Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Series Wrap: Yankees vs. Orioles 4/30 - 5/2

Game One

Hiroki Kuroda was looking to build off his his previous start, when he tossed 6.2 innings against the Rangers, giving up only 5 hits, 2 runs, and striking out 5. The team he'd be facing, the Orioles, had scored 95 runs so far this season. Fortunately that would be enough to be the top offense in the AL Central, but unfortunately Baltimore is in the AL East, so that 95 runs was worst in the division.

Hiro went on to throw a very good game, giving the Yankees 7 innings of 1 run ball. Although he was only able to strike out 3 batters, Kuroda only gave up 4 hits and a walk. The other two innings played out perfectly, as David Robertson struck out all 3 batters he faced in the 8th inning, while Mariano Rivera gave up a hit in an otherwise flawless 9th for save #5. Most of the time that would be more than enough, as the Yankee bats have averaged 5.62 runs per game, but as you can see it was just enough.
Jason Hammel was able to hold down the Yankee bats, giving Baltimore 6 innings of 2-run ball, striking out 5. Mark Teixeira was the only Yankee to get more than one hit, as he singled twice. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano also contributed singles to the cause, but it was Eric Chavez's 2-run home run in the 2nd inning that led the Bombers to their 13th win of the season, putting them a half game out of first place.

Game Two

How many more starts will Phil Hughes get, assuming he doesn't open eyes in this one? My guess is not many, unless Phelps does poorly, and Andy Pettitte isn't ready for MLB for a while. Not that I'm rooting against Hughes... not at all. I really wish something would click for him, and he'd be the middle of the rotation starter I thought he could be in 2012.

Phil was better in this one, but he was not quite eye-popping either. He went deeper into this start than he has all season, going 5.2 innings. I actually thought he was going to turn in a quality start, as he had 2 outs with nobody on base, and had only given up 3 runs up to that point. But Phil hit Matt Wieters with a pitch, and Matt eventually scored as Boone Logan couldn't get out of the inning. In fact, the bullpen was not nearly it's dominant self, giving up 3 runs and 7 hits. DJ Mitchell got into the game in the 9th, but things didn't go smoothly as the inning ended with Wieters getting thrown out at 2nd base trying to extend a single. So things could have been worse than they already were.

Curtis Granderson hit a big-time home run in his first at bat of the game in the 1st inning, but that was it. Not "it" for him, but "it" for the team. The Yankees scattered another 6 hits in the game, three of them by Derek Jeter (who brought his average back up to .400). ARod had a couple hits, and Curtis added a single to his daily line, but it wasn't nearly enough for the Bombers to overcome a so-so start from Hughes. The worst part of the offense was the fact that the 4-9 hitters in the lineup were a combined 0-21. That is not a recipe for success.

Game Three

Oh where, oh where, have the Yankee bats gone?

Jake Arrieta scattered 5 hits (all singles) across 8 innings, followed by Jim Johnson throwing a perfect 9th inning, helping the Orioles beat the Yankees 5-0. Derek Jeter went hitless again, the 3rd time in his last 5 games. ARod was the only Yankee hitter to have 2 hits, while Granderson, Cano, and Ibanez hit the other 3. To add insult to injury, the Yankees didn't draw a single walk in the game, while striking out 10 times. Yep... 10 times! Think I can't make it worse? HA! Not a single Yankee got into scoring position. So I guess I can at least say the Yankees didn't go hitless with RISP. *sigh*

Meanwhile Ivan Nova suffered his first loss since June 3rd of last season. In 6.1 innings of work, Ivan allowed 9 hits, 5 runs (all earned), 4 walks, and struck out 3. Matt Wieters hit a home run in the 4th inning, while Nick Markakis hit a solot shot as well in the 7th. Nova got out of a trouble, as the Os had runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs in the top of the 4th inning, gave up a lead-off double to JJ Hardy in the 5th but go out of it, and in the 6th inning Baltimore had runners on 1st and 2nd base when Endy Chavez hit a screamer that happened to go right into Nunez's glove. Freddy Garcia did have his first appearance of the season out of the bullpen, and threw 2 innings, giving up 2 hits and a walk, but no runs.

The biggest news may have come in the top of the 5th inning, as Eric Chavez suffered from whiplash and a possible concussion while diving to try and stop a JJ Hardy double down the left-field line. It's likely that Chavez will go on the DL, but keep in mind that MLB instituted a 7-day DL for guys that suffer a concussion.

