Sunday, September 1, 2013

Four Homers Pace Thunder Past Portland; Castillo & Pinder Rejoin Team

PORTLAND, ME - Four thunderous home runs on an afternoon where Trenton starting pitcher Nik Turley allowed just two runs in five innings were enough to lead the Thunder past the Portland Sea Dogs, 9-4, in the penultimate game of the regular season Sunday at Hadlcok Field.
Prior to the contest, the Yankees announced that shortstop Ali Castillo and reliever Branden Pinder had been promoted to Trenton from Class A-Advanced Tampa. Shortstop Carmen Angelini was placed on the team's disabled list with a left ankle sprain and LHP Caleb Smith was transferred to Tampa.
Facing the No. 5 prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, Henry Owens, Trenton established the tone early. The second and fourth batters of the game (Ramon Flores and Gary Sanchez) homered to stake starting pitcher a 2-0 lead before he took to the mound.
Turley went out on the Hadlock Field mound in front of 7,368 fans and tossed four shutout innings before allowing a pair of runs in the 5th. Turley gets credit for the win which is his 11th of the season-surpassing the 10 wins he posted in 2012.
The other two home runs blasted by the Thunder came off the bats of Reegie Corona (5) and Ben Gamel (1). The homer by Gamel was the first in his Double-A career and was the highlight in a game in which he finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a home run and a walk.  
Castillo and Pinder each played for Trenton earlier in the season and are each expected to be a park of the team's playoff roster. In 46 games as a Thunder, Castillo batted .218 with no home runs and 22 RBI. He was hitting .234 in 73 games with Tampa. 
Pinder made 19 relief appearances earlier at the beginning of the season for the Thunder and went 1-1 with five saves and a 6.29 ERA. His numbers improved greatly with Tampa, going 1-2 with a 3.49 in 21 appearances (five starts).
The regular season concludes Monday with a 1:00 p.m. matinee game against the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field. RHP Scottie Allen (2-0, 1.59) pitches for the Thunder against RHP Jeremy Khert (2-3, 4.33) for Portland. Trenton will use the ballgame as a final tune-up before the Eastern League East Division Championship Series against the Binghamton Mets beginning Wednesday at ARM & HAMMER Park. Tickets are available for Game 1 and Game 2 of the series by going or by calling (609)394-3300. Radio coverage of Monday's game on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and online begins at 12:45 p.m.

Being posted with permission from the Trenton Thunder organization. The original article can be seen HERE

Predicting Who Will Not Be Called Up

Earlier we gave you the list of players that we expected to be called up this September as the rosters expand to 40 players now here is my list of players that are on the 40 man roster that I cannot see coming up this season.

Michael Pineda should be called up but I really don't think they will. The Yankees were babying him with pitch and limit innings before he experienced shoulder stiffness in his surgically repaired shoulder that has kept him out nearly a month now. I can't see the Yankees letting him get any work in while we are in the middle of a pennant race.

Vidal Nuno pitched well before suffering a groin injury that will likely end his season. While he may try and rehab the groin I cannot see him being called up again this season. Nuno does not have any place to play in rehab assignment games or get any kind of real action outside of simulated games and that will keep him on the shelf for the season in my eyes.

Manny Banuelos has missed the entire season with Tommy John surgery and has begun throwing off flat ground, playing catch, etc but is still too far away from real game situations. I only included him because he has started throwing again and is not on the 60 day DL.

Jose Ramirez pitched well in AA this year but the Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race and I cannot see them letting Ramirez get his feet wet this September. Next year for sure though as I can see him getting the bump to Scranton next season.

Nik Turley will not be called up, especially not right away, because his Trenton Thunder team looks poised for a playoff spot and a playoff run. The Yankees would surely like that second left handed pitcher in the bullpen but I cannot see them forcing the issue at the expense of the Thunder's playoff run.

Ramon Flores has played pretty well for the AA Trenton Thunder team but his biggest hurdle to jump may be the fact that he is an outfielder. The Yankees already have five outfielders that they are struggling to get at bats for and I cannot see them making even more a log jam by calling up Flores. I guess he could be called up for late game pinch running or such but I don't see it.

Melky Mesa's hamstring injury will prevent him from being called up the first week or so and with an injury as tricky as a hamstring I believe the Yankees may just shut him down for the season. No reason to rush him back and risk it especially with no minor league affiliates to rehab and test the hamstring with.

