Category Archives: New York Yankees

yankees

mid-April view of the New York Yankees

AL BEast Notebook – April 15

For all the doom and gloom of the preseason and then Opening Week, things have turned pretty well for New York lately. The Yankees have won five of their last six to sit at 6-5, much of the pitching is going well and the offense is finding pleasant surprises. Basically, the good has been great and the bad has been dreadful.

There was cause for concern when CC Sabathia looked lifeless on Opening Day and then Hiroki Kuroda’s hand was struck by a line drive in the second game, but since then the top of the rotation has been all that you could ask for. Kuroda pitched an absolute gem on Sunday night, going the full nine innings and didn’t even allow a runner to reach second base until two outs in the ninth (thanks to an error and fielders choice). After a dreadful second inning against the Red Sox, Sabathia has responded with just one earned run in his last 18 innings. Andy Pettitte has been stellar on the mound, allowing just one run in each of his two starts.

The lineup picked up last week, led by Robinson Cano who hit .500 with three homers, four doubles and eight RBI. Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and even Francisco Cervelli have been quite productive. In fact, even after looking entirely anemic against the Red Sox and Tigers, Yankees have the highest OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) in the American League. Cervelli has been the biggest surprise, as the catcher is 3 for 3 with runners in scoring position and two outs. He has also worked seven walks in nine games and holds a .500 on base percentage, and has not allowed a stolen base.

Injuries and depth, of course, continue to be the primary concern with the Yankees. Derek Jeter is nowhere near returning. His replacement, Eduardo Nunez has been hit by a pitch a couple times, causing him to miss multiple games on two different occasions already. The only backup infielder is Jayson Nix, and he is pretty much an automatic out. Girardi pinch hit for Nix on Saturday and had to use Cervelli at second base and move Cano to shortstop.

Pettitte missed a start due to back spasms (he is old) and was pushed back a couple times. He is expected to pitch on Friday, ten days after his last game. Another seasoned vet Ichiro looks awful out there (.176, no stolen base attempts).

Back of the rotation is definitely a sore spot. Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova are combined 0-3 with an 8.75 ERA. Fortunately, the Yankees could skip Nova’s start last week thanks to rain in Cleveland. He starts Tuesday against the 8-4 Diamondbacks. David Phelps is ready to take his place should he struggle, although Phelps has been very effective in long relief.

Back of the bullpen (Rivera and Robertson) has been fine, but the rest of the pen has pitched poorly to the tune of a 5.19 ERA and 1.67 WHIP overall. It hasn’t affected the outcome of any games as starting pitchers have picked up every decision.

Overall, the games have really been dictated early on. New York is 5-0 when the score first, and 1-5 when first scored upon. There hasn’t been much drama; every game has been decided by two or more runs.

Due up: D-Backs, @Blue Jays, @Rays, Blue Jays

sabathia ellsbury

Opening Day win for the Red Sox in the Bronx

AL BEast Notebook – April 1

It’s a great start to the season if you are a Red Sox fan. Not so much for their proud counterparts in the Big Apple.

CC Sabathia gave up four runs in the second inning on walks and singles and that was all Boston needed as they beat the Yankees 8-2 on a day that started out warm and sunny and ended cold, rainy and windy, with empty bleachers and trash blowing all over the field.

The Yankees certainly didn’t exactly resemble your traditional Bronx Bombers. Confused New Yorkers were cheering for “Yooouuk.” Injured A-Rod and Jeter were replaced by Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez, who combed for 0-6 with five strikeouts. Ben Francisco, playing for his sixth team in the last 16 months, was the designated hitter. They needed some terrific pitching from their ace, and they didn’t get it: CC gave up eight hits, walked four batters and got pulled after the fifth inning. Joba Chamberlain, looking like a caterpillar is taking up residence under his nose, pitched a terrible ninth allowing three to score that only about 68 fans left in the stands witnessed. It was an uninspiring performance by the Yankees, who allowed four infield hits and walked eight Boston batters.

