he's going to do next season, which is better than knowing he is going to retire.

“I wish I could tell you, I really do,” Pettitte said. “I wish I knew. I’m just not sure. The only thing I know right now is I love taking the mound every fifth day. Unfortunately there’s a lot of other stuff that — at this point, at this stage of my life –that I don’t like about baseball. It obviously just has to do with the family.

“Just go home, let this settle in, and really probably try not to think about this for a little while. And then just figure out what I want to do. I don’t want to make any rash decisions. I wish I knew. I really do. I wish I know what I was going to do right now, but I just don’t.”

I think Andy has at least one more year left in that arm and if he does come back the Yankees starting staff will be in a lot better shape heading into next season. Without him, it's really just CC and a bunch of question marks.

- After Friday night's loss, Brian Cashman said that bringing back Joe Girardi will be the first priority of the offseason. Starting pitching and resigning Jeter and Mo are also tops on his list.

Wait till next year

Having my share of gray hairs and more lost ones, I may have a greater appreciation than most SIH writers of the 15 post-season appearances in 16 years and 5 Championships in those seasons. Not that there is not disappointment when we don't reach our annual goal but there must be perspective as well. I have lived as a fan through the Horace Clarke era. I have lived as a fan when everyone hated GMS instead of wearing his tag as he ruined the Yanks of the 80s (no playoffs 82-93). I have lived as a Jets, Knicks, Rangers fan with less championships between them all compared to the Yanks. I have an appreciation for the Core 4 that goes beyond words. Jeet, Mo, (Hip Hip) Jorge and Andy seem more like family members than most of my blood relatives. This has been an incredibly fun run. Do I question some of Girardi's on-field decisions? Yes, but I also acknowledge that he is a heck of a nice guy and not an embarrassment like the departed #1.

Just to shift gears for a moment - I am sick and tired of hearing about payroll. We are living in the age of the greatest competitive balance in baseball. The rules are set up so that any level payroll team can be competitive if managed properly. The 10th & 27th payrolls are in the World Series. Different playoff teams and champions almost every year bespeak that balance and show that the Yanks' sustained excellence is not just about money but mostly about an excellent organization. George was outspending everyone in the 80s too but it wasn't until he got suspended and then mellowed that great baseball minds renewed the dynasty. The perennial low payroll loser/whiners just need to look at the Rays, Twins, Marlins, Rangers, etc to see what's possible if you draft, develop & spend wisely. Can the Yanks afford to make a few more mistakes? Sure, but often we have to live with them & they become our downfall - e.g., Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, etc. All in all, being a Yankee fan in this era of competitive baseball, great stadiums & great popularity of the national pastime (despite strikes & steroids) has been a joy ride.

So, let's resign Jeet, Mo & Andy (C'mon Laura, give us a couple more years - you and the kids will have him the rest of your lives) and Jorge needs to groom Jesus to be the next Yankee superstar. Perhaps it was destined that we not get Cliff Lee (and a 2010 Championship) so that Montero will help us to win many more. Perhaps next year's ALCS will end with Lee pitching TO Montero. I think the best thing the Yanks could do this off-season other than making a big play for CC's friend is to move Tony Pena into Montero's house for 4 months and turn his vast potential into a legitimate catcher.

So, after an appropriate period of disappointment (I was going to say mourning but that seems more appropriate when talking about Johnny Blanchard, GMS, Bob Shepard, Ralph Houk, etc), it is time to look forward. We scored the most runs in baseball in 2010, and that was with down years from half our starters, all of whom will be better next year. Phil Hughes took a huge step forward, despite the ALCS, and will be a great Yankee. With him & CC anchoring the staff, prospects look good. The 3-5 spots in the rotation and catcher will be the keys to the 2011 edition of the greatest team on earth. So from a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn: Jesus saves! (Jesus Montero that is – Rookie of the Year 2011 leading the Yanks back to the promised land).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blame the Dreaded Small Sample Size

As is the case in any season that ends without a World Series victory, fans the world over are looking for some unsavory scapegoat with whom to lay the blame for the Yankees postseason exit. Some are blaming Girardi, and his management of the bench, the bullpen, the line-up, the rotation, and the feng shui of the locker room. Others are blaming Cashman for poor roster construction. Many are blaming the players, for being old or unfocused. Some are blaming the umpires. Few, however, are pointing out that the Yankees were simply dominated by a younger, and perhaps better team.

