Results tagged ‘ Brett Gardner ’
Call the New York Yankees “butter” right now, because they are certainly on a roll.
Tonight the Bronx Bombers continued their winning ways and beat the Baltimore Orioles by the same score they beat them by last night, 4-1. They have won 15 of their last 18 home series, extended their winning streak to three games, and have now won eight of their first nine series this season.
Only three other Yankee teams in history (1928, 1939, and 2003) have won eight of their first nine series, so obviously the 2010 group is standing out and has gotten off to a magnificent start.
A pair of plays and players stood out tonight…
This youngster did a wonderful job filling in for Jorge Posada, who is battling a balky right calf muscle. Francisco Cervelli was 3-for-3 with a triple, a bunt single, and two runs scored.
Not bad at all.
The Cisco kid was also playing amazing defense, making a beautiful catch to end the top of the fourth inning. Garrett Atkins popped a foul, high-fly ball toward the Yankee dugout. Cervelli kept his eye on the ball the whole way and falling stomach-first over the railing, made the putout.
Manager Joe Girardi actually caught Cervelli and bench coach Tony Pena nearly got toppled as he landed practically on top of him. It was a huge out, because there was a runner on third and the game was tied 1-1 at that point. That brilliant play prevented the O’s from going ahead, which certainly could have changed the complexion of the game.
I noticed as Cervelli rounded second base he flipped off his helmet. I guess he had to, since it is much bigger than a normal helmet. Because the young catcher has sustained multiple concussions in his career, he has to wear that funny-looking headpiece.
It makes him look like Gazoo from “The Flintstones.” Or maybe “Dark Helmet” from “Spaceballs”…
At any rate, Cervelli stole the show tonight. A few hits, a pair of runs, and a web gem. Not a bad night at the office. He must keep up the good work, especially since Posada has been hurting.
Once again, A.J. Burnett came out dealing like a man on fire. (Had to change it up; the “blackjack in Vegas” line is actually getting old, but that’s a good thing!)
The number two hurler tossed 7 1/3 innings tonight and gave up only one unearned run on five hits. He walked just two batters and he struck out eight.
Last week Burnett started against these same Orioles and only struck out four hitters. He seemed to be pitching to contact a lot more and was a lot more effective; he got a lot of fly ball outs and also induced a few outs on the ground. Tonight however, he was striking more batters out with a fastball, which was dancing all over the strike zone.
Burnett did not rely so much on his breaking ball tonight, but when he did throw it, he got the ball to move nicely. Girardi said after the game his curve ball was “outstanding, he used it effectively, and it had great depth.”
Could not have said it better myself.
The top of the third was really Burnett’s only hiccup. He allowed a run on a throwing error, but quickly settled down. With runners on second and third and no one out, he struck out Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters–all swinging–to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Maybe instead of “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett” I should call him “Harry Houdini-Burnett.”
Now with a record of 4-0 and ERA of 1.99, Burnett’s next start will come Sunday night against the Red Sox. He has not had much success in the past vs. Boston, but after tonight he may have given us all a reason to have more faith in him.
He is off to the best start he has ever gotten off to in his career. And by the way, he hasn’t allowed an earned run in each of his last four starts.
–Derek Jeter started at the designated hitter spot tonight while Ramiro Pena got the nod at short. Jeter was 1-for-5 but Pena had a sacrifice fly and two RBIs in the game.
He knocked in his first run in the bottom of the third, bunting and reaching on an error to drive in Brett Gardner and give the Yanks the lead. His sac fly came in the eighth to give the Yankees’ their 4-1 lead.
–Greg Golson got called up today and Mark Melancon was optioned back to Triple-A. Golson didn’t have an at-bat tonight, but he made a nice catch in center field to rob Miguel Tejada of extra bases. A HUGE play and a great catch!
–Alex Rodriguez has not been hitting well lately, but he was 0-for-2 on the night with an RBI bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth. Even when he isn’t killing the ball, he is still helping the team win.
–Mariano Rivera did not pitch tonight, because of that “discomfort” he spoke about after Friday’s outing vs. Chicago. Joba Chamberlain (playing the role of “Joba the Heat”) came in and slammed the door for the second time in as many games.
Chamberlain now has three career saves. He isn’t doing badly as an understudy, but he can’t get too comfortable in the closer role. Rivera will probably be back by Friday.
–Before the game, Jeter mentioned that his favorite food to eat in a restaurant is chicken parmesan. I guess I’m a man after his own heart–that is my all-time favorite dish!
–The Yankees are now 18-8, 10 games above .500. If Tampa Bay loses to Seattle tonight, we are dead-even and tied for first place in the AL East.
–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees look to sweep the O’s. Andy Pettitte (3-0, 2.12 ERA) will lead the Yanks into battle against David Hernandez (0-3, 4.55 ERA)
I’d also like to take this moment to remember Ernie Harwell, the famous broadcaster, who passed away tonight. He is a legend with the Detroit Tigers and from everyone’s testimony, he was a wonderful person with a great soul.
R.I.P. Mr. Harwell. I wish you peace. My heart goes out to his friends, family, and every baseball fan he touched in his life.
Talk about a squadoosh.
The New York Yankees pounded the Chicago White Sox 12-3 in the rubber game of their three-game weekend series this afternoon. The Bronx Bombers have now won seven of their first eight series this season and dating back to 2009, the Yankees have now won 14 of their last 17 series at Yankee Stadium.
Brett Gardner did a nice job of filling in for the injured Curtis Granderson, who yesterday strained his groin running from second base to third. Granderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list and according to manager Joe Girardi will “be out for at least a month.”
But in Granderson’s absence, Gardner did just fine going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, two RBIs, a walk, and two runs scored. Girardi said, “Gardner has been playing well and he’s going to need to keep it up because he will be playing centerfield every day for awhile.”
Gardner took White Sox’ starter Mark Buehrle deep to right field in the bottom of the fourth for a solo home run, his first of the year. Earlier on in the first inning, Gardner knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI single to score Robinson Cano.
Up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Cano did some yard work of his own. With two men on base, the hot-hitting second baseman homered to right field, a three-run blast that put the Yankees up 5-0 and basically put the White Sox away.
“Red-hot Robbie Cano” is now hitting .387 with nine homers and 21 RBIs this year.
The Yankees tacked on two more runs in the sixth to widen their lead to 7-0. Nick Swisher joined the home run party and clubbed a two-run bomb to right field, his second in as many games. Swisher now has four home runs on the year and two at home, where he does not seem to hit many homers.
Last season, Swisher did not hit his second home run at Yankee Stadium until June 7.
