Monday, April 30, 2012

Orioles @ Yankees 4/30/12


7 Strong innings from Kuroda. Houdini does his job in the 8th, Mariano does his job in the 9th. 
Eric Chavez hit a two run home run and the Yankees win 2-1

WP Kuroda
LP Hammel
SV Rivera

Tonight the Yankees will host the first place Baltimore Orioles at the stadium at 7:05 pm ET. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees and will face off against Jason Hammel. Hiroki will be looking for some consistency in his starts after two stellar and dominant starts and two not so great starts so far this season.

I am still personally on the Bobby Abreu watch to have a short audition on a minor league deal while we wait on Brett Gardner to come off the DL on Thursday and Nick Swisher and his low grade strain of the hamstring. Swisher does not expect to miss more then the Orioles series but Joe Girardi does not want to let him in a game until next Tuesday, a day after an off day for the Yanks. 

Here is the lineup for the Yanks

1. Jeter SS
2. Granderson CF
3. Rodriguez DH
4. Cano 2B
5. Teixeira 1B
6. Ibanez RF
7. Chavez 3B
8. Martin C
9. Nunez LF

Nunez making his first start in LF. 

Andy Pettitte Update

Andy Pettitte got lit up a little bit today, not that anybody cares about that, while throwing 96 pitches. In 5.2 IP Pettitte gave up 10 hits, 6 runs (5 ER), 0 walks, and 8 K's. In 96 of the pitches an amazing 74% of them, 71 pitches, were thrown for strikes. You do not worry as much about the results as much as the pitch count, the strength under his legs, and his health.

The Yankees want Pettitte to throw at least 100 pitches in at least two minor league starts before coming up to the big league rotation. I do not know if this 96 pitch outing would be considered one of the 100 pitch starts or if they want two actual 100 pitch starts but either way it looks like we will see, health barring, Andy Pettitte in the big leagues making a start either next week or the week after.

Should The Yankees Risk Losing The DH?

In the bottom of the 3rd inning last night, after having drawn a walk, Nick Swisher was removed from the game with an apparent leg injury. Andruw Jones came in to run for Swish, and remained in the game. Jones went on to get two hits, including a solo HR in the 8th inning, but what will happen to an outfield that has lost all of it's depth?

Joe Girardi was quoted as saying Nick Swisher would miss "more than a few days", which led many to believe Swish would be going on the 15-day DL here soon, but that's not necessarily the case. Girardi went on to say that it was a "real low-grade strain", and that they'd have to give it a few days to see how things go before making a decision about the disabled list.

Many believe the Yankees should stick with what they have, meaning they shouldn't call up anybody. After all, Gardner should be ready to come off the DL as soon as he's eligible to do so on Thursday. But looking at the team's active roster, now without Swisher, perhaps the team should call up another outfielder. As things stand the Active Roster only has 11 batters, meaning that the bench would only go two-deep for the entire series against the Orioles. That doesn't give Girardi much to work with, especially if somebody else should pull up lame during a game. I can see Ibanez tripping over his own feet trying to get to a fly-ball in the gap, leading to him landing hard on his shoulder and needing to leave the game. The Yankees put Nunez out there, and now the team has one player remaining on the bench. It's just not a situation I think Girardi wants to get in.

But with a decision on Swisher and the DL to be put on hold, I don't see any good options for the team. Chris Dickerson and Dewayne Wise have been hitting really well so far in AAA (.350 and .369 respectively), so either seems like a good candidate. But when Swisher is ready to come back, and assuming Gardner does return on the 3rd, then the team would lose one of those current AAA guys, as neither can be simply be sent back down to AAA.

At least for tonight the Yankees may as well go with a two-man bench, probably starting ARod at DH and Nunez at 3B. That way the team is in no danger of having to lose the DH during the game, should somebody else pull up lame. And the best nine hitters would be in the lineup. Girardi would already have players to replace Martin and Tex on the bench (Stewart and Chavez), and Nunez could shift from 3B to any other position with Chavez taking over at 3B. By tomorrow maybe the team will have more information on Swisher, and can go from there.

Series Wrap: Yankees vs. Orioles 4/27 - 4/29

Game One

June 3rd, 2011. That was the last time Ivan Nova was tagged with the loss after a start. Since that day he started 19 games without taking the "L", and this one looked like it would be the game that broke the streak. Not because Detroit's offense is unreal or anything, but because the Yankee bats would be facing 2011 Cy Young Winner, and 2011 American League MVP, Justin Verlander. I seriously thought we were in for a game in which Nova pitched well, but would end up taking the loss in a 2-1 game.

I was wrong. Not only did the Yankees win the game, but Nova did not have a great outing at all. Ivan gave up 11 hits, 6 earned runs, struck out 5, and walked 3 over 5.1 innings. Since joining the starting rotation after a relief outing on April 19th of last year Nova's started 23 games, and failed to go at least 6 innings only 7 times. So this was certainly a rare poor start for the man people call "SuperNova". Luckily Verlander wasn't at his best either, as the Yankees were able to put 5 runs on the board (4 earned) in Justin's 6 innings. But unlike Detroit's bullpen, who eventually coughed up the lead and the game, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, David Robertson, and THE Mariano Rivera tossed 3.2 innings of scoreless ball.

There wasn't a lot to talk offensively for the Yankees. Only Swisher and Rodriguez were able to put up more than one hit, while Teixeira, Ibanez, and... if you can believe it... Jeter were hitless. Russell Martin was able to make the most of his one hit, blasting a 2-run homer run over the right-centerfield wall. On the offensive side of things, the most exciting play came in the bottom of the 9th inning. Russell Martin grounded out after working the count full, Derek Jeter walked on 5 pitches, and then Curtis Granderson was walked after battling to a full count. Brayan Villarreal threw a wild pitch on ball four to Granderson though, allowing Jeter to move up to 3rd. ARod then came up with men on the corners and one out. Alex had 3 hits so far in the game, and even though some would say he was hot and would get the job done, I was cringing at the thought of an inning-ending double play. But it didn't take long for my worries to go away, as Villarreal threw a pitch that Alex Avila just couldn't handle, allowing Jeter to scurry home to give the Bombers a walk-off win.

