Only one home run was hit at Yankee Stadium in tonight’s game vs. Oakland. Fortunately, it was hit by a Yankee (thank you, Johnny Damon). Andy Pettitte gave the Yankees 7 strong innings, allowing 2 runs and 9 hits, and the Yankees beat the A’s despite a 4-4 night from A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki. Oh, and in his return to New York, ex-Yankee Jason Giambi was 1-4.
The Yankees are now just a game and a half behind first place Toronto. They start a 3 game series with the Red Sox in Boston on Friday.
Good news about Xavier Nady — per the Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP)–Xavier Nady will try to rehab his elbow injury without surgery, giving the New York Yankees right fielder a chance to return this season.
Nady has a partial ligament tear in his right elbow and originally was told that he’d likely need a season-ending operation. But after additional tests and exams, doctors recommended a program of rest and strengthening exercises rather than Tommy John surgery, a procedure Nady had in 2001.
“Obviously, I wanted to avoid surgery if possible. You’ve got to do what’s right. I hope going this route ends up working out,” he said….
Not so good news about Chien-Ming Wang — according the the NY Daily News, CMW will be dropped from the starting rotation for one start and will not face the Red Sox. This move isn’t exactly unexpected. I just hope it doesn’t do any further damage to his self-confidence, which must already be at an all-time low anyway.
Swisher pitches: There was nothing to smile about in the Yankees embarrassing loss to the Rays on Monday. Nick Swisher, however, did his best to help his team get through the loss. Attempting to save the bullpen, Joe Girardi needed a relief pitcher and went looking for one when the Yankees found themselves down by 10 runs after 3 innings. As it turns out, Swisher used to be a pitcher…in high school. Desperate situations call for desperate measures, so Swisher ended up pitching for the Yankees in the 8th inning.
Apparently, while many of the Yankees were amused by Swisher being used as a relief pitcher, Jorge Posada — who replaced Swisher at first base — was not. Considering how fiesty and intense Posada is, I’m not surprised that he wasn’t amused by the situation. Derek Jeter, however, had a better attitude about the whole thing. According to what I’ve read online in several blogs, Jeter was amused simply because it was Swisher, and Swisher’s not going to shut up about it.
Peter Abraham was amused too. He thought is was funny when Swisher “shook Jose Molina off, even through there were no signs.” Ditto for Swisher rolling the ball into the dugout for a souvenir after striking out Gabe Kapler. (You have to wonder how Kapler will ever live that down!)
I love Nick Swisher. I seriously love this guy! I think his sense of humor is exactly what the Yankees need. His bat is pretty nice to have too.
Burnett’s gem: A.J. Burnett followed Wang’s disaster with a near no-hitter on Tuesday. CC Sabathia got more headlines (and more money) when he signed with the Yankees, but Burnett is the one who has really earned his money so far for the Yankees. I hope he keeps it up!
Teixeira is back: Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup on Tuesday. He still isn’t hitting his weight (hell, after tonight, he’s almost hitting my weight), but at least the Yankees can count on his glove once again.
Nady injures elbow: Xavier Nady has been placed on the DL for additional tests on his surgically repaired and now injured right elbow. There were some rumors that he was headed for more Tommy John surgery, which would end his season, but, according to an article on yahoo.com, it looks like doctors want to run more tests to see if rest and rehab will be enough to take care of the problem.
The not-so-grand Grand Opening: the Yankees got the snot beat out of them tonight by the Indians, which is unfortunate considering that tonight was the Yankees home opener in the new Yankee Stadium. Not a good way to get things started. This is the second blow-out suffered by the Yankees in less than a week…I understand that late in the game, Yankee fans were chanting “We want Swisher,” since he pitched a scoreless inning in the blow-out vs. Tampa Bay. But from what I’ve read here at MLBlogs, the reviews of the new Yankee Stadium are overwhelmingly positive. And that’s really more important than this one loss.
According to an item I saw at espn.com, a group of 22 players, coaches and travel personnel from the Yankees got to visit the White House during their day off on Tuesday. The tour lasted about 1-1/2 hours and was arranged by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. Joba Chamberlain, Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher, and Jonathan Albaladejo were among the players who were part of the tour. Pretty cool!
Maybe they are practicing for a post-World Series vist…or just trying to kill the memory of Monday’s thrashing by the Orioles……
Brand new stadium. Same old expectations.
