Remember heading into the All-Star break when the Mets seemed poised to take back this town? Yeah, about that. Amazingly, in just the first weekend back, the Yankees and Mets momentum has reversed.
We had the young Mets riding high, winning 8 of 10 to finish off the first half. Newspaper and TV outlets had announced it was time for the Mets to end the Yankees long running reign as kings of New York. Things looked even brighter when the Mets were set to face the lowly Padres to start off the half. After a promising win on Friday night, the Mets offense went silent as they dropped the next two games. It wasn’t just that they lost, it was how they lost. Although the pitching remained strong, the return of an anemic offense reminded us of this teams achilles heal. Daniel Murphy will need to get out of this recent slump, while the revival of Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and Travis d’Arnaud must continue for the Mets to turn things around.
The Yankees closed out the first half getting bad news, after bad news. Their aging roster continued to get banged up and one after another went down in the starting rotation. C.C. Sabathia had knee surgery to finish his year, Michael Pineda’s return remains in doubt and no one really knows what the future holds for Mashiro Tanaka. With nothing but negativity surrounding the Yankees heading into the break, starting the second half with a sweep of the Reds was exactly what this franchise needed. Despite the lack of depth in the starting rotation, unlikely candidates have stepped up. Hiroki Kuroda is now the “ace” of this staff by default, and he pitched quite well out if the gate. David Phelps had a solid performance and newly acquired Brandon McCarthy showed signs of returning to his old form. Jacoby Ellsbury carried the offense over the weekend and he may need to do so the rest of the way if the Yankees are going to make any sort of a run. So far, so good for the Yankees.
I realize we are only ONE series into the second half, but it’s amazes me just how quickly the mood surrounding each franchise can change. I still believe the Mets have a brighter future ahead of them, but I’m not ready to commit to their reign starting in the second half. Many questions still remain surrounding the Yankees, as I don’t have confidence that they will be able to stay healthy enough to reach the post season. But the AL East lacks a dominant team and the division is there for the taking. A big splash from Brian Cashman at the trade deadline wouldn’t surprise me, as that is what it will take to keep this team afloat. One thing I do know for certain, it’s good to have baseball back in full force.
The Mets and Yankees fan bases were filled with two different emotions Friday night, as we given two exciting, yet opposite, endings within a half an hour of each other.
First, we have the Mets. After winning two straight games, the Mets looked to continue to build momentum and put together a winning streak. Once again, the offense struggled to score runs as they trailed 3-0 heading into the latter innings of the game. The Mets offense were able to muster together a few runs to cut the lead to one heading into the ninth inning.
Kirk Niuewenhuis led the inning off with a pitch hit double over Giancarlo Stantons head in right field. After Ruben Tejada laid down a sacrifice bunt, the Mets now had a runner on third base with one out and Chris Young stepping to the plate. Young, merely had to hit a fly ball into the outfield to tie this game up and keep the Mets alive. Although that doesn’t sound like it is asking too much, Young has been struggling to even make contact most of this season. But, he was able to get the ball in the air to left field, which at first glance appeared to be enough to get the run in.
Earlier in the game, the Mets challenged the arm of left fielder Marcell Ozuna when David Wright was gunned down at the plate. It was a risky move, as Wright didn’t have much of a chance to score, but the Mets have to take their chances when they come. As Ozuna began to circle under this fly ball, you began to realize it was not as hit as deep as initially thought. Ozuna took a full running start as he caught the ball and fired a strike to home plate, deja vu, Nieunwenhuis was out a the plate to end the ball game.
He didn’t just throw him out, he was dead upon arrival. In the words of Charlie Brown, good grief. The Mets continue to find new ways to lose…
Then we have the Yankees. Unlike the Mets, who failed to complete their 9th inning comeback, the Yankees were able to finish the job. With the score 3-1 in the ninth, the Orioles sent out newly appointed closer Zack Britton. Britton, has been very effective in his new role, until last night. Brett Gardner was able to start things off with a lead off single. But he would be followed up by a Derek Jeter Strikeout and Jacoby Ellsbury fly out to quickly make it two outs with a runner on first. Mark Teixeiria stepped up next and was able to work a walk to keep the inning alive. Brian McCann, who has been struggling with the bat, hit a double to cut the lead to one run as Gardner scored.
It was now Carlos Beltran’s turn up at the plate. Beltran, is playing through elbow issues and is stuck mostly at the DH position since returning from the DL. You have to give Beltran credit, he could have easily taken the surgery route and missed most of, if not all, of the season. But he has toughed it out and gotten himself back into a lineup that desperately needs him. Beltran, batting right-handed against the left-hander, gave one a ride over the left field wall for a walk-off win.
The Yankees are in the middle of an important part of their schedule. This stretch includes games mostly against divisional opponents who sit atop the AL East, making this win all the more important. This game should help the Yankees confidence and leave the Orioles down on themselves for letting one slip away. Let’s see if there will be an after effect as these two finish off their weekend series.
