By Joe Auriemma
Johnny Damon made a statement after the Yankees’ completion of their four-game sweep over the Red Sox Sunday night that made me think a bit.
Damon said that Teixeira should be considered as an MVP candidate this
season. Now, I know there are 51 games left and there is
a lot of baseball to be played, but I still think it’s not to early to
talk about Yankees who are possible candidates for awards in
recognition of their 2009 regular season performance.
Damon had it right when he proclaimed that Teixeira is an MVP candidate. The Yankees have the best record in the Majors and Teixiera’s play has a lot to do with that. His .286
average, league-leading 29 home runs and team high 83 RBIs are
astounding. He is proving that his offseason signing might be what the
Yankees everyday lineup has been missing for quite some time.
In some of the key clutch stats, he also comes up big. With two outs
and runners in scoring position, he is hitting .357 with two homers
and 20 RBIs. Seven of his homers have broken a tie, 12 of his 29
have come when the game is within one run and 19 have
come when the game is within two runs. In the close-and-late category,
which is after the seventh inning when the game is tied, within one run
or the the tying run is at least on deck, Teixeira is hitting .302 with
four home runs and 19 RBIs. He’s also having a tremendous second half.
Since the All-Star break he is hitting .326, with eight home runs and
20 RBIs in 23 games.
If that didn’t already make him a legitimate MVP candidate, then his
sparkling defense should put him at the top of the list. The two-time
Gold Glove-winning first baseman has proven why he has been
bestowed that honor in the past. He has range, leaping ability and can
really pick it over at first. He is certainly their best defensive
first baseman since Don Mattingly (no offense to Tino Martinez) and has
saved many potential errors this season. His presence alone has upgraded
an infield that has been in need of this type of player since the
People may think I’m crazy for bringing up A-Rod’s name in MVP
talk, especially that he missed more than a month this season and
his numbers don’t really look MVP worthy. To me, A-Rod can stake as
much claim to being a candidate for the award as almost anyone in the
league. He may be batting .259 this season, he does have 21 home runs
and 63 RBIs in just 80 games.
The MVP award is exactly what it stands for, the Most Valuable Player in the American League to his team. Well Alex can make a claim
that he is. The Yankees are 56-27 since his return on May 8 and 53-27
when he’s in the lineup. That means they’re a mediocre
16-15 without him in any game and were 13-15 before his return.
The lineup has really been terrific with him. A-Rod changes the
complexion of the game. He disrupts a pitcher’s game plan and makes managers change their whole way of
thinking when you see his name penciled into the cleanup spot. Just
look at Teixeira’s numbers before A-Rod returned. To
start the season, Teixeira was hitting .198
with five home runs and 15 RBIs. Since the return of A-Rod,
Teixeira is batting.312, with 24 home runs and 68 RBIs in 82 games.
He’s seeing better pitches to hit because A-Rod is hitting behind him
in the order.
Let’s not forget to mention how clutch Rodriguez has been. In close-and-late situations, he is hitting .310 with eight home runs and
16 RBIs. He has also hit nine of this 21 home runs in tie ball games and
14 of his 21 round trippers are when the game is within one run. He
also has two walk-off wins this season, including one that ended a 15-inning marathon in a scoreless game against the Red Sox, which is as
pressure packed as it gets.
Johnny Damon – Honorable Mention
Johnny, don’t sell yourself short in the MVP talk. To this point , Damon has been brilliant in the No. 2 spot. When
opposing managers have to take a look at the top four in the Yankees’
order, it should make them cringe. Damon already has 21 home runs, only three off his career high from his first season with the
Yankees in 2006. He’s hitting .281 with 65 RBIs and is on pace for
another 100-run season (79). He’s already set the
single-season Yankees record with Teixeira with six back-to-back
With that being said, I don’t think that he will be a candidate when it’s all said and done, but my question is why not?
Don’t you think it’s time that Major League baseball rewarded the
greatest relief pitcher of all time with some hardware? Why can’t Mariano Rivera
win the Cy Young Award this season? I know that many critics are going
to bring up Mark Buehrle and his perfect game, Josh Beckett and his
13-4 record with a 3.12 ERA and Roy Halladay (12-5, 2.73
ERA) but Rivera is right there with them.