In the bottom of the seventh the Yankees exploded for five more runs. Derek Jeter drew a bases loaded walk to score Jorge Posada, and then Nick Johnson cracked a two-run double. Mark Teixeira followed up with a two-run double of his own, giving the Yankees 12 runs on the afternoon.
Teixeira went 4-for-5 at the plate today, erasing his troubled April with a great start to May. It looks like the Yankees’ first baseman is keeping his elbow up more and as a result is getting around on some pitches. He is notorious for hitting well in May, so today might be just a small sample of what’s to come.
In the top of the ninth with two men on base, Paul Konerko crushed a three-run homer to left field to spoil the shutout and give the ChiSox their three runs in the game. It was Konerko’s 12th homer of the year and he leads the majors in that category.
Behind all the Yankee offense today was Phil Hughes, who absolutely puzzled the White Sox hitters. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven strong innings and gave up no runs on four hits. He walked only one batter and struck out six.
(I’ll just say it) Hughes was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas. But in reality, Hughes reminded me today of Roger Clemens. His delivery was very smooth, he was getting ahead of the hitters, and he was mixing his pitches.
There is a reason Sports Illustrated once called Hughes “The Pocket Rocket.”
Although Hughes was throwing a lot of strikes, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did not think so. In the bottom of the seventh, Guillen got his money’s worth and got thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called a ball on Gardner, Guillen did not agree, and ultimately got tossed.
Not unusual for a manager like Guillen. However, Hughes was throwing the ball very well, and I’m sure Guillen would be the first one to say it.
With the win, Hughes is now 3-0 this season and he has won all three of the starts he has made. He became the youngest pitcher since his teammate Andy Pettitte to win his first three games of the year. Pettitte won his first three games as a 23 year-old in 1996.
Now with a record of 16-8 this year, the Yankees will remain at home for the next three games and entertain the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s just completed a weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox despite dropping their previous two out of three to the Yanks at home.
CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.12 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling against Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.70 ERA)
Last December the New York Yankees made a trade to get a number four starter. Only using three pitchers in the postseason, and unsure of who was going to be the number five man, they got it done.
So long Melky Cabrera. Hello (again) Javier Vazquez.
Boasting a 15-10 record in 2009 with a minuscule 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts, some people were happy with the move. I, on the other hand, was not a proponent of this trade from the get go, remembering how poorly he had performed in his first stint in pinstripes.
Vazquez, a member of the Yankees in 2004, was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, surrendering the infamous grand slam to Johnny Damon–a blast that basically put the Yankees away.
Back in pinstripes, Vazquez made his first start of 2010 on April 9. What happened? He picked up right where he left off in ’04 and got rocked. He tossed 5 2/3 innings, was charged with eight earned runs on eight hits, walked three, and struck out five.
Not the way he wanted to start the season, I’m sure.
His second start was a little better, but Vazquez still was not good enough to win. Against the Angels on April 14, he tossed 5 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. It certainly was not his best start, but it was a step up from his first.
Last Tuesday night in Oakland he got his first W of ’10 beating the Athletics in a 7-3 Yankee win. This time Vazquez made it through 5 1/3 innings, and gave up three runs on six hits. He walked three and fanned six.
Then we came to today…
Just when it seemed Vazquez was heading in an upward direction in terms of his pitching, he backpedaled and collapsed. He did not make it past the fourth frame, only giving the Yanks 3 2/3 innings of work. He served up five runs on five hits, walked three and struck out three. Not to mention he coughed up a three-run lead.
His pitching led to the Yankees’ first series loss of 2010, as they dropped two games out of three this weekend to the Halos. Yes–totally the opposite of cool.
Right now, Vazquez is the weakest link on the Yankee pitching staff. He has not pitched past the sixth inning this season and has given up 20 earned runs in all 20 innings he has thrown. He has failed to locate with his pitches and has been hanging too many breaking balls.
Bobby Abreu was a clear example of that today.
In the third inning, the former Yankee blasted a solo home run to right off Vazquez, a bomb hit off a terribly executed breaking ball. Vazquez threw 78 pitches, 47 of which were strikes.
If you ask me, of those 78 pitches, probably 38 or 39 of them were off-speed. Vazquez has shown no faith in his fastball. It seems he overthrows his fastball too much and subsequently misses the strike zone because of it. He has issued eight walks this season, indicating his location problem.
So far this trade has not paid off and it’s looking like a bad one. I’m not concerned with his numbers from last year, his numbers from 2004, or any other year for that matter. What does matter is 2010 and how unproductive Vazquez’s outings have been.
At this moment, we as Yankee fans have every reason to disapprove of the trade.
His next time out will come at home against one of his former teams, the Chicago White Sox, on Saturday May 1. I am going to give Vazquez a month. If he is still struggling as mightily as he is now by June 1, I am going to go on a search for a starting pitcher to replace him.
I will look far and wide; I will look at every stat from every Yankee minor league hurler, I will glance at every team in baseball who might need Vazquez–while at the same time finding a suitable replacement; a pitcher putting up numbers in accordance to a good number four starter.
Honestly, at this point in the season, the Yankees could probably throw their bat boy out there and he could do better than Vazquez. He is too inconsistent and does not seem to be moving in the same direction of the team. He is the only starter in the rotation with a losing record.
CC Sabathia (2-1), A.J. Burnett (2-0), Andy Pettitte (3-0), Phil Hughes (2-0)
Vazquez is now 1-3.
Before the season began, an analyst said Vazquez has the stuff to be a number two pitcher. While that may or may not be true, he is not showing that right now. He is only showing that he cannot do the job he was brought on board to do.
We’ll see what he is made of. He has until June 1. Then, if he has shown no improvement, I say the Yankees ought to dump him off. It’s not like he is under contract for 2011 as it is.
–Marcus Thames has got nothing on Brett Gardner in left field. He started this afternoon, only to misplay a ball out in left. There are some big guys who can move around pretty well in the outfield (like Nick Swisher)
Thames is a big guy who can’t move around well. If he had caught the fly ball, it would have been a whole different game today. Thames only started because he supposedly “wears down left-handed pitching,” a Scott Kazmir (a lefty) started for the Halos.
Thames did have a hit and a run scored, but that misplayed ball hurt big time.
–The Yankees only have to play the Angels twice more this season: July 20-21 at home in Yankee Stadium. Thank God for getting them out of the way in April! They are too tough to be playing down the stretch.
–As mentioned before, the Yankees are 5-1 in their first six series this season. This past series was their first losing effort. Still, it’s not bad to have won five straight to begin the year. Good start!
–Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch in the second inning. Jorge Posada came up to bat right after Cano and launched a two-run homer.
Message to the 29 other teams in the MLB: you hit the Yankees, they will hit back!
