On Sunday, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network, outfielder Brett Gardner has signed a four-year, $52 million contract extension to stay with the Yankees. The deal includes a 5th year club option for $12.5 million or a $2 million buyout. This deal starts in 2015.
Gardner will now avoid free agency and will be 35 at the end of this contract. If the Yankees would have offered him a qualifying contract after the season it would have been $1 million more than the average value of the contract that he currently has.
Gardner was drafted by the Yankees in the third round out of the College of Charleston in 2005. He made his debut with the Yankees in 2008, stole 26 bases when the team won the World Series in 2009 and stole a career-high 49 bases in 2011. In 2013, he hit a career-high 10 triples and 147 hits, had a .273 batting average, hit 33 doubles, and stole 24 bases.
Trade rumors circled Gardner earlier in the season, but after signing Masahiro Tanaka the Yankees don’t need as much pitching help. It was also thought he might be traded for second or third base help. The Yankees obviously like being able to have speedsters Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the bullpen for years to come.
This deal is slightly risky because if Gardner losses any of his speed he will not be a valuable player anymore. Gardner, who will not primarily be playing center field this year based on the signing of Ellsbury, does not produce the power numbers of a typical corner outfielder.
However, if the speed that he has shown so far in his career stays for the next three years, he will be able to continue to make up for his power with his defensive ability and his ability to hit doubles, triples and to wreak havoc on the basepaths. He has played 145 games or more in three out the past four seasons, so his durability is definitely a plus for the team.
In other player news, the Yankees have signed injured free agent Andrew Bailey to a minor-league deal. The deal is a minor-league one since he had shoulder surgery after only pitching in 30 games last season. The last game that he appeared in last season was on July 12. He had a a 1.76 ERA at the end of May, but struggled after that to finish with a 3.77 ERA.
He could be healthy in August after rehabbing from surgery, which means that he could be similar to a trade acquisition before the August 31 trade deadline (players have to have gone through waivers unclaimed to be traded in August). If he regains his previous form, he could be the set-up man to David Robertson, and even pitch the ninth inning to give Robertson a day off. Bailey was also injured in the 2012 season leading to a horrible 7.04 ERA, but Bailey had a 1.84 ERA, 26 saves and 91 strikeouts during his rookie season for the Oakland Athletics in 2009. His WHIP for his career is an outstanding 1.06.
Bailey, who was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2009, was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball during his three seasons with the Athletics.
The Yankees won two out of three game in the weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles. However, they definitely had a chance to win the third game on Sunday.
They were winning 3-0 in the sixth inning when Joe Girardi took Andy Pettitte out of the game with runners on first and second. It made sense that he put Shawn Kelley into the game, since he had prevented a very small amount of inherited runners to score this season, but unfortunately Kelley gave up a single and a home run to J.J. Hardy, which was the start of a seven run inning for the Orioles.
Girardi can’t really be blamed for bringing in Kelley because Pettitte was approaching 100 pitches (93) and that has been his limit this season. He is 41, so it makes sense for him not to throw too many pitches especially because it has been working recently. The bullpen has been very reliable recently and that was a situation where Kelley should have come through for the team.
Another factor that contributed to the loss for the Yankees was that they left 10 men on base and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. For the rest of the season, the Yankees can’t afford to waste opportunities like they did Sunday afternoon.
The Yankees had a chance to move within 2.5 games of a Wild-Card spot if they had won because the Tampa Bay Rays lost yet again to the Oakland Athletics. Their loss on Sunday makes the upcoming series against the Chicago White Sox even more important for the Yankees to sweep.
Phil Hughes, who has a 1.38 ERA in 10 games pitched and six starts against the White Sox, will start Monday afternoon. He has been the least reliable and inconsistent pitcher this season for the Yankees, but Hughes does pitch better at home and has a history of pitching well against Chicago. Hughes, whose 4.91 ERA is one of the worst in baseball, has pitched better recently as he has not allowed more than three runs in his last three starts.
