Dominating Effort Against White Sox

    Friday, April 29, 2011, 1:27 PM [General]

    CC Sebathia was able to continue the Yankees starters streak and throw the seventh consecutive quality start in a 12-3 Yankees victory over the White Sox, on Thursday night.  Sebathia allowed three runs, zero earned because of an Eduardo Nunez error, seven hits and he struck out six batters in seven innings pitched.  Surprise contributor Lance Pendleton, who has not allowed any runs in 10 appearances, pitched two innings of scoreless baseball only allowing two hits. 

    Pendleton was actually selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2005 draft.  Shortly after he underwent Tommy John surgery and once he was recovered he went on to pitch in the minor leagues for a few seasons.  He was selected by the Houston Astros in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, in December.  (If a minor league player is chosen in the Rule 5 draft he must be kept on the 25 man roster for the whole season or else he will be returned to the previous team.)  He returned to the Yankees on March 27th and was called up on April 15th when Phil Hughes was placed on the disabled list because of a “dead arm”.  

    Bartolo Colon actually started the streak of dominating efforts by the starters on April 20th when he pitched six and two-thirds innings while only allowing two runs.  He recorded seven strikeouts which would foreshadow his performance later in the week.  Since the victory on the 20th the Yankees have not allowed more than three runs in any contest.  Colon had another brilliant performance on Wednesday, against his former team, the White Sox, only allowing one run in eight innings, while recording six more strikeouts.  Colon is starting to prove the doubters wrong since he has had two superb starts filling in for Hughes.   This was also Sebathia’s second dominating start of the streak since he threw eight innings, allowing three earned runs and seven strikeouts during a 15-3 victory over the Orioles on the 23rd.

    However, this game signaled an offensive resurgence by the Yankees that will hopefully be a trend and not a mirage.  They had not scored more than three runs in any of the last three games, and they could have easily come away with a victory of they had given AJ Burnett and Ivan Nova some run support.  They were finally able to capitalize on Thursday, scoring six runs off of Edwin Jackson and feasting on a struggling White Sox bullpen.

    Nick Swisher probably had his best game of the season so far, contributing three hits and his first home run of the campaign.  Brett Gardner might be showing signs of a resurgence after stealing his fourth base and even hitting his third home run of the season.  Gardner actually has as many home runs as David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez combined.  Curtis Granderson continued his hot streak with a triple off of Jackson which scored Eduardo Nunez.

    I don’t expect the Yankees to score 12 runs every game but hopefully this is a sign that the offense is turning the corner in order to not waste many more quality performances by the starters.  As stated above, the rotation has been very reliable recently, but one does not know when Nova, Garcia or Colon will tail off.  However, right now it seems like Garcia and Colon will be more reliable than Nova.  



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    Cashman's Offseason Has Been Money

    Thursday, April 28, 2011, 12:47 PM [General]

    There is no way to tell if a players encouraging or underachieving start to the season will continue or not but so far Brian Cashman’s offseason signings have been a resounding success, overall.  He deserves praise for his strategy of signing many low risk high reward older players hoping that many of them would capitalize.

    Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez are both hitting above .300 in limited action with Jones even adding a home run as one of his six hits.  An added benefit of signing Chavez is that he gives the team versatility since he can play first base and third base.  Freddy Garcia has only allowed one run in three appearances, two starts.  They will need him to continue this dominance.  Russell Martin has played like the All Star he was a few years ago before his injuries.  He is hitting .292, with six home runs, 16 RBI and has shown the speed from earlier in his career with two stolen bases.  The offseason signing who has surprised the most is none other than Bartolo Colon. 

    Colon has likely been the Yankees most dominating pitcher so far.  He has proven that his excellent numbers from winter league and Spring Training were not a fluke.  Most probably doubted Colon in Spring Training because he showed up out of shape and did not even pitch in the major leagues last season but so far he looks the pitcher who won 21 games for the Angles in 2005.  So far, in five appearances and two starts, he has 26 strikeouts, six walks and has recorded a stellar 2.77 ERA.  Colon has remarkably been able to pitch this well even weighing in at 265 pounds.

