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Yankees Can Only Blame Themselves for Missing the Playoffs


It’s not official yet, but the careers of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, much like the former Yankee Stadium, will come to a close on a note as anticlimatic as can be. For only the second time in the wild-card era, the New York Yankees will not make the postseason.

Every team goes through its highs and lows, some longer than others, and the Yankees have dominated baseball since the 1994 strike: 17 playoff appearances in 19 seasons, 13 American League East division titles, seven American League pennants and five World Series championships.

But as inevitable as a decline was, the Yankees can only blame themselves for missing the playoffs this year; the front office made horrible moves in the offseason and the team blew a huge chance to get back in the playoff picture. Yes, the Yanks were cursed with injuries this year, but if they made the right moves and built on the momentum they had a few weeks ago they’d be looking at a playoff berth.

Going into the offseason already knowing Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez would be out for a long period of time, GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees staff had upgrades to the left side of the infield at the very top of their wish list. As Russell Martin was a free agent and the Yankees’ top catching prospects were not ready at the time, they also needed help behind the dish.

Cashman had to act on a predetermined budget from the Steinbrenner brothers, as they wanted to cut payroll to $189 million for the 2014 season. With their options limited, they decided to go with Eduardo Nunez (career .683 OPS in 783 plate appearances) and paid Kevin Youkilis $12 million as well as spending $2 million for Travis Hafner. Both players had an extensive injury history.

In the outfield, they decided to bring back a 39-year-old Ichiro, giving him $13 million for two years. They let Martin walk and sign with Pittsburgh for a reasonable two-year deal worth $17 million. Instead of responding by signing another free agent catcher like Mike Napoli, A.J. Pierzynski or David Ross, they decided to go into the season having Francisco Cervelli and journeyman Chris Stewart share the duties.

When spring training hit, more disaster occurred.

CF Curtis Granderson and 1B Mark Teixeira suffered freak injuries and were put on the disabled list for the first few months of the year. Desperate, the Yankees signed Lyle Overbay to play first and traded for washed-up OF Vernon Wells, having to pay the latter $14 million until the end of 2014, a move I absolutely ripped to shreds the moment it happened.

Thanks to a plague of injuries and horrible moves by Cashman, the Yankees began the season with only Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner as returning starters and potential black holes at catcher, 1B, SS, 3B, LF, and RF, and DH, probably their worst lineup in 20 years. But the team played very well through the first two months of the year, starting 30-18 thanks to stellar pitching and timely hitting.

That didn’t last long, as Wells and Overbay predictably turned into pumpkins and Youkilis and Hafner got hurt and missed pretty much all of the second half. Surprisingly, even CC Sabathia struggled this season. At the deadline, the Yankees brought back Alfonso Soriano, and he was arguably the biggest reason why the Yankees didn’t fall out of the chase.

After hitting rock bottom in Chicago, the Yankees were only one game over .500 and seven games out of a playoff spot. Still, they proved resilient, as they went off on a 22-12 run, capped by a 3-1 series victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards to climb within a single game of the wild-card spot. However, they were unable to build on that momentum, losing three out of four at home against the Red Sox in the most excruciating way possible two weeks ago, getting swept at Fenway last week, and losing two out of three to the woeful Blue Jays this week, all but killing their chances of baseball in October.

Despite all the injuries, underachieving by Sabathia and others and awful signings like Wells and Hafner, the Yankees still had a chance this season, especially this month. They blew it, not because they weren’t good enough, but because they underachieved and were poorly prepared to begin with.

The blame not only goes on the players, but also the front office for making poor moves in the winter.

Instead of sticking to the budget and making smart moves like bringing back Russell Martin, getting AJ Pierzynski on a reasonable deal or bringing in a Nate Schierholtz, they went with putting out Chris Stewart as the everyday catcher, acquired aged names like Vernon Wells and Ichiro and even overpaid an injury-prone Kevin Youkilis.

