Monday, May 18, 2009

It's a Walk Off

3 games. 3 Heroes. 3 consecutive walk off victories. The Yankees have done in the Twins in the most thrilling of fashions for 3 consecutive games. Tonight, they look to sweep the 4 game series with Andy Pettitte on the mound. First it was Melky, then it was A-Rod, followed by Johnny Damon. Who will be the hero tonight?

This Yankees Walk Off Party is Brought to you by Zoolander

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Successful Road Trip

After a brutal homestand that saw the Yankees lose 5 in a row including 2 to Red Sox and 2 to the Rays, the Yankees couldn’t have asked for much better returning home with a 4-2 road trip. The Toronto series couldn’t have started off any worse, but to be fair the Yankees really had no shot against Roy Halladay, who was 15-5 in his career against they Yankees coming into that start. After the series opening loss the Yankees came back to win the next two capped off by a 3-2 win last night.

CC Sabathia is finally looking like CC Sabathia. His last two outings have been brilliant (2ER in 17IP). It was also nice to see Hideki Matsui back in the lineup and contributing. Next up for the Yankees is their longest homestand of 2009. They will play 4 against Minnesota, 3 against Baltimore, and 3 against Philadelphia.

The Yankees need to take the positive momentum they have built over the past 6 games and carry it over to this homestand. In order to call it a success they need to win at least 6 out of the 10 contests. It all starts tonight as Phil Hughes looks to right himself against Francisco Liriano.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Damon Home Run Diverts Disaster

The weekend series with the O’s couldn’t have started any better. Alex Rodriguez made a triumphant and dramatic return to the field with a home run in his first time up at bat. Even better was CC Sabathia’s complete game shutout performance to give the Yankees a much-needed 4-0 victory. Coming off of such a high, Saturday’s game turned out to be a complete letdown. Phil Hughes had a disastrous start and the Yankees lost 12-5.

On Sunday they were on the verge of dropping 2 of 3 to the Orioles. Joba pitched well for the most part but had another first inning hiccup. The Yankees found themselves down 3-2 in the 7th, and after two men reached on consecutive infield singles Johnny Damon continued his amazing start to the season and belted a monumental 3 run home run. It was his 6th home run in his last 9 games. The Yankees went on to win the game 5-3.

Had it not been for Damon’s heroics the Yankees would have limped into Toronto to face the first place Jays after today’s off day. Instead, they are flying high and should go into Toronto and take 2 out of 3. Toronto, despite countless injuries in their starting rotation have rushed out of the gates to a 21-12 record. However, they have yet to face AL East opponents New York, Boston, and Tampa Bay. The pitching match ups for the series look like this:

Tuesday: RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 5.26) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (6-1, 3.29)
Wednesday: LHP Andy Pettitte (2-0, 5.26) vs. RHP Scott Richmond (4-1, 3.29)
Thursday: LHP CC Sabathia (2-3, 3.94) vs. LHP Brian Tallet (2-1, 4.95)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

First game. First at-bat. First pitch.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny Steroids Bombshell!

Breaking News:


"Major League Baseball is expected to announce Thursday that Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will be suspended for 50 games, The Los Angeles Times is reporting."

[My Take: There have been whispers about this before. Jose Canseco took what looked like a shot in the dark and proclaimed that he was "90% sure that Manny Ramirez was on the juice."

As much as you hate the guy for blowing the whistle on the steroids era, more often than not, Jose Canseco is on the mark when it comes to who's using steriods and who is not.]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Down Goes Posada


Just when you thought the injuries could not get any worse for this ball club, this happens. Jorge Posada, who was off to a fine start to the season left last night's game after aggravating a prior hamstring injury. He is to have an MRI today and will probably spend some time on the DL.

You can add Posada's name to a disabled list that already includes Damaso Marte, Cody Ransom, Brian Bruney, Chien-Ming Wang and Xavier Nady. Alex Rodriguez, may return from the DL this weekend, which would lighten the blow of Posada being out a bit. However, we all remember how much the Yankees were hurting when Jose Molina was forced into everyday action last season while Posada was out. Get well soon Jorge!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bring on the Bo Sox


I know that it is still early in the season but this 2 game mini series with the Red Sox is a big one for the Yanks. After the 3 game sweep at Fenway last week, the Yankees should be looking for a measure of revenge in this series. The Red Sox are reeling a bit after dropping 3 of 4 over the weekend against Tampa. It will certainly help to have Nick Swisher back in the lineup. He was sorely missed in Saturday’s loss against the Angels.

Series Pitching Matchups:
Phil “The Thrill” Hughes will take the ball for the Yankees. He will be countered by Jon Lester.
Game 2 on Tuesday will see Joba Chamberlain against Josh Beckett.

Alfredo Aceves was called up from Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Walk Off Winner!

This team shows no quit and has a late 90's Yankees feel to it. It sure looked bleak after the Angels went up 9-4 after 7 innings but guys like Melky Cabrera and Ramiro Pena continue to step up day after day with big hits. And after scoring 4 in the 8th the Yankees capped off the comeback in the 9th without making an out. They loaded up the bases on a walk by Teixeira, a hit by Matsui, and a hit by Cano, who extended his hitting streak to an amazing 18 games. Jorge Posada ran the count full against Angel's closer Brian Fuentes and hit the pay-off pitch into the left center field gap for a game winning hit. 

This team definitely has a never say die attitude that all championship clubs should have. CC Sabathia is on the mound tomorrow and after his last couple of starts he looks like he should be rounding into form. Yankee fans hope he turns in a solid performance tomorrow to extend their winning streak to a season best 5 games. Also, lets keep our fingers crossed on the condition of St. Nick Swisher, who left the game after being hit by a Jared Weaver pitch. It didn't look serious and hopefully we'll see Nick back in the lineup tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Joba Follows Phil Tonight

Joba Chamberlain will try to follow Phil Hughes’ good performance with one of his own as he starts tonight for the Yankees. Joba should try and incorporate the same type of game plan that Hughes and Molina used to tame the Tigers last night. Hughes had good velocity on his four-seamer and used it well along with his cutter to get ahead of the Tigers hitters early. This allowed him to use his knuckle curveball to keep the Tigers off balance all night long.

While Chamberlain doesn’t feature a cutter, he can use his slider in a similar manner. He can throw it just off the plate outside to righties and in off the plate in on lefties. Along with his four-seamer (which hopefully by now will be back where it should be), the slider will allow him to use the curveball as an out pitch against righties, and perhaps the changeup as an out pitch to lefties.

Chamberlain will be opposed by the promising 21 year old rookie Rick Porcello. Porcello, who is a native of Morristown, NJ is a hard throwing righty who also has an excellent breaking ball. The Yankee hitters will have their hands full with Porcello tonight.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Phil the Thrill

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Monday, April 27, 2009

A Weekend to Forget...

The Yankees have to be scratching their heads following being swept by Boston this weekend. Sunday night’s game saw a lifeless effort by the Yankees which could be directly linked to how the first two games of the series played out. Friday night’s contest looked all but theirs as Mariano Rivera was one out away from closing out a 4-2 win for the Yankees. Instead he gave up a game tying 2-run homer to Jason Bay. The Yankees went on to lose the game in extra innings when Damaso Marte allowed a walk off home run by Kevin Youkilis.

