Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

ALCS Games 1 and 2

 

The ALCS IS HERE!

Game One was a blur to me. I wish Game Two was a blur to me instead.

The American League Championship Series is tied 1-1 with the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers are heading back to Yankee Stadium for Game Three, which will be played on Monday night.

Game One: Yankees 6, Rangers 5. And I don’t remember much about it.

Yankees took Game 1 from the Rangers in Texas

My cousin Joe had a few people over at his place to watch Game One, and let’s just say I had a few drinks. I don’t get drunk often, but after Josh Hamilton’s three run homer, I figured I should start drinking. I felt I needed to ease the pain of a Game One Yankee loss.

But by the time the eighth inning came and the Yankees mounted their comeback, I was gone. Here is what I do remember about it:

·         I told everyone at my cousin’s house that I one day want to have a son and name him “Merrill.” I have no idea why I said this or where that came from.

 

·         There’s a picture of me sliding across the floor with my arms outstretched, as if to say “Safe!”

 

·         I supposedly jumped on my friend Brian several times screaming, “They came back! They came back! I told you they’d come back!”

 

·         When the Yankees started their rally, apparently I acted nuts, jumping up and down and waving my hands around like a third base coach.

 

For all the kids reading this, don’t drink. Alcohol makes you say and do weird things.

Yet there was certainly a lot to be happy about. The Yankees stole the game from under the Rangers; in all honesty, they were outplayed until the eighth. The Yanks really had no business winning the game, what with their ace CC Sabathia only throwing up four innings of five run ball. Sabathia uncharacteristically walked four batters and only struck out three.

Bad day.

In a word, the Yankee ace was off. He brought nothing with him to Arlington.

Dustin Moseley bailed him out with a great performance in relief and for his effort he registered the win. Kerry Wood also pitched in with a good inning and a pickoff of Ian Kinsler. And who else but Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth to pick up his 42nd postseason save and secure the thieved win.

Yankees go up 1-0. Fast forward to my hangover today.

Rangers 7, Yankees 2. And I wish I couldn’t remember anything about it.

Following in the footsteps of Sabathia last night, Phil Hughes brought nothing with him to the ballpark. The 24 year-old righty pitched four innings and gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits. He walked three batters and struck out three.

Awwwww, Phil.

The Rangers pounded every mistake Hughes made. He was leaving his pitches out over the plate, missing locations, and the Rangers feasted. Especially David Murphy, who not only smacked a solo home run off Hughes, but also knocked in a run with a double.

Hughes started Game Three of the American League Division Series at home, but was put into the number two spot in the starting rotation because of his history, not only on the road but in Texas. Along with giving up fewer home runs on the road as opposed to home this season, Hughes nearly tossed a no-hitter against the Rangers in Texas in May of 2007.

I understand the logic of using Hughes in Game Two. Unfortunately it did not translate or pay off.


Cano has it right. The rest of the offense needs to find it. 

The only bright spot for the Yanks was Robinson Cano, who blasted a long home run into the upper deck in right field. It was his second home run in as many games, as Cano has certainly been swinging a hot bat this month.

The ALCS will now have to go at least five games, and the next three will be played on the Yankees’ turf.

Playing at the big ballpark in the Bronx probably doesn’t bother Rangers’ Game Three Starter Cliff Lee, who won two ALDS games on the road vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.  Not to mention Lee shut down the Yankees in Game One of the World Series last year, puzzling the Yankee offense for a complete game win.

But the Yanks cannot let Lee and his hype get to them. It’s not an automatic win for Texas.

The Bombers win turn to veteran lefty and the winningest pitcher in postseason history, Andy Pettitte. At 19 wins, Pettitte will gun for his 20th in Game Three, looking to flip the “on switch,” if you will; erase the two subpar starts by Sabathia and Hughes in the first two games.

Big-Game Andy.

Overall it was a rough loss for the Yankees today. But I advise the Yankees and all Yankee fans everywhere to keep their heads up; do not assume Game Three is a loss because of Lee. The Yankees just have to be a lot more aggressive offensively than they were today (especially Mark Teixeira…it seemed he wasn’t swinging at any good pitches today).  They just have to hop on Lee and swing the bat.

Everyone just remember a number of things during the off-day tomorrow

1)       The series is TIED, the Yankees are not down. They are not facing elimination on Monday night and there is a little more margin for error in the ALCS because it is a seven game series.

 

2)      The Yankees have been here before.

 

3)      Anything can happen in October. Just because Lee has dominated us in the past does not mean he will do it on Monday.

 

4)      A.J. Burnett will not see the ball in Game Four if the Yankees lose Game Three…but then again, he could have done exactly what Sabathia and Hughes did today (So everyone can probably stop crucifying Burnett and start worrying more about the rest of the rotation)

 

5)      Everyone just relax. Enjoy some NFL action tomorrow and we’ll go back to the ALCS on Monday.

  

Yankee Fans React to A.J. Burnett Decision

 

The ALCS IS HERE!

As announced on Monday, the New York Yankees will go with a four-man rotation for the American League Championship Series against either the Tampa Bay Rays or Texas Rangers. What this most likely means…

CC Sabathia pitches Game One.

Andy Pettitte pitches Game Two.

Phil Hughes pitches Game Three.

And… .:gulp:.

A.J. Burnett pitches Game Four.

Game Four Starter

Yankee beat reporter Bryan Hoch posted his story to the Yankees’ official Facebook page, sparking an overwhelming reaction from the fans. Much like Burnett’s hot-and-cold behavior, some of the fans were upset and some backed the lanky right-hander.

Another chapter in the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story that is Burnett. Here are some fans responses to the Yankees’ decision of using Burnett in the ALCS:

The Hostile

Uhhhhh.....

 

      ·       “Oh no……Not A.J. We want to win!”–Kibra Phillip

 

      ·       Joe better have the bullpen up in the first. He CANNOT allow this idiot to give up seven runs again. This is not the regular season. His excuses are over. There is no such thing as managing for the long haul.“–Greg Baron

 

 

·         “Please…PLEASE don’t blow it!”–Dawn Diaz

 

·         “Why are they using Burnett?! Keep him on the bench!”–Fran Rutigliano

 

·         “A.J. is horrible.”–David Leary

 

·         “Burnett stinks and does not deserve a spot in the playoffs. What is wrong with a three-man rotation?”–Stuart Knee

 

·         “God help us all.”–Brenda Canizares

 

·         “Do not want.”–Kelly Adcox.

 

·         “Sit him DOWN!”–Teri Horta

 

·         “Burnett is a waste of $82 million. He chokes!”–Mark Slugocki

 

·         “Don’t screw this up, Burnett!”–Brian Trimarchi

 

·         “Well, there’s a loss.”–Amy Fuda Jahnke

 

·         “That’s trouble for the Yankees. A.J. is brutal.”–Patrick Auletto

 

·         “Guaranteed Loss.”–Dillon Coello

 

·         “LOSER. For a veteran pitcher, he doesn’t know how to pitch.”–Allan Reid Nissen

 

·         “Don’t start him.”–Donald Coombs

 

Obviously many people do not believe in Burnett. However, there are quite a few people who think he can pull it out and pitch as effectively as he did in last year’s postseason:

The Faithful

Go A.J.!

 

·         “Burnett can redeem himself with a great outing, but admittedly, given his weak season, we are left to hope rather than expect an effective start. Still, in your corner A.J.!”–Tim Rake

 

·         “Call it a hunch, but I think A.J. will rise to the occasion in Game Four. He’s definitely due.“–Jorge Rafael Ruiz

 

·         “If A.J. performs well in the postseason all will be forgotten…“–Mark Consenza

 

·         “Now is the time for A.J. to prove people wrong.”–Kyle Henebury

 

·         “In Joe I trust…”–Nicholas Castano

 

·         “Yankees fans at the stadium should do their best to encourage A.J. and give him a boost. His issues may be in his head. Stand up, cheer, and give the guy some support.“–Anthony Nuzzi

 

·         “I have a feeling Burnett will do a great job!”–Millie Martin

 

·         A.J. deserves a chance. Let him prove himself.”–Dean Butcher

 

·         “He had an awful season that’s obvious but we’re talking about a guy who throws 95mph with incredible movement and has a knee buckling curve ball. Potential doesn’t guarantee wins but when a guy has that kind of talent you can’t blame the Yankees for trying to catch lightning in a bottle.”–D.J. Braman

·         “He has the nastiest stuff. He just needs to go out there and do it!”–Bill Treadway

 

·         “Stay strong A.J.”–Brigette Burnett (A little curious about this fan…)

 

·         “I will say, Burnett has not had the best season. But who started Game Two of the World Series last year? Who was the one who beat the Red Sox in the second game of this season? He has potential. He has some of the best stuff in the league, he just needs some work. I guarantee he is working his tail off right now so he can be a stud when he pitches.”–Hunter White

 

·         “Show some confidence in the man. It’s easier to pitch with confidence if you know you have the fans behind you. If Dave Eiland believes in him, I think the rest of us armchair managers can too, for one game.“–Andy Fagerlund 

 

·         “I hope he becomes unstoppable and shuts up all the sports commentators…that’s what I’m praying for…”–Joe Santiago, Jr.

