Curtis Granderson, who suffered a fractured right forearm as he was hit by a pitch the first game of spring training, will be called up from the team’s AAA affiliate, the Scranton RailRiders, today. He is one of 10 players currently on the disabled list.
It appears that Ben Francisco is going to be the player who will be designated for assignment once Granderson officially gets called up. Francisco deserves to be the outfielder to lose a spot on the team as he was only hitting .128 with one homer in 39 at bats. He was brought in after Granderson’s injury in spring training, but Francisco has not produced offensively as the Yankees had hoped.
Actually, Vidal Nuno, who pitched five shutout innings in the second game of the doubleheader yesterday, will be sent back down to the minors. Granderson’s return will improve the outfield depth and also mean that Travis Hafner will not have to play everyday at Designated Hitter.
The Yankees will now have four outfielders for three spots. Brett Gardner, (.252 and 5 steals) Ichiro Suzuki, (.254, 8 RBI and 5 steals) Vernon Wells (.299, 9 homers and 22 RBI) and Granderson (.232, 43 homers and 106 RBI) are the four outfielders who will be competing.
In five rehab games with the Scranton RailRiders, Granderson hit .400 with one homer and three RBI. This display proves that there is no point using his solid hitting in the minors instead of with the Yankees. During his game with Scranton on Monday, Granderson went 1-3 while playing left field for the RailRiders.
Wells has proven to be a great find by Cashman since the team desperately needed another outfielder coming out of spring training and he has basically been about to revert to the All-Star form he showed with the Blue Jays. He was injured for most of his time with the Angels.
He has been the team’s center fielder the previous three seasons, and has hit more than 40 homers in each of the past two seasons, so he deserves to play nearly everyday in the outfield. An added benefit is that Granderson played the three outfield positions in AAA, which gives Joe Girardi some flexibility. By virtue of his start to the season, Vernon Wells should continue to play everyday in left field.
That leaves Gardner and Ichiro to split time for the remaining outfield spots. Ichiro currently does not have a hit in his last 12 at bats, which should lead to the speedy Gardner getting more of the playing time. The Yankees also need Gardner to wreak havoc on the base paths like he is capable of doing. The outfield trio of Wells, Granderson and Gardner will give the Yankees a solid mix of power, defense and speed.
The only thing that Granderson will have to try and do is to limit his strikeouts since he had 195 last season.
Granderson will officially be back in the lineup tonight batting cleanup and playing left field.
After sweeping the three game weekend series against the Royals in Kansas City, the Yankees will now try to win both games of today’s double header against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland. These are makeup games from a rainouts in April.
The Yankees are currently one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East after having won their past five games (they also won the final two games against the Rockies). With both wins of the double dip they could stretch the winning streak to seven.
It is not ideal that they will now have to play a double header because the Yankees have very little quality depth as a result of all of the injuries. However, they have proven to be a resilient team as a result of the replacements playing winning baseball.
The team will utilize the new 26th roster spot for the double header as Corban Joseph, who is making his big league debut, will play first base in the first game, giving Lyle Overbay a needed day off, and second base in the second game, giving Robinson Cano a needed breather. Cano will DH is Game 2. Joseph’s natural position is second and has a .270 average with four homers for AAA.
Joseph’s time with the big club will be short lived as he will have to leave the luxury of the Yankees and go back to AAA after the game.
Alberto Gonzalez, who played 11 games for the Cubs this season, will also be making his Yankees debut as he will be playing shortstop in place of Jayson Nix. Nix was playing instead of Eduardo Nunez (on the DL with a left ribcage tightness) who was playing as a result of Derek Jeter being on the DL.
The Indians are also in first place. They are tied with Tigers with a 20-15 record. Today is an anomaly in Cleveland, in terms of double headers, as one admission will get fans into both games. This will be like the double headers that were regularly scheduled more than 20 years ago.