At the plate
The Rangers - .304/.378/.512, 14 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 9 SB (1 CS), 24 BB, 43 K
The Yankees - .201/.300/.370, 10 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 2 SB (1 CS), 25 BB, 52 K

On the mound
The Rangers - 3.06 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 52 K, 25 BB, 4.07 FIP
The Yankees - 6.58 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 43 K, 24 BB, 4.72 FIP

Sure, two of the intentional walks blew up in the Yankees' collective face - but Girardi didn't groove a fastball down the middle to Molina or hang a slider over the middle to Guerrero. Burnett and Hughes did, and Girardi has to play the hand he's dealt. Yes, Matsui or Damon could have potentially outhit most of the line-up - but Cashman didn't bat .166/.254/.294. Jeter, Posada, Swisher, Rodriguez, and Teixeira did, and they weren't going anywhere. In short, the team as a whole didn't execute in any facet of the game.

Here's to the hot stove season, where we learn the fates of Pettitte, Jeter, Rivera, and the numerous other names the Yankees are sure to be linked to, however tenuously. Here's to Spring Training, where we'll see a glimmer of the future, with Jesus Montero scorching the ball. And here's to next season, where hope springs eternal.

RIP 2010

Well, I guess I could insert a Zen-like, annoying, cliche right here, but we all know that this team hasn't looked like the 28th Championship team in Yankees history for about 2 1/2 months now. The Rangers thoroughly outplayed our Yanks in the ALCS, but that being said I am not rooting for them in the Series. No way, no how, I'm sorry.

Last year, all of Girardi's decisions worked out perfectly, this year they didn't. That's just baseball. It could have been vice versa. Some of his decisions were completely bone-headed and stupid, making me wonder why I ever cared if he went to Chicago. The way he managed this team since August 1st was disgraceful. Not to mention, short of Cano, CC, Wood, and Mo, every player on this team played like crap for extended periods of time this season. This team will look a bit different next year, hopefully for the better.

This wound will take quite a while to heal. As like every year from 01-08, this year ended in a disappointment.

That's about all I've got, but I have one thing for you readers.

Yanks 11. 28 in 2011. Live it. Breathe it. Spread it. One year is long enough, it's time for the Champs to be where they belong.

112 days til' spring training, ladies and gents.

Yanks Roll Over in Game 6, Rangers Head To The Series

I don't have much to say about that pathetic performance by the Yankees, not only in last night's embarrassment but the entire ALCS. Well, I do, but I don't want to go over it now. The wound is still too fresh and I might call someone a gutless bitch or something.

But like I said a few days ago, only Robinson Cano (Maybe Pettitte, Mo, Wood and Berkman, too.) doesn't deserve blame for this one. Although Cano was also invisible last night. Most of the decisions Joe Girardi made this October left me and my other fans I've spoken too shaking their heads. I'm starting to wish the Cubs job was still open.

Here's a statistical look at the disastrous ALCS for the Yanks. It should give you a good idea of what went wrong---everything!

Offense:
Rangers: .303/.378/.512, 9 SB
Yankees: .201/.300/.370, 2 SB

Pitching:
Rangers: 3.06 ERA, 1.47 WHIP
Yankees: 6.58 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

Anyway, expect an offseason of chance, because that's what happens when the Yankees don't win. Cashman is already looking ahead:

“It’s not something that’s on my mind right now. We’ll deal with that stuff this winter, and winter is upon us. Now we’ll start that whole process of assessing what our needs are, begin negotiating with the guys to try to bring those guys back, and then look at the trade and free agent market.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

