Friday, September 13, 2013

Yankees rally back from 4-0 deficit; still end up losing to Red Sox 8-4

Despite a solo home run from Brendan Ryan, a hard hit sac fly from Lyle Overbay, and a game tying two-run double from Robinson Cano, the Yankees, specifically their bullpen, were overwhelmed by the Red Sox offense tonight as they lost this weekend's opener, 8-4. I want to be mad about this loss, but it's just one game. When I declared that the world had ended after the opening loss Monday in Baltimore, the Yankees ended up proving me wrong. So this time I'll choose to learn from the past and just be quiet. Bottom line: don't panic Yankee fans. There are still two games left to play this weekend. 

New York Yankees Wild Card Update

I am a little late to the party as these standings are BEFORE tonight's games were played. 

MRI Reveals Grade 1 Strain For Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner has been one of the few locks in the Yankees lineup this season but his season may be over after suffering a grade 1 strain of his left oblique in last nights win at the Baltimore Orioles. The grade 1 strain is the best case scenario when it comes to oblique pulls and strains as it is the least severe but with only 15 or so games left there may not be enough time for Gardner to rest and rehab this injury. Manager Joe Girardi mentioned the possibility of Gardner returning as a pinch runner or a defensive replacement but that is seemingly a week or two down the road before we star discussing that.

If Gardner's season is over he will finish with a .273/.344/.416 triple slash with eight home runs and 52 RBI's in 145 games. Looks like we will see a lot more Ichiro Suzuki and Curtis Granderson in center field and leading off for the Yankees for the rest of the season.

Game Thread; Yankees @ Red Sox 9/13

The New York Yankees will travel to Fenway Park tonight for the last time this season and play the first of three games this weekend against the Boston Red Sox with the Yankees wild card hopes still alive. It's Friday the 13th, the Yankees and the Red Sox are playing, Hiroki Kuroda and his 2.99 ERA are on the mound, what could go wrong? The pitching match up is Hiroki Kuroda for the Yankees and John Lackey for the Red Sox and the game can be seen at 7:05 pm ET on MY9. MLB Network, and MLB TV. The Yankees wild card and playoff hopes are still alive but they must have a better showing this weekend against Boston then they did last weekend when they hosted Boston.

Here is the Yankees lineup for this crucial game:

Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brendan Ryan SS
Chris Stewart C

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New York Yankees Derek Jeter Meme

Being borrowed from our good friends over at It's About The Money & The Yankees Analysts is a photo that absolutely must be seen by every single Yankees fan there is. This is gold I tell you, pure gold!

New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox 9/13

The New York Yankees travel to Fenway Park  for the final time this weekend as they take on the Boston Red Sox in the first of three games this weekend. The Yankees are still scrapping for one of the Wild Card slots while the Red Sox continue to coast with the best record in the American League East division. The Yankees will send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound to face off with John Lackey for the Red Sox and it can be seen at 7:05 pm ET on the MY9, MLB Network, and MLB TV.

