Tag:Nick Swisher
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:43 am
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Spring primer: New York Yankees



By C. Trent Rosecrans

After a one-year stint as an underdog, the Yankees are back to being the clear favorite in the American League East. New York fortified its rotation with Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, upgrading what appeared to be its one weak link.

Yankees spring training
Major additions: RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, DH Raul Ibanez
Major departures: RHP A.J. Burnett, DH Jesus Montero, RHP Bartolo Colon, DH Jorge Posada

Probable lineup:
1. Derek Jeter SS
2. Curtis Granderson CF
3. Robinson Cano 2B
4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
5. Mark Teixeira 1B
6. Nick Swisher RF
7. Russell Martin C
8. Raul Ibanez DH
9. Brett Gardner LF

Probable rotation:
1. CC Sabathia
2. Hiroki Kuroda
3. Michael Pineda
4. Ivan Nova
5. Phil Hughes

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Set-up: RHP David Robertson, RHP Rafael Soriano

Important bench players
C Francisco Cervelli, IF Eduardo Nunez, OF Andruw Jones, IF Eric Chavez

Prospect to watch: With the additions of Kuroda and Pineda, there's not quite the pressure on left-hander Manny Banuelos that there was last spring. Banuelos doesn't turn 21 until March 13, so he can develop without the pressure of being the savior of the Yankees. His results last season at Double-A and Triple-A didn't live up to the hype, but he's still a quality young pitcher than can contribute to the rotation in the future.

Fantasy breakout: Michael Pineda

"With a year of experience, he'll be better equipped to handle a full workload, which could lead to 15-plus victories with the Yankees' stellar lineup backing him. And most likely, any rise in ERA will be in relation to the early 2.58 mark, not the final 3.74 mark." - Scott White

Fantasy sleeper: Phil Hughes

"With an improved workout program this offseason, he should be able to pick up where he left off late last year, when he was throwing in the low-to-mid 90s. True, Hughes wasn't exactly an ace then, but just by holding a regular rotation spot for the high-scoring Yankees, he's a sleeper in Fantasy. And if he can recapture the form he showed in the first half of 2010, when he was an All-Star, he's a late-round steal." - Scott White

Optimistic outlook: Pineda lives up to expectations, Kuroda is solid, Nova takes a step forward, Hughes makes 30 starts and Sabathia wins the Cy Young. That pitching, with a healthy A-Rod, Granderson repeating his 2011 output and Teixeira lives up to his contract and the Yankees win the AL East easily and go on to win the World Series.

Pessimistic outlook: Anything less than a World Series title is the end of the world in New York, so it doesn't have to be too bad for Yankees fans to overreact. But the worst-case scenario is the team's older stars continue to age, with injuries taking away A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira and Martin for long periods of times. Pineda struggles in New York and his lack of a third pitch comes back to bite him, Kuroda is mediocre and Nova takes a step back. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays take a step forward and New York finishes behind Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:56 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Oakland Athletics



By Matt Snyder

What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

"Moneyball" hit movie theaters everywhere late this past summer and Brad Pitt-as-Billy Beane told us the A's have to be creative to compete in an unfair baseball landscape. There are haves and have-nots, the protagonist would tell us. And we all know the Oakland Athletics are have-nots in the salary-capless land of Major League Baseball. So what if the A's could afford to keep all their own guys? Surely they'd be much better, right? Uh ...

Lineup

1. Jemile Weeks, 2B
2. Nick Swisher, CF
3. Andre Ethier, RF
4. Jason Giambi, 1B
5. Ryan Ludwick, LF
6. Kurt Suzuki, C
7. Ramon Hernandez, DH
8. Mark Teahen, 3B
9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Tim Hudson
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Dallas Braden
4. Tyson Ross
5. Joe Blanton

Yes, Braden was out for the season in real life, but we've got Rich Harden waiting in the wings. Oh, and yes, Harden is hurt all the time. So then we'd turn to Barry Zito.