Vidal Nuno will be making his first major league start in Game 2. in his only appearance of the season, against the Astros, he threw three shutout innings in relief. You never know what you will get out of rookies making their first start, but Nuno had a 1.54 ERA in four starts for AAA Scranton. He also had an outstanding 26 strikeouts to only two walks.
Here is the lineup and pitching matchup for Game 1:
12:05 p.m. YES Network
David Phelps (1-1, 5.02 ERA and allowed two runs in six innings in his last start) vs. RHP. Justin Masterson (3-3, 2.63 ERA). Masterson is Cleveland’s best pitcher.
Brett Gardner CF .259
Ichiro Suzuki LF .263
Robinson Cano 2B .311
Travis Hafner DH .269
Brennan Boesch RF .205
Chris Nelson 3B .172
Corban Joseph 1B .000
Chris Stewart C .254
Alberto Gonzalez SS .000
Game 2 will start about 20 minutes after Game 1 finishes.
In winning a game that was delayed by rain against they Colorado Rockies, 3-1, Robinson Cano yet again proved that he is the offensive player that the team can least afford to lose. Cano’s 5th inning homer, which moved him past Paul O’Neil for 17th place on the Yankees’ all-time home run list with 186, helped the team win the series.
In the third inning, Cano hit a single up the middle, which turned into his 1,500th career hit. That hit came almost exactly eight years after his first hit as he picked up a single off of Hideo Nomo on May 4, of 2005.
However, upon reading the inscription of the ball, he realized it was not the ball that was his 1,500th hit. It was a lighthearted moment in the middle of the win because the Yankeed had played a prank on the star second baseman.
After a slow start, he seem like he will be in the MVP consideration by the end of the year. He has been critical to the team’s surprising 20-13 record and has easily been the best offensive player on a team that has been without Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli for all or part of the season.
This game, along with many others this season, was highlighted by a bullpen that limited the opposition. After Sabathia allowed a run in four innings, but then didn’t com back after the long rain delay, five pitcher combine to pitch five shutout innings. It was highlighted by Adam Warren, who picked up his first win by pitching 1.2 innings after the delay, and Mariano Rivera, who threw a perfect ninth inning and picked up his 13th save in 13 chances this season.
The trip to Denver saw the Yankees play an unusual series as Austin Romine hit behind the pitcher, David Phelps, on Wednesday, and CC Sabathia only pitched four innings because of rain, combined with it being a very low scoring series, but a series win is always desirable. The Yankees actually won the series even though they only scored six runs.
Joe Girardi’s team is now in Kansas City where they will play a weekend series against the Royals. The Royals (18-13) are half a game behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central. They lost their last series to the Orioles, but it looks like the Royals have turned the corner as a result of their improved pitching.
The catching position has become a position of need for the Yankees as a result of Francisco Cervelli going on the 60-day disabled list with a fractured wrist. He will likely not be back until sometime in July. The current starter, Chris Stewart, has one hit in his last nine at bats. He started the season off hitting well in limited action backing up Cervelli, but Stewart is now batting only .256 in 15 games.
Austin Romine, who was called up from AAA Scranton when Cervelli went on the disabled list, is similar to Romine in that he is more known for his defense than his offensive ability. Ideally, the catcher should be able to help the team in both facets. Romine has always been a quality prospect since he was a second round pick by the team in 2007, was a participant in the All-Star Futures Game in 2010 and was voted the organization’s second best prospect in 2010.
Joe Giradi has not had much confidence in playing Romine, which will mean that Stewart could become less and less reliable. Stewart is also best suited to be a reserve. This is why it hurt the Yankees so much when Cervelli was injured last week because he was having a solid all around season.
However, Romine clearly has not developed like the team thought he would. It is still possible that he will, but Romine is now 24, and the Yankees have other quality catching prospects in the minor leagues, which means that it is worth exploring other options. He has only hit .136 in his at bats that he has had with the team in 2011 and 2013. However, the Yankees might be able to find a team who will believe that his offensive abilities will turn around.
