Tagged: Curtis Granderson

The Yankees have started their big off-season the right way

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

Now that the rival Red Sox have won the World Series, the Yankees can now fully concentrate on improving their team for next season by improving their talent level to make sure they are able to reach the postseason, and rebound from not making it this season after having 21 players land on the disabled list.

The first move of significance happened today as the Yankees brought back Derek Jeter on a 1-year, $12 million contract for 2014. Hal Steinbrenner agreed to give Jeter more money because of Jeter’s reputation. Jeter, who only played 17 games last season because of three different stints on the disabled list, made $17 million last season, and will be make $5 million less this season. However, he will be making $2.5 million more than if he would have accepted the $9.5 million player option that was on the table.

If anybody deserves a pay upgrade from the player option it is Derek Jeter. He is a future Hall of Famer, has 3,316 career hits, a 13-time All-Star, has always handled himself the right way and has repeatedly come through in clutch situations. It does also make sense that he is making $5 million less than he did last season based on being another year older, he will be 40 in the middle of next season, and that he is coming off of an injury filled season. He will now be able to do his normal offseason workout routine  that he was not able to do last offseason based on fracturing his ankle in the 2012 ALCS. This could help him come close to performing like he did in the 2012 regular season.

The Yankees now need to concentrate on preventing Robinson Cano from going to a different team in free agency, as well as signing the 25-year-old Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and Brian McCann. It would also make sense for the Yankees to offer Curtis Granderson the 1-year, $14 million qualifying offer. He might receive more money from another team, but the Yankees should want him back for that amount of money because he is great in the clubhouse and he led all of baseball in homers between the 2011 and 2012 seasons (84 homers).

According to Andrew Marchand, their top free agent targets include, Cano, Tanaka, McCann and Carlos Beltran.

If they can sign Cano to a seven-year contract for about $180-190 million then they should obviously do that. They should not go any longer than seven years because Cano will be 38 at the end of the deal, and he would definitely lose production after that. Even though he doesn’t always hustle to first, his overall power numbers and ability to make all of the plays at second base outweighs his base-running. He is coming off a season where he batted .314, hit, hit 27 homers and drove in 107 RBIs. He has shown great durability throughout has career as he has not missed more than two games in any season since 2007.

The Rangers will apparently not bid on Cano and the Dodgers have just signed a Cuban second baseman so they will not be interested. Possible teams include the Tigers, Nationals, Cubs and Orioles. The Yankees need to make sure not to bid against themselves like they did for A-Rod.

In regards to Tanaka, the Yankees need to take the risk of signing him because they will be losing Andy Pettitte to retirement and likely Hiroki Kuroda as well. Phil Hughes will not be back based on his horrible 5.19 ERA from the 2013 season. A scout has said that Tanaka is better than Yu Darvish, who has a 3.34 ERA for the Rangers in two seasons since coming over from Japan.

The posting fee would likely be $60 million, but that would not count against the salary cap. He is coming off a season in Japan where he won 24-0 with a dominating 1.27 ERA. Tanaka, who is 25, would combine with Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia to form an imposing top three in the rotation. It is important for the Yankees to add an impact pitcher and also to add one that can make up for the Kai Igawa acquisition that did not pan out.

Even though McCann has some durability issues, as he has played 102, 121 and 128 games respectively the last three years, he would be a significant signing based on his power and passion for the game. McCann, who will be 30 on February 20, has hit at least 20 homers in every season since 2008. The Yankees could be in good shape if Austin Romine plays 30-40 games as the back-up catcher.

The Yankees also need to add another third baseman, outfielder and relief pitcher. This will be an important off-season for Brian Cashman and he needs to not strike out on signings like he did last off-season.

Four more years of Girardi is good for the Yankees

Joe Girardi in the dugout in 2008.

Joe Girardi in the dugout in 2008.

Joe Girardi signed a four-year, $16 million dollar contract extension on October 9. This will make him the second highest paid manager after Mike Scioscia, who is the manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Schiocia’s contract pays him about $5 million a season.

It is a positive sign for the Yankees that he accepted their contract and did not hold out to see what the Cubs or Nationals would offer him at the end of October when his previous contract expired. He has proven that he has been able to manage talent since he led the team to win the World Series in 2009, and also is able to manage well during adversity since the team had a total of 21 players spend time on the disabled list, some more than once, while handling the situation with the media well during the Alex Rodriguez biogenesis controversy and in turn guiding the team to a respectable 85-77 record based on everything the team went through.