Bullpen

Closer - Andrew Bailey
Set up - Huston Street, Santiago Casilla, Henry Rodriguez, Joel Peralta, Sam Demel
Long - Harden, Zito

Notable Bench Players

Miguel Olivo, John Baker, Gerald Laird -- yes, those three are all catchers, just like our DH -- Eric Chavez and Travis Buck.

What's Good?

Hey, at least we'd never run out of catchers with this group. There are four major-league caliber starters, even if some are lower-tier, and one quality backup in Laird. So the Athletics churn out catchers. Really, though, the strength of this team is unsurprisingly the pitching. The starting rotation is good, but not great. Hudson is steady and Cahill was very good in 2010. Blanton was good in 2009 but has battled injuries and ineffectiveness since then. Ross did show great promise before his injury last season, though. The bullpen is pretty good, too. Bailey is a solid closer and Street would be a fine eighth-inning man with Casilla and fireballer Rodriguez also setting the table.

What's Not?

Giambi and Ludwick in the middle of the order isn't near as potent nowadays as it would have been a handful of years ago. Plus, could Giambi even play everyday anymore? If not, our next option is playing a catcher, Chavez or Buck at first base. That's weak. In fact, at this point in time, there aren't many spots where the hitter is well above average for his slot. Swisher and Ethier are good, but they aren't elite second or third hitters. Weeks could prove an elite leadoff hitter as soon as 2012, but we don't have a large enough sample yet to declare that. Ramon Hernandez had a good past two offensive seasons, but take him out of the NL Central and Great American Ball Park and put him in the AL West in Oakland. That's a big difference. So while the offense isn't atrocious, it's not very good either -- and there is no bench depth anywhere but catcher. Also, Swisher's out of position in center, but, again, we don't have any other options.

Comparison to real 2011

While the rotation and bullpen are good, they are far from great, and the position players here just aren't enough. This team would be below average, an 85-90 loss ballclub. The real-life A's went 74-88, so I'd say it's just about the same result.

And we can now see the biggest problem. Of course it's tough to compete as a small-market team in a football stadium, but the A's haven't been drafting very well. They've made some good trades, sure, but also some pretty bad ones. For example, they spun Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith for Matt Holliday back in 2008, but then dealt Holliday at the next trade deadline for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson. So, yes, one reason the A's can't compete anymore in the AL West is because they don't have the money to retain or sign new expensive veterans. But another reason is they just aren't churning out draft picks like the Rays, for example, are. 

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 7:04 am
 

Yankees, Brian Cashman agree to 3-year extension

Brian CashmanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Brian Cashman is staying in New York for at least three more years. Yankees ownership announced Tuesday that it had re-signed its general manager through the 2014 season.

Cashman, 44, has the third-longest tenure among active general managers and is the longest-serving Yankees GM since Ed Barrow, who was in charge of the team from 1920 to 1945.

The Yankees are 1,369-895-2 since Cashman took over the team on Feb. 3, 1998. His teams have appeared in the playoffs in 13 of his 14 seasons as GM with six World Series appearances and four titles.

While critics note "anyone" could win with the Yankees payroll, the Red Sox, Mets and Cubs have proven that's not necessarily true. Cashman is one of the game's best general managers, and he will continue to be so for at least three more years. And it appears there may be very little drama this offseason in the Bronx -- a welcome sight after last year's Derek Jeter soap opera. The team has already signed extensions with Cashman and CC Sabathia, while picking up the options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Now all that they need is a couple of starting pitchers and everything should be peachy.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 29, 2011 9:10 pm
 

Yankees pick up options on Cano, Swisher

Cano

By Evan Brunell


The Yankees have exercised their team options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher, the team said in a news release.