Charleston RiverDogs Promote Four to Front Office

CHARLESTON, SC - Charleston RiverDogs Executive VP/General Manager Dave Echols has announced the promotion of four employees and the hiring of two more.
Andy Lange, who has been with the club for 13 years, has been elevated to Vice President/Corporate Sales, while native Charlestonian Melissa McCants Azevedo, who has been with the RiverDogs since 1988, is now Vice President/Special Events. Longtime staffer Jake Terrell, who has been with the team for 10 years, is the new Director of Ticket Sales, and Noel Blaha, currently in his 8th year with Charleston, has been promoted to Director of Marketing & New Media.
"I am proud to announce well-deserved promotions for four talented individuals who continue to make positive and significant impact with our front office," Echols said. "Andy, Melissa, Jake and Noel have excelled in their respective areas and have worked hard to help us achieve our mission and goals. I am very much looking forward to their continued hard work and growth as leaders on the RiverDogs staff as we continue to develop, grow and achieve successes."
In addition, Ben Abzug has been hired as the new Assistant General Manager and Joey Cain is taking over as the new Director of Promotions, replacing Blaha.
Abzug, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, joins the RiverDogs after spending the past four seasons with the Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League. With Burlington, he was named the 2012 Appalachian League Executive of the Year and helped increase the Royals' sponsorship sales by 80 percent in two years. Attendance also rose 23 percent in Burlington under Abzug's leadership. A graduate of Purdue University, Abzug previously spent two years as an intern with the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Midwest League.
"We are excited to add someone with Ben's mixture of youth and expertise to our staff," said Echols. "He has a unique perspective from his time with Burlington and Cedar Rapids that will help us improve as an organization."
Cain is a West Nyack, NY native and has spent the past two seasons with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New York-Penn League. The Renegades and RiverDogs are both owned by The Goldklang Group. A graduate of Hofstra University, Cain has previously spent time as an intern with Army Athletics in West Point, as well as with 1050 ESPN Radio in Penn, NY, among others.
"Joey is someone who has a tremendous amount of creativity and energy about him," said Echols. "He has fresh ideas and plans that he will bring with him to Charleston, and I think our fans will enjoy it."

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

Should We Hope ARod Is Not Suspended?

In 33 games, since he returned from the Disabled List, Alex Rodriguez has been a big reason why the Yankees' offense has seen a resurgence. Since ARod came back to the Yankees on August 5th, the team's triple-slash is .268/.338/.433, numbers good for 3rd, 3rd, and 4th in the American League. And I don't think that's a coincidence, seeing as how ARod's own triple-slash is at .294/.391/.504. On top of that, the Yankees have scored 5.2 runs per game, as opposed to the 3.8 runs a game they averaged in the previous 110 games.

"You may not like me, but this year's team needs me."

The easy conclusion to make from all of that is that Alex Rodriguez, no matter what you think of him, has been good for the Yankees. And for that reason, many Yankees fans may be hoping he's not suspended for the 2014 season. But the question we need to ask is whether or not ARod would be worth $27.5 million to the team next season. "$27.5 million" being how much Rodriguez would cost the Yankees towards the Luxury Tax.

Using Fangraphs' Dollar Value, Alex has been worth $4.8 million in his 33 games. If you extrapolate that over 135 games, which is actually a bit higher than the number of games he averaged per season between 2008 and 2010, then you come to $19.6 million. That brings us to our next question... is having ARod around worth paying him $7.9 million more than he's actually worth?

To answer that you have to look at the alternatives.

You may need one of these to see the positives in this year's free agent class at third base.

Michael Young is a free agent after this season, and my guess for his next contract is 2 years and $26 million ($13 million a season). Young turns 37 on October 19th (the same day that yours truly will turn 36), and I don't see any team giving him more than that. In the previous 2+ years, he's hit below .280, his slugging percentage has been below .400, and his on-base percentage has been at least 10 points lower than his career average. That's not to say Young is worthless, but he's certainly not worth another 5 year/$80 million contract. And, to be honest, $13 million a season is probably a bit high, considering the fact Michael has only been worth $18.4 million between 2010 and 2012.

I could see the Yankees possibly wanting to bring back Mark Reynolds, who has hit .279/.355/.544 in 22 games since joining the team. The main problem with Mark is that he hasn't played much at the hot corner over the last two years, and when he has his defense has been pretty bad. I suppose somebody like Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez could start at third when a ground-ball pitcher is starting for the team, but I'm still not sure it would be a good idea to re-sign Reynolds as the regular third baseman for 2014. Even if it only cost a one-year deal, worth around $8 million (a $2 million raise over what he's making this season).

Eric Chavez has batted .290/.342/.498 in 73 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and spent the vast majority of his playing time at third base. While he's not the best defender out there, he's certainly not at the Reynolds/Nunez level. Seeing as how he'll turn 36 in December, he could likely be had for no more than a two-year contract like Michael Young. And at around $6 million, which would be twice as much as he's making in Arizona in 2013, that could be a nice option.

Who wants to see part two of this?