Saturday’s game promised to be a pitcher’s match up of epic proportions as former teammates AJ Burnett and Josh Beckett went head to head. Burnett held up his part of the deal as he looked dominant through 3 innings. By that time Beckett had already allowed 6 runs and after 3 the Yankees led 6-0. The Red Sox would then mount a ridiculous comeback on Burnett and a parade of relievers as they scored in each and every subsequent inning and won the game 16-11. Burnett who looked so dominant through 3 looked lost over the next 2 frames and ended up allowing 8 earned runs over 5 innings.

After the heartbreaking losses that the Yankees endured on Friday and Saturday, they simply looked flat while being defeated 4-1 Sunday night. Andy Pettitte had little to no support by his teammates in the field and at the plate. Pettitte did not help his own cause very much either as he allowed an embarrassing moment when Jocoby Ellsbury stole home on the lefty.

Overall, it was a weekend to forget for the Yankees. Did I forget to mention that Brian Bruney and Cody Ransom both went down with injuries during the series as well? It’s on to Detroit now for the Yanks. They can sure use a dominant 8 inning performance from CC as the bullpen has been bruised and battered over the past 3 days. Let’s see if the hefty lefty can deliver a much needed win.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hey Big Papi...SHUT UP!

For years Yankees fans saw Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox continually plunk Derek Jeter and others on numerous occasions with little to no retaliation. And for years Yankees fans thirsted for someone to step up to Red Sox hitters (mainly Ortiz and Ramirez) and pitch them inside. Yankees fans wanted to see their pitchers come inside not to target Red Sox hitters, but to back them off of the plate and establish the inside corner.

We finally have the pitcher we so deeply yearned for. Joba Chamberlain has come inside on Red Sox hitters regularly the past couple of seasons. And he has enjoyed great success against them because of it. Most notably, he out-dueled Josh Beckett in a 1-0 Yankee win in Fenway Park just last season. Chamberlain is well within his rights to throw inside. Although, it may seem that he has a strange fetish when it comes to seeing Kevin Youkilis hit the deck, Chamberlain has done nothing wrong.

That brings us to “Big Papi”, David Oritz. Ortiz was quoted in the New York Post talking about how Chamberlain should not continue to throw inside and particularly not throw inside on Kevin Youkilis. Here are the direct quotes:

“None of that, man--just play the game the way it’s supposed to be, and that’s about it.”

“This is a guy, as good as he is, and the next step for him will be to earn respect from everybody in the league. He’s not a bad guy, but when things like that happen, people get the wrong idea.”

Here is my issue with what Ortiz had to say. First, he plays on the same club with a guy who just last week tried to decapitate Bobby Abreu. Ortiz should look around in his own locker room before commenting on Chamberlain. Chamberlain never fired a ball at a batter's head, after the batter stepped out of the batter's box.

Second, as far as I can tell, Chamberlain is playing the game the way it’s meant to be played. While he did throw inside or behind Youkilis on numerous occasions, he never hit him. He has played the game the same way that winner’s such as Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale, and Tom Seaver played the game. As a power pitcher he must own the inside part of the plate and if he has to back hitters off a bit, he is well within his rights.

Thirdly, Ortiz couldn't be more off on the "respect" thing. Chamberlain shouldn’t be concerned with earning the respect of everyone in the league. His main concern is to win games for the New York Yankees. If he has to come inside, that is his right. The last thing he should think about when pitching is, “What if Youkilis doesn’t like me?”

Lastly, Ortiz needs to worry about himself, and his .220 batting average. This guy clearly has not been himself since Manny left. Whether, that is attributable to Manny leaving, being older, being fatter, whatever the case, Ortiz should shut his yap, and worry about his own game.

It could be that Big Papi is trying to gain a psychological edge over Chamberlain. If that is the case, it just shows that Ortiz the Red Sox don’t feel comfortable stepping in against Joba. If I were Joba, I would buzz Ortiz the first time he comes to bat (just knock him down, not to hit him) and give him a little wink afterwards, as to say “You are not telling me what to do.” “You are not my Papi.”

-Favad Ali

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Melk Man Delivers!

Melky Cabrera finished off today's marathon game with a two run walk off home run in the bottom of the 14th. It was Melky's second home run of the game. 

CC Sabathia is still having control issues to start off the season. He was curiously left in the game in the 7th having already surrendered 5 runs through the first 6 innings. He went on to give up the lead before giving way to 6 relievers who combined for 7 and 1/3 innings pitched while allowing only 3 hits.  

My apologies to Jose Veras, who was out of this world in relief. He went 3 and 1/3 innings and retired the last 10 men he faced, striking out 4 of them. He picked up the win.


Day off tomorrow. And then it's off to Boston for the Bombers. Joba Chamberlain will kick off the series on the mound for the Yanks. He will be opposed by Jon Lester. It should definitely be a good one.

Yanks Defeat A's 5-3

A revamped Oakland lineup with newly acquired veterans such as Jason Giambi, Matt Holliday, Orlando Cabrera, and Nomar Garciaparra could not solve Andy Pettite over 7 innings last night. Pettitte scattered 9 hits and allowed just 2 runs. He has gone at least 7 innings in each of his three starts this season. He is the only Yankee starter to do so. Brett Gardner drove in two runs as did Johnny Damon, who hit the game’s only home run, which landed in the second deck in right (it was no cheapie). Mark Teixeira drove in the other Yankees run. Brian Bruney’s streak of 22 consecutive batters came to an end as he allowed a run on 2 hits in the 8th inning. Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera tied a record as Rivera saved a win for Pettitte for the 57th time. Wins and saves might not be the best way to quantify a pitcher’s effectiveness, but this record is a testament to the longevity and durability that both Pettitte and Rivera have displayed throughout their careers.

-CC Sabathia will start for the Yanks today, as they close out their first homestand. The A’s will counter with rookie lefty Brett Anderson. With a win the Yankees will go 4-2 on this homestand, not bad all things considered.

-Xavier Nady will not have to have season ending surgery after all. Instead he will rehab the strained ligament in his right elbow and should be back with the team for about a month or so.

-Chien Ming Wang, whose next start will be skipped, was sent down to Tampa to work on his mechanics as he tries to work out the kinks in his motion and delivery. The Yankees will also closely monitor his physical condition as Brian Cashman is not convinced that Wang is 100% healthy as the pitcher claims. The Yankees are 8-3 in games not started by Chien Ming Wang.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Trying to Explain the Right Field "Wind Tunnel"


I am no physicist. I couldn't tell you why there were 20 home runs hit in just four games at the stadium thus far with 14 of them hit to right field. Could it be that there is a wind tunnel phenomenon taking place in right field due to the open concourses and the shape of the upper deck? It has been a hot topic for the last couple of days and everyone seems to have their own interesting opinions on it.

-Accu-Weather.com has an interesting take on the possible wind tunnel effect taking place.

-ESPN's Buster Olney is convinced there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

-CNBC's Darren Rovell think the home run boost could be extremely marketable for the Yanks.

