Behind The Pinstripes

The Yankees starting rotation has no doubt gotten a lot better then what they had last year. With the additions of Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, and the return of Andy Pettitte, who is out of retirement, the Yankees have a lot of depth for their starting rotation. But with five spots and seven pitchers, someone is going to be disappointed.

1. C.C. Sabathia


C.C. Sabathia has been nothing short of an Ace since he came to New York back in 2009, so its obvious that he has a spot locked up before Spring Training even starts. Sabathia is a work horse and he is the leader of this staff.

2. Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda is a veteran pitcher the Yankees got in the off season, giving him a 1 year, $10 million deal. Kuroda was said to have a rotation spot locked down early in the Spring, which makes sense. Although…

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Predicting the Yankees Starting Rotation

The Yankees starting rotation has no doubt gotten a lot better then what they had last year. With the additions of Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, and the return of Andy Pettitte, who is out of retirement, the Yankees have a lot of depth for their starting rotation. But with five spots and seven pitchers, someone is going to be disappointed.

1. C.C. Sabathia


C.C. Sabathia has been nothing short of an Ace since he came to New York back in 2009, so its obvious that he has a spot locked up before Spring Training even starts. Sabathia is a work horse and he is the leader of this staff.

2. Hiroki Kuroda

Kuroda is a veteran pitcher the Yankees got in the off season, giving him a 1 year, $10 million deal. Kuroda was said to have a rotation spot locked down early in the Spring, which makes sense. Although Kuroda is going to have to adjust to pitching in a hitter’s ball park as well as face some pretty good tough lineups not only in the AL East, but in the American League in general, he is still a veteran who knows how to pitch and adds experience and knowledge to this Yankees rotation.

3. Phil Hughes

After coming off a pretty bad season last year, Phil Hughes has looked very, very good this Spring Training. In fact, one could argue that out of all the Yankee starters Phil has pitched the best. Its good to see Hughes coming to camp in great shape and throwing the ball so well. Although the Yankees haven’t officially announced it, Hughes has a spot locked down. And judging by his spring starts, it looks like he is ready to have a big year.

4. Ivan Nova

Although Ivan hasn’t had a very good spring, in fact its been a very ugly spring for him, his last two starts have been better. But considering how good Nova was last year, it is hard to imagine him not making the rotation. After all it is only Spring Training and Nova is an important piece of this rotation, not only for this year, but for the future as well.

Now the last spot in the rotation is where things get tricky. Originally, even though Pineda has not had a good spring either, especially with all the concerns of him coming in over weight, not having his velocity, I still believed Pineda would be in the rotation, which would have sent Freddy Garcia to the bullpen.

However the Yankees did say that the loser of the rotation battle would not necessarily go to the bullpen, implying that either Nova or Pineda could have started the year in Triple A. Personally, I would have been fine with Pineda starting the year in Triple A. It would have given him a chance to really just work on his pitches and try to get his velocity back without the pressure of pitching in MLB games with the media constantly on him.

Unfortunately, Pineda said today that he felt some soreness on his right shoulder, which could account for why he gave up 6 runs in 2.2 innings in today’s 13-9 win over the Phillies. Pineda is scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow morning, and hopefully it doesn’t end up being anything serious. But if Pineda is indeed injured, then this opens the door for Garcia to grab that 5th starter role.

If that indeed is the case, then that opens another door for some of the Yankees pitching prospects and gives them a chance to make the team. D.J. Mitchell, David Phelps and Adam Warren have been said to be in the mix for that long man role in the bullpen if Garcia indeed does get a rotation spot.

Of course, once Andy Pettitte is ready to join the rotation, probably sometime in May, someone else is going to get booted out of the rotation. Whoever is pitching the worst is probably going to be the one who gets knocked out.

Another thought to keep in mind is that if Pineda is injured, he is going to come back eventually so then what happens to him? Does he get sent down to the minors? Does fight for a rotation spot?