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was actual concern this spring that Derek Jeter may not return to form in 2014. Well, the captain is proving naysayers wrong with each game so far this season.
Jeter, who is playing in his final season, is off to a solid start at the plate. There has been little, if any, signs of rust as he is batting .294 with a .385 OBP so far this year. Once again, Jeter is on pace to produce the type of season we are used to seeing out of the captain. I think the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury has helped him a lot. Having a table-setter on base in front of him, opens up that hole on the right side, a spot he has made a career out of exposing. On top of Ellsbury leading things off, he also has Carlos Beltran hitting directly behind him for protection. Jeter should see plenty of quality pitches at the plate as long as he is surrounded by those two.
I understand the argument made that Jeter is hurting the team defensively. I understand it, but I don’t entirely agree with it. Are there ground balls that Jeter doesn’t get to anymore? Sure. But he still makes all of the plays that a SS is supposed to make. He won’t be winning a gold glove one last time, but the Yankees don’t need him too. He just needs to do what he has done for years, make the routine plays and keep running out there every day he’s capable of. Continue reading
Well it took 6 games to happen, but the Yankees finally hit a home run. I’m not sure what the bigger surprise was – that is took 6 games to happen or that Brett Garnder was the man to do it. Continue reading
What a difference a year can make. The 2014 Yankees lineup will consist of only one player (Brett Gardner) who was in the 2013 opening day lineup.
This offseason the Yankees came out swinging, spending over half a billion dollars to revamp this roster. Despite their spending spree, the Red Sox are still considered the favorites to repeat as division champions. Some analyst are even projecting the Rays to finish above the Yankees as well. I see this working to the Yankees benefit, sometimes being an underdog, and I use that term very loosely for a team with a $200 million dollar payroll, can be used as season long motivation.
- Brett Gardner CF
- Eduardo Nunez SS
- Robinson Cano 2B
- Kevin Youkilis 1B
- Vernon Wells LF
- Ben Francisco DH
- Ichiro Suzuki RF
- Jayson Nix 3B
- Francisco Cervelli C
Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia
- Jacoby Ellsbury CF
- Derek Jeter SS
- Carlos Beltran RF
- Brian McCann C
- Mark Teixeira 1B
- Alfonso Soriano DH
- Brett Gardner LF
- Brian Roberts 2B
- Kelly Johnson 3B
Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia
The biggest concern I have for this roster is if they can remain healthy. This is an aging roster with a long list of injuries up and down the lineup. Jeter and Teixeira are returning from injury plagued seasons, Brian Roberts hasn’t played a full season in a few years now and Jacoby Ellsbury is well-known to be injury prone. Brian McCann has also spent his share of time on the DL the past three seasons, which doesn’t bode well for a 30-year-old catcher.
If, and its a big if, they can remain healthy, I see no reason why the Yankees won’t be competing for a division title down the stretch and at the very least snag one of the wild card spots.
The Yankees have plenty of outfielders heading into this season, but one thing they don’t have on this roster is backup infielders. Alfonso Soriano, who is penciled in as the team DH, could help fill one of those voids as the backup first baseman.
“We have kicked it around a little bit,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Soriano, who came up a second baseman with the Yankees, have been an outfielder for the majority of his career. With the additions of Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury this off-season, Soriano was left as the odd man out. However, Soriano still possesses a valuable right-handed bat for this team and Girardi has to find ways to keep him in the lineup.
The Yankees have an aging roster, meaning the DH spot will have to be shifted around throughout the season. While I expect Soriano to see the majority of his time there, he will still see the occasional action in the outfield to give guys a day off. Mark Teixeira will be the everyday first baseman, but will still need to be rested, coming off a season in which he only played 15 games due to injury.
Kelly Johnson was originally thought to the backup corner infielder/bat off the bench, but with the suspension of Alex Rodriguez, he has found himself as the Yankees starting third baseman. This could open up a spot for Alfonso Soriano to slide in and spell Tex sparingly on his off days.
Soriano has been reluctant to the idea of an everyday DH, as he prefers to play both sides of the game. If he really means that, he will have to prove his is capable to Girardi this spring and put the work in to return to his infield roots. Soriano has never been known for his glove, but first base is a position you can give up some defense in order for offensive production. While he would never match the gold glove abilities of Teixeira, it’s an interesting thought in an effort to maximize the versatility of this roster.
With the way the off-season started, it appeared Brett Gardner’s future was bleak with the Yankees. Brian Cashman spent like a mad man, with a lot of that money going towards the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran were acquired to play CF and RF respectively, leaving Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro and Gardner vying for that third outfield spot. But with this extension, it seems the Yankees feel Gardner is a valuable piece of their future and seemingly handed him the job. One shocking fact about Brett Gardner, on opening day in 2015, he will be the longest tenured Yankee on the roster.