Game Two

After a pitcher throws 1.2 innings, giving up 5 earned runs, you'd think he'd be better his next time out. It's not as though having a better showing than that would be difficult. Well, ladies and gentlemen, Freddy Antonio Garcia is not your average MLB pitcher. A week after Yankee fans were ready to scalp "The Chief", Freddy managed to do even worse. Saturday night the Tigers tagged Garcia for 6 earned runs in 1.2 innings. He actually managed to strike out three batters, including Miguel Cabrera, in the 1st inning. Unfortunately that 1st inning also included a walk to Austin Jackson, an intentional walk to Prince Fielder, and a 3-run home run to Andy Dirks. Yes. Garcia struck out a guy that finished 4th in MVP voting in 2009, 2nd in MVP voting in 2010, and 5th in MVP voting last year. But he gave up a bomb to a guy with a career OPS+ of 92 after having played in 86 games. It took two singles, an RBI double, and another single that scored 2 more runners, before Clay Rapada came in to get Fielder to line-out and end the 2nd inning. And, of course, the Yankees bullpen went on to throw 7.1 innings of 2 hit ball.

Even though Jose Valverde did a good job of letting the Yankees back into the ballgame, giving up 3 runs in the 9th inning, it wasn't enough to give the good guys another come-back victory. Jeter went hitless for his 2nd game in a row, which was preceeded by a 15 game hit streak. Curtis Granderson had a couple of hits, including a solo home run in the 7th inning. But it was Nick Swisher that stood out on for the Yankee bats, as both of Swish's hits left the playing field. Unfortunately nobody was on base for any of the three homers the Yanks hit, and their 5 runs weren't enough.

Note that David Phelps threw 3 more innings today, giving up 0 hits, walking 1, and striking out 2. Phelps has thrown 17.2 innings this year out of the bullpen, while Phil Hughes is a starter and has only thrown 16, and even worse is Freddy Garcia with 13.2 innings. And I won't even compared the ERAs of all three of these guys. I'd say more, but I really don't think I have to.

Game Three

Going into the rubber match of the Yankees three-game series against the Tigers CC Sabathia, who would be starting, had the third best ERA on the starting staff. And sadly it's not because the two guys ahead of him in that category, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova, were having a great year. Hiro and Nova had ERAs of 4.38 and 5.18 respectively, while CC's was at a hefty 5.27. Thankfully the team was going up against Max Scherzer, and his brutal 8.24 ERA. So on paper it didn't look like we needed our ace on the hill in this one.

I'm happy to say that the Sabathia we saw Sunday afternoon was the guy we were expecting in 2012. CC went eight innings striking out eight batters, giving up only two runs on four hits, while walking two as well. Carsten Charles only made two mistakes in the game, but unfortunately those mistakes were thrown to Prince Fielder (home run) and Miguel Cabrera (run-scoring double). The fortunate part was that the home run was a solo shot, and the run-scoring double only brought in a single run. Another way to see that it was a good outing comes from the fact it only took CC the Workhorse 106 pitches to get through those eight innings. As for that 9th inning, David Robertson didn't let anybody on base, and struck out the final two batters of the game.

Derek Jeter had yet to record a base hit in the series, and he broke out of that slump (HA! "Slump") going 2 for 3, with two walks. Robbie Cano, Andruw Jones, and Eric Chavez each conbrituted a couple hits of their own (one of Jones' hits was a solo HR in the 8th inning). While Granderson, ARod, and Chris Stewart added hits of their own (Granderson's lone hit was a solo HR in the 4th inning). The solo bombs by Grandy and Jones were the only extra base hits the Yankees recorded, each of  them solo dingers, showing that the team was able to score four runs without the #evilhomerun. All of this looks good, but I can't help but point out that the Yankees half of the score should have been higher, but the team only went 3-for-13 with RISP, leaving 15 men on base. This one actually could have been a blow-out.

That wasn't the saddest part of the night though, as Nick Swisher suffered a low-grade hamstring strain. After the game Girardi said that Swish would miss "more than a few days", meaning he could be on the DL fairly soon. The good news is that Brett Gardner will likely return from the DL as soon as he's eligible to on May 3rd. I have a feeling the team will go down to 12 pitchers until then, since they will be left with Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, and Curtis Granderson starting in the outfield, with Eduardo Nunez as the 4th guy out there.

Series Awards

Jake Taylor Award*
Nick Swisher - 4/9, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR, 2 2B 

Gentry Award*
Mark Teixeira - 0/12, 1 RBI

Rick Vaughn Award*
CC Sabathia - Game 3: 8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

Kelner Award*
Freddy Garcia - Game 2: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

Next Series
vs. Orioles 4/30 - 5/2
Click here to talk about the series at the Daily Sports Pages Yankees forum.


*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 Award- 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.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tigers @ Yankees 4/29/12

Nick Swisher has a low grade strain on his hamstring and Joe Girardi says it will take a couple days to heal. With Gardner still on the DL I see it more and more likely that we give Bobby Abreu a short look at a Yankee.

CC Sabathia pitched into the 8th inning and gave the bullpen a much needed break to win his third straight start as the Yankees won today 6-2.

Welcome to the Yankees DJ Mitchell

Roster Moves and Rotation News

Well, we finally got what we've been asking for for weeks. Sort of.

