Tagged: Lyle Overbay

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

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It appears that offensive help is on the way after the Yankees were shutout by the Rangers

Ivan Nova in spring training.

Ivan Nova in spring training.

The Yankees lost the first game of the series in Arlington, Texas to the Rangers, 3-0, in which all three of their hits were singles. They have now scored two runs or less for the seventh time this month. After a great start to the season as the replacements did better than expected, the Yankees are now 22-29 in their last 51 games.

It does appear that offensive help is on the way as George King is reporting that the Yankees are close to trading for former Yankee Alfonso Soriano. Soriano, who played for the Yankees from 1999 until 2003, was actually traded for Alex Rodriguez after the 03′ season. He has lost a lot of the speed that he used to have, since he stole more than 18 bases in every season between 2001 and 2008, but he has 10 steals so far this season to go with 17 homers and 51 Runs Batted In.

The fact that Soriano is 37 is a drawback but the Yankees desperately need offense. He would be able to replace Travis Hafner at DH, or play left-field since Vernon Wells has also been struggling. Travis Hafner actually has the worst batting average of any player since May 1. He played well for the first month, where he hit six of his 12 homers and finished the month with a .310 average, but now his average has fallen all the way down to .210.

There is an excuse for the Yankees offense in this game since they were facing Yu Darvish, who has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. He allowed two hits in 6.1 innings and has a 2.86 ERA.

Lyle Overbay had another solid game for the Yankees and was the only offensive player who contributed. Overbay, who picked up two of the team’s three hits, has four multi-hit games in his last seven games. Robinson Cano, who was 0-4, had his 12-game hitting streak come to an end.

A missed call by an umpire led to the first run of the game for the Rangers in the first inning. Adrian Beltre hit a single to drive in Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler should have been called out on his steal attempt for the third out. Nelson Cruz, who hit a homer in the seventh off of Ivan Nova that was caught by the Yankees bullpen catcher, could be suspended in the coming days for his role with the Biogenesis clinic in Miami.

Ivan Nova pitched well enough to get his fifth win but instead got his third loss (his is now 4-3). Nova is the team’s second best pitcher right now behind Hiroki Kuroda as he has averaged eight innings in his last three starts and allowed an average of two runs.

Luis Cruz made an outstanding defensive play in the third inning to prevent what would have been a double. He ran far into the outfield near the foul line and made a basket style catch while extending himself to the fullest. He was down for a while but was able to stay in the game.

The Yankees played well on defense, highlighted by Chris Stewart and Cruz, but they need the offense to come up with more than just singles against Alexi Ogando (2.93 ERA) during Tuesday night’s game. The Yankees will also hope that Phil Hughes, who has been very erratic this season with a 4.57 ERA, can stick to his trend of pitching much better on the road than at home.  He has a 3.38 ERA in away games but at Yankees Stadium it is an unacceptable 5.63.

Yankees win behind Kuroda and a stellar defensive play by Stewart

Christ Stewart swinging.

Christ Stewart swinging.

The Yankees bounced back from their loss to the Red Sox on Friday by beating them 5-2 on Saturday afternoon. Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed two runs in seven innings, pitched his third dominating start in a row, and proved that he should have played in the All-Star Game. Chris Stewart also made the defensive play of the year.

He know has an outstanding 2.65 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Kuroda has been the Yankees best starter this season and CC Sabathia has been the second. The Yankees will need Kuroda and Sabathia to pitch like aces for the rest of the season. However, it is a great sign that Kuroda continued his stellar pitching after the All-Star break. Also, this was a bounce back start for Kuroda because in his first start against the Red Sox, on June 2, Kuroda allowed eight hits and three runs in 5.1 innings.

Brett Gardner, Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez each had three hits and Gardner and Overbay drove in a run apiece. Luis Cruz was 1-3, stole one base, scored three runs and drove in Nunez, which added up to a solid all around game. Robinson Cano’s RBI in the seventh gave the Yankees all the runs that they would need.

