Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time to Get Angry

            With August a heartbeat away, if the Yankees are to make a serious push for the AL East or one of the two available Wild Card spots; the time to get mad as hell and start putting some winning streaks together has to be now!!

            Despite a slight delay in scheduling of his return, Derek Jeter made his 2nd debut of 2013 and deposited the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for a homerun!! It's clique as heck, but there is something magical about the Yankee Captain.

            It was a much needed spark for a club that was chewed up badly against a tough stretch up in Boston, through Texas, and came home for Tampa in which the Yanks went 4-6. The sad part was the Yankees could've easily went 9-1 during those games if they could've even gotten a little shred of offense. The hitting and lack of power has been so bad that Yankee pitching would lose a game if they gave up even 1 run. To help inject a little power into the lineup the Yankees invited back the former "Robinson Cano" of the farm system before being traded for A-Rod back in 2004, that is Alfonso Soriano. No relation to the happy and charming Rafael Soriano.

            After another unsurprisingly wasted season by the Chicago Cubs they were more than willing to trade Soriano to the Yankees for a minor league pitching prospect. The move was partially a reaction to the Yankees extreme lack of hitting, but also likely a sign the Yankee front office feels Alex Rodriguez is going to be suspended really soon. Another big name in baseball, Ryan Braun, who is also linked to biogenesis, recently accepted a 50-game suspension for this season in a plea deal with MLB. Rodriguez was due back last week, but after a quad strain the Yankees had their doctor examine him and the MRI results, according to the Yankee doctors, was that A-Rod's return needed to be pushed back. A-Rod smelt conspiracy that the Yankees were trying to keep him out of the lineup, so he had his own doctors review the MRI results and they (naturally) cleared A-Rod to play. To make things even more disruptive, Rodriguez went on Mike Francesa's radio show for a desperate PR blitz to make noise that he's fit to play and that perhaps the Yankees are keeping him away on purpose.

            Although Brian Cashman would love for A-Rod to fall into the polar bear exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, they both agreed to a rehab assignment which will begin on August 1st and should have A-Rod finally back in action a week later, pending he's not hammered with a suspension beforehand.

             Even if he's back in pinstripes, a suspension still may come down on him at a moment's notice. In addition to the suspension of using PEDs, there's also the possibility A-Rod could be charged with obstruction of justice for supposedly trying to buy the evidence off of the biogensis guy before he went public. The Yankee front office will be rooting hard for MLB and the US Department of Justice to nail Rodriguez really good so they could somehow remove themselves from the $114 million left of that contract they gave him. The pickup of Alfonso Soriano is a great insurance policy in case Rodriguez doesn't return in 2013, and with Curtis Granderson due back in about a week's time, maybe the Yanks will be able to score more than 1 run per game, perhaps even 2.

55-50 (4th Place AL East - 7.5 games behind 1st Place Boston Red Sox)

- Derek Jeter made a real return this time and homered in his first at-bat. It might mean nothing, or it could be a sign that something special about to start.
- Alfonso Soriano was brought back to town in a trade and that mean less of seeing Vernon Wells.
- Ivan Nova continues to roll along with dominating stuff, but like other Yankee starters, he's been getting no run support. 

Foul Tips:
- Alex Rodriguez's return was pushed back with a quad strain, and although a 5-game rehab plan is in place that somewhat makes his return foreseeable, there's been extreme tension between him and the front office, plus a serious possibility of being suspended for the rest of this season and even 2014 is hanging over his head. If he can return and escapes any legal issues, the his return, coupled with Granderson's, Jeter's, and the trade for Soriano makes the Yankee lineup that more formidable.
- Andy Pettitte has been making strides in improving himself, but he's yet to have a dominant start since his rough period began a couple of months ago.
- Phil Hughes keeps throwing well, but also has been plagued with no run support. As the trade deadline approaches, Hughes' name is rumored to being shopped around by the Yanks. He would certainly be an attractive item to help the Yankees bring another good bat into the lineup, especially at 3B. 

- CC Sabathia has turned into the Yankees' worst starter; being clobbered in his both starts since the All-Star break. Is this going to be another bad long-term contract the Yanks have to deal with?
- Travis Hafner is just about as done as it gets and is bound to either being designated for assignment or traded away once the Yankees get more of the players back. He's been absolutely horrible and the sad fact is he's statistically the team's best hitter with runners in scoring position. A shoulder injury has landed him on the DL for 15 days, but there's a great chance he'll never wear the pinstripes again.
- After a small window of success after tweaking his swing, Vernon Wells has fallen into the pits again and continues to be an automatic out.
- The latest Yankee 3B call-up, Brent Lillibridge, has been like all the call-ups for 3B this season, an automatic out. 

            There's two months left of which Jeter, Granderson, Soriano, and A-Rod should be around for barring any injuries or suspensions or obstruction of justice charges. They got the pitching, they just need to start getting the hits. 

