Sunday, April 28, 2013

Yanks Have Injuries But Not Slowing Down Veterans

Being syndicated as part of Syndicated Sunday. Originally posted by Delia E. at Yankees Fans Unite.

The Yankees have lost a lot of familiar names: Derek JeterMark TeixeiraCurtis GrandersonAlex RodriguezFrancisco CervelliIvan Nova and possibly Kevin Youkilis. With a lineup that won’t feature most of these names for a while, you would think the Yankees would lie down and take the beating, not fight at all and prove every non-believer right. The Yankees have done the opposite. Going into today’s game, the Yankees are 13-9, 12-5 since April 7. In a team that’s bruised and beat up, there’s a shining light, where veterans stepped up and are producing for the Yanks.
No one expected Travis Hafner to be such a big catalyst in the Yankees lineup vs. right handed pitching. And no one would have thought that Vernon Wells would come out of the gate swinging. Well, that’s the case for the Yankees. The veterans are taking over the lineup for the Yanks, and they intend on milking out every opportunity possible to prove their worth to the ball-club. Here are some Yankees that surprised us so far in the season, making their cause known to the team.
Brett GardnerIf you told me on April 1st that Brett Gardner was going to have 3 HR’s and have the second most RBI’s (12) on the team behind Robinson Cano, I’d say you were a dreamer. I’d call you crazy as well, but mostly a dreamer. Well, Brett Gardner has been opening some eyes, proving that he deserves to be in the lineup vs. left handed pitching as well as right handed pitching. Out of Gardner’s 3 HR’s this season, two are of significant importance: Gardner hit them vs. left handed pitching. Before his first HR, the last time Gardner hit a HR vs. left handed pitching was on July 3, 2010 vs. Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays. Gardner has been showing strength, and although he’s paid to run and steal bases, we’ll excuse him for not stealing bases as of yet since he’s doing a great job in bringing runners in scoring position to the plate.
Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano had an odd start to his 2013 campaign. He was struggling just like Brett Gardner and just like Ichiro Suzuki. However like Gardner, Cano quickly turned it around and started providing offense for the team. With no Curtis Granderson, no  Mark Teixeira and no Derek Jeter, there is a loss in home runs for the Yankees meaning that Cano has to carry the team on his back every single game. After a putrid first week, Cano has done just that. He’s carried the team on his back. Does 7 HR’s and 17 RBI’s prove my point? It should.
Travis Hafner: Pronk has become a pleasant surprise to the Yankees, showing his power and is dubbed the “2013 version of Raul Ibanez“. Pronk is easily one of my favorite acquisitions, since he comes up in the clutch in the playing time he’s had. He has 5 HR’s, (one of them was so dramatic, it won the game). He also made Cleveland Indians fans remember why they loved him so much…although he hit home runs AGAINST his former team, leaving the fans unhappy. Anyway, Pronk is a player that I wish could hit vs. left handed pitching…but I’ll take him as he is. He’s been a great player so far and we hope he stays healthy.
Vernon Wells: Who would have thought that out of all people, Vernon Wells would be the player he was before he signed the gigantic contract that caused him to get traded to two different teams? Vernon Wells is second for team batting average, home runs and is third in RBI’s. It might have helped that the Yankees faced the Blue Jays twice, once on their recent road-trip and on their current home-stand. Vernon Wells has no trouble showing the Blue Jays fans what they were missing, and the Yankees love it.

Mariano Rivera Teaches The Kids

Saw this on Twitter from @MLBMemes and just had to share this. Awesome and probably closer to the truth then we all would like to admit.

Game Thread: NYY vs TOR 4/28

The Yankees look to go for the four game sweep this afternoon on TBS with Phil Hughes on the mound to ace off against RA Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays. If the Yankees can pull off the sweep it would be the first one since 1995 at the old Yankees Stadium. Feel free to use this thread to comment on the game during the game or follow us on twitter, @greedystripes, and chat with us there.

Here is the Yankees lineup

1. Ichiro (CF)
2. Cano (2B)
3. Wells (LF)
4. Hafner (DH)
5. Boesch (RF)
6. Nix (3B)
7. Overbay (1B)
8. Nunez (SS)
9. Stewart (C)

How Did Cashman & Co. "Drop The Ball"?

It doesn't drive me crazy when people complain about the Yankee front office, or Brian Cashman in particular, not doing a good job in building a better team this offseason. Being a Yankee fan and whining that they aren't perfect pretty much goes hand in hand. I don't mean to say there aren't exceptions to that, but spend a little bit of time on Twitter during a Bombers' game and you'll see it quite clearly.

What drives me crazy is when you ask a person how the team could have improved, and that person can't provide a good answer. Hell, you're lucky if they can provide any answer. Don't get me wrong, a lot of people you ask will admit to just getting caught up in the moment, and don't really mean to bad-mouth the team, or a particular person on or with the team.

"There must have been something Cashman could have done... right?"

Oh, and that craziness goes up even further when it's a "respected" writer. Particularly when that criticism occurs in an article of theirs, in which they should have provided a good alternative to what the team did or didn't do.

By this point I probably don't have to remind you about the number of injuries to key players the Yankees are dealing with, but here's the lineup if healthy...