Zoilo Almonte was a 60 day DL candidate not too long ago so the ankle must be a bigger issue then we are being led to believe. If he is healthy I can see the Yankees call him up but I have not heard anything from Almonte as far as running bases, rehabbing etc and with the minor league systems ending their seasons Zoilo would have no place to rehab. I see him as a winter league candidate after a strong showing in the Bronx this season in limited action.

*Obviously we did not count the people who were already on the 60 day DL and/or are down with season ending injuries like Corban Joseph, Jayson Nix, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, and David Phelps.

Melky Mesa Released, Jayson Nix To 60 Day Dl

To make room for September call ups JR Murphy and Cesar Cabral the Yankees made two roster moves today to make room on the 40 man roster. Jayson Nix was added to the 60 day DL and Melky Mesa, who was thought to be a September call up himself until he suffered a significant hamstring injury, has been designated for assignment or released depending on where you read it. While some are shocked by the DFA  or unconditional release of Mesa you have to consider that he will probably clear waivers and be outrighted to AAA at this point anyway so no harm no foul. If the release is the true story then it is possibly that Mesa will sign another minor league deal with us this off season. Either way the Yankees reinforcements are here for the playoff run and it's time to win and win now.

Game Thread: Orioles @ Yankees 9/1

The New York Yankees will look to keep their playoff hopes alive and keep their winning ways going as they host the Baltimore Orioles in the finale of their three game set at Yankees Stadium this weekend. The pitching match up will be Andy Pettitte for the Yankees and Wei Yin Chen for the Orioles and the game can be seen at 1:05 pm ET on the YES network, TBS, and MLB TV. Andy has looked better lately and has improved his record to 10-9 and lowering his ERA to 4.05 after not allowing a run for the first time all season last time out against Toronto.

Here is the Yankees lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

Follow us on twitter by following @GreedyStripes and get your Yankees tickets for this game and all the remaining Yankees home games right HERE on The Greedy Pinstripes.

New York Yankees Andy Pettitte Meme

I found this to be fitting seeing who is he pitching against this afternoon...

Baltimore Orioles @ New York Yankees 9/1

The New York Yankees will host the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon at Yankees Stadium for the finale of their three game weekend set. The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound, not struggling Phil Hughes who has been pushed back until tomorrow, to face off with Wei Yin Chen for the Orioles. The game can be seen at 1:05 pm ET on the YES network, TBS, and MLB TV.

Official New York Yankees September Call Ups

Here is the official September call up list on day one from the New York Yankees:

Preston Claiborne*
David Adams
Dellin Betances
JR Murphy
Brett Marshall
Cesar Cabral

Claiborne will be up tomorrow when the Tampa Yankees season ends. Claiborne will be in the bullpen for tomorrow nights game against the Chicago White Sox.

