Tagged: Mariano Rivera

Derek Jeter will have his number retired on May 14 of the 2017 season

Derek Jeter media

Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter, who is the best shortstop in Yankees history, will have his #2 retired and get a plaque in Monument Park on May 14, which is Mother’s Day. He played his final game with the Yankees at the end of the 2014 season after a career that saw him go to the All-Star game 14 times.

Before their game against the Houston Astros, Mr. November will become the 22nd player in the illustrious history of the Yankees to have his number retired. He played a franchise record 20 seasons with the Yankees and they were all at a high level except his final farewell season.

The Yankees will now not have any single digit numbers left since Billy Martin (#1), Babe Ruth’s (#3), Lou Gehrig (#4), Joe DiMaggio (#5), Joe Torre (#6), Mickey Mantle (#7), Yogi Berra & Bill Dickey (#8) and Roger Maris (#9) all have their numbers retired. They are all in the Hall of Fame except Martin and Jeter will be too in the first year that he is eligible (2020).

Jeter finished his career with four Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year award in 19963,465 hits (6th all-time), 1,923 runs scored (11th all-time), 260 homers, 1,311 RBIs, 358 steals, a .310 average, 544 doubles and a .377 on-base percentage. He also finished in the top 10 in MVP voting eight times. In only his third season away from the Yankees, he deserves to have a day at Yankee Stadium dedicated for him where his family and former teammates will be able to support him on the field and he he will be able to give a speech to address everyone at the stadium and watching on TV.

Captain Clutch retired in 2014 with a winning percentage in games that he played in of an excellent .593 and five World Series championships. He is known as a player who would do anything that it took to win on the defensive and offensive side. Jeter tops the Yankees all-time list in hits, games played (2,747), doubles, stolen bases, at-bats (11,195), singles (2,595) and hit-by-pitches (170). While Jeter was playing during his 20-year career, he was always the most popular Yankee and his jersey or shirt would be worn by fans more than any other player’s.

He will be the last member of the Core Four to have their number retired. Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte had their numbers retired in 2015 and Mariano Rivera, who has the most saves in MLB history, had his number retired in 2013 while he was still playing and was given a plaque in Monument Park in August of last season.

Bernie Williams, Jeter’s longtime teammate for 11 seasons, also had his number retired during the 2005 season. He is one of the great Yankee outfielders and helped the team win four World Series titles but the reason he isn’t included in the Core Four is because he wasn’t still on the team when they won the World Series in 2009.

Bernie Williams’s No. 51 jersey was retired at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night

Bernie Williams

Bernie Williams

Bernie Williams, who was the center fielder for the Yankees for 16 seasons, will deservedly have his No. 51 jersey retired by the Yankees tonight. He was an integral part of Yankees teams that won the World Series in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000.

He was an All-Star five times, won the Gold Glove award twice and one on Silver Slugger award. He won the batting crown with his .339 batting average in 1998, and he also scored 101 runs, hit 30 doubles, had 26 homers, drove in 97 runs, and had a career-high .575 slugging percentage. During the seven-year prime of his career (27-33), he drove in 100 or more runs five times, he had an average of .307 or better seven times, he scored 101 runs or more seven times and hit 25 or more homers five times.

According to James Smythe, Bernie “Bern Baby Bern” Williams is third on the franchise list in doubles, fifth in hits, fifth in walks, sixth in runs scored, sixth in offensive WAR, seventh in homers and seventh in RBI. He was someone who came through repeatedly under pressure and could be counted on to play everyday. He played the game the right way and had a number of clutch hits in the playoffs. He had two walk-off homers in the playoffs and his 80 RBIs in the postseason are the most of all-time.

There is a Core Fore right now, but it should really the called the “Core Five” because those four World Series championships wouldn’t have happened without Williams.

The Yankees announced that Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill, Mariano Rivera, David Cone, Willie Randolph and Joe Torre will all be part of the ceremony.

During his speech he said he wished he could be playing right now and then said maybe not. He said the 2015 version is more suited for guitar than for playing baseball. He also thanked Joe Torre for being there for him. Williams also thanked his teammates who were on the field with him for being part of the best years of his life.

He fittingly thanked the fans at the end and said that the Yankees fans are the best fans in the world. He thanked the fans for embracing him as a son as he makes his home in New York. Wiliams is happy that he is a Yankee for life. Nobody will ever wear his iconic No. 51 again.