Series Awards

Jake Taylor Award*
Alex Rodriguez - 4/11, 1 BB (yeah, Yankee hitting was that bad this series)

Gentry Award*
Russell Martin - 0/9, 3 K, 1 BB

Rick Vaughn Award*
Hiroki Kuroda - Game 1: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 K, 1 BB

Kelner Award*
Ivan Nova - Game 3: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

Next Series
@ Royals 5/3 - 5/6


*The awards are named after one of the best baseball movies of all time... Major League.

Jake Taylor Award - Awarded to the most valuable position player. Named after the hard-nose veteran catcher that, despite making the league minimum, was the heart and soul of the 1989 American League East winning Cleveland Indians.

Gentry Award - Awarded to the least valuable position player. Named after the very first man cut from the 1989 Cleveland Indians, #47 Gentry. A man so insignificant he wasn't even given a first name.

Rick Vaughn - Awarded to the best pitcher in the series. This one is, of course, named after the "Wild Thing". The man that made Clu Haywood look silly in the division deciding game.

Kelner Award - Awarded to the worst pitcher in the series. Named after the Opening Day starter for the '89 Indians. Not a good game for Mr. Kelner, as Indians' announcer Harry Doyle famously quipped "thank God" after Kelner left the game. And yet another bad player without a first name.

Gardner Suffers Setback

Brett Gardner was still feeling some pain in his elbow today, so he'll be shut down for a few days before resuming any activity. Therefore he won't be returning from the DL when he's eligible tomorrow. As sad as that news is, it's just as crazy that Joe Girardi has said the team still has no plans to call up another outfielder.

I went through reasons not to call up an outfielder earlier, but seeing as how the team could be without a 3rd guy on the bench for another 5 days, perhaps they should risk losing Dewayne Wise once everybody returns.

Orioles @ Yankees 5/2/12


Matt Weiters hits a solo home run off of Nova to make it 1-0 O's.

Eric Chavez hurt? Nunez comes in after Chavez is helped off the field. Eric Chavez has been diagnosed with whiplash and possibly a concussion.

The 0's lead 5-0 after 7 IP, putting Ivan Nova's 15 decision win streak in serious jeopardy. 

Freddy Garcia pitches a great 8th inning? Wow...

All I Do Is Win

Tonight the Yankees finish their series with the Baltimore Orioles at the stadium at 7:05 pm ET. The game will be televised on YES and ESPN and will showcase Ivan Nova for the Yanks, who has not lost a decision in the majors since he was 12 years old, facing the O's Jake Arrieta. The Yankees look for the series win and to gain another game on the Orioles who are ahead of them in the standings. Here is tonight's lineup.

1. Jeter SS
2. Granderson CF
3. A-Rod DH
4. Cano 2B
5. Tex 1B
6. Ibanez RF
7. Chavez 3B
8. Jones LF
9. Martin C

Joe Girardi said today their neither Nick Swisher or Brett Gardner are considered "ready" to re join the Yankees. Brett will be given a couple more days to rest his elbow and probably get in a minor league rehab game or two. 

Yankees Sign Cuban Outfielder

Via Ben Badler, the Yankees have signed 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Adonis Garcia. The terms of the contract are unknown, but Brian Cashman shot down reports of a six-year, $16M offer back in March. I would be stunned if the deal came even remotely close to that number. 
The 5-foot-7, 180 lb. right-handed hitter put up a .270/.313/.461 batting line during winter ball, though Badler says Garcia “doesn’t have any standout tools, so it’s hard for scouts to see him fitting in as a big league regular.” Whatever the signing bonus is, it will not count towards this year’s international spending limit. That doesn’t kick in until July 2nd.
Garcia seems like an intriguing guy, seeing as how he could be the guy to take over for Swisher in right field next season. But don't start thinking he's currently at the same level as a Yoenis Cespedes. From the write-up at, Adonis has some work to do before he's ready to play regularly at the MLB level. But along with being athletic, he also has a great attitude, so there's reason to be at least a bit optimistic. Just don't start creating trade scenarios for other outfielders in the system, and that includes Eduardo Nunez. Let's just hope it's not for 6 years, as that's a bit much.

UPDATE: According to Marc Carig, the Yankees only signed Garcia to a 1-year minor league deal worth $400,000. Not really sure what the point of the signing is, as he's not an option for the MLB team this season, but I'm sure there will be more to come on Adonis.

Trading Nick Swisher

You want to trade me? Seriously? 

I didn't plan on writing about this, but I've heard about this from a few fans already so I felt the need to say it..

