Despite all of the injury problems the Yankees have faced this season, they have continued to keep themselves in the playoff hunt. While general manager Brian Cashman made some nice additions around the trading deadline, he was unable to land that “game changer” type of player.
Although there wasn’t a big name brought in, the Yankees could soon be receiving a jolt from within their own roster. Mashiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, the early season 1-2 punch in the rotation, each received good news this week regarding their rehab. Pineda, completed his first assignment and is scheduled to throw two more before a possible big league return. While Tanaka, threw a baseball for the first time in a month yesterday to positive results. Although his return would be roughly a month away, he could very well prove to be the difference maker they need down the stretch.
Cashman, did a fine job adding the pieces he did with such limited resources. Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy have quickly made an impact, while Martin Prado and Stephen Drew added some much-needed versatility to the roster. But the moves he didn’t make could turn into his finest of them all. The Yankees farm system is already well depleted. Trading for a rental player would have only sent their system back even further than it already is. Waiting on the rehabbing Tanaka and Pineda could prove to be the best decision he makes this year.
If the Yankees are able to stay in contention until the cavalry arrives, high praise will not only be in order for the job Cashman has done, but Joe Girardi as well. Girardi has once again proven himself to be a top-tier manager in the game today. He continues to get production out of his rosters, no matter who is on the disabled list.
Look for the Yankees to make things interesting down the stretch, especially if Tanaka and Pineda return to their earlier form.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Yankees rotation, after the injury to Ivan Nova and suspension of Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia has continued to struggle. Not only are they not improving, Sabathia took a big step backwards with his last start.
On Sunday against the Rays, Sabathia lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing 5 ER on 10 hits. That’s a stat line that just isn’t going to cut it, especially when you are expected to be a top of the rotation starter. Sabathia now sits with a 3-4 record and 5.75 ERA on the year.
When Manager Joe Girardi came to take the ball from Sabathia in the fourth inning, he was given an unfamiliar greeting from the fans. Sabathia, who has long been a fan favorite and ace of this team, was showered with boos from the stands. After the game he addressed that:
“I would’ve booed myself, too,” Sabathia said. “I’m just as tough on myself, too, as any other fan. I wouldn’t want to come to the ballpark and watch that.”
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
On April 10th, Michael Pineda made headlines for an apparent illegal substance on his throwing hand in his start against the Red Sox. Although it was seen by millions watching on TV, no action was taken by the Red Sox or the umpiring crew. Well, things changed quite a bit two weeks later.
After struggling in the first inning, allowing two runs in the bottom of the first, Pineda figured he’d try something different. In the second inning, he took his place back on the mound, but with an obvious appearance change. John Farrell came out to ask the umpiring crew to inspect Pineda, after a thorough search of his glove, hands, jersey and neck, the crew chief clearly saw something he didn’t approve of. Pineda was thrown out of the ball game without any argument from himself or manager Joe Girardi.
According to MLB rule 8.02, a pitcher may not use a “foreign substance” on the baseball. Violation of 8.02 is mandatory 10-game suspension, which means two starts.
The substance was smeared on the right side of his neck, which wouldn’t be visible to the Red Sox dugout. Was that just a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. I really don’t know what could have been going through Pineda’s head. After clearly getting away with it just two weeks ago, why risk it a second time around? Continue reading
One of the biggest questions entering this season for the Yankees was – Can CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda return to their “ace” form? Well, it appears that may not be completely necessary. Today the Yankees new 1-2 punch, consisting of Mashiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, led the way throwing a combined 14 shutout innings in a sweep of the Cubs.
When the Yankees signed Tanaka, Brian Cashman tried to downplay expectations, labeling him as a middle of the rotation starter. Yeah, right. We all know the Yankees history of opening up their check book to bring in the game’s top talent, but even the Yankees wouldn’t lay out $155 million to a guy they expect to be at best a #3 starter. As of right now, Tanaka has been as good as advertised, if not better. He has quickly put the league on notice, striking out 28 batters in his first 3 starts. Whether Cashman wants to admit it or not, the Yankees brought him in to be the team’s ace. So far, so good. Continue reading
While flipping between the Mets and Yankee game last night, I couldn’t help but do a double take at Michael Pineda’s pitching hand. I froze the TV and snapped a picture (as seen above). My father and I began to look at it with a little bit of a laughter and disbelief that no one was doing anything about this. If you’re going to “cheat,” at least do a better job of hiding it.