The Yankees will need Hughes to pitch into the the sixth inning allowing three runs or less and the offense will have to come through with runners on base. The White Sox (56-79) have the second worst record in the American League and have scored the fewest runs in the AL.
Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.89 ERA) will pitch on Tuesday and CC Sabathia (12-11, 4.91 ERA) will get the start on Wednesdy. This the first of 12 games that the Yankees have against last place teams in their final 26 games. They will need to win 10 of the 12 games against the cellar dwellers if they are going to make the playoffs.
The Yankees play the first of three games against the Baltimore Orioles tonight at Yankee Stadium. Baltimore is currently 3.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild-Card spot and the Yankees are five games behind the Athletics.
The Yankees play 14 of their next 17 games against the Orioles and Boston Red Sox. However, it is crucial that the Yankees win at least eight of their next 10 games because they need to take advantage of the games that they have at home. The Yankees have lost four out of their last six games, but those games were at Tropicana Field and at the Rogers Centre.
In the Bronx, the Yankees have a 38-27 record behind the cheers from the Bleacher Creatures, but on the road in enemy territory their record stands at 32-36. Baltimore has a 33-32 record during road games this season, but at home at Camden Yards their record is a much better 38-29. The Yankees need to take advantage of a team that is virtually playing .500 baseball in road games. The Orioles are coming off of a series where they lost two out of three games to the Boston Red Sox.
In his career, Alfonso Soriano has hit .290 with 21 homers and 50 RBI against the Orioles. Derek Jeter, who will be starting at shortstop after making his return from the disabled list on August 26, has a .307 average in 270 games played agains the Orioles, with 24 homers and 135 RBI. Robinson Cano will be making his return to second base after being hit on his left hand by a J.A. Happ pitch during the Blue Jays series. The Yankees are lucky that his injury was not more serious.
CC Sabathia, who is tonight’s starter for the Yankees, has allowed five runs or more in four of his last seven starts. However, he has shown some signs of improvement as he allowed three runs or less in three of his last four starts. Sabathia needs to throw seven innings and allow three runs or less tonight against the Orioles.
When David Robertson was asked about the upcoming series David Robertson said: “If we don’t fare well against Baltimore it could be the series that breaks us.” When asked about the 10 consecutive games at home Robertson said: We need to win nine of these 10 games if we want to have a chance at this thing. I hope we are up to the challenge.” Robertson, who is speaking his mind like he has not done much in the past, basically is saying exactly what the Yankees need to do.
Miguel Gonzalez, who is pitching tonight against the Yankees, has not started since August 20, where he allowed two earned runs in 5.2 innings. If the Yankees win during this series, they are guaranteed to gain ground on the Tampa Bay Rays and Athletics, since they play each other. The Yankees will be rooting for Tampa because they are ahead of the second place Athletics.
The Yankees will likely need 92 wins to get into the playoffs as a wild-card, which will mean they will have to go 22-7 the rest of the season. They will need Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda to pitch well the rest of the way.
Ivan Nova, who has struggled a little recently but has been the team’s second best pitcher this season, will pitch in the game on Saturday afternoon. Phil Hughes will start in the series finale on Sunday. It is important for the Yankees offense to come back to life during this series like it did during their hot streak earlier this month.
Update: Andy Pettitte has been bumped up to start on Sunday and Phil Hughes will now get the start on Monday. This move makes sense because it allows Pettitte to pitch in a game with more significance.
In the series finale against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees lost 3-2 in 18 innings. Oakland swept the Yankees in the three-game set, as their offense continues to struggle. The Yankees have not scored more than four runs since their 6-1 win over the Mariners. They have gone 2-4 since then.
The Yankees had many opportunities to win the game as they left 11 runners on base from the 10th until the 14th inning. In the 11th, they had the bases loaded and were unable to score, and in the 13th, the Yankees had runners on first and second with no outs and failed to get a clutch hit.