Cano's option was a no-brainer. One of the best second basemen in the game, Cano hit .302/.349/.533 in 2011 with 28 home runs. In 2010, he finished third in the MVP voting. He has a team-friendly contract however, and gave the Yankees consecutive club options in 2012 and 2013. Cano will earn $14 million in 2012, with 2013's option valued at $15 million. Agent Scott Boras recently appealed to GM Brian Cashman to renegotiate his deal. Cano recently switched agents to Boras, so Boras will not earn a commission on these club options; he gets a commission for whatever deal he signs, so while there is certainly motivation on his end, Cano, if he was a free agent, would be in line for a lot of money. Instead, the 29-year-old he will hit the free agent market at age 31, and that's a significant difference in contracts.

As for Swisher, word surfaced that the club was considering not picking up his $10.5 million option and pursuing Carlos Beltran in free agency, but it never made sense for New York not to pick up the option. The 30-year-old had a strong year, hitting .250/.374/.449 and would have been worth the money to any team, not just the Yankees. Even if Cashman wants to pursue Beltran, picking up Swisher's option and trading him is the more obvious move rather than straight releasing him.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:07 am
 

Free-agent position rankings: No OF stars

Carlos Beltran

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran was the hottest name at the trade deadline and he'll be the top name in free agency. Still, no outfielder will come close to matching Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142 million dollar contract -- the entire crop may not get as much as Crawford and Jayson Werth put together. 

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

Carlos Beltran1. Carlos Beltran:
Even though he'll be 35 early in the 2012 season, the switch-hitting Beltran is the top outfielder available on the market, thanks to a bounce-back (and mostly healthy) year in New York and San Francisco. Although he didn't jumpstart the Giants' offense after his trade tot eh Bay Area, he still produced his fair share, if not more. One player couldn't overcome the Giants' overall lack of offensive production. He hit .323/.369/.551 with seven home runs in 44 games in San Francisco and .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers overall. 
Possible teams: Giants, Yankees, Marlins, Cubs, Braves

Nick Swisher2. Nick Swisher: The Yankees have a $10.25 million option on Swisher, who hit .260/.374/.449 with 23 homers in 2011. The money million won't be an issue for the Yankees, who will most likely pick up the option. There has been a report that New York may exercise the option and try to sign Beltran, then trading Swisher.
Possible teams: Yankees

Michael Cuddyer3. Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer's versatility could make him a hot commodity. He's primarily played right field, but also played first, second and has played third in the past -- he even pitched a scoreless inning this past season, hitting .284/.346/.459 -- close to his career numbers. He also hit 20 home runs this past season and hit 32 in 2009 before the Twins moved to the spacious Target Field.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, Giants, Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies

Jason Kubel4. Jason Kubel: The 29-year-old enters free agency after playing in just 99 games due to foot problems, it was the first time since 2007 he didn't play at least 140 games, but whoever signs him will be giving that left foot a thorough inspection. Kubel can play either corner spot and give a team some pop -- and if you're into RBI, he did have 103 and 92 in his last two full seasons.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Cubs, Reds, Indians

Josh Willingham5. Josh Willingham: The right-handed hitting Willigham had career-bests in home run (29) and RBI (98) -- but saw his batting average (.246) and on-base percentage (.332) take a tumble from not only his lofty 2010 numbers, but also his career averages (.262, .361). Willigham is hardly a Gold Glover and there are also concerns about his durability.
Possible teams: Athletics, Reds, White Sox, Twins, Orioles

Coco Crisp6. Coco Crisp: The 31-year-old is the top center fielder available, so that should help his stock. After a hot start, Crisp struggled in 2011, putting up his lowest on-base percentage (.314) since his second season in the majors. He did lead the American League with 49 stolen bases. The A's have had some interest in re-signing Crosp, but the price could be too high. The Giants have said to have interest in him, as well.
Possible teams: Athletics, Giants, Marlins