Freddy Garcia has been moved to the bullpen. However, Girardi didn't say who will replace Sweaty in the rotation. It could be David Phelps, who's thrown 17.2 innings this season to an ERA of 3.57 and WHIP of 1.075. But that wasn't the only move the team made today, as Cody Eppley was sent down to AAA and DJ Mitchell was called up to take his place.

Mitchell has started four games for the Empire State Yankees, with a 2-1 record and an ERA of 3.13. In 23 innings DJ has allowed 13 hits and 7 walks, giving him a WHIP of only 0.87. Even better is the fact he's struck out 21 batters, giving him a 3:1 K/BB ratio. So he could be the man to take the 5th rotation spot, instead of Phelps.

I'll be looking out to see whether DJ pitches today, as that could let us know what will happen on Thursday... which would have been the day of Garcia's next start.

EDIT: As per Joe Girardi's announcement, David Phelps will be taking Freddy Garcia's rotation spot.

Meet A Prospect : Joe Girardi Edition

Welcome back to Meet A Prospect where today's subject will be Yankees coach and former catcher Jor Girardi. Joe Girardi has seen lots of ups and downs and history in his time in Yankees pinstripes whether it be great catching performances, World Series rings, or the end of impressive streaks of playoff appearances. Joe Girardi was not always the braces having, binder holding, bullpen wizard that we all see today though, so let us meet Yankees manager and former NL Manager of the Year Joe Girardi.

Joseph Elliot Girardi, or more commonly known as Joe Girardi, was born on October 14th, 1964 in Peoria, Illinois. Joe stayed close to home, attending East Peoria Neil Armstrong grade school and Sacred Heart where he was coached in basketball by his father. He later attended the Academy of Our Lady/Spalding Institute, which is now merged into Peoria Notre Dame High School, where he played quarterback for the football team and catcher  for the baseball team. He went on to play baseball at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned a bachelors degree in industrial engineering of a bullpen. In college he was elected the president of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega at Northwestern, the first freshman to ever be donned with the honor. 

Joe Girardi began his career being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the MLB First Year Player Draft in the 5th round in 1986. After a couple years in the Cubs minor league system Girardi played for the Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League where he gained a lot of MLB experience, experience that would end up starting that very season in 1989 where he started the season with the Cubs big league club. Joe stayed with the Cubs big league club as their catcher through the 1992 season. 

At the beginning of the 1993 season the Colorado Rockies, and expansion team, drafted Joe Girardi to be their first ever catcher. Joe Girardi would stay with the Rockies through the 1994 season but was traded eventually to the New York Yankees in 1995 for pitcher Mike DeJean, an obvious win for the Yankees team. 

1995 began Joe Girardi's career as a New York Yankee, and what a career it quickly became. Girardi was the Yankees regular catcher in 1995 and through the 1999 season, earning three World Series rings along the way in 1996, 1998, and 1999. Girardi also caught Dwight Gooden's no hitter in 1996 and David Cone's perfect game in 1999. Girardi did all this while still mentoring Yankees young catching converted prospect Jorge Posada. Girardi and Posada split time together through the 1999 season.  Girardi eventually went back to the Cubs, making his first ever All Star appearance, and spent some time with the Cardinals before retiring as a player but his best and most successful years were always as a Yankee.

After dabbling in broadcasting and turning down the Marlins offer to be their bench coach Joe accepted a spot as the bench coach for Joe Torre's New York Yankees after retiring in 2004. He even managed a game in 2005 during a Joe Torre suspension against the Kansas City Royals, a game that the Yankees lost. 2005 would be Girardi's last season as a Yankees bench coach as he joined the broadcasting world again in 2006, working games 3-5 of the World Series on Fox as a part of the pre and post game team. Joe Girardi joined the Yankees YES Network in 2007, after turning down managerial offers, for 60+ games and served as a color commentator for Major League Baseball on Fox.

In the 2006 season Joe Girardi accepted an offer to manage the Florida Marlins, replacing Jack McKeon. His first notable action was to ban all facial hair, similar to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.  With a $14 million dollar payroll, a salary lower then 7 Yankees players, Girardi guided the team to a 78-84 record and a wild card contending team all season long.  After a public altercation with owner Jeffrey Loria, who almost fired him that night before being talked out of it, Girardi's days were numbered. Girardi was fired on October 3rd, 2006 despite him winning manager of the year. He also won the Sporting News Manager of the Year Award for the National League that season.

Joe Girardi, replacing long time Yankees manager Joe Torre, beat out Don Mattingly and Tony Pena to become the new manager of the New York Yankees in 2008. He signed a three year deal worth $7.5 million bucks.  Joe Girardi immediately chose to wear number 27 to show his goal for the 2008 season, a 27th World Series Championship. He did not start out well because Girardi's Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1993 season. This was especially heartbreaking because it was the last season in the old Yankees Stadium. 

After a SEVERELY long offseason of nothing but "Fire Joe Girardi" threads on forums and rants and raves about how much of a better job Don Mattingly, with no experience, would have done the Yankees returned to the field in 2009. This time, to help Girardi, the Yankees added CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Texeira, and Nick Swisher to name a few. The Yankees were quick out of the gate and by the time the Yanks clinched their 40th AL Pennant, having the best record in basball, the Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in six games to win their 27th World Championship. This was his first World Series title as a manager and the Yankees first title win since 2000, a long 9 years. After that season he changed his number to number 28 because the Yankees had/have a new goal... a 28th championship.

Joe Girardi is married to his wife Kimberly Girardi, seen in our WIVES AND GIRLFRIENDS section, and has three children while living in Purchase, New York.  Girardi is the son of Jerry and Angela Girardi, both from Illinois originally and of Italian descent. Joe Girardi considers himself a devout Christian, something that he also gets from his parent.  Girardi is known as a health nut and, since taking over the Yankees, has banned sweets from the clubhouse. No ice cream, no soda, and no Captain Crunch for CC Sabathia in Joe Girardi's clubhouse!