The Yankees were remarkably only one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card spot on September 12. They would have 15 games left in the season and the lack of talent would catch up with them. However, Girardi was able to lead the team to be in great position to make the playoffs with two weeks to go even though Derek Jeter only played 17 games, Mark Teixeira only played 15 games and Curtis Granderson only played in 61 games.

Before Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup in August, Lyle Overbay had to hit cleanup for much of the season. The Yankees were counting on players such as Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner to perform offensively for them. They hit better than expected in April and then faded after that. This proves how Girardi was able to mix and match with a lineup that lacked major league talent for much of the season.

Chris Stewart, who had always been a back-up before this season, was the starter for the Yankees, which proves the lack of talent they had at the catcher position. Stewart did play well compared to previous seasons, but he faded down the stretch of the season based on playing in 42 more games than he had in any other season. Rookie Austin Romine showed some promise at the catcher position.

Further proving that Girardi got the team to overachieve this season was that Jayzon Nix, Zoilo Almonte, Luis Cruz, Chris Nelson, Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez and Melky Mesa all started games for the Yankees this season. Vernon Wells was even called on to play the ninth inning of a game at third base because of an injury to Eduardo Nunez. The Yankees were not expected to make the playoffs easily before the season started, but to be so close based on all of the injures and AAA players that had to play is a tribute to Giarardi’s managing.

Some criticize Girardi for going by his binder too much meaning that he decides on the pitcher that will come into the game or the hitter that will start too much on previous match-ups. He definitely should sometimes continue to play a streaky hitter or leave a starter in a few more batters. However, it is always possible that if the starter would have stayed in he would struggle based on too many pitches.

The Yankees obviously should not have been swept by the Mets or White Sox if their quest to reach the playoffs were to come to fruition. If they would have won two games against the Mets and White Sox that would have greatly increased their chance in September, but that is what happens when so many “second string” players were on the field.  Girardi has his drawbacks, but at the end of the day, the team would have been worse of if the did not return.

He handled the return of A-Rod well, in addition to handling the retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte with poise and professionalism. He could not have made a better decision in the moment when he let Mariano Rivera’s longtime teammates and members of the Core 4, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, take Rivera out of the game at Yankee Stadium for the final time. Here is video footage of the ceremony of Pettitte and Jeter coming to the mound.

Here is an interview that Jack Curry did with Joe Girardi and his wife after he signed the contract extension: http://web.yesnetwork.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=31139627

Yankees lose the series in Toronto as their wild-card hopes fade

Joba Chamberlain

Joba Chamberlain

On Thursday night at the Rogers Centre, the Yankees (80-73) lost a game to the Blue Jays that they absolutely needed to win. They lost 6-2 and Joe Girardi, Joba Chamberlain and the offense are to blame. It was their second loss in three games in Toronto.

The Yankees are now 3.5 games out of the wild-card with nine to play, but before this series and the one against the Red Sox from September 13-15, they were only one game out of the second wild-card. They have gone 1-5 in their last six games, including the sweep in Boston, and this past week has effectively ended their chance of making the playoffs. During the past six games, they have not pitched or hit well as they have allowed five or more runs four times and scored three or fewer runs four times.

The Yankees should have been able to rebound from the series in Fenway by sweeping the Blue Jays, but they obviously did not have it in them to win three straight against a last place team not playing for anything. On Tuesday, in the game that they lost 2-0, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey threw seven shutout innings against the Yankees offense. However, the truly inexcusable game was the one earlier tonight.

Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed three runs, including a bumpy third where he gave up three hits, two walks and two runs, can’t be blamed because he kept the team in the game by recording seven strikeouts. However, the offense should have been able to score more than two runs off of a decent rookie starter in Todd Redmond and the Blue Jays bullpen.

They only runs that they scored were a homer in the sixth inning that went above the bullpen by Curtis Granderson (his seventh of the season) and a ground out to second by Vernon Wells with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. It appeared that they would score a few runs in the ninth to make it interesting but Wells grounded out and Lyle Overbay weakly grounded out to first.