The only runs of the game for the Yankees would be when Robinson Cano hit a homer that scored Brett Gardner in the first. Then, the Yankees would combine for the equivalent of two games of scoreless baseball.
Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis, who were the four, five and six hitters, respectively, combined to go 0-20 with nine strikeouts. Those three, who should be relied upon to drive in runs, also combined to leave 17 batters on base. They will have to start to hit in the series against the Angels.
It is alarming that they have lost their last three games against the Athletics because they are now 14-19 against teams that currently have a winning record. It is a positive sign that they are able to beat teams under .500, but the Yankees have to be able to swing the bats in order to make the playoffs. They are currently in a half-a-game behind behind the Orioles and Rangers for the Wild-Card and 3.0 games behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.
Hiroki Kuroda had yet another dominating performance as he allowed only two runs and two hits in eight innings, but the offense needs to give the starter more run support.
Adam Warren’s performance out of the bullpen, where he threw six masterful shutout innings after the ninth inning, was wasted as a result of the previously stated incompetence by the offense.
This game lasted a startling five hours and thirty-five minutes, had 510 pitches, 14 pitchers combined and it the first time that the Yankees played a game of at least 18 innings since Sept. 11, 1988.
After the second walk-off win in a row, against the Oakland Athletics, for the Yankees, they will be able to look ahead at the schedule to know that they should be able to hang and win the AL East. After tomorrow’s matinee game against the second place A’s, their remaining seven games are against the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins, who are a combined 40.5 games out of first place.
The Yankees have now won seven games in a row and their current winning streak has been highlighted by late game heroics by Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin. Ibanez, who was only 1-19 before today’s marathon game, produced a much needed 3-4 performance, with two homers and three RBI. On Friday night, Russell Martin, who has been somewhat of a feast or famine player recently, hit the game winner in the 10th after failing to get on base in his previous three at bats.
Friday’s game against Oakland would not have needed a Martin long ball in extra innings if it were not for Rafael Soriano wasting a dominating outing by ace CC Sebathia. After being somewhat inconsistent recently, Sebathia’s 11 strikeout, zero earned run performance is one that Yankee fans know he is capable of.
Soriano has been a very reliable replacement for the Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, since it was only his fourth blow save, while his 42 saves and 2.10 ERA make up for allowing the game to go into extra frames.
The good news is that the Yankees will not have to face a team like the Athletics, who have been playing above their talent level, and have been one of the best surprise stories of baseball, for the rest of the season. The Blue Jays and Twins are both not playing for anything while being out of the playoff race for most of the season. The Yankees will need to capitalize on these inferior opponents.
The Yankees currently own a one game lead over the surging Baltimore Orioles. The Bronx Bombers are currently clicking on all cylinders after going 9-1 in their last 10 games while the O’s, led by Buck Showalter, have won eight of their last 10 contests.
The Yankees should not accept anything less than winning six of their last eight games. I could see them losing the game to the A’s on Sunday, who are currently tied with the O’s for the Wild Card, and then also losing a game to their division foe, the Blue Jays.
If I had to pick a game for them to lose it would be when Ricky Romero is pitching. Romero, who has been Toronto’s ace the past few years, has struggled in 2012, but has a history of pitching well against the Yankees. If my prediction is accurate the Yankees would end the season with a 94-65 record.
The Orioles also end the season against teams that are basically playing out the string. They have four games left against the Red Sox and three against the Blue Jays. I can see the Orioles winning six of their last eight games. I would have left the number at five, but I could see the Red Sox resting their starters to try and help the Orioles win the division instead of the Yankees.
The Yankees will need to continue to have unsung and under-performing players step up in their remaining games to help them come away with six or more wins. Those six wins would give the Yankees a 94-65 record, and if the Orioles also win six more games, the Yanks would win the AL East by one game.