Either way, too much pitching is a good problem to have, even though it means that Joe Girardi and the Yankees need to make some tough decisions. But the baseball season is a long one, and injuries are bound to happen, and usually these kinds of things figure out themselves. The important thing is that the Yankees are rich and deep in pitching, not just at the major league level but at the minor league level as well. So whatever happens during the season, they will be ready.

It might be best to forget about Hamels, Cain.

Cole Hamels and Matt Cain are expected to be Free Agents after the 2012 season. That is if their teams don’t give them an extension. Before the Yankees made the trade that sent Hector Noesi and Jesus Montero to Seattle for Micheal Pineda and Jose Campos, as well as the signing of Hiroki Kuroda, I really thought that the Yankees should go hard after these two, assuming they did get to Free Agency. But now, I think that the Yankees are in good shape in terms of pitching.

Now I do acknowledge the fact that it really doesn’t make sense for the Phillies and the Giants to just let these two become Free Agents. Good pitching is hard to get, especially good young pitchers. So if you’re a MLB team and you have good young pitching, you don’t let them walk away, unless of course you just can’t afford to keep them, and it happens. The Phillies are an aging team, and Hamels has proven to be a very good pitcher, and he is still young. It would be crazy for them not to lock him up. For the Giants not only do they have to worry about Cain but also Lincecum. I don’t know if the Giants can even afford to keep both of them, but I am sure they will try their hardest.

But let’s just hypothetically say that for some reason, these two became free agents. What then? If you were the Yankees would you go after them? Before these two acquisitions I would have said yes, but no I am saying no. Why?

Pineda

Well for starters the Yankees recently acquired Micheal Pineda from the Mariners. This kid is only 23 years old. While he did kind of tail of in the second half of the season, it was his first year as a starter. There could be many reasons. Maybe he experienced fatigue from pitching so many innings. Either way this kid has good stuff.Now since he is only 23 he still has some developing to go through, and many people have said that he needs to develop a third pitch, specifically a change up. But we have Larry Rothschild and I am sure that once Pineda gets settled in they will work on that. But if he develops this change up, this kid could become a #1 or #2 pitcher.

The Yankees also got Jose Campos, a 19yr RH who is also said to be a very good pitcher. But the Yankees also have other young pitchers in the Minors with a lot of potential. They have the Killer B’s- Betances and Bannuelos, they have Adam Warren, David Phelps.

By adding Pineda and Kuroda, these kiddies now have more time in the minors to fully develop, especially the B’s.

Also, don’t forget the Yankees already have Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes, two young pitchers that have shown they can be really good. Phil has had some injury issues, but we are all expecting him to bounce back.

From what Cashman and the Yankees have done, I think that suddenly this rotation is going to be good not only this year, but for quite some time. Look at this way, once Freddy and Kuroda are gone, and AJ, the rotation is still going to be really good, because we have all these young pitchers.

We have CC for about 4 or 5 more years, we have Ivan Nova, now we have Pineda, we have Phil Hughes, and of course we have the Bs, Phelps and Warren when they come up. The Yankees have put themselves in a position were pretty soon they can have a really good young rotation. Plus most of these kids aren’t going to cost much for a while.

Now obviously besides CC, none of these kids are a SURE thing such as Hammels and Cain. But they are all still young and still developing and still need to prove themselves. But when you have a good young pitcher with a lot of potential, you need to take that risk, otherwise you could be giving up the next Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, etc. You could also be getting a not so good pitcher, but risks must be taken.

Even though Hamels and Cain probably won’t reach Free Agency, even if they did, the Yankees are in good shape.

The Price is Not Right

Well its December 22, only a few days left of 2011, and what have the Yankees done? Well they got CC Sabathia to a contract extension back in October before Halloween. That was awesome. They also signed Freddy “The Chief” Garcia to a 1yr deal. They have also signed various players to some minor league contracts while also drafting 2 new pitchers. Other than that nothing else has been done.

As you can see, the Yankees have made some moves in the off season, but besides the CC extension, nothing big, nothing exciting. I know you Yankee fans are getting restless, you want Cashman to bring in some awesome new pitcher into the rotation. After all, lets face it, the current rotation isn’t good enough, right? I mean, the Yankees did win 97 games last year, and they won the division. The Tigers were a very, very good opponent, but at the end of the day, they got the clutch hitting when they needed to and the Yankees didn’t. So is this rotation good enough to win it all?