Robinson Cano gave the team a scoring opportunity in the top of the fourth after hitting a ground rule double with one out. However, he was stranded at second since Alfonso Soriano and Wells struck out and popped out, respectively. Soriano would have been safe at second with a double in the second inning if he would have been running hard the whole time. On Tuesday, Soriano was the one who said that the Yankees needed to have more energy.

The move that truly made no sense was bringing in Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the seventh. The Yankees were only losing 3-1 at the time, and Chamberlain should not be brought into any games that are within four runs. He has been that unreliable this season. Giaradi could have left Kuroda in or brought in Shawn Kelly, David Phelps or Casar Cabral, but decided to bring in Chamberlain even though he had allowed runs in three of his previous five outings.

True to form, Chamberlain only faced three hitters and allowed a walk, a single and then a three-run homer to the dangerous Adam Lind for his 22nd of the season. It doesn’t make any sense that Girardi has continued to have confidence in Joba.

The Yankees have been essentially eliminated from the postseason while still having a mathematical chance of making it. They will have to win the rest of their nine games and then receive help from other teams.

They start their six-game home stand with three games against the San Francisco Giants, who are nine games below .500, but are 7-3 in their last 10 games. After the series against the Giants, they play three at home against Tampa and then conclude the season in Houston.

Preview of Yankees vs. Red Sox

Ivan Nova

Ivan Nova

After sweeping the Chicago White Sox, who are in last place in the American League Central, the Yankees will now conclude their 10-game home stand with a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox. It is always a big series when they play their rivals to the north, but this series will have even more significance because they are only 2.5 games out of the wild-card.

The Red Sox have won five out of their past six games. They have virtually looked up the division (the Yankees have a chance since they play them seven more times) and are now playing for home field advantage in the playoffs. Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez on Sunday Night Baseball in the last game that the two teams played and there has been some talk of possible retaliation by the Yankees. The best retaliation that the Bronx Bombers could show at this point is to win three our four games in this series.

Since the Yankees last played the Red Sox they have gone 11-5. It is possible that the game that they came back to win after A-Rod was intentionally hit in the second inning ignited the team but it is also likely that the health of Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter and continued dominance of Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano has spurred the much needed hot streak.

With their game tonight, the Yankees start a streak of 14 games against division rivals. They will play the Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays during these crucial games. A pitcher that will be key during this stretch is Ivan Nova. That Yankees would not be where they are right now without him. Has a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts since returning from the minors on June 23. The command of his curveball and fastball have been much improved. He will start tonight against the Red Sox.

Jake Peavy, who has never defeated the Yankees in his career, will pitch for the Red Sox tonight. He has pitched very well since coming to Boston from the White Sox in the beginning of August.

After a 4-0 record in August, Nova was named the American League pitcher of the month. August also included his first complete-game shutout of his career.

Many offensive players have been playing well of late for the Yankees. Robinson Cano is four for his last eight and going back further has a .367 batting average since August 14. He has driven in 18 runs in the past 20 games. Brett Gardner, who has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup, has a .360 average over the past week with five doubles. Eduardo Nunez, who is not playing tonight, has an outstanding .444 average over the last seven days.

Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01 ERA), who has pitched much better recently, will matchup against Felix Doubront, (10-6, 3.89 ERA) on Friday. David Huff (2-0, 3.32 ERA), who has pitched very well out of the bullpen, will make his first start for the Yankees on Saturday, replacing Phil Hughes. For Boston, John Lackey (8-12, 3.22 ERA) will get the start on Saturday. In the series finale, on Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda, who has been the team’s ace this season, will matchup against Jon Lester (13-8, 3.88 ERA).

If the Yankees can win three out of four games it would put them in great position going into their final 19 games of the season.

Eduardo Nunez’s two-run double ended up being the game winner against the White Sox

Eduardo Nunez.

Eduardo Nunez.

The Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night after they scored five runs in the eighth inning. They recorded an impressive six of their nine hits in that pivotal sixth inning. The Yankees did their damage off of the White Sox bullpen as they scored all of their runs in the eighth after White Six ace Chris Sale left the game with one out and runners on second and third.