Here is his walk-off homer against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 1 of the ALCS in 1996:

Why Betances and Miller sharing the closer spot could make sense to start the 2015 season

Dellin Betances throwing a pitch at Yankee Stadium

Dellin Betances throwing a pitch at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees have a deep and imposing bullpen with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter, Justin Wilson, Esmil Rogers, Adam Warren and eventually Chasen Shreve and Jacob Lindgren. However, since none of them have more than Carpenter’s four career saves it would make sense for the Yankees to employ a closer by committee approach, at least for the first two months of the season.

In 2014, David Robertson saved 39 games for the Yankees after taking over from the retired Mariano Rivera, but he made sense to be the full-time closer because he had been the top set up man for Rivera for the previous four seasons and even had experience closing. The Yankees rightfully decided to not bring him back on a four-year contract, which has helped give the bullpen more options. However, it does not have a pitcher who has been a top set up man for more than three seasons, which means that the closer position should be earned by Betances or Miller.

Betances would be a logical and sentimental choice because he was an All-Star last season with the Yankees and grew up in the Lower East Side, but last season was his first full season as a relief pitcher. He could not have been better as he used his four-seam fastball that averaged 96 MPH, a devastating slurve (which is a mixture between a curve ball and slider and often freezes hitters) and a changeup to record an outstanding 135 strikeouts and a 1.40 ERA in 90 innings (70 games). He broke Mariano Rivera’s record for strikeouts in a season by a Yankee.

However, even though Betances proved that he has the stuff to be an effective closer as Robertson’s set up man last season, he still likely needs more time to prove himself. This is because before last season the only bullpen work he had was 32 innings for Triple-A Scranton during the 2013 season after being converted from being a starter. He was once a top starter prospect in the organization, as he was the fifth best prospect in 2009 and had an ERA of 2.11 in 17 minor league starts in 2010, but it was downhill from there for him as a starter.

Miller is similar to Betances in that they were both starters earlier in their career before being moved to the bullpen because of ineffectiveness. Miller was in the rotation for the Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins and Boston Red Sox before being sent to the bullpen because he never had an ERA below 4.84, but Miller has been in the bullpen for the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles for the last three seasons.

Miller had an impressive 2.64 ERA while only pitching in 30.2 innings in 2013. He season was cut short in 2013 because of torn ligaments in the lisfranc zone of his foot. His 48 strikeouts led to an outstanding 14.1 strikeouts/nine innings, and he limited the opposition to three homers. One drawback of his productive 2013 season is that he walked 17 batters in those 30.2 innings, which led to a high 5.0 walks/9 innings.

Another similarity between Betances and Miller is that – even though Miller pitched well in 2013 and was one of the top relievers when healthy – they have both truly had one elite season. In 2014, while pitching in 50 games for the Red Sox and 23 games for the Orioles, Miller had a 2.02 ERA in 62.1 innings, a dominating 103 strikeouts, only 17 walks and a phenomenal .802 WHIP. His 2.5 walks/9 innings and 14.9 strikeouts/9 innings were also by far the best of his career. In 2014, Miller threw a fourseam fastball (95 MPH), a slider (85 MPH) and very rarely a changeup (91 MPH). His slider generates a higher amount of swings and misses compared to that of other pitchers.

Since they are both capable of closing based on their stuff and overall effectiveness last season, but can both pitch multiple innings, it would make sense if Joe Girardi went based on match-ups the first two months of the season since Miller is a lefty and Betances is a righty. Whoever proves to get better results in the ninth inning while limiting the walks could get the closer position for the long haul. The Yankees are shaping up to have a bullpen to be reckoned with a top four of Betances, Miller, David Carpenter and Justin Wilson.

They are both coming into their own, which is a definite positive, but have both only shown the ability to perform for a full season at an elite level once. This means that neither of them has earned the closer spot going into the season and since they can both pitch more than one inning it would make sense to utilize them in that way. They could handle the eighth and ninth innings, and Justin Wilson, David Carpenter, Esmil Rogers, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve etc. can look to execute and be counted on in long relief and in the sixth and seventh innings.

Miller was given a four-year, $36 million contract earlier in the offseason, which means that he should get an opportunity to close just like Betances. Based on how Betances and Miller pitched last season, and if Carpenter pitches like he did in 2013, the Yankees bullpen could be just as potent as last year’s Royals bullpen that helped them essentially end games after six innings. In 1996, the Yankees had one of the best closer & set-up man combos in John Wetteland (2.83 ERA/43 saves) and Mariano Rivera (2.09 ERA/130 strikeouts/107.2 innings). However, in 1997, the Yankees had one obvious candidate to close but they now have two.