So not only could the team acquire a replacement third baseman, that would be at least a league average hitter, they could do so while spending quite a bit less. And even though that player's production may be a bit below ARod's, you have to take into account that the Yankees could very likely get a gigantic upgrade behind the plate. Like if they sign Brian McCann to replace the duo of Chris Stewart and Austin Romine.

To wrap this up, even though Alex Rodriguez has provided the Yankee offense with a very nice boost since returning to the team in early August, it's still in the Yankees best interest that he be suspended for the entire 2014 season, while they acquire somebody else to play third base. Because that $7.9 million extra they'd be spending on Alex could cover the entire salary of his replacement.

"Yet again, nobody wants me."

2014 Yankees Outfield

The 2014 New York Yankees are very much an unknown right now. 

Nobody knows whether or not the Yankees will stick to getting under the $189 million luxury tax. Also, with Alex Rodriguez’s status uncertain for next season at this point, nobody knows how much money they will have to play with if they stick to the $189 million plan. 
The Yankees outfield situation for 2014 is very much in flux, but they seem to be in a pretty good situation. The only certainties, assuming that they are healthy, are that Brett Gardner will be in center field and Alfonso Soriano will be in left field. 
Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki are under contract for 2014, but neither should be starting. The Yankees will certainly offer Curtis Granderson a qualifying offer for 1 year, $14 million. Hopefully, for the Yankees’ sake he takes it because getting Granderson at that price for one season would be a nice bargain. 
Granderson has played very well since returning from the DL, although he hit a little slump last he has come out of it in Baltimore. Granderson’s slash line for the season is .250/.344/.442/.787 with a .344 wOBA and 114 wRC+. Granderson’s power had been down this year, but he has homered in his last two games so maybe he has found his power stroke, and his 12.1 BB% this excellent. Also, Granderson’s defense in the corner outfield spots has been much better this year, as he is +4.8 runs in the field this year after being -18.1 runs last year.
Both Gardner and Soriano have had fantastic seasons for the Yankees. Gardner has consistently been there for the Yankees over this whole season. Gardner’s slash line on the season is .274/.343/.418/.761. You would like to see him get on base and walk more out of the leadoff spot, but that is really the only complaint that you can have about him this year. He has been a catalyst for the Yankees this season and has come up with some huge clutch hits. 
Soriano’s impact on the Yankees has been obvious, as he drilled two more home runs last night that helped fuel their huge comeback victory over Baltimore. Soriano has 15 home runs in only 184 Yankee at-bats. His presence has also allowed Robinson Cano to take off in front of him. The one reason I was a little weary of the Soriano trade was that he was under contract for next season and he now looks like a bargain. He will go down as one of the Yankees’ greatest trade deadline acquisitions ever. 
An outfield of Soriano, Gardner and Granderson would be very solid for 2014, but again Granderson is an unknown. If he does not return the Yankees should go out and sign somebody else and not start Ichiro Suzuki again. 
Suzuki is just not a starting caliber outfielder anymore, as he is just pretty much finished at the plate. Suzuki has been dreadful in the second half with a slash line of .233/.265/.276/.541. He is still solid in the outfield and on the bases, so a bench role would be much more suited to his ability at this point in his career. Signing him to a two-year contract was just not a good decision. 
Even though Wells is not counting against the Yankees’ luxury tax, he is still somehow overpaid. His 0.0 WAR this year indicates that. The Yankees should just cut ties with Wells next year because he serves no purpose on this team. They should just give a younger player a chance at the bench spot that he would take up. 
The best free agent right field options if Granderson doesn’t return are Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and Nelson Cruz. If Rodriguez’s suspension is upheld than the Yankees would have a much better chance at affording one of these players. 
Choo is the best player on the market with his incredible .425 OBP, 20 home runs, and 152 wRC+. He does come with some questions though about his fielding (-15.6 this year) and his struggles against lefties (.211/.350/.247/.597). Beltran is still a solid player at his advanced age of 36. Pence and Cruz are also very nice players despite Cruz’s suspension for PEDs this season. 
The offseason for the Yankees this winter will be one of the most interesting in recent memory and how the Yankees configure their outfield will be a big part of that. Hopefully they can make some better decisions than they did last winter.  