 

·         “A.J. deserves a shot! We all know he had a rocky season but he still won 10 games and the Yankees’ offense wasn’t productive during most of his losses. GO YANKEES!”–Frank Berardi

 

·         “Come on, Burnett. You are due for an awesome game.”–Mark Daunt

 

·         “Hopefully A.J. finds his rhythm. He is a Yankee for a reason and I hope he shows it come the ALCS.”–Zac Gallo

 

·         “I fully support A.J. and have faith that he will perform well. And all you haters should be ashamed of yourselves. If you’re a fan of the team, you support the ENTIRE team. That includes management decisions. A.J. is just a reminder to us all that the Yankees aren’t perfect and that’s just how it is. Get over it!”at the Yanks aren’t “perfect” and that’s just how it is. Ge–Val Scho

 

 

As you can easily see by the fans’ reactions, there are naysayers and believers; people who cannot stand the Yankees’ decision and those who are willing to give Burnett a chance to win back the fans.

Along with all these comments, I have to say, a few Yankee fans made me laugh; their words were quite amusing (albeit ridiculous) in the midst of all the skepticism and belief.

The Funny


Funny? 

·         “I’m going to jump off a hill.”–Lorenzo Bellone

 

·         “He will be the only pitcher in MLB history to lose a simulated game.”–Joe Castellano

 

·         “A.J. needs to find a new line of work.”–Eddie Bonnier

 

·         “I’m sure Swisher could make himself available.”–Brian Lesko

 

·         “Hopefully he pitches on a weekend so we can all drink. We’ll probably need it.”–MaryLou DiPalo

 

·         “NO! Kill me now.”–Lisa Korman Minnaker

 

·         “Pray for severe rainstorms.”–Neil Berkman

 

·         “A.J. will pitch the second no-hitter of this postseason. Just watch.”–Taresha Foxx

 

·         “I would rather be tased than watch Burnett pitch another game in pinstripes.”–Mike DeTraglia

 

  • My dead grandmother can pitch better than this guy.”–Johnny Luis Reeves

 

·         “Cringing…ulcer…the runs…and lock jaw!”–David Wilson

 

·         “Please, A.J. Stay home and watch the playoffs on TV.”–Edwin Maradiaga

 

·         “Are they TRYING not to make it to the World Series? This is like the Knicks bringing back Isaiah!”–Rich Kim

 

Finally, among all the hostile, faithful, and funny comments, I came across the most intelligent one. I could not track down who said it, but I totally agree with it…

“I reserve my comment until after he pitches.”

And that’s where I’ll leave it.

 


Do it, Burnett

ALDS Game Three

 

The ALDS is here.

Break out the brooms, the Swiffer Wet Jets, the dust pans, the mops…whatever cleaning device you prefer. Tonight, the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins by a score of 6-1, completing a three-game sweep in the American League Division Series.

The Yanks will now vie for the A.L. pennant against either The Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays.

Another sweep of the twins in the ALDS!The story of the night offensively was the work of Marcus Thames and Nick Swisher. Already up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Thames blasted an opposite-field home run, a shot that landed in the right field stands. It marked Thames’s first career postseason home run and it put the Yanks up 4-0.

 


Marcus Thames clubbed his 1st career playoff home runSwisher followed suit in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run, his second career postseason round-tripper, striking the proverbial nail in the Twins’ coffin.

Jorge Posada started the Yankee scoring in the bottom of the second with an RBI single, knocking in Robinson Cano. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single of his own in the bottom of the third to score Swisher, giving the Yankees their early 2-0 lead.

After Thames’s home run in the fourth, Curtis Granderson scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner, after stealing second and reaching third on an error by catcher Joe Mauer.

Phil Hughes made his first postseason start for the Yankees and he looked as sharp as a brilliantly crafted katana. Hughes tossed seven strong innings of work and gave up no runs on four hits. The 24 year-old right-hander only issued one walk and struck out six batters on his way to a win.

Hughes was a stud on the mound

The only blemish on the Yankee pitching was an RBI single off the bat of Orlando Hudson, which plated Danny Valencia in the top of the eighth off reliever Kerry Wood. With one out and the bases loaded, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi summoned Boone Logan and David Robertson to record the last two outs.

Logan and Robertson delivered, escaping the frame without another run allowed.

Mariano Rivera closed it down in a non-save situation, tossing a perfect ninth inning to secure an ALDS victory.

The Championship Series will begin on Friday, Oct. 15.

 


Bring on the ALCS!!!! 

 

 

Nick Swisher celebrates the Division title

It should comes as no surprise to me that the Yankees won this series. I’ll admit, I was somewhat skeptical coming into this year’s ALDS, simply because of what the Twins had going for them.

I stated in the preview that they had a tremendous record at home (53-28 at home, which I believe was the best in the A.L.). With home field advantage, I never would have guessed that the Yankees could take two from the Twins at Target Field.

In addition to home field advantage, I thought the Twins may have been able to handle Andy Pettitte, being that he had not won a game since July 8. However, Pettitte came up huge in Game Two and was arguably more effective than CC Sabathia in Game One.

I also made mention of Alexi Casilla, Denard Span, and Michael Cuddyer, all of whom I imagined would come up with timely hits in big spots.

Not even close.

Aside from Cuddyer’s Game One, two-run homer, they were ghosts.

I just do not have an answer. The Twins must be perplexed and probably frustrated. I guess they just weren’t meant to beat the Yankees. It’s not as though they have a bad team, either; I think that’s why manager Ron Gardenhire is so confused.

This season, Minnesota was able to beat out a competitive Chicago White Sox team and a fairly resilient team in the Detroit Tigers (at least up until late July-early August). They captured the A.L. Central for the second consecutive year and just could not maintain their bearings when the calendar reached October.

I thought that maybe the Twins could quell their postseason demons, meaning the Yankees. In my head I drew a comparison between the Twins this year and the Yankees last year. The Bombers just could not beat the Angels in the past, as they had been eliminated by them twice (2002, ’05).

Could the Twins, with a number of things finally working in their favor, beat the Yankees in the playoffs, the way the Yankees finally beat the Angels in the playoffs last year? Could the Twins, who just opened their new Stadium, win it all in their first season in their new Stadium the way the Yanks had last year?

No. It could not be done. The Twins fell victim to the almighty Yankees for the fourth time.

A clean sweep.

 


Pop the champagne! 

Inside the Series

·         The Twins were .111 in the ALDS with runners in scoring position. The Yankees hit .360 with men on second and third.

 

·         Curtis Granderson hit .455 in the ALDS, his first postseason series in pinstripes.

 

·         The Twins have now lost 12 consecutive postseason games. Nine of those 12 losses have come at the hands of the Bronx Bombers.

 

·         With his RBI single in the second inning tonight, Jorge Posada passed Mickey Mantle for ninth place on the postseason RBIs list.

 

·          Capturing the win in Game Two, Andy Pettitte now has 19 career postseason wins. No other pitcher in baseball history has as many.

 

·         Before Game Two of the ALDS, Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire burned his uniform from Game One. Well. That didn’t work.

 

·         Heading into Game Two, lefties were hitting .292 off Carl Pavano. Lance Berkman hit a home run and a double off Pavano…from the left side of the plate.

 

·         Mariano Rivera now has 41 postseason saves and 600 all-time in his career (including the playoffs). Brad Lidge is second on baseball’s all-time postseason saves list with 16.

 

·         Rivera now also owns an all-time postseason ERA of 0.72.

