Friday, December 6, 2013

Robinson Cano Headed to Seattle

You read the headline right. Robinson Cano is headed to the Seattle Mariners. The two sides reached an agreement on a 10-year, $240 million deal this morning, just hours after reports of an alleged "snag" in the negotiations.

Well, all I can say to this is: apparently, money meant more to Cano than his legacy. And that, is all I will say.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Color Me Baffled

Elise Amendola / Associated Press
Yesterday, the Yankees made a big splash in the offseason, free agent sweepstakes by signing now former Red Sox outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, to a 7-year, $153 million deal. As reported on ESPN's Mike & Mike show this morning, Ellsbury's deal makes him the third outfielder of all-time to receive such a payout, and, he is the 4th highest paid Yankee of all time behind Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, when you break down his salary per year. I said weeks ago that the Yankees needed to do what they had to, to get Ellsbury and solidify their outfield, especially since it seemed inevitable that Curtis Granderson would be playing for another team next year. Ellsbury had a solid 2013 for Boston, hitting .298 with 53 RBIs and 9 home runs. He was far better in the postseason, averaging .344 going 22-for-64 and scoring 14 runs. He's a damn good player offensively and a remarkable defensive center fielder. But I have to ask the question: if the Yankees are willing to pay him $153 million, why shouldn't Robinson Cano get a $200 million contract?

Is it just my perception, or has Cano been the best second baseman in all of baseball for several years
Kathy Willens / Associated Press
now? Am I mistaken, or has he also been one of the best players all-around in baseball for several years now, not to mention that he has been the Yankees' best player for at least the last four? Cano has been able to play the difficult position of second base with no injuries, unlike Ellsbury who has been plagued by injury since 2010. And, Cano hits for average AND power. Have the Yankees forgotten that the dynasties of the last two decades were built on power? In Ellsbury's 7 seasons of baseball, he's hit home runs in the double digits once. Cano's averaged  28 home runs a season since 2009. Again, Ellsbury is a damn good player. Cano is an all-around juggernaut.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported this morning that Cano's camp is "salty" by Ellsbury's deal, and rightfully so. What message should Cano take from this when the Yankees have shown no issue with paying big money to a player that really isn't worth the deal right now and because of injury, probably won't be worth it in the long run, but are refusing to see him on a deal that he's earned? While I believe that athletes make erroneous amounts of money just to play a game, the bar has been set by the likes of the A-Rods and Albert Pujols of the sports world, and Robinson Cano is worth a 7-year, $200 million deal. To disagree with that now that Ellsbury has his deal, is absurd.

So the question now becomes this: which side of the Cano negotiations is willing to make a sacrifice in securing his return to NY? Most insiders believe that a deal will get done, despite the Seattle Mariners now suddenly emerging as the team making the most noise for his services. I can't fathom the Yankees allowing themselves to lose to any team in the league, let alone Seattle. And it simply doesn't make sense to; Robinson Cano is in the top 5 players in baseball. You don't just let him go over money. You find a way to make sure that a player of his caliber stays on your team. Maybe the Yankees sweeten the pot via vesting options after 7 years; maybe Cano is given a contract laced with options that benefit and protect him more so than any player past. I don't know what it will take, but the Yankees better do what they must to bring him back. Ellsbury has his money; time for the Yanks to "ante up" and make a lifer out of Cano.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Did A-Rod Make the Right Move?

Associated Press Photo
So unless you've been hiding out on a snow mountain in Siberia, you've heard of Alex Rodriguez' outburst yesterday during his arbitration hearing. Just to recap, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz ruled that MLB commish Bud Selig would not be forced to testify. A-Rod reportedly went into a rage and stormed out of the hearing, yada, yada, yada.

Several sports news outlets, ESPN in particular, have dispatched their insiders and legal experts to shed light on this situation and what it means. As most of us probably figured out once this latest news broke, Team A-Rod knew all along that Selig was not going to testify, which means that yesterday's antics were just that...antics.

Clearly the slamming of the desk and the use of profanity by A-Rod as reported, signifies that he will not testify during these hearings; a definite change from reports last week that said he was prepared to. This latest also a follow-up to the report that A-Rod "called in sick" from his scheduled pre-interview with MLB, also last week. It could also mean that these hearings could wrap up as soon as tomorrow which would definitely mean a decision before Christmas.

From the outside looking in, it appears that things are not going well for Team A-Rod and that they are moving to force this thing into federal court. With that said, I have one question...

Is this smart? Not that I take for face value every sports or legal analyst following this for their opinion; obviously the majority of them will report from their point of view. But no one seems to think a federal court case will go his way. One legal analyst on ESPN said this morning, that he doubts either side will even get to testify if it goes to court because the court will shut it down. Why? Because most courts would almost always rule that the arbitrator's ruling will stand. It would then be up to Team A-Rod to prove misconduct by MLB. How would they do that without the opportunity to argue their case? And if so, what evidence do they truly have of misconduct outside of what has been presented in arbitration? I would think that if they want a federal court to take them seriously, they're probably going to have to dig deeper than what Horowitz has already had his eyes on.