Cano also homered in this game, clubbing his fifth of the year, and he now leads the Yankee team in long balls.
–Mark Teixeira needs to get off the interstate and start getting some hits. He did draw two walks today, but he is supposed to be a big threat to the other team’s pitching. Currently batting .119, he poses no threat right now at all.
Wake up, Tex!
–Speaking of Teixeira , I really don’t know how I feel about him ramming the catcher Friday night. I’m not sure if Teixeira did it because he got hit with a pitch before it happened, but whatever the case, he mowed him down.
It is part of the game and many runners coming hard into home plate do it, but I felt sorry for Bobby Wilson. It’s happened to the Yankees before, in spring training prior to 2008. Elliot Johnson of the Rays broke Francisco Cervelli’s wrist that way.
It’s dangerous! The league should consider regulating collisions somehow, if it’s doable.
Teixeira really got him good (giving Wilson a concussion and an ankle injury) but at least he apologized and felt some remorse for the hit. That is the type of personality Teixeira has, but if I were him, I’d watch out in July. The Angels might want some retribution.
And Justin Tuck better watch out. If the New York Giants need a linebacker or a defensive end, Teixeira might be their man. That hit was football-esque!
–On their day off tomorrow, the Yankees will visit the White House in honor of their 2009 World Series Championship. Message to Joe Girardi: tell Obama to fix the economy, create jobs for hard-working Americans who need work, and that his health care bill is trash and should be thrown away.
I think it’s nice that the President recognizes the nation’s sports titles and invites the Champs to the White House. It’s been happening for years and years; I know Clinton and Bush both did the same thing.
–On Tuesday the Yankees go to Baltimore to play the Orioles for three games. Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett will start those three games, respectively.
–Right now the Yankees are 12-6, in second place in the AL East, a game behind the Rays who are 14-5.
When I woke up this morning before school, I opened my dresser drawer. It’s a routine I and most people go through every day. I shuffled through several Yankee tee shirts and came across the one I decided to wear today:
The one that read “Hughes 65″ on the back.
“He’s pitching tonight,” I thought to myself. “I guess I can wear Hughes.”
Little did I know what was in store for Phil Hughes tonight. En route to the Yankees’ 3-1 win over Oakland, the 23 year-old righty flirted with a no-hitter, setting down the A’s one by one until the bottom of the eighth inning.
A sharp come-backer off the bat of Eric Chavez (which caromed off Hughes himself) spoiled a beautiful no-hit bid. Believe me when I tell you, Hughes was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas.
Making only his second start of the year, Hughes pitched 7 1/3 innings, and was charged with one run on that one fateful hit. He walked two batters over the course of his outing and struck out a career-high 10.
Talk about doing work!
Hughes became the second Yankee pitcher this season to come within an eyelash of a no-no. CC Sabathia almost got the job done back on April 10, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning with two outs against Tampa Bay before losing it.
As for Hughes, his fastball was very live tonight; it was exploding through the strike zone. His breaking ball was un-hittable, dancing all over the place and fooling every Athletic he faced. The youngster certainly brought his best fastball with him tonight, along with his Uncle Charlie…
Well, Hughes’s Uncle Charlie was present in a figurative way. In a literal way, his parents were in attendance tonight. I noticed he was throwing the no-no in the fifth, and when they showed mom and dad in the crowd, I was really pulling for him. It would have been very special for Hughes to have gotten the no-hitter with his parents there.
The Yankee offense supplied Hughes with just enough runs to pick up his second win of 2010. In the top of the fourth, the Yankees scored two of their three runs, breaking the scoreless tie. Alex Rodriguez tripled and subsequently scored on a triple by Robinson Cano.
Jorge Posada then drove in Cano with an RBI groundout to first, giving the Yankees a 2-1 edge. The Yanks’ final run came in the top of the eighth, an RBI single off the bat of Brett Gardner to score Curtis Granderson.
The A’s plated one run in the eighth on the strength of an RBI single by Jake Fox to score Chavez. Joba Chamberlain had taken over for Hughes at that point, but since the base runner was Hughes’s responsibility, meaning he was charged with the run.
Tonight reminded me a lot of May 1, 2007. Hughes made a start in Texas against the Rangers and was on fire, as he was tonight. He took a no-no into the seventh inning, but was forced to leave with a hamstring injury.
Bobby Murcer (God rest his soul) was calling the action in the game. He said, “If Phil Hughes had stayed in the game, he would have undoubtedly pitched a no-hitter.”
I was watching the game too, and I agree. I think he would have done it.
So at the end of the night:
–No no-hitter for Hughes, but he once again came close.
–Hughes is now 2-0 this year.
–Hughes set a career-high in Ks (with 10)
–The Yankees won 3-1.
–The Yankees have now won their first five series of the year.
–The Yankees have won six consecutive games.
–Mariano Rivera recorded his sixth save of the year.
–The Yankees are 11-3 on the year, still in first place in the AL East.
A productive night!!!
Flirt. The word is defined as behaving amorously without serious intent or to show superficial interest or liking. Being a single guy, flirting is something I specialize in. Yet the word also refers to coming close to reaching or experiencing something.
In the New York Yankees’ 10-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays today, CC Sabathia did just that. The Yankee ace tossed 7 2/3 innings of hitless baseball until Kelly Shoppach lined a sharp single in front of Brett Gardner in left field.
Four outs and Sabathia would have tossed a no-no. Serious flirtation.
After Shoppach’s base hit to break up the no-hit bid, Sabathia departed. He ended the day with 7 2/3 innings, and shutout the Rays with just that one, painful hit. The Yankee ace walked two batters and struck out five, leaving David Robertson to finish the job.
However, even if Sabathia had gotten Shoppach out, would he have stayed in the game? After all, the big man was up at 111 pitches on the afternoon. Yankee manager Joe Girardi said that no matter what happened, “Sabathia’s day was over after he faced Shoppach.”
On the other hand, Sabathia said that if he had gotten Shoppach out, he would have wanted to stay in the game. In his words, “the conversation on the mound would have been interesting.”
The last Yankee to throw a no-hitter was Dwight Gooden, who no-hit the Seattle Mariners on May 14, 1996. David Wells and David Cone both threw perfect games on May 17, 1998 (vs. Minnesota Twins) and July 18, 1999 (vs. Montreal Expos), respectively. Since then, no Yankee starter has ever thrown a no-no or perfecto.
However, some have come close.
On Sept. 2, 2001, Mike Mussina shut down the first 26 Boston Red Sox he faced at Fenway Park. Needing just one strike for a perfect game, Carl Everett lined a bloop single in front of Chuck Knoblauch in left field.