    Cashman’s most expensive offseason signing was Rafael Soriano who was coming off an All Star season with the Tampa Bay Rays.  He was signed to a three-year, $35 million contract after recording a 1.73 ERA, 45 saves and 57 strikeouts with Tampa Bay.  So far this season he has allowed nine earned runs which is only three less than he surrendered all of last season.

    Soriano came to the Yankees with a lot of hype because it seemed like he would be the perfect bridge to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning, and be a suitable replacement for Rivera when he does retire.  However, as stated above has not produced on the field, in addition to having meltdowns as well as refusing to talk to the press after ruining a CC Sebathia win against the Twins.  He has even used an excuse the cold weather as an excuse for giving up runs earlier in the season.

    It is possible that he is one of the players that just can’t handle the media and everything that comes with playing in New York City but based on his performance that last few years it seems like he will bounce back.   In 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 he pitched in at least 53 games and his ERA was always 3.00 or below.  His previous track record surely suggests that he will have many more shut down performances than not the rest of the season.

    The other pitcher that Cashman signed that was going to be counted on as being a reliable lefty out of the bullpen was Pedro Felicano.  He was somewhat of a risky signing coming into the season because over the last three years he led the majors in appearances.  He suffered a torn capsule in his left shoulder in Spring Training and is now likely out for the season.  Cashman could not predict that this injury was coming and if needed the Yankees can sign another lefty in July.    

    Jones and Chavez offer reliable bats off the bench that the Yankees did not have last season and the team will need the stellar pitching from Colon and Garcia to continue.  Hughes will be out for an extended period of time so if Colon can continue to “turn back the clock” it will surely be an added and necessary bonus.  The bullpen can still be a strength of the team when Soriano lives up to his past performance.


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    The Rotation Uncertainties

    Monday, April 25, 2011, 10:08 AM [General]

    There have been three major surprises with the Yankees rotation to this point which I dont think many had expected.  In particular, the names that come to mind are Phil Hughes, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.  The first is a glaring negative and the last two are glowing positives.

    Hughes came off a campaign where he won 18 games, struck out 146 batters and recorded a 4.19 ERA.  He was named to the All-Star team but his stats were a lot better before the All-Star break than after.  Hughes also had a forgettable postseason series against the Rangers where he had an 11.42 ERA in two starts.  However, based on his performance the past two seasons (he was 8-3 with a solid 3.03 ERA in 2009), he was named the number three starter, and easily could have been Joe Girardi's number two starter coming into the season.  It seemed like Hughes would be the second most reliable starter for the Yankees this season after the always dependable CC Sebathia, but so far that recipe has not come to fruition.  

    It is hard to figure out why, but he has lost his previous mid nineties velocity on his fastball and in turn all of his effectiveness.  Hughes has been put on the disabled list because of a "dead arm" but the team is really just making up an injury so they can figure out where his struggles are coming from.  Hopefully a start or two at AAA Scranton and some work with new pitching coach Larry Rothschild can help Hughes regain his form 2009-2010.  It seems like whatever Rothschild has said has worked so far because he needs one more successful bullpen session before he makes a minor league start, likely on Thursday.  However, Hughes can't really be judged on his bullpen sessions because he is not facing live hitters in a game situation.  Come Thursday we will officially know how far he has come in turning the corner.  His turn around is critical because I don't think that the Yankees can rely on both their positive surprises, Colon and Garcia, for an extended period of time. 

    The reason it seems like they will not be able to keep up this dominating performance to start the year is because of their recent track record, but if they can it would be an added bonus because then the Yankees would be able to move Ivan Nova to the bullpen or AAA.  Colon has been even more of a surprise than Garcia because he did not even pitch in the majors last season.  He has successfully proven that his dominating winter ball performance was not a fluke.  Garcia recorded 12 wins last season with a 4.64 ERA, last season, with the White Sox so it is not likely this dominance will last for much longer from him.  He was decent last season but it is possible that Rothschild has helped him figure out some of his issues.

