Tagged: Nick Swisher

Final CompuBox numbers

By Jon Lane
A wrap on Game 1 with stats compiled by the Yankees while borrowing a boxing phrase:

? The Yankees scored eight runs in the fourth inning, sending 13 batters to the plate (four singles, two doubles, two home runs, and two walks).

? The Yankees plated the most runs in a single inning against Boston since a nine-run eighth on June 19, 2000 at Fenway Park in a 22-1 Yankees win. It was also the Yankees’ largest inning since a nine-run fourth June 14 against the Mets.

? Every Yankees starter had at least one hit.

? Yankees pitchers allowed 12 walks, their highest single-game total since issuing 12 in a 17-4 loss June 18, 2000 against the White Sox. Those 12 walks were the most in a win against any team. Joba Chamberlain improved to 8-2 despite waling a career-high seven. This was a shade of gray on a nice silver lining.

“We walked too many people and we got away from some situations, and we can’t continue to do that against this lineup because they’re going to hurt you,” Girardi said. “It’s frustrating because you can’t give an offense like theirs free passes.”

? Chad Gaudin will join the team on Sunday, reports The Journal News‘ Peter Abraham, who added that Brian Cashman told him that Sergio Mitre will remain in the rotation. Joe Girardi sees Gaudin as someone who can work out of the bullpen or spot start. His last start was Wednesday, when the Braves tagged him for six runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Nick Swisher was Gaudin’s roommate for two years in Oakland. He sent him a text message welcoming him to the club.

“He’s going to fit in here real nice,” Swisher said. “When we were in Oakland he had a good run. He’s a good dude, he’s a competitor and he’s going to go out and give it his all every day.”

The Lodown

By Jon Lane
It’s been an eventful week on YESNetwork.com. I worked yesterday’s 6-4 Yankees win that showed me that while the Yankees are contenders, they need to prove they can beat A-list opponents before being considered an elite team. Still, an old credo from 1996 has helped them maintain focus, which a couple of players said will be the difference when they meet the Rays next week and the Red Sox next month.

Jerome Preisler worked the game with me and this morning eloquently broke down Nick Swisher’s day of redemption.

After the game I spoke exclusively with Phil Hughes. Showing the maturity to accept the hand he’s dealt, Hughes has thrived as Mariano Rivera’s primary set-up man.

The Off the Wall podcast with Chris Shearn debuted last night. The host of BPTV talks Erin Andrews, Roy Halladay and calls out the mecurial nature of the New York sports fan.

HOPE Week has been a huge success and there’s still more to come. I was there to tell the heartbreaking and powerful story of George Murray, a former Army paratrooper suffering from ALS. I came away having experienced first hand the quality of courage. Jerome, Joe Auriemma and Christa Robinson will be on hand for tonight’s special installment. And be sure to watch Yankees Pre Game at 6:30 for a special feature about Helping Others Persevere & Excel.

Random post-vacation thoughts

hinske_250_063009.jpgBy Jon Lane
Inclement weather, part of the absolute worst June ever in terms of never-ending rain, compromised my time away, but only a little bit. I enjoyed quality time with the family and the week that was, from a landmark live streaming announcement, to Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, to a one-sided Subway Series and capped by the great Mariano Rivera, it was seven eventful days, along with a few to pause and mourn the tragic losses and reflect upon the legacies of two cultural icons.

Strictly in the confines of baseball and the Yankees, many props to the newly-wed Joe Auriemma, and fellow colleague Glenn Giangrande, for filling the YES Blog. You’ll be reading plenty more from them and seeing the duo on Pinstriped Weekly as the season progresses. Wrestling fans are familiar with this expression from Jim Ross: “Business is about to pick up.”

? Turns out that’s what happened late this morning with the Yankees’ acquisition of veteran Eric Hinske (pictured) from the Pirates for two Minor Leaguers. It was only yesterday when Brian Cashman provided his usual GM-speak when discussing the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 by saying, “We’ve got the pieces in place.” When you spend $400 million on people, you expect to have the pieces in place, yet Cashman is best at flying stealth before pulling the trigger. Expect him to look into Huston Street’s availability to buff the bullpen.

Since losing Xavier Nady for the season hurts, Hinske will help share the load with Nick Swisher in right field and even help spell Alex Rodriguez; last season for the Rays, he started 47 games in right, 37 in left, nine at first base and four at third. He’s never hit for average, but the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year slugged 20 homers with 60 RBIs and 21 doubles for the AL Champions and won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2007. This is a guy whose value goes beyond subpar numbers. He’ll provide intangibles and grit, which even the high-priced Yankees need.