By the time I took to twitter to discuss this, the topic was already trending in the NY area. How could such a blatant display of disregard for the rules go unnoticed by the field officials? It felt like everyone was fixated on staring at Pineda’s hand, everyone but the Red Sox and Umpires that is. Continue reading
Shortly after the Yankees 4-2 home opener win against the Orioles, Manager Joe Girardi put a damper on the day. Closer David Robertson has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List with a groin strain.
Robertson is in the midst of his first year as the Yankees closer, after replacing the great Mariano Rivera. He had been off to a strong start, throwing 3 scoreless innings while recording his first two save opportunities. The Yankees bullpen was already full of inexperienced late inning arms, which now leaves the closer role in a bit of turmoil. Continue reading
With the way the Yankees have laid out their pitching for the rest of this week, it appears the rotation has been set to begin the 2014 season. C.C. Sabathia will throw on opening day followed by Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova in the Yankees opening series against the Astros. Mashiro Tanaka will be slid into the 4th spot and will make his major league debut against the Blue jays on April 4th. Joe Girardi also announced that Michael Pineda has earned the 5th and final spot in the rotation.
Although it sounds weird to have a pitcher who just signed a contract for $155 million as fourth in your rotation, there are a few reasons behind this. One being that Tanaka is simply not used to the American 5 man rotation. The way the Yankees early season schedule is configured, this will give Tanaka a few extra days rest throughout the month, allowing him to ease into this transition. You also have to take into account the similarities in Tanaka and Kuroda’s repertoire, it wouldn’t be wise to pitch them in back-to-back games, or even in the same series for that matter, and this should help minimize that occurrence.
One final factor, in my opinion, is this helps him avoid the Red Sox during their two matchups in April. I know what you’re thinking, why wouldn’t you want potentially your best pitcher to take on your biggest rival? I think the Yankees are trying their best to allow him to ease into the season and let him get battle tested before pitching meaningful games against the Sox down the stretch.
Once the season really gets going, it won’t really matter what game Tanaka started to begin the year. These slots are interchangeable and are just something that cause unnecessary arguments until we have actual baseball games to talk about. If this were a postseason rotation, then yes it might be a big deal, but we’ll have that conversation when/if the time comes.
In an ESPN article that I had to read twice to believe, the Yankees announced Will Kunz, Manager of Scouting, will be leaving the Yankees. Kunz, who isn’t even 30 yet, has risen to a prominent position with the most prestigious franchise in all of sports. His reason for leaving? The MLS came calling.
Now I can’t EVER imagine leaving a high-ranking job with a professional baseball team, let alone the Yankees, for a professional soccer league. Granted the league is growing, with popularity rising at a moderate rate in the states. But soccer is not baseball in America, it may be “the worlds game”, but it will always rank towards the bottom of the barrel here.
Brian Cashman had a few choice words for Kunz’s before he official announced his departure. “He is an extremely talented guy,” said Cash “He had a seat at the table” referring to his prominent position. It is well-known that Kunz had Cashman’s ear and was involved in many of this off seasons moves made. You would think a star rising in the organization like that would be on the fast track to even greener pastures in professional baseball. But it appears there was something he wanted even more than this.
Kunz accepted the position as Director of Player Relations with the MLS. “It was the one opportunity outside of baseball that would make me leave here,” Kuntz said.
At the end of the day, will this have any real effect on the Yankees? No, probably not. I just found it interesting to hear of someone making a move like this. But after all this was HIS dream, but mine.
Michael Pineda was impressive in his first spring start yesterday afternoon. In 2 2/3 innings against the Orioles, he held them scoreless while striking out 5 of the 11 batters he faced.