Teams definitely benefit from having defined roles, but Betances and Miller are both unselfish players, so Girardi should have them share the role to see who is better suited for the pressure of the ninth inning.

Chase Whitley won his first career game and helped give the Yankees a winning streak

Chase Whitley

Chase Whitley

The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City 4-2 on Friday night to give the team a two-game winning streak. Chase Whitley got his first win of his career after pitching seven innings and allowing only two runs. The rookie from Alabama pitched more than five innings for his first time in his short five start career.

Whitley, who now has a very good 2.42 ERA in five starts, was able to keep his pitch count down while not giving up any walks. He actually has only allowed three walks in his 26 innings pitched, and the Yankees are 4-1 in his starts even though he won his first game on Friday. He has really stepped up since the injury to CC Sabathia.

Manager Joe Girardi was impressed by the rookie who finally got his first win after the offense prevented him from getting the win in some of his previous starts. “He has really done it every start,” Girardi said on YES. “He has been really good for us. This is the deepest he has went, but as we have talked about, he has been a reliever most of his career, and I give him a lot of credit. He did a heck of a job again tonight, throwing a lot of strikes, getting some quick innings and outs, he has been impressive.”

After Brian Roberts’s single to center that scored Mark Teixeira in the second, Brian McCann provided all of the offense that the Yankees would need to get the win. His three-run double to left in the third, that drove in Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Teixeira, made the score 4-1 and was his only hit in four at-bats.

This was a good sign for McCann since he had only driven in two runs in his previous nine games. Based on his previous offensive success with the Atlanta Braves, where he was a seven-time All-Star and slugged 20 or more homers seven times, the Yankees are counting on him being a power hitter in the middle of the lineup, with a solid average. He hasn’t done that so far, but his three RBIs could be a sign of more power to come.

Ellsbury, who was 1-5, has a .386 average during the 11-game hitting streak that he is currently on. In those 11 games, he has scored six runs, stolen seven bases and has eight RBIs. The Yankees scored all of their runs off of Jeremy Guthrie, who only allowed one run in 6.2 innings against the Yankees last season.

Dellin Betances pitched the eighth inning and recorded his eighth hold of the season. His two strikeouts improved his season total to 61 in only 36 innings. He has been the team’s best set-up man since David Robertson in 2011, Joba Chamberlain in 2008 and Mariano Rivera in 1996.

Robertson didn’t make it easy for himself as he allowed a walk and a hit in the ninth, but he was able to get out of trouble to record his 14th save of the season with the help of two strikeouts. He was able to get Salvador Perez to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game. Robertson has rebounded well from allowing five earned runs on June 1 since he hasn’t allowed a run in his last three appearances while picking up two saves.

With the win on Friday the Yankees (31-29) moved from third to second place in the AL East. With a win Saturday night, the Yankees will have their longest winning streak since they won three straight from May 24-26. David Phelps (4.11 ERA), who allowed six runs in his last start, will pitch for the Yankees, and Danny Duffy (3.05 ERA) will get his sixth start of the season.

The bullpen for the Yankees has potential this season

Dellin Betances pitching for the Yankees.

Dellin Betances pitching for the Yankees.

The bullpen for the Yankees will look much different in 2014 than it did in 2013. They will be without Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and David Huff. David “Houdini” Robertson will also be in a different role as he will be the closer this season after pitching in the eighth inning in 2013 as Rivera’s set-up man.

Mariano Rivera, who has 652 saves, has retired as the best closer in Major League history. He will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Boone Logan, who was a reliable lefty pitcher for the Yankees for four seasons, signed a three-year contract with the Colorado Rockies. Joba Chamberlain signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers after seven seasons as a starting and relief pitcher with mixed results. He was very successful as a relief pitcher (Joba Rules) early in his career helping the team get to the playoffs, then mostly struggled as a starter and then his return to the bullpen included a dispute with Rivera. David Huff, who did not add much as a reliever last season, was traded to the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations in January.

The Yankees will be counting on David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, and Dellin Betances even more this season. David Phelps and Adam Warren could return to the bullpen as well. They have brought in Matt Thornton to essentially replace Logan as the primary lefty in the bullpen. Left-hander Cesar Cabral could replace Warren or Phelps.

Robertson is ready to handle the pressure of being the closer as he has pitched well as the primary eighth inning pitcher for the last three seasons. He had a 1.08 ERA in 2011, 2.67 ERA in 2012 and a 2.04 ERA last season. He has repeatedly proven that he can get a big strikeout or grounder to strand runners that are in scoring position. Robertson has a very effective curveball that he uses when he needs to get an out. All of the advice that Robertson has received from Rivera should help him adjust to the pressure of the ninth inning.