Mariano Rivera saved his 31st game of the season and now has two effective outings in a row after blowing a save against Baltimore on July 7. After previously pitching in 53 games at Fenway Park in his career, Rivera got likely his only ovation from the Boston fans. They know that he is a baseball legend and were giving him respect. This was Rivera’s 35th career save at Fenway Park.

Regarding the standing ovation in Boston, Overbay said: That doesn’t surprise me. He deserves it. I think everybody is embracing what he has done as a pitcher, so it’s well deserving and shows you the respect they have for him.”

With the win, the Yankees snapped their three-game losing streak and they had also previously lost their last three games to the Red Sox.

Besides Derek Jeter’s catch where he dove into the stands at Fenway Park on July 1, 2004, Chis Stewart’s outstanding defensive play in the eighth inning ranks as one of the best in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry in recent memory. This was a critical play because if the double play was not converted then Boston would have had a runner on second with two outs, with a 4-2 score.

Here is the video where where Chris Stewart caught a ball in about the second row near home plate and then threw out Daniel Nava to complete the double play.

Sabathia and sloppy defense led to the loss to the Twins

CC Sabathia delivering a pitch.

CC Sabathia delivering a pitch.

The Yankees (51-44) lost their last game before the All-Star break, 10-4, to the Minnesota Twins after two errors and surprisingly shaky pitching from CC Sabathia. In his career, prior to this afternoon’s game, Sabathia had 17 wins, four complete games, 184 strikeouts and a remarkable 2.96 ERA, which makes this start an anomaly.

Only three of Sabathia’s eight runs were earned, as a result of Eduardo Nunez’s throwing error in the third and Lyle Overbay’s error in the fourth, but Sabathia still allowed eight hits and two walks in four innings pitched.

This has been Sabathia’s worst “first-half” (the All-Star break is not technically the middle of the season) of the season as a result of the 4.07 ERA that he has so far. His second highest pre All-Star break ERA was 3.86 in 2009, but he ended that season with a 3.37 ERA and 19 wins. He should be able to pitch much better in the second half because he usually improves after the All-Star break.

Nunez, who has been error prone throughout his career, made his fifth error in 35 games in the field this season. Nunez has made four errors in 32 games started as shortstop this season. In 2012, Nunez committed a combined seven errors in 26 games played at shortstop, third base and second base.  Overbay, who has been one of the best defensive first baseman throughout his career, committed his third error of the season in 77 games played at first base (He has also started games in the outfield and at DH this season).

The two offensive standouts for the Yankees were Ichiro Suzuki and All-Star Robinson Cano. Ichrio was 3-5 with two runs batted in and his sixth homer of the season. Cano, who was 2-4 with an RBI, is now on a nine-game hitting streak. However, the Yankees still stranded nine runners during the game.

It is disappointing that the Yankees did not win the final two games of the series against the Twins. They had won won the previous five, four at Target Field and one on Friday, and the Yankees had been 17-5 against American League Central opponents before the last two losses to the Twins (39-53).

The losses against the Twins as well as the two losses to the Royals in the middle of the homestand are ones the Yankees needed because the schedule gets more difficult after the Midsummer Classic. They play 10 games in 10 days against the Red Sox (56-39), Rangers (54-41) and Rays (55-41). The Rays have won 10 of their last 11 games and have been able to take advantage of inferior competition unlike the Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers basically did not show up for the last game of the series. They need to be rejuvenated by the four days off so that they will be ready for Boston. Even though Phil Hughes had 10 strikeouts against the Twins on Saturday, Brian Cashman should look into getting an upgrade at catcher for him because his is not reliable enough and would do better for a National League team.

The Yankees won behind Nova’s pitching and homers by Overbay and Cano

Ivan Nova

Ivan Nova

The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 8-1 behind a much needed offensive outburst. The Yankees scored as many runs in this game as they did in their previous four games combined.