That’s why they’re missing the playoffs, not the injuries.  And even when they had a chance to get in position for the wild card, they lost key games.

As for the future, don’t get me started.

The Yankees’ farm system is dryer than the Sahara. Despite Cashman‘s commitment to it since 2005, the Yankees have failed to develop legitimate players that are contributing to this squad or likely will in the future. Any players who look promising, like Joba Chamberlain or Dellin Betances, become busts.

It’s a sad situation. Because of this, the Yankees could end up being mediocre-to-bad for several years, at least until they either get sold to an owner who wants to spend money to win or the next “Core Four” show up and a competent general manager puts the right pieces around them.

The Yankees problems are rooted in the front office, and these problems will affect the team’s play this year and beyond.

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Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain: The Aces That Never Were

About six or seven years ago, the Yankees had one of the most improved minor league systems in baseball, thanks to a new commitment to growing young talent by general manager Brian Cashman. He wanted to try to keep the team competitive by growing arms and bats in place of the usual expensive acquisitions it would have otherwise made.

The cream of this crop was a 20-year-old right-hander from Southern California who was also a first-round pick in the 2004 draft. At the same time, another 20-year-old out of Lincoln, Neb. was taking the minor leagues by storm and made it to the big leagues only a year after being drafted. Their names are Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, and they were the face of what was supposed to be a new era of Yankee baseball, one that would focus on improving and sustaining the franchise through a surplus of young talent for years to come. Chamberlain and Hughes were set to be the centerpiece for this new golden era.

Chamberlain, armed with a high-90s fastball and a devastating slider, became an instant rock star in his debut in 2007, showing mortality only in the infamous bug game in Cleveland in the American League Division Series. He would make his move to the rotation in 2008 and dominated until injuring himself in August.

Hughes struggled in his first three years in the big leagues as a starter but found a home in the bullpen assuming Joba‘s old role as Mariano Rivera’s eighth-inning setup man for the 2009 World Series champions. At the same time, Chamberlain struggled and labored through the ’09 campaign thanks to an innings limit that routinely forced him to exit games early down the stretch and almost cost the Yanks Game 4 of the World Series.

In the 2010 season, Hughes beat out Chamberlain for a rotation spot and took the AL by storm, winning 18 games and earning an All-Star appearance in Anaheim. Chamberlain struggled in a role he once dominated and lost the setup job to David Robertson, the likely successor to Rivera next season. Hughes struggled down the stretch and was lit up twice in the American League Championship Series to Texas.

For the next three years, both pitchers continued to struggle. Chamberlain was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2011 and has never been the electric reliever he once was. In fact, even worse.

Hughes struggled with a “dead arm” in 2011, won 16 games in an up-and-down 2012 and has struggled big time with a 4.99 ERA this year. Both are free agents this winter, but it is unlikely either will make a good payday and the Yankees probably will not bring either back.

Alas, the two pieces that were expected to help complete the puzzle of a new age of Yankee baseball—its own version of John Smoltz and Tom Glavine—never panned out after all the signs of talent and the nasty stuff they once had faded.

Why did this happen? It’s not like they weren’t good enough. They were. Injuries had a lot to do with it, as Hughes pulled his left hamstring in his rookie year while pitching a no-hitter in Texas and suffered a dead arm in 2011, the same year Chamberlain had Tommy John surgery.

But you know what? This one is on the Yankees front office.

Ever since Chamberlain came up, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Joba Rules” repeated several times, referring to how the team would use him. In 2008, the Yanks kept him in the bullpen until there was a need for starting pitching, and even then they still tried to keep him under wraps by limiting his innings.

In 2009, it really hit the fans when the team decided to regulate his workload. Through the end of July, he was 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA and was finally starting to pitch more effectively. But then manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman began to put an innings and pitch limit on him. In his last nine starts, he never threw over 100 pitches and only pitched into the sixth inning. His ERA ballooned to 4.75 that season and that was the end of Joba Chamberlain as a starting pitcher.