After the 2009 World Series clinching game Joe Girardi was driving home and stopped to help a crash victim who had run their car into a wall on a dangerous part of the highway. The woman that he tried to help save stated that she did not even know who he was until the officers pointed it out, how cool (for lack of a better word) would that be?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tigers @ Yankees 4/28


Freddy Garcia got shelled again, and did not get out of the 2nd inning again. Pitching 1.2 IP, and giving up 6 ER, Garcia is doing nothing at this point but hurting this team. I believe I was one of the few calling for concern when we signed him saying that the league, and especially the AL East, would have to catch up to his junk ball routine. I'm just saying... David Phelps. DJ Mitchell as the long man in the pen, and get rid of this bum. 
I Suck At This Game
After a wild night, and a great game by the way if anyone missed it,  of back and forth offensive baseball mixed in with great Yankees bullpen pitching the same two teams will go head to head again at the stadium. Today , at 4:05 pm ET, Freddy Garcia will face off against Drew Smyly in the second game of this three game set.

The question I have is will Freddy Garcia throw more wild pitches today or give up more home runs? I hate to be pessimistic, especially being a blogger AND a fan, but how can you have any confidence in Garcia at this point?

Here is the lineup:

Derek Jeter DH
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Andruw Jones LF
Russell Martin C
Eduardo Nunez SS

"These Games Are Very Serious"

"So we're not going out to eat after the game?"

There are a lot of Yankees fans that don't like Joe Girardi. Some of the things they bash him for are legitimate criticisms, such as starting Raul Ibanez in left field. Before Raul was a Yankee, and many fans were rallying for the team to sign Johnny Damon, I wanted them to get Ibanez due to the fact that he was more dependable in the outfield. Not that the Dark Lord was good out there, but that in a pinch he would be a better choice than Damon. I don't want to get into the whole "Ibanez vs. Damon" thing again, as I spoke plenty about those during the offseason, but one play from last night's game is not going to change my thoughts on the subject.

Other concerns are iffy at best. Joe has been trying out the shift this year, and plenty of times they are getting beat. But is that the fault of Girardi, or are pitchers just not putting their pitches in the right place? I mean, if a pitcher misses outside, and the batter takes it the opposite way (like any good hitter should), is that the manager's fault? No. That's the fault of the pitcher for not doing his job. The only way Joe should get any flak over shifting in this case is by those that don't believe he should trust his pitchers to get things done. And I'm not so sure Girardi, or any MLB manager, should go about things like that.

There's one thing that Joe G said during the press conference last night that I want to point out as a very good thing...
“I just didn’t care for the way it went,” Girardi said. “These games are very serious. Every game is serious stuff. That’s how I approach it. You’ve seen too many times where one game costs a team a playoff spot.”
Whether it was due to putting "inferior" lineups out there, or allowing struggling pitchers to start another game (e.g. not skipping Garcia), I've heard Girardi bashed for conceding wins on a given day. Until now I couldn't really say otherwise, just that I didn't believe a manager would ever be okay with his team losing. Some games may seem more important than others, but the fact is a team's winning percentage (which is how postseason teams are chosen) does not change depending on who they played, or when they played them. Each game matters just as much as another.

So I was really happy to hear those words cross Joe's lips. It proves that our manager is out to win every single game. And keep in mind that this quote wasn't directly related to whether or not he was trying to win. Girardi was asked about being thrown out of last night's game for arguing balls and strikes. If he was responding to the question "are you okay with losing?", then one could say Joe was just playing the politician here. This was a comment regarding another topic, but can be related to how he feels about winning in general.

And I liked it, as should you.

Meet A Prospect : Derek Jeter Edition

 What else can be said about Derek Jeter that he has not said by himself, only with his bat. The owner of the Yankees Captain spot, 5 World Series rings, and basically anything else he wants, Derek Jeter has been the poster boy for all of baseball and especially the New York Yankees since the 1996 season. While Derek Jeter surpassed 3000 hits last season he has Pete Rose's hit record in his sights, it is just a matter of if he wants it enough to keep playing. If you look at Derek's list of woman folk he has had attached to his arm you would know that Derek gets what Derek wants. It was not always like that though so let us meet the kid from New Jersey, Derek Jeter.

Derek Sanderson Jeter was born on June 26th , 1974, in Pequannock, New Jersey to parents Dr. Sanderson Charles Jeter and Dorothy Jeter. Derek's parents, a substance abuse counselor (Sanderson) and an accountant (Dorthy), met while serving in the United States Army in Germany. Derek's parents, at a very early age, were very strict and hard on him but very consistent. As a child his mother instilled Derek's positive attitude in him, insisting that he could not use the word "can't". Derek even had to sign a contract every year that set acceptable and unacceptable forms of behavior. Derek lived in North Arlington, New Jersey, until he was four years old when he moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Derek and his sister, Sharlee, attended New York Yankees games while spending the summers with their grandparents in New Jersey and became very passionate about the Yankees. Derek later said that as a child Yankees stand out Dave Winfield inspired him to pursue baseball. 

Derek spent his high school days at Kalamzoo Central High School where he played baseball and basketball. In his sophmore year he batted .557 and followed it up with a .508 average in his junior year. In his senior year he hit .508 with 23 RBIs, 21 walks, 4 home runs, and a .831 slugging percentage with a .637 on base percentage, 12 stolen bases in 12 attempts, and just a single strike out. After a stellar season like that Jeter received an All State honorable mention, the Kalamazoo Area B'nai B'rith Award for Scholar Athlete, the American Baseball Coaches Association 1992 High School Player of the Year Award, 1992 Gatorade High School Player Of The Year Award, and USA Today's High School Player of the Year. This kind of acknowledgement got him a scholarship offer to play baseball from the University of Michigan that he obviously declined. Much later in his career Kalamazoo Central High School inducted Jeter into their Athletic Hall of Fame, in 2003, and renamed its baseball field in Jeter's honor in 2011. 