Why The Yankees & Rebuilding Will Not Work

Why the Yankees and rebuilding will not work

Things have just not clicked for the New York Yankees this year. Micromanaging office managers sometimes refer to this as "synergy," as does Jem from Jem and the Holograms when she needs to... never mind. For those of you not in the know, synergy and synergism refers to combining efforts in order to achieve greater effect. It's a much better and way cooler sounding term than "building team chemistry" for what teams want to accomplish because chemistry class sucked and so did everyone who did well in it. In baseball, it's a combination of pitching, defense, and offense that helps to win games. I shouldn't have to explain this to you but there are people who believe in a magical fourth element that somehow glues it all together. Some examples are Derek Jeter's leadership skills, veteran presence, the youthful spark from a rookie, and other such intangibles. There actually is a fourth element though, which I'll get to later. It's not magical though. It actually might be depressing.
I probably bring up the 1998 Yankees as an example more than I should, but really they are the absolute best modern day example of flawless synergy that I've ever seen. Everything worked for them. Pitching, offense, defense, everything. This year we've seen the opposite of that in full force. When the pitching was on, the hitting was off. When the hitting was on, the pitching was off. When the pitching and hitting were both on, someone got injured. When someone got injured, someone else got re-injured. When the pitching was on or off, Chris Stewart could not hit nor could he catch a fastball down the middle of the plate. Yeah, still bitter about that.
Pitching is what kept the Yankees afloat after the offensive boat hit the iceberg. Especially the bullpen. It took a while to fix that hole, but with Alfonso SorianoCurtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez replacing the likes of Lyle Overbay batting cleanup and Chris Stewart batting 5th or 6th, which are both things that happened this year that I never want to see again, the Yankees offense could start competing. The buoyancy of the bullpen and starting rotation then began to falter. Hiroki Kuroda and Preston Claiborne started to come down to Earth at inopportune times. Meanwhile Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia have possibly righted the ship. Possibly. Ivan Nova is still an experiment in progress and Phil Hughes needs to be flung into the Gorge of Eternal Peril for not knowing that his name is Chef Boyardee. Joba Chamberlain can be flung for not knowing the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow.
That has been the Yankees season this year thus far. There has been little to no synergy. Injuries and re-injuries are primarily to blame. Even then we don't know what would have happened this year. There's little point in going back and speculating about how this season would have turned out if all our players were healthy because that's just not how baseball works. All the Yankees can do is focus on the now and use the past as example of what to avoid for the future. This is where the real problem is. It delves into that fourth element that I mentioned before, which I'll call dynamics.
Dynamics cannot create synergy but rather help the Yankees avoid the problems of the past to possibly achieve said synergy. I say possibly because it's impossible to predict what can happen. I certainly did not think Soriano would be hitting as well as he currently is. Dynamics show that pitching Phil Hughes in Camden Yards is probably a bad idea, especially when a pitcher like David Huff has shown you he can possibly go the distance. Dynamics show that having Chris Stewart behind the plate is probably a bad idea when more youthful, less worn down backup only type catchers have a better chance of showing you more offensively and defensively. The lack of dynamics is the most frustrating thing this year, even more so than the injuries. Okay, maybe equally frustrating to the injuries. Injuries come and go and are usually uncontrollable, but continuing to play bad options when there are better, or at the very least potentially better, options available is the Yankees' M.O. and has been for years. It also shows little to no sign of stopping either.
Joba Chamberlain is still on this team. Austin Romine is still taking a backseat to Chris Stewart. JR Murphy has still not been called up and probably will take a backseat to Stewart when he is in September. Ichiro Suzuki is still starting when you now have two outfielders in Granderson and Soriano who make up for their "not quite as good as Ichiro" defense with their "better than Ichiro" hitting. The coming 2014 Yankees' season has a lot of unknowns. People are still calling for them to rebuild and I do not understand this at all. With the way the Yankees dynamics of baseball operations currently works, would you seriously trust this team to rebuild properly?
For the Yankees to rebuild, it requires a totally new outlook on how they conduct business and all signs currently show that it's not happening, nor is it really ready to happen yet. Rebuilding requires tools, time and a general plan. The Yankees don't have the tools, are very impatient, and the unknowns of 2014 are really preventing the Yankees from making any sort of rational plan on what to do. If they are to attempt to rebuild for the future it is going to have to wait. In the present, though, there is nothing preventing them from replacing Joba, benching Ichiro, and giving Romine & Murphy more of a chance. It's most likely not going to happen, though.
Until the dynamics of how this team operates changes, rebuilding should be the absolute last option on the table. There's nothing wrong with replacing a tool here and there, though. And in every sense of the word "tool" am I talking about Joba.

New York Yankees Wild Card Standings Update

See what winning does in a pennant race? You leapfrog two teams with one complete game win. 

Five-Run First Sends Charleston Past Rome

Five-Run First Sends Charleston Past Rome
RiverDogs jump on Braves early for 7-3 win