Well never say never, I mean the Cardinals did win it all with a decent rotation, but a fantastic bullpen and offense. The Yankees have one of the best bullpens in the AL, one of the best offenses. The rotation is complete with five guys, but there is just too many question marks. CC is CC, but then there is everyone else. Nova had a wonderful rookie season, but can he keep it up? Phil Hughes had a horrible season after winning 18 games the year before. Some bizarre injury put him on the sidelines for most of the year, so now we ask, can he bounce back? A.J. well you know the story with him. Great pitcher with good stuff, but he is just so inconsistent, and bad most of the time. Then there is Freddy, he pitched pretty well last year, but the question is can he last all year?

If anything should happen to any of these guys, the Yankees have kiddies in the minors who are ready to come up if needed. Guys like the Killer Bs, though I think the Yankees would rather have them stay there to work on their fastball command. But there is also kids like David Phelps, Adam Warren, and probably first in line is Hector Noesi.

So it’s not like the Yankees don’t have any pitching, they do, they have plenty. The question is are they good enough to win it all???

Mark

We all know the pitching FA list was not great this year. C.J. Wilson was the best out there, but in my opinion not what the Yankees need. So he is gone, he signed with the Angels.

My choice was Mark Buerhle, but on a short term deal. I don’t know to what degree the Yankees were interested in Buerhle, but the price was not right on either of these two guys. There is still some FA pitcher out there, but again, not what the Yankees need.

The Yankees need a solid #2 guy behind CC. The FA market doesn’t have that anymore, so whats left? Trades? Well you could trade for Gio Gonzalez and give up your top kiddies Jesus Montero, Manny Bannuelos, and more. John Danks? No, he just signed a contract with the White Sox yesterday so he is out. Jair Jurjens? No thanks, he might have injury concerns, plus it seems a bit odd the Braves would want to trade him away. Matt Garza? Good pitcher, but no, again price not right.

All these teams out there know what the Yankees have in their farm system and they want the best kiddies. Cashman is right to preach “patience” and not pull the trigger. Yes the rotation is not great, but at leas the Yankees have five starters. Look over to the Red Sox, they probably need two pitchers since Lackey is out for the year and Matsuzaka is probably is still injured. They still need a closer, possibly a setup man is Bard goes to the rotation, heck they might need at RF! My point is while the rotation may not be great, someone always has it worse.

CC

We have CC Monster leading our rotation, one of the best in the game. I think Nova will only get better next season. We have to hope that Phil bounces back and I think he will. If he does then that is a huge acquisition without paying any extra money or trading anyone. A.J. well I hope he has a better year, and Freddy is our anchor as the #5 man. Remember, we have Noesi, Phelps, Warren, and the Bs waiting in the minors if anything goes on. If Cashman is able to find a trade for a good pitcher without having to give up the Bs, Montero, or Phelps then good. If not, well we have to make the best of what we got.

I realize there are a lot of Ifs with this rotation, but if they did it last year, they can do it again this year. Remember, the bullpen will still be a huge strength going into the season, as well as the offense. They say “pitching wins games” well that is true, but there is also defense and offense.

So while things might not look great right now because there is really no “new” Yankee coming in right now to join the team, this is still a very, very good team capable of doing great things.

Cashman hasn’t made any big moves because the price is not right. Cashman knows what he is doing, we as fans need to be patient and wait to see what happens. Only time will determine what happens.

Why “Houdini” is destined for greatness

David Robertson, Drob, “Houdini”. However you like to call him, there is no denying that he is something special. Making his Major League debut in June of 2008, David Robertson has been doing his “Houdini” act for a couple of years now. Most notably in the 2009 postseason where he was brought in to some pretty tough situations with multiple runners on base, but of course, he got out both situations without giving up any runs.