The team will need to make a corresponding roster move today, which means either Brett Tomko will be designated for assignment or Ramiro Pena optioned to Triple-A so he can play every day. This morning I figured Shelley Duncan’s return was imminent, but that won’t happen.

? The Yankees are winners of five straight – albeit three came against the New York Mess, er, Mets – while having busted out offensively. The numbers from their last three games against a Quadruple-A lineup from Flushing are staggering: The Yankees outscored the Mets, who never led, 33-3 and held them to a .102 batting average. Jerry Manuel’s men were atrocious defensively and lifeless all around; only Livan Hernandez and Gary Sheffield showed any kind of heart and soul. Worst of all, Francisco Rodriguez issued a bases-loaded walk to Mariano Rivera. Embarrassing. And word had it Carlos Beltran may need microfracture surgery, which would mean his season is over and career in jeopardy. Whoa boy.

It turned out Beltran won’t need surgery. But still, there are big problems in Queens.

? Rivera is the greatest closer to ever play baseball. Period. I don’t care if you love or hate the Yankees, this is as close the truth gets to opinion. Jim Kaat and Steven Goldman each ruminate on the magnificent Mo.

? In case you bring up that the Yankees bullpen owns a 1.60 ERA in their last 13 games and how well Phil Hughes has pitched, would you honestly trust this current collaboration against the Red Sox in late September? The Yankees are in decent shape: They lead the surging Rays by a game-and-a-half in the Wild Card race and are 3 behind the Red Sox in the AL East while having outscored opponents 37-13 since Joe Girardi’s ejection last Wednesday. But neither that nor anything masks their insidious 0-8 record against Boston. The Red Sox have an elite bullpen from top to bottom, the Yankees don’t, and that’s been the biggest factor in this one-sided rivalry.

Do the Yankees need another outfielder?

By Glenn Giangrande

With Xavier Nady seemingly done for the year, do the Yankees need another corner outfielder?

Let’s assume that Brett Gardner’s red-hot June continues, giving him the starting job in center that he lost to Melky Cabrera earlier this year. Melky COULD slide over to right, but would having Gardner and Cabrera together in the lineup be detrimental to the offense? Say yes for the sake of argument. Nick Swisher is an adventure out in right, and Johnny Damon’s defense has clearly taken a step back in left. The Yanks would do wise to bring in one more outfielder with the versatility to handle left or right.

The perfect fit? Mark DeRosa.

A New Jersey native, DeRosa was a guest on Batting Practice Today earlier this season, saying he’d love to play for the Yankees before his career ends. He’s in the final year of a three-year contract that he signed with the Cubs, who traded him to the Indians over the winter. Cleveland appears headed for a rebuilding phase, with ace pitcher Cliff Lee being rumored to be on the block. If he was on the Yankees right now, DeRosa’s bat would qualify as the second best among players able to handle the outfield behind Damon’s – I’m not counting Hideki Matsui, whose knees have betrayed him. DeRosa is probably best known as an infielder, but he’s got a fair amount of experience in the outfield, having started a total of 179 games in right field and left field combined. In 216 total games counting those in which he moved to one of those positions, he’s made only two errors.

Prior to the news developing concerning Nady’s likely need for Tommy John surgery, Brian Cashman was quoted as saying that the Yankees didn’t need a bat and that “all the bats are here.” If his perspective has changed, the idea of DeRosa is one the Yankees would do well to pursue.

A cybertour around the A.L.

by Glenn Giangrande

I’m the kind of guy who likes to be plugged in. A few days ago, while I was sitting through the five-and-a-half hour rain delay that turned the Yankees’ 1:05 game versus Washington into about a 6:30 game, I finally gave in and joined Twitter. It was partially out of boredom and because Facebook happens to be blocked at the YES Studios. I have to say that I enjoy it, and the best part has to be being able to track celebrities or sports stars. Paul Pierce and Shaq were in the first wave of people and websites I agreed to follow, along with the official page of the Jets and the phenomenal blog about my Islanders, “Point Blank,” among others. You can find me at http://twitter.com/glenngiangrande. The page is a work in progress though. Shout out to my first follower who’s a fellow blogger, @yankeemeginphl!

The thing we need to worry about on sites like Twitter and Facebook are the imposters, but it’s great to be able to get post-game reactions from players such as Nick Swisher, for example. So in honor of the social networking boon, I thought I’d summarize the season thus far for the American League teams along with some of their problems when applicable, Facebook status update style. Now since Twitter users can link their Facebook status updates to be on both pages, the status updates are limited to no more than 140 characters. Here’s what the members of the Junior Circuit might say if they had pages…

AL East

* The New York Yankees are glad to be where we are given the injuries we’ve dealt with. Could use a bullpen arm and maybe an outfield upgrade.