Derek was drafted straight out of High School by the New York Yankees in the first round of the MLB First Year Players Draft 6th overall. Hal Newhouser, a scout for the Houston Astros team that had the first pick overall that season, lobbied for his team management to select Jeter although the Astros feared that Jeter would require a salary bonud of at at least $1 million to skill college and go pro. The Astros, instead, drafted Phil Nevin and signed him for $700,000. Newhouser felt so strongly about Jeter and the waste of a pick that he quit his job with the Astros in protest. The Yankees gave Jeter a $800,000 signing bonus to skip being a Wolverine and instead become a Yankee. Yankees scout Dick Groch said he would not go anywhere but "Cooperstown". 

Derek played four season in the Yankees minor league system, beginning with a struggle in the Gulf Coast League. His manager even had to bench him at the end of the season in 1992 so his average did not drop below the Mendoza Line, .200 Batting Average. In 1993 though he came out of the offseason determined and was voted the Most Outstanding Major League Prospect  by the South Atlantic League managers after hitting .295 with 5 home runs, 71 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases. He was also named to the All Star team even though he committed a South Atlanta League record 56 errors. Somehow, though, he was named the SAL's Best Defensive Shortstop, Most Exciting Player, and Best Infield Arm by Baseball America. In 1994 he was named the Minor League Player Of The Year Award by Baseball America, The Sporting Newas, USA Today, and Topps while winning the MVP of the Florida State League. The 1994 MLB strike and mild inflammation in his right shoulder while in the Arizona Fall League kept Jeter from the majors, officially, in 1995 but he would be called up for the post season run to sit on the bench and take in the experience of playing for New York. 

Derek was named the Yankees starting short stop starting for the 1996 season after Joe Torre stood up against George Steinbrenner, who as we all know was never happy about the growing pains young players have to go through. Steinbrenner even approved a trade that would have sent pitcher Mariano Rivera to Seattle for short stop Felix Fermin because Gene Michael and Brian Cashman convinced Steinbrenner to give Jeter an opportunity. Aren't we glad that he did? 

Jeter was the first rookie short stop to start the season as a starter for the Yankees since Tom Tresh in 1962 and he did not waste any time getting acclimated, hitting his first MLB home run that day. He won the Rookie of the Year award after hitting .314 with 10 home runs, scoring 104 runs, and driving in 78 RBIs. His first post season home run came in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles, the Jeffrey Maier home run.  Jeter won his first World Series ring in that rookie season when the Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves in 6 games, the first Yankee World Series since 1978. Jeter batted .361 in that post season. 1998 was Jeter's first All Star Game appearance while the Yankees won 114 games during the regular season while on, in my very biased opinion, the greatest team of all time. Jeter would finish third that season in MVP voting but most importantly Derek had his second ring as the Yankees beat the Padres in 4 games. Another All Star appearance in 1999 and another World Series ring with the Yankees beating the Braves again for Jeter's third ring. After the 1999 season Derek agreed to a 7 year $118.5 million dollar contract but George Steinbrenner did not want to set a salary record and pay Jeter more then Juan Gonzalez, who was working on an 8 year $143 million dollar extension, so the Yankees agreed to a 1 year deal worth $10 million. That ended up being a "mistake" because Jeter had another All Star appearance, including the game winning hit and All Star Game MVP, and had yet another World Series ring when the Yankees beat the Mets in 5 games.  Jeter, while winning his fourth World Series ring, won the World Series MVP and became the only player to ever win the World Series and All Star Game MVP in the same season. Jeter then signed a 10 year $189 million dollar deal, making him the second highest paid player in baseball behind Alex Rodriguez, which was much more then the original extension proposal

Derek would make his fourth All Star game appearance in 2001and also made the "flip play" in the ALDS against the Oakland A's that will forever be remembered. Jeter would also earn the title "Mr November" when he hit a game winning home run as the clock struck Midnight on November 1st, the first World Series to ever be played in November. The Yankees would lose the 2001 World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks in, again in my biased opinion, the greatest World Series of all time.  Jeter would dislocate his left shoulder on Opening Day of the 2003 season when he collided with Blue Jays catcher Ken Huckaby at third base, missing 36 games. That season Derek Jeter was recognized as the 11th captain in Yankees history eight seasons after Don Mattingly, the last Yankees captain, retired. After typical Jeter seasons from 2003-2007 Jeter tied Lou Gehrig's record for hits at Yankee Stadium with his 1,269th hit with a home run off of Ray's pitcher David Price in 2008. He broke the record two days later when he got a hit off of White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd. 

2009, after the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons, reloaded with many free agents signings and trades that brought CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Texeira, and Nick Swisher to name the big ones. This would also be the season that Derek would return to the lead off role when Girardi flipped him and Johnny Damon in the batting order. Jeter recorded his 2,675th hit as a short stop, passing Luis Aparicio's previous record for short stops, in August of the 2009 season. Jeter followed that up by passing Lou Gehrig as the Yankees all time hits lead when he singles off of Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman on September 11th, 2009. Jeter would win his 5th World Series championship in 2009 when the Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in 6 games to win their teams 27th World Series Championship of their storied history. Jeter also won his 5th gold glove that season and finished third in the MVP voting behind eventual winner Joe Mauer and teammate Mark Texeira. In July of 2011 , off of pitcher David Price of the Rays, Derek collected his 3000th hit on a home run to left field at Yankee Stadium. He is now assaulting Pete Rose's all time hit record. 