CHARLESTON, SC - The Charleston RiverDogs rode a five run first inning to a 7-3 victory over the Rome Braves on Saturday in South Atlantic League action in front of 4,222 fans at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
With the win, the RiverDogs advance to 35-33 in the second half and 74-62 overall. The Braves improve to 36-32 in second half play and 72-65 overall with the defeat.
Dante Bichette, Jr. got the scoring started with an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning, and Daniel Aldrich later drove in a couple with a double of his own. Two costly errors gave Charleston two more runs to cap off the inning and put the RiverDogs in the lead 5-0 after one inning.
In the second, the Dogs added another run on Ericson Leonora's RBI double to push the lead to 6-0.
It stayed that way until the seventh thanks to an amazing performance by starting pitcher Luis Niebla in his final outing of the season.
Niebla allowed just three hits and walked nobody in six shutout innings to earn the victory and improve to 5-6. Lefty Tyler Webb tossed two innings of relief and gave up three runs on three hits and fanned two. James Pazos closed it out for Charleston with a perfect ninth inning.
Rafael Briceno made the start for Rome and got rocked to the tune of seven hits, six runs, four earned, and three walks. He got tagged with the loss to fall to 5-9.
The first seven batters in the Charleston lineup collected at least one hit. Greg Bird also walked two more times to push his SAL league leading total to 105 on the season.
BALLPARK FUN: The Lowcountry Highrollers roller derby team was in attendance and entertained the crowd during the game all throughout the ballpark. The team even named RiverDogs mascot Chelsea an honorary roller girl at the conclusion of the game on the field. Also, fans may exchange a ticket from Saturday for a ticket to either Sunday or Monday's game free of charge as a thank for handling the traffic and parking issues on Saturday!
COMING UP: Game three of this four game series will see LHP Eric Wooten (2-2, 1.46 ERA) start for Charleston and RHP Lucas Sims (11-4, 2.74 ERA) throw for Rome on Sunday night at Riley Park with first pitched scheduled for 5:05. It is another Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and Crews Subaru Kids Club Sunday. Every Sunday game features FREE PARKING, members of the Kid's Club get FREE entry to the game and kids eat for FREE (kids 12-under will receive a coupon for a hot dog, Pepsi and chips). Hang out with Charlie, Chelsea and the whole crew as tons of their mascot friends from all over the Lowcountry and beyond take over the park. It is also Irish Heritage Night where we salute all our friends with ties to the Emerald Isle. Fans can purchase tickets at, over the phone at 843/723-7241, or in-person at the Riley Park Box Office. Fans may also listen to the game live locally on ESPN Radio 910AM or online at

Being posted with permission from the Charleston Riverdogs organization. The original article can be seen HERE

Thunder Sweep DH, Clinch Wild Card Playoff Berth!

Thunder Sweep DH, Clinch Wild Card Playoff Berth!
Trenton wins Game 1, 8-0; Game 2, 4-2

PORTLAND, ME - The Trenton Thunder take both games of Saturday's double-header against the Portland Sea Dogs and are in the playoffs for the second straight season-this season as the 2013 East Division Wild Card.
In Game 1, Trenton used a complete-game shutout by Shane Greene to secure an 8-0 win and the Wild Card bid. Greene gave up just three hits and one walk while fanning five Sea Dogs in the outing. He moves to 8-4 with the win and lowers his ERA to 3.18 in 14 appearances (13 starts) since his promotion from High-A Tampa. Greene induced the final out of the game on a Deven Marrero groundball to second base.
Offensively in Game 1 the Thunder jumped all over starting pitcher Mickey Pena and had five runs already on the board with one out in the 3rd inning. After a run-scoring triple by Ramon Flores with one out to give Trenton a 3-0 lead, Jose Pirela launched a homer into the nets above the Maine Monster for his 10th home run of the season.
Lefty Caleb Smith, a 14th round selection in this year's MLB draft, was promoted from Short-Season Single-A Staten Island to make his first Double-A appearance. Smith impressed with one run allowed over 3.2 innings before being lifted for Pat Venditte who earned his first win with the Thunder this season.
Smith had a two-run lead in the first inning before he even took the mound thanks to a two-out, two-run homer by Kyle Roller-his team-leading 17th of the season. Trenton added a pair of runs in the 3rd inning on doubles by Francisco Arcia, Flores and Pirela to make it 4-0 Thunder. Danny Burawa pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th inning for the save.
Trenton continues their final series of the regular season Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Hadlock Field against Portland featuring LHP Nik Turley (10-8, 3.90) pitching for the Thunder against LHP Henry Owens (3-0, 1.09) for Portland. Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and streaming online begins at 12:45 p.m.
Being posted with permission from the Trenton Thunder organization. The original post can be seen HERE

Union Has Concerns Over Contract Language

Being posted from MLB Trade Rumors as a part of Syndicated Sunday

The MLBPA has fought hard to secure and maintain guaranteed contracts across the board for its players.  At the same time, teams are looking to reduce their risk in deals and some have taken to adding guarantee language to contracts, which could theoretically void the contract if a player is in violation of conditions in the clause.  It's an issue that has yet to blow up, but it was of enough concern to the MLBPA that they discussed it at length in a New York City summit last year, sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