Grady Sizemore7. Grady Sizemore: The biggest risk/reward of the free agent outfield class -- if he hits free agency. The Indians have a $9 million option on the 29-year-old, who has played just 104 games over the last two seasons because of various injuries. He hasn't played more than 110 games in a season since 2008. When healthy, he's as talented as any player in the game -- but that's a huge if. Either the Indians will gamble and exercise his option or someone else will roll the dice.
Possible teams: Indians, Mariners, Giants, Marlins, Cubs, Reds

David DeJesus8. David DeJesus: DeJesus' first year in Oakland was a serious disappointment, as he saw his average drop .078 and his on-base percentage dropped .061, both to career-lows of .240 and .323, respectively. However, his batting average on balls in play (.271) was 45 points lower than his career mark and his walk rate increased, so it may have just bit a bit of bad luck -- and playing in the Oakland Coliseum. 
Possible teams: Padres, Orioles, Braves, Red Sox, Phillies, Athletics

Andruw Jones9. Andruw Jones: At 34 (he'll be 35 in April), Jones is no longer the elite defensive player he once was, but he put up solid numbers as a platoon player for the Yankees, hitting .247/.356/.495 with 13 home runs in 77 games, but hit .286/.384/.540 against right-handers. He could make a decent addition as a bat off the bench and late-gaem replacement in a corner outfield spot.
Possible teams: Yankees, Braves, Rays, White Sox, Reds

Cody Ross10. Cody Ross: After playing a pivotal role in the Giants' run to the 2010 World Series title and winning the NLCS MVP, Ross struggled in 2011, hitting .240/.325/.405 with 14 home runs. Wherever he lands, Ross will likely have to take a pay cut from the $6.3 million he made in 2010.
Possible teams: Giants, White Sox, Braves, Reds

J.D. Drew11. J.D. Drew: The biggest question is whether Drew will want to play as a 36-year-old platoon or bench player. The days of Drew taking a starting spot seem to be over, as he hit just .222/.315/.302 i 81 games this season. He was close to useless against lefties, hitting just .167/.259/.292 with one homer against left-handers in the final year of his five-year, $70 million deal with the Red Sox.
Possible teams: Rockies, Pirates, retirement

Ryan Ludwick12. Ryan Ludwick: Ludwick has a chance to disappoint his third team in a year -- as the 33-year-old has just not performed since taking off a Cardinals uniform. He started the season hitting .238/.301/.373 with 11 home runs in 101 games for the Padres and .232/.341/.330 with two homers in 38 games for the Pirates. In four years with the Cardinals, Ludwick hit .280/.349/.507.
Possible teams: Pirates, Braves, Reds

Kosuke Fukudome13. Kosuke Fukudome: It's safe to say Fukudome's next contract will be a little smaller than the four-year, $48 million deal he signed with the Cubs before the 2008 season. Fukudome was burdened by high expectations, failing to live up to the contract, hitting .260/.361/.399 in four seasons in MLB. A pretty good on-base guy, Fukudome's best as a leadoff man, which may make him a little more valuable than his numbers suggest.
Possible teams: White Sox, Indians, Reds, Athletics, Japan

Eric Hinske14. Eric Hinske: The Braves have an option on Hinske, and it's just $1.5 million -- so it's likely they'll pick it up. Hinske can play both outfield spots, as well as first base, so he's a useful bench player. However, the Braves are already a little too left-handed heavy and Hinske was dreadful against lefties (.118/.167/.294). 
Possible teams: Braves, Pirates, Mariners

Raul Ibanez15. Raul Ibanez: The Phillies seemed to want to find anyone other than Ibanez to man left field all season, but could never find anyone that was an improvement over the 39-year-old. His average (.245) and OBP (.289) both tumbled this season, but he still hit 20 home runs and drove in 84.
Possible teams: Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, retirement

Jonny Gomes16. Jonny Gomes: Goems projects as a Type B free agent and has publicly said he'd likely accept arbitration if offered. Gomes struggled in 2011, hitting just .209/.325/.389 with the Reds and Nationals, but did see his walk rate increase, although his power too a tumble, hitting just 14 home runs. He's best in a platoon situation, crushing left-handed pitchers to the tune of .311/.407/.456.
Possible teams: Nationals, Braves

