Friday, May 10, 2013

Yankees Release Juan Cedeno & Shaeffer Hall

The Yankees have given an unconditional release to left handed Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders pitcher Juan Cedeno. The move was caused by, directly or indirectly, Caleb Cotham coming off the DL and a roster move being needed. Cedeno was originally added to the DL himself before getting released. Shaeffer Hall is another lefty reliever pitching for the Trenton Thunder that was also released today for some reason. You don't see teams get rid of effective young lefties often so both of these moves are real head scratchers.

Yankees Daily Injury Updates

Eduardo Nunez hit in the cage today and experienced no pain in that sore rib cage muscle and is expected to be back tomorrow against Kansas City. In an emergency situation he could play tonight but the Yankees want to give him one more day if they can just to be sure.

Chris Stewart is obviously okay after bunting that ball off of his knee in last night's win over Colorado. I know I am a little late to the party but I felt like it needed mentioning.

Kevin Youkilis did some work out for the first time since being placed on the DL with a lumbar sprain in his lower back. Youk is no where near ready to come off the DL just yet but any progress is progress at this point.

Joba Chamberlain threw a bullpen session today and expects to throw another one tomorrow in Tampa. If he comes through both of these tests then the Yankees will begin discussing a rehab assignment. Every sign points to Joba being activated the day he is eligible. My question is how can you send down Preston Claiborne when Joba is healthy?

Yankees Have A Little Fun With Mariano Rivera

This is the spot where Mariano Rivera tore his ACL last May shagging fly balls in Kansas City. It's funny now... kind of. At least Mo has a sense of humor about these things.

New York Yankees @ Kansas City Royals 5/10

The New York Yankees will travel to Kansas City to play the Kansas City Royals in a weekend series at Kauffman Stadium. If you remember correctly it was little less than a year ago when Mariano Rivera tore his ACL shagging fly balls in Kansas City so hopefully Mariano takes it easy this weekend. The Yankees will send Phil Hughes to the mound to face off with Wade Davis. The game will be televised at 8:10 pm ET on YES, MLB Network, and MLB TV.

Dellin Betances To The Bullpen

Joel Sherman recently broke news that surprises just about nobody.
"...the Yankees have decided to move Betances to the bullpen at Triple-A"
The reason for the move, given by Brian Cashman, is that Dellin is out of options so the team has pretty much gotten to the point where it was one (starter) or the other (reliever). Given Dellin's issues with control, the team has decided to go with "the other".

Betances has an ERA of 6.09, along with a WHIP of 1.721, in 119.2 innings pitched in AAA. The main culprit for such ineffectiveness lies in his walk rate, which in AAA stands at a gigantic 7.5 BB/9.

I'm sure Dellin's right arm problems, which have ranged from his forearm to his elbow to his shoulder, is the reason, which means that perhaps he still has a good future in baseball. But the time has come for the Yankees to make a decision, and they feel that Betances' chances of helping the team more will come from the bullpen.

I can't say I blame them. Heck, this decision probably should have been made a while ago.

Game 36 Lineup: Yankees @ Royals

Ah, Kansas City. I never thought I would be so glad to see the DH spot in the lineup. Speaking of which, here's your lineup! 

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Nelson 3B
Chris Stewart C

RHP Phil Hughes


-- Eduardo Nunez isn't in the lineup again--BUT he did take BP and said he feels fine. He hopes he can play tomorrow.

-- David Robertson and Mariano Rivera are unavailable for tonight's game. I would imagine Preston Claiborne is unavailable as well.

-- Last night the Yankees made a trade with the Chicago Cubs. They received SS Alberto Gonzalez in exchange for cash. Does the name Alberto Gonzalez sound familiar? He was a part of the Randy Johnson deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks years ago. He'll start in Triple-A since he's not on the 40-man roster.

-- Curtis Granderson played right field last night for Scranton. Brian Cashman revealed that he wanted to try Granderson in RF and LF because Joe Girardi came to him, raving about Brett Gardner's defense in CF.

-- Speaking of Joe Girardi, Girardi is trying to notch his 500th win as the manager of the New York Yankees.