The Yankees never learned their lesson with Joba, as Hughes’ effectiveness as a pitcher waned when they tried to coddle him. And many of the Yankees’ recent former top pitching prospects like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances have gotten hurt or have pitched so ineffectively as starters that they have been relegated to relief duty.

Heck, look at the Nationals and how well their team has done since the 2012 playoffs after shutting down Stephen Strasburg. It’s understandable that teams do not want to force their young arms too hard as fledgelings, but their conservative handling of pitchers can often hurt them anyway.

If the Yankees are going to get back to being World Series contenders, they need to be less conservative with any future young arm that climbs his way through the minors. Otherwise, they’ll just be another huge waste of talent like Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.

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The Yankees Need to Trust Their Young Guys Rather Than Pick from the Scrap Heap

This week’s acquisition of outfielders Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco, recently released from their respective squads, means only one thing concerning the New York Yankees‘ attempts to improve their roster: They continue to be content with picking from the scrap heap rather than trusting  their young upcoming prospects. 

In the offseason, starting catcher Russell Martin and starting right-fielder Nick Swisher, along with important bench pieces in Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez all left to free agency. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson have all suffered injuries and will be out for at least a month and a half (In A-Rod’s case, perhaps the entire year). 

With no ML starting catcher, no regular CF (Brett Gardner will switch from LF to the 8 spot for Grandy), and half the infield gone, the Yankees are in dire straits, and have done a very poor job to replace them.

With Teixeira and Rodriguez out, former Red Sox nemesis Kevin Youkilis looks to carry the load at 1B and 3B along with Eduardo Nunez and returning Yankee Juan Rivera. Rivera, Matt Diaz, and the recently signed Boesch and Ben Francisco will compete for the fourth outfielder spot. The catching duties will be apparently shared between Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart.

I don’t think I have to pull up any numbers to make it clear that all these guys are mediocre at best. Even Youkilis struggled in 2012 with both Sox squads, hitting .235 with a 99 OPS+, both career lows. Injury plagued for the last couple of years, he could still be a good pickup if healthy

But the fact is, the Yankees could have simply brought some youth up to help deal with these injuries rather than waste what little money they allowed themselves to spend this past winter. 

Keith Law’s 2013 edition of his annual Top 100 prospects has four Yankees prospects on it. Catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielders Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott could have helped the Yankees in their situation if they were ready, but they all seem to be another year or two or perhaps three away. 

As a result, the Yankees should look for help from less touted players, preferably right-handed to off-set the likes of Ichiro, Granderson, and Hafner. There are a few players in Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that can easily fill the empty spots on the Yankees’ major league roster in the Bronx until those injured can return. 

Of course, the favorite to help fill in the holes the Yankees have is Eduardo Nunez, a lazy choice at best. His 88 OPS+ is not nearly enough to make up for his atrocious, Chuck Knoblauchian defense. He is not the answer at third base with both Teixeira and A-Rod out. 

One guy that can fill some holes in both the OF and 3B is Ronnier Mustelier, a 28-year-old Cuban defector with just 150 games and 595 at-bats under his belt. However, he has impressed with the bat, putting up an impressive .324/.378/.488/.859 line with 18 HR, 96 RBI and 19 stolen bases in those games climbing up the system.

Despite being mediocre or average at best with the glove, Mustelier can still play both 3B and LF, so Brett Gardner can take over CF with Ichiro in right. Mustelier‘s hitting skills are too solid to ignore, and he more than deserves to come up with the big league club in April, especially over Nunez.

A guy who deserves a chance to become the Yankees’ fourth outfielder is Melky Mesa. Yes, that’s right. Another Melky. He is just 26 years old and broke out in 2012 at Double-A and Triple-A, hitting 23 HR, slugging .480, stealing 22 bags, and putting up an .805 OPS. What you also get with him, however, is a long swing causing a lot of strikeouts and not a lot of walks. Still, he’s still a very good option as a fourth OF and should win the job over the likes of Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera, Boesch or Francisco.

