ALCS Game 3 preview: Hughes vs. Verlander

Verlander vs. the offense:

Believe it or not, the Yankees have actually had some success against Verlander in his career, which isn’t terribly important, but they’ve also done pretty well against him this season as well. They’ve got 25 hits in 20.1 innings off of him, and they’ve won two of the three games he’s started against them in 2012. In those victories they racked up 16 hits and 10 runs, 7 earned, in 12.1 innings, with four home runs (remember kids, good pitchers never give up the long ball!), and striking out just eight times compared to four walks, all of which came on June 3rd. On the other hand, the last time Verlander faced the Yankees he was downright dominant, holding the Yankees to nine hits, a walk, and two unearned runs while matching a career high with 14 strikeouts in eight innings of work.

It’s tempting to try to find a dozen ways to break down a match up like this, but when you boil it down it’s really pretty simple: the outcome will be decided by how in command of his unbelievable stuff Verlander is, and how able the Yankees’ offense is to square the ball up if he makes a mistake.…

Read more

The Gardner option

That all might be changing though, if the words of general manager Brian Cashman are any indication. Making an appearance on The Michael Kay Show yesterday, Cashman was asked about possibly starting Gardner as the series moves to Detroit, and he responded by saying, “You could very well see Gardner in this big outfield that Detroit has. The way our offense is, it is a possibility. He deserves consideration considering what is going on right now.”

I’ve more or less understood where the Yankees’ reluctance to press Gardner into service is coming from, and so far it hasn’t really bothered me, but I think those days have come to an end. For one thing, the defensive upgrade could be a big factor in spacious Comerica Park, especially with Phil Hughes pitching tonight. Hughes is a fly ball pitcher, and with all of that ground to cover and Justin Verlander to match, he could use all the help he could get. Secondly, even if Gardner hadn’t taken a hack in two years, he couldn’t really be a worse option than Swisher or Granderson right now, who are not only black holes on offense, but have basically become near automatic strikeouts to boot.…

Read more

Home Field Disadvantage: Fans Become the Focus as Yankees Limp to Detroit

(The following was originally published at The Captain’s Blog; follow me on Twitter at@williamnyy23).

What's become of the Yankees' Home Field Advantage?

The Yankees reward for having the best record in the American League was home field advantage...

Read more

The Yankees are wounded, but alive

They’re not this bad:

First and foremost, the unit that’s giving them the most problems right now is right playing in a way that is reflective of their true talent level. The Yankees have struggled to score runs in every postseason game they’ve played so far, but they did have the league’s best offense during the season, and there’s plenty of room for realistic improvement in the near future. Most of all there’s Robinson Cano, who’s one of the very best hitters in baseball but mired in an 0-26 streak at the plate. He could catch fire at any time, and we all know how dangerous the Yankees can be when that happens. Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, and Nick Swisher may be lost causes, and losing Derek Jeter hurts a lot, but there’s still thunder in the Yankees’ lineup, and it seems highly unlikely that they could be this impotent for two whole playoff series.

Pitching, pitching, pitching:

Remember when great starting pitching won you championships?…

Read more

Arizona Fall League update and other Minor League notes

Random Notes:

  • After having some strong prospect representation on Baseball America’s top 20 lists for the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League, the Yankees failed to have any prospects make the Eastern League or International League lists. This is not surprising, given the way players like Betances and Manuel Banuelos failed to impress this season and the Yankees’ general lack of exciting prospects in those higher levels this past season.
  • George King had an interesting post about Ronnier Mustelier at Baseball America recently. He notes that while Mustelier has been very impressive with the bat, the Yankees main concern has been trying to find out where he fits. Mustelier has played second, third, left field and right field over the past year and, according to Mark Newman, has improved defensively. It sounds like the Yankees are trying to get him more comfortable in the outfield to better fit their needs. Mustelier is not on the 40-man but could be put on it next year.
Read more

Dear Bud Selig: Thanks For This Wonderful New Playoff Schedule, But We Actually Wanted Instant Replay

Bud Selig will go down in history as one of the greatest commissioners in MLB history. Under his direction, baseball has grown immensely. It’s spread to every TV set in this country, to ballparks around the world, and most importantly, it’s increased revenues exponentially. In the end, he’ll always be remembered for the money, instead...

Read more

Nick Swisher and breakup syndrome

So, why won’t Swisher be a Yankee next season? First, he is going to ask for a contract he deserves which will likely be for four or five years at $15 to $17 million per. Secondly, the Yankees have other deals to get done and will not consider Swisher at that kind of money when 2014 already has a hard cap of $184 million. And last, have you heard any words from guys like Brian Cashman or Boy Steinbrenner stating they would like to keep the guy? Both have stated that Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are priorities. The latter of those two might be working his way out of that stance, but still. Nobody has come out and said that Nick Swisher is a priority or even something to the effect that it would be nice to have him back.

Swisher has to know these things. And it has to suck for him personally. He likes being in the center of the baseball universe.…

Read more