Sound familiar, Shoppach?
Just last year on Aug. 31, Andy Pettitte shut down the Baltimore Orioles for 6 2/3 innings. Jerry Hairston, Jr. bobbled a grounder at third for an error to end the perfect quest. The very next batter, Nick Markakis, ended the no-hitter with a single through the hole into…you guessed it, left field.
It seems left field is the “death valley” of Yankee no-nos and perfectos.
Come to think of it, Cone’s perfect game in ’99 was nearly broken up by a fly ball to left field. In the ninth inning, pinch hitter Ryan McGuire popped a ball out to short left field, forcing Ricky Ledee to get on his horse. Stunned with a “deer-in-the-headlights” look on his face, he basket-caught the ball, juggled it, and held on for the out.
It might be a some kind of left field curse.
On the bright side, Sabathia picked up his first win of 2010, the Yankees improved to 3-2 on the year, and the big man lowered his ERA to 3.46.
Along with Sabathia’s brilliance, Mark Teixeira, who was hitless this season up until today, finally came alive. The first baseman had three hits on the day, a double and two singles. Coupled with those three hits were an RBI and two runs scored.
Robinson Cano continued his fine hitting out of the number five hole, as he went 2-for-5 in the game. He belted a long, two-run home run into the right field seats in the top of the fourth inning en route to a three-RBI day. He now has a team-leading six RBIs in the first five games.
Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Francisco Cervelli all contributed with RBIs to give the Yankees their 10 runs in the game.
Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees and Rays will play the rubber game of their three-game weekend series. A.J. Burnett (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will face James Shields (0-0, 4.50 ERA)
The Sunday night heartbreaker seems like a lifetime ago. The New York Yankees got their first loss of the 2010 season out of the way Sunday night but bounced back and picked up their first win Tuesday night over the Boston Red Sox by a score of 6-4.
It feels great knowing the Bombers won’t be 0-8 vs. Boston this year.
There were so many things going on tonight, so I will just dive right into the analysis.
· A.J. Burnett
It wasn’t clear which version of A.J. Burnett showed up tonight. In the first inning, the lanky righty gave up a run which wasn’t really his fault. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a sloppy defensive play in the outfield and eventually scored.
Really the only hitter who feasted off Burnett tonight was Victor Martinez. The Boston catcher was 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs against the Yankee starter.
The final line for Burnett: five innings, four runs (only three earned) on seven hits, one walk, and five Ks. If you ask me, his line was mediocre. Not good, but could have been much worse. For his first start he didn’t pitch poorly.
The best pitch he threw all night had to be a disgusting breaking ball he got Kevin Youkilis looking on. Burnett introduced the Boston first baseman to his uncle Charlie!
Also, he and Jorge Posada looked to be on the same page. We need that!
His next start will most likely come Sunday in Tampa against the Rays.
· The Bullpen
What a difference two days make! The Yankee relievers came ready to play tonight. Alfredo Aceves, David Robertson, Damaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera: four innings, two hits, no runs, no walks, three strikeouts.
A huge, HUGE improvement over Sunday night!
Aceves looked unbelievably good. He can just come into a game and shut the hitters down. He tossed two scoreless innings and for his efforts he picked up the win.
And how about Chamberlain? He turned back the clock! His outing was 2007-esque.
The big reliever entered the game in the eighth inning with one out and sat down Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew on strikes. But the real story was his velocity. He was lighting up the speed gun at 96-98 mph.
First Pumps for everybody!
And in the ninth–who else but Rivera. He slammed the door for the first time this year and the 527th time in his career. I think he will get a ton of saves this year.
· Nick Johnson and Robinson Cano
Both of these guys had pretty big nights.
Nick Johnson was 0-for-2 but walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. He also took one for the team and was hit by a pitch. He is a patient hitter and has shown that he can reach base, but I tend to worry about his health. Hopefully he doesn’t get plunked anymore this year.
And then there’s Robinson Cano.
The young second baseman was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored, and two RBIs. He put on a hitting show tonight and he’s just going to keep getting better. If he continues to play this way for the rest of the year, he may hit 30 home runs and drive in 120 runs.
I have so much faith in Cano. Every time I watch him, it’s like he gets better and better. His solo home run in the ninth gave the Yanks a 6-4 cushion to put Boston away.
- Other Notes
–Alex Rodriguez drove in a run with an RBI double and Mark Teixeira grounded into a force out which scored Curtis Granderson.
–Nick Swisher knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI double in the top of the second. Nick at Nite!
–I didn’t really get great vibes from Marcus Thames tonight. In the first inning, he missed a ball in left field which could have been easily caught by Brett Gardner…or Johnny Damon…
Thames only started because he supposedly “wears out” left-handed pitching and Jon Lester (a lefty) was on the mound for the Red Sox. Well, Thames only had 0 hits tonight. Way to wear ‘em out.
–Derek Jeter made two awesome plays on defense tonight. I’d like to know who the moron was who said his range has gone down. He is ageless.
–The Yankees committed three errors tonight. Boston committed one, but it was a big one–it kept the eighth inning alive for Johnson to draw the bases-loaded walk.
–Hideki Okajima was the Boston pitcher who walked in Johnson with the bases chucked. They call him “Okey Dok” in Boston. Okey Dok, thank you for your lack of control.
–Tomorrow night the rubber game against Boston will be played. Andy Pettitte will make the start against John Lackey.
–The Yankees are off Thursday then open up a three-day weekend series in Tampa Bay.
Well gang, here we are on the eve of the baseball season. In a little over 24 hours the Yankees and Red Sox will dim the lights and raise the curtains on the 2010 MLB season. It’s on; the wait is over. It’s the best day of the sports year, if you ask me. It’s your number one vs. their number one.
As Al Bundy once said, “Let there be baseball. Let there be LIFE.”
Time to get yapping about the Yankees!
Yankees vs. the Future Yankees
Manager Joe Girardi said it best: “Either way, we can’t lose today!”
The Yankees started their regular players against a team of baby Bombers in the final spring training game this afternoon. It was quite interesting to see Derek Jeter and the boys play against some of the young guys who are just trying to start their baseball careers. Girardi took it easy on the youngsters and only played the regulars for the first three innings.
The Yanks beat the Future Yanks, 9-6.
To me it was a little strange how they divided up the team. Some of the non-Yankees played on the Yankee team. I guess that was just the way to get everyone in; not all of them could play on the future team and they wanted every player to get some work in.
It wasn’t too torturous for them–the Yankees only scored three runs on them in the bottom of the first! Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher knocked in a combined five runs on the future Yanks, hopefully just a prequel of what they do tomorrow vs. the Red Sox.