Derek Jeter created the Turn 2 Foundation in 1996, a charitable organization, to help children and teenagers avoid drug and alcohol addiction. and it also rewards those who show high academic achievements. Derek also serves as an ambassador for Weplay, a website designed to get children involved in sports.  Jeter, when not being a good charitable person, is probably hanging out with a beautiful woman. Derek's little black book includes girls like Scarlett Johannson, Minka Kelly, Mariah Carey, Miss Universe Lara Dutta, Gabrielle Union, Joy Enriquez, Jordana Brewster, Vanessa Minillo, Jessical Biel, Jessica Alba,  and the list goes on and on... I hate you Derek Jeter.

What do you say to summarize Derek Jeter, I mean really what can you say? Going into the 2012 season he is a 12 time all star, 5 time Yankee Player of the Year, All Time Yankees hit leader including the only player in Yankees history to reach 3,000 hits, 5 gold gloves at short stop, 4 silver slugger awards, 2 GIBBY Awards for Moment Of The Year, 2 Hank Aaron Awards, 2 Lou Gherig Memorial Awards, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated All Decade Team, a Roberto Clemente award, an All Star and World Series MVP, 5 World Series rings, an AL Rookie of the Year, being on the team who went to the playoffs in 16 of his 17 seasons, and the list goes on and on and on and on and on. The greatest part of it all though? He still goes out there every day that he physically can, hurt or not, and has just as much fun today as he did in 1996 for the Yankees. The Captain... Derek Jeter.

The time has come where we must end another week of Special Edition versions of Meet A Prospect but not before we do something even more special... Tune in tomorrow where we meet the Yankees current manager and former catcher, Mr. Joe Girardi (braces and all). See you tomorrow at noon!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tigers @ Yankees 4/27/12


After that play in the top of the 2nd inning in Left Field I wonder where all the people are that thought it was a good idea to sign Ibanez over Damon because he could be LESS of a liability in the outfield....

Alex Rodriguez and Russell Martin each had a home run for the Yankees offensive onslaught. 

Ivan Nova finished with 6 ER in 5.1 IP.

Derek Jeter is hitless, ending his 15 game hit streak and lowering his BA to .400

Mark Texeira sac fly ties the game in the bottom of the 8th

Derek Jeter scores on a wild pitch to walk off against the Tigers 7-6
WP: Mariano Rivera

All I Do Is Win
Tonight we have the potential for a hell of a pitching match up with Justin Verlander going for the Tigers and will be facing off against Ivan Nova, who has not lost in like 6 years. The game will be on at 7:05 pm ET and will be on MLB Network.  Here is the lineup.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez 3B
Russell Martin C

Meet A Prospect : Alex Rodriguez Edition

Alex Rodriguez, contrary to popular belief, was not always the guy that was questioned whether or not he could hit in a big spot or in the playoffs. Believe it or not Alex Rodriguez was not always nicknamed ARod or Aroid or surrounded by steroid clouds or the New York media. Alex Rodriguez was not always the next guy to pass all the top home run hitters of all time and Alex Rodriguez did not always have an AAV of $30 million bucks a season. Believe it or not Alex Rodriguez used to be a quiet and humble kid who just wanted to play baseball. Let us meet him, ladies and gentlemen, Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Emmanuel Rodriguez was born on July 27th, 1975 in Washington Heights, New York. Alex, born to two Dominican parents, moved back to the Dominican Republic when he was four years old. When he moved back to the states him and his family moved to Miami, Florida where he gained an appreciate for guys like Cal Ripken , Keith Hernandez, and Dale Murphy and grew up with the New York Yankees Mets as his favorite baseball team. 

Alex went to Miami's Westminster Christian High School where he became the start shortstop for the school. In 100 games there he batted .419 with 90 steals en route to winning the high school national championship in his junior year. He was first team prep All American as a senior, hitting .505 with 9 home runs, 36 rbis, 35 steals in 35 attempts all in 33 games. He was selected as the USA Baseball Junior Player of the Year and Gatorade's national baseball student athlete of the year as well that season as a senior. Rodriguez was the first high school player to try out for the Team USA Olympic Baseball team in 1993 and was quickly donned with the title of top prospect in the country.  After high school he signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Miami, who also recruited him to play quarterback for their football team. Alex surprisingly turned down the baseball scholarship and never played college baseball, instead signing with the Seattle Mariners after being drafted in the first round of the MLB First Year Players draft at the ripe old age of 17 years old. 

Alex, after being drafted first overall in the 1993 draft, was already playing for Seattle's AAA team in 1994. He played 32 games and had 37 hits, for a .311 batting average, in 119 at bats while knocking in 6 home runs and 21 rbis. He made it all the way to the majors by July of the 1994 season, being the starting short stop on July 8th against the Boston Red Sox at 18 years old. Alex's rookie season was obviously cut short that season due to the shortened strike season by the MLB Player's Association and the league. Rodriguez split time between the big club and AAA in 1995 before joining the Mariners permanently in August where he got his first taste of the post season while still being the youngest player in  Major League Baseball.  His first full season, 1996, was easily considered his break out season as he hit 36 home runs with 123 rbis while leading the American League with a .358 batting average, the highest BA for a right handed hitter, since Joe DiMaggion hit .381 in 1939. He was also the first major leaguer to win the batting title at short stop since 1960, the first in the AL since 1944... all at 20 years old. Obviously he made the All Star team that season while leading the AL in runs, total bases, and doubles while within striking distance of the hits (2nd), extra base hits (2nd), multi hit games (3rd), slugging % (4th), RBI (8th), and On Base Percentage (8th). He set the highest totals ever for a short stop in runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits, and slugging while tying for most total bases and set Seattle Mariners records for average, runs, hits, doubles, and total bases. Some say that this is still the best season ever by a short stop. He was named the Sporting News and Associate Press Major League Player Of The Year and came in 2nd place, three points back, in the MVP vote to Texas all star Juan Gonzalez. After a "down year" in 1997, that included an all star appearance by being voted in ahead of Cap Ripken Jr,  he rebounded in 1998 setting the AL record for home runs by a SS and becoming the third member of the 40-40 club with 42 home runs and 46 stolen bases. He was the Players Choice AL Player Of The Year that season, won his 2nd Silver Slugger Award, and finished in the top 10 in the MVP Voting. Following an amazing season he hit another 42 home runs in 1999 even though he missed over 30 games with an injury. 2000 was his final season with Seattle, even though he was the guy that they were building around after trading away guys like Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr to keep him. Even though he had a great season and even hit well in the playoffs the Mariners lost to the Yankees in the 2000 ALCS. He was selected as the Major League Player of the Year award by Baseball America and finished 3rd in the Baseball Writers Association of America AL MVP voting.

