Tag Archives: Rafael Soriano

High Expectations Lead to Frustrations

Swish still leads the Yanks in RBI this season despite only driving in 3 in his last 10 games and missing time with an injury. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Can you believe the Orioles are still leading the AL East? With a smaller payroll and thus far outstanding pitching, the Yankees find themselves looking up at the O’s and the Rays. Last time we took a look at the positives of this Yankee club and now it’s time for the fun part: complaining. While the situation doesn’t look dire as of yet, the Bombers don’t have the feel of a champion this season. Let’s take a look at some of the issues.

The Bad

The injury bug has infected the Yankee clubhouse, especially the pitching staff. The biggest acquisition of the off season, Michael Pineda, is on the shelf and didn’t even see the field in 2012 turning the luxury of a staff that runs seven deep into another group of questions behind CC Sabathia. The strength of the club was clearly the bullpen, which covers up a lot of blemishes in the starting staff, but now the Yanks are losing relievers faster than the Red Sox start new controversies. David Robertson seemed a natural to move up from the setup role into the closing role, but now he is on the 15 day DL with an oblique injury. The Yankees seem confident that the injury won’t keep him out longer than the 15 days, but how long will it take him to be back to form? Now Rafael Soriano is in the closing role forcing everyone else into a more prominent role. Everyone includes Freddy Garcia, who has pitched well in relief appearances. Ivan Nova twisted his ankle in his last start, but it doesn’t look like he will miss a start.

The rest of the roster seems relatively unscathed thus far although Brett Gardner suffered a major setback in his return from injury. It looks like he is at least

Halfway through May and Martin is bellow the Mendoza line. Woof. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)

two weeks away and his absence has changed the tenor of the Bombers’ offense. It is a boom or bust lineup capable of hitting it out of the park, but incapable of scratching across a run or two in a tight ballgame. Nick Swisher, Mark Teixiera, A-Rod, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano are all sub .250 with runners in scoring position. Tex warned the league that he was going to hit the other way, even if it meant dropping a bunt, to beat the shift. Nobody headed his warning and he hasn’t made good on it. They still shift and he still hits straight into the teeth of that shift. You never want to take the bat out of the hands of a guy with his power, but down a few runs late in the game they need base runners.

Jeter is cooling off from his hot start. In his past 10 games the Captain is hitting .256 with only two multi-hit games. He is coming back to earth, which was to be expected and now somebody else has to step up. Eduardo Nunez and Gardner were off to hot starts, but Nunez was such a defensive liability in the infield as well as in the outfield that he was sent down to the minors. Without those two guys, the Yanks have no spark plug guys, who can be threats on the base path. Every fan has their favorite player and their favorite goat and mine is Russell Martin. The guy just can’t hit! The Yankees aren’t committed to him long term, but they traded away Montero, so what is the plan at catcher? I like him as a ballplayer because I think he brings a savvy and the effort. He needs to figure it out at the plate to at least get above the Mendoza line.

There are a lot of players on their last year of their current deal, unfortunately they aren’t named A-Rod. The Yankees are married to this team for this season and without Gardner out there, they look old, slow and creaky.

-Erik

Who is to blame for the Yankees struggles offensively? Which injury hurts them the most? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Here Lies the Yankees 2011 Season

I was honored to have the opportunity to eulogize my Granny at her funeral on Wednesday. With that practice fresh in my mind I feel confident enough to now write the eulogy of something that was taken from us too soon. Baseball.

Wait A-Rod struck out in a clutch situation? (Corey Sipkin/News)

When it comes to baseball if it doesn’t include the Yankees I don’t care much. One year in my life that I can remember, 2008, there was no postseason. Many years there wasn’t a World Series or even a League Championship Series and 2011 is one of those years. The Detroit Tigers took this year’s divisional series in five games winning the final match up under the lights in the Bronx. Ivan Nova lasted all of two innings before leaving with arm stiffness after having given up two runs on back to back home runs by Delmon Young and Don Kelly. Skipper Joe Girardi was forced to make pitching changes on the fly and the bullpen held the Tigers’ hitters to just one run over seven innings. Despite the numbers, Girardi was soundly criticized for his decision to pull pitchers like Phil Hughes when he was rested and pitching well. The only possible mistake was bringing in CC Sabathia who gave up the only run.