Jonathan Albaladejo started for the future Yanks against Javier Vazquez, who made his final start before the regular season. Vazquez turned in a decent performance, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Not bad for Vazquez, but he could do a little better next week when he faces the Rays.
Some of the future stars intrigued me. For one, Melky Mesa. I could not believe I saw another player with the name Melky. I thought there was only one Melky, and he now plays for the Braves! He didn’t have a hit today, but I just like his name.
Along with Mesa, Slade Heathcott grabbed my attention. He is ranked as the third-best Yankee prospect by Baseball America, and he showed some great speed today. In his first at-bat, he beat out a slow roller to third for a single. Alex Rodriguez couldn’t make the play and he was safe!
I also was taken back by Pat Venditte–the “switch pitcher.” He pitched in the top of the eighth inning and he gave up a run. It was just so strange how he kept changing his pitching hand; he would throw to right-handers with his left hand and pitch to left-handers with his right hand. (Although I do think he threw to one right-hander with his right hand)
You have to see him pitch for yourself to really get a feel for what he is about. His arm angle when pitching with his left hand is much different than when he throws righty. He seems to sidearm the ball when he throws left and almost flings it. But as a right-hander he throws much more conventional and overhand.
Not to mention his mitt. Venditte fashioned an “ambidextrous glove” (I guess you could call it?) so that he can pitch with both hands. It’s quite a sight to behold and unbelievably fascinating.
I hope we see Venditte in the future, but I do think he has a lot of work to do before being called up. He’s not quite ready to pitch to real major leaguers yet, but if he keeps at it and can find ways to get hitters out with his unique pitching style, he’ll make the show.
Overall, it was a fun game to watch today and a cool way to end spring training.
The Opening Day Roster
Most of the decisions made regarding the opening day, 25-man roster the Yankees will use didn’t shock me. Of course all of the regulars will be there; Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez….yeah, you get the idea.
I’m glad to see David Robertson will be in the bullpen along with Boone Logan. But if you ask me, Royce Ring deserves to be there, too. For the type of spring he had and his past Major League service, he should at least be given a chance.
Chan Ho Park, Sergio Mitre, Damaso Marte, Alfredo Aceves, and Joba Chamberlain will also be in the ‘pen. But mark my words, if one of these guys is not cutting it, Ring is the right guy to plug into the spot. I watched him this past month, and I have to say, he did some fine work in Tampa.
Marcus Thames did not have the best spring, only averaging somewhere around .135 at the plate. But he hit three homers this spring and showcased more power than Randy Winn. Both players made the team. We’ll see how each one does during the season, but one of them could be used as trade bait.
Lastly, Ramiro Pena made the team as the extra infielder. I think this is the best move, I like Pena, and I hope he has a great year in the big leagues. He will be an asset to the club and I have a good feeling about him.
We have the team set, now we just have to find the chemistry.
The Series vs. Boston
I guess the schedule-maker this year had a malicious sense of irony, pitting the Yanks against the hated Red Sox on opening night. The Bombers and BoSox will play tomorrow, have a day off on Monday, and then play the next two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
As mentioned before, it’s our number one vs. their number one tomorrow, meaning CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett. A lot of people are quick to mention Sabathia’s tendency to start slow and not put up his best work until later on in the season.
In fact, many of my friends have told me the Yankees will probably lose tomorrow night.
Keep in mind, whenever the Yankees play Boston in Fenway, they are not just facing the Red Sox. They are facing Red Sox Nation. It’s hard for any team to play there because the fans are just unbelievably rowdy. It’s hard to win there.
We’ll see what happens on Opening Night. Anything can happen. We might see Sabathia pick up right where he left off last season–dominating everyone he faces. He didn’t have the best spring, but those numbers do not mean much. We won’t find out until tomorrow.
Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett will make the start against Jon Lester. We’ll have to wait and see which Burnett will show up–Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, hopefully Jekyll.
When Lester is on, he is one of the most brilliant left-handed pitchers in the American League. Burnett has to bring his best stuff and the offense has to bring their best mindset to win Tuesday.
Ending the series on Wednesday, Andy Pettitte will start against the Red Sox’ big off-season acquisition, John Lackey. Pettitte has done so well against the Boston over the years and last year was 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts against Boston.
Lackey, although many people think he has the Yanks’ number, has not done well against the Yankees historically. Just last year in the ALCS, Lackey was 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts. Lifetime vs. New York, he is 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA and at Fenway Park he is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA.
Not very pretty, Mr. Lackey.
But I’m looking past all that. On paper, the Yanks have an advantage. But on paper is not going to win the game. It all depends on who plays better on that day. That’s all there is to it.
Look at it this way: even if the Yankees do not get off to the best start this year, it’s not the end of the world. They started slow last year, even going 0-8 in the first eight games vs. Boston. It worked out for them in the end.
Enjoy Opening night everyone! And have a Happy Easter.
On an everyday basis during the baseball season, the Yankees make me believe in things. They make me feel strong. Whether it is crushing a 400 foot home run or throwing a 99 mph fastball, it’s almost as if the Bronx Bombers possess powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men.
Simply put, the Yankees are my superheroes.
Then I got to thinking: if the Yankees were superheroes, which ones would they be? I put together a list of Bombers who represent comic book heroes. I tried to match each hero to a Yankee in accordance to their attributes and personality.
Derek Jeter: Superman
When you think of Superman, you think of strength, speed, and power. Derek Jeter has all those tools. He is strong, in a sense that knows how to win. He is fast, in a sense that he can outdo pretty much anyone on the field. And he is powerful in terms of his personality.
Jeter can do just about anything when it comes to baseball the same way Superman can do just about anything when it comes to saving the world. One example of that was July 1, 2004. The Yankees were playing the Red Sox in heated game at Yankee Stadium.
Trot Nixon popped a fly ball down the third baseline. On his horse, Jeter ran as fast as he could and with his arms outstretched like the man of steel, he dove into the stands and caught the ball for an out. It was one of the most spectacular plays of the year and probably in the history of Yankee Stadium.
Drawing another comparison between the two, Superman is the leader of the Justice League. Jeter is the Yankee captain. If Jeter had to be compared to any hero, it would have to be Superman.
Powerful, quick, strong-willed, humble, and mild-mannered: Jeter is the ultimate Yankee Superman. There probably isn’t anyone who would argue that point, either.
Jeter’s middle name is Sanderson, but it should be Superman. Just saying.
Mark Teixeira: Batman
Ever since he arrived in Gotham City, Batman has dominated. The same can be said of Mark Teixeira. Last season, Teixeira arrived on the Yankee scene and has just captured everyone’s imagination and attention.