Hist fastball settled into the 89-90 mph range, but did hit as high as 92-93 on the radar gun. All signs point to Pineda being 100% healthy and well on his way to winning the 5th starter battle for the Yankees.
Assuming he does win the job, it is unfair to expect to get a full season workload from a pitcher who has missed much of the last 2 seasons. Although the Yankees haven’t presented any formal innings limit on Pineda yet, it is likely the front office has a plan in place.
“Hypothetically, let’s just say he was a starter at some point, you’d have to adjust, because you’re not going to get 200 innings out of him,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “I know they’ve talked about it. I’m sure if it becomes a factor and he’s part of our club, we’re going to have to see how it works.”
Whatever the case may be, The Yankees are all smiles from what Pineda has shown them so far this spring.
Watch the highlights from Pineda’s start below:
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.
The Yankees announced that they have reached an agreement to bring back Joe Girardi as manager. The deal is said to be worth $16 million over the next four seasons, with incentive bonuses built into the contract.
There had been speculation that Girardi may pursue other opportunities, such as the vacancy with his hometown Chicago Cubs. The Yankees had Girardi under contract through October 31st and stated they intended to move quickly on retaining their manager. I was a bit surprised that Joe didn’t hold out to at least hear offers from the Cubs, and maybe the Nationals, to create a bit of contract leverage for his services. Nonetheless, the Yankees clearly wanted Girardi to return and they wasted no time in resolving this issue.
Girardi’s short, but successful, stop with the Florida Marlins proved he could coach any baseball team, despite the payroll. The Marlins had the lowest payroll in all of baseball in 2006 and yet Girardi kept his squad in the wild card hunt on his way to earning 2006 National League Manager of the Year. Jeffrey Loria did not see eye-to-eye with Girardi and let him go following a successful first managerial season. He quickly became a hot name for all managerial openings but chose to go into broadcasting for YES before replacing Joe Torre a year later.
I constantly hear grumblings from Yankee fans that they hoped Don Mattingly would be the next manager of this team, in the event that he is let go by the Dodgers. Most of that is caused by the love affair many fans have with Mattingly’s from his playing days, but sometimes it is best to keep emotions out of rash decisions. I can’t sit here and act like I have always thought of Girardi as a top-tier manager myself, but it is hard to argue against his very successful track record. The Yankees have the best record in all of baseball since his hiring in 2008, capped off by a World Series Championship in 2009.
The argument can be made that he tends to over manage ballgames, and has earned the nickname “Binder Joe” for constantly searching through his binder of stats to find the best match-ups. This is the new age of baseball, managers going with their “gut feeling” is a thing of the past, like it or not, and Girardi is keen on creating his preferred situational match-ups. He may go a bit over the top at times, but he does seem to be right more often than not.
In my opinion, this was a no brainer to bring Girardi back. He has proven he can handle the most pressure packed managerial position in all of baseball, which is something few can say. That being said, this is the Yankees, and only winning championships can assure Girardi is around to complete all 4 years of this contract.
*On a side note, this now means the Yankees have both Joe Girardi and AROD under contract through the 2017 season, in case you were wondering.
The Yankees front office seems to be taking a page from Alex Rodriguez these days, as they continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Private conversations and personnel decisions have been becoming more and more public recently, which is leaving many to question if ownership and Brian Cashman are on the same page.
Before yesterday’s game, Joe Girardi told reporters Derek Jeter would be playing in a simulated game before deciding if he was ready to rejoin the team. But, he would not reveal the location. This has many asking the obvious question, Why not? What does protecting the location of a simulated game really accomplish? This comes off as odd to me and has me curious who made the decision to not inform the media where the game would be held. It’s not like an army of reporters would have quickly fled to Staten Island, where the game was actually held, to watch Jeter. Even if they did, what was the worst that was going to happen, he gets asked how he felt and if he is ready to rejoin the team? Pretty sure Jeter would have been able to handle these minuscule questions.
It became even clearer later in the day that there are conflicting views of what direction this team should be going. Brian Cashman let his true feelings be heard to Joel Sherman of the New York post over the Alfonso Soriano trade:
“I would say we are in a desperate time,” Cashman told the Post. “Ownership wants to go for it. I didn’t want to give up a young arm. But I understand the desperate need we have for offense. And Soriano will help us. The bottom line is this guy makes us better. … This is what Hal wants, and this is why we are doing it.”