 

·         The Yankees outscored the Twins 17-7 in the ALDS.

 

·         Phil Hughes picked up his first postseason win as a starter. He previously won a playoff game against the Cleveland Indians in 2007, coming on in relief of an injured Roger Clemens.

 

·         All-Star catcher and 2009 A.L. MVP Joe Mauer registered no RBIs in the ALDS.

 

·         Mark Teixeira led the Yankees in RBIs with five for the ALDS. Granderson knocked in four runs and Posada drove in three.

 

·         The Yankees became the seventh MLB franchise to win a World Series and then open the next postseason series with a sweep. The last time the Yankees accomplished the feat was 1998-1999, when they beat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.

 

 

Once again, the ALCS will start on Friday Oct. 15 in either Tampa Bay or Texas, pending the outcome of the Rays vs. Rangers series. According to reports, Girardi will meet with his coaching staff to discuss the pitching rotation for the ALCS, needing to decide whether or not to utilize a three or four man rotation.

It all depends on A.J. Burnett’s focus and confidence level.

But that’s another story for later on in the week. Right now, the Yankees can rest knowing they will once again compete for a chance at their 40th American League pennant; they have another chance to once again represent the A.L. in the World Series.   

Rays? Rangers? We’ll soon find out. As for tonight…

I cannot say anything to the Twins. Residents of St. Paul and Minneapolis are probably shaking their heads right now, wondering what they need to do to beat the Yankees; what can they do to finally get over the postseason hump.

And maybe, just maybe…Twins fans are wondering if there’s even an answer.

I certainly do not have one.


Twins can't beat the Yankees. Plain & simple. 

ALDS Game One

 

The ALDS is here.

Around the seventh inning of tonight’s game, Buster Olney tweeted this:

“I know it’s the postseason, but Joe Girardi looks tortured by all this, as he did all the way down the stretch. It looks like no fun for him.”

 


No fun? 

It may not have been fun for the Yankee skipper at the time, but at the end of the night, he probably breathed a huge sigh of relief, as the Yankees battled back from a three-run deficit to beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 in Game One of the American League Division Series.

The difference in the game came off the bat of Mark Teixeira in seventh inning, the very inning Olney noted Girardi’s stressed out body language. With the game knotted at four, the Yankee first baseman blasted a tie-breaking, two-run homer inside the right field foul pole off Jesse Crain to give the Yankees all the run support they needed.

Tex comes through again!

Teixeira ignited the Yankee offense in the sixth inning, crushing a one out double and eventually coming around to score on a base hit by Robinson Cano. Jorge Posada later singled to drive in Alex Rodriguez, and now has 40 career postseason RBIs.

 

Granderson's triple gave the Yanks the lead

Curtis Granderson capped off the sixth with a monster triple to score Cano and Posada, giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the frame. The lead was short-lived however, as Yankee starter CC Sabathia walked Jim Thome with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth to knot the game up at four.

Sabathia battled through six innings of work tonight, but hit a few bumps on the way to a win. Michael Cuddyer took the Yankee ace deep in the bottom of the second for a two-run home run, and a passed ball allowed Orlando Hudson to score from third, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead after the first three innings of the game.

Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Kerry Wood held the Twins scoreless after Sabathia’s departure while Mariano Rivera nailed down his 40th career postseason save. The Great Rivera is the all-time postseason saves leader and no one else even comes close to 40 career postseason saves.

In fact Brad Lidge, who is second on the postseason saves list, only has 16.

Francisco Liriano held his own for the better part of the game, mowing over the Yankees until he reached the sixth inning. He finished the night with 5 2/3 innings pitched and he allowed four earned runs on six hits.

Liriano walked three batters and struck out seven.   

Despite Liriano’s effort, it all came crashing down on the Twins, as it has so many times when they have played the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers have now won their last seven postseason games against the Twins, dating back to the 2004 ALDS.

With the win tonight, the Yankees have also taken Home Field advantage away from the Twins.


Pettitte vs. Pavano in Game TwoTomorrow night Andy Pettitte (11-3, 3.28 ERA) will take on former Yankee Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75 ERA) in a rematch of Game Three of the 2009 ALDS. Pettitte will be making his 41st career postseason start and he stated today that, despite how he has been pitching lately, “everything feels different when the playoffs begin.”

Pettitte has not won a game since July 8 and has only made three starts since coming back from the disabled list. In those three starts, he is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.

On the other hand, Pavano has had little success against a pair of the Yankees’ key hitters. Derek Jeter owns a .429 lifetime batting average against the Twins’ Game Two starter. Tonight’s hero Teixeira has five RBIs and a home run lifetime against Pavano, along with a .333 career batting average against him.

It’s no secret that Game Two is a must-win for Minnesota. If they cannot get it done tomorrow night, it is obvious their chances of advancing to the next round of the postseason are slim.

Meanwhile the Yankees will look to keep on rolling over the Twins.

Chill out, Girardi.   

To Be or Not To Be: An ALDS Preview

 

The ALDS is here.

They say retaining is tougher than obtaining.

Last year, the New York Yankees obtained their 27th World Series Championship. Here we are, almost a year after they won number 27, and the Bronx Bombers are looking to repeat as World Champs.

And much like last year, the Yanks will begin their quest to the title against the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series. Tomorrow night 21-game winner CC Sabathia will take the hill, opposed by 14-game winner and the 2010 American League Comeback Player of the Year, Francisco Liriano.

Game One could very well be a legitimate pitcher’s duel.

The same could be said about Game Two, which will feature postseason ace Andy Pettitte facing former Yankee and 17-game winner Carl Pavano. Game Three will take the series back to Yankee Stadium where Phil Hughes (18-8, 4.19 ERA) will square off against Brian Duensing (10-3, 2.62 ERA).

It seems to me that there are many things working in the Yankees’ favor in this series, but just as many things working against them. Everything is up in the October air right now, and it is the Yanks’ series to win…or lose.

In the Yankees’ Favor


 

Things work in the Yanks favor vs. the Twins

 

·  History vs. Twins

This one almost goes without saying.

The Yankees have eliminated Minnesota three times in the first round of the playoffs (2003, ’04, and ’09). In ’03 and ’04 the Yankees won three games to one. Last year it was a clean sweep, as the Yankees took care of the Twins in three.

 

·         The Yankees vs. Liriano

Brett Gardner, Marcus Thames, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Nick Swisher all have stellar career numbers against the Twins’ Game One starter. Combined, they own a .435 batting average against Liriano, coupled with four home runs and seven RBIs.

Winning the first game of the series is always important and can genuinely set the tone of a playoff series. While it looks to be a pitcher’s duel, the good numbers are probably in the back of Yankee manager Joe Girardi’s head–something he will most likely consider when putting together the lineup card.

 

·         The Twins Aren’t Clutch?

Since the Twins took Game One of the 2004 ALDS from the Yankees, they have lost nine consecutive postseason games. In those nine games, they have been outscored 52-28 by the opposition.

When the calendar turns to October, the Twins’ offense seems to be switched off.

 

·         No Morneau

Before Justin Morneau was injured with a concussion on July 7, he was in the discussion for the A.L. Most Valuable Player Award. In the 81 games he played this season, he hit .345 with 18 homer runs and 56 RBIs. In fact, he led the Twins with Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at 5.6.

Morneau has been ruled out for the entire postseason. The absence of a rather dangerous hitter in the Twins’ lineup might somewhat ease the pressure on the New York pitchers.

 

·         Ron Gardenhire’s Attitude

In the press conference after team workouts today, the Twins’ skipper referred to this series as a classic “David vs. Goliath” match. Ron Gardenhire sees his team as David, trying to take out the almighty Goliath-like Bronx Bombers.

He made a great analogy.

Under Gardenhire, the Twins are 18-54 in 72 games against the Yankees, and they only average 3.6 runs per game against the Bombers. The Twins are also 2-9 vs. the Yanks in October, contributing to the skipper’s underdog attitude.

 

·         Alex Rodriguez Carryover?

Up until last year, the Yankees’ slugging third baseman was revered as a goat in the postseason. From his infamous “slap of the ball” out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in 2004 to his deer-in-the-headlights strikeout with the bases loaded against Joel Zumaya in 2006, Alex Rodriguez struggled when it came to the playoffs.

 

 

I got you.

But all that changed last October.