The eighth inning is currently  up for grabs. Kelley appears to have the inside track based on how he pitched last season in the seventh. He had a 4.39 ERA last season, but that is a result of not pitching well in September. This was likely because he pitched in 57 games, while his previous high was 47 games with the Seattle Mariners. His ERA was consistently in the mid 3’s in July and August. His ability to record strikeouts is an asset as he had 71 in only 53.1 innings.

Thornton, who signed a two-year contract for $7 million after pitching last season with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, had a 3.74 ERA in 2013. The lefty pitched a lot better against lefties (.235 batting average against) than righties (.333 batting average against) last season. His first two seasons were for the Mariners in 2004 and 2005, but he truly established himself as a solid relief pitcher in his seven full season with the White Sox. His ERA was below 3.00 from 2008-2010, and he even picked up eight saves in 2010. For the Yankees, he could close in an emergency, come in to get a lefty out in a key situation and even come in to pitch the whole inning.

Another pitcher that has the potential to be a key member of the bullpen based upon his performance last season is Claiborne, who is entering his second season. He finished his rookie campaign with a 4.11 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 50.1 innings and four holds. The righty from Dallas who was called up on May 5 did not allow any runs in his first seven appearances, and had an outstanding 1.46 ERA after his 20th game. He was on track for finishing with an ERA below 3, but struggled in September like Kelley did.

Betances, who is a towering 6’8″ righty who grew up in the Lower East Side and went to Grand Street Campus High in Brooklyn, pitched very well last season in AAA in relief. He had been a one of the team’s best prospects as a starter along with Manny Banuelos and Andrew Brackman a few years ago, but the decision was made in the middle of the summer that he would have more value in the bullpen as a result of his struggles with control. In 10 games before being called up to the Yankees at the end of August Betances pitched a total of 19.1 innings and only allowed one run (0.47 ERA).

He is able to use his intimidating presence to his advantage out of the bullpen. So far in spring training he has converted 6 and 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. His started using a slurve, which is a mixture between a slider and curveball, in 2012 after mechanical issues with his curve and has been able to use it very effectively during the spring. He has been able to control his 95 MPH fastball so far, and he needs to continue doing that.

Betances is a dark-horse, but if he continues pitching the way he has been, he could prove to be a valuable relief pitcher in the seventh or eighth inning. He is great stuff and has been commanding his pitches, so it seems like he could start the season in the seventh for the Yankees, even though a he can still be sent to AAA without being released.

Betances grew up a Yankees fan and attended David Wells’s perfect game in the bleachers, so it would be fitting if he is able to be a key pitcher out of the bullpen for the Bronx Bombers. He is unproven pitching in the seventh or eighth inning, but based on his numbers so far as a reliever and the effectiveness of his pitches, he has the possibility of being a better option than Kelley in May or June.

Derek Jeter will have a press conference on the YES Network at 11:30 a.m.

Jeter at Steinbrenner Field

Jeter at Steinbrenner Field

Derek Jeter will have a highly anticipated press conference about his retirement at the end of the 2014 season, at George M. Steinbrenner Field at 11:30 a.m, this morning on the YES Network. Today is also the day that position players report to Yankees camp in Tampa, but this press conference by the 13th captain in team history will have many more stories written about it.

He will likely have to address why he announced his retirement on Facebook. This is because Jeter has never been into social media as it has become more and more popular over the last few years. Jeter will also probably get many questions about if he will embrace a similar farewell tour to the one that his longtime teammate, friend and future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, had last season. The timing of the announcement surprised many people, so he might reveal why now and if he thinks he can repeat his performance from 2012.

Derek Jeter has meant a lot to the Yankee over his career that started in 1995, and most fans and players around baseball respect the way he has played the game and acted off of the field. Retiring after this season will hopefully mean that he will be able to go out after a productive season similar to the way that Rivera did. Unfortunately, the Yankees missed the playoffs in Rivera’s final season, so after the spending spree that brought the team Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, Jeter definitely wants to go off into the sunset with his sixth World Series.

Derek Jeter, the best shortstop in MLB history, has announced he is retiring at the end of the season

Derek Jeter talking to the media.

Derek Jeter talking to the media.

Derek Jeter, who is the best shortstop in Yankees’ history and has always carried himself the right way on and off the field, announced today on his Facebook page that he will be retiring at the end of the season. It will truly be an end of an era because the Core Four of Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Jeter all will have retired.