While some of the homers hit looked like certain pop outs off the bat (Asdrubal Cabrera's grand slam off Anthony Clagget and Mark Teixeira's home run off Fausto Carmona come to mind), I would like to hold my judgement until we see this home run boom continue over a span of 20-30 games rather than just looking at 4.

-Favad Ali

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's a Wash

Tonight's opener against Oakland has been postponed due to rain. No makeup date has been announced as of yet. Stay dry everyone.

This message was brought to you by Chien Ming Wang



What's Wang with Chien Ming?


There seems to be a whole mess of things that are hampering the performance of the once reliable righty. The laundry list of things for Wang and the Yankees to ponder include poor mechanics, lack of velocity, and lack of confidence. In three starts he has allowed 23 runs on 23 hits in just 6 innings. He has walked 6 batters while striking out only 2. His ERA for the year stands at 34.50 and he has a WHIP of 4.833. These numbers are truly staggering and the Yankees are extremely concerned about what to do with the struggling pitcher.

Courtesy of Yankees.com, here's Joe Giradi's take on the situation:

Girardi and his staff met on Sunday morning to discuss the possibility of skipping that start, which they could do without shifting anyone out of turn thanks to an off-day on Thursday. But they have not yet addressed the issue with Wang, and have not yet come to a final decision.

"We have had a lot of healthy discussion over this morning," Girardi said.

"We looked at a lot of video. We looked at where his hands were, the height of his leg kick, where his head is, if it's on line, the angle of his arm. We looked at everything. We just haven't had a chance to discuss it with him yet."

The Yankees and Wang both insist that he's completely healthy, despite the fact that his velocity in Saturday's game rested in the high 80s and low 90s -- a noticeable tick lower than the mid-90s sinkers he was firing throughout his two 19-win seasons. Girardi is not worried about Wang possibly tipping his pitches, because he has always thrown such a high percentage of sinkers.

Hitters usually knew what was coming, but they couldn't hit it anyway.

[My Take: The Yankees must find a way to allow Wang to work out the kinks without hurting his team any further. They cannot send him down to the minors as Wang is out of options. They could place him on the 15 day DL, while he doesn't seem to be physically injured, his psyche surely has to be hurting right now. Lastly, they could send him to the bullpen to become the long man and callup Phil Hughes, until Wang is able to regain his form. Either way, Wang's next start (in Boston) will probably be skipped as the rest of the rotation will not be affected because of Thursday's off day. The Yankees have their work cut out with this one and they better come up with a solution. You just simply cannot have a guy in your rotation who is an automatic loss each and every time he takes the mound.]

-Favad Ali

Yanks Salvage a Split

After an embarrassing game Sunday which once again saw Chien Ming Wang give the Yankees no shot at winning the game with another putrid effort. The Yankees looked favorite to win on Sunday when you looked at the pitching matchup.

It was AJ Burnett, who had been so good in his first two starts against Carl Pavano, who had struggled almost as badly as Wang has in his first two starts. Unfortunately, things weren't going as planned through six innings as the much hated Pavano and the Indians were leading 3-1. AJ Burnett clearly didn't have his best stuff as he walked 7 batters in his 6 1/3 innings of work, but he did keep the Yankees in the game. I don't know if it was Pavano stepping up his game to stick it to the Yanks or it was the Yankees hitters pressing a bit to try and beat Pavano, but the Yankees just couldn't get to Pavano in his six innings of work.

A series of quirky plays ensued in the 7th and 8th innings as the Yankees were able to get to the Indian bullpen and take the lead and secure a much needed 7-3 win. Jorge Posada hit a disputed pinch hit home run in the 7th, one which the Indians argued was interfered with by a fan. Instant replay was used and the home run was confirmed. The 8th inning saw the Yankees pull away with a broken bat bases clearing double by Cody Ransom in which Indian outfielder left fielder Shin Soo Choo simply did not play as it seemed to have been a catchable ball. Either way the Yankees will take it as a loss to Pavano would have just added fuel to the fire of the embarrassing effort on Satruday.
BOX

Next up for the Yankees is a 3 game st with their old friend Jason Giambi and his Oakland A's. Andy Pettitte will start for the Yanks. The A's will counter with Dana Eveland. I'm sure the crowd will give a warm ovation for Giambi. His time in the Bronx had its up and downs. He never did live up to the promise of his mega money contract, but he was still a likeable figure despite all of his on the field and off the field struggles.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jeter's Homer Wins It

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Party Pooper

I personally have seen enough of Jose Veras. Do we really need a 4A pitcher in the game pitching in high leverage situations? Lets get Melancon up here! Send Veras back to the minors where he belongs. Better yet trade him...or waive him. As long as we don't have to see him ruin games any longer.

New Stadium, New Hope


Today is the day. After a lengthy road trip, the Yankees are finally home. They will open their brand spanking new ballpark with all the pomp and circumstance that one would expect from the Yankees. Kelly Clarkson will sing the national anthem. There will also be a military performance of stars and stripes forever in honor of the opening of the original stadium in 1923 which had the same performance. Among those in attendance will be 40 former players including Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, Whitey Ford, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, David Cone, and the list goes on and on. Yogi Berra, to no surprise will throw out the first pitch. There will be a few other special appearances at today's procession including Willie Randolph and of course, the boss, George Steinbrenner.

Mike Lupica writes that the opening of the new stadium will usher in a new era of Yankees baseball.

George King anticipates the opening ceremony to be done with the utmost of style.

Apparently, there will also be a game played today. CC Sabathia will take the mound and throw the first official pitch in new Yankee Stadium history. He will be facing his former team, the Cleveland Indians. Last year's Cy Young award winner, Cliff Lee will be pitching for the Indians. He is off to a slow start to the season as he is 0-2 with a 9.90 ERA in his first two starts of the year.

It should certainly be a memorable day the stadium. It should be a memorable season at the new stadium. Nothing would be better if the Yankees could take all of the enthusiasm and excitement the new stadium has brought and use it to propel them back to prominence and erase the memories of the last few seasons full of disappointment. The new stadium signifies a new beginning and a new hope.

-Favad Ali

Jeter, Yanks Take Rubber Game

It was a night when the "old guard" came through as the Yankees took the rubber game in Tampa in a well-pitched, hard-fought 4-3 win. Derek Jeter singled in Ransom with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth off of Rays closer Troy Percival. Andy Pettitte started, and pitched well over 7 1/3 innings of work, allowing 3 runs. Mariano Rivera closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the series and a winning road trip (5-4) to start off the year. Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting (.382) with a homer and a double. He looks like a changed man at the plate thus far. Next up is the home opener at the new stadium. More to come in a bit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

With or Without A-Rod


Doctors say Alex Rodriguez is ahead of his rehab schedule and could make it back to the club a week sooner than the expected mid May target date. A-Rod, who recently proclaimed that he would “cut the fat” out of his life and put his focus solely on baseball would be a welcome addition to the lineup as the Yankees have gotten little to no production from the third base position in A-Rod’s absence.

While he would be a welcome addition on the field for the club, it is still debatable whether or not the Yankees are better off without the embattled slugger when it comes to team chemistry. Not only does A-Rod promise to bring big production in the lineup upon his return, but also a circus like atmosphere that follows him wherever he goes.