It seems there are two sides of Teixeira. There’s the suave, handsome, and debonair man we see conducting interviews and smiling for the camera. Then there’s the aggressive side we see during the games; he gets his game face on, takes the field, and beats down the opposition.
Batman is the same way. First there is Bruce Wayne, the charming, breathtaking billionaire playboy. Then when he puts the costume on he is Batman, a ruthless, rugged individual ready to bring hardened criminals to justice.
Also like Batman, Teixeira has displayed a quick temper. When the Yankees’ first baseman was beaned by Vicente Padilla back in June of 2009, he did not handle it well. Teixeira became infuriated and mouthed off to Padilla.
Batman would have done the same thing in that situation. The dark knight does not take abuse like that and when you try to mess with him, you better watch out. Just ask the Joker, the Penguin, or the Riddler!
Teixeira is a lot like the caped crusader. And putting it into perspective, not only he is the Yankees’ bat-man, but he does it with the leather, too. I guess you can say Teixeira is a “gold glove bat-man.”
He can do it all.
Alex Rodriguez: The Incredible
Watching Alex Rodriguez in the 2007 season was one of the most enjoyable times for me as a Yankee fan. It seemed as if the whole world was watching him. They watched, not really to see if he would homer (because he basically hit a homer every game), but to see how far his home runs would go.
Rodriguez’s 2007 MVP season was just an utter display of sheer power.
And when you think of superheroes who just feed off power, the Incredible Hulk comes to mind. In the comic book world, Dr. Bruce Banner was exposed to the blast of a gamma bomb he created. In turn, he created a monster. After the accident, whenever he gets angry he transforms into the Hulk.
Not saying Rodriguez is a green, 300-pound, Frankenstein. But like the Hulk he has an impulsive nature and really can be a monster when it comes to baseball.
In terms of his impulsive attitude, remember back to July 24, 2004. Rodriguez was hit on the left elbow with a pitch by Bronson Arroyo. He tossed his bat down and angrily lipped off to the Red Sox pitcher.
Don’t get him angry. You will not like A-Rod when he’s angry.
Of course a melee ensued and Rodriguez went at it with Jason Varitek. I still have the image of Don Mattingly trying to calm Rodriguez in my head. He was absolutely livid. Rodriguez just has the temper that other players don’t want to mess with. He and the Hulk share a lot of the same traits.
Above all of his tools, Rodriguez is known for his power and the same goes for the Hulk.
Mariano Rivera: Thor
Many people know Mariano Rivera by one or two names. “The Sandman,” because he puts his opponents to sleep. “Mo,” because it’s just a shorter version of his first name. But another nickname was given to the great Rivera: “the Hammer of God.”
Thor is a comic book character who wields a hammer.
But it’s not just the hammer that makes Thor comparable to the great Rivera. Among Thor’s powers are superhuman strength, durability, and longevity. Those powers could not possibly come any closer to Rivera’s.
The cutter is probably the strongest and most effective pitch in the game of baseball. Rivera is one of the most durable closers there ever was. And finally, he has been the best closer in the game since he became a closer in 1997, showcasing his brilliant longevity.
Along with his powers, Rivera has stood toe-to-toe with some of the best hitters in the world. Thor has gone up against several mythical foes, like Hercules and Galactus. Both heroes have stood up against some of the deadliest adversaries, making them so alike it’s scary.
There could not be a better hero than Thor to compare Rivera to.
Robinson Cano: The Green Lantern
In brightest day or in blackest night, Robinson Cano always comes up big. Whether it’s at the plate or with his glove, this young second baseman has everything going for him.
The Green Lantern is a superhero who wears a jumpsuit and wields a power ring that can pretty much do anything. Like Cano, he is young, abrasive, and does anything he can to help his team win.
One power the ring gives the Green Lantern is flight. He can soar through the air and basically conquer any evil he sees. Cano has that same function; although he technically cannot fly, he glides across the infield making hair-raising grabs and superhuman-like web gems.
Although it is a mighty weapon, Green Lantern’s ring needs to be charged every so often. It runs on a battery and Cano is the same way. Even though he is quite durable on the field, he needs rest in order to stay on top. In 2008 he was forced to start almost every game and his game became sloppy as a result. It probably stemmed from too much playing time and he needed to sit out.
Whatever the case, Cano has a tendency to aid his team in victory without necessarily putting the team on his back. Green Lantern and Cano have a lot in common.
CC Sabathia: Beast
I searched long and hard, trying to think up a hero that CC Sabathia reminds me of. When it came down to make a decision, I came across the perfect match: Beast.
A student of Professor X, Beast is a lot like the Yankees’ ace. He is big, beefy, and has amazing stamina. Sabathia, really an avid student of the game of baseball, is big, beefy, and has amazing stamina.
Beast once fought Magneto, the Juggernaut, and the sentinels all at once. He is so powerful; he can fight ridiculously strong villains all by himself. Not only does he fight them, he manhandles them!
I look at what Sabathia did in the 2009 playoffs and compare him to Beast. He went up against some of the strongest players in the game. I’m talking about Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Torii Hunter, and Joe Mauer.
Sabathia did not just beat these players, he demolished most of them.
Any way you look at it, Sabathia is so much like Beast. Not really just his looks, but how he handles himself in battle. They have a lot in common and their powers are pretty much equally matched.
Come to think about it, Alex Rodriguez called Sabathia a “beast” after Game Four of the ALCS…
Nick Swisher: Michelangelo
He may not be a “hero in a half shell,” but Nick Swisher exhibits a lot of qualities that the orange ninja turtle has. He is fun-loving, has an infectious personality, and wants only the best for his team.
Described in the 1987 ninja turtles cartoon, Michelangelo is “a party dude.” There is no better way to sum up Swisher. The Yankees’ right fielder has that mentality of being a “party dude.” He wants to play the game and have fun, which is what it is all about.
Although Michelangelo does not have hair, I cannot really make the comparison to the Swish-hawk. However, recently I noticed Swisher shaved his head. Maybe it was only for spring training and he will grow the hawk back for opening day?
Who knows. But I do know that Swisher is like Mike. Rock on, boys!
Brett Gardner: The Flash
This one really was a no-brainer.
The Flash is the fastest man alive but Brett Gardner is the fastest man on the Yankees. He might even be the fastest man in Major League Baseball (Yes, I said it Jose Reyes. Faster than you!)
In the comic books, Superman and the Flash once had an argument about who is the fastest man alive. To settle their dispute, they decided to race around the world. In fact, the duo had several races many of which the Flash won because his main power is speed.
Like the Flash, Gardner’s main tool is speed. What he lacks in power and throwing ability he makes up for with his wheels. He can outrun probably anybody on the diamond and do it in convincing fashion.