At the time, the Cubs, Yankees, and Nationals were among the teams that were putting additional language into their contracts to help protect them against certain off-the-field occurrences.  That doesn't sit well with the union as they would argue that punishment for harmful behaviors is already covered under the collective bargaining agreement.  Ultimately, the union was worried that teams could look to 86 contracts over things like PED use and misrepresentation of age.  While this hasn't really been an issue yet, sources assure Passan that the Yankees have discussed turning to guarantee language to go after Alex Rodriguez
In total, Passan counts four instances of teams attempting to use guarantee language to convert a deal from guaranteed to non-guaranteed in an effort to ostensibly void a deal.  Three of those cases were settled for close to 90 cents on the dollar owed, sources said, before an arbitrator could rule on any grievance.  The other case was when the Padres tried to void LaMarr Hoyt's deal entirely when he was caught smuggling drugs across the Mexican border, but they were unsuccessful.

Passan's article includes a look at the list of prohibited activities under the Cubs' standard guarantee language.  The list is comically lengthy and covers everything ranging from hot air ballooning to bobsledding to participation in a show like the Battle Of The Network Stars, just in case that gets a reboot.  However, agents have asked the Cubs to back off of that language and they have agreed.  The bigger concern for the union is that the Cubs contract calls for a conversion in the event of things such as attempted suicide, contraction of HIV, criminal acts, and PED use.  The MLBPA believed teams were broadening the conversion clause to potentially punish PED users beyond the discipline called for in the joint drug agreement. 

While there is obviously some disagreement between the two sides on this issue, both tend to agree that truly standard guarantee language would go a long way toward fixing the issue.  That was an idea that was brought up during the last CBA talks, but was too far down the priority list and wasn't addressed.  That's something that could change ahead of 2016 when the league will have a new JDA.  At that point, PED penalties will likely increase and the incentive to go after users will be even greater.

Game 136 Lineup: Orioles vs. Yankees (Plus September Call-Ups)

Yankees go for the series sweep vs. the Orioles today (and there are some September Call-Ups)! Here is your starting lineup!

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

LHP Andy Pettitte

September Call-Ups:

-- Catcher J.R. Murphy

-- Infielder David Adams

-- Right Hand Pitcher Brett Marshall

-- Right Hand Pitcher Dellin Betances

-- Left Hand Pitcher Cesar Cabral

(Preston Claiborne will be another call-up but the season for the Tampa Yankees finishes on Monday, so he could either come back tomorrow or most likely Tuesday).

Predicting The New York Yankees September Call Ups

Welcome to September baseball where teams really begin their playoff pushes and rosters expand from 25 man rosters all the way to 40 man rosters. This is an exciting day for any prospect follower or "prospect humper" alike, myself included. Here is a list of the guys that I think the Yankees will call up to help with the playoff push and our mission to catch one of the wild card slots.

Dellin Betances has pitched his butt off since being converted into a relief pitcher. With Dellin out of options after this season the Yankees have a decision to make this coming off season and this may be Dealin' Dellin's first audition for the 2014 bullpen.

Preston Claiborne probably should not have been sent down when he was a few weeks back but Joba Chamberlain has pitched well since then so that makes the decision a little easier. Now with rosters expanding Claiborne should be the first man to get a call on Monday when the Tampa Yankees season is over.

Brett Marshall has pitched well lately down the stretch and does not look like he is headed to the playoffs so why not call him up. He could easily be a mop up man or just get a feeling for the majors and all that like Derek Jeter did in 1995. He is on the 40 man roster and not going to the playoffs so at this point I can't think of a good reason not to bring up Marshall.

David Adams has already been up with the Yankees a couple times this season and, excluding his explosion onto the scene, struggled mightily at the plate all year. Still I expect the Yankees to bring up Adams if anything for a late inning defensive replacement or pinch runner for guys like Alex Rodriguez.

Travis Hafner is standing in the background screaming "hey did you guys forget about me?" Well yeah, Travis, most of us did and for good reason. You have struggled at the plate for most of the season and even when you were hitting you never had the power numbers that we expected or signed you for. Still I can see us bringing him up as a left handed power bat off the bench if the shoulder is healthy.

