The first thing I’d like to do is thank everyone who became fans of “Yankee Yapping” on Facebook. It’s great to have a following on the ‘net, and I hope everyone enjoys the blog every week and the other postings each day.
Anyway, away we go!
My thoughts on…
Road Trip and Why the Yankees Didn’t Get Washburn
It’s been an up-and-down road trip for the Bronx Bombers to this point, as they’ve gone 3-4 over their last seven games.
Taking two of three from Tampa Bay was a great thing and a good way to start the trip, but it all came tumbling down for some reason when the Yanks got to Chicago.
Game one of the four game series wasn’t terrible; we just caught a bad break in the bottom of the ninth and we lost, 3-2. But respect to Nick Swisher for keeping us alive in the top half of the ninth with that solo home run.
The White Sox turned it on and just beat us down in the next two games, and the Yanks really didn’t help themselves. They played some sloppy defense and didn’t get great pitching on Friday night. Sergio Mitre, simply put, was awful. It was disgraceful to watch as a Yankee fan.
Friday was also the non-waivers trade deadline and I was hoping for the Yankees to make a pitching move. One name that kept popping up was Jarrod Washburn, but it just didn’t happen for the Bombers.
The unfortunate truth is that the Yanks called Seattle about Washburn who has put up some decent numbers this year (Washburn was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA at the deadline) But the Mariners wanted either Jesus Montero or Austin Jackson in the deal. Unwilling to part with either one of those top prospects, the Yanks tried to negotiate for lesser players and called Seattle to inquire.
But Seattle never got back to the Yanks, giving them the opportunity to trade Washburn away to the Tigers. And it proved to hurt the Yanks, seeing as how poorly Mitre pitched in Friday night’s 10-5 loss (three innings, five earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and one strikeout)
So instead of a pitcher, the Yanks added utility man Jerry Hairston, Jr. Coming over from the Cincinnati Reds and only playing in two games for the Yanks thus far, Hairston already has three hits, two RBIs, and a run scored.
Hairston has also played some solid defense in the last two games, earning himself a “Web Gem” on Sunday night’s edition of “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN. He made a great, diving stop at third base to prevent a hit in the first inning of Sunday’s game.
Good pickup for the Yankees in Hairston, but we could have used a starter.
For as bad as everyone said A.J. Burnett looked on Saturday afternoon, I personally didn’t think he was that horrible. He walked a batter with the bases loaded in the second inning, an inning that the White Sox scored six runs.
But if you took a close look at the pitch that was called ball four, it was not a ball. That pitch was right over the plate and knee level, but the umpire refused to ring it up. Burnett only walked two batters and he struck out four over the 4.2 innings he pitched, but he was getting no help from the umpires and overall wasn’t terrible. The Yanks lost big, 14-4.
Finally the Yanks pulled out a win in Sunday’s game, winning 8-5 and hopefully gaining the momentum back for tomorrow’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In yesterday’s 8-5 win, it was a banner day for Melky Cabrera. He started the Yanks off on the right note with a home run in the top of the second.
He then went on to double in the fourth, single in the fifth, and triple in the ninth, completing the first Yankee cycle since Sep. 3, 1995 when Tony Fernandez accomplished the feat against the Oakland Athletics.
He also became only the 15th Yankee to ever do it, joining the likes of Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Bobby Murcer among others.
Another interesting stat that came up was that like Cabrera, Mantle and DiMaggio also hit their cycles against the White Sox.
Looking at the emotion on his face after he slid head-first into third base, you could just tell how happy Cabrera was. I think it really meant a lot for him to hit for the cycle, and after the game he was so thankful for Joe Girardi giving him the chance to play everyday.
Remember that Cabrera and Brett Gardner battled for the starting centerfielder job in Spring Training, a battle that Gardner won. But so far it looks like Cabrera is winning the war.
Cabrera has set a career-high in home runs this season with 10 to this point (the most he ever hit in a season was eight coming into this year) and he has been clutch in every facet of his game. He’s made some great catches on defense and has a handful of walk-off hits under his belt.