On May 15, 2009, it took Gardner 14 seconds to run 360 feet around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. No disrespect to the Flash, but I’m not even sure he could pull that off! It was the most amazing show of speed I have ever seen in my life. (I’m glad I was there at Yankee Stadium to see it in-person, too!)
If there is any hero to compare Gardner to, it’s the Flash. I’d like to see them race around the world to find out who is faster. It would be an interesting race!
Well that’s all. Hope you enjoyed my list!
Also seen at Bleacher Report
It was not a good day to be a Yankee. In another exhibition from “The Boss” on Tuesday, the Yankees dropped a 12-7 decision to the Pirates.
Yes, you heard right. The Yankees lost to the Pirates. I was surprised, not just because the Yanks started most of their regulars and were beaten, but because just yesterday they had shutout the Bucs at their camp.
· CC Sabathia
The big man did not have it today.
CC Sabathia tossed 2 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two. It had been noted before the game that Joe Girardi wanted his ace to pitch at least three innings and top out somewhere around 50 pitches. He tossed 53 pitches to be exact, but obviously did not make it out of the third frame.
The worst pitch Sabathia threw today was a fastball, middle-in that Garrett Jones crushed for a three-run homer in the first inning. The first inning–mind you–that Sabathia gave up four straight hits and runs before getting anyone out. In fact, the Pirates sent eight batters to the plate in the first.
Not exactly a banner day for Sabathia, if I may say.
It seemed to me that he had some delivery issues. Everyone is familiar with Sabathia’s windup, hesitation, and release of the ball. He didn’t seem to be hesitating as he usually does and I think that threw him off today. Sabathia even said after the outing that he was “collapsing his back side” which caused some problems in his mechanics.
The delivery problem may have been something that was addressed after the first inning, because after the rough first, Sabathia came out and dazzled in the second inning. He was able to retire the side in order, but in the third ran into more trouble and was pulled.
When it comes to a pitcher of Sabathia’s caliber, I tend not to worry so much. Something tells me he won’t have too many days like today. When Opening Day rolls around, I’m confident he’ll be the same pitcher we saw last year. I just hope he doesn’t start slow, which historically he has.
Either way, he’ll be fine. I believe in CC Sabathia.
· Nick Johnson
OK, I know I just wrote about Nick Johnson yesterday (and sort of bashed him) but he shut me up today. The Yanks’ new/old designated hitter had two at-bats this afternoon.
And in both at-bats, he homered.
Both shots were quite impressive, too. The first of Johnson’s two home runs came in the first inning. He took a fastball deep to right-center field for a solo job. In the third inning he one-upped himself with a moon shot over the right field wall, another solo blast.
Johnson would have had three at-bats today, but Girardi pinch-hit for him in the fourth. The Yankee skipper said that Johnson is going to play tomorrow and he wants to keep him healthy, so he took him out of the game.
Again, it all goes back to Johnson staying healthy and the question of whether or not he can. He has already sustained a minor injury this spring. He has a history of injuries. Every analyst in the baseball world questions him every year. We’ll have to wait until the season begins and moves to really find out if he can stay healthy, that’s really the bottom line.
I’ll tell you one thing, however; those two homers today looked awfully nice. If he does stay healthy and he swings like he did today, it will mean only good things for the Bronx Bombers.
· Randy Winn
Yesterday Marcus Thames started in left field and did not impress anyone. He was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Talk about a bad day!
Well Randy Winn started in left today and wasn’t much better.
In two at-bats today, Winn was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. He did score a run, but he also left three runners on base. His defense was not stellar either, as he missed a fly ball in left field sliding and missing the catch.
So far none of the left fielders have impressed me.
Winn hasn’t gotten much playing time this spring. I think today was really his day to showcase his stuff and he did not do it, which is unfortunate for him. He didn’t have the best numbers last year, hitting only two homers and averaging .262 at the plate.
Maybe the Yankees signed him in hopes of a bounce-back type year, but he looks so out of place. I feel for him because it was mentioned today that he had a rough time off the field last year. Winn’s father-in-law died and apparently that hit him hard (as it would anybody) so he did not have the best year in ’09.
I can only hope at this point that he comes back strong. It was only one game, but he has to earn that spot in left field. Same goes for Thames and Jamie Hoffman, who are vying for that position.
Brett Gardner would be the logical choice (and probably will be) the Opening Day left fielder. Yet that final roster spot has to be filled and one of these players must show off what they can do. And collectively, they all need to do better. They looked very sloppy the last two games.
· Other Notes
–Francisco Cervelli will play again Friday. It turns out he has sustained three concussions in his young career. He needs to be careful. Concussions are nothing to take lightly. They have ended many young players’ careers in almost every sport.
–Royce Ring looked great in the fifth inning, setting the side down in order while recording a strikeout in the frame. He might not make the Opening Day roster, but if anything were to happen to one of the relievers, he would make a good case to fill in.
–Curtis Granderson continued to struggle up until his final at-bat today. He struck out looking and grounded out before wrapping a leadoff triple in the fifth. Hope we see more of this.
–Romulo Sanchez tossed a perfect sixth inning, lighting up the speed gun at 96 mph. It was nice to see one of the Yankee prospects throwing so hard.
–Hector Noesi pitched today. When he came on in relief the other day I thought he was Edwar Ramirez! They look like the same guy.
–Speaking of Ramirez, he was traded to the Texas Rangers for cash today. We’ll all miss “Flaco.” (If you didn’t know, “flaco” means “skinny” or “thin” in Spanish. This was Ramirez’s nickname in the Yankee clubhouse)
–Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira did not start today. Both had the day off.
–Nick Swisher had an RBI single and a walk today. He is hitting very well so far!
–Jorge Posada was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored. That’s a good sign.
–Grapefruit League play resumes Wednesday, as the Yankees will travel to the Detroit Tigers’ camp for an exhibition tomorrow afternoon. Thursday night the Yankees come back home to host the Atlanta Braves. It’ll be nice to see Melky Cabrera again.
What’s up Yankee fans?
The date is February 15, 2010.
As for news around the sports world, the NFL Super Bowl is over. The great Peyton Manning fell to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in what was (in my opinion) the best Super Bowl game since the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The winter Olympics are in full swing in Vancouver and at press time the U.S.A. has claimed six medals.
The NBA is at their All-Star point and Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks became the only player in history to win the Slam Dunk Contest three times.
And last but never-the-least, MLB pitchers and catchers report to camp this week. We now know that baseball is almost back. Almost back, but we’re not quite there yet.
The Yankees obviously made a number of moves in the off season, bidding farewell to players like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, and Chien-Ming Wang.
