There is uncertainty right now about if Huroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano will be back with the Yankees next season. This is because they have all declined their qualifying offers. However, it seems one can bank on Swisher not returning to the Bronx.
They were all productive during the regular season, but Swisher has been basically invisible in the postseason with the Yankees. He hit a decent .250 in the three-game sweep to the Tigers and slugged .333 in the ALDS against the Twins in 2010. However, his six other playoff series while with the Bronx Bombers include pathetic offensive production never exceeding .211 (.111, .091, .133, .150, .083).
The Yankees will be trying to advance to the World Series next season and they do not need players that can’t be relied upon in the postseason. Swisher is a fan favorite and a favorite of mine because of how he deals with fans and the media. He seems to always give all out effort on the bases and in the outfield, but Swisher does invariably make questionable decisions and his arm is not the best.
He is not worth the $13.3 million qualifying offer, so even if he had accepted, he would have been overpaid. The Yankees are in cost cutting mode, trying to reduce payroll to get below $189 million by 2014, so not bringing him back makes sense. The front office was thinking about not bringing him back before the season anyway.
Swisher is replaceable because the Yankees could move Ichiro to his natural position of rightfield and the rest of the outfield could include a healthy Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson. The Yankees would be losing some power without Swisher but would be gaining more speed as well as a more reliable outfielder in Gardner.
Swisher did average 26 homers and 87 RBI with the Yankees in the regular season, but I don’t see this production lasting too much longer. Various teams will reportedly offer Swisher a three or four-year contract, and the Yankees are smartly only willing to offer a one-year deal.
However, it is more important that Kuroda and Soriano reconsider because the team will need the pitching that they will be able to provide. They are both coming off productive seasons while proving that they can excel in the pressure cooker that is New York City.
It does seem like Mariano Rivera will be back next season (a few weeks ago he said he was not sure), but Rivera will be 43 on November 29, so no one knows what he will have left after having ACL surgery. This makes having a reliable closer like Soriano a necessity. Soriano is somebody who is worth offering a few more million dollars to.
As reported by MLB, Rivera threw 25 pitches on Friday without any problems during a commercial shoot at the Hackley School in Westchester. This proves that he should be all in, which is great news for Yankee fans, but again, there is no way of knowing if he will be able to pitch up to his Hall of Fame standards for the whole season.
I was luckily able to attend the Yankees game on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to Kieran, enjoying it very much, even though they lost 15-8 in a game that the Bronx Bombers rested many regulars.
When we settled into our seats it was obvious that the Yankees had clinched the division crown the night before. The crowd was not quite as loud as normal during player introductions and it seemed like the Bleachers’ roll call was not as emphatic as usual.
However, I always get a kick out of hearing the Bleacher Creatures shout the fielder’s names and watching each individual Yankee respond in their own unique way. It seems like when all the starters are playing both sides are more into it but this was probably only about 10 percent less than normal.
The major benefit of this game is that as a result of the 15-8 thrashing to the Rays, Tampa improves by half a game in the Wild Card race as a result of Boston not playing. In other words, the Yankees impressive wins the previous three games against Tampa helped Boston not nosedive out of the Wild Card.
Nothing was working for Bartolo Colon as he allowed seven runs, but only five of them were earned as a result of two errors in the first two innings, on seven hits and a walk in only three innings pitched.
This lackluster performance by Colon, which raised his ERA from 3.81 to 4.02, might be a result of the long celebration after the win on Wednesday and knowing that the team had the division locked up. The Yankees need to be able to put this game behind them as they play the Red Sox for three games in an effort to knock them out of the playoffs and wrap up home-field advantage.
Nick Swisher failing to field a routine ball hit to him on the ground in left-field and Derek Jeter telegraphing his throw to first as he almost threw it into the stands surely did not help.
Jeter almost always makes the routine play, which proves that this game was purely a letdown game for the team. In addition to this error by Jeter he would make another one later on, but I would miss it since I was on line for some “gourmet” Carl’s cheese-steak, but this one was almost even more unexpected than the first.
In the fourth inning, the Rays former All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria hit a grounder that Jeter would field cleanly 99 out of 100 times but this time he let it go right through his glove allowing Longoria to score on Johnny Damon’s homer two batters later. The Yankees fourth error was committed by back-up outfielder Chris Dickerson, in the seventh, with the home team losing 13-2.
The highlight from my perspective from the first six innings of play was without a doubt the two run homer by Andruw Jones to deep left center (12), in the bottom of the sixth. This is because it was the first time the fans had a reason to get loud and cheer for something positive. Dickerson would also somewhat cancel out his error by making a beautiful running catch and he even dove at the end for style points.
With the game all but in the books, the Yankees were able to tack on some garbage time runs, to use a football phrase, and keep the remaining crowd interested. We moved down at this point as I had the idea of exploring the 100 level section, which I had never really done before, and also looking for two people.
Rookie sensation Jesus Montero was able to have a perfect night at the plate, truly looking composed and ready to attack the baseball. He went 3-3 while hitting a double to deep center scoring Ramiro Pena and Jones, in the seventh. Pena, who is a reliable fielder but usually a weak hitter, chipped in with a shallow RBI single followed by a single by Jones that scored rookie Austin Romine, which capped of Jones’s productive day at the plate.
This would add up to four runs making the score Tampa 13, New York 6, which was a little more respectable. Each team would add two more runs but they were more because of sloppiness by the pitchers and fielders and not any noteworthy offensive execution.
Matt Moore, the starter for the Rays, was expected to feel some butterflies as he was making only his fourth appearance of his career, while making his first start in the Bronx. However, he did not let the big city get to him as he looked poised on the mound hurling five shutout innings, while striking out 11.