Rivera has not allowed an earned run since June 12 against the
Mets. Over that span, he has pitched in 21 games, 21.1 innings, allowed 10 hits, earned 18 saves, with 21 strikeouts and just four
walks. He has also lowered his ERA from 3.38 to 1.88.
Even more astonishing is that Rivera has converted 32 of 33 save
opportunities this season and has not blown a save since April 24
against Boston. With all of the talk of the five home runs
he allowed earlier in the season, he has not given up a dinger since
Rivera’s total numbers on the season stand at 1-2, with a 1.88 ERA,
those 32 saves, 53 strikeouts and only seven walks in 48
innings pitched and 47 games. He’s only allowed 37 hits,
nine of which were for extra bases and opponents are hitting just
.206 against him. If that doesn’t wow award voters, I don’t know
By Jon Lane
Because the Yankees knocked Roy Halladay out of the park three times, because Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera survived self-inflicted storms, and thanks to Evan Longoria’s second home run that capped a four-hour and 57-minute game, the Yankees are ensured to remain in first place when they come home to meet the Red Sox Thursday night.
New York defeated Halladay and Toronto, 5-3. Boston fell to Tampa Bay, 4-2, in 13 innings. The Yankees lead the AL East by 1 ½ games. While the Yankees sweated out a victory, the Red Sox blew a 2-0 sixth-inning lead. Instead of riding a five-game winning streak, the Red Sox enter tonight deflated, exhausted and looking for bullpen help.
What does this mean for this pivotal four-game series? Nothing. Every day, every game, a story is re-written. And until the Yankees take significant steps to erase their 0-8 record against their rivals, the Red Sox own a major psychological advantage.
Onto a few of a latest storylines from both sides:
? Terry Francona got heat in Boston this morning for pitching to Longoria, who tied the game by going yard off Daniel Bard in the eighth, with first base open. The Rays’ sophomore slugger is second in the league with 81 RBIs and has eight homers and 24 RBIs lifetime against Boston pitching. He’s also dusted right-handers this season (.281-16-61) and in his brief career (.283-35-128). On Sports Radio WEEI, Dale & Holley were wishing that Francona walked Longoria, pulled Takashi Saito and brought in Clay Buchholz to face Ben Zobrist with the thinking if he loses Zobrist, he has a favorable matchup with Joe Dillion.
Walking Longoria was not an option, reported The Boston Globe. Francona indicated he felt he also would have had to walk Zobrist to make the decision worthwhile, which would have left the control-challenged Saito facing Joe Dillon with the bases loaded and the possibility of a game-ending walk. Furthermore, Buchholz wasn’t coming in until the 14th.
? Since Francona’s bullpen is worn out after using six relievers, and with Brad Penny (7-5, 5.07 ERA) coming off a July when he pitched three five-inning games, expect a roster move to import help from Triple-A Pawtucket.
? Remember when Jason Bay started Boston’s 8-0 run against the Yankees with a two-out, game-tying ninth-inning home run off Rivera on April 24? A bum hamstring has kept Bay out the last two games and he has just five RBIs since June 24. In July, Bay batted .192 with a homer and 29 strikeouts in 79 at-bats.
? Pettitte’s fine second half continued when he allowed only a run in 6 1/3 strong innings Tuesday night. The left-hander is approaching incentives that could earn him an additional $6.5 million in bonuses, writes Peter Abraham. Pettitte, starting Sunday night against Jon Lester, has worked 134 1/3 innings. When he reaches 150, he earns $500,000.
? Big start tonight (YES HD, 7 p.m.) for Sergio Mitre, the Yankees’ fifth starter by default. Despite his ugly numbers (1-0, 7.90, 1.98 WHIP, .400 BAA), Mitre isn’t pitching for his job (yet) simply because alternatives are limited. Unless the Yankees trade for a reliable back-end starter after he clears waivers, you have Josh Towers, who hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2007 but was named International League Pitcher of the Week after going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts. And there’s Kei Igawa. Enough said there.