Alex signed the most lucrative and expensive contract in all of baseball after that 2000 season, signing with the Texas Rangers for a record 10 years and $252 million dollars. A Texas Rangers team that finished last in the division in 2000 signed Alex to a contract $63 million more then the highest contract ever given out to date.  In an article written years later in the Daily News Alex said he regretted signing with the Rangers and instead wanted to sign with the New York Mets. Rather then following his heart though he listened to , then agent, Scott Boras and followed the money.  He did make the best of his time in Texas though, hitting 52 home runs and 133 runs scored with 393 total bases in his first season as starting SS for Texas. He followed that up with a major league best 57 home runs with 142 rbis with 389 total bases in 2002. He won the Babe Ruth Home Run Award for leading the MLB in home runs and win his first Gold Glove Award that season for his outstanding defense. Despite 109 home runs in those two seasons the Rangers finished in last place in the AL West both seasons. The Rangers losses are probably what cost Alex the MVP Award in 2002, as he finished second to Miguel Tejada's 103 win Oakland A's who won that AL West that season. 2003 would be his last season as a Ranger, but it may have been his best if that is possible. Alex won the MVP award , finally, while leading the AL in home runs, runs scored , and slugging &. He also won his second straight Gold Glove Award and Babe Ruth Home Run Award while becoming the youngest player to 300 home runs. 

After that 2003 season the Rangers, who were going no where with Alex, decided they had to move his expensive contract. Initially Alex was traded to the Boston Red Sox that off season but the MLB Players Association vetoed the deal because it called for voluntary reduction in salary. After the Rangers named him the Team Captain for the team for the 2004 season they quickly traded him to the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later. The Rangers agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million remaining on the contract, dependent on Alex agreeing to switch to 3B. Alex also had to switch uniform numbers because he wore #3 in Texas and Seattle, retired number of Babe Ruth. 

Alex has been the exact definition of an up and down career while he has been with the Yankees. After an average Alex Rodriguez season in 2004, which included yet another All Star Game appearance, and a fight with Boston catcher and captain Jason Varitek the Yankees made the playoffs. Alex absolutely destroyed the Twins in his first post season appearance as a Yankee, batting .421 while slugging .737 with two key extra inning hits. The 2004 ALCS that no one will ever began was set, the Yankees vs the Red Sox. Alex started the series continuing to crush the ball, equally a single game post season record with five runs scored in Game 3 in Fenway. While we will never forget the Red Sox's 3-0 epic come back and breaking the "Curse of the Bambino" while winning the World Series I wonder how many of you forgot about in this series when Alex swatted the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove after rolling a ground ball to the pitcher's mound. I certainly have not forgotten. 2005 marked his first ever MVP award as a Yankee when he drove in 48 home runs and 130 RBIs, becoming the first Yankee to win the award since Reggie Jackson in 1980. He also hit three home runs off of future teammate, and then Angels pitcher, Bartolo Colon while driving in 10 runs in one single game.  2006 was yet another All Star Game appearance for Alex while compiling his 2000th hit and playing for Team USA in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. 2007 season was yet another MVP award for Alex, and had him hitting his 500th career home run against Kyle Davies and the Kansas City Royals. 

After the 2007 season all the talk was Alex Rodriguez and his opportunity, written into his contract that he signed with the Rangers, to opt out of his contract following the World Series. He did not wait until the World Series was over though as he announced that he would indeed be opting out of his contract but stated that he would like to be a Yankee for the rest of his career. In November of 2007 the Yankees agreed to re sign Alex on yet another 10 year deal, this time worth $275 million with various incentives for breaking career home run milestones. This contract would take Alex through his age 42 season with the Yanks and could go as high as $320 million bucks. 

Alex Rodriguez was actually the first player to have a home run call disputed with Instant Replay when he hit his 549th home run against the Tampa Bay Rays. The play was upheld by the umpires and the home run was in the books.  Prior to the 2009 season A Rod had a torn labrum in his right hip and had an arthroscopic procedure that kept him out through the first month of the season. He hit a three run home run on the first pitch he saw that season, against the Baltimore Orioles, and helped the Yankees get back on track after starting the 2009 season with a 13-15 record.  We are all Yankees fans so we know about the heroics against the Twins, the Angels, and the Phillies in the World Series en route to the Yankees 27th World Championship. Clutch Rod was born. 