ALCS Game 6: Yankees @ Rangers - Time to Force a Game 7

***** LIVE CHAT AT BOTTOM OF POST *****

Game 6
Yankees vs. Rangers
Rangers Ballpark - Arlington, TX
Game Time: 8:07 p.m.
TV: TBS | Radio: WCBS 880


Here are the lineups:

YANKEES (2-3)
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lance Berkman 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada C
Marcus Thames DH
Brett Gardner CF

Pitching: RHP Phil Hughes (1-1, 5.73 ERA)

RANGERS (3-2)
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
David Murphy LF
Bengie Molina C
Mitch Moreland 1B

Pitching: RHP Colby Lewis (1-0, 1.69 ERA)

***SIH Live Game Chat***

The Game 6 Lineup, A Chat Reminder, And Some Music From Rocky

There will be a live chat on the blog tonight starting at 8PM. As always, it will be in the game thread and run through the end of tonight's game -- hopefully a Yankees win. Here are then nine that Joe Girardi is sending out there:

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lance Berkman 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada C
Marcus Thames DH
Brett Gardner CF

... And now, a little inspiration:


Don't Ask Nick Swisher About Cliff Lee

First from Andrew Marchand:
With the Yankees facing Texas Rangers starter Colby Lewis in Game 6, Swisher did not take kindly to a reporter asking teammates a couple lockers down about Lee.

"You guys are talking about Cliff Lee?" said Swisher out loud in a room full of reporters. "[Expletive], who cares?"

As he walked off, Swisher said, "I can't wait to hit against his [behind]."

Later, when asked about saying this out loud with reporters present, Swisher cut off a question when the words "Cliff Lee" were uttered.

"I'm not talking about Cliff Lee," Swisher said. "I don't give a [expletive]."
But that wasn't the first time Swisher got upset over questions about Lee. There was also this from Wallace Matthews:
After last Saturday's Game 2 here, Swisher was deluged with questions about Lee in advance of his Game 3 start at Yankee Stadium. After the waves of reporters had dispersed, I overheard Swisher say to one of my colleagues, "If one more guy asks me about Cliff Lee, I'm gonna punch him right in the (bleeping) mouth.''

Since I've never been able to pass up an invitation like that, I immediately walked over to Swisher and asked, "So what about Cliff Lee?''

Swisher wheeled around with murder in his eyes, and then stopped and laughed. "Please, ask me about him after the game,'' he said, "Ok, bro?''
He's got a big mouth, but at least the dude is honest. I can't really blame him either. It must be very annoying to be asked about the same guy 100 times, then lose to him and go over all the same questions a few days later. I know I would be about ready to punch someone.

Heyman: Yankees Plan on Bringing Girardi Back

From Jon Heyman:
The Yankees plan to bring back manager Joe Girardi at a raise, no matter what some fans may say about his reliance on his ever-present binder. He is well-liked by Yankees honchos Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine and Brian Cashman.
This just backs up what most of us already assumed.

Lupica to A-Rod: Step Up

From Mike Lupica:
The Yankees showed up on Wednesday in Game 5, they did, hundred percent. Now they have to do it again in Texas, or they become another big, bad Yankee team of this decade that got hit somewhere before the World Series and never recovered.

You know who is supposed to show up Friday night for Game 6? Alex Rodriguez. So far he has three hits in the series and only one of them - two-RBI single that Michael Young should have made a play on, eighth inning of Game 1 - has mattered. There have been times when he seemed perfectly happy to take a walk, leave it to Cano when Cano was still hitting behind him.

This game Friday night, then in Game 7 if the Yankees make it, would be a good time for A-Rod to remind us that October and November of 2009 actually happened.

Cano isn't supposed to have to carry this offense on his own. Carrying an offense is supposed to be Rodriguez's job description. Rodriguez got his numbers this season, the way he always does in the end, got to 30 home runs and 125 RBI, even hitting just .270. Friday night he is the one who's supposed to hit the ball over the fence, do something to get his team to Cliff Lee. This is the night when big Yankees show up, make the kind of swing A-Rod made against the Twins in the last postseason, the Angels, the Phillies.