Masahiro Tanaka Is Really Good In Case You Didn't Know

Just wanted to post a quick blurb about Masahiro Tanaka before we get this news day started but I have been readnig the many post about the Yankees scouting Tanaka's every game and movement and it got me interested so I looked at his stats and boy was I in for a surprise. Now granted I know the Japanese League is probably the equivalent of a AAA or AAAA team in the United States but still Tanaka is 20-0 with a 1.24 ERA in 181 innings. Tanaka is also sporting a 7.7 K/9 ratio and a 1.3 BB/9 ratio this season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Holy crap, yes please! Where do I sign him up for the 2014 season?

Looking Ahead To 2014: The Starting Rotation

The 2014 Yankees Free Agents In The Starting Rotation

Hiroki Kuroda
Andy Pettitte
Phil Hughes

The Yankees went into the 2013 season with a less than stellar offense but a pitching staff that was set up to carry the team all the way to the promised land. That plan obviously did not work out the way that any of us expected or hoped it would and the Yankees look primed to try and do so again in 2014. The Yankees are losing their ace in Hiroki Kuroda, their savvy veteran and long time Yankees pitcher in Andy Pettitte, and former #1 prospect that never quite panned out Phil Hughes to free agency this year and will surely be looking to add at least one veteran arm to go with CC Sabathia at the top of the rotation. Here is the complete list of 2014 free agents but I will hit the high spots and realistic options for the Yankees in this years free agency period.

AJ Burnett (37 years old)
Dan Haren (33 years old)
Matt Garza (30 years old)
Phil Hughes (28 years old)
Josh Johnson (30 years old)
Hiroki Kuroda (39 years old)
Tim Lincecum (30 years old)
Ervin Santana (31 years old)
Edison Volquez (30 years old)

As many of you probably do not know I am the biggest AJ Burnett fan you will find this side of his wife and kids, shout out to Karen Burnett, and admittedly that is the only reason he is on this list. I hated when they traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates and I hated even more having to pay around $8,000,000 for him to pitch for the said Pirates so I would personally welcome him back into pinstripes if I were a fan running the team. Obviously I know that will not happen and should not happen but I had a little fun with it, sue me. Dan Haren is an intriguing option but thoroughly struggled with the Washington Nationals this season and may not be a good fit for the Yankees in 2013. Phil Hughes is a fly ball and home run prone pitcher and that just does not translate well into the new Yankees Stadium, which was made painfully obvious in the 2012 season. Josh Johnson is a power arm but struggled in his first season in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays and has a injury history that would keep me away, far far away. As intriguing as Tim Lincecum and Mr. 150-ish pitch no hitter would be I think the Yankees would be more interested in "The Freak" as a relief pitcher and not so much as a starter so I think we ultimately pass on the two time Cy Young Award winner. 

The two guys I want on the pinstripes in 2014 are Hiroki Kuroda and/or Matt Garza. Hiroki has basically said that he will finish his career with his old team in Japan and will only sign with us or his former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, before doing so. No one knows when he will finally return to Japan but it may or may not be for the 2014 season and the Yankees need to plan for that. Obviously the Yankees will offer Kuroda another qalifying offer which would snag us a draft pick if he does decide to leave for the west coast Yankees to play for the Dodgers. If he decided to go to Japan then obviously we get nothing but a huge hole in the starting rotation that I do not think we have anybody currently on the roster that can fill. That is where Matt Garza comes in entering his first free agency in his age 30 season. Matt Garza is not only American League tested but also AL East tested pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers while also spending a couple seasons with the Chicago Cubs. Garza has killed the Yankees over the years and the Yankees seem to always find a way to get the "Yankees killers" on their team before their playing careers are over. 