The offensive stars were Lyle Overbay and Robinson Cano. Overbay hit a grand slam in the sixth and Cano hit a three-run homer to deep center in the third.

Overbay has been such an important signing because he has given the Yankees more offense than they ever could have hoped for when he was acquired at the very end of March. He was supposed to be the starter until Mark Teixeira returned from injury, but since Teixeira will be out the rest of the season because of surgery, after an ineffective 10-game return, Overbay will continue to be the starter and it seems like he will be up to the task.

From the 2004 season through the 2012 season, Overbay’s 290 doubles ranked fourth among major league first baseman. So far this season he has a .244 average, 11 homers and 40 RBI. However, he is a first baseman that has always been known for his defense and he has come through in that category as well.

Cano’s homer was needed as it set the tone for the game as their first run was scored off of a passed ball thrown by Wade Davis. Cano had a solid game in many facets since he had three hits in four at-bats, drove in his 62nd RBI and even added his sixth steal of the season. He would have had a triple and a 4-4 game if he would have been hustling from contact, but he was not since he thought the ball that hit the top of the wall was a homer.

Ivan Nova’s second consecutive dominating start, where he had command of all of his pitches, was another major positive. He allowed two runs in a complete game in his last start, and today, he went eight innings while only giving up five hits and striking out six. The only blemish against Nova was an RBI double by Eric Hosmer.

In Ivan Nova’s last four games pitched (3 starts) he is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA. The period that Nova spent in the minors helped him since his is now throwing his fastball where he wants it and is throwing his curve ball for strikeouts or to induce grounders. He really had command of his curve ball tonight.

Nova said that: “I don’t remember the last time I feel the way I feel. I’m throwing strikes with all my pitches.”  He has recently been pitching like he did in 2011 when he was fourth in Rookie of the Year voting and won 16 games.

Overbay said he was looking for a fastball on the outside part of the plate and that is exactly what he got in order to hit his grand slam.

Brett Gardner, who stole his 12th base of the season in the fifth inning, is now tied with Phil Rizzuto (149) for 12th most steals in Yankees history.

The only negatives about this game were that Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner are now day-to-day. Hafner, who was 0-2, suffered his injury by fouling a ball off of his foot while swinging in the batting cage between innings. Gardner, who scored two runs on two walks, left the game in the right leg contusion.

A stat to keep in mind is that the Yankees are 29-1 this season when they score five or more runs in a game. Even more important than Ivan Nova proving to Joe Girardi that he deserves to stay in the rotation for the rest of the season was that the offense busted out of the slump that they were in. The runs that were scored today will hopefully give the bats some momentum in order to win at least three of the remaining four games before the All-Star break.

The Yankees lost after scoring one run for their third consecutive game

Travis Hafner

Travis Hafner

The Yankees lost 3-1 to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Their offense has now only scored three runs in the past three games. The Miami Marlins, who have scored the least amount of runs in baseball, have scored seven runs in their last three games.

The loss can be blamed on their non-existent clutch hitting in the first inning. It is rare that a team will have four hits in one inning while only scoring one run but that is exactly what the Yankees pulled off in the first. Robinson Cano hit a single that drove in Brett Gardner, but then Travis Hafner would strike out and Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez recorded outs with the bases loaded.

The Yankees should have been able to score at least three runs in the first stanza. They can’t afford to waste opportunities when ducks are on the pond right now. From the second inning until the end of the game the offense only had a single from Gardner and a single from Chris Stewart.

The Yankees are hitting only .221 with the bases loaded this season, which is basically in line with the ineptitude that they showed tonight.

Raul Ibanez, who hit 19 homers last season for the Yankees and has 22 so far this season for the Mariners, should still be on the Yankees. The Yankees signed Travis Hafner in the off-season to 1 year/$2 million contract, but Ibanez signed a 1 year/$2.75 million contract with the Mariners.

Brian Cashman obviously should have decided to bring Ibanez back because he could have been the DH and played some outfield, and Ibanez has eight more homers and has driven in 14 more runs than Hafner. Travis Hafner has been part of the problem lately as he only had one hit in his last 14 at-bats.