Sabathia’s career ERA in April is 7.24 and despite starting five times he is still winless on Opening Day with the Yanks. In his last seven games against the rival Red Sox he is 2-4 with a 6.70 ERA.

The Red Sox lineup wasn’t much more intimidating, but the first three batters had seven hits while Jarrod Saltalamacchia and rookie Jackie Bradley combined for six walks and four runs. Bradley had a big impact in his major league debut, also beating out a throw at second base that opened the floodgates in the second inning, then made a run-saving catch in left field in the third.

The lone bright spot in the game for New York was Francisco Cervelli, who coaxed Yankee fans one step back from the ledge when it looked like it would be the same old story. Cervelli got a two out hit, the Yankees’ first in two years, with the bases loaded to send two runners across home. Then in the sixth he made a great tag to stop Ellsbury at the plate and keep the Sox’ lead at just two.

But the day belonged to the Red Sox and the Yankee lineup made Boston’s pitchers look nearly perfect. Lester had just one bad inning while striking out seven in five innings, while five relievers yielded one hit across the last four frames. New Sox reliever Koji Uehara needed just five pitches to get through the sixth. New closer Joel Hanrahan also threw a 1-2-3 inning in his his first appearance for the club.

If the game wasn’t bad enough, Alex Rodriguez made an appearance for the media beforehand, answering more questions about PEDs and stating that the Yankees being projected to finish in last place is “pretty crazy.”

Both teams get a day off tomorrow. Then the Yankees will shake up the lineup with righty Clay Buchholz taking the hill, although that really only means Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner get the start and Ichiro bats second.

Certainly, Girardi declares afterward that it’s just one game out of 162, but the lackluster yet predictably bad performance will probably not be a rare occurrence this month.

From around the league, the Daily Top Five:

- Bryce Harper homers twice, Strasburg throws seven shutout innings, Nationals win 2-0
- Clayton Kershaw pitches a complete game shutout and breaks a scoreless tie himself with a home run in the eighth, Dodgers beat the Giants
- Angels and Reds combined for 30 strikeouts and 4 errors in a 4:45 long 13 inning game in Interleague action on Opening Day. Reds batters not named Shin-Soo Choo went 1-37 (.027). Angels win
- Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale each threw 7.2 shutout innings for the Mariners and White Sox, Jeff Samardzija throws 8 scoreless for the Cubs
- Meanwhile, the Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles and Indians are saying “don’t forget about us!”
robinson cano

AL East Preview and Predictions

AL BEast Notebook – March 29

I’ve been covering each of the five East teams all winter and spring long and here is my “Official 2013 Preview.” Yes, it’s long so bookmark and come back often. I’ll have the rest of the league up in the next couple days.

The AL East will be the most interesting division in baseball with five teams that could each reasonably finish in first or last place. All should have win totals in the 80s. While the division has been known for it’s intimidating sluggers and top-to-bottom lineups, there has been a clear shift to pitching.

For each team you have:

1) my report with reasons to be excited and reasons to be concerned

2) specific bullet points of what must happen for them to succeed

3) specific bullet points of what must happen for them to end up in the basement

4) Season headline

5) My record prediction

6) How many more wins in best-case scenario (ceiling)

7) How many fewer wins in worst-case scenario (floor)

8) A player that is likely to outperform expectations

9) A player that is likely to disappoint

Boston Red Sox

After being MLB’s most disappointing team two years in a row Boston is looking for a bounce back season. They definitely aren’t in typical “Rebuilding Mode” with the likes of Victorino, Napoli, Gomes, Dempster, Lackey and (eventually) Ortiz all in prominent positions. Now that expectations are so low after losing 93 games they hope that a new manager, revamped lineup and more secure bullpen will get them back into prominence. But it won’t be easy.

Two of the best pitchers this spring were Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. After a dismal 2012 campaign, that is a welcome sight for Sox fans. Even Jon Lackey has been effective. In fact, the Red Sox staff led the league in Spring Training ERA. It may just be Grapefruit League but it’s much better to be good than bad!