Jeter is the Yankees’ career leader in games, hits and stolen bases, and will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He is also second in doubles and third in runs scored. He is one of the best clutch baseball players in MLB history and can be considered the best shortstop of all-time. He has played the 37th most games in MLB history and could overtake Mel Ott for 26th place if he stays healthy.

Hal Steinbrenner, as George Steinbrenner’s son and the current principal owner of the Yankees, knew Jeter well and remarked about how much Jeter will be missed by the organization and the fans. “He is unquestionably one of the greatest Yankees ever. He has meant so much to fans, the organization, my father and out family,” Steinbrenner said.

He hit his first career homer on opening day in 1996 in his first season as the starting shortstop and hit a homer at Yankee Stadium for his 3,000th career hit.  Going into the 2014 season, Jeter currently has 3,316 hits (10th place), and if he can repeat the amount of hits he had in 2011, he will finish with the sixth most hits in MLB history. Also, Jeter has the 13th most runs scored and if he scores as many runs as he did in 2011 he will overtake Stan Musial for 9th place.

He is the model that every young baseball player should follow. He did not showboat on the field, he always acted like he had been there before, he has always treated the media with respect, he was able to make all of the routine plays (as well as perfecting the jump throw into the hole) and went out of his way to help young players. Numerous players have either chosen to wear No. 2 because of him or have chosen to be a shortstop because of Derek Jeter.

Since Jeter’s rookie season in 1996, Jeter has had his Turn 2 Foundation. “Turn 2’s mission is to create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2″ healthy lifestyles. Through these ventures, the Foundation strives to create outlets that promote and reward academic excellence, leadership development, and positive behavior.”

Jeter always treated the higher-ups in the organization with respect as he was known for calling his long-time manager Joe Torre, Mr. Torre, and calling George Steinbrenner, who was the owner of the Yankees from 1973-2010, Mr. Steinbrenner. Torre, who is close to Jeter, had very complimentary remarks about Jeter’s character.

“You want your daughter to marry (him). He’s just a standup guy that’s got a great deal of character, which unfortunately there is not a whole lot of those people around anymore,” Torre said.

I will now go into some of his many memorable plays throughout his Hall of Fame career that were either clutch, prove that he does anything that it takes to win or a combination of the two.

The first one was in 1996 (when I was in the beginning of my baseball fandom) during the ALDS round of the playoffs against the Baltimore Orioles. Jeter, during his rookie season, hit a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth that tied the score at four. A 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reached over the wall in right and snagged the ball helping Jeter get credit for the homer. This homer turned out to be critical in helping the Bronx Bombers win the game. The Yankees went on to win the game and their first of four championships in five seasons.

A second memorable play was when Jeter made his “flip play” in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. This play helped the Yankees win their first of three consecutive games after being down 2-0. After Shane Spencer missed both cut-off men in trying to get Terrence Long out at home, Jeter appeared out of nowhere to flip the ball to Jorge Posada just in time to get Long out at home. The Yankees ended up getting the 1-0 win. This play displays that Jeter has always made winning plays.

A third memorable play was Jeter’s walk-off blast off of Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim to win Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. As a result of his vintage homer to right field, the Yankees were able to tie the series at two, and earn Jeter the nickname Mr. November. This is because this was the first time that baseball had ever been played during November. The Yankees would lose the series after it went back to Arizona, but this was yet another time that Jeter came through with a homer when they team needed it.

A fourth memorable play was the epic Jeter dive into the stands during a regular season game on July 1, 2004 against the rival Boston Red Sox. It was a 3-3 game in the 12th inning with runners on second and third with two outs. He sacrificed his body as his momentum took him to crash into the seats after catching Trot Nixon’s line drive near the foul-line. He removed from the stands with a busted chin and other scrapes on his face.

A fifth memorable play was the aforementioned 3,000th hit. He had been struggling leading up to this milestone, but Jeter had a game against David Price and the Rays on July 9, 2011 that only he could have had. He was 5-for-5 and his 3,000th hit was a deep homer to left field. The whole team predictably mobbed him at home plate to congratulate him. Jeter is the fist Yankee in their storied history to reach 3,000 hits. After he already had his 3,000th hit, Jeter was impressively able to get the game winning single in the eighth inning.

There will never be another player quite like Derek Jeter. He is a role model to kids, is one of the greatest winners in the history of sports, he plays the game the right way and is an athlete with one of the most endorsements. It would be a fitting ending to a Hall of Fame career if Jeter is able to win his sixth World Series in his final season.