Gardner - CF
Jeter - SS
Cano - 2B
Granderson - LF
Teixeira - 1B
Rodriguez - 3B
Hafner - DH
Cervelli - C
Suzuki - RF
*feel free to mess with the order

The only true improvement on that lineup I can see was bringing back Nick Swisher instead of Ichiro. I suppose you can make an argument for BJ Upton, however his career triple-slash of .253/.333/.419 never impressed me. Oh, and paying Josh Hamilton $25 million a year is asinine.

Back to Nick Swisher...  Nick is a good player, and is without a doubt an improvement over Suzuki. However, I don't think guaranteeing him $56 million over the next four years would have been the best decision.

Let me get it out of the way... Swish-a-licious is a good player. During his time in pinstripes, Nick hit .268/.367/.483 while averaging 26 home runs a season. Not only was he worth $15.7 million a season during his time with New York (per Fangraph's Dollar Values), in only one season was he worth less... and that was back in 2009 ($13.3m).

It may only be 20 games, but Swisher's wOBA so far in 2013 is an impressive .374. Which is much better than what any Yankee outfielder is doing besides Vernon Wells... who probably wouldn't be a Yankee if it weren't for Granderson's injury (despite the fact the Yankees had interest in him well before that).

And then there's this. Go Bucks!

Although I'm a fan of Nick Swisher, I can't say he's been a very consistent hitter. That may confuse a lot of people, seeing as how Nick's OPS+ was between 120 and 129 in six of his previous seven seasons (the outlier being his horrendous 2008 season with the White Sox). So allow me to explain...

Between 2009 and today Swish's strikeout and walk percentages have gone up and down so much my stomach is queasy just thinking about it. His strikeout percentage in 2009 was 20.8%, went up to 21.9% in 2010, then down to 19.7% in 2011, back up to 22.6% in 2012, and is at 18.4% so far in 2013. Swish's walk rate was at 16% in 2009, fell to 9.1% in 2010, increased to 15% in 2011, dropped again to 12.3% in 2012, and currently sits at 14.9% in 2013.

To further add to the idea of Swisher being an inconsistent hitter, take a look at his Isolated Power numbers. In 2009 Nick's ISO was .249, dropped to .223 in 2010, fell even lower to .188 in 2011, increased to .201 in 2012, and at this moment is a career low of .167 (tied with his rookie season in Oakland).

Being a Swisher fan I can't help but repeat that I don't mean he's not a good player. I just don't think it was a no-brainer to bring him back. And consider a few other things...

One, three of the top four prospects in the Yankees' system are outfielders (Williams, Heatchcott, and Austin). Two, although Brett Gardner looks less and less like a guy that should be a regular in the lineup, he is around through 2014. And finally, corner outfielders are not that hard to come by, as seen by the fact that even in a thin free agent class this coming offseason the Yankees may still be able to choose between Shin-Soo Choo, Mike Morse, Hunter Pence, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz, and David Murphy.

So, you see, Cashman and Co. did not drop the ball on the offensive side of things this offseason.

Unlike Rajai Davis in yesterday's game.

But what about pitching?

This one won't take nearly as long. I mean, was anybody complaining about the Yankees re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettite? Even those that had reservations about Phil Hughes and/or Ivan Nova couldn't have been that up-in-arms. The team already had options for the bottom of the rotation, such as David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Brett Marshall. And it's not like free agency had a ton of promise after Zack Greinke. I mean, were there really that many people clamoring for the signing of Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Edwin Jackson, and Anibal Sanchez (NOTE: I like Sanchez, but I didn't shed a tear when he re-signed with the Tigers).

As for the bullpen it would have been nice to see the team try and take a chance on a few different guys, but after re-signing Mariano Rivera they were just fine. David Robertson was already there to lock down the 8th inning, Joba Chamberlain hasn't given up a run in his last 7.2 innings, not only has Boone Logan done a fine job but his strikeout rate has gone up in each of the last four seasons, and the team added Shawn Kelley after he had a good 2012 season in Seattle (116 ERA+).

So until somebody explains how Cashman and Co. dropped the ball then I'm going to continue to smirk at those that cry and moan about the lineup Joe Girardi has had to run out there so far in 2013.

"Whatcha got, smart guy?"

Kevin Youkilis Back Keeps Him Out Again

Kevin Youkilis is out of the Yankees lineup again today with that nagging back injury. This will be Youkilis' seventh missed game out of the last eight Yankees games after he got into the game yesterday in a Yankees victory. Nothing has been confirmed yet but I cannot see a way where he does not go to the disabled list after this. David Adams will likely get the call which would require a 40 man roster move. This is all speculation at this point and I expect we will hear more after the game this afternoon.

New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays 4/28

The Yankees are heading into this afternoons game looking for a sweep of a four game series in Yankees Stadium. The Yankees will send Phil Hughes to the mound to face off against the National League reigning Cy Young Award winning RA Dickey. The game will be televised at 1:05 pm ET on YES, TBS, and MLB TV.

Game 26 Lineup: Blue Jays vs. Yankees

Phil Hughes is on the mound and we're going for the series Sweep!! Let's do this! Here is your staring lineup!

Ichiro Suzuki CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells F
Travis Hafner DH
Brennan Boesch RF
Jayson Nix 2B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

Phil Hughes RHP

This Day In Yankees History 4/28

On this day in 1985 George Steinbrenner fired Yogi Berra and hired Billy Martin for the fourth time as the Yankees manager. Yogi Berra vowed to never return to Yankees Stadium as long as George Steinbrenner owned the team and would not return to the Stadium for 14 years.