It's been my feeling from the beginning that A-Rod's cool demeanor (well, up until yesterday) through all of this could mean that his team has an "ace-in-the-hole" that they're withholding to play at the right time. If I'm right, then perhaps the best time would be during trial in federal court.

Stay tuned...

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A-Rod to Testify Next Week

Associated Press Photo
After a long hiatus, the Alex Rodriguez arbitration saga is set to resume next Monday, Nov. 18, with the star slated to testify on his behalf. It is expected that A-Rod will deny having purchased HGH or any PEDs from the now defunct Biogenesis anti- aging clinic, or from its former CEO, Anthony Boesch.

According to Newsday, who first broke this news, A-Rod will be required to meet with MLB investigators for a "pre-interview" before he testifies; this, a provision of the collective-bargaining agreement between baseball and the Players' Union. The meeting could bring further sanctions against A-Rod if investigators believe he's not telling the truth in his answers. It could also determine whether he actually gets to testify or not.

Stay tuned...

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Noteworthy News 11/12/13

Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda all rejected their qualifying offers of $14.1 million which would have kept them in pinstripes for another year. Absolutely no surprise to me, although, I truly hoped that Grandy would accept as this will probably prove to be the nail in his Yankee coffin. However, according to this tweet by Mike Puma of The New York Post, the Mets are on the chase for Granderson. Makes sense; Mets had one of the worst offensive outfields in the majors last year. It would certainly feel strange to see Grandy in a Mets uniform, but it would be cool for him to stay in New York. I will still, however, keep my fingers crossed; I am truly a Granderson fan.

Several headlines came out of Yankeeland in the last day or two. Here are the most noteworthy:

  • Yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Kansas City Royals are now in contention for the services of Phil Hughes, This would put Hughes back under the tutelage of former Yankee pitching coach, Dave Eiland.

  • According to Bill Madden of the Daily News, at present, Cano is garnering no interest from any major league team other than the Yankees. Right now, Cano's price tag is too high.

  • Jerry Crasnick of ESPN also tweeted yesterday that the Yankees have signed outfielder Antoan Richardson to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Richardson is a switch-hitter with incredible speed and a lifetime on base percentage of .381.

  • Some positive news on Alex Rodriguez, our embattled third baseman met with the family of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic teenager from Long Island City who disappeared from his school on October 4 and hasn't been seen since. This, reported by Ken Davidoff, also of The Post. A-Rod spoke with Oquendo's mother, grandmother and brother at La Marina restaurant in Upper Manhattan in an effort to lend his support in their search for the missing teen. 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Noteworthy News 11/7/13

Last night, Robinson Cano won his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger Award and fifth overall. There's really no question as to whether Cano is the best offensive second baseman in the majors. He lead the pack in 2013 with 27 home runs and 107 RBI, and was second in slugging percentage at .515. While most of us would probably agree that the $300 million starting price for which he and Roc Nation are asking for is a bit on the "very unlikely" side, I think it's still safe to assume that Robbie will be the biggest winner coming out of free agency.

There was not much else happening in Yankeeland in over the last 24 hours, but at least two headline made me smile:

  • The New York Post reported yesterday that fans are showing their support in changing River Avenue to Rivera Avenue in honor of Mariano Rivera. So far, about 500 supporters have come down to Foley's Pub in Midtown to sign the petition.

  • And in more Mo news, reported yesterday that he and Andy Pettitte will be honored by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). They will each receive the Joe DiMaggio Toast of the Town Award. I couldn't possibly think of any two New York athletes who deserve the award more. Kudos!

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Balfour to the Yankees? Not Bad

Lon Horwedel / Associated Press
Monday, MLB Trade Rumors put out its list of the Top 50 free agents for 2014 with predictions of where they could end up. Of course my full attention went to those players predicted to join our boys in pinstripes, and I came upon one prediction that I actually liked : Grant Balfour as closer.

We fanatics have the unfortunate task now of continuing to watch Yankees baseball without the security of having Mariano Rivera to close games. It's been thought for the past few seasons that, upon Mo's retirement, the easy choice would be to move David Robertson from set-up man into the closer's role. Makes sense. In the 339 games he's pitched in his career, D-Rob boasts a 2.76 ERA with 428 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of only .221; not to mention a WHIP of 1.25. These are sick numbers. But as David has himself admitted, and as most well versed in baseball are aware of, there is a mental aspect to closing that you have to be prepared for. When the game is on the line and you're what stands between a win and a loss, the pressure can be insurmountable, and D-Rob has not done well in the few games he's closed. Of the 18, he's blown 10. Granted, only 18 save opportunities spread through a span of 8 years is not much of a sample size for judgment; how could he have more with Mo as closer? Nonetheless, Robertson has faired far better as the bridge to the closer; it's a role the Yankees know he's great in and probably don't want to mess with.