The Yankees should target Nick Hundley, who is the starting catcher for the San Diego Padres. The Padres, who are currently 13-18 and in last place in the NL West, will be looking to sell and not buy leading up to the trade deadline. Ideally, the Yankees will acquire a catcher in the beginning of June.
Candidates to be traded for Nick Hundley include David Adams and Corban Joseph, who are currently second baseman for the AAA RailRiders, since All-Star Robinson Cano who will be their second baseman for a long time. Austin Romine could also be included in the trade since he might fare better in a less pressurized environment. The Padres need all of the prospects that they can get.
The Padres also have Yasmani Grandal, who is their catcher of the future, who hit .297 in 60 games last season for San Diego, so it would make sense for the Padres to trade Hundley. Grandal could return as the starting catcher when he is eligible to return from his 50-game suspension. Hundley is hitting .297 with three homers so far this season.
Hundley hit .288 in 2011, after a sub-par 2012 that saw Grandal play instead, and is showing signs of being more consistent.
These are the starters that the Yankees and Athletics (16-13) will send out during the three-game weekend series. These will be the final three games of the 10-game home stand that the Yankee have had. They have so far gone 6-1.
Tonight at 7:05 p.m.
Ace of the staff CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.35 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (2-2, 4.65 ERA)
Saturday at 1:05 p.m.
The resurgent Phil Hughes (0-2, 4.67 ERA) vs. the ageless former Yankee, Bartolo Colon (3-0, 3.38 ERA)
Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
Andy Pettitte (3-2, 3.86 ERA), who is coming off his first sub-par start of the season will be opposed by Dan Straily (1-0, 6.35 ERA)
In more disabled list news, Joba Chamberlain was put on the 15-day DL as a result of a strained oblique. Relief pitcher Preston Claiborne was called up from AAA Scranton to replace him on the roster. He can add more depth in the bullpen.
However, he will not be able to be relied upon like Joba Chamberlain was. Claiborne deserved to be called up because he had 10 strikeouts and only one walk in 10.1 innings pitched for the RailRiders. With Robertson sidelined for this series it seems like Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan will setup Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees (17-10) have also recently called up Vidal Nuno from their AAA affiliate. With the recent injuries to Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova and Chamberlain the Bronx Bombers now have a grand total of 10 players on the disabled list. They have shown the ability to overcome adversity so far this season since all of the major replacements have performed admirably. One player the Yankees can’t afford to have injured is Robinson Cano, who leads the team in average, homers, RBI and runs.
In CC Sabathia’s last start he allowed three runs in eight innings in a win against Toronto. He is the pitcher that the Yankees want pitching tonight because he should be able to limit the innings pitched from the bullpen. Griffin has struggled this season for the A’s, but in 2012 he had a 3.06 ERA, which means the Yankees could have to play small ball. For the A’s, Coco Crisp has eight steals for far, so Austin Romine and Chris Stewart will have to contain him on the base paths.
The Yankees appear to have the edge tonight and on Sunday, but Saturday’s game could go either way because their lineup has a lot of experience hitting against Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes might not be able to continue his streak of allowing two runs his past three outings.
The Yankees concluded the three game set against the Houston Astros with a 5-4 victory. Mariano Rivera picked up his eleventh save in 11 chances helping the Yankees improve to an impressive 17-10 record on the season.
A sweep of the three game set against the Astros, who are currently 8-20, would have been ideal, but even though the Astros do not have the most imposing offense Andy Pettitte was due for an off game on Monday. He came into the contest with an excellent ERA of 2.22, reminding fans of the way Pettitte pitched earlier in his career, but his ERA now sits at 3.86.
The Yankees currently have a grand total of eight regulars on the DL, which makes it even more impressive that they have 17 wins in their first 27 games. Brian Cashman should get a lot of credit for acquiring players before the team left Florida who have been able to replace the starters in an exemplary manner so far.