    Garcia and and even Colon have both exceeded expectations so far this season.  Garcia has only given up one run in 13 innings pitched and Colon has pitched well in his role coming out of the bullpen as well as starting now in place of Hughes.  Colon has a 3.50 ERA with four times as many strikeouts as walks.  If he can continue that production that will be an added bonus.  I don't have that much confidence in the young and inconsistent Nova, so when Hughes gets figured out it might be a smart decision to have Colon, Garcia and Hughes in the rotation until they can make an upgrade in July.

    Even though the Yankees have started 12-6, and are in first place in the AL East, nobody would have expected Freddy Garcia to be statistically the most dominating pitcher and Phil Hughes to be the one with the most issues to this point.  Hopefully Hughes' velocity issues gets resolved soon so that he can go back to pitching like he did last season.  The Yankees will need him to have a successful season but Colon and Garcia have been pleasant surprises.  


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    A weighty issue

    Friday, February 18, 2011, 4:17 PM [General]

    The weight of a player when they report to Spring Training, after an off-season away from the team, should not really be significantly dissected until the player starts to play games against other teams.  However, a sure sign that would prove that a player did not commit himself properly in the off-season would be if they showed up to Spring Training looking like Bartolo Colon.  On the other hand Colon has always pitched on the plus side and had a stellar campaign in 2005, when he won the CY Young.

    One player that has always played with a heavy figure is none other than CC Sebathia. He has proved to be able to excel while having extra weight throughout his career but has wisely cut off some pounds this off-season.  Sebathia trimmed off 25 pounds largely by cutting Cap’n Crunch from his diet, as well as other sugary foods.  This should help him be able to continue to be the durable pitcher that he has been during his stellar career.  He is one pitcher that the Yankees don’t need to worry about when it comes to their weight.

    Newcomers Garcia and Colon are heavy pitchers, weighing in at 250 and 245, respectively.  They should consult David Wells, who is in Spring Training as a special pitching assistant, regarding how to pitch well with extra girth on their body.  Wells was never in the best condition but he was able to throw a perfect game and was a three-time All-Star.  If Garcia can pitch like he did last year, while benefiting from Wells’ knowledge, the Yankees might be able to have a hidden gem at the number five spot in the rotation.

    Another pitcher whose weight has been a subject of some controversy in recent days has been Joba Chamberlain.  He is noticeably heavier than last season but it is reportedly mostly muscle.   It is still unprofessional of Chamberlain to arrive weighing more but the only thing that matters is if he can control his pitches when it matters. Since he will be pitching in the bullpen this might not be a major issue.  This might even help him have the consistent mid to high 90’s velocity that he had during his magical rookie season.

    On the hitting side of the equation, the Yankees also recently signed an outfielder, Andruw Jones who has battled weight issues for much of his baseball career.  Jones is currently listed at 230 pounds but in recent years weighed 250 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  His average since 2007 has never been higher than .230, but he did manage to slug 19 home-runs last season.  Jones is reportedly in better shape than last season, and if he can hit a similar amount of home-runs, stay injury free and play solid defense he will be a solid fourth outfielder. 

    This is a critical Spring Training for Chamberlain because if he can use his increased weight to his advantage he can really be an asset in the seventh inning.  If he can’t do this, he might be sent to the minors and his increased weight will be used as a scapegoat.

    Since Colon has had prolonged weight issues during his career, while not even pitching in the league last season, I don’t see him having much of a role with the team, but Garcia and Chamberlain can certainly be assets to be relied upon.  They could learn a lot from Sebathia and Wells during their time in Tampa.


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    The Case for Jesus Montero

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 8:09 AM [General]

    Jesus Montero is one of the top catching prospects in baseball, and even though the Yankees have the option of having Francisco Cervelli be the back-up catcher like last year, it would make sense to have Montero on the major league roster.

    He is either their catcher of the future or potential trade bait to get an elite starting pitcher and the Yankees should see what he can do against major league pitching.  Even though he is only 21 years old, I think he is ready to be called up, and learn from Jorge Posada and Russell Martin.  Right now he is rated as the fourth best prospect in all of baseball, after playing 123 games in AAA last season, where he hit .289 with 21 home runs and 89 RBI. Cervelli has shown a knack for being able to handle a pitching staff, but Montero has so much more upside.