-- Robinson Cano had his 1,500th career hit yesterday vs. the Colorado Rockies and before receiving the real ball, Steve Donahue gave him a dummy ball. What was on the dummy ball? "1500: Hopper through the infield."

Do NOT Give Austin Romine More Playing Time

Many people, myself included, have been saying that Austin Romine should get more playing time. The arguments stem from him being a better hitter than Stewart, to Romine needing more playing time to keep developing. The latter argument can not be denied, as a player can not develop from the bench. Sure, they can learn by watching and listening to those that know how or do play, but you can't get better at baseball by just studying. Being a better "hands on" learner, I know that to be a fact due to personal experience.

However, the part about being a better hitter can be argued against. Unfortunately, neither side of that argument can be proven. Austin has much better numbers in AAA than Stewart ever has (minors or majors), but anybody that's ever paid attention to professional sports can tell you that good minor league numbers do not always translate into good major league numbers. While I'm not about to call 365 MLB plate appearances a large enough sample to say anything definitive about Romine's hitting ability, his batting line of .120/.185/.120 does not make me look forward to his next trip to the plate.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Stewart's batting line is much better, as it currently sits at .245/.278/.367. But Chris clearly has a good rapport with Yankee pitchers, his defense is above average, and his caught stealing percentage of 45% is way above the league average of 25% (his career CS% is 35%). And seeing as how the Yankees aren't going to club their way to a bunch of wins, run prevention means a heck of a lot more.

As for Austin Romine's development, it shouldn't take precedence over giving the Yankees the best chance to win. That's been the biggest issue with the Yankees inability to develop many MLB regulars. Teams that have been good at doing so, such as the Rays, were basically a laughing-stock in MLB for years. It was during that time that they developed players like David Price, Evan Longoria, and Matt Moore. The Royals were able to develop players like Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon, without worrying about negatively affecting the MLB club. The Yankees don't have that luxury, as winning will never be pushed aside. "Rebuilding" is a dirty word in the Yankee Universe. So if the development of Austin Romine, who... let's face it... isn't an elite prospect anyway, suffers then so be it. In fact, I think Romine should be used as trade bait as soon as Francisco Cervelli is healthy again.

So when Chris Stewart gets called upon to start another game, I'm not going to be one of the Yankee fans saying "oh, come on, give Austin another start!"

"Thanks for the support."

Mark Teixeira To Take Batting Practice Today

News from the Yankees minor league complex down in Tampa is that Mark Teixeira is expected to test out his injured wrist today in batting practice. Mark has been hitting off of a tee and taking ground balls and the next step is out door batting practice. let's hope he comes through this okay because if he doesn't his season is probably lost. Prayers going to Mark Teixeira down in Tampa today.

Yankees Acquire Alberto Gonzalez

The Yankees have announced that they have acquired infielder Alberto Gonzalez from the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later or cash, so basically nothing. This is going to be a minor league situation where he will be depth for AAA Scranton Railriders so nothing wrong with that. Gonzalez spent time with the team between 2007-2008 so the comfort level in New York should be okay if he makes it to the major leagues.

Are the Yankees this year's version of the 2012 Orioles?

[caption id="attachment_15666" align="aligncenter" width="604"]Mo's a perfect 13 for 13 in Save Chances this year Mo's a perfect 13 for 13 in Save Chances this year[/caption]

With the lack of big moves in the off-season and the mountain of injured players the Yankees have endured, not many expected them to get off to a good start.  Well not only has it been a good start, the Yanks are now in 1st Place in the AL East with a 20-13 record, just a half-game behind Texas for best record in the American League.  Every year there is a surprise team that defies the numbers and conventional wisdom by winning games.  Last year it was the Baltimore Orioles who won 93 games and a Wild Card spot in the playoffs despite a bunch of peripheral statistics that said they should have been about a .500 team.  So far in the early going there are a lot of parallels to the 2012 Os and the 2013 Yanks.

Baltimore only had a 712-705 run differential which according to the respected Pythagorean W-L stat developed by Bill James should have equaled a 82-80 record.  But the O's were able to defy the odds thanks to an incredible 29-9 record in 1-run games and an unheard of 16-2 mark in extra inning games.  While there was a tremendous amount of luck involved in the Orioles success last year, they also have to be commended for finding ways to win all of those close games.  Baltimore was middle of the pack in most categories but the one area that excelled for them was their bullpen.  Their pen led the AL with 55 saves and was 3rd with a 3.00 ERA.