He was named Pepsi’s Clutch Performer of the Month in May, and he certainly earned it. As of June 9, Cabrera had 23 RBIs on the year, and of those 23 runs batted in, 11 of them either tied the game or gave the Yanks the lead in the seventh inning or later.
At press time Cabrera is sporting a .292 batting average with the noted 10 homers and 40 RBIs. Fans can expect more big things from the clutch Cabrera down the stretch, as this is proving to be his best season yet.
I think the Yanks made the right move not trading him for Mike Cameron in the off-season.
David Ortiz and his use of PEDs
I’m really not surprised David Ortiz’s name was on the list of 104 players that tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
As a Yankee loyalist, I am by no means a supporter of the Boston Red Sox, but I have to say I was disappointed in Ortiz for it. I really have nothing against him personally; I feel he has been the face of their organization for a few years now, and he has such a way about him.
Ortiz seems to keep the Boston clubhouse loose with his attitude and presence, and he’s been doing that ever since he arrived in Boston.
But I cannot tell you how many conversations I had with my best friend about how Big Papi all of a sudden gained legendary power.
We used to say all the time, “he didn’t hit anything when he was a Minnesota Twin. Then he goes to Boston and he’s Mr. Power?” It didn’t make sense then, but it does now.
While a member of the Twins, Ortiz hit a total of 58 home runs over six years. In his first year with the Red Sox in 2003 (which was also the year he tested positive for PEDs) he hit 31 home runs and averaged .288 with 101 RBIs. Before ’03 Ortiz had never knocked in more than 75 runs in a single season.
I would be extremely upset if I were a Boston Red Sox supporter. That would be like finding out Derek Jeter took steroids. It would crush me.
Hopefully the players wise up and realize that if you take steroids, you will get burned. Your reputation gets tarnished and everything you do is looked at differently. Now other players (most notably Torii Hunter of the Los Angeles Angels) are saying Boston’s 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships are tainted.
I would say in a way they are, more so ’04 than ’07. Ortiz was a major reason (if not the reason) the BoSox even made it to the World Series in ’04. He was named the MVP of the ALCS that year—the series Boston rallied back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees.
Speaking of MVP Awards, Manny Ramirez was named the ’04 World Series MVP. He was also caught for using PEDs, so yeah; I would say Boston’s ’04 World Title is looking pretty phony and artificial.
But good performances and timely hitting from clean players like Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell were bigger reasons they won it in ’07. Unless players from the ’07 team test positive for banned substances in the future, I would say they won it fair and square that year.
Upcoming Series vs. Boston
On Thursday, the Yanks start up a four-game series against the arch-rival Red Sox. This is the series that can either make or break either team, and determine which club will have the upper hand in the AL Eastern Division and which one will have to stay afloat in the Wild Card.
At press time the Yankees currently sit in first place with their record of 63-42. Boston is 62-42, ½ game out of first place and even with New York in the loss column.
Girardi is doing the right thing with today’s off-day. He is re-configuring the rotation so that the better of the Yankee pitchers match-up with the Red Sox.
Andy Pettitte and Mitre are starting the two games against Toronto, while the brunt of the staff will go head-to-head against Boston.
Joba Chamberlain, Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Pettitte will be the four pitchers the Red Sox will see (on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, respectively). Right now the Yankees are looking at John Smoltz and Josh Beckett in games one and two of the series, and it is not yet known which two Red Sox pitchers will go on Saturday and Sunday.
The Yankees have not beaten the Red Sox at all this year, going 0-8 against their worst enemies. But the Yanks have an advantage playing at home where they are 35-17 this year.
Whatever happens, the Yankees need to at least split this series, and if not take three out of four or sweep them. If the Yankees and Red Sox finish with the same record and Boston wins the season series against the Yankees, Boston gets the division crown.
So with roughly two months to go, this series may prove to be huge in which team gets the division.
“It’s the master plan…God’s way…Yankees/Red Sox.”–Johnny Damon
That does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. I’ll be back next week with more topics and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!