Susan Lulgjuraj has been a sports reporter for more than 10 years, covering the Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Phillies, Little league and everything in between. Susan also grew up a New York Yankees fan and sat with the Bleacher Creatures for many years.

Author Archives: Susan Lulgjuraj

ARod’s ‘marketable milestones’ take away his rights

The Yankees brass has made its intentions known without having to show it off on their high-def scoreboard.

When Alex Rodriguez hits home run No. 660 to tie Willie Mays for fourth all-time, their celebration will be tame. No red carpet. No champagne bottles. No commercials or special t-shirts. No, he will not get the “DJ3K” treatment.

Several outlets have reported how the Yankees are going to fight back against Arod’s special contract where he is supposed to receive what can be an extra $30 million for his milestone home runs – $6 million for each. Just don’t call them milestones. Seems the Yankees aren’t interested in that.

However, the New York Post story left me a bit baffled. According to their very special sources with knowledge of the situation, ARod would sign over his image rights and associated branding for $6 million a home run.

Really? Why?

I’m not thrown back by the Yankees wanting to keep the money in the battle over the contract.…

Read more

The expectations of ARod in 2015

Alex Rodriguez crushed one Wednesday, home run number 656 of his career. Rodriguez sits fifth all-time for career home runs and needs four more to tie Willie Mays.

Two home runs already from Rodriguez might be more than many were expecting from the slugger. Over the last five years, Rodriguez has had multiple hip surgeries and faced a lengthy suspension as his play followed a downward track.

But through nine games this season, Rodriguez is hitting .286 with a .394 on-base percentage and .571 slugging. Beyond his home runs he has seven RBI and five walks, along with 12 strikeouts.

Adjust some of those numbers for a full 162-game season and we have 36 home runs and 126 RBI – essentially matching his last good, healthy season in 2010.

However, the reality is we don’t know what we are going to get from Rodriguez this year. Signs point in a positive direction if you’re a Yankees fan, but the optimism comes with a warning label.…

Read more

Tanaka looks to rebound against the Red Sox

Tanaka vs TOR 2015

Courtesy of the AP

This early in the season, you want to find positives about the Yankees.

Yet this team has made it difficult with its blunders on defense, mistakes on the base paths and the poor hitting thus far. However, even after all that, one of the biggest topics that New York is going to face this year is the effectiveness of Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees signed Tanaka for $155 million for seven years. Last season, he suffered a partial tear of the UCL of his right elbow, and after his terrible first start of 2015 many have wondered why Tanaka didn’t just get Tommy John surgery since all the cool kids are doing it.

The Yankees have said that Tanaka is still working back and haven’t sounded the alarms just yet.

“This is not totally shocking,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told reporters. “I think he’s still in the process of building arm strength and everything. His arm strength is not far off.…

Read more

Let’s forget about a closer for a little while

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has yet to name a closer for this season.

Hopefully, it stays that way.

Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are the two big arms for the back end of the Yankees bullpen and Wednesday was a glimpse in how they should be used this season. Girardi brought in Betances, a righty, to face the Toronto Blue Jays’ big right-handed bats in the heart of their order in the eighth inning: Russell Martin, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Miller, a lefty, finished the ninth in order.

Betances didn’t pitch a clean inning, giving up two walks, but he was brought in when New York was down 2-1 in the eighth to keep the Yankees within striking distance. Even though an unearned was given up on Brian McCann’s throwing error, the Yankees still had life, and they took advantage of it the next inning by scoring three runs.

The key is that Betances and Miller knew their roles heading into the game based on the lineup.…

Read more

Game 128 quick recap: McCann can, and did; Yankees 7, White Sox 4

With David Robertson on the mound in the ninth inning, Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox felt close to a lock. The Yankees were on the verge of sweeping Chicago.

However, Robertson gave up a home run to Avisail Garcia in the ninth to knot the game at four runs apiece – and thus sent the Yankees to another extra-inning game.

And then …

Brian McCann hit a 3-2 pitch over the wall for a pinch-hit, three-run walk-off shot to give the Yankees a 7-4 win in the 10th inning. The win and the sweep – only it took an inning longer, and the Yankees did it in dramatic fashion.