Another OF option is Zolio Almonte, 23. He hit 21 HR in 2012 at Trenton and could find his way to the big leagues if he continues to improve. He has played all three OF positions regularly, primarily right, but should have no problem if asked to play left at Yankee Stadium, as difficult as it surprisingly is. Like Mesa, however, he strikes out a lot and walks very sparingly. 

If Nunez is not the answer (most likely) at utility infielder, another kid may be a better option. Corban Joseph, just 24 years old, could eventually find himself as the starting second baseman for the New York Yankees if Robinson Cano leaves after this year. Joseph has only played second in recent years but improved with the bat in 2012

If he ever (that is, EVER) gets healthy, a potential dark horse option for the infield eventually could be David Adams. He has been plagued by injuries for much of his professional career, which caused a potential Yankee trade for Cliff Lee in 2010 to be killed. 

Lastly, and most unlikely is the catcher’s spot. The job looks as if it will be shared by Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, two seriously flawed and poor at best MLB players. Both have absolutely no business starting for the New York Yankees. They’re both backups at ABSOLUTE BEST. 

The best option the Yankees have right now at catcher may be another minor leaguer, 24-year-old Austin Romine. He was limited last year due to back problems, and so far hasn’t fully developed his hitting skills. But between him, Cervelli and Stewart, Romine may be the best option defensively, so it makes sense after dealing with Jorge Posada starting for over 14 years.

Sadly, it’s likely that these guys won’t be able to get a chance to help the club, as the Yankees continue to go with the scrap heap to fill their holes. Worked out sometimes and sometimes not. They basically replaced Johnny Damon with the likes of Randy Winn and Austin Kearns in 2010. Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon somehow managed to replace Andy Pettitte’s production in 2011. Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, and Eric Chavez did well as bench pieces last two years. 

But now should be the time for that to end, with the core players of this team aging and getting ready for the end of their careers (Mariano Rivera). The Yankees can’t plug their leaky holes with old vets anymore. There needs to be a youth movement in the organization, eventually centering around the likes of Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams and Tyler Austin.

But with those three two years away, less touted guys need to step in and help. Who knows? Ivan Nova did well in 2011 and David Phelps looks to make his mark now. There could be guys just like them waiting for their chance, but the Yanks need to give it to them. 

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Yankees Shore Up Rotation, but Huge Hole Remains at Catcher

The New York Yankees look to replicate the pitching success they enjoyed down the stretch and in the playoffs this past season.

They agreed to bring both starter Andy Pettitte and the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, back to the team for the 2013 MLB season.

Pettitte, who made his season debut on Mother’s Day, was limited to just 12 starts thanks to an ankle fracture. He pitched very well in his return to the majors after retirement in 2011, pitching to a 2.87 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and a 146 ERA+. He also pitched well in the playoffs, allowing just five runs in 13.2 innings.

Rivera pitched just nine games this season, out since May due to a freak accident during batting practice, tearing his ACL. However, he immediately decided that he would not retire and would work his way back. 

Both moves, along with Hiroki Kuroda returning last week, make the Yankees pitching staff again a threat when healthy. The pitching staff showed what it was capable of in this past postseason and hope to replicate this success for the entire 2013 baseball year

The offense, on the other hand, is still a work in progress, and now has suffered a setback.

Russell Martin, the replacement to longtime Yankee catcher Jorge Posada, left the Bronx for the Pittsburgh Pirates, signing a two-year deal worth $19 million. Martin spent the past two seasons with the Yankees, hitting .224 over a 258 game stretch. 

Despite the poor numbers, this a huge loss for the Yankees, as they also lose one of the best defensive backstops in the game. They must make a decision and perhaps some reactionary moves to solve this situation. 