When reports first came out, many people, myself included, felt Gardner was heavily overpaid. I have always liked Gardner as a player, but never thought of him as worthy of a 4 year $52 million dollar contract. The most recent free agent that I could compare him to was Michael Bourn, who signed a 4 year deal for $48 million just last season. I went back to compare their numbers before receiving their deals:
2013 Brett Gardner (30 years old): .273 avg /.344 OBP/8 HR/52 RBI /24 SB
2012 Michael Bourn (30 years old): .274 avg /.348 OBP/9 HR/57 RBI /42 SB
As you can clearly see, their numbers are eerily similar. What isn’t shown here is their defense, but the two are both above average defenders who play on a similar level. The only difference that really stands out is the stolen base total. Bourn had far more success on the base path and has been a better base stealer throughout his whole career. Gardner may not be quite at his level, but he isn’t too far behind, as he did lead the AL in 2011 with 49 SB. Overall, you can definitely argue that Gardner didn’t deserve a contract greater than Bourn’s and I won’t disagree with you. My point is that their production levels aren’t that far off, making Gardner’s deal on point with market value.
I know the traditional feeling is you don’t pay players whose game revolves around their legs well into their 30’s, so only time will tell how this will play out for the Yankees. Gardner is a gritty type of player, who very rarely walks away from a game with a clean jersey. It’s important to have a few of these guys on your team, the combination of him alongside Jacoby Ellsbury will give the Yankees a very formidable defensive outfield. I don’t think this contract will be an issue for at least the first few seasons, but for a player like Gardner, that is only slow step away from changing.
One last thing, I hope Gardner has put this “glove” or whatever you want to call it, that he used on the bases in 2013 into retirement.
In case you’ve been in a coma, Alex Rodriguez has once again taken over the media landscape. You can find him on just about every network and see his face on the front and back page on any given day. And once again, it is for all the wrong reasons. I know the saying goes “Any publicity is good publicity”, but I beg the differ in this situation. For a team that is coming off a disappointing 2013 season, missing the playoffs for only the second time in the last 20 years, the Yankees should be looking for a clean slate in 2014.
AROD brought his circus on the road with him everywhere he went last year. He has now surpassed Barry Bonds and McGuire as the poster boy for Steroids in baseball, if not all of sports. His never-ending tabloid battle reached an all-time high in recently, after an arbitrator ruled him out for the entire 2014 season. Did anyone really expect him to walk away quietly from this? He instantly filed an injunction in federal court against Major League Baseball and is now suing his very own players union, claiming they “engaged in numerous acts that were arbitrary, capricious and taken in bad faith”. It official, AROD is now fighting this battle alone.
The biggest blow the Yankees look to overcome isn’t Alex Rodriguez, but rather how to overtake the defending World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox. If you remember just two years ago, the 2012 Red Sox season was more than a forgettable one. They finished in last place and had a season full of turmoil with Bobby Valentine leading the helm. There were grumblings of fights between players and the manager, the now infamous “chicken and beer” incident in their clubhouse and faced an onslaught of scrutiny from the media every step of the way. What did the Red Sox do? They wasted no time firing Bobby Valentine, the face of their new-found negative image and brought in guys like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Johnny Gomes. This revamped their clubhouse culture and changed how the team was viewed both on and off the field, giving them the fresh start they so desperately needed.
Now I would say the Yankees are trying to follow in their footsteps. It has been a busy off-season bringing in Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, all of which are hard-nosed players who will bring a different “feel” to this roster. But if the Yankees truly want a fresh start, they need to move on from the face of their own negativity, AROD. No matter what happens in the courtroom these next few months, they will be answering questions regarding him the entire season. It doesn’t matter if he is in uniform or not, he will still be in the news on a daily basis, making headlines for anything and everything, is that headache really worth it? As long as he is under a contract, he have an impact on this franchise.
I realize it’s easy for me to sit here and say just cut AROD and get it over with already, considering it isn’t my money being spent. Fair enough, I can’t argue with that. But assuming this 2014 suspension holds up, he will still be owed $61 million, before incentives, for the 2015-17 seasons. In my opinion, I feel that $61 million is best spent on ensuring he will be nowhere near this franchise. Let him go out and be someone else’s distraction, his numbers already show his production is on a steady decline and he will be 39-years-old by the time he is eligible to return. Sure they might suffer in 2014 with a hole at third base, but he wasn’t going to be here anyway. These are the New York Yankees, there’s no way you can tell me they won’t be able to find an able replacement by the start of the 2015 season.
The Yankees are the greatest franchise in all of sports, there’s no arguing that, but they are known for their off the field dramas as much as they are their World Series titles. From George Steinbrenner vs Billy Martin…Martin vs Reggie Jackson…Steinbrenner vs Dave Winfield…Steinbrenner vs MLB…Record breaking contracts … and now Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees always find a way to keep themselves in the spotlight. But now this story has grown old and if you want to give this team the best chance to win and earn the respect of america along the way, cut the most hated man in baseball.
This soap opera has run its course and I, along with millions of others, am ready for this program to be cancelled.