* The Boston Red Sox are lovin’ life atop the division, but we’re cursing the WBC for ruining Dice-K! Although, Smoltzie could fix that issue.

* The Tampa Bay Rays are really hoping that last season wasn’t a fluke. Yes, Zobrist is this good! We’ll be a-o-k once Price gets on track.

* The Toronto Blue Jays are wondering who has the voodoo doll. How many more pitchers do we need to lose? Eh, we’re still not moving Halladay.

* The Baltimore Orioles hate being in the basement. Time to listen to offers on everyone age 30 and up! How many Wieters shirts can we print?

AL Central

* The Detroit Tigers
are back! 2008 was an aberration. We’ll cruise if Magglio gets himself right. Verlander emerging as a Cy Young candidate?

* The Minnesota Twins are wondering what the heck happened to our bullpen! Can we get  some consistency from Liriano? We all heart Joe Mauer.

* The Chicago White Sox knew Alexei Ramirez would catch fire. Beckham may need more seasoning. We can make a run if Contreras steps it up!

* The Kansas City Royals are down. So much for that great start. Glad we locked up Greinke, now Gordon needs to make strides when healthy.

* The Cleveland Indians are wondering where it went wrong. Hopefully Grady avoids further damage. We could get some assets for C-Lee in trade.

AL West

* The Texas Rangers could really use a veteran in the rotation, though Nolan’s philosophy is paying dividends! Hope Josh gets well asap.

* The Los Angeles Angels have gotten solid production out of Morales after not choosing to spend big in the winter. 2nd half runaway out West?

* The Seattle Mariners are wondering if the Bedard trade was worth it, but the Putz deal has worked! Not sure if we’re contenders though.

* The Oakland A’s would have no problems letting Matt Holliday walk and taking some draft picks, but let’s see what the highest bidder has!

Posada on his way

By Jon Lane
The Yankees are about to get a lot stronger. After playing six innings in an extended Spring Training game Thursday, Jorge Posada told The Associated Press he was scheduled to fly to Cleveland to meet his teammates for the start of a four-game series against the Indians Friday night.

Posada has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring May 4 and I don’t need to remind you how valuable he is to the Yankees. Someone will need to be dropped from the roster to make room for Posada. At this point it makes too much sense to DFA Angel Berroa. He hasn’t had an at-bat since May 4, and young defensive whiz Ramiro Pena serves the same purpose. Besides, you want to carry three catchers to cover yourself in case that tricky hamstring acts up again and until Jose Molina returns you’ll want to stash away Kevin Cash, who in a pinch can fill in at third base. Molina (strained left quadriceps) is working out in Tampa, but not ready for game action yet.

Of equal significance is Xavier Nady’s two hits in five at-bats, including an opposite-field homer to right, while serving as the DH. He’ll fill that spot in New York when he returns to help give Hideki Matsui a blow and eventually take over right field. Nick Swisher is a great guy whose positive energy is contagious, but he’s batting .223 (.127 this month). He’s being spared a night or two on the bench with Melky Cabrera out at least a week.

Report: Nady gets a reprieve

nady_350_042109.jpgBy Jon Lane
SI.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that Xavier Nady has been diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow and will avoid surgery. What began as fear that Nady would be gone for the season has turned into a timetable that could last for 4-6 weeks.

Heyman added Nady could return in a DH role. As I wrote earlier today, the Yankees are very concerned about Hideki Matsui’s knees. Matsui is in tonight’s lineup and batting seventh.

12:39 p.m.
Plenty of time to kill before the Yankees and A’s try it again tonight (My9 HD, 7 p.m.). Skies are overcast but more rain may invade the area later today into tonight.

Yesterday’s rainout allowed me to pay full attention to Game 3 of the Rangers’ first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals. Rather than step on the favored Caps’ throats to the brink of extinction, the Blueshirts decided to form a Conga line to the penalty box. They were outplayed by Washington’s snipers and a 20-year-old goaltender named Simeon Varlamov in dropping a 4-0 decision at Madison Square Garden, where they went 26-11-14 during the regular season. On the road they were 17-19-5 and won the first two games of this series in Washington DC. Go figure.

Back to baseball and the ongoing Xavier Nady watch. While the Yankees are holding out hope their right-fielder will not need surgery on his injured right elbow, the prognosis remains bleak. To date, Nady has undergone at least five tests in which doctors are trying to differentiate between this and injury he suffered in 2001, which required Tommy John surgery. Dr. Lewis Yocum, the surgeon who performed the procedure on Nady’s elbow in ’01, was expected to get the MRI pictures today. Supposedly there were to be sent via e-mail yesterday, but Dr. Yocum isn’t up on 21st century technology, so the Yankees FedExed him the information.