It is a good thing he did knock in those two runs in the Game 1 rally, or this October would remind people, exactly, of the ones when he looked like the easiest out on the team.

He's not the only one in the order who hasn't shown enough stick. Derek Jeter has hits, but has struck out six times. Mark Teixeira was 0-for-14 before he got hurt. Nick Swisher is .105. Maybe the home run that Swisher hit in Game 5 is the start of something for him. He is another Yankee who has to know that you are ultimately judged around here on how you play when the team is trying to get those 11 wins in the postseason that Reggie Jackson is always talking about.

But the one home run that Swisher has is one more than Rodriguez has. Cano has four. Josh Hamilton has four. Rodriguez still hasn't hit one out. Friday night would be a good time.

When Ron Washington was asked about the way Cano and Hamilton have gotten after it, almost like they have gotten after each other, the Rangers' manager said, "Those two guys are two guys who are difference makers." The difference maker for the Yankees one year ago was Rodriguez. Time for him to do it again.
If the Yankees don't move on to the World Series it will not be A-Rod's fault. That said, this is one of those rare occasions when I agree with Lupica. It is time for A-Rod--along with a few others--to step up their game and get this team back to the Fall Classic. Cano can't and shouldn't have to do it all himself.

Hughes "Thrilled" At Chance to Rebound From Game 2

From Chad Jennings:
"I didn't want my season to end on that last start," Hughes said. "I look at this as a great opportunity. ... It's not like we are in the driver's seat here. We are still in this series, and we have to win (tonight), and that's the bottom line. I feel good going into it, and I think the rest of the guys in the clubhouse feel the same way."

...

"I'm just thrilled to have this opportunity again," he said. "It wasn't guaranteed that I would have another start in the series, and I'm just happy to be able to pitch and turn in a better start than my last one."

Hughes said he hopes being on regular rest will help, and he feels prepared to make adjustments against this dangerous Rangers lineup. For the most part, though, Hughes said his start will come down to execution. Not much different from any other start.

"I had as much if not more adrenaline in my first (playoff) start against Minnesota, and that certainly wasn't the problem," Hughes said. "It was just being very predictable, and throwing a lot of fastballs, and hitters' counts that were mistakes. (That) is what it boils down to. Have to do a better job of that, and I'm confident that I will."
Here's what an AL scout had to say to John Harper about the right-hander:
"He forgot to pitch [in game 2]," was the way the scout put it by phone Friday. "I got the feeling that he had so much success with his fastball against Minnesota (in Game 3 of the AL division series) that he fell in love with the idea of being a power guy.

"He's got an above-average fastball and when he locates and uses his cutter and his curveball to help set it up, he can be effective against any lineup. But when he got in any trouble against Texas, either in bad counts or runners on base, his answer was to try to throw harder, and he stopped locating. You can't beat anyone that way, especially that team.

"To me, he's a poised kid who got caught up in the moment a little too much, and that can happen to anybody in the playoffs, especially on the road. I'll be real surprised if he doesn't do a better job of using all of his pitches, getting in better counts and going fairly deep into the game."
I'm not sure what to expect from Hughes tonight, but obviously, if they're going to push this to a game seven they're going to need a big start from him.

What do you think, does Hughes deliver and send the Yankees to game 7 on Saturday?

If Called Upon, CC Ready To Provide Relief

From Ed Price:
After Thursday's workout at Rangers Ballpark, the Yankees ace said he will be in the bullpen for Game 6. The Yankees trail the Rangers three games to two.

"I can probably throw 45 pitches (or) 50 tomorrow," Sabathia said.

...