    Another reason to call him up to the Show is that Martin has been injury prone and inconsistent, since his all-star campaign in the 2007 season. That season, he hit .293, with 19 home runs, 87 RBI and 21 stolen bases. The speed combined with the power output is highly impressive for a catcher. However, his production suffered dramatically in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.  He only hit .250 in 2009, and then in 2010 he hit a miserable .248 through 97 games, and then in August he tore his labrum in his right hip.  He is reportedly in much better shape now, after going through MMA training in the off-season, but one can only hope that he can continue his production from the 2007/08 seasons.

    The one knock on Montero has been his defense but he has reportedly improved on this aspect of his game. As long as he is adequate behind the plate, it is likely that his offensive numbers will be able to make up for any of his defensive deficiencies. He might be due for a position change in the future, but the Yankees should call him up as the back-up catcher because he is a better insurance policy than Cervelli.

    It makes sense that the Yankees signed Martin to a one-year contract because he has had success in the past, and is a suitable stopgap for Montero since he is not ready to be the everyday catcher out of Spring Training. However, since Martin has not had a productive season since 2008 there is no guarentee that he will bounce back. Having Montero learning from the veterans will be perfect for his development. The sky is the limit for Montero and this is the right time for him to show his skills in the Bronx. The Yankees have another heralded catcher in the minors named Austin Romine and they will be able to use one of the two in a trade to bolster their rotation.

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    Back end of the bullpen

    Monday, February 7, 2011, 5:30 PM [General]

    Even though the Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee, the Rafeal Soriano signing was a crucial one because he gives the Bronx Bombers two dominant pitchers at the end of the bullpen. This is something that they have not in essence had since Mariano Rivera was pitching the eighth and John Wetteland was pitching the ninth in 1996.

    With all the talk about the core four turning into the core three right now, since Andy Pettitte ended his brilliant career on Friday, it is reassuring to know that the Yankees have a replacement for Rivera once he does retire. Another question on lots of peoples mind right now is if Derek Jeter will be able to bounce back from his sub-par 2010 campaign. Last season, Soriano struck out 57 batters while walking only 14, while converting 45 saves with an impressive 1.73 ERA. Even after 16 seasons Rivera has proven that he is not slowing down yet, posting 33 saves with a 1.80 ERA, and a 0.83 WHIP but this strong tail-end of the bullpen will be even more crucial taking into consideration the teams questionable rotation.

    I think that the Yankees should make an effort to trade Joba Chamberlain, but if not, there will now be less pressure on him as well as the rest of the pitchers in the bullpen. Somebody who is surely positively affected by this signing is Pedro Felicano because he has led the majors in appearances in 2008, 2009 and 2010. This season, he will not have to shoulder so much of the burden, but Girardi should be able to continue to rely on him to get batters out when called upon like he has for much of his career. Another key contributer to the bullpen will be David Robertson. He is a young pitcher coming of a solid season in 2010, having converted more than a strikeout per inning.

    For a reliever, Soriano was signed for a high price of three-years, $35 million contract, but he has been one of the elite closers.  This signing proves all the more valuable now that Pettitte has retired.  I thought that bringing Soriano to the team would have helped Pettitte have the urge to pitch one more season, but since it did not, the Yankees need a dominant bullpen even more. 

    Even though the Yankees have a deep bullpen, after the CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes, the rotation surely has some question marks. AJ Burnett needs to be able to pitch like he did in 2009 and not like he did in the 2010 campaign. If the number four and five starters can pitch deep into games and not tax the bullpen too much, the season can be a success.  

    Rafeal Soriano's value should not be understated because if he is able to replicate his dominant performance from last season, opponents will essentially have seven innings to score runs. This might be obvious, but, it is necessary to have somebody who can be relied upon to get outs in the eighth inning to be a "bridge" to Rivera because if they can't hold leads for him consistently than that reduces the wins that he Yankees can lock down. Finally, the Soriano acquisition will be making a bullpen that was strong last season (3.47 ERA) even more reliable. 


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    State of the Rotation

    Thursday, February 3, 2011, 5:03 PM [General]

    Even though Andy Pettitte is retiring, and the Yankees will truly miss him in the rotation, the Yankees still have starting pitchers capable of holding their own until the trading deadline.