Hiroki Kuroda did not pitch up to the standards that he had earlier in this season that put him in CY Young consideration up until allowing 15 runs in three starts, but Kuroda showed some improvement after pitching into the sixth inning and striking out seven batters. He had not recorded seven strikeouts since August 12, and the four runs and seven hits were both less then he had allowed in his last two starts.

Sale, whose 2.97 ERA is the sixth best in the American League, dominated the Yankees for the second time in the past month. However, more importantly, the Yankees were able to get the win this time as their offense has greatly improved. They got clutch hits from four players who have spent time on the disabled list this season in that pivotal eighth inning.

In the second inning, Vernon Wells, who has been struggling recently, scored the team’s first run on a steal of home in the middle of a double steal after getting on base via a single. It did not look promising for the Yankees when the White Sox took a 4-1 lead in the seventh after Alexandro De Aza’s 16th homer, but the home team’s offensive onslaught was about to come in full force.

After Joe Girardi made the correct decision to pinch-hit Austin Romine for Chris Stewart in the seventh (Stewart doesn’t have a hit in his last 20 at-bats), Robinson Cano hit a double off the wall in to send Derek Jeter to third, which would start the rally and send Sale to the showers.

After Sale left the game for reliever Nate Jones, Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run single that drove in Jeter and Cano. Those were his 38th and 39th runs driven in during his 36 games with the Yankees. He has given the team even more than Brian Cashman could have hoped for. Those runs made the score 4-3. After an Alex Rodriguez single advanced Soriano to third, Curtis Granderson’s pinch-hit single drove in Soriano.

However, the hero of the game was Eduardo Nunez. Nunez, who is hitting .384 in his last 13 at-bats, smashed a double down the third base line to score A-Rod and Granderson. That hit would seal the win. Nunez received a much deserved Gatorade shower during his interview with Meredith Marakovits after what was his most clutch hit of his career.

Mariano Rivera came in for the ninth inning and retired the side in order to record his 40th save of the season. He has now saved 40 games nine times in his Hall of Fame career. His 2.12 ERA proves that he still has a lot left in the tank and could likely dominate again next year. It has been reported that Joe Girardi will try and delay his scheduled retirement until after the 2014 season.

Their win combined with the Orioles loss moves the Yankees up in the Wild-Card standings to 2.5 games back and half-a-game ahead of the Orioles. It seemed like the Yankees would gain ground on the Tampa Bay Rays who have one Wild-Card spot right now, since they were 0-9 in the Pacific time zone this season, but  They could move even closer if the Rays lose the game they are currently playing in Anaheim. The Rays are currently 0-9 in the Pacific time zone this year, but Tampa routed the Angels.

Nova’s super start led the Yankees to victory. Pettitte takes the hill on Sunday.

Ivan Nova

Ivan Nova

Behind another brilliant start from Ivan “Super” Nova, the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon, 2-0, to move within 3.5 games of a Wild-Card spot. After their second win in a row against the Orioles they moved ahead of them in the process in the standings.

Nova’s very effective 12-6 curveball was working for him all afternoon helping him record his first complete game shutout. He had pitched one other complete game this season, but in that contest he allowed two runs and a homer. Based on his performance since the middle of July, where he has pitched at least seven innings in six of his last eight starts and only allowed more than three runs once, he is the ace of the staff right now.

In this start, Nova limited the Orioles offense to only three hits as his curveball repeatedly kept them off balance. He recorded five strikeouts and only one walk. In his start against Tampa, on August 25, he allowed five walks. He needed to improve on that number and that is exactly what he did.

Joe Girardi showed confidence in Nova in the ninth as there was a runner on first with Chris Davis at the plate. He could have easily brought in Mariano Rivera in that situation brought brought proved that he thought Nova could complete what he started. Crush Davis, who has hit a major league leading 47 homers this season, hit a deep fly ball to Ichiro at the warning track. Adam Jones, who has driven in a career high 95 run so far this season, lined out to Derek Jeter to end the game.

Robinson Cano proved to the team that he is healthy after being hit by a pitch earlier in the week as he hit an RBI double in the first and then hit a solo homer to right later in the game. The Yankees obviously need to resign him in the offseason as they will not be able to replace his offense. He has been the most consistent offensive force this season and now forms a formidable middle of the order with Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson.