Juan Pierre17. Juan Pierre: Pierre stole 41 fewer bases in 2011 than he did in 2010, but he was caught stealing just one fewer time, leading the majors by being caught stealing 17 times. Pierre was once fast, but doesn't seem to be anymore, which means he has very few marketable skills. Well, he did lead the majors with 19 sacrifice bunts.
Possible teams: Giants, Reds, Pirates 

Magglio Ordonez18. Magglio Ordonez: Ordonez re-fractured his right ankle during the ALCS -- the same injury that caused him to consider retirement during the season. Rehabbing that injury could be more than he would like to do at 38, especially coming off of a .255/.303/.331 season. Ordonez did look good in the ALDS victory over the Yankees, but his health just wouldn't hold out. 
Possible teams: Tigers, retirement

Corey Patterson19. Corey Patterson: Somehow, some way, Patterson keeps popping up in the big leagues. He's kind of like a weed. He doesn't do much of anything well, but he's kinda fast. Other than that… yeah. A career .252/.290/.400 hitter, you never think you'll see him again, but ultimately, you do.
Possible teams: Any

Juan Rivera20. Juan Rivera: Rivera's 62 games with the Dodgers after being traded from Toronto showed he may just have a little something left in the tank, hitting .274/.333/.406 with five home runs for Don Mattingly. He's still likely a platoon player, but can play both corner spots and first base. The Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back.
Possible teams: Dodgers, Padres, Pirates


Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:59 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 New York Yankees

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: New York Yankees
Record: 97-65, 1st place in AL East. Lost ALDS 3-2 to Detroit.
Manager: Joe Girardi
Best hitter: Curtis Granderson -- .262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 136 R, 10 3B, 25 SB
Best pitcher: CC Sabathia -- 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 230 K in 237 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

It was a pretty normal regular season for the Yankees, as they brought home their 12th AL East title in the past 16 seasons, but it wasn't drawn up the same way as other successful seasons. The pitching rotation from Day 1 was patchwork. Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and a host of others -- such as Mark Prior -- were brought in during spring training to see if any would stick and it worked out to varying degrees with Garcia, Colon and rookie Ivan Nova. The offense was once-again mighty, as Curtis Granderson emerged as an MVP candidate to pick up the slack for the injured and struggling Alex Rodriguez. Still, in the end, this season will be viewed as a failure since the Yankees didn't win the World Series. If they don't win the World Series, they fell short of expectations. More than 20 other teams would have been ultimately satisfied by this campaign, but not the Yankees. Losing in the ALDS is a failure. Period.

2012 AUDIT

The Yankees are in a familiar spot. They're set up to contend for a World Series title again in 2012, but they are going to have to fill some holes -- namely that they need another reliable starting pitcher. Eyes can look forward and see they need to get younger pretty soon, but with several contracts locked in, the Yankees don't have much choice for 2012. And there is no reason to expect the Yankees to be anywhere but right in the playoff mix come September of 2012. It would be foolish to think otherwise.

FREE AGENTS

Robinson Cano, 2B (club option)
Eric Chavez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF (club option)
Jorge Posada, DH
Bartolo Colon, SP
Freddy Garcia, SP
CC Sabathia, SP (can and probably will opt out)
Luis Ayala, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