One of Cashman’s off-season signings, Ben Francisco, has not worked out like his others so far, but he did hit a solo home run in the third inning that would help the Bronx Bombers take a 4-0 early advantage. Francisco was brought to the Yankees to provide a productive righty bat off the bench, so hopefully his walk and homer will help him be more productive.
Ichiro was the only Yankee with two hits and Robinson Cano hit his eighth home run of the season. That solo homer by Cano was his 185th of his career, which ties Paul O’Neil for 17th place on the all-time list of the storied franchise. Besides Francisco and Cano, the other runs were scored by Ichiro, Travis Hafner and Eduardo Nunez.
David Phelps, who made his first start of the campaign, as a result of Ivan Nova being put on the disabled list, allowed four runs in 5.2 innings. He fell apart in the fourth inning as he hit two batters and allowed all four of Houston’s runs, but was successfully able to limit any further damage in the fifth inning.
As has happened many times the past few weeks the bullpen was basically flawless. Over 3.1 innings, the trio of Boone Logan, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for four strikeouts, two hits and no runs. This excellent relief pitching should last all season, but is even more necessary while the Yankees are without their offensive stars.
However, Vernon Wells (.298 and 6 homers), Lyle Overbay (4 homers), Travis Hafner (.304 and 17 RBI) and Kevin Youkilis when he was healthy, have performed better than expected and have been instrumental in the team getting off to the start that they have. It seems like Curtis Granderson will return to the Yankees in about two-three weeks after after a rehab stint with about 50 at-bats.
Granderson’s return will present a dilemma for manager Joe Girardi because they will have four quality starters for three outfield spots. It will depend on who stays hot, but Ichiro will likely be put into a platoon as a result of how much Wells is helping offensively.
The Yankees have an off day on Thursday and then conclude the 10 game home stand with a three game series against the Oakland Athletics. It will be their first series of the year agains Oakland who has the seventh best record in the league (16-13).
Update: On Wednesday, The Yankees acquired Chris Nelson, who can play second and third base, from the Rockies for cash considerations or a player to be named later. He was hitting .242, with six runs scored and four RBI so far this season. He is a former first-round pick in 2004 who was recently designated for assignment by the Rockies. He will be able to give Cano or Jayson Nix a day off, which the Yankees were not able to do previously with their injury situation.
7:05 p.m. Tonight
Andy Pettitte (3-1, 2.22 ERA) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (2-2, 4.08 ERA)
7:05 p.m. on Tuesday
Hiroki Kuroda (3-1, 2.79 ERA) vs. RHP Philip Humber (0-5, 7.99 ERA)
7:05 p.m. on Wednesday
David Phelps (1-1, 5.29 ERA) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (0-2, 7.98 ERA)
The Yankees (15-8) come into this series having swept the last place Toronto Blue Jays in a four game series. The Blue Jays were expected to finish first or second in the AL East, but they have underperformed so far. However, their defense is unreliable that even if their pitching does come around it will make it very difficult to rebound from their 9-17 start to the season. The Yankees received big home runs from Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay in the series, and Mariano Rivera saved three out of the four games. In the game on Sunday, Phil Hughes allowed only two runs, which was his third consecutive start limiting the opposition to that number. This is how the Yankees need him to pitch.
While the Yankees come into the series playing better than expected, the Astros have the worst record in the American League, which is where they were expected to be. They are in rebuilding mode, with more of their veterans likely to be traded away by the trade deadline, so the Yankees should be able to win all three games. Houston can’t match up with the trio of Pettitte, Kuroda and Phelps. Houston’s average actually ranks as high as 10th out of 15 AL teams, while the Yankees have the seventh best average, but New York’s starters and dominating relief pitching will give them the edge.
Pettitte allowed only two runs and struck out an impressive 10 Jays last week, Kuroda picked up the win after allowing three runs against Toronto and Phelps struck out nine batters in relief of Nova in only four innings. Somebody new has been stepping up offensively every game for the Yankees and the pitching will face a team with fewer offensive weapons than the Blue Jays.