I do not want to touch on the whole steroid scandal too much because everyone, Yankees fan or not, know what happened. Actually the only reason that I wanted to post anything about it was because of the picture below that I thought was too good to pass up. In 2007 Jose Canseco planned to publish a book about Major League Baseball and its steroid use, including dirt on Alex Rodriguez. Some of the dirt, besides steroid use, was that he was a hypocrite, gay, and a "loser". Alex Rodriguez denied all accusations in a 2007 interview with Katie Couric. Although he denied it only 2 years prior in 2009 it was reported by Selena Roberts that Alex failed a steroid test, testing positive for two anabolic steroids, testosterone, and Primobolan during his 2003 season while playing for Texas. He tested positive for the same steroid that Barry Bonds supposedly tested positive for in 2000 and 2001. So much for that anonymous testing and such huh Bud Selig? Alex later admitted to taking steroids in 2001 - 2003 after an "enormous amount of pressure to perform" after signing that record breaking contract in Texas. He claimed that he never took a steroid while in New York, but he did not mention his seasons in Seattle. He later became the spokesperson for the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which educated young people about the dangers of steroid use and has spoken at schools about the dangers of steroids. 

Alex grew up with two half siblings, Joe and Suzy, who were born in the Dominican Republic from his mothers fist marriage. Alex also has a half brother, Victor, who is from his fathers first marriage.  Victor is an officer in the United States Air Force. Alex himself has two children, Natasha Alexander and Ella Alexander, with his now ex wife Cynthia Scurtis, who he met in a gym in Miami, Florida.  In July of 2008 Alex and Cynthia separated and divorce papers were filed among rumors of Alex and Madonna having an affair. Madonna was one of Alex's many women to be on his arm since his divorce including, but not limited to, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz, and current girlfriend former WWE Diva Torri Wilson. Not too bad for a guy that owns a Mercedes Benz dealership in League City Texas, has good friends like Derek Jeter, and collects art in his free time. 

How could we do this special edition meet a prospect again and not mention the Yankees captain Derek Jeter? If I did not then we would be stripped of our blog, our domain, and anything else that Derek wants. Tune in tomorrow for the finale of our Meet A Prospect Special editions where we meet the Yankees captain Derek Jeter all over again.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Make David Robertson A Starter?

Being borrowed from our good friends over at Yankees Fans Unite

Robertson has the repertoire to succeed as a Starter
Only about a month ago we were all talking about how much pitching depth the Yankees had.  The Yanks were 7-deep at the Major League level with 5 guys ready to go in AAA.  Since then, nothing has gone right.  The starting staff is 29th in MLB with a 5.73 ERA, Michael Pineda has a labrum tear and is out for the year, and our 2 top pitching prospects have had brutal starts to their seasons in AAA.  Once a luxury, Andy Pettitte is now being depended upon to come save this staff.  But can Andy be relied on at his age  after a year off? And even if he’s effective, is it enough with both Hughes & Garcia struggling badly?
It may be time for the Yanks to think outside of the box.  I was talking to some friends last year around this time about the Yankee pitching staff and who had the best pure stuff.  We were all pretty much in agreement that the nastiest pitcher was David Robertson.  We then discussed making Robertson a starter and really couldn’t find a valid reason why it shouldn’t be attempted.  After all, you generally want to maximize ways for your better pitchers to help you and Roberston could be much more helpful throwing 200 innings a year rather than 65-70.
The Yanks need to learn from perhaps the best run team in the league - the Texas Rangers.  They have successfully turned CJ Wilson from a reliever into a top-notch starter and are doing the same with Neftali Feliz this year after getting a solid season from reliever turned starter Alexi Ogandolast year.  Boston has taken notes and is using power set-up man Daniel Bard as a starter this year.
So why not Robertson?  Since the start of last season, he’s been more effective than anyone in MLB with a 0.96 ERA.  He has the repertoire to do it with 3 plus pitches and a 4th that could be plus if he had to use it more.  In relief he generally uses the Fastball and Cutter with a few Curveballs mixed in.  DRob also throws a change-up from time to time and it could be a very effective pitch as a starter.  He has perfect mechanics – using his legs and mid-section to generate most of his power.  His mechanics are very unique but if I had to compare him to a couple of pitchers I’d say Tim Lincecum and to a lesser extent, Pedro Martinez.  Both are multi-Cy Young winning starters despite being under 6’0″.
The Questions?
The first problem is Robertson has never been a starter in his pro career so there would be a big increase in his workload.  He’s never thrown more than 85 innings in a season so it would be a big increase.  But he has perfect mechanics that don’t put a lot of stress on his arm so I think he would hold up.  The second issue is his style.  Currently as a late inning reliever he is often in full-blown strikeout mode.  With no room for error and often pitching with men on base, he goes for the K and has done it better than anyone in the A.L. with a 13.4 K/9 since last April.  This has led to him averaging 18 pitches per inning where the average starting pitcher is around 15 pitches per inning.  This would be a small adjustment in my opinion as he could afford pitching to a bit more contact with some wiggle room that he doesn’t enjoy in his current role.
The other con is how do you replace him in his current role as the best set-up man in baseball?  Well, the Yanks already have Rafael Soriano and David Aardsma should be back in the 2nd half to help as well.  But what I would do is put Phil Hughes back in that role.  Hughes was awesome in the pen in 2009, going 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA – 0.85 whip – 11.4 k/9 and  .456 OPS against.  Phil is currently struggling as a starter because he lacks the secondary pitches to start.  Robertson has those secondary pitches.
It would not be ideal to make this switch during the regular season which I brought up to YFU poster Ballpark the other day.  But as he mentioned, it is still early enough to give it a try.  Robertson could be sent down to the minors for however long it took to get lengthened out. With Pettitte on his way up, the Yanks could afford to be patient getting DRob ready.  Even if he wasn’t ready until mid-season, we really need him for the 2nd half and playoffs.  A rotation of CC, Pettitte, Nova, Robertson & Kuroda would be pretty impressive.  If Robertson doesn’t take well to starting, he can always be put back into the pen.  It really seems like low risk, potential very high reward.  So what do you guys think? Would Robertson be a good starter?