CC Sabathia proved to be the workhorse that he has been so many times for the Yankees as he pitched a complete game while allowing three earned runs, allowing seven hits and recording seven strikeouts. Billy Butler, who hit a solo homer to deep left off of Sabathia in the seventh, now has four homers in his last six games against the Yankees.

It does not get much worse than the slump that the Yankees are in right now. The offensive ineptitude during the past three losses has ruined solid starts from Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia.

Ivan Nova, who will be pitching for the Yankees on Wednesday, should pitch around Butler so that he doesn’t have a chance to drive in any more runs. After the momentum that the Yankees had coming into the series, having won six of their previous seven games, they now need to win the next two games against the Royals so salvage a split.

The Yankees need Ivan Nova to have a similar performance to the one he had on Friday, when he allowed two runs in a complete game win, and they need the offense to finally hit in the clutch like they did during the winning streak.

You can vote for David Robertson to get into the All-Star Game here. Voting ends at 4PM on Thursday. As of Tuesday, he was in second place behind Steve Delebar of the Toronto Blue Jays in the Final Vote competition. He was still in second place on Wednesday morning.

The Yankees lost to the Royals after only scoring one run

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner

The Yankees lost the opening game of the series against the Kansas City Royals, 5-1. They had a chance to score at least a few runs in the ninth inning, but after having the bases loaded with nobody out, Brett Gardner and Zoilo Almonte struck out to end the game.

The game was delayed by 59 minutes in the fourth inning. Before the official rain delay the grounds crew decided to try and fix the home plate area but then they had trouble getting the tarp on the field. Adam Warren pitched well in relief of Phil Hughes, who did not come back after the delay partly because he had to sit for much longer than Jeremy Guthrie, but the Yankees will not win many games when they score only one run.

The offense was able to put nine hits together but 10 runners were left on base and hitters left runners in scoring position with two outs four different times.

Hughes would have had a solid outing if he would have limited the Royals scoring in the second to Billy Butler’s solo home run. However, as is often the case, he was not able to bounce back as David Lough hit an RBI double later in the inning.

Brett Gardner, who only has one hit in his last 21 at-bats, set a new Yankee record after striking out in the ninth inning. He has now struck out in 16 consecutive games. He needs to turn it around because before this cold spell he was one of the most consistent hitters on the team.

The Yankees offense is now struggling once again as they have only scored two runs in their last two games (both losses). This can partly be blamed on not starting Lyle Overbay, Ichiro Suzuki or Eduardo Nunez. Overbay did not start the game because the Yankees had just signed Travis Ishikawa to give him a break and Joe Girardi didn’t want Nunez starting three games in a row coming off of the disabled list.

Robinson Cano has also cooled off after a previous hot streak. He will start the All-Star Game for the American League, but Cano has gone 3-16 in the last five games. However, he was due for a letdown (as well as Gardner) because in the five previous games he was 11-19 (.578), with four homers and nine runs batted in.

It was surprising that Ishikawa was booed by the fans after his second strike out in as many at-bats in the fifth inning. New players will usually have a few games to prove their worth before the fans start to boo them.

The Yankees only had four base-runners against Jeremy Guthrie in 6.2 innings. He was able to regain the pitching form that he showed before the long rain delay as the Yankees did not score until Overbay’s solo homer in the seventh. On the pitching side for the Yankees, Preston Claiborne had his second consecutive sub-par performance. After allowing only one earned one in his first 15 appearances, he has now allowed four earned runs in his last two.

The Yankees are now 14-4 against American League Central opponents this season and will hope to make it 15-4 after Tuesday night’s game. Before the All-Star break, the Yankees have six consecutive contests against AL Central teams, so they need to take advantage of the Royals and Twins in order to make up ground in the division.

You can vote for David Robertson to get into the All-Star Game here. Voting ends at 4PM on Thursday.