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2011 New York Yankees: One-Third Season Team Report Card

The New York Yankees have officially played 52 games and post a 29-23 record respectively, which makes them now tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox, who are 30-24.

So, how has the 2011 Yankees preformed with 108 games (+two make-up games) remaining on the regular season’s schedule?

PITCHING:

The starting rotation has been surprisingly better than everyone predicted and the main reasons are solid outings by veterans Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, who both have 3.26 ERAs.

CC Sabathia is the obvious ace and continues to eat innings, posting a 6-3 record, with a 2.98 ERA over 85 innings pitched. The Yankee brass would be smart to not let Sabathia hit the free agent market when he opts out at the end of the season and give him two more years on his current contract.

Also, AJ Burnett has been a different pitcher, as mentally he is in much more control than in the past. Burnett has earned the fans and his teammates trust again, as he hasn’t allowed himself to collapse on the mound like we were so used to seeing every fourth or fifth start.

The bullpen has been pretty good considering they have one lefty, Boone Logan. Led by the chief Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson have been solid.

GRADE: B

HITTING:

The Yankees line-up is top to bottom stacked, but they have been weaker than anticipated even with the most home-runs in all of baseball, a whooping 80 on the season so far.

The bats also have the most RBIs with 262 and the highest slugging percentage with .447. Still, leaving runners stranded on base is becoming an all to common issue that has to improve as the team heads into the summer months.

Another issue is the lack of small ball which has killed the team, but that seems to be improving.

The players are well aware of these issues and are the first to admit that they need to fine-tune this, which is half the battle right there.

Fact is this line-up has the ability to hit better and the team should not be losing as many games because of the bats.

GRADE: B-/C+

SURPRISES:

Catcher Russell Martin has fit in like a glove in New York.

ESPN’s Amy K. Nelson recently interviewed Martin and when asked what is most important he said:

“The relationship I have with my pitchers. I want them to have to trust me with their lives.”

Not only has he earned the trust of the pitchers, his bat has come up big more than a few times already this season. Martin is posting nine home-runs, six doubles, 26 RBIs, 22 walks and has stolen five bases since donning the pinstripes.

Martin’s talent was never in question but whether he still had a wish to play after countless injuries was what no one knew for sure, but now we do and Yankee fans couldn’t be happier.

GRADE: A

 

HONORABLE MENTION: Relief Pitcher David Robertson who has dominated under pressure and come up big when the team needed some help. Robertson has a 1.27 ERA, 35 strikeouts, allowed zero home-runs, in over 21 innings of work.

CLASS CLOWNS:

Rafael Soriano, as the $13 million set-up man has only brought negative energy and now he is on the DL with an inflamed elbow for the next two months. Continue reading ‘2011 New York Yankees: One-Third Season Team Report Card’ »

MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Jesus Montero To Savior Of Giants Season

Buster Posey

Image via Wikipedia

The Injury:

When the 2010 Rookie of the Year, Buster Posey broke his leg blocking the plate earlier this week it was unfortunate loss not only for the San Francisco Giants, but also for baseball.

Fans everywhere, even here in New York are very sympathetic towards the 23-year-old Posey. You’d be hard pressed to find a baseball fan that didn’t admired how Posey led his team to winning a World Series.

A player like Posey is what is referred to as rarified air, as they don’t come around very often. Speaking as a sports fan you appreciated the Posey-types for their magical abilities, both as a player and a person.

Posey is on the DL and what looks like for the season, so that means no one will see Posey till 2012 Spring Training.

This injury sounds pretty worrying and is detailed very clearly by Ali Mohamadi – SB Nation Medical Expert, who explains the severity of it.

What does this mean for the reigning World Champs?

Well, the fact is the Giants would not be the World Champs without Posey.

Posey is not just a stellar backstop, but he brings a big bat and happens to be the most productive hitter on a team that is not strong offensively.

With the majority of the 2011 season still yet to be played, the Giants might have to go shopping for a catcher or at least a prolific hitter if the Champs plan on keeping their crown.

The Giants have a 79-54 record, with a 3.26 ERA since Posey became their full-time catcher. Without question Posey earned the trust from the Giants pitchers, which is not that easy to do and he seemed to fit right in the San Francisco puzzle.