The win puts New York six games over .500.

The Yankee fell early to Chris Sale, 3-0, with a run in the first and a two-run home run by Conor Gillaspie in the sixth. But the Yankees rallied back in the bottom of the sixth inning with four runs in the frame.…

Read more

Game 125: Trying to get one

After losing two straight to the Houston Astros, the Yankees are trying to win the three-game finale at 1:05 p.m. today. They send Brandon McCarthy to the mound in hopes of ending their losing streak. McCarthy has been a hard-luck loser his last two outings. He have up two earned runs (two unearned in his last start) in each of his last two starts, but wound up losing both as New York was shut out in both games.

New York has lost seven of its last nine games,putting them five games behind the last Wild Card slot.

Before the game, the Yankees called up utility player Zelous Wheeler and sent down pitcher Chase Whitley.

Lineups
New York Yankees
Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Martin Prado, 2B
Chase Headley, 3B
Francisco Cervelli, C
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Zelous Wheeler, DH

Brandon McCarthy, RHP


Houston Astros

Robbie Grossman, LF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Chris Carter, DH
Dexter Fowler, CF
Marc Krauss, RF
Jon Singleton, 1B
Carlos Corporan, C
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Marwin Gonzalez, SS

Dallas Keuchel, LHP

Read more

Jeter going to the All Star Game isn’t the problem

jeter3400Derek Jeter is going to start the All Star Game at shortstop in his final MLB season.

Many people have a problem with this. I don’t.

At 40 years old, Jeter is hitting .273 with a .323 on-base percentage, .328 slugging and .651 OPS. It’s not pretty.

Should Jeter start the All Star Game based on those numbers? If the nature of the ASG is to truly honor the best of the best (and part of it is), then no. There are more deserving short stops in the American League such as Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar.

Yet, the problem isn’t Derek Jeter or that fans get to decide the starters. The problem is – and will be – that the All Star Game is supposed to mean something more than just an exhibition for fans. Using the All Star Game to decide which league gets home field advantage for the World Series has been an awful idea. Downright terrible.

The All Star Game is meant to be an exhibition game for fans getting to watch their favorite players represent their teams.…

Read more

Sad night for baseball: Oakland 7, Yankees 4

ZimmerThe actual baseball game didn’t seem to matter for one night. About midway , through, the baseball world learned the beloved Don Zimmer had died — right around the time of Yoenis Cespedes‘ second home run of the night.

Zimmer, 83, was part of those magical late 1990s teams. He was New York’s bench coach from 1996-2003, but also had stints with the Yankees in 1983 and 1986. Zimmer was brash, funny and was a wonderful baseball lifer.

One wonders what he would think of the current state of the Yankees. The A’s scored seven unanswered runs on Wednesday, beating New York 7-4.

New York pitching gave up three home runs, the last coming in the seventh inning by Josh Donaldson off Yankees reliever Jose Ramirez, who made his MLB debut. Donaldson smashed a 95-mph fastball that missed its spot.

Trailing by four runs early, the A’s gradually worked back. Cespedes started the comeback with the first of two solo home runs in the fourth to make it 4-1.…

Read more

It’s good to be back: Minnesota 6, Yankees 1

theres_no_place_like_home_matWelcome home, Yankees.

Not really. The Yankees are now 11-12 at home this season (they are 17-13 on the road).

This time, the loss came at the hands of the Minnesota Twins and New York dropped the game 6-1.

New York starting pitcher Vidal Nuno lasted nearly seven innings without walking anyone. He scattered seven hits, but three of those went for home runs.

On the other side of the ball, New York actually went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position, but ugly base running managed to keep the Yankees off the board.

New York’s lone run came in the third when Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in Brett Gardner.

The good

– News came out before the game that Carlos Beltran’s elbow is feeling much better. He hopes he can return to the Yankees lineup without surgery.

– Brett Gardner swiped two bases raising his season total to 13.

The bad

– Nuno got touched up for three home runs.…

Read more