Like Bob Klapisch wrote in the Record, Nova should definitely get the start if the Yankees play in the one game Wild-Card playoff. CC Sabathia has been the team’s ace since 2009, but he obviously doesn’t deserve based on how he has pitched this season due to his reduced velocity. They do need him to rebound down the stretch. Hiroki Kuroda, has been the best starter for the duration of the season, but Nova has been better recently. Andy Pettitte, who at 41 has 255 wins and has given the team many clutch starts throughout his career and has only allowed a run in his last three starts, is the other pitcher who should get consideration.

Pettitte will get the start this afternoon in the series finale. In his last start, in Toronto against the Blue Jays, he threw seven shutout innings while only giving up five hits. He has proven throughout his career that he knows how to pitch well in big games. If the Rays lose again to the Athletics, and the Bronx Bombers get the win, the Yankees could be 2.5 games out of a Wild-Card spot after today.

Soriano’s two homers (including his 400th) and Pettitte led the Yankees to a much needed win

Soriano celebrating after last night's first inning homer.

Soriano celebrating after last night’s first inning homer.

On Tuesday night, at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, the Yankees won a much needed game over the Blue Jays, 7-1. Alonso Soriano, who has helped the Yankees win many games with his bat since his return to the team on July 26, recorded his MLB leading sixth multi-homer game of the season. Andy Pettitte also shutout the Blue Jays over seven innings pitched. Effective pitching combined with four homers in a game will almost always lead to a win.

The first inning was dramatic as the Yankees scored half of the runs that they would score in the game. Brett Gardner led off the game with a double off of the wall. He took third on a wild pitch and would score on Derek Jeter’s first of two singles up the middle. The Yankees received a big scare as J.A. Happ hit Robinson Cano on his left hand in the next at-bat. Happ (5.46 ERA) has made a habit of hitting members of the Yankees this season as he was the one who hit Curtis Granderson during the opening game of spring training.

It was later revealed that Cano’s injury was luckily only a contusion and he is now day-to-day after his x-ray was negative. The Yankees would have had to effectively say good-bye to their playoff hopes if his hand was broken. Cano has been an offensive bright spot this season in the midst of many injuries. He leads the team in batting average (.305), RBIs (85) and homers (24). Soriano has hit 26 homers this season but he played for the Chicago Cubs before the end of June.

Continuing with the offensive outburst that was the first inning, after Cano’s hit by pitch put runners on first and second, Soriano hit a deep homer to the second deck in the Rogers Centre. This three-run blast foreshadowed what was to come for Soriano later in the game.

In the third inning, to give the Yankees the 5-0 lead, Soriano hit a solo homer that bounced off the wall in left. That was his 400th homer of his career. If he continues at the rate his is on right now, for another three or four years, he might be put in the Hall of Fame. To go along with his 400 homers, he has 285 steals, 461 doubles and 1,119 RBIs. Soriano now has an outstanding 11 homers in 30 games with the Yankees this season.

Mark Reynolds, for the team’s third homer of the evening, hit a solo shot to the Blue Jays bullpen in the sixth inning. Reynolds has done well so far in his role as a platoon first basemen with Lyle Overbay. After Eduardo Nunez was taken out of the game in the ninth, Reynolds even ended the game defensively by converting the double play from second, which showed his versatility.

Alex Rodriguez would easily hit his 651st homer of his career in the 7th inning to put him 10 away from passing Willie Mays on the all-time homer list and being awarded an extra $6 million. He will surely not hit 10 more this season, and it is not known if/when he will given his upcoming suspension.

Pettitte won his 16th career game in Toronto at the Rogers Centre/Skydome giving him his 10th (10-9) win of the season in the process. Pettitte has struggled at times this season (4.05 ERA), but in his last three starts he has only allowed one earned run in a combined 19.2 innings pitched. He was able to locate all of his pitches last night, which helped him only allow five hits and two walks. Adam Warren, who along with the more likely David Huff, is a candidate to replace the ineffective Phil Hughes in the rotation, allowed a run in two innings of relief while pitching out of damage.

The Yankees desperately needed that win since they can now win the series and since Oakland won they would have fallen even further back in the Wild-Card race. The Bronx Bombers currently have a 4.5 game deficit with 30 games left to play. They will have every opportunity to make up the ground since 13 of their final 30 games are against last place teams, including tonight against Toronto.