2011 however was his breakout year. With injuries overtaking Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano, Robertson went from being just another guy in the bullpen, to becoming one of the best and most dominant Setup men in all of baseball. Heck, to us Yankee fan he was the Best Setup man in Baseball, receiving recognition for his work as he won “Setup Man of the Year” at the 2011 GIBBY Awards. He was also an All-Star this year which I was very happy about.

Drob

Here are some of David’s stats for the 2011 season (from epsn.com)

ERA: 1.08
IP: 66.2
Hits: 40
Run: 9
ER: 8
HR: 1
BB: 35
SO:100
W-L: 4-0
Saves: 1
Holds:34
WHIP: 1.13
Strikeout per inning ratio: 13.5

If those numbers aren’t outstanding then I don’t what is. What really stands out to me the most is the fact that in 66.2 innings he ONLY gave up one Home run. ONE! And he also ONLY gave up nine runs in the whole year, that’s crazy stuff.

Now I’ve really only been a fan since the 2009 season, therefore I did not grow up watching Mariano Rivera go from being a setup man to the greatest closer in baseball history. But I have grown up watching David Robertson pitch, and just like I’m sure so many fans felt something special watching Mariano develop into one of the greatest pitchers ever, I feel something special when I see David Robertson pitch. This guy is destined for greatness.

Drob a

I was watching Jack Curry’s interview with David for Yankees Access last night and you know what, David reminds me of Mo in some ways. They are both amazing pitchers, they are confident in themselves, competitive, they don’t like to lose, and most importantly like so many great Yankees before them, they care about the team. Sure, individual accomplishments are great, but like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and so many other Yankees, helping the team win is always the #1 priority. They know what being a Yankee is all about. Its about winning, its about playing the game right, its about understanding such a rich history, its about wearing those pinstripes with honor and dignity. David Robertson certainly does that.

D

Another thing that makes Robertson so special is the fact that he always wants to improve. A self-proclaimed “perfectionist” David had a season to remember, one I will certainly not forget. But he does think that he can improve, and there is always room for improvement. David and his wife Erin have even bought a house down in St. Peters burg so that he can be closer to the Yankees facilities in Tampa during the off season.

D and E

Speaking of David and Erin, one of the other things that makes David so special is his willingness and selflessness to help others. He and his wife Erin have created an organization called “High Socks for Hope” which helps build houses and such for those people down in Alabama who were hit by that devastating tornado.

Now I know as Yankee fans we don’t want to think about the day when Mariano Rivera hands up the glove and retires. We don’t want to think of the day when #42 is proudly displayed in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium along with the greatest Yankees of all time. We don’t want to think of the day when the 9th inning comes along and “enter Sandman” is not playing. When the #42 is not seen trotting from out of the bullpen towards the mound. However, if the next number to come out of that pen in the 9th inning is #30, we are in good hands.

No one will ever be able to do what Mariano has accomplished, and still has left to accomplish, but I still believe with all my heart that David Robertson will be a fantastic closer, one of the best. He has what it takes to become a great closer. He has the heart, the drive, the passion, the competitive spirit, respect for the game, he knows what it means to be a Yankee. When the time comes, I look to David Robertson to help lead the Yankees to many more World Series titles as the future closer of the New York Yankees. “Houdini” certainly is destined for greatness.

gif
And I just added that in for fun.

Cashman the idiot?

So here we are its the 2011 off season and the Winter Meetings have ended today. Lot of moves made, but not by the Yankees. Why? Well they just didn’t like any of the prices for the starters in the Free Agent market. Plus there was really only one that they probably should have been interested in. So what is Cashman going to do now?? Well lets find out:D

Cashman was seen walking down the hallway, getting ready to leave the hotel and board a plane back to New York. While he was getting in his car, he decided to call a very special someone.;) Who might that be you ask? Well it was none other then our good friend A.J. Burnett. Yes A.J. if you don’t like it, well deal with it:P. So anyway, Cashman called up A.J. to say a few words.

*phone rings with “I kissed a girl” ringtone by Katy Perry*

A.J.: “Hello?”

Cashman: “Hey A.J?”

A.J: “Yeah Cash? Hey what’s up?”

Cashman: “Well A.J. I got some news, I don’t know if its good or bad, that all depends on you.”