Life without A-Rod has been pretty smooth for the Yankees as they have been able to keep their focus on the field rather than taking questions about their mercurial teammate. Although, he has promised to be “part of the team” and “one of the guys”, you can be sure that if A-Rod doesn’t make good on his oaths to the team, we’ll be back to talking about the ridiculous things he says, the ridiculous things he does, and the ridiculous people he dates; and that will not sit well with the rest of the team, which seems to have gelled nicely sans A-Rod.

Breaking Injury News

From Pete Abe:

"Nothing official yet, but the word is that Xavier Nady will need (elbow) surgery and miss the season."

[My Take: Bad break for Nady and the Yanks. The decision of how to get ABs for four guys (Swisher, Nady, Damon, Matsui) in three spots (LF, RF, DH) just got a little easier for Joe Girardi. Now the question of who will take Nady's roster spot comes into play. Could we see Shelley Duncan back in pinstripes? Imagine the fun Nick Swisher and Shelley Duncan would have together. However, if I had to put my money on it, I would guess it's probably going to be Angel Berroa who gets the call up.]

Burnett Dominant in Win

He did it again. Following another atrocious start by Chien Ming Wang, AJ Burnett once again delivered a much needed win. He took a no hitter into the 7th last night and was just plain filthy. He had it all working; four seamer, two seamer, slider, and curve. He ended up going 8 innings allowing only 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 9.

Last night also saw the return of Mark Teixeira. Teixeira drove in the eventual game winning run with a sac-fly in the eighth. Our boy Nick Swisher homered yet again. He ducked out of the way from a pitch thrown up and in by Matt Garza (who is just plain nasty) and proceeded to homer two pitches later. Is this guy hot or what? The captain also delivered a 3-run homer in the game with his patented opposite field swing. Brett Gardner hit a couple balls over the shallow outfielders, showing he has the ability to put more than just a slaptastic swing on the ball at times.

Burnett is now 2-0 as a Yankee. Both of his wins prevented a 3 game losing streak. We all knew the guy could pitch, that has never been in question. If he stays healthy and continues to grow as a pitcher, we could see a special season out of this guy.

Next up is Andy Pettitte, who is looking to build on his dominant performance in KC. He will be countered by Andy Sonnanstine, who the Yankees have handled in the past. If the Yanks can pull out a win in today's game, they would go home with a 5-4 record on this season opening road trip. Not bad considering the way they started out in Baltimore to open the season.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Milledge not Lasting

The Washington Nationals have optioned outfielder Lastings Milledge to their Triple-A ball club in Syracuse on Tuesday. The Nationals are off to an 0-7 start to the season and Milledge has performed just as poorly. He was hitting .167 (4-24) with 1 walk, 10 strikeouts, and just 1 RBI thus far. Assistant General Manager Mike Rizzo said the demotion of Milledge was “…to get more comfortable with his swing, to get more comfortable with the position and to do it in a less stressful situation than the National League East.”

I have to say I was a little surprised by this move. To start Milledge performed very solidly in his first full season in 2008, showing why he has once considered one of the top prospects in the game, In 138 games last year he clubbed 14 home runs and stole 24 bases while batting .268 with a .330 OBP. These definitely aren’t All-Star caliber numbers but they certainly are encouraging for a young player still adjusting to the big league level. Secondly, at only 24 years old Milledge ideally is part of the future of the Nationals organization. Even with the logjam in the Nats outfield I would think they might give him more time to work out his struggles than just 7 games. Also the two outfielders behind Milledge, Austin Kearns and Josh Willingham definitely are not part of the Nats future and I don’t expect either to outperform Milledge over the course of the season.

I understand the Nationals can’t just keep penciling in any player who is struggling just because of his potential and hope for future growth,. For the fans sake they have to attempt to put the winning combination on the field. Honestly though the Nats are headed for the basement in the NL East and even the most optimistic Nats fan knows this. That is why the quick hook for Milledge was so surprising. Being only 24 years old and coming off such a promising ’08, I thought he’d get more than 24 at bats to work through his struggles. I guess that’s why my phone never rang when the Nats were looking for a replacement GM for the recently departed Jim Bowden.
-Robb Lennahan

AJ the Stopper 2.0

Following another Chien Ming Wang disaster, the Yankees are once again looking to AJ Burnett to put an end to a 2 game snide. Burnett battled through 5 1/3 innings of two run ball in his first start against the Orioles in his Yankee debut. It was good enough for a win; however Burnett was displeased with his relatively short outing. He will be keen to give more length tonight as the bullpen has been worn out after last night’s debacle. The formula for tonight will be to get 7 innings from Burnett, 1 from Bruney, and 1 from Rivera to close it out.

However, that is easier said than done when Matt Garza is the opposing pitcher. Garza rose to prominence with his brilliant ALCS performances against Boston last year, earning him the ALCS MVP honor. Garza is coming off of another brilliant effort against Boston in his first start, allowing just 1 run over 7 innings of work. The Yankee lineup will their work cut out for them against Garza tonight, which is why this start for Burnett is that much more important. Runs will be at a premium for the Yanks, especially if Mark Teixeira isn’t available once again. Burnett must be the stopper for the second straight start or the Yanks will be looking at their first 3-game losing streak of the season.

The Legend of The Swish Continues to Grow


Another big night for newcomer Nick Swisher, as he not only hit his third home run of the season, he also pitched a scoreless inning and recorded a strikeout. 

In other news the Yankees were bombarded by the Rays as Chien Ming Wang has suddenly forgotten how to pitch. He was rocked once again, this time to the tune of 8 earned runs while recording only three outs. The Yankees went on to lose the game 15-5. Wang's ERA has ballooned to 28.93 (15 ER in 4.2 IP). Wang's ineffectiveness is a major cause for concern. You have to think if he continues to fire blanks in this fashion, we may see the return of Phil Hughes or even Ian Kennedy real soon.

Another return seems imminent as there was an Alex Rodriguez sighting before the game. It's time to jump for joy! I am not by any means the biggest A-Rod fan/supporter/apologist etc. But I think all Yankee fans have seen enough of Cody Ransom...(.083/.154/.125)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Honoring Adenhart

I picked up this article by Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register through Buster Olney's blog on ESPN.com. Mr. Miller suggests that the Angels honor Nick Adenhart by banning the sale of beer for one game this season.

I could not agree more with this proposal to honor the recently lost young pitcher. I think it's a wonderful tribute to Adenhart, something that has more substance than just having his picture on the center field wall or stitching his number on all the players jerseys. I'd even take this one step further if i were Angel owner Arte Moreno and push for Commissioner Bud Selig to try and pass one beer less game at all 30 stadiums over the course of the season.

The downside is obviously loss of revenue to the clubs. With the extremely high mark up on all concessions cutting beer sales at even one game would definitely hurt revenue and as we saw at the Rogers Centre earlier this season a 'Dry Game" also negatively impacts attendance. Even so i think the owners need to look past their bottom line and use this proposal to pay the ultimate tribute to a pitcher and promising young man who was tragically lost.
-Robb Lennahan

Harry Kalas (1936-2009)

A truly sad day for Phillies fans and all baseball fans as longtime voice of the Phillies, Harry Kalas passed away today at the age of 73. Kalas was known for his one of a kind voice and his "Outta Here!" home run calls. As a Yankee fan, I did not get to hear many games called by Kalas, but the few games that I did catch were very enjoyable because of his wonderful voice and unique style of broadcasting a game. Kalas had also been doing voice-overs for NFL Films since 1975. Kalas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.