Ownership overruling Cashman is nothing new, just think back to when the Alex Rodriguez extension was forced upon him. The move for Soriano cost them pitching prospect Corey Black. It’s not like Black was being regarded as a big piece of the future for this franchise. In my opinion, this was Cashman venting a little bit as his frustration is beginning o catch up with him.
It was well documented that ownership wanted to have the Yankees below the Luxury tax and restock from within, but this move says otherwise. If George was still around, no one would even think twice about this move. He would willingly take a chance on such a player without blinking. If it didn’t work out? So what, move on and go sign someone else. Those days were suppose to be behind us. Cashman was supposed to be the one making decisions now, but you have to be doubting that after this recent power struggle.
This season has been one giant headache for Cashman, and if ownership continues to run this team in such a manner, it might be best if these two part ways at the end of the season.
Since being placed back in the starting rotation, Ivan Nova has made four straight quality starts. Over that span he has lowered his era from 5.16 to 3.63 and has quickly made himself someone Girardi can hand the ball to every fifth day.
His last two starts weren’t just quality, they were great. Nova threw a complete game against the Orioles last week, allowing just two runs on three hits with 11 strikeouts. Last night, he followed that up by going eight innings surrounding just one run with 6 strikeouts against the Royals. Nova has combined for 17 strikeouts in his last 17 innings pitched, which is excellent.
Pitching has been the least of the Yankees problems this season. Overall the staff has thrown quite well, the offense is what has been letting this team down. If the bats do ever wake up for an extended period of time, the Yankees will rise right back up the standings if they can continue to pitch at this rate.
The recent success Nova is having is a great sign for the Yankees future. With CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte all either in the back end or end of their careers, it is important to have an influx of youth in the rotation. The Yankees will look to have the 26-year-old Nova and 24-year-old Michael Pineda, when he returns to full health, as starters they can count on for years to come.
In the latest news from the walking tabloid that is Alex Rodriguez, he has finally caused Brian Cashman to let down his guard on how he really feels about the former MVP.
When AROD first joined twitter, I could not have been happier. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time until he embarrassed the Yankees and himself over the widely popular social media outlet.
On Monday Cashman was asked about rumored reports that AROD was ready to start a rehab assignment which he answered replied with “He has not been cleared by our doctors to play in rehab games yet,” said Cashman. “He’s getting closer. There’s no doubt about it. But we don’t have a date for him to start playing games yet. It could be July 1. It could also be July 5 or maybe June 25.”
Now he did throw that June 25 date in there, but he was clearly saying that in a sarcastic tone to reporters as if to say nothing has been decided.
AROD has been on twitter roughly a month now and has stuck to posting brief messages with photos on the progress of his rehab down in Tampa. Yesterday he posted this…
Brian Cashman did not take a liking to this self proclaimed announcement that AROD is ready to start playing in games. His response when a reporter informed him of the tweet “You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, we will” Cashman said. “Alex should just shut the f— up. That’s it. I’m calling him now”
This is what Joe Girardi had to say regarding the matter and Yankee protocol on rehabbing players:
“There is always a chain of command with injuries,” Yankees manager Joe Giardi said after the Yankees’ 5-3 win on Tuesday. “And there has to be. That is the process. It goes through our training staff, our doctors, our GM and then it probably gets to me.”
Now Rodriguez released a statement stating that he is going to comply with whatever the Yankees want him to do and that the tweet was simply a form of excitement. Whatever the real reason was, whether it was to force the Yankees hand in allowing him to begin a rehab assignment or not, the front office is clearly not pleased.
With an ongoing investigation looming on AROD’s full involvement with the Miami Biogensis clinic, I’m sure the Yankees would love to keep him off the field. The only problem? The Yankees are so decimated by injuries that they need his bat in the line up.
Stay tuned for this story to further develop and be sure to follow AROD on twitter as he surely will provide us with another story shortly.