They will most certainly bring back Sabathia and Cano. From there ...
  • The rotation will have Sabathia, Nova, Hughes and probably A.J. Burnett. He makes too much money to not plug in there. He has the ability to be a decent fifth starter. Still, that rotation appears pretty top-heavy for a team that expects to be the best in the majors. So they need a legitimate second starter behind Sabathia. And he's sitting right there, if interested. C.J. Wilson of the Rangers is left-handed, which fits well in Yankee Stadium, and is a free agent. With the Posada money coming off the books, in addition to the Colon/Garcia money, the Yankees can likely outbid anyone else for Wilson's services. They could even backload a deal if need be, because people like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have expiring contracts in the next several years.
  • As I alluded to above, it's time to part ways with Posada and let Jesus Montero take over as the full-time DH. The youngster showed he has the ability to become a serious threat in the lineup and the Yankees need to inject some youth into the aging lineup. 
  • Pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances don't appear to be ready yet, but they're close. They will be monitored pretty heavily heading into 2012 and if Hughes or Burnett aren't getting it done, it's possible there's a change made. Nova is proof the Yankees aren't afraid to throw someone in the fire.
  • Swisher's situation in right is interesting. Is he worth eight figures? Probably not, according to most teams. But the Yankees can afford that and there aren't many better options out there. What if the Twins don't come to terms on a contract extension with Michael Cuddyer, though? It wouldn't hurt for the Yankees to weigh their options, but the best guess is Swisher comes back. 
  • Really, there isn't that much more that needs to be done. Russell Martin, Mark Teixiera, Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson will again be everyday starters. The rotation has four men set and the back-end of the bullpen has a returning Joba Chamberlain along with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. The biggest issue is getting one more starting pitcher and then filling the bench with also-rans like the Yankees did this year with Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez et al. Considering they were close, but not good enough, I fully expect the Yankees to throw the bank at Wilson and that will be the only significant offseason move concerning a player outside the organization. The only caveat to that is the Yankees will have to agree with Sabathia first -- and I do believe the Yankees will do whatever it takes to keep him -- which means they could miss out on Wilson in the meantime. If they do miss out, the leftovers aren't awesome. Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard and Joel Pineiro look like the best bets. If they wanted to trade, they're probably looking at the likes of Wandy Rodriguez or Jeff Niemann (I don't think the Rays would part with James Shields cheaply), so expect the Yankees to be very agressive with both Sabathia and then Wilson.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Grading the Tigers-Yankees ALDS



By Matt Snyder


Jim Leyland's tinkering. Leyland was roundly mocked on Twitter for his choice in the two-hole of the batting order throughout the series. He used a different lineup five different times in five games while Yankees manager Joe Girardi kept the same lineup throughout the entire ALDS. And look at the Tigers' three wins. Magglio Ordonez was 3-for-3 with a run scored in Game 2. Ramon Santiago was 2-for-4 with two huge RBI in a Game 3 victory and Thursday night in Game 5, Don Kelly opened the scoring in the first inning with a solo home run. Give Leyland credit for pushing the right buttons, specifically with who he batted second, but generally throughout the entire series.

The Tigers' back-end duo of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde wasn't perfect in the series. Valverde made Game 2 interesting with a bad ninth and Benoit walked in a run Thursday night, even if it was an inherited runner. Still, the Tigers blew zero leads with either pitcher on the mound and the duo was a major reason for the series victory. Benoit in particular had to work out of some pretty rough spots, both in Game 2 and in Game 5. His stuff is nasty and he came up with big strikeouts when he had to have them. Valverde was shaky in his first two outings, but was anything but that in Game 5, with a one-run lead and the season on the line.

Justin Verlander struck out 11 batters and was masterful at times in his lone real start of the series: Game 3. He also gave up six hits, three walks and four earned runs. He did gather the victory, as he outpitched Yankees ace CC Sabathia. And we have to point out the Yankees do have a pretty damn good offense, too. It's just that this was a "C" effort for Verlander considering his body of work. You don't expect him to go out and give up four runs in a must-win game. He wasn't at his best, he was just good enough. That's a C-effort in my book. Probably in his, too. I also fully expect an A-effort in Game 1 against the Rangers.