    They will be without his patented stare down, has always clutch play in big-time games, and one of the best pick-off moves of all-time, but he is retiring in a classy way.  He is not continuing to play past when he is still productive and is retiring before Spring Training which is what a former Yankee was not able to do. It was unfortunate that Cliff Lee choose to pitch for the Phillies instead of the Yankees, but they were wise to sign Freddy Garcia and even Bartolo Colon to minor league contracts.  Since there were not many free agents worth signing it made sense to gamble low even though these two have not had great success recently. Ivan Nova is another candidate for the starting rotation.  He had a 4.50 ERA in seven starts, pitching much better in the beginning.

    If Freddy Garcia can replicate his stats from last year with the White Sox, where he won 12 games, had a 4.64 ERA, 89 strikeouts and pitched 157 innings then that would work as the number five starter.  Apparently, Bartolo Colon pitched very well in the winter league, and during the 2009 season for the White Sox Colon made 12 and had a 4.19 ERA.  Out of the two Garcia is surely the better option since the Yankees can count on him to last longer into games than Colon. 

    The Yankees have some promising young pitchers in the minor leagues but they need to count on new pitching coach Larry Rothschild helping AJ Burnett to revert back to his 2009 form. Last season he had a miserable campaign, but if he can improve on his 13 wins, 4.04 ERA and 195 strikeouts from 2009 the Yankees rotation will be less of an issue. The team also has one of the best minor league systems in the majors with the restocked farm system under Cashman.  

    Some of the pitchers that should be able to contribute soon include Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, D.J Mitchell and Adam Warren.  Brackman (25) is the most experienced of the bunch, having recovered from Tommy John surgery like Betances. Betances, who is from New York City, showed a lot of promise last year, is only 22 and has a fastball in the mid to upper 90's.  It is probably worth calling on him at some point this season.

    Not having Pettitte in the rotation makes it weaker for sure, but they should be able to upgrade come July, when a team has fallen out of the playoff race.  The Yankees will be able to use one or more of their talented minor leaguers in a trade for a solid pitcher.  At least the Yankees should be able to count on a very deep bullpen to help limit the length that the back-en of the rotation has to pitch. 

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    The Dedication of Robinson Cano

    Saturday, January 29, 2011, 3:51 PM [General]

    Robinson Cano has always been known for his hitting, but his overall game and hustle has improved exponentially which caused him to be an MVP candidate last season.  The Yankees will need this consistency from him going forward, and it seems like it will continue based on his off-season in the Dominican Republic. They will not need him to continue to produce in clutch situations.

    There was a report by Jack Curry where he chronicled Cano's off-season in the Dominican and it showed excellent dedication and humility. This proves that Cano truly wants to play at an MVP type level year-after-year.  Video footage also displayed that he is willing to let any of his adoring fans share the field with him. Admirably Cano played the role of coach, while also working on his overall game, since he gave invaluable instruction to teammates Francisco Cervelli and Eduardo Nunez.  Cervelli is a young catcher and Nunez is a 23 year-old infielder. 

    Cano wants to succeed and be the best that he can be, and it is noteworthy that he is on the field with many up-and-coming kids in his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris. Also, Cervelli and Nunez realize how talented Cano is, and are willing to travel far from where they live to benefit from his knowledge and expertise. It is a testament to Cano that he is willing to still train on a field that is far from major league caliber, while helping younger players in the process. This field does not appear very aesthetically pleasing, but it has his name as well as his father's and it is where Cano comes to diligently work on his craft. He even sometimes comes across four legged animals. He also gives toys to kids at a school for deaf children which says a lot about his character.

    He has come a long way from being benched for his lack of hustle in the field, and not going all out running to first base when he could have been safe. Cano is one of the best raw talents in the major leagues and even though sometimes it seems like he is not giving all out effort, that is made up for with his stellar results. Based on last season, it does not seem like he is being non chalant, because he is able to make so many plays in the field that a normal second baseman would not be able to convert.