Rodriguez erased his troubled postseason past with a .378 batting average in last year’s playoffs, along with hitting six homers and knocking in 18 runs. In last year’s ALDS vs. the Twins, Rodriguez hit .455 and slugged 1.000.

He went from “Alexander the Goat” to “Alexander the Great.”

And Rodriguez has really turned it on this past month. In September, he hit .309 with nine homers, 26 RBIs, and maintained a .667 slugging percentage.

If last year is any indication of how well A-Rod can do under pressure, and if he carries his September numbers into October, the Yanks will be in good shape whenever he steps up to the plate.

   

 

The Yankees certainly have plenty of things working for them. However, there are certainly a number of factors working against them as the playoffs begin…

 

The Twins Can win it, though...

Working Against The Yankees

·         Home Field Disadvantage

I know many people say “home field advantage means nothing.” The fact is that home field advantage can mean something, especially because the Yankees do not have it at all this postseason.

Joe Torre said it best: “It’s hard to win extra-inning games on the road.”

He couldn’t be more correct. The Yankees lost five one-run games on the road in the month of September, along with dropping an extra-inning game against Boston this past weekend. In terms of the postseason…well…2004 at Fenway Park is evidence of that “hard-to-win extra-inning-games-on-the-road” mentality.

The Twins were also 53-28 this season at Target Field, which doesn’t help the Yankees’ cause.

 

·         The REAL Andy Pettitte?

The Yankees’ Game Two starter has tremendous numbers in the playoffs. As the winningest pitcher in postseason baseball history, Andy Pettitte owns an 18-9 playoff record with an ERA of 3.90. Lifetime in the ALDS, Pettitte is 5-3 with a 3.73 ERA.

There’s no denying that Pettitte has been championship-tested. But what will we see this year?

Since coming back from his groin injury (suffered in July) Pettitte is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.

In his final start of 2010 on Saturday, Pettitte was roughed up by third-place Boston, getting chased from the game after four innings of work. He surrendered three earned runs and scattered nine hits, as he walked two batters and struck out eight.

Pettitte remains a little bit of a question mark right now. He hasn’t made it out of the fourth inning in each of his last two starts and has not won a game since July 8.

If the Yanks want to win it, Pettitte has to be in his regular, dominant form.

 

·         Phil Hughes at Yankee Stadium

Although Phil Hughes has 11 wins at home this season, he is far from perfect. The Yankees’ Game Three starter has a 4.66 ERA when playing in the Bronx, opposed to a 3.47 ERA on the road.

Simply put, Hughes gives up more runs at home.

This season, Hughes has failed to keep the ball inside the Yankee Stadium Park. Of the 25 homers he surrendered, 20 of them were given up at Yankee Stadium.

 


Phil Hughes has not done all that well at home this season 

Furthermore, of the 82 earned runs Hughes has allowed this year, 55 of them have been given up at home. He also issued 39 of his 58 walks at Yankee Stadium, subjecting his stats to worse numbers at home than on the road.

If you ask me, Hughes should be the Game Two starter, that way he does not have to pitch at home, where, as his numbers indicate, he tends to struggle.

 

·         Alexi Casilla, Denard Span, and Michael Cuddyer

There are not many Twins hitters who have a great deal of success against CC Sabathia. Come to think of it, there aren’t many hitters in the entire American League who have a great deal of success against Sabathia.

However, Alexi Casilla owns a .692 batting average against Sabathia with one career RBI. Denard Span is .333 lifetime vs. Sabathia, and is a serious threat to run when he gets on base.

Michael Cuddyer only has a .222 batting average vs. Sabathia, but he has taken the Yankee ace deep once in his life for one RBI.

 

·         Curtis Granderson vs. Left-Handed Pitching

Before the Yankees acquired him from Detroit, there was a lot of chatter about Curtis Granderson’s struggles against left-handed pitching. He finished the 2010 season with 24 homers and 67 RBIs on top of a .247 batting average.

However, against lefties this year, Granderson only hit .234.

This would not be such a problem if two of the first three Twins starters this postseason were not left-handed pitchers (Liriano and Duensing).

Granderson has a little bit of experience in the playoffs; in 2006 he made it all the way to the World Series as a member of the Tigers only to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals. Lifetime in the postseason he has a .226 average with three homers and seven RBIs.

How he performs in his first postseason as a Yankee remains to be seen, but he may need to spend some extra time in the batting cage if he continues to struggle against left-handers.

 

·         Wild Card Losers

The Yankees were favorites to win the AL East, but it was swiped from under them on the last day of the season by the Tampa Bay Rays. The Bronx Bombers enter as the AL Wild Card winners, something that, historically, has not paid dividends.

The Yanks have never won the World Series when entering the postseason as the Wild Card.

In 1995, the Yankees won the AL Wild Card and were booted from playoff contention at the hands of the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS. In 2007, the Yanks once again captured the elusive Wild Card spot, only to fall to the Cleveland Indians in round one.

As much as the postseason history plays in the Yankees’ favor (their past vs. the Twins) it works against them (they have never won a World Series as a Wild Card team).

 

It’s anybody’s pennant to win. The road to 28 starts now…

 


Can the Yanks do it....???

As Trade Deadline Looms, Rodriguez Pushes For 600

 

 

Trade deadline is tomorrow...A-Rod is pushing for 600 homers.

As the Major League Baseball non-waivers trade deadline rapidly approaches–tomorrow afternoon at 4:00–Alex Rodriguez continues his chase for 600 home runs.

 

The Yankees did not panic when Andy Pettitte hurt his groin and went to the disabled list. They first allowed Sergio Mitre to take Pettitte’s place in the rotation, a move that did not pay off. On July 24 Mitre lost to the Kansas City Royals, tossing 4 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on seven hits.

 

Manager Joe Girardi said Mitre “wasn’t stretched out enough to be starting.”

 

Yesterday Dustin Moseley took the ball for Pettitte and put on quite a performance. The 28 year-old right hander pitched six innings of solid ball. He gave up one run and scattered four hits while walking two batters and striking out four. For his effort he earned himself a win over the Cleveland Indians.

 

Dustin Moseley pitched for Pettitte yesterday night 

 

Not bad for a spot start. I think he earned himself another start on Tuesday vs. Toronto.

 

In a blog post last week I said the Yankees need another arm, but if Moseley can handle the load and pitch the way he did last night, the Yanks may not need one. I suggested Dan Haren, but he has already been traded to the Los Angeles Angels. (He’s also already injured, as he was hit on the right forearm with a comeback line drive, but that’s another story for another time)

 

It doesn’t seem as if the Yankees are interested in Brian Bannister, the second hurler I pointed out as a possible target for the Bronx Bombers. Bannister was beaten by the Yankees on July 23, a game in which he only pitched 4 2/3 innings. He was touched up for four earned runs on six hits; he walked two batters and struck out five.

 

 


Brian Bannister (I guess) won't be joining the Yanks 

His season record fell to 7-9, but I still think he has potential. If he was on a team that gave him more run support (like the Yankees) I have a feeling his numbers would be a lot better.

 

It doesn’t look as though the Yankees are seeking any pitching help. I am however hearing a lot of yapping about “adding another bat” and the name that keeps popping up is Adam Dunn, the Washington Nationals’ first baseman. He would be a good addition to the team. Being a power-hitting lefty, Dunn could certainly use the short porch in Yankee Stadium to his advantage.

 

According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the two teams that are interested in Dunn are the Yankees and their opponent for this weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays. Olney said that each team is trying to make sure the other team doesn’t land Dunn, as they are in a heated race for the American League Eastern Division.

 

This morning, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees “are not out on Dunn, that they may be using negotiation tactics to try and get him, and to not count them out on any player.”

 

 


Adam Dunn to the Yanks? 

Will he be traded to New York before tomorrow afternoon at 4:00? At the moment, nothing is etched in stone. It could happen and I would like to see it happen, but if it doesn’t, then it’s not a huge blow to the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers still have the best record in the majors without Dunn; getting him can only help and not getting him can’t hurt.

 

So do the Yankees really need to make a huge trade at all?

 

Well….any sort of minor trade can also help them. Consider last year’s trade for Jerry Hairston, Jr. Was he the best hitter on the team? No. Was he a Gold-Glove caliber fielder? Probably not. But did he do little things to help the team win and make a difference when it mattered?

