Early Bullpen Struggles Bring Questionable Roster Decisions To Light

The bullpen was supposed to be a strength again this year.  The Yankees came into Spring Training with the core seven guys all but guaranteed roster spots, or so we thought.  As injuries in other parts of the roster mounted, and the resulting personnel moves to cover them created a 40-man roster crunch, some of those spots became less of a guarantee, and at the end of camp there was more than a bit of surprise when David Aardsma and Clay Rapada were DFA’d.  Their back end bullpen spots were given to Shawn Kelley and Cody Eppley, with Adam Warren making the cut as well as long man coverage for Phil Hughes.  With just seven games in the books, it’s hardly an “end of the world” problem, but the poor performance of those late additions and the slightly surprising struggles of Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan has me once again questioning some of those “in/out” roster decisions.

The rationale for choosing Kelley over Aardsma was that his ability to pitch multiple innings was more valuable.  …

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The Farm Report: 4/8/13 The RailRiders get their first win!

Overall, it was a good day for the Yankees minor league teams – unless you were a pitcher for Trenton. Scranton picked up their first victory since becoming the RailRiders and Charleston put together a late inning rally for an exciting comeback victory.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre defeated Rochester 4-2:
The RailRiders squandered a couple chances early on, but they drew first blood in the bottom of the fifth. Addison Maruszak drew a walk and Gil Velazquez lined a two-out single to right. A throwing error moved Maruszak to third and a single by Melky Mesa put the RailRiders ahead 1-0. The Red Wings got the run back in the top of the sixth. Oswaldo Arcia started it off with a single and stole second, scoring on a single by Clete Thomas. The tie score did not last long, as Scranton’s bats got back to work in the bottom of the sixth. Austin Romine grounded a single to left and Corban Joseph grounded one to right.…

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First Winning Streak Of The Year! Yankees Crush Indians 11-6

The Yankees played in their third home opener of the year this afternoon, a duel between Hiroki Kuroda and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both pitchers came into the game with their own concerns. Last week, Kuroda took a linedrive to his middle finger and was pronounced day-to-day. Meanwhile, Jimenez was coming off a strong outing in Toronto after an awful 2012 season.

The pitching worries were a big part of the first half of today’s game. Jimenez opened up the first inning with an 84 mph fastball, after averaging 96 mph just a few years ago in Colorado. After walking Robinson Cano and allowing a single to Kevin Youkilis, hometown hero Travis Hafner launched a 3-run home run to dead center.

Kuroda lacked control in the first inning, and immediately walked Michael Bourn. What followed was a series of unfortunate events for the right-handed pitcher. There were three ground balls that could have easily been double play balls, but they just happened to bounce off bags and gloves for infield singles.…

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Game 7: Reuniting In Cleveland

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The Yankees will take part in their third home opener of the year this afternoon, but this one will be a little more special. The Yankees have a number of ex-Indians on their team, and vice versa. Most notably, Travis Hafner, who spent 10 years in Cleveland, and CC Sabathia, 7 and a half years, will return to their old stomping grounds wearing pinstripes. In an Indians’ uniform, Nick Swisher will man first base after playing with the Yankees for four seasons.

Here’s today’s lineup.
Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C

It’s good to see Nunez back in the lineup, but I’m a little surprised to see Stewart in there. Francisco Cervelli has been red hot with the bat, and his defense has been far better than Stewart’s. Perhaps the Yankees are still testing them out, but Cervelli has undoubtedly outplayed Stewart at this point, and with an already limited team, it’s hard to justify playing an inferior lineup.…

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Nova Adds A Sinker

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Ivan Nova didn’t give the greatest performance on Friday, but he did break out a new pitch. Giving up 5 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks in 4.2 innings is hardly something to get excited about, but beyond the numbers, Nova could be taking a giant leap with his career, and the Yankees a giant leap with their pitching philosophies.

One of the weakest parts of Nova’s repertoire is his hittable fastball. Although he’s capable of velocity in the mid-90’s, Nova’s four-seam fastball lacks movement, and was hit around for a .371 average and .632 slugging percentage in 2012. Compare this to his slider and curveball, which respectively allowed .254 and .170 batting averages. His breaking pitches have developed well over the last few years, and from 2011 to 2012, he saw a spike in his K% from 13.9% to 20.5%. With a year and a half of success with his slider and curveball, he’s developed a high ceiling with genuinely nasty secondary pitches, but his four-seam fastball has been the weak link holding him back.…

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What is Robinson Cano really worth?

cano23This is the most important season of Robinson Cano‘s career. He’s established himself as one of the game’s premier players. Now, he’s about to enter free-agency for the first time. He’s even gone out and hired Jay-Z to be his agent.

Everything about what Cano is doing indicates that he wants to make a big splash. The numbers being tossed around are as large as $200 million. Setting speculation aside for one moment, what would constitute fair value for Cano? If the Yankees were in a position to construct a deal that figured to compensate Cano fairly over the next several seasons, what would that contract look like?

Make no mistake, Robbie is a great player and the best hitter on the Yankees right now (his abysmal start to 2013 aside). The numbers back it up. According to Fangraphs, Cano is the 7th most valuable player in all of baseball since 2009, having accumulated 23.3 fWAR in that time.…

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Status Not Looking Good For Jeter

Jeter Rehab

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Derek Jeter said he was going to be ready to start this season.  Both he and the Yankees did everything in their power to try to make that happen.  When his ankle started to act up earlier in spring camp, both he and the team passed it off as a blip on the radar.  Now, on the day he was supposed to be eligible to come off the DL and return to the lineup, Jeter finds himself no closer to coming back than he was when he first went on the DL.

There hasn’t been much progress in Jeter’s latest attempt to come back, as evidenced by this latest report from Bryan Hoch today on Saturday.  What Jeter is doing now is the same thing he was doing two months ago when he first really started to get back to baseball activities, and this second go-round with these incredibly watered-down activities is happening at a slower pace than two months ago.  …

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This week in Yankees baseball – Week Two

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After a very troubling first week of the season, the New York Yankees will continue on the road for the first four days of the week with a four game set with the Cleveland Indians before coming back home to play the Baltimore Orioles for the weekend. Many expected the banged up offense to be a problem for the Yankees but the pitching was expected to hold up the injury-riddled team to at least make them competitive. With the exception of Andy Pettitte, both the starting pitching and the bullpen has not been sharp and has not held up anything. So what lies ahead and is this team as in trouble as it looks? Let’s take a look.

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Four games in Cleveland is not the worst thing in the world for the Yankees. For one, the rotation in Cleveland is not deep and once the Yankees get by Ubaldo Jimenez on Monday, the underbelly of the Indians rotation will be exposed for the Yankees to exploit.…

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Random thoughts after week one

So, this has been a fun week. After 2+ seasons of covering the Yankees on an hour-by-hour basis, I’m trying to consumer games like a normal person, and I must admit, it gives you an entirely different perspective on things. Instead of watching every pitch of every game and jotting down notes, statistical tidbits, internet column ideas, etc., I’ve done a lot more flipping through channels to different games when things have gotten a bit dull, and done a lot more juggling of chores during the games. Did I mention that this gives you a very different take on things? Because at times it’s felt like an entirely different game than the one I’ve been following since 2009 or so.

With that said, here are a few semi-connected thoughts after the first week of the new season:

1. On a league wide scale, it’s fairly amusing how much people overreact to these early games. I know I’m not breaking any new ground here, but it really remains striking how hard it is to remember that just because these are the first six games of the season doesn’t make them any more important or telling than any other six games stretch in the season.…

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