We're going with Mother Nature/Major League Baseball here. Game 1 was ruined by rain. We have absolutely no way of knowing how the series would have gone -- and, remember, I predicted the Tigers in five anyway, so this is no excuse for the Yankees' loss -- but we were deprived of the real series. If MLB moved the start time earlier or didn't start Game 1 at all last Friday, we'd have seen both Verlander and Yankees ace CC Sabathia make two full starts in the series. Instead, each was wasted in a rain-suspended Game 1 and could only turn around to make one more start. On the other hand, the weather reports aren't always predictable, so this was a tough call. Bottom line, we got screwed a bit, and there's nowhere else to place the blame than with whoever you believe controls the weather in New York City.

Yankees 4-5-6 hitters. Alex Rodriguez is a big scapegoat for many. He has been for years. In Game 5, he struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and then ended the series with a strikeout in the ninth. The boos showered down upon him several times at home. Nick Swisher also struck out with the bases loaded in Game 5, and his was to end the inning. Combined, A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Swisher went 9-for-55 (.164) with five RBI in the entire series. A-Rod was the worst, going 2-for-18 (.111), but all three of these guys were bad. If you want to know how bad, here's another illustration: The only two runs Robinson Cano scored all series were on his own home runs. He was left on base seven times.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 1:35 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Chipper gets the Mets again

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chipper Jones, Braves: For the 39th time in his career, Jones knocked in the go-ahead run against the Mets. His two-out RBI single drove in the game's only run as Atlanta's Tim Hudson and New York's R.A. Dickey engaged in a fantastic pitcher's duel. Hudson struck out 10, while Dickey allowed just three hits, two to Jones. It was also Jones' 153rd RBI against the Mets, only Willie Stargell (182) and Mike Schmidt (162) have driven in more against New York. Only Stargell has driven in more go-ahead runs against the Mets (40).

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: After missing six games with a sprained left thumb, A-Rod returned to the Yankees lineup and made an immediate impact, collecting two hits, including his 16th homer of the season, a three-run shot off Henderson Alvarez to pull the Yankees to within a run of the Blue Jays in the sixth inning. It was the 629th homer of Rodriguez's career, putting him one behind former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time list.

Mike Moustakas, Royals: There were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Royals' third baseman struggled in his first two months in the big leagues. He was hitting just .182/.237/.227 in his first 53 games in Kansas City with just one home run. That .182 batting average after an 0-for-4 night on Aug. 16 against the Yankees was a low point. The next night he went 3 for 3 against the Yankees and since then he's hitting .385/.418/.548, raising his season line to .252/.301/.338. Saturday he went 3 for 5 with his third homer in four days, as the Royals picked up their seventh straight win.


Ervin Santana, Angels: In what may have been the Angels' last shot at the postseason, the right-hander gave up two homers in a five-run first in Baltimore. Los Angeles has now lost four of its last six games, while the Rangers won in Seattle. Santana retired just two of the first nine batters he faced, allowing a two-run homer to J.J. Hardy and a three-run homer by Mark Reynolds. He allowed just one more hit in his final six innings of work, but the damage was already done.

Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: St. Louis had a chance to get out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning, trailing by two, but with bases loaded and two outs, Octavio Dotel got Hunter Pence to ground into what appeared to be an easy play to end the inning. Furcal looked first at second for a force but couldn't get a hustling Chase Utley. Furcal had to double pump and try to get Pence at first, but with Pence running down the line, the Phillies outfielder was safe, scoring a run and leaving the bases loaded. The next batter, Raul Ibanez, hit a grand slam, making a close game a laugher. St. Louis had scored two in the eighth to pull within a run of the Phillies but then gave up six runs in the bottom half of the inning, in no small part to Furcal's mistake.

Robinson Cano, Yankees: It didn't end up hurting the Yankees, but Cano did cost the team a run in the fourth inning with a base running gaffe. Cano was on second and Mark Teixeira was on third with one out when Nick Swisher hit a liner into center. Cano assumed it would drop, while Teixeira was waiting to see what happened. Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus ran it down and as Teixeira went back to third to tag up, Cano raced around him for the inning's third out.

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