Also, The Yankees are 8-1 in their last nine games against the Astros. This is their first year in the American League.
It is fitting that on the day that the Yankees celebrated Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, the last remaining MLB player wearing the number 42, Mariano Rivera, picked up another save for the team. Every Yankee wore the number 42 during the 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, which was in honor of Jackie Robinson. Rivera recorded his third save of the season and 611th of his Hall of Fame career.
Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow, who started the influential Jackie Robinson Foundation, said that she is a “little sad” that Rivera will be retiring and taking the esteemed number 42 with him. She has always said that Rivera plays the game the right way and is the right person to wear Jackie’s number. (Rivera was grandfathered in as he was wearing the number before it was retired across baseball in 1997.) In the Daily News story, Rachel Robinson said that Rivera is carries himself with class and is determined just like Jackie Robinson was.
It is also noteworthy that Robinson Cano, who is named after Jackie Robinson and wears the uniform number 24 since it is the reversal of 42, hit a home run to deep right center in the fourth that drove in Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart. That homer essentially won the game for the Yanks because it made the score 3-2. After getting off to a slow start, Cano now has four homers and 11 RBI in his last six games. His average is a solid .327. Based on his last six games, Cano is on his way to being named an All-Star for the fifth time.
It was also a positive game from the pitching standpoint as Ivan Nova was able to rebound from his first start by allowing two runs instead of four. He was not dominant as he only lasted five innings, but Nova gave the Yankees a chance to win the game.
Also, it can’t be forgotten that the Yankees organization handled themselves with class once again as they had a moment of silence before the game and played “Sweet Caroline” after the third inning to honor the victims from the tragic Boston Marathon bombing.
C.C. Sabathia (2-1, 2.25 ERA) will get the start tonight against the Diamondbacks.
The American League East will be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, but the other teams in the division do have their question marks.
The Toronto Blue Jays had what might be the best off-season in baseball, but, based on last season, the team with the most high profile acquisitions does not necessarily translate to on-field success. Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson were previously on the Miami Marlins, and the team struggled while they were on the roster. Buerhle has been consistently solid throughout his career, but he has pitched more than 200 innings in each of the past 13 seasons, so some regression can be expected. He will also be moving from the NL East to the offensively superior AL East. Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes, who the Blue Jays will be counting on to perform at a high level, have the potential to be All-Stars, but also have a history of being plagued by injuries. They also acquired knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in a blockbuster trade with the Mets during the off-season. It appears that he has mastered the pitch, based on pitching three dominating season for the Mets, and being awarded the CY Young last season, but one never knows when a pitcher will lose command of the knuckleball. It does appear that on paper the Blue Jays will finish in first place, but based on what has happened to previous teams, many factors could prevent that from happening.
The Orioles have one of the best managers in baseball in Buck Showalter, who was instrumental in getting them to the postseason for the first time since 1997. However, they were lucky last season since had only a +7 run differential, which was last among all playoff qualifiers. Also, they were 29-9 in games decided by one run and 16-2 in extra-inning games. They do have some promising young players in Matt Wieters, Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, as well as the established trio of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts, but I think they will finish with about 85 wins as opposed to 93 wins from last season because the pitching is not very strong and there is no way that they will win as many one run games. The Tampa Bay Rays are without the production of James Shields and B.J. Upton, but the Rays still have one of the best pitching staffs led by David Price and Jeremy Hellickson and a lineup led by Evan Longoria that gets the job done. The Rays, who are managed by the unorthodox, but at the same time highly effective, Joe Maddon, have won 90 or more games in four out of the past five years (three times in the playoffs). They are due for a 90 win season. Finally, after their dismantling of the Yankees this afternoon, the Red Sox are somewhat unknown. They don’t have the star power that they used to have, but Red Sox Nation still has Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Jaccoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and an injured David Ortiz. They have an intriguing rookie in Jackie Bradley Jr. to combine with sophomore Will Middlebrooks at third. Their new manager, who used to be their pitching coach, will try to stabilize a rotation without much depth. Boston should win about 88 games.