Where Could The Yankees Come In?

Need a young, talented catcher? The Yankees are the place to look.

Well, first a big thanks to Yankees GM Brian Cashman for building the Bombers farm system to be one of the deepest in baseball, as it houses three of the best young, catching talents in the minors.

Jesus Montero, Austin Romaine and Gary Sanchez are all familiar names to Yankees fans, and many have been keeping watch over these three kids for the last year.

Montero has been in trade talks since this time last season. Montero provides the biggest bat of the three; as he is ranked #3 prospect by Baseball America and is currently hitting .311 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

Veteran pitcher Bengie Molina told Andrew Baggarly from the San Jose Mercury News if the Giants “are smart,” they’d move Posey to first or third base. Continue reading ‘MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Jesus Montero To Savior Of Giants Season’ »

Yankees-Mariners: Pitching Match-up To Watch Burnett Vs. Seattle’s New Prince

The New York Yankees start this nine-game road trip with a three-game set in Seattle against an improved Mariners team.

SEATTLE MARINERS BABY STEPS:

The 2010 Mariners had one weapon, pitcher Felix Hernandez (aka King Felix) who barely brought relief every fifth day behind a dead offense.  Considering King Felix took home the 2010 CY Young Award, pitched 250 innings in total, with a 2.27 ERA and only finished with a 13-12 record explains just how bad things were going in Seattle.

This season the Mariners offense, while not comparable to the Yankees line-up, has slightly improved and I guess they have Cliff Lee to thank for that.

When the Mariners traded Lee to the Texas Rangers, they acquired rookie first baseman Justin Smoak. After a mediocre 2010, the 24-year-old Smoak seems to be developing posting a .263 batting average, with six home-runs and 24 RBIs.

The Mariners have such quality pitching they can get away with less stellar bats and still be a decent team, but they are still a bat or two away from being a playoff team. Even with Smoak providing some life to the line-up, he is still a season or two away from making a real impact.

Seattle still gives up a ton of runs, as the offense has the third lowest batting average in baseball with a .232; have the fifth lowest RBIs total with 170; are tied with Oakland for last place with just 27 home-runs on the season.

Still, for a team that finished with the worst record in baseball, 61-101 to be a game away from sitting at .500 is a marked improvement. The Mariners are not the same blasé opponents because if the pitching can shut down an opposing line-up, and if their little step forward offensively can score a few runs they can beat you.

MICHAEL PINEDA VS. AJ BURNETT:

Michael Pineda is a 22-year-old, right-handed rookie who is as tall as CC Sabathia and has been outstanding in his debut season.

The youngster has a 6-2 over nine starts; he is posting a 2.16 ERA, allowing 41 hits, 15 earned runs, three home-runs, walking 14 batters and fanning 61, in just over 58 innings pitched.

Pineda has pitched six innings minimum in all nine starts. Pineda’s last two starts were his most impressive, as he pitched seven solid, giving up no earned runs, allowing just one walk and striking out 16 batters. Mind you it was against the Twins, and Padres, who are two of the worst performing teams in baseball but Pineda won both the outings, and that is what counts.

Overall, Pineda is turning into a future ace very quickly and the Mariners would not be hanging on in the AL West without his young arm.

The Seattle Times reported that the Mariners do have Pineda on an innings limit, which most think is somewhere between 160-170 but skipper Eric Wedge stated that the number will not change pending on how the team is doing.

It is no secret that I have been watching this kid from the beginning, as in a recent post about Pineda as a trade option brought on a lot of angry comments from Seattle fans. I still think it would work for both teams, but that is for another day.

The Yankees will counter with AJ Burnett, who has been good this season.

Burnett’s mental game has vastly improved, as he doesn’t implode after giving a hit or a home-run like in the past because he seems to have more control.

Burnett is 5-3, with a 4.02 ERA so far in 2011.

Assessing Burnett it is pretty easy, he is a veteran that knows what he needs to do and with as weak an offense as the Mariners have; he should not have a problem holding them.

The Yankees will look for him to go deep into the game. This is something he has been doing this season, as he has gone minimum six innings over his last 10 starts.