The Bronx Bombers are now without a starting catcher, with the depth of catchers on the roster currently as follows:

Chris Stewart: .241/.292/.319/.611 in 2012 with the Yankees

Francisco Cervelli: .246/.341/.316/.657 in 99 games at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre

Austin Romine: Injuries cut him to just 31 games and 120 plate appearances

None of these players are suitable options to start, and only passable options as backups. The Yankees cannot afford to have this kind of depth on Opening Day. Martin only got a two-year deal, as did former Braves backup David Ross with the Boston Red Sox.

So, the best options that remain are former Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim and Texas Ranger Mike Napoli and longtime Chicago White Sox backstop AJ Pierzynski

Napoli is the cream of the free agent catcher crop, coming off five straight seasons with over 20 home runs. He had his best season in 2011, hitting 30 bombs and putting up a line of .320/.414/.631/1.046. He was an All-Star for the first time this past season.

Pierzynski had the best season of his 15-year career, setting new career highs in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. He also took home his first Silver Slugger award. 

However, there are problems coming if the Yankees bring either in. Napoli is a very poor defensive catcher, and you can’t put him at first base at all as long as Mark Teixeira is in the lineup. He can still double as a regular in the Yankees’ rotating DH system. But he also is looking for a pretty big deal.

Pierzynski is turning 36 next month, and is a huge risk given his age and the money he may want based on his contract year. Not exactly a guy the Yankees may want based on their plans for the future. 

However, it seems the Yankees may have to bite the bullet. In all honesty, nobody thinks either Napoli or Pierzynski are plans for the long-term future. Heck, neither is Russell Martin.

This has all been about covering the gap between the Jorge Posada era of Yankee catching history to his eventual heir. Jesus Montero is gone, and Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy are still at least a year away from being able to step in as the starting backstop for the next several years.

The Yankees are an aging team with not too many prospects coming very soon. The organization also plans on spending even less than they have for so many years starting in the 2014 season.

This is obviously a reaction to the declines and long-term deals of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. The Yankees do not want anymore of those contracts on their payroll in the long-term.

However, the Yankees also have plenty of money to spend, with the departures of Martin, closer Rafael Soriano, and outfielder Nick Swisher, a grand total of almost $30 million between the three. 

That is the reason why not bringing back Russell Martin makes so little sense. He only got two years from Pittsburgh, and will only paid an average of $8.5 million, which is the same amount he earned this season. 

So now, the Yankees are forced to fill their spot at catcher with a high-priced free agent (Napoli, Pierzynski) or go with minor league talent (Stewart, Cervelli) in order to eventually bring up one of the three prospects they have still in their farm system.

The Yankees are in this dilemma because of themselves. They have time, but they cannot dawdle, because the remaining options could run out at any time. 

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Hiroki Kuroda to Remain with the New York Yankees and What It Means for 2013

Any signs of panic in Yankees Universe concerning the outlook for the 2013 season can be eased for the time being.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the New York Yankees have signed Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $15 million contract. The contract includes incentives for just under $1 million

Kuroda was a success in his first year in the American League, going 16-11 with a 3.32 ERA and a 126 ERA+. The 37-year-old set an MLB career-high in innings and starts and also pitched well in the postseason for the Yankees, even without any run support. 

Words can’t describe how huge this move is. Kuroda was the guy who pitched the Yankees through a rough summer filled with injuries to guys like Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and fellow starters CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte

Around the time the injuries to Sabathia and Pettitte came (late June), Kuroda was sitting at just 6-7 with a 3.57 ERA, much like his days with the Dodgers. After that, from June 25, he went 10-4 with a 3.15 ERA. From July 18 to the end of August, he went 4-3, but with a 1.99 ERA in nine starts without CC and Andy. 

When September came around, the fatigue in setting a new career-high in innings seemed to kick in, as he went 4-1 but with a 4.71 ERA in 36.1 IP. In the playoffs, however, he reverted to the July-August Kuroda, allowing just five runs in 16 innings. He could have easily won both starts, but the Yankees offense failed to support him, much like every game in the postseason. 