There are issues with the lineup. Your Opening Day lineup will include Jose Iglesias, Jonny Gomes, Jackie Bradley, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The #5 hitter is a player with less than a full year of major league experience (Will Middlebrooks). If things go poorly—and with injured and injury-prone players like Ortiz, Ellsbury, Napoli and Gomes, and young players like Middlebrooks, Bradley and Iglesias, you can expect it—there is virtually no depth on this roster.

The weak bullpen from a year ago looks to be put together well. New closer Joel Hanrahan, former All-Star Andrew Bailey, and veteran setup man Koji Uehara are expected to shorten games to 6 innings.

For those that think the pitching staff will bounce back to greatness, consider this: Saltalamacchia is the signal caller. Jason Varitek is long gone. Once Salty took the majority of the time behind the plate the starting pitching (everyone) fell apart. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good catcher (or impact of a catcher the pitchers don’t trust).

Red Sox will WIN the division IF…

1) Jon Lester wins 20 and Clay Buchholz wins 18

2) Ortiz and Ellsbury combine for 55 home runs

3) Napoli and Middlebrooks stay healthy all year

4) Dempster or Lackey pitch effectively

 Red Sox will finish LAST in the division IF…

1) Ortiz and Stephen Drew are ineffective

2) Two of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Napoli or Middlebrooks miss significant time

3) Any two of the starting five pitchers miss significant time

Miller’s Forecast

“Sox Crumble Third Year in a Row”

80-82 +8 ; -8

Surprising impact: Jacoby Ellsbury

Biggest Disappointment: Ryan Dempster

Tampa Bay Rays

david price

Tampa Bay had the best team ERA in all of baseball last year and won 90 games, but still finished third in the division, three games out of the final playoff spot. And in the offseason they lost James Shields, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena and didn’t really replace them.

The biggest question for the Rays is where is the offense going to come from? Yes, Evan Longoria is ready after missing half the season and could finally emerge as an elite player, and Wil Myers will get called up sometime, but who else is there? Ben Zobrist and Luke Scott?  That’s it! And while Myers is the best hitting prospect in baseball, he probably won’t break out like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. He could be great, but the Rays tend to baby their young players. Myers will be a star in 2014, but for ‘13 Tampa has the weakest lineup in the division.

Of course, their pitching is very good.  David Price won 20 games, the other starters were great and Fernando Rodney finished 2012 with a 0.60 ERA and 48 saves. Can young Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Alex Cobb keep the Rays’ team ERA microscopic again? Well sure, but it’s not a guarantee. And if you check the history of Rodney, his first year in Tampa was his first since 2006 of an ERA lower than 4.24 and WHIP under 1.47. Seems like a fluke.

Many people are picking the Rays to make the playoffs. The Rays have been the quietest team in the league this spring, and that’s surely a very positive thing. Great pitching in Tampa has been a given for like eight years now. Joe Maddon, perhaps the best game manager in baseball is running the show. But I cannot see how a team that continues to lose key players year after year without bringing in free agents will keep it up this year, especially in such a competitive division.

Rays will WIN the division IF…

1) David Price wins 20 games again and another pitcher wins 16

2) Evan Longoria plays 155+ games

3) Wil Myers is called up early and breaks out in a big way

4) Fernando Rodney continues where he left off in the WBC with another All-Star season

5) Two of Zobrist, Joyce, Scott or Jennings hit .295+ with 25+ homers

Rays will finish LAST in the division IF…

1) Something happens to Price and Longoria

2) Hellickson and Matt Moore regress

3) No hitter beyond Longoria provides power

Miller’s Forecast

“Where’s James Shields?” and “Not Enough Help for Longoria”

83-79; +7 ; -4

Surprising impact: Alex Cobb

Disappointment: Matt Moore


New York Yankees

Yankees won 95 last year, and this team looked like the worst 95-win team in the history of baseball. Due to injuries and questionable personnel decisions the lineup is very different, especially early in the season.

Everybody knows about the crowded star-studded disabled list (Teixeira, Granderson, A-Rod, Pineda, Hughes and Jeter) and they have a whole bunch of other players that could potentially fall apart (Hafner, Youkilis, Wells, Ichiro, Pettitte, Rivera) and some key positions that are serious offensive question marks: catcher (Stewvelli) and first base (Overbay). It is just not the situation you want to be in to start the season.