A.J.: “Oh?”

Cashman: “Yeah, A.J I am going to trade you away. I got a call from Billy Beane, and he agreed that if we paid all of your remaining salary and a couple of lower tier prospects. So pack your bags AJ you’re going to Oakland!”

A.J.: “WHAT????? WTF???? HOW THE F**K CAN YOU JUST TRADE ME???? AFTER ALL I HAVE DONE FOR YOU!!!!! YOU LED ME ON CASHMAN!!! YOU TOLD ME YOU BELIEVED IN MY AND NOW IM GOING???? WHO THE F**K DID YOU GET???!!!!!”

Cashman smiling: “Gio Gonzalez:D”

A.J: “You’re kidding right???”

Cashman:”YES A.J APRIL FOOLS!!!! AHAHAHHAHAHA SUCKER!!!”

A.J.:”Cash its December 8th its not even spring yet!! YOU’RE SUCH AN IDIOT!!! You think we can win with this rotation??? COME ON!!!! Go out there and spend all the $$$ you have.”

Cashman:”Oh…. :/” *hangs up*

A.J.:”Hello??? Hello??? CRAP…..” *hangs up*

Back in NY, Brett Gardner and David Robertson show up at Yankee Stadium to see how Cashman is doing.

Brett and David walk around the clubhouse but they can’t find Cashman. Finally after hours of searching, they find Cashman sitting in a corner…… crying?? 😮 Yeah there he was, sucking his thumb, crying like a baby.

“Cashman??” said Brett.

“I’m a good GM, I’m a good GM, I’m a good GM” whimpered Cashman. “Guys do you think I suck at my job???”

Brett and David looked at each other with quizzical stares. “Ummm no of course not Cashman!” said David. “You are one of the best GMs in Baseball”

“Yeah…. is someone giving you trouble???” said Brett. “Because if they are I will go all “BrettGardnerRAge” on them.”

“It’s ok guys, I can handle it….”said Cashman. “It’s just the media, beating me up because I haven’t gotten any pitching. Its not my fault no one wants A.J.”

“Don’t worry Cashman you will prove them wrong:D I think letting the kids take over when they are ready is an excellent idea.” said David.

“Thanks guys:D” said Cashman.

3 years later…

“And the YANKEES are back on top!!! Winning their 2nd consecutive World Series title!” said Joe Buck.

“With a rotation of CC, Matt Cain, Ivan Nova, Manny Bannuelos, and David Phelps, the Yankees have taken their second consecutive WS win.” “And you have to give credit to Brian Cashman for really believing in these kids and letting them come up through the system, despite much criticism, because they led the team to a WS victory!”

“Let’s not forget Jesus Montero contributing big time as the DH. You also had the rookie of the year catcher Gary Sanchez, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain excellent job in the bullpen and of course the World Series S MVP the closer for the Yankees, David Robertson! Excellent job by everyone in this team, even Alex. They deserve it” said Joe McCarver.

And so the Yankees won the World Series:D And all those kiddies that other teams wanted via trade, they led the team to victory:D So, as you see Cashman truly does know what he is doing:D

Yankees Need to Solve their Offensive Woes

The Yankees have always been a great offensive team, building their new ballpark to fit their needs perfectly, allowing a lot of balls to hit the seats with that short porch in right field. However, because the Yankees have so many power hitters in their lineup, i.e Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, along with possibly Andruw Jones being the 4th OF if he comes back next season, they have mainly become a home-run hitting team, and if they are not hitting a long ball, then they usually get in some serious trouble.

I’m sure all fans would agree, seeing your favorite player hit one out of the ballpark is always fun. But, there is a time and place for everything. There is a time to break open the game, which I the Yankees are very good at, but then theres also a time when you just have to get one little single to possibly win the game.

You don’t know how many times I sat on my couch watching a game, with the bases loaded, maybe like 1 or 2 outs, and having one of the big players come up and hit. Did I scream out “Hit a Grand Slam”? No, although that would be nice. If its a close game, whether the Yankees are winning or losing, I always say “Come on (insert name here) just hit a single, that’s all you need!”. Most of the time, that was not the case. Instead the guy stuck out or got into a double play.