If I am the GM of the Yankees I hand Kuroda another one year deal with the dollar amount left blank with a note attached saying something along the lines of "fill in the blanks and take your time." If anyone on this team deserves a one year blank contract it is definitely Kuroda who has been our ace for two seasons now. I would not expect Kuroda to sign for more than $16,000,000 and he would be worth every single penny of it. If we had to go to "Plan B" with Matt Garza then we may have to reach a little deeper into our pockets. Garza is finishing up a $10,250,000 deal and could easily reach the $16,000,000 that I mentioned earlier for Kuroda. The years would worry me with Garza as he would probably want around a five or six year deal and I am not entirely sold on that kind of long term deal but I think I would ultimately fold to the pressure, even at a six year deal. Adding Hiroki Kuroda as a "Plan A" and/or Matt Garza as a "Plan B"  would give the Yankees a pretty impressive, although question mark filled, rotation that looks something like this in no particular order.

CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda/Matt Garza
Ivan Nova
David Phelps
Michael Pineda

CHAMPIONS! Thunder Sweep E.L. Title with 11-4 Win

Trenton goes 6-0 in playoffs for franchise's third title

HARRISBURG, PA - The Trenton Thunder used a five-run 3rd inning to beat the Harrisburg Senators 11-4 for the third Eastern League Championship in franchise history.
Trenton- who finished the season on a season-high nine-game winning streak and has not lost since August 30th- was the first Eastern League team to sweep both the divisional and championship rounds of the postseason since Albany-Colonial (Yankees affiliate) did it in 1991. The championship for the Thunder is the first since the team won the second of their back-to-back titles in 2008.
The Thunder notched 16 hits in the ballgame including four as part of the five-run inning. Trenton sent 11 batters to the plate in that inning which knocked Harrisburg starting pitcher Nathan Karns out of the ballgame. Karns, who finished the regular season with 155 strikeouts in just over 130 innings, lasted just 2.2 innings and was charged with five runs on four hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch.
In that 3rd inning, Trenton had two outs and a runner on first base with Jose Pirela batting. He had an 0-2 count against him before being plunked by Karns. That started a streak of seven straight batters to reach and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead.
Trenton's offense was led by three-hit nights by Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel. Gamel finished the postseason by batting 8-for-15 (.533 AVG) with three walks (.611 OBP) in four games played. Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin each finished with two hits on the night and all nine starters recorded hits for Trenton.
Postseason MVP was Ali Castillo who played just 46 games for the Thunder in the regular season, but was instrumental in many key moments for Trenton. Castillo, who rejoined Trenton's roster after an injury to starting shortstop Carmen Angelini in the final series of the regular season, smacked his first homer as a member of the Thunder in the 5th inning to pad what was a 5-1 lead at the time for Trenton. He finished the postseason batting 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, a run scored and two RBI.
Shane Greene was the starting pitcher for the Thunder and tossed 5.1 innings for the victory. Down the stretch, Greene's final three starts were in the Wild Card-clinching game at Portland August 31st, Game 3 of the Eastern Division Championship Series at Binghamton and Thursday's title-clinching ballgame. He allowed two earned runs in 18.0 innings (1.00 ERA) and got the victory in each game.
The championship was the third for manager Tony Franklin in his seven seasons at the helm of the Thunder. It was also the third for Trenton third baseman Reggie Corona who was part of the 2007 and 2008 championship teams. The 26-year old had not appeared in an affiliated baseball game since 2010 due to an arm injury and finished with six hits in six postseason games.
The Trenton Thunder family wants to thank our fans for an incredible 2013 season, and we cannot wait for the 2014 season to begin at ARM & HAMMER Park next April.

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

It's Friday The 13th In Yankees Land

Everyone be safe out there because it is Friday the 13th! Enjoy your Friday everybody. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/13

On this day in 1978 the Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 7-3 to take sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time this season. On July 19th the Yankees trailed the Boston Red Sox by 14 games before taking over the lead.

On this day in 2011 the Yankees Mariano Rivera recorded his 600th save of his career joining Trevor Hoffman as only the second pitcher to ever reach the 600 saves mark. Rivera also climbs within one save of Hoffman's all time record.