 

 


Jerry Hairston scored the winning run in Game Two of the '09 ALCS 

Absolutely. He had that utility quality about himself, and he was a good pickup right before the deadline last year. After all, he did score the winning run in Game Two of the American League Championship Series. And as I understand, he is having a decent season over in San Diego for the N.L. West-leading Padres.

 

Even if the Yanks make a small trade a la the Hairston swap last year, it could make a world of difference come October.

 

As for A-Rod…

 

The Yankees’ third baseman clubbed his 599th career home run on Thursday July 22 vs. Kansas City. After a week, he has failed to put one in the seats and join the exclusive 600 Club–a club only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willy Mays, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Sammy Sosa are currently members of.

 

 


A-Rod is going for 600 this weekend 

Rodriguez was 4-for-21 in the last four games vs. Cleveland and overall is 9-for-30 since smacking number 599 last Thursday. He has gone 34 plate appearances without a round-tripper and seems to be pressing just a little bit.

 

It’s almost as if he is going through the same thing he went through in 2007 before reaching 500 home runs. Rodriguez had to wait eight days and 28 at-bats to belt number 500, so he certainly knows how it feels.

 

If he were to reach 600 homers this weekend, it wouldn’t be the first time Rodriguez has hit a meaningful home run at Tropicana Field. On Oct. 4 of last season, Rodriguez clobbered two home runs in the same inning, one of which was hit off tonight’s starter Wade Davis. The other homer was a grand slam to give him 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the year.

 


Will 600 happen at Tropicana Field?    

 

Talk about a hitting show.

 

This season, Rodriguez has not left the yard at Tropicana Field, but is hitting .417 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Obviously his chances to hit 600 are good this weekend, so long as he doesn’t press and maintains an easy, fluid swing.

 

I noticed last night when Jess Todd struck him out swinging in the eighth inning, A-Rod looked like he wanted to hit a 15-run home run. He swung too early and he looks like he is trying too hard. If he eases up and stops pushing (which he is fully capable of doing) he will reach the milestone and get it over with.

 

Once again, all eyes on A-Rod this weekend.

 

 


All eyes on Alex Rodriguez as he goes for 600 home runs 

 

I’d like to take the time and thank MLBlogs for featuring Yankee Yapping on their main page! I came across this and enjoyed the little write-up they did on me.

 

 


On the main page of MLBlogs! 

This was very cool and I do hope to write for MLB.com sometime in the NEAR future!

 

Just to clarify something, however; I just graduated from Mercy College and there will only be one more story I am submitting to my school’s newspaper–that would be a story on Brian Sweeney, who pitched for Mercy when he attended the school.

 

I am taking my interview, which I conducted here on MLBlogs, and turning it into a feature article for the school paper. Even though I graduated, I am still going to use it for a clip to put into my portfolio. That will be my last article as Sports Editor.

 

Once again, thanks MLB.com for the write-up and the exposure. I hope to be working for you very soon!!! ;)

The Strange Story of Joe Torre vs. The Yankees

 

 

This weekend was Rocky V-esque.

 

Think back to the movie “Rocky V” for a second. I know it’s hard to, since it’s the worst sequel in the “Rocky” movie series. Boxing promoter George Washington Duke wants Rocky to fight his protégé Tommy “The Machine” Gunn. In the end Rocky takes him on in a street fight and mercilessly beats him.

 

“Rocky V” came out in 1990. Now fast forward to Saturday–it was almost the same principle.

 

Teacher vs. Student 

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers, headed by former New York Yankee manager Joe Torre, decisively beat Joe Girardi’s Yanks 9-4. The Bronx Bombers had won on Friday by a count of 2-1, setting up the rubber game yesterday night.

 

Girardi served as a player and a coach under Torre, so in the words of Duke, it would be “Old lion vs. young lion; teacher vs. pupil” for the series win.

 

old lion vs. young lion 

 

And what a rubber game it was.

 

The Dodgers seemingly had an easy series victory heading into the ninth inning, leading 6-2 with one out and the flame-throwing Jonathan Broxton on the mound. Who would have guessed the Yankees would play the role of comeback kids?

 

The Bombers scored four runs in the ninth frame to knot the game at six. A double by Robinson Cano to score Alex Rodriguez, a single by Chad Huffman to score Cano and Jorge Posada, and a fielder’s choice by Colin Curtis to score Curtis Granderson.

 

 


Granderson scored the tying run in the ninth inning 

An improbable, but not impossible comeback–how many times have we seen this from the Yankees? (Whether they were managed by Torre or Girardi)

 

Cano later played the role of hero, belting a long two-run homer to left-center field in the top of the tenth, his 15th round-tripper of the season, to put the Yankees up 8-6.

 

From there they never looked back, taking the series from the Dodgers 2-1 and leaving So-Cal with a record of 47-28, still in first place in the AL East.

 

Cano the hero!!!! 

 

The pupil prevailed over the teacher this weekend, and it really came down to the pitching.

 

Broxton had thrown 19 pitches on Saturday and tossed an overwhelming amount of pitches during last night’s game. In fact, the Dodgers’ closer threw 48 pitches over the one inning he worked.

 

Don’t you think that’s enough? Closers are not supposed to be throwing 67 pitches over two days. They are not really built for that kind of work. Granted, the Yankees were extremely patient with Broxton; Posada and Curtis both worked 10-pitch at-bats, while Granderson worked an eight-pitch at-bat.

 

Among all three of those hitters, Broxton tossed 28 pitches.

 

But Torre refused to take him out. It even took him awhile to get another pitcher up and warming in the bullpen before Broxton went on to blow the lead. When he could have taken Broxton out for another pitcher, he left him in the game, only to lose it.

 

And this, my friends, is (why I think) the Yankees had to let Torre go.

 

Do not misunderstand me; I have nothing but respect for him. Every year he was Yankee manager he led his team to the playoffs. Four times out of those 12 (which would translate to 1/3 of his years as Yankee manager) he took them all the way to the World Series Title. Six out of those 12 seasons (or 1/2 of his years as Yankee manager) the Yankees were in the World Series.

 

Torre is a winner. 

 

From where the Yankees were (which in a lot of ways they were in a state of mediocrity from the early 1980s into the late ’90s) Torre brought them back. He turned the team around and the Yankees, under Torre, once again became THE YANKEES.

 

Torre’s resume and what he did at the helm of the Yankees speaks for itself. Four World Titles, six pennants…that’s just amazing. Most managers can only dream about what Torre did when he was the head man for the Bronx Bombers.

 

However some of his decisions regarding the bullpen were often criticized, especially towards the end of his run in 2006 and 2007. As far as that criticism goes, it was well-deserved. He over-used many of his bullpen pitchers and slowly they faded away; they lost their luster and were never the same pitchers again.

 

Consider former Yankee relief pitcher Scott Proctor. From 2004-05 with the Yankees (and under Torre) he only made 56 appearances out of the bullpen–which is respectable over a two-year span. But in 2006, Torre used him out of the ‘pen 83 times and he tossed a mind-numbing 102 1/3 innings.

 

Scott Proctor...did Torre ruin his arm? 

 

For a reliever, that’s just absurd; it’s not even fair! And it was the same story in 2007.

 

Before the Yankees traded him to the Dodgers for Wilson Betemit in the middle of the ’07 season, Proctor was used 52 times with 54 1/3 innings already under his belt. He once again finished the season with 83 appearances and 86 1/3 innings pitched.

 

Again, it just wasn’t right for Torre to use him that many times.

 

Buster Olney, baseball insider and author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty” mentioned in his book that one of Torre’s former pitchers (who chose to go unnamed) said, “I think Joe Torre is a great manager. He nearly ruined my arm, but he is a great manager.”

 

I have no doubt in my mind that Proctor was the pitcher who said this.  

 

On the night of Oct. 8, 2007, Yankee Stadium burst into a loud chant of “Joe Torr-e (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!)” It was his final game as Yankee manager and this was the fans’ way of saying goodbye, as they knew this would probably be his last round as Yankee skipper.

 

I was watching the game at home and something was happening to me; I felt strange and sad. I also knew Torre’s days as head of the Yankees were numbered and as soon as the Yankees exited the first round of the playoffs he would probably be gone.

 

Last game as Yankee skipper... 

 

It was sad to me, because he was really the only Yankee manager I knew; when Buck Showalter was the manger before Torre, I was young and not nearly as big of a Yankee fan as I am now.