Mitre cited a flaw in his delivery that’s been flattening his sinker, one he’s confident he can fix, writes Anthony McCarron.
By Jon Lane
Game 1 of the two-game set is tonight with Andy Pettitte squaring off against Roy Halladay, who makes his first start in T.O. since surviving the trade deadline and remaining a Blue Jay. Red Sox-Yankees may begin on Thursday, but this series also carries plenty of intrigue.
? Nice pitching matchup tonight (YES HD, 7 p.m.): Andy Pettitte vs. Roy Halladay. Pettitte may be on his last legs, but so far so good in the second half. He comes off a strong game last Thursday in Chicago, two runs (one earned) on five hits in 6 1/3 innings during a tough-luck no-decision, and owns a 2.70 ERA in his last three starts – and has pitched into at least the seventh inning in all three. Speculation will increase from where I sit on whether this will be Pettitte’s final Major League season, but anything he provides down the stretch is critical. If the Yankees make the postseason, Pettitte will get a Game 3 start – or perhaps Game 2 – based on track record alone.
? Expect a packed house energized that the Yankees are in town and Doc Halladay (11-4, 2.68 ERA) is still a Blue Jay. Halladay is 16-5 with a 2.90 ERA in 34 games – 32 starts – versus the Yankees and 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last 10 games against New York at Rogers Centre. The last time the Yankees saw Halladay in Toronto was May 12, when pitched a complete-game five-hitter in a 5-1 victory, but they did tag him for five runs in seven innings (three home runs) during a 6-5 July 4 win in 12 innings.
? We’re seeing Phase I of the Joba plan with the Yankees bumping him an extra two days to start Thursday against the Red Sox (while avoiding throwing Sergio Mitre out there). How the team actually manages this innings limit thing will be unveiled a little each time. If you notice, Phil Hughes has been getting a bit more work with each appearance (except yesterday).
Speaking of Mitre, he and his 7.90 ERA starts Wednesday. Unless Brian Cashman snags a veteran starter that clears waivers this month, he better hop Mitre shows dramatic improvement off a disasterous start Friday night (five runs on seven hits in three innings). Otherwise you’re looking at Kei Igawa (whoa boy) starting potentially key games.
? Heading into Showdown Thursday, the Red Sox play two games against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg before flying into New York City. Both teams will have their hands full the next two days.
By Jon Lane
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. from the Cincinnati Reds. More on this later and how this may affect Shelley Duncan.
Earlier today, Chad Jennings is reporting on his Scranton Yankees blog
that Duncan was on his way to Chicago to join the Yankees for tonight’s
game. The Yankees have been lacking in bench and outfield depth since
Brett Gardner went on the disabled list. Hairston helps fill those
No word on who will be sent down, but the Yankees have
been carrying 13 pitchers, so my guess is either Jonathan Albaladejo or
Meanwhile, the Yankees took a hit in the rush to
the non-waiver trade deadline when the Tigers acquired left-hander
Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners, someone looked at as an ideal
alternative to Roy Halladay. SI.com’s Jon Heyman had reported the team
will let the deadline pass
and go through the waiver wire. This might mean Bronson Arroyo is on
their radar. No team will claim Arroyo and pay the full $17 million
he’s owed through 2010.
Sherman reports Duncan
will remain with the team and two roster moves need to be made, one of
which will involve a relief pitcher.
Class-A catcher Chase Weems sent to Reds system for Hairston.
Roy Halladay, Tweets Sherman, has not been traded.
By Jon Lane
Cross Ian Snell off the Yankees’ wish list. The Pirates right-hander touted by Steven Goldman was dealt to Seattle with shortstop Jack Wilson for SS Ronny Cedeno, Triple-A catcher Jeff Clement and three Minor League pitchers.
This business with Roy Halladay, starting today against the Mariners, will resolve itself probably by 3:59 and 59 seconds Friday afternoon. I had the Blue Jays and Phillies settling any reported differences and Halladay headed to the City of Brotherly Love, but that was before the Phils and Indians completed a trade for Cliff Lee, writes Gordon Edes. Make that two off the list.