The Yankees will need to win 90 or more games in order to qualify for the playoffs. The second Wild Card will likely either come out of the Al East or the potent Al West. They will need to hope to sneak in as a Wild Card because it isn’t likely that they will win the division like last season.
1. The Orioles will need to regress to the record that their run differential said they should have been last season. This could very well happen since they did not add any significant off-season additions. The Yankees will need the Blue Jays to win closer to 90 games than 100. It will also be a boost to the Yankees if the new Red Sox manager, John Gibbons, is not able to help the rotation like expected. If the Orioles regress as expected, the Yankees need to win 10 or 11 games against Baltimore.
2. Since the Yankees will not be hitting as many homers as last season, (as a result of the off-season departures, not signing any marquee free agents and the previous injuries) they will need to have a top three defense in the league. They will need to prevent as many runs as possible. Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart need to limit the passed balls while throwing out a high percentage of potential base stealers. Since it appears that Eduardo Nunez will be playing more in the field than anticipated (as a result of Jeter’s injury), he will need to make accurate throws while making the challenging and routine plays. He has struggled with his defense the past few seasons. The outfield defense, once Granderson returns, should be one of the best in the league (although Gardner does not have the strongest arm).
3. The Yankees will need to improve their clutch hitting. Just like they will have to have a top three defense, the Yankees will also need to be near the top of the league when there are runners in scoring position, in addition to hitting with two outs and men on base. They will need to hit and run and advance runners when the opportunity arises. They will not really be able to rely on the homer, especially until Granderson and Teixeira return, so they will have to play fundamental baseball to perfection. The Yankees will not come close to the 245 homers that they slugged last season, so they will need to play fast, which means that Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Nunez will be important parts of the offense.
4. In terms of the rotation, the Yankees will need CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and David Phelps to perform as good as or better than last season. Hughes will make a start for Triple-A Scranton and should be able rejoin the team next week against the Indians. They should have one of the top rotations and bullpens in baseball, which will be necessary based on the offense. Finally, if all of the above occurs, in addition to Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira and Hughes not having any setbacks and the roster not having to go through another major injury, they could win about 90 games. Optimistically, it seems that the Yankees could finish in second or third place (ahead of Boston and Baltimore) in the division giving them a chance at a Wild Card.
This is a year when everybody who is healthy will have to raise their level of play as a result of injuries and not having as much talent as previous years. In 2013, the Yankees will need to be a team known for their pitching, defense and clutch hitting. Before the 2013 season, the Yankees have made the playoffs in 18 out of the last 19 seasons.
One can hope that the opening day starter, CC Sabathia, can repeat his stats from last season, where he picked 15 wins, had a 3.38 ERA and 197 strikeouts. Luckily, Sabathia did not show any signs of losing his stuff or velocity last season. One can also be optimistic that the injured stars on the team – Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes – will not have any setbacks in their recovery or will even return to health in a faster manner. Finally, the Yankees will need to hope that that their very experienced replacements in the Opening Day lineup will be able to perform capably, while not repeating the stats that they put forth last season. In the Opening Day lineup against the rival Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez will be replacing Jeter at shortstop, Vernon Wells will be filing in for Granderson in left field and Kevin Youkilis will be replacing Teixeira at first base (he is also expected to play third base).
Alex Rodriguez is also injured as a result of having to get surgery on his hip, but I don’t consider him a star anymore. Youkilis, who was brought to the Yankees after it was determined that A-Rod would return no earlier than July, could be just as good if he can turn back the clock. Youkilis will hopefully be able to duplicate his performance from 2011 when he hit .258 and drove in 80 runs for the Red Sox.
This is the Opening Day lineup that the Yankees will send out against the Red Sox in the Bronx at 1:05 p.m.
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