Before the ALDS defeat the season had to be considered a success. Derek Jeter recorded his 3,000 hit and rebounded from a dismal start to the season finishing at .297 on the year with 61 RBI and 84 runs scored in 131 games. Mariano Rivera also reached a milestone as he became the all time saves leader with number 602. The closer also had a typically stellar season with a 1.91 ERA while saving 44 games out of a possible 49. These two Yankee legends continued their hall of fame careers and provided highlights for the Bombers as they collected an American League best 97 wins. The victories came on some unlikely arms like that of Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and, on the other end of the spectrum, rookie Ivan Nova. What the Yankees relied on all year was their shutdown bullpen and high powered offense.

Fortunately for the Bombers many of the big arms in the pen, such as David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera, will all be in pinstripes again next

A tip of the cap and a fond farewell for the rotund ace?

season. The biggest pitching concern of the off season is the one man who wasn’t a concern during the season. The ace CC Sabathia has an opt out clause in his contract that many believe he will exercise. Just a quick side note is it possible to to put an option in a contract saying a player has to exercise? Seriously by the time the ALCS rolled around CC was rolling around on his gut again. Sabathia is obviously priority number one for GM Brian Cashman and the front office. Without an ace this rotation looks like a collection of third and fourth starters from the AL West.  The only other possible free agent starting pitcher on the free agent market will be CJ Wilson, but the only thing he has in common with Sabathia is the fact that they both go by initials starting with C.

Offensively, many of the Bombers are under contract including Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Texiera. That leaves out one major question: Robinson Cano. The all-star second baseman is a free agent and will draw a high price tag on the open market with Scott Boris representing him. I expect the Yankees will resign him no matter the cost. Fan favorite Nick Swisher is also a free agent. Unfortunately I don’t know if the Swishalicious one will not return as the Yankees will try to shed some contracts to make room for another starting pitcher. Bret Gardner is also up for arbitration. This season his base stealing abilities and clutch hitting in the ALDS proved their worth. For an everyday starting left fielder with his production, Gardner is  a bargain and will return next season. However, the Yankees will not bring back Jorge Posada. Jesus Montero will either fill the void left by Posada or will be traded for a starting pitcher, but Posada is too big of a name to carry on the bench of a team with an already astronomically high payroll.

Unfortunately for the Yankees the biggest name on the free agent market are power hitting, National League first basemen. With a gold-golver like Texiera under contract there is no need for another first baseman, however, as always, rumors swirl about the October air like leaves off of barren trees. The idea would be trade Montero for a pitcher and bring in either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder as the designated hitter. A move like this would seemingly handcuff Cashman from making any other signings.

Good Times, Bad Times (Theodorakis/News)

The big question right now is: Who is the goat? Every season someone gets the brunt of the blame for the team’s failure, so who will it be this year? Fan favorites are AJ Burnett and A-Rod. Media favorite is Joe Girardi. Burnett is under contract for two more years and A-Rod is signed through the next millennium. Both guys would come with a heavy price, but have incredible upsides. I think Rodriguez gets a pass for this year because of the injuries, but Burnett may not be so lucky. With only two years on his deal and the stuff to be a potential ace, Burnett is a tantalizing reclamation project for any team. I would like to keep Burnett because I believe the highs are much greater than the lows. If there is a trade to be made for A-Rod I would like to see Cashman have the guts to pull the trigger. The contract is a bad one with six more years of declining production. Eduardo Nunez has played his way onto the team and looks t0 be a promising talent. In the end I think the biggest change next season will be the loss of Swisher, but there is a lot of time before the stove really heats up and it will be a wild ride.

-Erik

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