The two players that got the loudest ovations from the fans were Jorge Posada and the previously mentioned Montero.
This is because Posada hit the two RBI double on Wednesday night that was the difference in the Yankees division clinching win and he has always been a fan favorite since 1998. Montero received loud ovations when coming to the plate because Yankees fans have been looking forward to his promotion as a result of his vast offensive potential and once he was called up on September 1st he has given the team a spark. He has an impressive .313 average so far with three homers and eight runs batted in and the only knock against him is that his catching skills could use a little improvement.
In addition to seeing a home run, something else that I was hoping to see came to fruition and that was the much publicized rookie hurlers,Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances, making their debuts. These are two of the three “Killer B’s” as the three pitching prospects for the Yankees with the most potential are Manny Banuelos, Betances and Brackman.
The 26 year-old Brackman, who has had some serious injuries, is a mammoth 6’10 and played basketball and baseball in college at North Carolina State University. His late start in the majors is due in part to attending college for three years as well as undergoing Tommy John surgery. There were six Yankees pitchers and he was one of only two to keep the Rays off of the scoreboard.
It was a highlight seeing Betances make his first appearance of his career even though he allowed two runs on four walks, while only recording two outs. He was probably feeling a lot of nerves because he was pitching in front of friends and family since he grew up in Washington Heights and has lived in the Lower East Side as well as Brooklyn.
I remember Betances, who went to the Grand Street Campus high school, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, likely being the best pitcher in the city when he was a senior. To be able to make his debut in the Bronx must have been a very special feeling for him even though he was very wild.
I was even able to find some Rays fans who flew up just for the day to watch this game and then will be flying back to Florida on Friday morning. They surely enjoyed their introduction to Yankees Stadium and being able to move half a game closer to Boston.
It is likely that the reason the Yankees did not show up to play was because of the long champagne celebration the previous night but it was great to see some of the rookies like Montero, Brackman and Betances in person. It was also a thrill to see the homer by Jones because that prevented the Yankees from getting shutout.
The Oakland Athletics edged the Yankees, 6-5, on Tuesday night, as the Yankees staged a late rally which fell just a few feet short.
With his single to center in the third Jeter achieved yet another multi hit game. However, with runners on first and second Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixiera could not convert. To end the bottom of the third inning Teixiera made a play that required cat like reflexes to reach for a line drive and double off Josh Willingham at first.
In the top of the seventh, with the Yankees down 3-0, and a runner on first, Russell Martin made an outstanding stop to prevent Cliff Pennington from getting to second. Unfortunately, Kurt Suzuki would go on to hit a double down the left field line to move Pennington to second, knocking Colon out of the game.
The Athletics’ offense continued to hurt the Yankees pitching as pinch-hitter Scott Sizemore smashed a double off of reliever Boone Logan that drove in Suzuki and Pennington. In recent outings Logan had been pitching very impressively so hopefully this does not last.
Derek Jeter was just about the only bright spot through eight innings for the Yankees as he led off the inning with a single. If he is able to have a three-for-three game tomorrow his average will be all the way up to .300. This is very impressive after his underwhelming start to the season.
However, later in the inning Nick Swisher came up in the nick of time as he hit a three run homer into the Yankees bullpen to force the A’s to go to their bullpen. Then off of Andrew Bailey, the A’s closer, Jorge Posada hit a deep blast into the bleachers. He has hit pretty well since being demoted, and in his last five games where he has at least one at bat he has seven hits and seven RBI.
Russell Martin hit a double to the gap and then Brett Gardner got on first because of third baseman Scott Sizermore’s fielding error. It would have been a close play because of Gardner’s blazing speed but since it was in Sizemore’s glove and bounced out the error call made sense. Bailey walked Granderson on a full-count to load the bases for Teixiera.
Teixeira popped out and Granderson walked, but Swisher came so very close to hitting a grand slam but it ended up being a very long fly ball that landed in Coco Crisp’s glove, on the warning track, in centerfield. The Yankees left runners in scoring position with two outs five times, with Swisher twice being the culprit, so if they would have converted on one or two of these opportunities the outcome might have been different.
Part of the reason Bailey allowed two hits, a walk and homer might have been because he had extra nerves since he was pitching near his hometown in Voorhees, New Jersey and also where he went to college at Wagner in Staten Island.
Logan came into this game having not allowed a run in his last three appearances, the Yankees likely would have won. This is because he gave up the double to Logan, which scored two runs, and gave Colon give five earned runs on the evening.
Colon really did not pitch that poorly because through six innings he had only allowed three runs and that is a quality start. Two of those runs were solo home-runs but he has not won a game during the month of August.
Brandon Allen hit two solo home runs during the game and he has really taken advantage of his trade to the Athletics, on July 31st. His first home run, in the second inning off of Colon, was a mammoth shot into the upper deck. He is only the second player to launch one into the upper deck at the new Yankee Stadium.
The Athletics are not known for their offense, as they are 12th in the AL in runs scored. They only scored 3.3 runs per game in the first half but have scored considerably more since then.
CC Sebathia, who is very reliable and a CY Young candidate, will try to revert Oakland back to their pre All-Star break form. Trevor Cahill is slated to pitch for the A’s, who was an All-Star and in the top five in lowest ERA last season, but has struggled this season with a 4.17 ERA.
Since the Yankees lost last night and the Red Sox won they are now in a virtual tie for first place. Boston is playing the Rangers tonight, and the Rangers are winning the season series 4-1. Hopefully the Yankees will be able to take advantage of facing inferior completion for six more games before battling Boston.