The New York Yankees are heading into the 2009 season with a new home, some new faces, and the usual expectations of winning it all. After missing the postseason for the first time since 1994 and then spending $424 million on free agents, the Yankees are once again expected to win the World Series. The front office, the players, the media, and the fans all have high hopes for the team this season. That’s nothing new; however, the failure to reach the postseason last year, and the astronomical amount of money spent on free agents has raised the stakes considerably. I can only imagine how frustrated and furious the Steinbrenners were when the Yankees were unable to clinch a spot in the 2008 postseason, which is why they (once again) broke the bank to sign the top free agents. My guess is that heads will roll (Cashman’s? Girardi’s?) if the Yankees fail to win it all in 2009.
Gone from the 2008 starting rotation are Mike Mussina (retired), Sidney Ponson (Kansas City), and Darrell Rasner (Japan). Also gone from the team is Carl Pavano (Cleveland)…not that anyone would notice or care, since he played in less than 30 games in 4 years for the Yankees. Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain have returned, and are joined by expensive newcomers CC Sabathia (7 years, $161 million) and A.J. Burnett (5 years, $82.5 million). This rotation looks extremely good on paper…one of the team’s strengths. Wang missed most of last season with a broken foot, so his health will be one of the keys to the Yankees rotation. Burnett’s health could also be a question mark, since he has been somewhat injury prone during his career. The biggest key to the rotation, of course, will be Sabathia. He has been a workhorse for most of his career — he had 10 complete games in 2008 — continuing this trend will, obviously, help the Yankees bullpen. The concern about Sabathia is whether or not he’ll be able to handle playing under the microscope that is the New York Yankees. He supposedly was reluctant to play in New York…it will be interesting to see how he responds to the pressure from the media and the fans. Also of interest will be how Chamberlain performs as a starter for an entire season. Personally, I think he should remain in the bullpen and be groomed as Mariano Rivera’s successor. In my very un-expert opinion, Chamberlain’s personality seems to be far more suited to that of a closer than that of a starter. I realize he’s still young, but he can’t be a particularly effective starter if he can only pitch 5 innings. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up back in the bullpen at some point this season.
Speaking of the bullpen, this could be a problem area if Mariano Rivera is not fully recovered from shoulder surgery or suffers another injury…not out of the question for a 39 year old pitcher. Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Phil Coke, and Jose Veras pitched well this spring. The Yankees will need those good performances to continue through the regular season. Brian Bruney will also have to perform well. If Rivera is healthy, the bullpen could be another of the Yankee’s strengths.
The lineup will start off with a problem…the absence of Alex Rodriguez, who is recovering from hip surgery. Cody Ransom will fill in at third base until Rodriguez returns. Considering all of the off-the-field issues with Rodriguez, the time off for his recovery may actually help him prepare for the season without all of the drama related distractions. Like fellow free agent Sabathia, first baseman Mark Teixeira — the biggest free agent signing of the offseason — must learn how to handle the pressure of playing in New York in order to perform well on offense and defense. Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada are both recovering from injuries; they need to stay healthy for the Yankees to be successful. With Bobby Abreu gone, Xavier Nady takes over as the Yankees right fielder, having (surprisingly) won the job over Nick Swisher. Brett Gardner gets the nod as the starting center fielder over Melky Cabrera. And then there is Derek Jeter, who, at age 34, is still a good hitter and a good shortstop, but is no longer great at either. Depth may be an issue for the Yankees, particularly if Rodriguez, Matsui, Posada, and Rivera are unable to stay healthy.
Considering the $424 million spending spree, some people will scream about the Yankees buying another championship if the Yankees do manage to win the World Series this year. And the fact is, those screamers will have a point…an extremely small one, but a point nonetheless. As recent history has proven, it does take more than baseball’s biggest payroll to win the World Series. The Yankees did not violate any rules by spending all of that money. But the fact is that no other team could afford to spend the kind of money that the Yankees spent during the offseason. And that is precisely why people claim — perhaps unfairly — that the Yankees will have bought a(nother) World Series title.
As I said, expectations are sky high for the Yankees this year. Anything less than a World Series championship will be considered a disappointment, if not a failure.
My prediction for the Yankees 2009 record is 95-67, with a first place finish in the AL East in a very close race with Boston…perhaps as close as just 2 or 3 games. Will the Yankees win the World Series? Definitely…maybe! (Sorry…I’m not bold enough to make THAT prediction.)
Joba Chamberlain gave up two hits over three innings in today’s 12-0 rout of the Phillies. He walked one, struck out three, and hit a batter. Chamberlain threw 48 pitches, 27 of which were strikes. Nick Swisher was 3-4 with 3 RBI. In addition, Xavier Nady was 2-4 and scored two runs. The Yankees had 20 hits 🙂 and left 23 runners on base. 😦