 

I remember texting my dad after the game was over, and I expressed my sadness about Torre. My dad’s response: “It doesn’t matter what the Yankees do. He is still the BEST manager in baseball!”

 

That text message almost made me cry–because at the time I believed it was true.  

 

The Yankees offered Torre a small salary at the conclusion of ’07–$6 million for a year, plus an additional $million for every round of the playoffs he could make it through. If he could reach and win the World Series, he could potentially make $9 million.

 

The offer, to me, was insulting and disrespectful.

 

How could the Yankees, in their right minds, basically (in not so many words) say, “Well Mr. Torre, you haven’t won the title in a long time; seven years, in fact. Maybe the money will give you extra incentive to want to win it all again.”

 

In his first year as Yankee manager, Torre brought them a title. It had been 18 years since the Yankees had won a Championship. The New York newspapers even went out of their way to call him “Clueless Joe” when he was named skipper, thinking he had no idea what he was doing.

 

Clueless? I don't think so! 

 

He certainly proved that he did know what he was doing when it came to management–at least up until the end of his tenure.

 

Apparently the Yankee organization looked past all that when they came up with the poor excuse for a deal. I still cannot believe they offered him that deal, but I also think the Yankees knew what they were doing; I think they wanted to make him that deal because they knew he wouldn’t accept it.

 

Basically, they were trying to move him out and they succeeded.

 

It seems now that the Yankees (in a way) have turned on Torre. There has been speculation about a “rift” between Torre and Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ General Manager. After all, Cashman is responsible for coming up with the deals and is really the main person in charge of negotiations, so the idea for Torre’s insulting deal could have been his brainchild.

 

I don’t think Torre’s book “The Yankee Years” helped at all, either.

 

Yankee Years didn't help Torre's rep 

 

In the book, Torre mentioned something about Rodriguez and how he and others called him “A-Fraud.” I never really heard Torre deny the claim or refute it in any way, so maybe he did say some unfavorable things about his superstar player.

 

A-Fraud? 

 

As for Rodriguez: he didn’t care. When A-Rod was going through the “steroid saga” prior to the 2009 season, Torre’s comments in the book came up in questioning. Rodriguez simply stated, “I’m a good receiver, not a good ragger. When people rag on me, I take it. But I don’t like to rag on other people.”

 

Torre and Rodriguez hadn’t spoken until Sunday, when A-Rod approached his former manager during batting practice and talked with him. If you ask me, it was one of those, “Everyone has noticed we haven’t said anything to each other, so let’s just say something to each other to get them off our backs.”

 

It’s nothing Bill Belichick hasn’t done a million times in his life.

 

If the media hadn’t pointed it out, would Rodriguez have said anything to Torre at all? I’m not sure. I don’t really think it matters now, anyway. They acknowledged one another and now the press can stop talking about it.

 

All I can say now is that I have the utmost respect for Torre. I don’t think he makes the right decisions in terms of his bullpen, and last night was just another example of that. To leave Broxton in for that long was simply a bad move; it backfired on him, as it has several times when he was Yankee manager.

 

Yet I haven’t forgotten him; in my mind, he will always be a Yankee legend. No matter how bad his rift is with the organization, no matter what he said in his book, and no matter how far away he is, he will always be my favorite Yankee skipper.

 

But…I am sure glad we beat him this weekend. I love Torre, but I LOVE the Yankees.  

Slam Dunk: Yankees Having a Grand Ol’ Season

The New York Yankees enjoyed another win today, beating the Houston Astros 9-3. The Bronx Bombers are now 39-23, a season-high 16 games above .500.

 

Derek Jeter smacked a lead-off homer, belting a solo dinger over the left field wall and into the visiting bullpen. That round-tripper marked Jeter’s 24th career lead-off homer, which ties him with Ricky Henderson for most lead-off homers in team history.

 

 


Derek Jeter hit two homers today 

One more and Jeter will have the Yankee lead-off home run record.

 

Including the postseason, that home run also marked Jeter’s 3,000th career hit. Yeah, I know it was not his real 3,000th career hit, but it still says a lot about how much the Yankee Captain has done over the years.

 

Later in the game, Jeter was at it again. In the in bottom of the sixth he crushed a three-run homer, this time to right-center field. He now has nine career multi-homer games, eight homers on the season, and he finished the day with four RBIs.

 

Although Jeter did not hit a grand slam, he might as well be credited with one. This brings me to my point: grand slams. It seems this season the Yanks have been frequently leaving the yard when the bases are loaded.

 

June 12: Jorge Posada

 

 


Jorge Posada visited granny today! 

The Yankee catcher was struggling mightily heading into today. But with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Jorge Posada took an 0-1 curveball over the right-center field wall. It was his seventh home run of the year and eighth career grand slam.

 

Posada’s visit to granny today also marked his 250th career home run. He is now one of five catchers to have hit 250 homers, had 1,500 hits, and 350 doubles in a career. The others are Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench.

 

That stat could perhaps be Hall of Fame worthy for the Yankee backstop.

 

Before Posada took Astros’ starter Wandy Rodriguez deep, the game was tied 2-2. With one swing of the bat Posada gave the Yankees a four run lead which they never looked back from. He later singled to right field in the fifth and was hit by a pitch in the seventh.

 

Perhaps Posada has turned the corner and has broken out of his slump. Entering today, he only had two hits in his last 29 at-bats. In other good news for Posada, it was confirmed after today’s win that he will be catching behind the plate in tomorrow’s series finale vs. Houston.

 

After coming back from the disabled list on June 2, Posada had not caught a game and had been confined to the designated hitter spot. With the majority of the team banged up, it’ll be interesting to see who Joe Girardi puts in the DH hole tomorrow.

 

As for Posada, nicely done. He needs to keep on swinging the bat the way he did today.

 

 

June 8: Curtis Granderson

 


Curtis Granderson slammed on June 8  

 

On Tuesday, the 29 year-old centerfielder broke out the mustard and rye for a grand salami against the Baltimore Orioles. Curtis Granderson took O’s starter Kevin Millwood deep to right field in the top of the third inning.

 

For Granderson, it was his second career grand slam and his fourth homer of 2010.

 

The big blast made it 6-0 Yankees and the Bombers went on to take the game 12-7 from the Orioles. One of the better parts of Granderson’s granny was the fact that it came off a left-handed pitcher.

 

After he was acquired by the Yankees this past off-season, many people said Granderson has trouble hitting lefties. While he is currently only hitting .217 vs. lefties, Granderson has a .248 overall batting average, which is something he can work on as the season progresses.

 

Also keep in mind his numbers might have been a little better if he had not injured himself and been sidelined on May 1. Granderson missed practically the entire month of May, but since his return has not been struggling nearly as badly as he was before he went down.

 

When he went on the disabled list, Granderson was hitting a weak .225.

 

But he has since raised his average, has played some prodigious defense in centerfield, and has been a better offensive player. The grand slam on Tuesday was just another example of how much of an asset he can be to a team.

 

Down the stretch we will probably see more great things from him.

 

 

May 14 & 31: Alex Rodriguez

 


Alex Rodriguez has hit two grand slams this year 

 

Twice (so far) this season, the Yankee slugger has cleared the bases with one swing.

 

On May 14, Alex Rodriguez took Minnesota Twins’ reliever Matt Guerrier deep into the left field seats for a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh, a go-ahead moon shot that gave the Yanks a 7-4 lead. The Bronx Bombers went on to win 8-4.  

 

Guerrier had come into the game to face Rodriguez after an intentional walk of Mark Teixeira, much to the confusion of almost everyone in the ballpark. Heading into the at-bat, Rodriguez was 4-for-6 lifetime vs. Guerrier, four of those hits being home runs.

 

Twins’ skipper Ron Gardenhire gambled and it didn’t pay off. He said after the game, “In that situation it’s kind of like you have to pick your poison.”

 

That marked Rodriguez’s 19th career grand slam and his 587th career homer, which put him ahead of Eddie Murray on the all-time home runs list–seventh place.

 

17 days later, the third baseman did it again, this time vs. the Cleveland Indians.

 

 


A-Rod's second granny came on May 31 

On May 31, Rodriguez came up (again) in the bottom of the seventh with the bases chucked. The Yankees were only leading 2-1 at that point and once again Teixeira was intentionally walked before the opposing hurler threw to Rodriguez.  