    For Cano, the only facet of his game that could really use improvement is if he could draw some more walks and in turn cut down a little on his strikeouts, but last season he was able to nearly double his walk total from 2009. Another slight negative is that he has never stolen more than five bases in a season, which he has done twice, but his power numbers more than make up for that.  A definite plus about Cano, which should not go understated, is that from the 2007 through the 2010 seasons, he has always played in at least 159 games. If he can continue to produce seasons with stat lines of .319, 29 home runs, 109 RBI and 57 walks he will continue to be in MVP consideration especially from the second base position. I think he will be able to continue to improve his walks and home runs, since he is only 28 and is in the middle of his prime.

    His dedication in the off-season surely helps him stay so injury free, which the Yankees will count on for years to come. Cano was eight strikeouts away from his career high of 85 strikeouts in 2007 but it is likely that he will be able to cut down on those in the future.  Even if he does not, as long as he continues to get on base and drive in runs at a high rate, he will be considered one of the games elite.

    Cano is a great inspiration for the kids back in San Pedro de Macoris, and it seems like he has been able to positively impact the community. He said it makes him happy to put a smile on the kids faces and it seems like he will be able to continue to do that based on his off-season work in the Dominican as well as his production for the Yankees.

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    Pettitte should not pull a Clemens or Favre

    Thursday, January 27, 2011, 2:56 PM [General]

    Andy Pettitte should keep in mind how his good buddy Roger Clemens dealt with the topic of retirement and try and do the opposite.  The Yankees could really use his talents back in the Bronx, and he has a 12 million offer on the table which he would be wise not to turn down if he wants to further cement his Hall of Fame credentials.

    He should make his decision before Spring Training so that the Yankees will be able to be fully prepared for the season.  It makes sense that he wants to spend more time with his family but he should give himself one more chance at a World Series.  The addition of Rafeal Soriano only increases his chances of adding to his current 240 win total.  Given that he has so many reasons to come back, he should come to the realization that leaving the Yankees in limbo for so long is somewhat selfish, so he should not put himself above the team.  However, if he truly does not have the desire to pitch every fifth day, and try and win a sixth World Series championship, and add to his 14 World Series wins then he should hang up his spikes.

    Even though his image has been tarnished since he has admitted to taking human growth hormones in 2002, while recovering from an elbow injury, his overall stats are quite impressive.  If he pitches one more season he would deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, with an asterisk.  Some of his notable achievements include, pitching 200 innings 10 times, three time All-Star, eight 15 win seasons, no losing seasons and a .635 winning percentage in 16 seasons. In addition, if he pitches this year he will surely get to 250 victories.  Last season, he proved that he still had something left in the tank because he had an 11-3 record with a 3.28 ERA.

    With Pettitte in the rotation, the rotation one through four, could potentially be CC Sebathia, Phil Hughes, Pettitte, AJ Burnett and then Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Barolo Colon or a free agent.  This would be much more formidable than a rotation without Pettitte, and after the season that Burnett had in 2010 he should not be relied upon as a number three pitcher.  Pettitte has been doing his normal preseason workouts, and has had no setbacks, so hopefully he plays one more season to have the chance at another championship so that he can retire as the champion he has been so many times before.

    If Pettitte was coming off a shaky season in 2010, I would say that he should have decided to retire by now, but since he was dominant at times, at the age of 38, he should add to his already impressive stats, but just make his decision in timely manner unlike what Roger Clemens did.  Clemens announced his come back, in 2007, during an impromtu announcement to the crowd during the seventh-inning stretch, of a May 6th game.

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    The Legacy of Derek Jeter

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 2:46 PM [General]

    Derek Jeter is one of the truly great Yankees of all time, and has continually carried himself in a respectable manner. Jeter is now 74 hits short of reaching 3,000 hits for his career, which he will probably reach sometime in June and in turn would be the first Yankee to do so. However, yesterday his possible position change was publicly brought up by Brian Cashman. 

    He has been known over his career as a player who often comes through with hits in the clutch and will make the extra effort in order to help his team to victory, defensively.  Two examples of this stick out in particular.  One is during the 2001 Divisional Series, the Yankees lead 1-0, and Jeter appeared out of nowhere to flip the ball to Jorge Posada getting Jeremy Giambi out at home.  Another play is when Jeter sacrificed his body to get an out against the rival Boston Red Sox. It was the 12th running, and runners were on second and third and a pop up was hit that was approaching the stands near third base.  Jeter was determined to catch the ball so he did not hesitate to dive into the stands and cause his mouth to bleed in the process.