One concern with this team is that they are very lefty-heavy in the lineup. Cano, Granderson, Gardner, Ichiro, Hafner, and Overbay all bat from the left side. That’s great for Yankees Stadium, but they will struggle on the road against left-handed starting pitchers.

Robinson Cano is the one rock on this team. He will be an MVP candidate every year he stays in pinstripes. Reports are that Curtis Granderson should return on time and back to form in May. The power is gone, but there is still ability to score runs with Ichiro, Gardner, and Jeter/Nunez at the top of the lineup. The starting pitching is strong and deep. The bullpen, even without Rafael Soriano, should be very strong again as long as Mariano is effective.

Eduardo Nunez struggles defensively, but if he ever gets a full-time job he could hit .300 with 25 homers and 30 steals.

 Yankees will WIN the division IF…

1) C.C. Sabathia makes 28+ starts

2) Derek Jeter plays 145 games and hits .290+

3) At least two of Hafner, Youkilis, or Wells make it through the season healthy and somewhat effective

4) At least two of Teixeira, Rodriguez or Pineda return and are somewhat effective

5) Mariano Rivera stays healthy and Rivera-like

 Yankees will finish LAST in the division IF…

1) Sabathia and Cano miss significant time

2) Teixeira and A-Rod miss the season, or are ineffective upon return

3) Rivera shows the effects of his 43rd birthday, getting hurt or pitching poorly

4) Yankees get nothing from Wells and Youkilis

Miller’s Forecast

“Old Age and Injuries Catch With Bombers”

84-78; +5 ; -6

Surprising impact: Kevin Youkilis

Disappointment: Derek Jeter

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore had a miracle season, winning 93 games taking the Yankees to a full series after knocking out the Texas Rangers in the playoffs. And all this after averaging 94 losses for the previous six seasons. What was most miraculous was how they won. They did not even have a positive run differential until September 28, the last week of the season. They dealt with tons of injuries. They only had one pitcher start more than 20 games or pitch 140 innings, and that was an unspectacular rookie. And of course, their 29-9 record in one run games, including a record 13 in a row, is something difficult to explain.

Looking ahead to now, there are actually very few question marks with this team. While they don’t have a true “ace,” they have one of the deepest reservoirs of starting pitchers in the league including a handful of pitchers that were outstanding in limited 2012 action. Due to 65 starts by terrible pitchers their overall ERA was mediocre, and that should improve this season with a little stability.

Baltimore’s bullpen was one of the AL’s best, led by closer Jim Johnson’s league leading 51 saves, and Darren O’Day, Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Luis Ayala. Johnson is a regression candidate, but the ‘pen should still be very strong.

The lineup is also very stable with many players on the way up in their careers (Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Nolan Reimold). Nate McLouth may have regained his All-Star form after the trade to Baltimore. Late call-up Machado looks like he could be a star player and is here for a full sophomore year. The biggest difference could be in the middle of the field as two-time All-Star Brian Roberts is finally healthy and looking good in spring. It looked like he would be hitting leadoff but just today Showalter announced that Roberts will start at the bottom of the order.

Buck Showalter has turned this young group into winners. They have a very good core of players in Jones, Wieters, Machado and Davis, and if the starting pitching doesn’t fall apart they should contend for the Wild Card again. If Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta develop and improve, they could win the East outright.

Orioles will WIN the division IF…

1) Team pitching gets their ERA down to 3.80

2) At least three pitchers win 13 games

3) The bullpen remains a strength

4) Brian Roberts plays 140+ games

5) Adam Jones and Matt Wieters make their third All-Star game

Orioles will finish LAST in the division IF…

1) The inexperienced pitching falls through

2) Two of oft-injured Roberts, McLouth, Reimold and McLouth can’t stay healthy and produce

Miller’s Forecast

“Critics Still Waiting for Showalter’s Club to Fade”

88-74; +4 ; -8

Surprising impact: Brian Roberts

Disappointment: Wei-Yin Chen

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto sailed along at 45-44 until July 16 when Jose Bautista injured his wrist. Several pitchers broke down as well and the Jays floundered, going 28-45 the rest of the way. GM Alex Anthopoulos was very busy this offseason, acquiring R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Emilio Bonifacio and re-hiring coach John Gibbons. Suddenly, Toronto looks like the most complete team in the division.