The Yankees needed to bring this guy back badly. Without him, the Yankees rotation for this upcoming season was looking like this:


LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Phil Hughes

RHP Ivan Nova

RHP David Phelps

RHP Adam Warren

With Sabathia possibly a future liability concerning his health, combined with the inconsistencies of Nova and Hughes as well as the inexperience of Phelps and Warren, the Bombers needed Kuroda‘s veteran presence back in the rotation.

He once again becomes a reliable No. 2 man behind Sabathia, who has shown he can pitch in Yankee Stadium despite being a right-hander and having previously spent four years on Chavez Ravine. 

With this move, it likely re-opens the possibility of the return of both Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who will also be crucial to the fate of the Yankees in 2013.

Pettitte is once again trying to decide between retirement and baseball. As always, if it is baseball, it is the Yankees. He will likely agree to a contract that is favorable to the Yankees’ future payroll plan.

Mariano, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. He has already told GM Brian Cashman that he wishes to return, especially after having his season end to a knee injury during ball shagging in Kansas City back in May.

The Yankees will want to bring him back, but on terms favorable to them. Hopefully for them, Rivera will be agreeable and be willing to take a pay cut after making $15 million for the past five seasons.

The Yankees will need him because it looks as if they will not be bringing back Rafael Soriano, who did a fantastic and invaluable job as his replacement this year.

If both are to return to New York in 2013, the rotation and bullpen will likely look like this, baring any big moves:



LHP CC Sabathia

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

LHP Andy Pettitte

RHP Phil Hughes

RHP Ivan Nova



Closer: Mariano Rivera

Setup: David Robertson

LOOGY: Boone Logan

LOOGY: Clay Rapada

RHP: Joba Chamberlain

RHP: Cody Eppley

RHP: David Phelps

RHP: David Aardsma 


Like this past year, still a very solid pitching staff that will rank among the best in the American League, especially if guys like Mo and Aardsma are healthy and Hughes and Nova improve on 2012.

Keep in mind that if Hughes or Nova are to regress even further next year, fire-baller Michael Pineda should be ready by June to take their place in the rotation

Also, considering the Yankees’ future plans considering their payroll, it’s cheaper than it could be. 

Kuroda’s re-signing not only means the possible return of Pettitte and Rivera; it means the Yankees’ chances of a World Series run is more possible than it was yesterday.

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The New York Yankees Would Be Foolish to Trade Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez

Every time the New York Yankees are eliminated from the postseason, there are always cries from fans and the media for change, particularly of the radical kind. This year is no different, with several of them wishing for their scapegoats to be shown the door from the Big Apple. 

Many of the scapegoats include Curtis Granderson, whose options New York has picked up, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin, but none of them compare to the biggest one of all. 

Alex Rodriguez, the hero of the 2009 postseason which ended with the Yankees’ 27th World Championship, is indisputably the biggest scapegoat for the Yankees’ stunning defeat at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. Rodriguez was three for 25 in this year’s playoffs with no extra base hits or RBIs and 12 strikeouts.

He was pinch hit for by Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning of Game Three of the Division Series (we know how that turned out) and was benched in both elimination games for the Yankees this season.

He was frequently replaced against RHP as he was completely overpowered by the likes of Jason Hammel, Jim Johnson, Miguel Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Anibal Sanchez, not a group you should be shut down by. 

Now it seems that his relationship with manager Joe Girardi and the ownership and front office has been irreparably damaged. Many wish for them to part ways this offseason.

However, this would be a foolish decision to make, and for quite a few reasons. Rodriguez has five years left on his deal with the Yankees and is owed at least $114 million. Why should the Yankees pay him to play for another team? That’s just a bad business and baseball move. They should not deal him at all costs like they did to AJ Burnett. 