 

With a full count, Rodriguez absolutely murdered the offering and deposited it into Monument Park for a glorious-looking grand slam. It was his 20th career bases-loaded homer and 590th career round-tripper.

 

The Yankees went on to cruise into an 11-2 win over the Tribe.

 

Now with 20 career grannies, Rodriguez sits in third place on the all-time career grand slams list behind Manny Ramirez (21) and Lou Gehrig (23).  

 

At press time Rodriguez has eight homers on the year with a .290 batting average and 43 RBIs. He is having an “A-Rod” type season, and he will probably hit well enough to finish with at least 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs.

 

As long as Rodriguez stays healthy, he will be in good shape. He had to sit out these last three games because of an injury to his hip. He was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right his flexor, coupled with groin stiffness. Girardi said that will continue to evaluate Rodriguez every day, indicating that he probably doesn’t know when he will return to the lineup.

 

Hope he gets back soon; Rodriguez is one of the biggest threats on the team. Playing a scuffling Astros team, the Yanks were able to win these last two games without him. But can they win their upcoming games against the defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets without A-Rod?

 

Well, we might not have to worry about it. With any luck, our cleanup man will be back before either one of those series begins.

 

May 28: Robinson Cano

 


Cano hit a grand slam on May 28 

 

Three days before Rodriguez’s second grand slam this year, the Yankees’ hot-hitting second baseman smacked a grand slam of his own. Against the Indians on May 28, Robinson Cano blasted a seventh inning slam off Tribe reliever Tony Sipp.

 

With the bases-loaded blast, Cano now has three career slams.

 

That night was special for Cano, not only because he hit a grand slam, but because it was the first time in his career he batted from the number four spot in the lineup. Before the game, Girardi actually asked Cano if he was comfortable being the number four hitter.

 

Cano reassured him he was fine with it and obviously he was; it worked out nicely. Cano didn’t feel the pressure and came through with a big time blast. In fact, Cano said after the game that it was a good feeling to be the cleanup hitter and that it was “exciting.”

 

The Yankees carried on and beat the Indians 8-2.

 

Because of Rodriguez’s hip flexor injury, Cano has batted from the cleanup spot these last two games. Over the last two days, Cano has collected a pair of hits and scored two runs along with maintaining the best batting average in the American League with .371.

 

By the end of the season Cano will probably have to make more room in his trophy case. There could be a batting title in his future. If he keeps up the outstanding numbers an MVP Award could be there and of course the big one–another championship ring if everything goes according to plan.

 

Right now Cano is a hitting machine that mainly produces RBIs. And it doesn’t look like he is slowing down, either. That only means good things for the Yanks and scary things for opposing pitchers.

 

 

So there you have it. The Yankees are having a “grand” old season.  

 

Two things I have noticed about their grand slams this year: all of them have come in either the third or seventh inning…and every game they have hit a grand slam in, they have gone on to win.

 

Interesting.

 

As I said before, I wish we could credit Jeter with a grand slam today. Instead he got two homers and four RBIs. The Yankee Captain only has one career slam–in June of 2005 he hit his first career grand slam at Yankee Stadium vs. the Cubs.

 

I’m sure Jeter will take anything as long as the Yanks win, which they did. Tomorrow they will look to sweep the Astros behind Phil Hughes (8-1, 2.71 ERA).

 

The 23 year-old righty will be gunning for his ninth win of the season and will be opposed by Brian Moehler (0-2, 6.12 ERA).

The Times, They Are A-Changin’ Part I

Here we are on June 11, 60 games into the 2010 MLB season. The New York Yankees are currently sitting in second place in the American League Eastern Division standings. The only team standing between the Bronx Bombers and first place is the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Through 60 games last season, the Yanks were 34-26 while this year they are 37-23. In terms of their record, the team is doing three games better this year than they were this far into last year’s campaign. But the record is just the record. The numbers are just the numbers.

 

Is this the same team we saw in 2009?

 

The answer is no.

 

As I have noticed the differences between ’09 and ’10, I will be writing a multiple-part blog over the next few days pointing out what is different in terms of the Yankees, whether it is good or bad. For the first part, I opted to write about…

 

The Core Four

 

 


The Core Four Yankees...how much longer...? 

The first thing I have noticed a difference in…well, in some ways.

 

Although Derek Jeter is still a god in New York, there’s no denying the fact that his age is (just about) catching up to him. He can still hit, as evidenced by his .296 batting average this season, but on defense he looks more off than I can ever remember seeing him.

 

Jeter can still make beautiful web gems–I haven’t forgotten about his amazing jump throw on May 26 against the Minnesota Twins. But his lateral range is just not what is used to be. According to many people I have talked to, he was never the greatest defender anyway.

 

Jeter's range has gone down, but he is still a beast 

 

I never believed that. Jeter’s Gold Gloves and patented mid-air spin speak for themselves. Unlike last year however, (so far) this year he has not looked like the Jeter of old. He only has three errors this year and last year he only committed eight, which isn’t a bad number.

 

Jeter is who he is. As Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox, said earlier this season, “Jeter is god. Who wouldn’t want him on their team?” He is right; there really is not anything bad I can say about the Captain. It’s almost taboo as a Yankee fan to badmouth or try to negate Jeter’s credibility.  

 

While this is true, it is apparent Jeter is aging–which has nothing to do with how good he is, it’s just a fact of life and what unfortunately happens to all of us! The Yankee Captain will be 36 by the end of the month and I just wonder how many more years he has left in him.

 

Then there’s Jorge Posada.

 

The Yankee catcher was injured on May 16, taking a foul ball off his foot behind the plate and sustaining a fracture. He went to the 15-day disabled list and missed about two weeks before returning to the lineup on June 2–as a designated hitter.

 


Posada has not caught since coming back from the DL  
 

 

Since coming back from his injury, Posada has not caught a game and has been relegated to the DH spot–a spot he has not been very productive in. In the eight games he has played upon his return, the 38 year-old catcher (who will be 39 in August) has only collected three hits in 27 at-bats.

 

Meanwhile, Francisco Cervelli has been clipping together a decent season in Posada’s absence. The 24 year-old is currently hitting .280. Even though he does not hit for power and has no homers, he has 25 RBIs on the year.

 

Looking at it statistically, Cervelli is hitting four points higher than Posada for average and has 10 more runs batted in. Not only that, but it seems Cervelli is becoming the likely candidate to succeed Posada. There was a stretch where Cervelli caught nine games in a row before Joe Girardi had to plug the other backup catcher Chad Moeller behind the plate.

 

I remember once thinking to myself, “Who does Cervelli think he is? The starting catcher?!”

 

But hey, it has not been a bad thing. Cervelli has done a wonderful job and possesses great offensive numbers with two outs and runners in scoring position. I can only hope he generates a little bit more power and knocks some homers out of the park.

 

Francisco Cervelli has filled in well for Jorge 

 

As for Posada, I hope he can remain healthy. In recent years he has certainly had his share of injuries and it is perfectly understandable. After all, he is playing arguably the most difficult position on the field; catchers have to take the most abuse and punishment of all baseball players.

 

After 2011 Posada’s contract is up and he will be 40. Will he be a Yankee after next year? Will he be able to catch every day? Will he retire?

 

All of these questions remain to be seen. But any way it goes, things will be different. And as far as the Yankee catching situation goes at press time, in some ways they already are. Posada has not been an everyday catcher

 

Now onto Mariano Rivera.

 

A lot of people might say really the only thing that has changed about the Great Rivera is his age. From ’09-’10 Rivera turned from 39 to 40 years of age.

 

But if you remember back on April 30, Rivera made a relief appearance against the Chicago White Sox. He suffered an apparent rib injury in his left side and did not make another appearance for over a week after he got hurt.

 

 


Mo was out for over a week last month 

I don’t remember him ever getting injured like that last season or missing an extended period of time the way he did last month. At the beginning of the season he was asked whether or not he would keep playing beyond 2010, seeing as how his contract expires at the end of the year and of course considering his age.

 

He said he does not yet know what his plans are and that he will decide after the season is over. The Yankees do however need to start thinking about what to do when Rivera’s playing days are up or if he does not come back to the team next year–whatever the reason may be.

 

I have a bad feeling that if the Yankees do not make the right choices, Rivera will not be the closer next year. Worse off, they won’t find a suitable replacement for him and they could be reduced to a “closer-by-committee” situation. One day it could be Joba Chamberlain, the next it could be David Robertson, and so on and so forth.