The biggest x-factors for the Jays this year are Johnson and Brandon Morrow. If they can stay healthy the Jays rotation should stay quite effective. You know what you are getting with Dickey, Buehrle and J.A. Happ, and the offense will score a lot of runs and hit a lot of home runs. Johnson and Morrow have top-of-the-rotation potential. If they stay healthy Toronto will win a lot of games.

One concern critics have is all the moving parts. Reyes played poorly in Miami, Johnson was less effective, Melky was suspended 50 games, and Dickey moves from pitcher friendly Citi Field and the NL East to the AL East. Bautista is coming off a wrist injury that has the potential to drain his power. All that being said, this is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in twenty years. Changes had to be made! Opportunities presented themselves and the Jays jumped. And with three pitchers coming from the NL to AL East, remember that none of the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox or Orioles improved their lineups; in fact, they all (other than the Orioles) should have worse offenses.

I love the way this team is made: Knuckler, power righty, soft lefty, power righty, lefty. Reyes, Melky, Bautista and Encarnacion (42 homers in 2012) should be the most productive 1-4 this side of Los Angeles, and if Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie produce they are even deeper.

The one issue with the Jays is their bullpen, which was dead-last in the AL in 2012. They didn’t add anyone new. Closer Casey Janssen is coming off shoulder surgery and may not be ready for the start of the season, and Sergio Santos missed most of the regular season with shoulder surgery as well. The way the Jays are set up for “Win Now,” expect them to look at the free agents available (Brian Wilson, Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez) should things start to fall apart.

Blue Jays will WIN the division IF…

1) Morrow and Johnson pitch 56+ games

2) Jose Bautista regains his power stroke and has an MVP-level season

3) Reyes and Cabrera each play 145+ games and hit over .290

4) Bullpen finishes no worse than 10th in the AL

Blue Jays will finish LAST in the division IF…

1) Any two of their top four starters miss significant time

2) Bautista re-injures his wrist

3) Bullpen repeats a dismal season

4) Major chemistry issues emerge

Miller’s Forecast

“Joey Bats is MVP” and “Anthopoulos’ Aggressiveness Pays Off”

89-73; +5 ; -5

Surprising impact: Brett Lawrie

Disappointment: Melky Cabrera

ra dickey

Toronto 89-73

Baltimore 88-74

New York 84-78

Tampa Bay 83-79

Boston 80-82

lyle overbay

Yankees make Lyle Overbay their man

AL BEast Notebook – March 28

The Yankees finished their Grapefruit League season today, losing 2-1 to the Pirates. After the game, Juan Rivera was released and according to ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews, Lyle Overbay will be the starting first baseman for Opening Day and for the next six weeks.

Well, almost. Their first game is against lefty Jon Lester, so it is likely that Jayson Nix or another righty gets the start instead. Overbay will get the nod on Wednesday against Clay Buchholz.

Juan Rivera, signed January 28, played pretty well this spring, hitting .305 (18-59) with five doubles. But after the Yankees signed Ben Francisco on March 11, Brennan Boesch  March 15, traded for Vernon Wells March 25 and acquired Lyle Overbay on March 26, there is no room for Rivera.

So I guess that means Lyle Overbay’s three day audition was successful.

Continuing what I wrote yesterday, Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner’s offseason strategy of alternatives (Juan Rivera, Dan Johnson, Matt Diaz) and rookies (Ziolo Almonte, Melky Mesa, Slade Heathcott, Ronnie Mustelier) was a complete failure as they pulled the plug on each one with four crappy acquisitions within three weeks of their first game. I mean seriously, they had seven guys all along and quit on all seven in the last two weeks of Spring Training!