Many teams are apparently turned off by Halladay’s price tag. Perhaps his price now drops.
As for the Yankees, I think they’ll do something. The New York Daily News reported a possible interest in outfielder Josh Anderson, recently designated for assignment by the Tigers but 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. That would make him a nice fill-in for Brett Gardner, out of action with a broken thumb for at least the next couple of weeks. Left-hander Jarrod Washburn, on the team’s radar last season and having a great year in Seattle, is a free agent this winter. Barring a steal of a deal for Halladay, Washburn is the Yankees’ best option, writes Glenn Giangrande.
Part II of Ray Negron’s diary on the Yankees mourning the loss of Thurman Munson is on-line.
By Glenn Giangrande
In the wake of Tuesday night’s reports of Chien-Ming Wang being done for the season, the Yankees need another starting pitcher, especially if they intend to hold firm on Joba Chamberlain’s innings limit.
I’ve championed the idea of acquiring Roy Halladay, but it does not appear that Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi will budge from his lofty asking price. The cost of the Indians’ Cliff Lee may also be prohibitive. If neither of those front-line starters can be obtained, it might be time to go to Plan C: Jarrod Washburn.
If you recall, Washburn was heavily linked to the Yankees at the 2008 trading deadline, but no deal was made between the Yanks and Mariners. Now Washburn is in the final season of a four-year contract. He’s having a fantastic season, posting a 2.64 ERA and a .223 BAA, both dramatically lower than his numbers through July 27, 2008 — a 4.50 ERA and a .289 BAA.
Mechanical adjustments, plus a couple of new pitches, appear to have made a big difference for the soon-to-be 35-year-old lefty. He’s pitched in big games before, having been a key cog in the Angels rotation earlier this decade.
Seattle is in no position to ask for a ransom. The Mariners have fallen onto the fringes of playoff contention and their farm system is still depleted following the Erik Bedard trade prior to last year. Young pitching seems to have vaulted the Rangers past the Mariners in the AL West pecking order. A couple of mid-level Minor Leaguers would have to be viewed as a good haul for Washburn. He’d be the most cost-effective move.
One caveat: As of Tuesday, Washburn ranked fifth among American League pitchers in the number of outs he’s recorded through the air. Some of those balls might turn into homers in Yankee Stadium as opposed to spacious Safeco Field. However, CC Sabathia and the aforementioned Lee are also among the leaders, two pitchers doing just fine, so it’s not the end all, be all; just one of the only downsides to a pitcher who’d be an economical acquisition.
By Jon Lane
Jerome Preisler pens the Deep in the Red blog for YESNetwork.com. On his day off, he e-mailed me his take on the Roy Halladay trade rumors:
Halladay is probably the best pitcher in baseball. He would alter the balance of power in the AL East in a way that can be equated to what occurred when the Red Sox acquired Curt Schilling. But unlike Curt Schilling he is 32 years old and in the prime of his career. The Yankees could expect him to produce at a high level for at least another half decade.
A trade of this magnitude will be painful almost by definition. The Red Sox didn’t want to give up Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett, and they didn’t want to take on Mike Lowell’s contract, but look how well it worked out for them. I interviewed Ramirez when he was with the AA Portland Seadogs. I saw him play several times and knew without any doubt that he would be something special. But I also knew it was a trade the Sox had to make.
I would present J.P. Ricciardi with a package that includes Joba and, if need be, Austin Jackson as its centerpieces, but other Minor Leaguers could be movable pieces. Phil Hughes would be off the table.
I agree with you that the odds don’t favor such a trade. But I think it’s more than a possibility, and Brian Cashman’s greatest strength as GM, or one of them, has been to pull these sorts of surprise moves out of his vest pocket.
Another thing to consider: Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal reported that the Red Sox have officially phoned Ricciardi about Halladay, and that Ricciardi stated that Clay Buchholz was mentioned as key to any potential deal. Thus, one can assume they had a substantive discussion about a trade. Like the Yankees, the Sox have the resources to pull one off here, and the Yankees must do whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t happen. That means monitoring this situation with all due diligence.
SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Jays are freezing out the Yankees and Red Sox, and haven’t returned a phone call placed by the Yankees 10 days ago.
The Yankees will hold a “major” press conference on Monday to announce an upcoming college football event at Yankee Stadium. According to the The Times Herald-Record, Notre Dame will play Army at the Bronx Mahal next year.
By Jon Lane
The Yankees begin the second half of their season tonight at Yankee Stadium, where A.J. Burnett takes the ball against Luke French and the Detroit Tigers (YES HD, 7 p.m.). There are storylines aplenty entering the summer’s dog days, including Burnett, writes Peter Abraham. The right-hander posted a 1.77 ERA in winning his last three starts and is 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA in his past five. For all the talk of CC Sabathia’s importance, and it’s legit, Burnett must continue to show that he’s peaked and is capable of carrying a team.
A few other random thoughts as we gear up for the weekend, which includes Old Timer’s Day on Sunday. I’ll be on-site with lots of blogging and storytelling.
The Yankees hope to emerge from a four-day break recharged after a three-game sweep in Anaheim, where they allowed 29 runs to the Angels that wiped out an eight-game road winning streak. The Tigers (48-39) are a good team in the mold that’s given the Yankees fits. Against the first-place teams they’ve played in 2009, New York’s record is 5-15. Tonight and the weekend is the first of many statement games and series. This is the time of year where business gradually begins to pick up and the next couple of weeks could determine whether the Yankees will be major players at the trade deadline. Those reports you’ve been seeing on how they won’t be pursuing Roy Halladay? Take them with a grain of salt. Brian Cashman loves to fly stealth.
Speaking of Doc, like with any great debate, there are those who want him in pinstripes at any cost, others at only the right price and those who think it’s crazy for Cashman to gut a farm system he so painstakingly rebuilt. Steven Goldman’s message to the Yankees: Don’t do it. As Newsday‘s Anthony Rieber wrote yesterday, the Yankees can and must take on Vernon Wells’ bloated contract to make this happen while preserving the system. But as one fan points out, Plan B — a Brian Bannister or Paul Maholm — is the best route. What do you think?
Alex Rodriguez is once again generating attention, except this time it’s been confined strictly to the baseball diamond, and that’s a good thing. Over his last 17 games, A-Rod is batting .373 (22 for 59) with eight home runs and 22 RBIs. His first game was May 8, yet Rodriguez ranks second on the team in homers (17) and tied for second in RBIs (50), and the Yankees are a league-best 38-22 since his return.
Still, there’s something about the Yankees’ performance against the Red Sox that gnaws at you. Oh, that 0-8 record. And if there’s enough to worry about coming from Boston, beware of the Rays, writes Goldman.
Check back on YESNetwork.com for lineups and updates from the Stadium. And be sure to read about HOPE Week a program designed to promote five remarkable stories and inspire others into action.
By Jon Lane
Anthony Rieber, Newsday‘s fine and entertaining sports reporter, opines that the Yankees need to bring Roy Halladay to the Bronx. But rather than sell the farm, Rieber suggests the Yankees do the Blue Jays a favor and offer them financial relief by agreeing to take on Vernon Wells’ bloated contract.
Wells, 30, is due nearly $110 million through 2014. That’s insane. But here’s the alternative to dealing Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Jesus Montero: The Yankees offer Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera, a couple of lower-level pitching prospects and nothing more, writes Rieber while reminding what little the Mets surrendered to pry Johan Santana from the Twins – without taking on a huge contract. And it’s not like Wells is exactly washed up. He may no longer be an All-Star, but the excitement of a championship chase in New York may energize him.
Either one team will go all-in, or the winner (if any by July 31) of the Halladay sweepstakes will be the one that held out the longest to force Toronto to take what it can get. Rieber’s strategy presents a suitable alternative to those opposed to selling the farm.