 JR Murphy has been a sight for sore eyes when it comes to productive Yankees positional prospects especially one who plays behind the dish. The Yankees seemingly have a love affair with calling up a third catcher for September and JR seems like the obvious choice. Also to add this may be the end of Chris Stewart because when the season is over Francisco Cervelli's suspension would be over and we would have four catchers on the 40 man roster and Stewart seems like the obvious choice to go.

Chris Bootcheck had a quick cup of coffee with the Yankees this season before clearing waivers and heading back down to the Scranton RailRiders where he will finish his season. Bootcheck pitched well in AAA as a starter posting a 10-7 record with a 3.69 ERA while striking out 97. With experience both in starting and as a reliever he could be the right handed compliment to David Huff that is currently on the roster. I was originally on the fence with Bootcheck only because I cannot see him fitting into the 2014 MLB Yankees plans and he would be a waste of a 40 man roster spot but I think the Yankees will go all in and try and make the playoffs this season and Bootcheck helps them do that.

Cesar Cabral has probably been the most forgotten Yankees pitcher stashed away in the minor leagues this system. As a quick update we all know that Cabral was claimed in the Rule 5 draft and almost made the Yankees bullpen in 2012 before a stress fracture in his left throwing elbow ended his 2012 and half of his 2013 season. When he came back and went through his rehab assignment he cleared waivers and was stashed in the minors where he has pitched to a combined 5.40 ERA with the Tampa Yankees, Trenton Thunder, and Scranton RailRiders. Obviously the stats are not as sexy as you would want them he could give the Yankees that second left handed option that they seemingly have fallen in love with the last two or three seasons. Also Cabral figures to at least be in the discussion for the 2014 bullpen with Boone Logan's impending free agency so this could serve as his first audition for that role.

Obviously the final three guys here in Murphy, Bootcheck, and Cabral are not on the 40 man roster and would require a roster move to be a Setpember call up but that may not be as hard to do as you would think. Vidal Nuno could be transferred to the 60 day DL retroactive to June 8th since he has hoped of rehabbing his groin injury and returning some time in September to the big leagues. Also Corban Joseph could be transferred to the 60 day DL as his season is over with a shoulder injury. Even with a roster crunch the Yankees have a little bit of wiggle room that they could work with to bring up the guys they need to complete this playoff push. It also doesn't hurt that Cabral and Murphy were probably going to get added to the 40 man roster before next season anyway.

Here's my list, what's yours?

Yankees creeping closer to second Wild Card Spot

[caption id="attachment_16497" align="aligncenter" width="604"]Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter and the Yankees have a big task this September--get into the second Wild Card spot. Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter and the Yankees have a big task this September--get into the second Wild Card spot.[/caption]

All right, let's play a quick game. Raise your hand if on May 1st you thought this team was going to be in a position to take the second Wild Card spot in September with a lineup that didn't have Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson or Mark Teixeira. Be honest, because from Twitter from May-July there were some pessimistic tweets about them.

It is September 1st. The Yankees are 3.5 games back for the second Wild Card spot entering play today and they have 27 games remaining. The Tampa Bay Rays have been fading recently, going 3-7 in their last ten games, playing the first Wild Card spot team the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees in their last 10 games are 7-3.  The team the Yankees need to keep below them in the Wild Card, the Baltimore Orioles are 4-6 in their last 10 games. Yes, the Yankees have been playing with the cards that have been dealt to them but it's easier now, considering the Yankees have some power in the lineup.

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have returned. The Yankees have traded for Alfonso Soriano. They claimed Mark Reynolds off waivers. The world (and the season) no longer falls on Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki's shoulders. They are now a small (but important) part of a large puzzle. The rotation has been getting quality work from Ivan Nova and Andy Pettitte. Hiroki Kuroda is expected to turn it around after a dismal August, which could be because of fatigue. The bullpen has been flawless this year (well, majority of the bullpen). The Yankees pieces are all clicking together at the right time and if they keep playing the way they are playing, they have a legitimate chance to knock Tampa Bay out of the second spot and claim it for themselves.

Two weeks ago, the Yankees chances seemed slim. They had to hop over three teams to even get behind the Rays. Going into September...the Yankees hope to pass the Rays and get into postseason contention and prove all the naysayers wrong. This team could be good enough to get into the playoffs, but how far could they possibly go?

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/1

On this day in 1931 Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig hit his third grand slam in four games in a 5-1 victory at Yankees Stadium over the rival Boston Red Sox.