 

Surely nobody wants that to happen. If Rivera decides to play again, I think the Yanks need to get him back, or at least show him respect by making him a generous offer.

 

Yet, it’s not like they really went full throttle after Hideki Matsui this past off-season. Matsui was a Yankee for seven years, was a fan-favorite, respected by the entire organization, and (oh, by the way) the reigning World Series Most Valuable Player.

 

He did so much for the Yankees during his tenure in pinstripes. Matsui was beloved, and helped the team regain the title. What worries me is that the Yanks did not go for him and he is close to four years younger than Rivera.  

 

Who knows what will happen at the end of the season. We will have to wait until it plays out, but if and when Rivera leaves, what happens next? This upcoming off-season we will get the answer.

 

Last but never the least, Andy Pettitte.

 

 


Andy Pettitte is 7-1 this season 

Despite his age of 37 (he will turn 38 on June 15 {which is also my birthday!}) Pettitte is putting together a remarkable year. If he wins tonight against his former team the Houston Astros, Pettitte will own a powerful record of 8-1 on the year.

 

He currently has a 2.47 ERA, which is good for third in the American League behind David Price of the Rays and Doug Fister of the Seattle Mariners.

 

Pettitte was however taken out of the game on May 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles with inflammation in his left elbow. He tossed five innings and registered the win, but was forced to miss a following start because of the injury.

 

Another concern is the fact that Pettitte has been on the disabled list five times in his career, all as a result of problems in his pitching elbow. Since he skipped the start after leaving on May 5 there haven’t been any more problems or concerns with Pettitte.

 

Barring a catastrophe or any more pitching problems though, Pettitte looks like he will be an asset to the Yankees down the stretch run, which is no surprise. He has been doing it for years and years; pitching in big games and always coming up big when it matters most. But again the question comes up:

 

How much longer can he keep it up? He only signed on for one year at the outset of the season and like Rivera, his future is up in the air at the moment. He is unsure whether or not he is going to pitch or pack it in after 2010.

 

Pettitte’s age and his desire to spend more time with his family have long been a topic of discussion in terms of his career. Even before he returned to the Yankees in 2007 many analysts and baseball writers speculated as to whether or not he would call it quits and retire or keep going.

 

Obviously he opted to come back home to the Yankees where he started and he was welcomed with open arms. Since his comeback in ’07, Pettitte has been a rock in the Yankees’ rotation. This season things have not changed. But next year will they?

 

They say age is nothing but a number. It’s not about how old you are but about how old you feel. But considering the recent and apparent way things have been going for the “Core Four” Yankees, I have to disagree.

 

Age can and eventually will catch up, and we are beginning to see it amongst the most beloved Yankees of our era. This quartet of special Bombers can still get it done on the diamond, despite the obstacles they have had to hurdle this season.

 

But yet again I ask… how much longer can they do this….?

 


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  
 

Letter to Joe Girardi

 

I am writing to the Yankee skipper

 

May 21, 2010

 

Dear Joe Girardi,

 

Greetings! On behalf of every Yankee fan, I am asking you at this time to please tell the whole team to wake up. These past three days have been a nightmare in terms of…well…every facet of our game. The fan base is a little fed up with everything that has been going on.

 

First, let’s start with the injury situation. I wrote last time that too many Yankees are getting hurt and it’s becoming ridiculous. Let’s face it, it’s the truth. It was great to see Nick Swisher back in the lineup yesterday, but unfortunately not even he could save us from an 8-6 beating at the hands of the almighty Tampa Bay Rays.

 

I couldn’t really believe your Yanks actually lost three of four at home. Well technically, and in all fairness, you did take two of three from the Minnesota Twins. But you lost three of four to division rivals and dropped four of seven at home. It rarely ever happens.

 

As far as the injuries go, the bottom line is, it’s too much. We need healthy guys out on the field and we need to field the best team we can. We are obviously not doing that. I understand that you cannot control it, but something needs to be done about it.

 

Trades, call-ups, roster moves. Whatever you have to do skip, do it.

 

Next, I’d like to mention the bullpen. Why are you continuously using Chan Ho Park in tight-game situations? I think when Brian Cashman got him he wanted him for long relief. So why, I ask, is he coming in when the Yankees are in a close game?

 

 


Chan Ho Park should just be a mop-up guy 

Piece of advice: don’t bring Park in unless we have a 10-run lead or if we are down by 10 runs. A mop-up role is exactly what suites him right now, because he is certainly making a mess of everything.

 

Then there’s Randy Winn and Marcus Thames.

 

They stink. 

 

I’ll pick on Winn first. Why, in the name of God, is he even on this team? In all of the games he has played this season, I think I can point out two things he has done right: his home run to help beat the Baltimore Orioles on May 3 and his triple on Sunday against the Twins.

 

Other than those two hits, Winn has been useless; a defensive liability (playing shallow in left field with two outs???) and an automatic out in most games. Another piece of advice for you, Mr. Girardi: dump him. Dump him like the clingy girlfriend who just won’t leave you alone.

 

I feel at this point, a guy like free agent Jermaine Dye could do a lot better than Winn. I realize Dye is old (well, only a year older than Winn) but at this point, anyone could be doing better than Winn. Call back up Greg Golson or…just anyone. Winn is not getting the job done.

 

Now onto Thames.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate the walk-off blast off Jonathan Papelbon Monday night. For that, I could not be more grateful. Thames certainly has some pop and can generate a decent amount of offense in the lineup.

 

But he is not an everyday player, nor is he a good defender. The guy cannot play the outfield. I have said this before and I’ll say it again, he looks like giraffe out there! He dropped a pop fly ball on Tuesday night that a Little Leaguer could have easily caught, not to mention he has a seriously hard time getting to any fly ball.

 

Please, if you are going to use him at all, put him at the designated hitter spot.

 

And one more thing…who trips over their own bat running to first base? I didn’t even know that was possible. Yet Thames somehow managed to trip over his own bat running to first, so I guess the joke is on me.

 

 


Subway Series time! 

As you know skip, your Yankees have a big series coming up against the cross-town rival New York Mets in their house. Heading into tonight’s action, the Mets are 20-22, good for last place in the National League East standings.

 

Your boys, on the other hand, are reeling from three consecutive losses yet are still 25-16, second place in the American League East Standings. This evening, Javier Vazquez (2-4, 8.01 ERA) is pitching against Hisonori Takahashi (3-1, 3.12 ERA).

 

Vazquez has had experience in the NL, so I expect big things from him in this game. If he fails and gets rocked, I will then fully admit that getting Vazquez back was a bad move. If he is a pitcher supposedly built for the National League and he can’t beat a last place NL team…I can then easily say it was a bad move to get him.

 

Saturday night (pretty much your best guy at press time) Phil Hughes (5-0, 2.25 ERA) will square off against Mike Pelfrey (5-1, 3.02 ERA). A few years back, I heard a lot of chatter about who was the better prospect.

 

Hughes or Pelfrey? 

 

Many people I knew said Pelfrey would go on to have a better career than Hughes. A lot of other people said Hughes was the next Roger Clemens and he would put up the better numbers. While it’s still early in their careers and we don’t know who will end up with the better stats, Saturday might give us an idea.

 

Maybe we’ll find out who is the top, young dog in New York.

 

Finally on Sunday a pair of aces will be on the hill. CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.43 ERA) vs. Johan Santana (3-2, 3.72 ERA). The series finale could have the makings of a classic, or both teams could just touch the aces up for a bunch of runs.

 

CC vs. Johan Sunday night. 

 

I’d prefer to see a pitcher’s duel, but honestly, I think it could go either way.

 

Mr. Girardi, it’s early. Up until these last few games, the Yankees had been playing very good ball despite the absence of some key players. But now, the injuries and lack of consistency are catching up to the team.

 

All I ask is that the problems be fixed and the Yankees beat the Mets. I don’t think any Yankee fan could ever live down being beaten by (in most Yankee fans’ minds) a last place, inferior, second-rate New York team.

 

Do your best. We’ll all be watching.

 

Yours truly,

 

A.J. “Yankee Yapping.”

 

P.S. If your boys can somehow manage to sweep the Mets this weekend, you could be responsible for running the Mets’ manager out of town. If his team gets swept, this could happen!

 


If the Yanks sweep...bye bye Jerry...?  

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