FULL STORY

Yanks Ready for Rays

The defending American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays will welcome the Yankees to the Trop for a 3 game set starting Monday night. Chien Ming Wang will look to bounce back from his poor first outing in Baltimore as he will be countered by left-hander Scott Kazmir. The Yankees will watch from the dugout as the Rays will be raising their American League East Champions and American League Champions Banners. This will be the third of four season openers the Yankees will take part in. The next and final one will be to open their season opener at the New Yankee Stadium against Cleveland later this week.

It will be interesting to see if the Yankees will show the same respect and class as they have in the past for Red Sox banner raising ceremonies. Mark Teixeira is not expected to start once again, as he is still hampered by that sore wrist. I’d like to see Joe Girardi give Ramiro Pena a start at third over Cody Ransom. Ransom has not been playing well both at the plate and in the field. At the very least, you should get better defense with Pena in the field. The Yankees are banking on Swisher and Cano to continue to carry the lineup in Teixeira’s absence. Otherwise, it could be a long day as Kazmir owned the Yankees to the tune of a 2-1 record with 1.06 ERA in 3 starts against the Bombers last season.

Josh Beckett, Head Hunter?

Is Josh Beckett aware that Bobby Abreu no longer plays for the Yankees? Was Beckett's wayward pitch intentional? You be the judge...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Yanks Leave Sweep on the Table


This weekend's series could not have been going better. Friday's game saw Andy Pettitte looking as good as ever over 7 strong innings of work. The Yankees won the game 4-1 on the back of Pettite's strong effort. 

It was more of the same on Saturday as CC toed the rubber looking to make up for his opening day hiccup. And makeup he did. He pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in another easy Yankee victory, this time by the score of 6-1. This game also saw continued hot production at the plate from Nick Swisher. Swisher went 2 for 3 with a homer and 3 RBI. The only downside was that Mark Teixeira was scratched from the lineup due to a sore wrist. 



That brings us to today's finale with the Royals. Joba Chamberlain took the hill for his first start against Royals ace, Gil Meche. Joba pitched was shaky at times but got through six innings of work while allowing only one earned run. He was in line for the win as the Yankees took the lead from the Royals in the 7th, scoring 3 runs in the inning to put the score at 4-3. Damaso Marte started the eighth inning on the mound and breezed through two batters, throwing only 11 pitches. However, he was removed from the game in favor of Jose Veras right hander Billy Butler, and that is when the wheels started to fall off.  Veras walked the only batter he would face. Girardi then brought in Phil Coke to face switch hitter Brayan Pena, who was 0-3 batting left handed during the game. By bringing Coke in, Pena switched to the right side. Coke went on to allow a double, single, and another double consecutively and the Royals plated 3 runs.

In my view this was a case of over managing by our beloved skipper Joe Girardi. Why remove Marte after retiring the first two batters with relative ease? The two batters Marte retired were left handed, but Marte is very capable of getting right handers out. Is he only going to be used as a lefty specialist? Not only did he over manage with Marte, he did so with Veras. OK, it's not Joe's fault Veras walked Butler. However, it is his fault that he brought in Coke to allow Pena to turn around and hit right handed when he was struggling to hit left handed all day long. Why give a struggling switch hitter a fresh start on the other side of the plate when he had shown he was struggling batting left handed? Phil Coke has got terrific stuff, but is he any better than the proven vet, Marte? What makes Marte strictly a lefty specialist and Coke not? I'm going to give Joe the benefit of the doubt. It's still early. But, these are the types of losses that teams look back on in the end of the year saying, "We should have won that game."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Next Stop, KC

The Yankees will kick off a three game set with the Royals today at 4pm. Andy Pettitte will toe the rubbber for the Bombers as Kansas City will counter with Sidney Ponson. The Royals have been tagged the sleeper pick this year in the American League and with good reason. They have a solid front end of the rotation with Zach Greinke, Gil Meche, and Kyle Davies. They are also strong in the backend of the bullpen with Juan Cruz and Joakim Soria. They also made some nice moves adding to their lineup this offseason with the aquisitions of Coco Crisp to play center and Mike Jacobs to play first. In a weak and wide open AL Central the Royals can definitely compete. If their opening series in Chicago (taking two of three) is an indicator, the Royals will be in the race this year.

Great Day for the Yankee Faithful

Could yesterday have gone any better for Yankee fans all over the globe? The Yanks get their first win in dominating fashion over Baltimore. The offense looked very good and AJ Burnett looked like he was worth every penny of his newly signed contract. What made the day even better for fans though? It happened in the 2nd inning of the Texas/ Cleveland game when Carl Pavano was lifted from the mound after being pounded by the Rangers. Carl only recorded 3 outs while giving up 9 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks. I'm sure Yankee fans all over couldn’t be happier.

Also yesterday in Toronto, New Jersey native Rick Porcello made his Major League debut for the Detroit Tigers. The 20 year old right handed pitcher started on the mound and pitched a pretty solid game, putting up a line of 5 IP- 4 ER- 9 H- 1 BB- 4K, though he was tagged for the loss. What’s more impressive though is his professional pitching career consists of only 125 IP in single A ball. Porcello is certainly showing that he is the Tigers top prospect and hopefully he will live up to expectations.

Canseco Calls Out Manny on Steroid Use


Jose Canseco is still at it. After achieving the ultimate "I told you so” moment on baseball in the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s admitted steroid use, Canseco is back to naming names. This time it is Dodger slugger Manny Ramirez who Canceso is grouping among the growing list of performance enhancers. Speaking at the Brovard Auditorium on the USC campus recently Canseco stated he was “ 90% sure “ Manny’s name was also on the list of 104. While Canseco admitted he had no real proof to back up his claim he cited the owners reluctance to sign him this winter as evidence to his allegations. When Manny Ramirez was asked about Canseco’s accusations he just laughed, saying “ I got no comment, nothing to say about that. What can I say? I don’t even know the guy.”

If you played in the MLB over the last 10 + years you are guilty by association of steroid use. Regardless if you are a career minor leaguer or a future Hall of Famer there is a cloud of suspicion over everyone’s head. Up to this point the master outer Jose Canseco has proven to be pretty accurate on the names he’s linked to steroid use. This time though I think he’s just trying to create a buzz for himself. We all know his current money troubles and this is a perfect way for him to get a few public appearance paychecks. He admittedly has no proof but there’s no better way to drum up attention for himself than to call out one of the biggest names in the game today. At this point I’m just tired of Jose. Yes he did blow open the door on steroid use, job well done Jose. I don’t need to hear him name a new name every month just so he can get some attention. Jose should be working on his celebrity boxing career and let the game of baseball try to move on.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Observations From Today’s Game (11-2 Win)

The Yankees were finally able to get their first win of the season, defeating the O’s 11-2. AJ Burnett was good but not great as he went 5 1/3 innings while allowing 2 runs and striking out 6. The key was he kept the Yankees in the game and allowed the offense to wear down the opposing pitcher and get into their bullpen early. Burnett did have to labor but he did get into the 6th inning, something games 1 and 2 starters, Sabathia and Wang were not able to do.