But they welcomed in new (and old) players like Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn, Javier Vazquez, and Nick Johnson.
Some of these moves haven’t been very popular among Yankee fans, but it remains to be seen how these players will perform. The best time to find out how well each player might do in the season is obviously in spring training.
With that being said, here are my five players to keep an eye on in March:
5) Javier Vazquez
At first, I was completely against the Javier Vazquez deal and part of me still is. I never liked him during his first stint with the Yankees in 2004. The only lasting image I have of him was that meatball he served up that Johnny Damon clobbered for a grand slam in the 2004 ALCS–a bomb that solidified the Yankees’ Game Seven collapse.
But I suppose I’ll give him a second chance as the number four starter in 2010.
Everyone keeps talking about how Vazquez had a very low ERA these past few seasons, so who knows. He may surprise us. After all, I thought Hideki Matsui was going to have a horrible season in 2009. He went on to win the World Series MVP.
I have decided to give Vazquez until July 15–if he has decent numbers then, I’ll approve of the trade. But if he is basically hanging on by a thread with an inflated ERA and a record of .500, then I’ll stand by my initial thought: what are the Yankees thinking?!
I realize the Vazquez trade was a panic move to counter the Red Sox signing John Lackey. But the Yanks could have figured out another way to get a pitcher without having to give up a promising outfielder (Cabrera) for a one-year rental (Vazquez).
We’ll see how he does. But without question, he’ll be under the microscope in Tampa.
4) Jesus Montero
I have heard a lot of great things about this kid. I get the feeling he’ll one day be a star, but he’s just too young right now. Nonetheless, non-roster invitee Jesus Montero will be a player to watch this spring.
At 20 years old, Montero has been named the Yanks’ best prospect and the fifth best player by Baseball America. In his 2008 minor league season with the Charleston River Dogs, Montero batted .326 with 17 homers and 87 RBIs. He only stole two bases, but hey…he’s a catcher, we cannot expect a ton of steals from him.
The highest level he’s played at is AA Trenton Thunder, but mark my words; he’ll probably make it to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2010.
With Jose Molina leaving the Yankees, it’ll most likely be Francisco Cervelli backing up Jorge Posada. So in all likelihood, we won’t see Montero in the show this year. In 2011, he’ll more than likely be on the Major League squad.
But Montero will undoubtedly be on the field this spring. This is his chance to show Yankee Universe what he’s made of and for us to get a feel for what he is about.
3) Brett Gardner
Brett Gardner has given the Yankees something they haven’t had in recent times–speed. And I’m not talking about just a decent pair of wheels. I’m talking the Flash/Sonic the Hedgehog type horse power here.
I mean, if he sprinted on the highway, he’d probably get a speeding ticket.
Gardner has also offered a great deal of defense in the outfield. With the departure of Melky Cabrera, the Yankees are obviously putting a lot of stock in him. Gardner can run and he can play some unbelievable defense. But he needs to get on base and become a better offensive player.
In 2009, Gardner had 67 hits in 248 at-bats, which translates to a .270 average–not too shabby. He drew 26 walks and stole 26 bases, which again, are decent stats.
But centerfield is a position that requires power; you need to have some pop coming from that spot on the field. Gardner only hit three home runs last year, two of which left the park (and yes, it was pretty sweet watching that inside-the-park home run on May 15…it was even sweeter because I saw it in-person!)
This spring, the Yankees will be trying out a number of different outfielders. There’s even talk that if Gardner is good enough, recent acquisition Curtis Granderson might play left field and Gardner will man center.
Well, that scenario remains to be seen, but in any event, Gardner has to take his game up to the next level. We’ll see how he responds next month.
2) Robinson Cano
Boy has this young man come a long way. I can remember the day he was called up to the big leagues in 2005 and how nervous he looked. He would make frequent errors and he looked so uneasy at the plate.
But Robinson Cano worked his game up to a Major League level, finishing in the top three in the 2006 batting title race. He was even compared to the incomparable Rod Carew. And from there, the rest is basically history. In my opinion, he’s unlike any other second baseman in the American League–and that’s a good thing.
He plays defense so well, gliding across the infield and making spectacular plays. I still believe he should have won a Gold Glove Award this past year. His hitting has certainly improved, as well. In 2009 he set a career-high in home runs with 25 and averaged .320 at the dish.
I have to say, of the younger players who are currently on the Yankees, Cano is my favorite. You can mention Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and all the legendary players of the so-called “core four,” but (for me) Cano has been the most exciting Yankee these past couple of seasons.
But some philosophize that Cano only performed so well for so long because of the presence of his best friend Melky Cabrera. The two became bosom buddies in 2007 and since then, both have played very well in each other’s friendship.
But Cabrera is now an Atlanta Brave and Cano is on his own.
I am anxious to see how Cano is going to perform in the absence of his best friend. I still feel he can play the same way he has these last few years. However, the only minor concern I have is how Cano played in 2008 without Cabrera; when his buddy was sent down to the minors because of a nasty slump, Cano struggled a little bit and fell into a funk of his own.
Hopefully nothing like that will happen to him this upcoming year. But if Cano gets off to a slow start and cannot find his rhythm, I might have to side with those philosophers.
1) Joba Chamberlain
It’s no secret that Joba Chamberlain had a rough 2009. It started back when he was arrested for a DUI after the 2008 campaign. Then he was put back on the “Joba Rules,” only being allowed to toss a certain amount of innings according to the Yankees’ discretion.
He had some forgetful starts and some brilliant starts in ’09, posting a record of 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA. If that wasn’t enough, the 24 year-old flamethrower was sent to the bullpen for the playoffs and World Series as the Bronx Bombers chose to go with a three-man rotation. In relief, he posted an ERA of 2.84 and was 1-0 with one save and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings pitched.
Not too bad, if you ask me. Chamberlain seems to excel when he knows his role.
There’s a lot of speculation on which pitcher will land the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Chamberlain seems to be the logical choice, unless they either opt to pull Phil Hughes from his spot in the bullpen or allow Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin the opportunity.
It all depends on who is performing at the highest level in spring training. If we see Chamberlain in a dominant form next month, it could be him. But if he is going to be that fifth pitcher, the Yankees NEED to take him off the “Joba Rules.”
Chamberlain will have his growing pains, all young players do. But if they do not take the leash off, the only thing he’ll ever be is a caged animal.
I understand that the Yankees are not trying to wreck his arm because it’s happened to too many young pitchers (Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez…etc.) But the Yanks should not tell him exactly how many innings they want him to throw. I think that can upset the balance of his psyche.
So who will be that fifth starter? We’ll know when we see what they all bring to Tampa.