There’s also the fact that A-Rod is still an above average player, especially at his position. Although he put up career worst numbers, he still put up a 112 OPS+, a .353 OBP, and led the Yankees in stolen bases until Ichiro arrived. He ranked 9th among all 3B in OPS at .783 and 8th in wRC+ at 114.

However, there’s also a concern other than the fact he struggled in the postseason. His numbers have seriously declined every year, and injuries have only catalyzed his decline. After surviving a hip injury in 2009 and carrying the Bombers to the title, he has suffered injuries to his knee, which held him to just 99 games last season, and a wrist fracture caused by a hit by pitch from Felix Hernandez. 

Overall, Rodriguez has batted under .280 in each of the past three seasons. His isoP (isolated power, slugging percentage minus average) has been under .200 in the last two season. According to some metrics, his bat speed has also declined, as seen when guys like Jim Johnson were able to blow their vicious sinkers past him in the postseason. 

Also, there is the problem with replacing him. Eric Chavez would not be able to hold together for a full 162 game season. Eduardo Nunez cannot hit RHP either and his fielding at any position is probably worse than Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax combined. 

The Yankees could pursue Chase Headley, who broke out in 2012, hitting 31 HRs, driving in 115 RBIs and put up a 144 OPS+ at PETCO. Unfortunately, the value he supposedly had at the deadline has only skyrocketed which could drive up the price on him.

So even if Alex is traded, the Yankees will have to spend or give away even more to find an adequate replacement. 

Unless you can find a way to get a team interested in his services that is willing to take at least part of his contract, Alex Rodriguez is not leaving New York anytime soon. And he shouldn’t.

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Major Changes: A Very Unorthodox Proposal for Major League Baseball

A common criticism of Major League Baseball, besides the lack of a salary cap or parity, is the unfair scheduling and division setup. The division setup in both leagues is very unusual. The American League West has four teams, the National League Central has six teams and every other division has five. This adds up to 14 teams in the AL and 16 in the NL, which has led to uneven scheduling.

So I am suggesting a dramatic change in both leagues.The new division format should be just like the National Football League, which also has an excellent rotating scheduling system.

I also suggest cutting regular season games and adding an extra round in the postseason, which would allow teams that would have been previously left out of the wild card to have a chance at the World Series

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After A Month of Criticism, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi May Have The Last Laugh

I will be the first one to tell you that I heavily blasted Joe Girardi and his strange moves that only helped the New York Yankees stumble to a 13-17 finish over the last month of the season. His plan was for his team to get healthy and be prepared for the postseason and not shoot for the American League East Division Title and face the Texas Rangers in the playoffs. Many of his moves include bringing in Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre in high leverage situations, benching half the team in must win games, ineffectively using the bullpen and bench, etc.

They would have a two-and-a-half game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays in the middle of a four game series against said team at home. They would then proceed to 3-8 over their final 11 games. The Rays, too, stumbled and the Yankees would have a half game lead going into the final series against the Boston Red Sox. They would drop two of three at Fenway to finish second in the AL East to the Rays and were forced to enter the postseason as the Wild Card.

So instead of having home-field advantage throughout the American League Playoffs, the Yanks were forced to hit the road against the Minnesota Twins and would have to do so in every round should they win, and they have never made it past the Division Series as the Wild Card. Since the American League lost the All-Star Game, they wouldn’t have home-field during the World Series. If they Yankees are to win the World Series, they would become only the third team to win the World Series without home-field advantage at all during the playoffs in the Wild Card era (The other two are the 2003 Marlins and the 2006 Cardinals.)

The Yankees would respond to limping into the playoffs by sweeping the Minnesota Twins and in convincing fashion. Their starters, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes, all won and had a combined 2.25 ERA. The offense, which slumped in September, especially with runners in scoring position, hit .314 and .375 with runners in scoring position while averaging 5.6 runs per game, and outscored the Twins 17-7.