    The previous two examples proves how Jeter puts winning above everything else.  He has perfected the jump throw when a ball is hit into the outfield between him and the third baseman, he is the active leader in hits with 2,926, has a .314 lifetime average, has been named to the All-Star game 11 times and has received the gold-glove five times.  However, it has been rumored that he has received preferential treatment in regards to his defensive accolades in recent years.  This is because his defensive range has declined.  This is not all that surprising because he is older than any MLB starting shortstop, other than Omar Vizquel.

    Brian Cashman, at a Breakfast with a Champion event with fans at the Hark Rock Cafe, in Manhattan, said that he would be "be surprised" if Derek Jeter stayed in shortstop for the remainder of his contract. Not this year, but next Spring Training Jeter should start to practice taking flyballs in the outfield.  His skills set would be conducive for any outfield position, and it would be best if he replaces Nick Swisher, since the Yankees already have Curtis Granderson in center-field.  

    This year, it is safe to say that Jeter will be the everyday shortstop, and has earned every right to even though his skills have diminished.  However, what Cashman said makes sense because there have not been many everyday shortstops at Jeter's age, and if his defensive skills continue to decline, it would be best to have somebody younger manning the shortstop position.

    Since the captain has done so much for the Yankee organization, it should be a mutual decision, possibly playing part-time towards the end of this 2012 season and full-time in 2013. If he can come to grips with his decline, it will further enhance how much of a team player he is and make the Yankees better overall.

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    Yankees Rotation

    Monday, January 24, 2011, 4:59 PM [General]

    Even though the Yankees will probably not be able to acquire a marquee name before the start of the regular season, they should strongly consider signing a pitcher who can be relied upon to post a solid ERA and pick up about 10 wins. As of now, CC Sebathia and Phil Hughes are the only ones that can truly be relied upon, since nobody really knows if AJ Burnett will be dominant or completely wild from start-to-start.

    Those are the top three in the rotation right now, which is basically set in stone and then Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre will come next. One of those two should not be in the rotation come opening day. Mitre should be moved to the long relief role because that is a role where he can truly benefit the team. Since the Yankees have signed Rafeal Soriano as their bridge to Rivera, and are convinced that Joba Chamberlain is not fit to make the transition back to the starting rotation, it is worth trading him to a team that will either have him start or be another team's primary eighth inning option. As a last resort, I think Ivan Nova could be the Yankees number five starter.

    However, there are a few free agent options that I think Brian Cashman should strongly consider.  Now that Armando Galarraga has been traded to the Diamandbacks, I would seriously go after signing one of these pitchers: Justin Duchscherer, Braden Looper or Freddy Garcia.  Duchscherer would be serviceable short term options until one of the Yankees young studs like Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman or Manny Banuelos are ready to be called up.  As team's fall out of the playoff chase in July it is likely that the Yankees will be able to trade for a starting pitcher.

    All of the three free agent will not demand a very high price tag, since Looper's 4.75 million salary was the highest of the three last season.  I might hesitate on signing Looper, since he is 36, but if they don't sign either of Maine or Duchscherer, he would make sense.  They can all be relied upon to eat up innings and post a respectable ERA, especially Duchscherer, who led the AL in ERA for a stretch, in 2008.  He only started five games last season after recovering from shoulder trouble, and back trouble but I think he can have a bounce back season.  Garcia only made one million last year, picked up 12 wins but posted a shaky 4.64 ERA. However he is durable since he pitched 157 innings last season.

    These would all be decent stop-gap options, until either one of the Yankees starters from the minor leagues is ready to be called up or they can trade for a player in July. In order I would sign Duchscherer, Garcia and then Looper. Ideally they will be able to trade Chamberlain for a quality pitcher, but these pitchers mentioned would work for the back-end of the Yankees rotation. A dark-horse pitcher to keep in mind would be the 6'8 Dellin Betances.

    4.1 (2 Ratings)