Mark Teixeira hit his first Yankee home run as did Nick Swisher. Robinson Cano who also homered, looks very good so far at the plate showed power and patience throughout the three-game set. Robby could be primed for a big season. Back to Swisher, in limited duty he is showing why he is the clear choice to play everyday over Xavier Nady. And no, I’m not talking about his 3 hits and 5 RBI today. I’m talking about his ability to go deep into counts, take his walks, and wear down the opposing pitcher. This is something that Swisher can provide on a daily basis that Nady cannot. In his 5 Ab’s today, Swisher saw a whopping 29 pitches. Add that to his ability to hit for power and he should be your everyday starting right fielder.

BOX

Nick Adenhart 1986-2009


Some sad news to comment on today as Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run car accident early Thursday. Two others travelling in the same car were also killed. Adenhart was a promising young prospect who pitched the night before against Oakland going six shutout innings. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Adenhart family and the Angels organization as they cope with this devastating loss. It's nothing short of horrific when a drunk driver with a suspended license can take the lives of three promising young individuals. The Yankees trying to get their first win of the year doesn’t seem very important right about now.

Full Story

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

AJ, The Stopper?


Another game and another poor performance by a Yankee starter. Chien Ming Wang didn't fare much better than Sabathia did on Opening Day. The Yankees found themselves chasing the entire game as Wang could not get through 4 innings before allowing 7 runs. The Yankees will look to salvage a game from this series tomorrow afternoon . It will be up to AJ Burnett to make that happen.

Can AJ be the stopper? Well, we will soon find out. Burnett gets the ball tomorrow with the task of getting the Yankees their first win of the year and avoid an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Orioles. The Yankees have gotten no length from game one and two starters, Sabathia and Wang. The offense found themselves in chase mode in both games, and you just cannot win many games that way. 

So, it's up to AJ, who can really make a great first impression if he can put forth a solid effort and deliver the Yankees their elusive first win of the season. The Orioles will counter with little known Alfredo Simon. I'm sure if Burnett can shut the O's down for at least the first few innings, the Yankees lineup should get some runs off of Simon. Either way this is a golden opportunity for Burnett and one that he should not let go to waste.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oh My God! The Sky is Falling!

CC Sabathia choked! He’s washed up! He can’t throw strikes! The Yankees just flushed $161 million down the drain! The Yankees should have signed Derek Lowe instead!

Mark Teixeira choked! He can’t take the pressure of playing in New York. He can’t even take the pressure of some boos in Baltimore! He can’t get a big hit!

Joe Girardi can't manage! The Yankees can't win with this guy! He doesn't know how to handle a pitching staff! If the Yankees get off to a slow start, he should be fired!

This pretty much sums up what I have read/heard after the Yankees dropped their season opener against Baltimore. To all of you ridiculous sports writers and radio hosts, please, SHUT THE HELL UP!

It was one game.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Exclusive Photos of the New Yankee Stadium

I know these are a few days late. But maybe, these pictures will divert you from thinking about today's loss to the O's






Photos Courtesy of Chris Siswo
Special  Jersey Hardball Correspondent

Mets take a full game lead over the Phillies in the NL East

The 2009 season has officially begun and the Mets are 1-0 with this afternoons 2-1 over Cincinnati. The disappointments of ‘07 and ‘08 are forgotten for now as the Mets are on pace for a perfect 162-0 season. Of course by next week said disappointments could be fresh in everyone’s minds if the Mets find themselves struggling. However if today is any indication the ‘09 Mets will be a very formidable squad as displayed by their new and improved bullpen. Newly acquired Sean Green, JJ Putz, and Francisco Rodriguez combined to pitch the final 3 1/3 innings of the game only allowing one base runner, a walk by Putz. There still is 161 games left to play but with a new and improved bullpen the Mets should avoid their ‘07 and ‘08 fates and finally reach the postseason in 2009.

Check out the Boxscore from the game at ESPN.com

Opening Day

Opening Day has finally arrived. It began last night with the Braves defeating the Phillies 4-1. Free agent signee Derek Lowe was brilliant for Atlanta. The Yankees hope to get the same kind of performances from their newly acquired aces, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett in their opening series against Baltimore. The action starts today at 4:05pm at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Sabathia gets the call for the Yanks. Baltimore will counter with their ace Jeremy Guthrie. A solid start for Sabathia will be needed to set the right tone for the Yankees, who have been notoriously slow starters the past couple of seasons going 14-15 in April of 2008 and 9-14 in April of 2007. But enough talk already, It's time to play ball!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sheffield back in the Big Apple


The New York Mets have reached a contract agreement with the recently released slugger Gary Sheffield today. Sheffield is expected to be in New York on Saturday and his contract will be official upon his passing of a physical.

This seems like a very odd move for the New York Mets. Their corner outfield positions are held down by Ryan Church and Daniel Murphy, with Marlon Anderson, Jeremy Reed, and Fernando Tatis serving as backups. Anderson would appear to be the odd man out even though he is a versatile player capable of playing every outfield position and first base. I just don’t see the benefit of having Gary Sheffield in a Mets uniform. Even if an injury were to occur he is still seemingly behind Tatis in the depth chart and is really no longer capable of playing the outfield everyday anyway.

The only positive I see coming out of this signing by Omar Minaya is that Sheffield is almost guaranteed to hit his 500th career home run in a Mets uniform in the first season in new stadium Citi Field. Possibly Omar Minaya heard of the Phillies interest in Sheffield and wanted to grab him from their arch rivals and defending World Series Champs. Whatever the reason for the signing, Sheffield wont cost the Mets anything more than a roster spot so anything they get from him should be a positive but it’s hard to see him helping the Mets in any way.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcome to the New Yankee Stadium

YESnetwork.com has some great pictures of the Yankees getting their first taste of the new Yankee Stadium. Follow the link for the pictures.

LINK

Yankees win Grapefruit League, Head North to Christen Stadium


The Yankees finished up their Grapefruit League schedule with a 9-5 win over the Phillies on Wednesday. CC Sabathia started the game in his final tune up before the regular season opener in Baltimore on Monday. Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui both homered in the game. The Yanks finished with a 22-10-1 spring record, tops in the Grapefruit League. To honor their achievement Commissioner Selig presented the Yankees with a basket of grapefruit after the game.

The Yankees will hold a special workout at the stadium today and have two exhibition games with the Cubs on Friday and Saturday. Chien Ming Wang will throw the first ever pitch at the new stadium at 7:05 Friday night. I for one cannot wait. We will have a special correspondent at the game who will take some exclusive photographs of the new stadium’s first game, which we will share with you. The season is upon us. I can almost taste it!

-Favad Ali

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's Official: Jeter to Leadoff


Joe Girardi announced on Wednesday that as of right now, Jeter will bat leadoff in Monday's season opener in Baltimore. The move should payoff as Jeter as it should cut down on Jeter's propensity to hit into the ground ball double play. Other than that, the move won't have any major significance in my opinion.