What have Overbay, Wells, Francisco and Boesch proven?

brian cashman

Yankees front office in all-out Panic Mode

AL BEast Notebook – March 27

The Yankees made two moves this week, trading for Vernon Wells and signing Lyle Overbay to a “minor league contract.” Wells is expected to start the season in left field and Overbay is likely to be the Opening Day first baseman.

These moves practically scream “My name is Brian Cashman, I screwed up and it’s time to panic.”

Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner had a plan to be more “financially responsible” and prudent and look for low-cost alternatives. They brought in Juan Rivera, Dan Johnson, Matt Diaz, Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco to be backup and injury replacements and obviously none of them can be depended on for even one month!

Sure, no one can really predict injuries. Who knew that Mark Teixeira would tear his wrist tendon sheath hitting off a tee, and Curtis Granderson would break his arm getting hit by a J.A. Happ pitch? But that’s why you get backups, so you can plug the holes in the ship and stay the course for a few weeks. Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez are primarily bench players but they were able to step up in a big way when called upon. And Swisher could play first, too. Despite significant injuries the Yankees still won the division last year.

Now the Yankees are up to their seventh options (plus a slew of minor league prospects) to fill two positions for as little as five weeks. And the only thing stopping that candidate pool from growing more is the start of the season.

Here is what you need to know about Lyle Overbay, your projected Yankees Opening Day first baseman:

- Overbay Fact #1: He is 36 years old.

- Overbay Fact #2: His best season was 2006. Yeah, that was a long time ago.

- Overbay Fact #3: Since 2010 = 252 hits, 253 strikeouts

- Overbay Fact #4: In the last two years he was released by the Pirates, Diamondbacks and Red Sox.

So the Yankees are likely counting on a player for their Opening Day first baseman who couldn’t even make the Red Sox as a backup. And he wasn’t good enough for the Pirates and D-Backs to keep him, either.

As for Vernon Wells, the Yankees passed on cheap but dependable outfield options like Nate Scheirholtz, Scott Hairston, Torii Hunter, or Justin Upton, and let Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez walk. Now they pull the plug on other alternatives to acquire super-contract bust Vernon Wells, who in the five years since he signed a 7 year, $126M contract, has zero seasons of 90 RBI or runs scored and has hit above .273 just once. The last two seasons in Anaheim he hit .223 in 743 at bats. He’s been very bad in four of the last six seasons.

And should the injury-riddled Yankees turn to a player who in recent years has had shoulder surgery, a broken wrist, and two hamstring strains for relief?

As a Yankees’ fan, I’m really trying to stay optimistic. But these moves stink panic and desperation, and unless a miracle happens Brian Cashman should start tidying up his resume.

vernon wells

your last-week-before-Opening-Day team notes

AL BEast Notebook – March 26

Yankees and Red Sox start the season next Monday, Orioles and Rays play Tuesday, Blue Jays host the Indians on Tuesday. And the Rangers and Astros kick things off on Sunday. Things are coming down to the wire so decision time is NOW. Here’s what you need to know.

Yankees

- Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and (of course) Alex Rodriguez will start the season on the DL. Jeter could be back as soon as April 6, but may be out even three weeks longer. Teixeira and Granderson should be back in May, although Tex’s injury may be season-threatening.

- Yankees have acquired outfielder Vernon Wells from the Angels. There may be a couple players to be named later going to Anaheim, while the Yankees will only be stuck with about $13 million of Wells’ contract over the next two years. The commissioner has yet to finalize the deal and Wells still needs to pass a physical. Wells is slated to be the Yankees starting left fielder until Curtis Granderson returns. After that he will platoon with Hafner at DH, as well as be right handed relief for the three starting lefty outfielders.

Wells, 34, signed a huge contract extension prior to the 2007 season. Since then he has not recorded 90 RBI or 90 runs scored in any season and just once batted above .273. In 2010 he did have 31 homers and 44 doubles. He was traded by the Blue Jays to the Angels in 2011 and was terrible in two injury-plagued seasons.