This year's Yankees have a 139-128 Run differential which would equal a 18-15 Pythagorean W-L record so their 20-13 record is not such an anomaly.  But, the manner in which they have been winning is what is similar to Buck's 2012 team.  The Yanks are a MLB-best 6-1 in 1-run games and 12-4 in games decided by 2 runs or less.  None of their team stats jump out as a possible reason why they have been able to win so many close games.  Their bullpen ERA is 10th in the AL at 3.82 but the back-end of their pen, namely David Robertson and the great Mariano Rivera have been superb.  Robertson has done his job in 13 of 14 appearances while Mo is a perfect 13 of 13 in Save opportunities and the team is 15-0 when the Sandman makes an appearance.

While Mariano is a huge part of the close wins, it is truly a team effort.  The team offense has been mediocre, averaging just 4.2 runs per game (10th in AL) but they have been scratching out runs when they need them in a variety of ways.  This is a huge difference from previous seasons when the Yanks have perennially been in the top 1 or 2 teams in scoring.  With all of the injuries and the anemic lineup vs LHP (.217/.287/.340/.627), the team has relied on strong pitching (5th in AL 3.68 ERA) and some timely runs.  They haven't exactly come through a lot with runners in scoring position or anything but they have done the little things well to get just what they need to win....moving runners, stealing bases, capitalizing on their opponent's errors, beating out an infield single to score a winning run, etc.

One thing the Yankees have done incredibly well this year is winning games when they have the lead.  Once they get ahead, they stay ahead. They have lost only one game all year that they have led in.  They are 11-0 when leading after the 3rd  inning and 15-0 when leading after the 6th.  That is a testament to their excellent pitching, especially the back-end of the pen.  While the perfect record isn't sustainable, having a strong back-end of the pen is so the Yankees will continue to win when they are ahead as long as DRob and Mo remain healthy.  Joba and Logan and most recently Preston Claiborne have all pitched well out of the pen.

But can the Yankees remain in 1st Place without starting to score more runs? It's doubtful.  While Baltimore showed a team can win 93 games and make the playoffs without scoring much more than your opponent, it certainly isn't likely to repeat itself.  The Yankees need to find ways to score more to continue winning.  Some help is on the way with the soon return of Eduardo Nunez and Curtis Granderson but  the rest of the injured starters are a long ways off.  The Yanks will need to try to improve their offense against LHP either through minor-lg callups (David Adams, Ronnier Mustelier) or via trades.  I don't think any trades are likely at this point unless they get some bad news on the injury rehab front.  Youkilis, Teixeira, Jeter, ARod and even Cervelli are all strong RH bats who have clobbered LHP in recent yrs so getting any or all of those players back from injury will be better than any trade they can make.

The starting pitching has been good and right now all of the starters are pitching well with the exception of Andy Pettitte who has had back to back poor starts.  I expect Andy to get it together and the rotation to continue to give this team opportunities to win. While the offense is clearly not as good as in past years, there is a certain level of satisfaction to see the team winning these types of games.  They just took 2 of 3 in Colorado despite scoring just 6 runs in the entire series and their last 7 games have all been decided by 2  runs or less.  Getting Grandy and Nunez back and calling up one or both of Adams & Musty would infuse some much-needed offense into the team. Getting Hafner's bat back into the lineup with the DH is also a big plus. I see no reason to believe the Yankees can't remain in  striking distance of 1st place until the All-Star Break when they should begin to get most of their bats back.

Can the Yanks keep winning all of these 1 and 2-run games or is it a fluke? Do they need to make a trade to improve the offense or can they hold out until injuries heal? Give your opinion in the comments.

This Day In Yankees History 5/10

On this day in 1934 Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig sets a major league mark with four extra base hits and 12 total bases in a single game. Gehrig had two doubles and two home runs in five innings before taking himself out of the game due to a severe cold. The Yankees would win the game against the Chicago White Sox 11-3 behind Gehrig's seven RBI's.