It was also announced on Tuesday that Jonathan Albaladejo will begin the season in the bullpen for the Yankees. This means that the Yankees will not have a "long man" in the pen to start off the year. The inclusion of Albaladejo is a curious one in my opinion as you wouldn't imagine Girardi using him in a big spot. Which in case, you should have a mop up guy such as Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves, or Dan Geise. In Joe Girardi, we trust.

The only remaining roster spot to be determined is the uitility infielder role off the bench. The two finalists seem to Angel Berroa and Ramiro Pena. Whoever wins this spot will only hold on to it until that A-Rod guy returns. In that case, why not Pena. Lets see what this kid can do. He is an excellent defensive shortstop with speed. He is also a good situational hitter who is able to lay down a bunt if needed. Lets see what the kid can do.

-Favad Ali

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sheffield for Hire


The Detroit Tigers released outfielder Gary Sheffield today. Sheffield, who will be due $14 million dollars, was having a very disappointing spring batting only .178 in 45 at bats.

Just like most people I was very surprised by this move. Of course it is probably the right move but how often do you see a team release a 9 time All-Star who is one home run shy of his 500th dinger. Sheff’s stay in Detroit was a major disappointment to say the least. In two injury plagued seasons he hit just .250 with 44 homers in only 247 games. Also while with Detroit the once versatile Sheffield became relegated to DH duties.

This move also will bring into question Sheffield’s legacy as he nears the end of his career and moves onto the Hall of Fame ballot. Assuming another team signs him for the ‘09 season, that will mark the 8th ball club he’s played for. Throughout his career he has been one of the most feared hitters in the league but in the steroid era is 499 homers and 2615 hits enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. Also take into account that he has never been the most media friendly player and is notorious for his surly attitude. Even after his release he stated he was “ probably the most athletic guy on this team”. Come on Gary, you’re 40 years old and haven’t been healthy since 2005, you wouldn’t be the most athletic guy on an independent team.

I think 2009 will be the last we see of Gary Sheffield. Im pretty confident there’s a club out there that will take him on as a bat off the bench/ 4th outfielder. Beyond ‘09 I just don’t see Gary’s inflated ego taking a contract for what he’s worth right now, which would probably be in the 1-2 million dollar range. The next question then becomes is he a Hall of Famer? I personally would say yes, but honestly if he does get in it will be after a number of years on the ballot. What do you guys think, would you vote him in?

-Robb Lennahan

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rivalry Renewed


Yankees vs. Red Sox: Position by Position

With the Yankees falling out of playoff contention last year, the rivalry took a bit of a year off. With the moves the Yankees have made this offseason I believe they have closed the gap with their bitter rivals and the war is back on for 2009! I am no way discounting the Rays because they are the defending division champs and they will battle the Yanks and Sox all year long. This post is just purely to highlight the special rivalry the Yanks and Sox share.

C-Yankees. If Posada is anywhere near 100% his offensive production should be head and shoulders above the woeful Varitek

1B-Yankees (Barely). Tex is primed for a big year in the Bronx, but Youk is also an offensive force, especially in Fenway Park. Tiebreak goes to the Yankees because they ended up signing Teixeira away from the Sox, who so desperately wanted the slugger

2B- Red Sox. Reigning MVP Dustin Pedroia will probably come down to earth a bit from last year but Cano’s inconsistency gives Pedroia the edge.

3B-Yankees A-Rod Returns in May. Enough said.

SS-Yankees. Jeter may be headed into decline but I’d still take him over the combo of Lowrie and Lugo anyday.

LF-Push. Bay fit into the Red Sox clubhouse nicely, but Damon continues to be a force coming off of another great year.

CF- Red Sox. Ellsbury is exactly the type of player the Yankees hope Gardner turns into this year. Excellent defensively and on the bases.

RF- Push. Drew still has yet to put together a complete season in Boston. While the combination of Nady and Swisher should be comparible to Drew's production.

DH- Red Sox. Papi had a down year in 08 while Matsui could barely stay on the field. Papi takes it on pedigree.

Bench: Push. The Yankees will feature a bench with Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera on it. While the Sox have Rocco Baldelli and Mark Kotsay on the bench.

SP- Yankees. Top 3 are a push. Sabathia, Wang, Burnett are just as good as Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka. 4-5 Starters give the Yanks the edge. Pettitte and Chamberlain over Wakefield and Penny easily.

Middle Relief- Red Sox. The Yankees should be improved but the Sox have the proven bullpen arms.

Closer- Yankees. Rivera is still the greatest of all time but Papelbon isn’t far behind.

Manager- Red Sox. Francona has shown a winner’s touch while Girardi has yet to taste the champagne.

Front Office- Red Sox. You can’t argue with their success in mixing solid vets with young players from within. A lot like what the Yankees did back in ’94-’01. Yankees are slowly getting back to that formula.

Final Score: 6-6

It should be a fun year.

I’m sure these will be hotly contested opinions. I’d love to hear your comments/arguments. So please Post ‘em!

-Favad Ali

My Yankees Opening Day Roster

Everyone else is doing it, so I figured why not me...

C Jorge Posada
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
3B Cody Ransom
SS Derek Jeter
LF Johnny Damon
CF Brett Gardner
RF Xavier Nady
DH Hideki Matsui

C Jose Molina
RF Nick Swisher
CF Melky Cabrera
INF Ramiro Pena

SP CC Sabathia
SP Chien Ming Wang
SP AJ Burnett
SP Andy Pettitte
SP Joba Chamberlain

CL Mariano Rivera
SU Damaso Marte
SU Brian Bruney
MR Jose Veras
MR Phil Coke
MR Edwar Ramirez
LR Brett Tomko

Brett, the Best Bet for Center


Before Sundays win against Pittsburgh, skipper Joe Girardi named Brett Gardner as the team's starting center fielder. We are happy for Brett and think that his speed and defense will help the team immensely. Brett should be given the green light to run at his own discretion and if so he should rack up upwards of 40 stolen bases this year. The Yankees haven't had a speed threat like that since Alfonso Soriano.

My only concern was that maybe Joe could have held off with announcing the winner of the battle between Gardy and the Melk Man until the last couple of exhibitions against the Cubs christening the new Yankee Stadium. Gardner, being a young player could let complacency slip in much the way we saw with Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera in the past. However something tells me that Gardner will not let this oppurtunity go to waste and will play every game like he's competing to keep the job. Because in all essence he will be. If he falls into a prolonged slump I'm sure we'll see Melky or someone else trying their luck in conquering the center field position.

-Favad Ali

Thursday, March 26, 2009

David Price: The future is...in the minors


The defending AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays optioned 23 year old left handed pitcher David Price to their minor league camp today. The move was based solely on the Rays desire to closely monitor the workload of their young phenom. After pitching 139.1 innings between the majors and minors last season, the Rays do not want to increase his innings by more than 20% in 2009. A 20% increase would put Price’s ‘09 innings pitched to roughly 165 innings.