             Jeter's first homer of 2013 was probably the most important one for the Yankees this season....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Ying Yang Returns

             Ask any Yankee fan when the season started and all the key players went down in Spring Training - what would they settle for: The answer would be stay around .500 and wait for the reinforcements to get back. More or less the team has done that, but the only tease was they were a whole thirteen games over .500 at one point, and with no bonefide powerhouse in the AL East, greed took over and Yankee fans expected more!

            At the All-Star break they find themselves seven games over at 51-44, but it was a crummy end to the first half due to their latest homestand. They went 2-1 against the Orioles (good), 2-2 against the Royals (poor) and 1-2 against the Twins who they always beat up (disgraceful). Worse yet, the team received an unexpected shot in the arm when Derek Jeter returned one day sooner than expected, but then in that game he pulled his quad muscle was shut down till this coming Friday against Boston. He probably could've played during the weekend against the Twins, but Cashman and Girardi used caution with their elder shortstop.

            One interesting revelation Jeter gave was that during that time he broke his ankle in last season's playoffs against Detroit, he shouldn't have been playing on that leg to begin with. It must have been cracked for a while before it finally gave out. That's why he's the Captain!

            And the snag with the "reinforcements" part is that Teixeira, and for the most part, Kevin Youkilis are out of the equation for 2013, but miraculously Lyle Overbay has soften a majority of that blow. 

            There's still no clear schedule for Curtis Granderson, although he can't be too far away, but one certainly is Alex Rodriguez has been announced to be coming back Monday against Texas. His name is still being flung around with the Florida Biogenesis scandal and supposedly A-Rod gave his statement to MLB investigators last Friday. Leaks from MLB is that they're looking to suspend him, but their star witness from the Biogenesis lab has a sterling reputation from trying to blackmail these alleged players before going public with his information, and overall, anything dealing with Florida and legality has been bumpy lately. 

             A-Rod continues to prepare for his return because he knows MLB can't lay a finger on him, and its hypercritical for Commissioner Bud Selig to say anything about it because he was enjoying the steroid cash McGwire, Sosa, Bonds and friends were generating for baseball after the 94' strike without asking how they were breaking Roger Maris' record over and over. 

             The never-ending doping scandals and injuries aside, there was a great moment for baseball at the 2013 All-Star game when Mariano Rivera was given a warm sendoff in his final appearance at the Mid-Summer Classic. With a 3-0 lead, Manager Jim Leyland decided to let Rivera work the 8th inning to guarantee him time on the field to get his dues. It would have been nice if Rivera came into the 9th to get a save, but Leyland was worried if another reliever blew the 3-0 lead and the NL went ahead in the score, then there would be 9th inning and Rivera couldn't come out. Other than that it was a perfect night for Rivera as he worked a 1-2-3 inning and took home the Game MVP honors. 

51-44 (4th Place AL East - 6 games behind 1st Place Boston Red Sox)

- Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are both about back in action, completely by Monday. Nix, Nunez, and newcomer Ivan Cruz have been good fill-in's, but it makes a world of difference to see those two penciled in. 
- Ivan Nova finally found his command and has turned in two consecutive dominant starts!! This is key with Sabathia and Pettitte being less than their usual selves lately. 
- Ichiro has life in his bat compared to when he started this season, and even Vernon Wells has been getting some hits again. 

Foul Tips:
- Robinson Cano (about the only Yankee who hasn't suffered an injury this season) took a nasty Matt Harvey fastball off his knee in the All-Star game. X-rays were negative and he's expected to re-start the season on Friday, but he's really someone the Yankees can't afford to go down. 
- Sabathia had a horrible start to end the first half and his 9-7 record looks very mediocre to what has been a mediocre season for him. Will he ever get on a hot streak in 2013? 
- David Phelps experienced some back issues and was skipped for his last start, hopefully the break gave him time to rest and get back on the good track he was on. 

- Travis Hafner has become too much of an automatic out and now he's making Cashman look bad with Raul Ibanez tearing the cover off the ball in Seattle, although it was later revealed Ibanez wanted to be closer to home in the Emerald City (of course a few extra million could've changed that). 

             The Yankees are always in the ying-yang situation of having someone like Jeter or Rivera, who are viewed as baseball royalty and do everything the right way, and then further down the bench there's Alex Rodriguez and his latest PED or celebrity girlfriend news floating about. The good-tidings from Rivera's All-Star finale, and the returns of Jeter and A-Rod will be needed to speak the club as the Yanks start a tough stretch of games against Boston, Texas, and the hot Tampa Bay Rays. A-Rod can do himself a big favor and get off to a good start. He doesn't need to mash homers every at bat, but if he's helping the team win then the fans and the front office will look the other way, as they usually do.

             Everybody just wants the victories........