The Yankees should not trade Nick Swisher

Now, of course, everybody should be available for the right deal. If the Diamondbacks offered Justin Upton & Miguel Montero for Robinson Cano, then I'd strongly consider that. But the problem is that "right deal" is unlikely to come along.

The only teams that would consider trading for Nick, and take on the remainder of his 2012 salary, would be those teams that are "in the hunt" for a postseason berth. Now, I assume fans would want to make a trade that would make the team stronger. So the question is... why would a team that is "in the hunt" for the playoffs want to make the Yankees stronger, since that team could be facing the Yankees at some point during the postseason? Clearly some other teams are run by idiots, but I don't think they're that dumb.

The Cincinnati Reds, who are my pick to take one of the two Wild Card spots in the National League, would probably love to have Swisher in their lineup. But the Reds are not going to give up somebody with value to 2012 for the guy, as they would basically be making a side-ways deal. Cincinnati would trade away somebody that could help them get to the playoffs this season, for a guy that could help them get to the playoffs this season. So, basically, they would have gained zero ground. And that's assuming they would be okay with paying Swisher about $5 million (what will be remaining on his contract should a mid-season trade occur), and not having the guy under contract for next year or beyond.

The Minnesota Twins, or another team that has it's eyes on future years, might be interested in Swish. However, not only would they not want to pay somebody $5 million for half a season, but they aren't going to want a guy that could be a free agent at season's end either.

Love him or hate him, Nick Swisher can help the Yankees. Fans that don't like Nick will be quick to point out his failures in the postseason, which I admit are plentiful. Take out the 2010 ALDS against the Twins, and the guy has been horrible in the playoffs. But can they, or anybody else, honestly tell me that he didn't help the Yankees get to the postseason in 2009? What about the triple-slash of .288/.359/.511, with 29 home runs, Nick put up in 2010? Swish put up his highest OBP with the Yankees last season, getting on base over 37% of the time, to go along with another 23 home runs... did that not help the Yankees? Nick Swisher's OPS+ while in New York is 124, his average wOBA in his 3+ seasons with the Yankees is .380, and his total WAR in his 3+ seasons as a Yankee is 11.6. You can have your small sample sizes, but I'll look at what he's done as a whole and say "keep him".

Haters also like to say he's a bad right fielder, but unlike the postseason hitting thing, I disagree. Between 2009 and 2011 Swisher's average UZR/150 was 2.3, which is average. Would I like somebody that's well above average manning right field? Sure I would. But with Brett Gardner in left field, Curtis Granderson in center field, and right field in Yankee Stadium hardly being the size of a national park (unlike places such as Petco Park in San Diego), Swisher is plenty good enough. And while, going by UZR, he hasn't started off strong in right this season, he hasn't made an error out there either. So there's really no reason for fans to dump on the guy for his defense, or alledged lack thereof.

My final issue with dealing Swisher has to do with who will replace him. There are a couple guys in AAA, that are out of options, that could be candidates for the job. Dewayne Wise is hitting really well, as he's hit .368/.427/.647, so he seems like a fine replacement. But we're talking about a guy that's hit .219/.256/.373 in 879 MLB plate appearances, so I wouldn't exactly be psyched about him playing everyday in New York. Chris Dickerson is a possibility, as he's currently hitting .350/.409/.500 for Empire State, but I wouldn't feel good about a guy that's struggled quite a bit in his previous 161 MLB plate appearances (in 2010 he hit .206/.250/.268 in 106 plate apperances between Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs, and hit .260/.296/.360 in 55 plate appearances with New York last year).

And then there's Eduardo Nunez. Let me start off by saying I have faith in Nunez, meaning I think he can be a regular MLB player due to both his bat and his glove. Whether he's slotted in as a shortstop or as an outfielder. But he's just not there yet. His current batting average of .278 would be plenty good enough for the team this season, and if he maintained that he'd most likely beat Nick Swisher in that category. But I really don't see Eduardo getting on base 36% of the time like Swisher has in his career, nor do I see Eduardo averaging 27 home runs a season like Swisher has with the Yanks. The sample size as far as defense in right field is way too small to make a true comparison, as Nunez has only played right field a total of 17.1 innings in his pro career (all with the Yankees, and 17 of them last season). But especially after seeing him in left field the last two nights, there's no way that I'd feel as comfortable with him in RF as I would with Swisher out there.

There's no way the Yankees should seek a trade of Nick Swisher. As I've said before, there's a good chance that this is the last season that we'll see Swish-a-licious in New York (at least with the good NY team), but I'm willing to bet that he's the best option... by far... the team has in right field for the rest of the 2012 season.