- The WBC is reportedly responsible for Mark Teixeira’s salary while he is injured, so that frees up at least $7 million. That news showed up right around the time that the Wells’ talks got serious.

Red Sox

- David Ortiz and Stephen Drew will start the season on the DL. Jacoby Ellsbury sprained his ankle but says he’s fine.

- Lefty outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. improved his chances of making the Opening Day lineup when he hit a three-run homer off lefty Cliff Lee on Monday.

- With Lyle Overbay being released this morning and Ortiz starting on the DL, Jonny Gomes will likely start as the regular DH, making space for Bradley in left field, and Mike Carp will back up Mike Napoli at first base.

Orioles

- Wilson Betemit will start the season on the DL. Betemit has a grade 2 PCL tear and is out two months. Chris Tillman is likely to start the season on the DL.

- According to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, Baltimore would need a fifth starter just once in the first three weeks of the season. Therefore, with Hammel, Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez, they could take it easy with Chris Tillman and use Jake Arrieta in early April.

Blue Jays

- Brett Lawrie will start the season on the DL. He is eligible to come back around April 6 but there is no timetable for his return yet.

The injury means that Emilio Bonifacio is likely to start at second base and Maicer Izturis and Mark DeRosa will fill in at third.

Rays

- No candidates for the disabled list, although Luke Scott was scratched with right calf tightness yesterday.

The Rays continue to be the quietest team in the preseason.

yankees

news from Yankees camp

AL BEast Notebook – March 19

- Robinson Cano has been raking for the Dominican Republic in the WBC. While leading the DR into the championship game, Cano is batting .517 with four doubles and a couple homers. The final game, Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, is Tuesday night.

- Phil Hughes is working his way back from a bulging disc in his back. In a simulated game in Tampa on Monday, Hughes got hit squarely in his back by a come-backer in the first inning. He’s okay but come on; insult to injury continues to mount for the Yankees.

If all goes well, Hughes should have three minor league starts in the next couple weeks and be ready to start for the Yankees April 7 in Detroit.

- Mark Teixeira’s wrist issue is worse than initially thought. He’s got a partially torn tendon sheath, not just a wrist strain, and could potentially require season-ending surgery. We’ll see how it works out but Tex has no idea when he will return and at this point it’s turning into a worst case scenario.

- Yankees acquired outfielders Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch, and released Matt Diaz. The two latecomers have the best chance of playing significant roles early in the season, as the young guys (Zoilo Almonte and Slade Heathcott) were sent down to the minors and Melky Mesa and Ronnier Mustelier will be fighting for bench spots.

- According to ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews, Derek Jeter is likely to leadoff against lefties and Brett Gardner will leadoff against righties. Speaking of Jeter, he was scratched from today’s game with, in the words of Joe Girardi, a “cranky ankle.” He is day-to-day, and it’s possible he starts the season as the DH. But as it stands it is a stiff ankle, this is still Spring and injuries tend to be excuses to rest.

derek jeter

The Captain returns to his post

AL BEast Notebook – March 13

Derek Jeter made his Spring debut in the field Wednesday, leading off and playing his usual shortstop position after DHing a couple games.

He had just one fielding opportunity, picking up a ground ball and tossing to second for the out in the fourth inning. He went 0-2 with a walk. Jeter is 1-6 batting in his three preseason starts.

Jeter broke his ankle in the 12th inning of the Game 1 ALCS game against the Tigers last October 13. The 38 year-old had said he would be ready for Opening Day and planned for his Spring return March 10. After it looked like that would be delayed last week, he was cleared to play and actually debuted as the designated hitter a day earlier on March 9.

lineup card

Due to the many injuries on the team, it is likely that he will move to the 2 or 3 spot in the lineup (after Gardner and Ichiro and before Cano).