Meanwhile, the Rangers and Rays are deadlocked. The Rangers won the first two games in Tampa Bay, but could not close out the series at home in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. So, the winner of tonight’s deciding Game Five will be forced to use their ace. The winner will not be able to use Cliff Lee or David Price until Game Three at Yankee Stadium.

This is a HUMONGOUS advantage for the Yankees. The winner will only be able to use their ace at least once: Game Three and Game Seven. Unfortunately for them, it will be tough for it to even be a Game Seven as they would have to win two more games besides Game Three. Starting someone other than Lee or Price against Sabathia is a big advantage for New York.

Another main criticism of Girardi is avoiding Cliff Lee in a short series. However, this has worked out huge for him and the Yankees, as they could face him only once. They could finish off the series in five or six games and not having to use Sabathia so he will be ready to take on Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum in Philadelphia or San Francisco for Game One of the 2010 World Series.

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New York Yankees Have Chance To Pad AL East Lead Before Big Series in Tampa

At the end of Sunday’s play, the New York Yankees have a 2.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yanks and the Rays are most definitely going to the playoffs; the only question is which team wins the American League East. The two teams play each other for seven epic games in the next two weeks. However, the Yankees have a chance to pad their lead before they arrive in St. Petersburg for three games.

This week, the Yankees wrap up their ten-game home stand in which they are already 6-1 against the last place Baltimore Orioles. The O’s are 2-10 against the Yanks and have not won a game in the Bronx all season.

However, these are different O’s. Led by new manager Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles have gone 19-13. Here are the pitching matchups for this week’s series:

Game 1: Brian Matusz (BAL, 7-12, 4.72 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (NYY, 10-12, 5.15 ERA)

Game 2: Jake Arrieta (BAL, 4-6, 5.11 ERA) vs.  CC Sabathia (NYY, 19-5, 3.02 ERA)

Game 3: Brad Bergesen (BAL, 6-10, 5.47 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (NYY, 1-0, 2.89 ERA)

Matusz has been excellent since Showalter took over, going 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts in August. Meanwhile, Burnett is coming off his first win since July 28, going six innings, allowing six hits, three runs, walking two and striking out eight.

Arrieta faced the Yankees in his big league debut in June, getting the win, but has struggled since. Sabathia is continuing his Cy Young campaign and going for his 20th win of the season, something that he has never done before. Bergesen and Nova have both struggled in their last starts and didn’t go deep in the games.

Meanwhile, the Rays play the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park for three and jump across the border to play Blue Jays. Here are the matchups for the Rays-Sox series:

Game 1: Jeff Niemann (TB, 10-5, 3.97 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (BOS, 15-8, 3.27 ERA)

Game 2: David Price (TB, 16-6, 2.92 ERA) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS, 9-4, 4.29 ERA)

Game 3: Matt Garza (TB, 14-7, 3.46 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (BOS, 15-6, 2.25 ERA)

Niemann has struggled in his two starts since coming off the DL and Lester was lit up last time against the Orioles. Price had a 4.38 ERA after the All-Star Break before tossing a gem against the Blue Jays last Wednesday while Dice-K has given up four runs in each of his past four starts, posting a 5.54 ERA in that span.

Garza has been the Rays’ most valuable starter lately posting a 2.42 ERA since the All-Star Break, while Buchholz has continued his CY Young campaign but struggled in his last start against the White Sox.

After their series versus the Red Sox, the Rays will head up to Toronto to play the Blue Jays. James Shields and Wade Davis, their two worst starters, will face a tough Blue Jays lineup that hit six home runs off of Shields last month. The Red Sox and Blue Jays can help the Yankees pad their lead in the AL East before the big three game series at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees’ soft schedule can also help. The Rays are a team that plays the Yankees well, so the Yanks will definitely love to have these extra games. If the Yankees can enter the series ahead of the Rays they could easily end the race with a series victory.

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