"Let's see how he feels tomorrow," manager Joe Girardi said, "but our plan is that he will be available for us."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baseball America's Jim Callis on Jesus Montero

Each week, Callis answers a few user-submitted questions on the wonderful world of prospects. This week, Callis tackled the following question (edited for space):
I've been having a heated debate over who should be regarded as the best hitting prospect left in the minor leagues, with Indians catcher Carlos Santana [snip] included in the discussion. My vote would go to Yankees catcher Jesus Montero, based on his scouting reports, track record and the way he dominated Triple-A pitching in the second half of the season. [snip] Who do you see as the best hitting prospect among players remaining in the minors and Santana?
Callis' response, also edited for space:
I'd take Montero, too, for the reasons that Grant suggests. I don't have confidence he's going to stay at catcher for the long term, but I fully believe in his bat. There isn't a minor leaguer who can match his ability to hit for average and power. He started slowly this year but rebounded to hit .351 with 14 homers in 44 games in the second half—as a 20-year-old in Triple-A. A career .314/.371/.511 who always has been extremely young relative to his competition, Montero has strength, bat speed and the ability to barrel balls seemingly at will.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, has more raw power than Montero but isn't as polished or pure a hitter.
I'm very excited to see how Montero fares in the upcoming swath of prospect rankings, and even more excited to see him in pinstripes ... perhaps as early as next spring.

Yanks Finally Finish Off the Wood Deal

Earlier today the Yankees completed the deal that brought Kerry Wood to the Bronx, a deal most Yankees fans are very happy about right now. To finish off the deal they sent Minor League infielder Matthew Cusick and right-hander pitcher Andy Shive to the Tribe as the players to be named later.

Expect a Bidding War Between Yanks and Rangers For Lee

From the NY Daily News:
The Yankees may plan to use their bottomless wallet to lure Cliff Lee to the Bronx in the offseason, but the Rangers aren't planning to let the dominant lefty go without a serious fight. That's the message that new Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg sent before Wednesday's Game 5.

"We're not going into this with a pea-shooter," Greenberg said.

The Rangers endured a slew of financial issues earlier this year, before Greenberg's Rangers Baseball Express LLC group purchased the team in August. Greenberg said the Rangers are now "in very solid shape financially" and would be able to make Lee a competitive offer.

In Greenberg's eyes, Texas offers more than money. The Rangers are Lee's fourth team in two seasons. Greenberg has stressed that Arlington can be Lee's home.

"For a pitcher of Cliff's stature to be passed around as routinely as he has been, to my knowledge has been unprecedented in Major League Baseball," Greenberg said. "We want to show Cliff and his family that we operate like a family business...and that this is a place where he could really feel at home."

Not that Greenberg plans to low-ball his ace; he said he'll offer Lee a contract befitting his skills.

"That doesn't mean it's a great place to live, so let's have a big discount," he said. "But he's going to be at that rarified level where he has the luxury of making a lifestyle decision. We hope that bodes well for us. We know that we are going to have to be aggressive financially. And we're prepared to do that."
I still think they end up with Lee, he just may cost them a little bit more now.

Funny Animated GIFs From The ALCS





You can view a larger version of each, along with many more, here.

Winter League Weekly Update - 10/20/10

First, we'll deal with the Arizona Fall League, keeping in mind that it's an extremely offensive-friendly environment. While certain lessons and information can be drawn from players performances, it's important to realize the context - where information is available, I'll do my best to offer some insight beyond the numbers. As of this update, the Phoenix Desert Dogs have played seven games.

Manny Banuelos, LHP
6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.0 G/F

Banuelos has shown a fastball in the low-90s, a deceptive change-up in the high-70s, low-80s, and an 11/5 curve that he controls nearly as well as his fastball. The only concern stuff-wise is that his fastball tends to be a bit straight, making it a very hittable pitch when he leaves it up and over the plate.

Craig Heyer, RHP
4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 2.25 ERA, 4.5 G/F

A low-90s two-seamer is Heyer's lone weapon. He demonstrates fantastic control with it and garners a ton of grounders, but his lone offspeed pitch is a mediocre slider which he doesn't throw for strikes. Keith Law suggested he could be a valuable reliever with improvements to the slider, but he's unlikely to be a starter.