So clearly this has become a problem for the Yankees. Basically they need to get “clutch hitting” at the right moment. Especially in the postseason, because let’s face it, everyone made a big deal about the rotation, especially going into the postseason, including myself, but in the end hitting is what got us knocked out. So that does that mean we have to get some new “clutch guys” well not necessarily.

I’m no expert on hitting but I think the lineup just needs some tweaking. Kevin Long says he works with his offense every season from spring training on on “situational hitting”, but it might take a bit more than that.

bats

Now during the playoffs, Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner were the only Yankees to consistently get on base and actually get the big hit with men on base. With a lineup as powerful and deep as the Yankees, that should not be the case.

Heck even Cervelli did a good job with runners in scoring position, and he barely plays. So younger players like Nunez, Gardner, Cervelli need to play more often. I personally believe Gardner should be playing every day, Nunez and Montero need to get as many at-bats as possible, and Cervelli well we’ll see what happens with him.

So what can the Yankees do to solve this problem? Well got to go in there and do some tinkering. I am no expert at hitting but those “situational hitting” “games” that Long is doing with the Yankees isn’t good enough. Most of these power guys, besides Robinson cause he can hit anything, usually go up to the plate looking for that one special pitch, the “fastball”. That is not always going to be the case, do you think the pitchers are just going to be like “well Im going to throw this fastball right down the middle and take my chances”? NO. Especially not in the postseason. Pitchers do their homework and they know what certain guys like and how to get them out. Unless you can throw a 100mph fastball and blow it by a hitter, they are usually not going to do that, unless they have to. Now I don’t know if this is really going to help, but perhaps they just need to learn to shorten their swing at the right moment? Probably harder that it sounds, but these players need to KNOW that there are certain things you need to do in certain situations. I shouldn’t have to tell them this.

I know that there’s pressure, and they want to hear the crowd roar with a Grand Slam, but timely hitting is key, and a game winning single will probably get the same reaction. So even though Cashman needs to focus on pitching for the Yankees, whether it be signing Buerhle, trading for someone that won’t deplete our farm system, or just giving the kiddies a shot at the rotation, Kevin Long and even perhaps Joe Girardi, need to work with this offense and make sure that they are not relying on the long-ball as much.

Whatever happened to just playing “small-ball”? At times it seems like the Yankees don’t even know what that means.

On a side note, I also think that some tweaking of the lineup wouldn’t hurt either.

Cano

Cano is clearly the best hitter on the packed Yankees lineup. In the playoffs, Girardi put Cano at 3rd and had Teixeira moved down to 5th. But with A-rod not hitting what was the point??? No protection for Robbie whatsoever. Now I don’t know how A-rod will play next year, no one does, but he better bring Alex Rodriguez with him!! We need a healthy, productive Alex. If I were Joe I might make a line-up looking like this.

Gardner
Jeter
Granderson
Cano
Teixeira
Rodriguez
Swisher
Martin
Montero

Before you read my explanation, please really don’t take this seriously. I really don’t know what Im doing here. I know each spot in the lineup has a specific purpose but that’s pretty much it:P This was really just for fun, but don’t take it seriously.

Now this probably might not make any sense but this is just my opinion. I have been one of those people saying that Gardner should lead off. So you have Gardner and Jeter hopefully getting on base, and then with Granderson batting 3rd and Cano coming up after him, the Grandy man might see better pitches to hit, because I don’t think anyone wants to face Cano, so they just take their chances with Granderson. Cano is the best hitter, but I have in the clean-up spot because I just don’t know about Alex anymore. Can he stay healthy, and actually play more than a 100 games?? Can he hit like 40 Hrs and get 120 RBIs again? I don’t know and only time will tell. But let’s face it, he is not the best hitter anymore, Cano is. I kept Teixiera at 5th, and then I put Montero last because the kid has power, and if Swisher, who usually has a good OBP, and Martin can get on base before Montero, then Jesus could do some serious damage.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours? Feel free to leave a comment below.