MY PREDICTION:

Comparing the two teams line-ups is purposeless, with the Bombers leading baseball in home-runs with 75 and RBIs with 244 and the Mariners posting the lowest in home-runs with 27 and fifth worst in RBIs with 170.

The Mariners only scored five runs in their last two games and their decent walk rate has tumbled as well, which is not good heading into any series. Continue reading ‘Yankees-Mariners: Pitching Match-up To Watch Burnett Vs. Seattle’s New Prince’ »

Lady Loves Pinstripes: Interview On Blogs Don’t Lie A Blog On Sports Blogging

Blog Don’t Lie was created by Jay Acunzo and it is a sports blog about sports blogging. It was created to celebrate and strengthen the sports blogger community.

Recently, Jay asked if I would answer some questions about LadyLovesPinstripes.com and I happily obliged.

Click on the link below to check out Jay’s wonderful site and read my answers:

Interview with a Sports Blogger: Kate Conroy (Lady Loves Pinstripes)

I just always wondered why the men were having such a blast and, being an athlete myself, the competition is almost erotic. – Kate Conroy

Blog Don’t Lie seeks to better understand and celebrate the sports blogging world. Unique, passionate and fiery in so many ways, sports bloggers present opinions, facts and figures from (typically) the sidelines.

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New York Yankees: West Coast Road Trip Schedule

Following winning the rubber game 7-3 to take the series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Yankees are on their way out West for the first time in 2011.

Here is the schedule for the next three series on the other coast:

DATE VS. TIME (EST) PROBABLE PITCHERS
Friday, May 27th @ Seattle Mariners 10:10pm Burnett (5-3) Pineda (6-2)
Saturday, May 28th @ Seattle Mariners 10:10pm Nova (4-3) Hernandez (5-4)
Sunday, May 29th @ Seattle Mariners 4:10pm Sabathia (5-3) TBA
Monday, May 30th @ Oakland Athletics 4:05pm Colon (2-3) TBA
Tuesday, May 31st @ Oakland Athletics 10:05pm TBA
Wednesday June 1st @ Oakland Athletics 3:35pm TBA
Friday, June 3rd @ Los Angeles Angels 10:05pm TBA
Saturday, June 4th @ Los Angeles Angels 9:05pm TBA
Sunday, June 5th @ Los Angeles Angels 3:35pm TBA

The Mariners and A’s both have young and talented pitching staffs, so the Yankee bats will play a big role in these two series. Finishing off the trip in Los Angeles against the Angels who are never an easy win, especially for the Yankees

Where will the Yankees be when they return back home?

Honestly, this road trip will be a true test for the Bombers, who leave atop the AL East (27-21) by just a half a game above the Boston Red Sox (27-22). The Tampa Bay Rays (26-23), Toronto Blue Jays (24-25) and Baltimore Orioles (23-24) are all very much in the hunt, as the AL East is as tight as can be.

The one thing that is for sure is that the Yankees return to the Bronx to play host to the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers so there is really no room for error.

On one hand, Yankee fans will get to know what this 2011 team can handle; and so will GM Brian Cashman who will probably use these next few weeks to establish whether a trade is absolutely necessary or not.

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Baseball Basics: What Is A 6-4-3 Double Play?

What is a 6-4-3 Double Play?

That is a question I get all the time from friends of mine, so much recently that I thought I would explain why announcers will refer to an out in this way.

When a team is playing defense, meaning the players are in the field each of the nine positions is assigned a number.

Please look at the diagram below:

Baseball – positions by numbers

1 - pitcher

2 – catcher

3 – first baseman

4 - second baseman

5 – third baseman

6shortstop

7left fielder

8center fielder

9right fielder

 

As you can see each number corresponds with a specific position.

A 6-4-3 Double Play is just one example of the specific sequence of how an out was made.

In this case it means the ball went from the shortstop, who threw it to the second baseman, who to the first baseman resulting in two outs.

Here is another example from MLB.com:

If the hitter grounds out to shortstop, for example, write in “6-3,” which shows the shortstop threw him out at first base. If the hitter flies out to left field, write a “7.”

If you were unfamiliar with this kind of explanation, I bet you didn’t realize how simple a formula was used.

Hope this helps, and please feel free to email me, or leave a comment if you are still confused after reading this explination.

 

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