George Kontos, RHP
4.1 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 4.15 ERA, 1.5 G/F

Just over a year removed from Tommy John Surgery, Kontos is an interesting pitcher. His fastball has been sitting in the low-90s (having previously been a mid-90s offering, occasionally hitting the upper-90s), but his slider appears to be all the way back, working as a swing-and-miss pitch. I don't see him as a starter, as his change-up has never really progressed, but he could be an excellent reliever.

Ryan Pope, RHP
3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 G/F

Pope was drafted as a starter, throwing four pitches in college with decent feel and command. Since his professional debut, however, his progress has been underwhelming, and he hasn't shown much confidence in anything besides his fastball. Moved to the bullpen this summer, Pope's fastball ticked up from the low-90s to the mid-90s, where he has sat thus far. His slurvey breaking ball has shown marked improvement, as well.

Austin Romine, C
.333/.333/.429, 0 HR, 1 SB, 0:5 BB:K, 21 AB

Romine has looked rejuvenated thus far, having rested up a bit since his longest professional season behind the plate. It's too early to draw much of anything from his performance with the bat, but it's nice to hear that he's been hitting line drives to left and center thus far.

Jose Pirela, SS
.125/.176/.125, 0 HR, 1 SB, 1:5 BB:K, 16 AB

While Pirela's glove has drawn incredibly mixed reviews, the most popular sentiment seems to be slightly below-average shortstop, slightly above-average second baseman. I can't find anything on his glovework in the AFL, however. With the exception of his tremendous speed, however, Pirela doesn't seem like much of a threat to hit at the Major League level.

Brandon Laird, OF
.350/.381/.600, 1 HR, 0 SB, 1:4 BB:K, 20 AB

With Laird playing the corner outfield positions in the AFL, the Yankees seem to be either converting him to a four corners player, or showcasing him for potential trade suitors ... or both. The only thing I've heard about his work in the outfield thus far is that he's been 'fine.' I'm not sure what to draw from that, but I suppose middling praise is worthwhile.

Next, here's a list of the other Yankees prospects playing Winter Ball:

Mexican Winter League
Justin Christian, OF
Walter Ibarra, SS
Eric Wordekemper, RHP
Francisco Gil, RHP

Venezuelan Winter League
Jesus Montero, C
Emerson Landoni, 2B/SS
Edwar Gonzalez, OF
Eduardo Sosa, OF
Jose Gil, C
Luis Nunez, SS
Marcos Vechionacchi, 1B
Juan Marcano, LHP
Josh Schmidt, RHP

The rosters for the Puerto Rican and Dominican Leagues have yet to be released, but I'll keep my eyes open and post them as soon as possible.

And, finally, here's a quick link for the stats of every Yankees farmhand in any of the Winter Leagues. I'd suggest bookmarking it, as updates are made daily, but I'll be posting weekly updates with a bit of insight. Also keep your eyes open for my personal top-twenty prospects list, coming soon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Heading To Texas

Yanks win 7-2. CC goes six, allowing just 2 runs on 11 hits, walked none, and struck out 7. Game 6 is Friday, Phil Hughes vs. Colby Lewis.

ALCS Game 5: Yankees vs. Rangers - Send this thing back to Texas!

Game 5
Yankees vs. Rangers
Yankee Stadium - Bronx, NY
Game Time: 4:07 p.m.
TV: TBS | Radio: WCBS 880


Here are the lineups:

YANKEES (1-3)
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Marcus Thames DH
Lance Berkman 1B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia (1-0, 7.20 ERA)

RANGERS (3-1)
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz LF
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Treanor C
Mitch Moreland 1B

Pitching: LHP C.J. Wilson (1-0, 2.03 ERA)

Drunk Yankees Fan Just Misses Ripken With Beer


(Hat-tip to Awful Announcing)

Today's Lineup: Let's Send This Back To Texas

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Marcus Thames DH
Lance Berkman 1B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia

Out Of Left Field: "Glass Half Empty....Or Half Full?" Edition.


Here's a quote from the great Blutarsky:

"Over. Did you say over? NOTHING is over until we say it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL NO! And it ain't over now! Cause when the goin gets tough...the tough get goin! Now who's with me? Let's go!"