By Jon Lane
The Yankees are 14 games over .500. They are three behind the Red Sox in the American League East and lead the Wild Card by two-and-a-half over the Rangers. Their 495 runs scored, 132 home runs, 358 on-base percentage and.471 slugging percentage lead the Major Leagues, and their 25 road victories are tops in the American League.
Life is good in Yankeeland, but not great. Both the Wild Card and division races will be fierce, and in the AL East, you cannot dismiss the Rays. Will the Yankees have the legs to return to October? Here are five storylines for the second half:
Will the Yankees reverse their fortunes against the Red Sox?
This is ugly: The Yankees are 9-19 against the Red Sox, Tigers, Angels and Phillies – all first-place teams – as well as the Rays. They resume the season tomorrow against Detroit at Yankee Stadium and still have to deal with the Angels in Southern California in mid-September. Anthony McCarron presented the brutal truth in today’s New York Daily News. Among the cliff notes, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte are a combined 3-10 with a 5.41 ERA against those elite teams.
This is ghastly: The Yankees are 0-8 against the Red Sox. The last time they saw them was at Fenway Park in June. They arrived to Boston in first place and with the AL’s best record, and hungry for revenge. Instead they were blown out 7-0 and dropped the next two games each by one run. Never mind the dormant offense, something was affecting the Yankees psychologically from where I sat.
The teams play 10 more times starting August 6 at Yankee Stadium. Since the Rays and Rangers won’t go away, how the Yankees perform against their rivals may determine who wins the AL East -and who misses the October party.
Will they pull the trigger for Roy Halladay?
Will Roy Halladay become a Yankee? Probably not. Do the Yankees have to have him? No, but they must explore every angle on what it’ll take to get him. As Bill Madden wrote today, “The teams that seemingly have the biggest need and are the best fits for a premier player coming on the market aren’t necessarily willing to pay the premium price, leaving the trading club no choice but to take the best package available.”
Outside of Sabathia and Burnett, there are growing holes in the Yankees’ rotation. Fans have spoken out against Brian Cashman dipping into his farm system he so painstakingly rebuilt, but as I suggested the other day, I’d offer Chamberlain, Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero only because it’s Roy Halladay. When you make a deal like this, it’s painful, but it’ll be worth a front three of Doc, CC and A.J. – not to mention the reunion of Halladay and Burnett.
Can Joba Chamberlain turn it around?
Go ahead, members of the Loyal Order of the Joba to the Bullpen Army, gloat. Chamberlain is struggling mightily as a starting pitcher. Alas, barring a complete collapse he’s staying in the rotation because that’s where he’s needed and Phil Hughes isn’t moving anywhere. Since June 1, Chamberlain has reached the seventh inning just once in seven starts and his body language has been terrible. But the Yankees are staying the course. The learning curve is a lot slower for some compared to others, but how much longer can they afford Chamberlain throwing 100-plus pitches in under five innings?
Is this Andy Pettitte’s last ride?
Andy Pettitte has won just one of his last four starts while seeing his ERA balloon from 4.26 to 4.85. His numbers in June: 2-2, 5.06; this month: 1-2, 7.27; in two starts against the Angels: 0-1, 9.90.
His next start will be against the Orioles next week. If he doesn’t pick it up in the second half, you’ll have to wonder if at age 37 his career would be coming to an end. Pettitte is signed for only one year, this after contemplating retirement and the Yankees firm in their stance of offering only a one-year deal to return.
Will Chien-Ming Wang salvage a rough 2009 season?
Sabathia is 1-2 with a 5.59 ERA in three July starts, but remember what he did last year in Milwaukee in the second half (11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and the Brewers were 14-3 in his starts). He is capable of carrying a staff and the way Burnett has performed (two runs or less in five straight starts; 6-2, 2.00 in his last eight), he’ll have help.
Beyond that, there’s Chamberlain, Pettitte and who knows? Sergio Mitre will likely provide a band-aid until (or if) Chien-Ming Wang returns. The Yankees need Wang, and not just in body, but in spirit. At 1-6, Wang has shown little to nothing of the form that won him 46 games over the past three seasons.