Also of note in the game, 40 year-old Andy Pettitte made his Spring debut, allowing one run and four hits in three innings of work. Mariano Rivera also pitched a perfect inning in his second game of action. The Yankees scored five runs off Phillies starter Cliff Lee and defeated the Phils 6-2.

curtis granderson

early injuries to know about approaching Opening Day

AL BEast Notebook – March 8

It is no surprise that players sit out preseason games, pull out of the WBC or end up on the injury report with sore arms, sore legs, sore backs, etc. before such a long season. Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of who is resting and who is actually injured. Whether it is preparing for your fantasy league draft or just keeping tabs on your team, here are the situations in the AL East that you need to be aware of as Spring Training rolls along.

- Blue Jays. Third baseman Brett Lawrie is out a couple weeks with strained rib and intercostal muscles. That puts him up against Opening Day without much prep time.

- Yankees. Yes, there are a lot of names that you’ve heard about. Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson are both out until mid-May.

Derek Jeter has finally been medically cleared to resume baseball activities. He was initially hoping to play in a Spring game March 10 but that is being pushed back. He will probably not be playing shortstop the first week of the season, although he is likely to start at designated hitter.

Phil Hughes is recovering nicely from the bulging disk in his back, says he experiencing “no problems,” and “feels good,” and may be ready for his first turn in the rotation when the season starts.

The bullpen is dealing with a bunch of minor issues. David Robertson slept on his shoulder wrong and Boone Logan has a sore elbow. But the other lefty in the bullpen Clay Rapada has been shut down for a couple weeks due to shoulder bursitis, making him a likely candidate to start the season on the DL.

- Red Sox. David Ortiz still feels pain in his right Achilles, seven months after suffering the injury. Before and after running around the bases a few times he is feeling soreness in both lower legs. With just a few weeks before the start of the season it is a cause for concern, even for a guy that won’t play the field.

Franklin Morales (back), right now slated as the Sox #6 starter or long reliever, played “catch” Thursday, but is still a ways off. Middle reliever Craig Breslow has a bad shoulder and is still working to develop his arm strength. Both Morales and Breslow are likely to start the season on the DL.

- Orioles and Rays: no injury concerns heading into the season.

Mark Teixeira

Teixeira hurts wrist, more bad news for the Yankees

AL BEast Notebook – March 6

Yankees are dropping faster than Brian Cashman out of an airplane.

Bad news continues to pile up for the Bombers. First baseman Mark Teixeira hurt his right wrist swinging in the batting cage on Tuesday and will miss at least two weeks.

Yes, he’s out of the World Baseball Classic, but the bigger news is that Tex won’t even be swinging a bat for practically the rest of Spring Training. Teixeira (approaching his mid-30’s and already in decline) is a perennial slow starter as it is, and now after missing much of last fall with a bad calf he adds a wrist injury into the mix, and takes away his preparation time for the season. He’s one of the two sluggers (with Cano) the Yankees are depending on heavily this year, and with all that has and is going on he is only getting more crucial.

Of course it’s always tough to replace Teixeira. But especially with Swisher and Chavez gone, the only real backup is Kevin Youkilis, who doesn’t even have a backup at third base. I suppose the Yankees could promote Dan Johnson (33 year old, has played just 96 games in the last five years) or Juan Rivera (34 year old career fourth outfielder) to play first, but those guys don’t even belong on the major league roster.

Speaking of replacements at third and first, the Yankees don’t even have one for Curtis Granderson in center field (it will likely be a minor leaguer—Melky Mesa or Zoilo Almonte). There is virtually no depth at all on this Yankees team.

Just to review: A-Rod is out who-knows-how-long, Michael Pineda is targeting June, Grandy is out until at least mid-May, Phil Hughes probably won’t be ready for the start of April, Jeter is hoping to be ready, Teixeira is missing a few weeks of Spring Training, Travis “DH” Hafner and Kevin Youkilis are injuries waiting to happen, and GM Brian Cashman broke his leg skydiving for charity. Other than that…

Hopefully Tex will be in uniform and have his glove (Gold Glove glove, that is) ready for Opening Day. For a team starving for power, a lingering wrist injury would cause trouble for Teixeira possibly all year and that is something the Yankees cannot afford.

(UPDATE: Mark Teixeira will be out not two weeks but two months, putting his return time around mid-May, like Curtis Granderson)