You obviously hope for the best in a situation that is flat-out terrible timing. Nady batted .305 with the Pirates and Yankees last season and becomes a free agent after this season. It makes you wonder how teams will view a veteran who turns 31 in November and whose body of work will be two RBIs in 28 at-bats in seven games. Speaking to a couple of Yankees, they made it clear Nady is appreciated and will be missed. The day after Nady injured his elbow, Nick Swisher painted a big ‘X’ on his arm to let him know his teammates won’t forget him. At the beginning of Spring Training, the two were competing for playing time in right field. The rivalry evolved into a tight friendship.

“Anytime somebody has to go through that it’s tough,” Swisher said. “We all want him to know we’re going to be there for him. Anything we can do to help, we’re all going to do that. You’re talking about losing a tremendous player – not just a tremendous player but an awesome guy.”

“It’s a big loss,” said Brett Gardner. “‘X’ is gone hopefully everybody can rally together and pick up the slack. It drives you a little more when you know your team and your coaches are counting on you.”

Further complicating matters is the fact that Hideki Matsui’s surgically repaired left knee needed to be drained last Thursday, creating a major level of concern about an aging veteran restricted to DH duty, and batting.194 (6-for-31) overall and .083 (1-for-12) with runners in scoring position. This makes you wonder if Matt Holliday will be the Yankees’ top target come July.

I hate to bring this up, but it’s true. Ross Ohlendorf – he and Jeff Karstens were shipped to Pittsburgh before last
season’s trade deadline for Nady and the now flammable Damaso Marte – threw seven shutout innings against the Marlins Monday night and would be better than 1-2 if not for a lack of run support. He had gone 0-5 with a 5.88 ERA dating back to last season before silencing a team that scored a combined 16 runs in its previous two games.

Like the signing of Carl Pavano, you may complain about this now, but you weren’t then. At least four teams were fighting over Pavano in 2004; Ohlendorf and Karstens, two pitchers on the outside looking in, were traded as part of a package for two reliable and proven veterans. It was impossible to foresee Nady getting hurt and Marte becoming a time bomb.

Karstens starts tonight and looks to recover from his 2009 debut in which he walked five in four innings. 

Countdown to the party

stadium_350_041509.jpgBy Jon Lane
T-minus one day until the official home opener. We were on hand for the workouts and the exhibition games, taking you for tour and providing anecdotes from around the Stadium and in the clubhouse. Expect a lot more Thursday afternoon. Fans will be jacked, CC Sabathia will be on the mound and the Yankees will thrilled to enjoy their new spoils for the next seven days. I’ll be keeping a diary and filing a postgame report. Chris Shearn and Co. will be producing exclusive videos, and Friday, Steven Goldman will provide a unique take on the Stadium’s amenities and dining experiences. This will be a lot of fun and knowing the Yankees there will be plenty of surprises. Gates will be open at 10 a.m. and the team is encouraging everyone to be in their seats by noon for the opening ceremonies.


A.J. Burnett was amazing Tuesday night. Better than his six no-hit innings was how he, locked into a pitchers’ duel with Matt Garza, kept his composure after the Rays tied the game in the seventh. After the Yankees regained the lead off the Rays bullpen, Burnett pitched a clean eighth inning, the Yankees broke it open in the ninth and Brian Bruney struck out the side to finish it off. Through two games, Burnett is proving wrong those skeptics (me included) who thought it was a risk giving him $82.5 million over five years. There are tell-tale signs he’s no longer a thrower, but a mature pitcher. Shearn has more on Burnett and Brett Gardner, who to date is making him look like a genius.


Hold your breath and cross your fingers: Xavier Nady is having an MRI done today to examime his right elbow, injured Tuesday in the seventh when he felt a sharp pain while throwing Carlos Pena’s single back to the infield. It’s the same area where he had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 2001.

From the sound of it, Nady is headed for the disabled list. That means Nick Swisher will play every day, mostly in right field. Melky Cabrera will be counted on even more to spell Johnny Damon in left. Shelley Duncan, batting .300 with a homer and five RBIs in four games at Triple-A Scranton, would add pop off the bench. None, however, can replace Nady, a steady veteran and a good fit in the bottom of the lineup. The Yankees are wishing Hideki Matsui can play some outfield right now.