While I completely understand the decision made by the Rays and am not at all surprised by it, I think it’s the wrong one for the organization. The Rays who are hampered by a limited payroll, play in the same division with the infinite money of the Yankees and Red Sox and realistically have a short amount of time to be competitive. Regardless of how deep their minor league system is and how good they are at developing players, we just have not seen a team consistently compete with one of the lower payrolls in the league. Now I fully understand that with Price pitching in the minors he can be lifted at any point in the game without any real consequences as to the outcome of the game. In the big leagues though, this is much harder to justify. Removing Price from a 1-0 game in the 5th inning is easier said than done, especially if the Rays lose the game. I also understand the Rays desire to give Price regular work and keep him on a consistent pitching schedule but I think it would be more beneficial to their major league team if he was with them all season. They could possibly start Price in the bullpen and then move him into the rotation later in the season similar to what the Yankees did with Joba Chamberlain in ‘08.

Is it possible for the Rays to compete this year even with David Price in the minors for half of the season? Absolutely. In fact I think the Rays have a stronger team than last season. Unfortunately for them so do the Yankees and Red Sox. This means EVERY game matters. This is why I believe David Price should be on their major league roster all season, even if he’s in the bullpen. In such a competitive division you must have your 25 best players available even if that means taking a risk with the left arm of your future ace.

-Robb Lennahan

Yankees New and Notes

Manager Joe Girardi will experiment with the lineup batting Derek Jeter in the leadoff position for the rest of Spring Training. He will drop Johnny Damon to number two because he likes Damon’s ability to pull the ball and hit in situations. Story

[My Take: This could be an interesting move as Damon is one of the toughest players to double up and has more pop than Jeter. However, the move could be a wash as Jeter is also an exceptional situational hitter because of his propensity to shoot the ball to right field.]

Brian Cashman is still looking to move Melky Cabrera who is out of options and has taken a back seat to Brett Gardner in the CF mix. The White Sox are a prime target according to Ken Rosenthal who can throw Cabrera into their CF competition which features motley-looking crew consisting of Brian Anderson, Dewayne Wise, and Jerry Owens. Story

[My Take: Melky’s has had more than a fair chance to become a mainstay over the past 3 seasons. It’s time to cut him loose and see if the Yankees can get something worthwhile in return. Also, Gardner’s superior speed and defense along with his patience at the plate are more of an asset than what Melky brings to the table. Gardner could/should not be longed for this position in the future though, as Austin Jackson would be the ideal answer in center for the future.

CC Sabathia has been named the starter for both the season opener in Baltimore and opening day ten days later at the new Yankee Stadium against Cleveland. Story

[My Take: No surprise here as CC should take the ball for both openers as he is the big name/big money ace who was brought in to be the number one starter that the Yankees have lacked for so long now.]

-Favad Ali

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NYY Position Battles


It seems that Joe Girardi has selected Xavier Nady as the starting rightfielder to start the season instead of Nick Swisher. Much to our chagrin as the stats just show that Swisher is the more prudent choice as documented in this previous article.

Joe Girardi has not yet announced his choice for starting centerfielder but Brett Gardner has to be in the lead if you take in his performance this spring compared to Melky Cabrera’s. Whoever ends up starting will only be keeping the position warm for Austin Jackson, as the youngster looks primed for a shot at the bigs this year or next.

All things being equal, Brett Tomko looks like the frontrunner in the race to fill the long man role out of the bullpen. Tomko has out performed Dan Geise and Alfredo Aceves his spring and as a result deserves the shot.

Cody Ransom has won the dubious honor of holding third base for Alex Rodriguez until the slugger returns from injury. Ransom didn’t really have to compete for the spot as the Yankees didn’t have many other options. As a result of Ransom being forced into a starting role Angel Berroa looks have won the utility role of the bench.

-Favad Ali

Kudos to Japan

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, but I wanted to congratulate Japan for winning a second consecutive WBC crown. The championship game was a thrilling one as they beat Korea 5-3 in 10 innings. Team USA can learn a thing or two from both Japan and Korea about how to play and win in these tournament showcases.

AJ Burnin' Up


For as long as AJ Burnett has been in the Majors, we have all heard about the stuff he possesses and his potential to be great. He is now 32 and his stuff and his potential have yet to translate into great success on the mound. He and the Yankees believe this is the year that it will happen. Burnett looked solid once again as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 7-1 Tuesday night. He pitched into the sixth while allowing 1 run on 4 hits. His spring ERA in 4 starts is a stellar 1.20. Obviously, you can’t expect Burnett to pitch this spectacularly during the regular year, but everyone around Yankees camp believe he is primed for a solid first year with the club.

He has matured as a pitcher and learned a lot from former Blue Jay teammate Roy Halladay. AJ looks and works more like a pitcher rather than just a hard thrower compared to years gone by. Everyone knows about his fastball, but he has done an excellent job of mixing in his breaking pitches and changing speeds this spring. He has even been tutoring Chien Ming Wang, talking about mixing in more offspeed pitches to compliment his hard sinker. They key for AJ this year will be staying healthy. He has been injury plagued throughout his career and must stay off the DL as he and the rest of the Yankee starters will play a vital role in the team’s success this year.

-Favad Ali

Monday, March 23, 2009

So Long Curt


Curt Schilling announced his retirement today via his blog 38Pitches.com. Schilling is a borderline hall of famer and a bona fide big game pitcher whose loud personality almost outweighed his ability on the mound. He was truly one of the best big game pitchers to ever toe the rubber, compiling an 10-2 record in the postseason.

As a Yankee fan, I am glad to see him go, as he has been at the center of the Yankees misfortunes in recent years, from his MVP performance to beat the Yankees in the ’01 World Series as a member of the Diamondbacks to his bloody sock performance which propelled the Red Sox to overcome a 3-0 series lead in the ‘04 ALCS. Schilling could have been a Yankee going in to the ’04 season, but the Yankees chose to go and trade for the younger Javier Vasquez. At the time, it seemed like the right move, but it blew up in their face and the rest is history. He will forever be a legend to fans in Boston and a villain to the highest degree in New York.

-Favad Ali

Japan Knocks off Team USA


Japan defeated the United States in a semifinal showdown held at Dodger Stadium Sunday night by a final of 9-4. Japan now moves on to face Korea in an All-Asian final on Monday, looking to repeat as WBC champion. USA fought through injuries throughout the tournament and should be commended for their efforts. However, it just doesn’t seem right that Team USA felt like an underdog against Japan. If I’m not mistaken, baseball was created in the United States and not in Japan. The fact of the matter is that the United States and its players just haven’t bought in to the tournament at the same level as the Asian and Latin countries have. And that to me is a shame.

While the collection of players that did commit to the team were of all star caliber, you cannot sit here and say that the US had their absolute best roster that they could possibly field. Also, these single elimination games are in essence a game 7. One team played the game like it was game 7 and the other played like it was just another grapefruit or cactus league game. I know Davey Johnson was managing with his hands tied as he owes it to the clubs that which the players belong to get them into games and to get their work in, but if the US is ever going to do well in this competition they will have to play them to win.

What manager would leave their starter in the game to get brutalized the way Oswalt did in the fourth inning which in effect lost the game for the US. If its game 7 of a playoff series, you just don’t do that. But Johnson must have felt that he owed it to the Houston Astros to let Oswalt “get his work in.” This tournament can only be successful here in the US if and only if the USA is successful on the field. They won’t be successful on the field unless they can get their absolute best players to buy in and the manager of the team is allowed to manage to win the games at all costs.

-Favad Ali