And here is another one, although I have changed it slightly for today's game

"What the fuck happened to the Yankees I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst. "Ooh, we're afraid to go with you Robert, we might get let down.Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I'm not gonna take this. CJ Wilson, he's a dead man! Colby Wilson, dead! Cliff Lee.."

So here we sit, down 3 games to one, to a Texas Rangers team that has not only beat us, they have EMBARRASSED us, and did it all while looking smug in the dugout (Go back and watch the games, if it isn't too painful, and look at the way they are looking while we are down for the count). So what happens now? It would appear in the end that the answer is nothing good.

Let's start with tonight. We have to feel great about this game. CC pitching at home...enough said. We get a day off, and then head to Texas with Phil Hughes, who should be competent enough to get us through that game as well. Should we do all that and even this series up at 3 games a piece, what do we get rewarded with? A fully rested and healthy Cliff Lee in game 7. Ouch!

So what should our Bronx Bombers do now. Do we lay down and let the Rangers have their way with us tonight? Should we sit back and cry, lamenting the loss of Mark Teixeira to a blown out hammy? Should we allow a season that started with so much enthusiasm to end on these terms? Simply put the answer is F#$# NO!

Take the embarrassment of the past few nights and use it to your advantage. Throw it right back in their faces, and show them who the World Champions are. We all know what this team is capable of, now is the time to put that out there. Back in 2004 the Red Sux were down 3-0 to us. They took the "one game at a time" approach. After all, they knew they couldn't win game 5 without winning game 4 first...which they did. Then they knew they couldn't win game 6 without winning game five...which they did also. You all know the rest of that tale.

So this team needs to look at the glass as half full (CC tonight), instead of half empty (no matter what, Cliff Lee in game 7). Let's get to that game 7 first. I never thought I'd take a page from Terry Francona's book, but after Game 3 of that 2004 ALCS he said:

"It starts looking a little daunting if you start looking at too big of a picture,"

And that my friends is the truth. So let's start with baby steps this afternoon. Then we can start to worry about game 6, and hopefully game 7.

Most of the readers of this blog know me as the rational one...the one who doesn't lose his composure and always looks at the lighthearted and sunny side of things. That started to change last night. But thanks to Durden, and Mateo, I woke up this morning with a little bit of renewed life. I know I'm going against what I just said a few paragraphs ago, but just imagine that we come back and do end up taking this series. Down 3-1 we would have gone and beat the Rangers 3 straight times, including beating the "unbeatable" Cliff Lee. Now isn't that a great story to be able to tell your kids and your grandkids? I think it is.

So once more, as I said before the Minnesota series...

Break out those good luck charms, put on your best Yankee regalia and root your pinstriped heroes on.

WE CAN DO THIS!

Tex Done, Eduardo Nunez On His Way

It is confirmed, Mark Teixeira is done for the remainder of the playoffs with a Grade II strain of the right hamstring. He will need 6-8 weeks to recover and will be ready to go for the 2011 season.

Eduardo Nunez has been called up to take his place on the roster.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yanks Lose Again, Now On Brink of Elimination

With the Yankees leading 3-2 with two men on and nobody out in the 5th, Mark Teixeira grounded into a fielder's choice and pulled his hamstring and was forced to leave the game. I guess it was a sign of things to come because from that point on this game was a complete disaster for the Yankees.

An inning later, Bengie Molina gave the Rangers the lead for good when he took A.J. Burnett deep for a three-run homer. Texas then pulled away from there as the Yanks bullpen was a mess for a second night in a row. By the time the dust settled, the Yankees had lost 10-3, and are now one loss away from a very long winter.

Blame can and should be shared by all, from Joe Girardi on down. The only player on this roster who has done his job has been Robinson Cano, otherwise everyone else has been complete garbage.

Maybe this team has a miracle comeback in them--I hope they do--but after watching these last three games I just don't think it's in the cards. This team hardly looks like the defending world champs. But if they are going to comeback, it's going to start with CC tomorrow. Time to step up big fella. Nobody else has.