It’s Andy Pettitte against Andy Sonnanstine this afternoon (YES HD, 4 p.m.) as the Yankees finally finish their season-opening nine-game road trip. They’d love to officially open the new Yankee Stadium one game above .500, which considering having to go back on the road after just coming back from six weeks in Florida wouldn’t be too bad. Pettitte is the right guy to have on the mound. He was great in his 2009 debut at Kansas City, yielding one run and three hits over seven innings, and is 15-4 with a 3.63 ERA against the Rays, including 8-2 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts at Tropicana Field.

Just like it was silly to go insane over an 0-2 start, it’s completely premature to draw conclusions based on eight games. The best you can do is look at things in stages. Right here, right now, Burnett has been gold and Pettitte is a great bargain.


movingforward.jpgYankees great Bernie Williams’ new CD, “Moving Forward” has been released. You can meet Williams and receive a signed copy of the CD at 6 p.m at Borders – Penn Plaza. Williams played one of his songs on Good Day New York this morning. His first CD, “The Journey Within” is excellent. Expect more of the same with his second helping and tune into YES next month for his live concert at New York’s Nokia Theatre.

Starting lineups: April 14, 2009

yankees.jpgBy Jon Lane
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher LF
Jorge Posada DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Xavier Nady RF
Ramiro Pena 3B
Jose Molina C

A.J. Burnett P

rays.jpgRAYS (4-3)
B.J. Upton CF
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Pat Burrell DH
Dioner Navarro C
Ben Zobrist RF
Akinori Iwamura 2B
Jason Bartlett SS

Matt Garza P

Teixeira is back after missing three games with tendinitis in his left wrist. He had an MRI Monday in Tampa, which revealed no structural damage, and was prescribed stronger anti-inflammatory medicine.

Ramiro Pena gets his first career start to give Cody Ransom a blow. Ransom is batting .083 (2-for-24) in the Yankees’ first seven games.

Swisher lifetime as a clean-up hitter: 10-for-30 (.333) with a homer and nine RBIs in 11 games.

Break out the Etch-A-Sketch

wang_250_041409.jpgBy Jon Lane
Nick Swisher had a great line after the disaster that was the Yankees’ 15-5 loss the the Rays: This game is like an Etch-A-Sketch, you need to shake it and start over again.

Whenever our own Jim Kaat worked a game in which nothing went right, he’d call it an “amnesia game,” one that you forget about quickly. You turn the page to the next day and the next game. That’s what the Yankees need to do tonight. I say this knowing that much of their fan base is already proclaiming the season a bust: There will be more of these amnesia games, so suck it up and focus on the big picture.

That leads me to Chien-Ming Wang. It may be two starts, and seasons are defined over the long haul, but there are big problems here. A pitcher who was 46-15 with a 3.74 ERA from 2006-08 has given up 15 runs on 15 hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings covering two games for an ERA of 28.93. In light the worst start of Wang’s career (eight runs on six hits while recording only three outs), John Harper suggested that he may find himself out of the rotation by May should he keep throwing his sinker thigh-high.

Phil Hughes won his first start at Triple-A Scranton on Sunday after allowing three runs on six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and would be the first one called up in the event of injury or poor performance. If Wang, a two-time 19-game winner, were to be removed from the rotation, it wouldn’t be without precedent. Two seasons ago, Joe Torre pulled a struggling Mike Mussina in favor of Ian Kennedy following a stretch in which the veteran right-hander allowed 19 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings — an ERA of 17.69 — over three starts.

Incidentally, the last of those three starts was a 16-0 Yankees loss to the Tigers on August 27, 2007 – in the heat of a pennant race. Not only did Mussina finish the season 3-0, the Yankees recovered to make the playoffs. Nothing like breaking out the Etch-A-Sketch in times of need.

For now, Wang is starting Saturday against the Indians and it’s way to early to conclude that he’s suddenly forgotten how to pitch. When his sinker is up and the rest of his repetoire is flat, he’s in a world of hurt, and even if opposing hitters’ homework is paying off, the good pitchers make adjustments and continue to evolve. That’s where Wang is right now. Joe Girardi and Jorge Posada say the problem is mechanical, and Wang added he’s not injured. But if this continues by mid-May, tough decisions will have to be made. And then you have to worry about the bullpen and whether it’ll be running on fumes by the All-Star break.

Peter Abraham speculated that the Yankees may need to make a move tonight to strengthen their bullpen, which leaves Jon Albaladejo and Phil Coke as candidates to be optioned out. Last night was the most powerful argument why the Yankees leaving Florida without a long reliever was a mistake. It got to the point where Swisher was on the mound in the eighth inning. The Yankees are better than that, and to quote Posada, “Wanger is better than that. He knows that.”

Back with more later, including tonight’s starting lineups. And T-minus two days until the home opener.