Balfour is coming off of one of his best seasons as a career reliever. In 65 games as the closer for the Oakland A's, Balfour saved 38, pitching to a 2.59 ERA with 72 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.19. The numbers earned him his first All-Star bid. It's a good guess that Balfour played a huge role in Oakland's success this past year. As they showed all season long a propensity to come back late in games, wins were likely with Balfour closing.

He throws 3 pitches: four-seam fastball. slider and curveball. His fastball is his best pitch which he throws in the mid 90's and uses to induce groundballs. The slider, his swing-and-miss pitch, has good downward movement and excellent velocity. The curveball is his least used. Moves early at a speed in the low 80's.

The one thing about Balfour that Yankee fans would need to get used to is his temperament. He does not have the reserved cool of a Mo or D-Rob. He gets fired up as a means of motivation and is extremely emotional to the point of theatrics at times. We were spoiled for many years by Mo's ability to stay calm in any situation and leave each game on the field once it's over; Balfour will be the complete opposite. However, it might be refreshing to see his passion on the mound; could be a way for him to connect with a stadium crowd needing a boost after this last dismal season.

So Balfour gets my vote. Plenty of upside and the Yankees probably won't break the bank to sign him. What do you think?

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Noteworthy News

Perhaps newly-donned sports agent Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay-Z, should pay a bit more attention to MLBPA's manual on player regulations. Reported yesterday by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the super agent may have violated said regulations by giving his client, Robinson Cano, a $33,900 watch as a birthday gift. Agents are not allowed to give gifts in excess of $500 without the price tag being reported to the union. Bad boy Mr. Carter...bad, bad, boy! Here are some more interesting notes from around the Yankeesphere:

  • Curtis Granderson says he is considering accepting the Yankees $14.1 million, one-year offer but will continue to weigh his options. Granderson told MLB Network Radio that the offer is "definitely something you have to think about," and that he "appreciate[s] the Yankees extending that offer to [him]."

  • The Yankees are doing their due diligence in the unlikeliness that Cano does not return. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported yesterday that the Yankees made a call to the Cincinnati Reds on second baseman Brandon Phillips.

  • Alex Rodriguez' attorneys decided to take their battle with Major League Baseball up another notch, calling for MLB investigators to be probed by the feds. As reported by The New York Post, Lanny Davis, an advisor on Team A-Rod, released what we'd call on the Boulevard, "fighting words" in his assessment of Bud Selig & Co., and implied that perhaps their purchase of stolen documents from Biogenesis or the information MLB filed with the IRS, requires federal involvement into their "misconduct." Fanatics, this thing, is just getting started.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Noteworthy News

The measure of true greatness? When the accolades and achievements continue to come, even after retirement. Yesterday, Mariano Rivera was named AL Comeback Player of the Year by Major League Baseball; a remarkable accomplishment following a great bounce-back season, after suffering an ACL injury in 2012 which sidelined him for the year. Congratulations Mo, I don't think we fanatics ever get tired of saying that. Here's more news from around Yankeeland:

  • Our beloved former manager Joe Torre will join great former managers Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox on the Hall of Fame expansion era ballot next month. Also on the ballot as a holdover, is our much loved, missed and esteemed, Mr. George Steinbrenner.

  • The New York Post reported yesterday that the Yankees are looking at Detroit's Omar Infante as a possible replacement at second for Cano, should they fail to re-sign him. Detroit has no plans to extend a qualifying offer to Infante, so if the Yankees did acquire him, they would not forfeit a draft pick to his former team.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Monday, November 4, 2013

A-Rod Allegedly Failed Drug Test in 2006

Angel Franco / The New York Times
According to a report in The New York Times yesterday, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for a stimulant test in 2006; three years before his name was leaked as one of the 103 baseball players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003.

Information given to The Times on the failed test were from two sources involved in major League Baseball's collective bargaining drug program. According to the report, A-Rod was not identified for the failed test because players are only suspended for stimulant tests if they fail more than once.

A-Rod's lawyers vehemently deny the charges, noting that he has never failed any test given by MLB under it's drug program. The Daily News reported this morning, that Alex's lawyers filed an application with the arbitrator overseeing their appeal of his suspension, Fredric Horowitz, claiming that MLB leaked this "lie" to the media. Lanny J. Davis, a representative from A-Rod's camp, released this statement:

"The ethically questionable and possibly illegal misconduct of Major League Baseball in its investigation of Alex Rodriguez -- such as the knowing purchase of stolen documents for $125,000 in cash in a satchel in a Florida restaurant and putting in a good word with prosecutors for someone reportedly under federal and state investigation for distributing drugs to teenagers in the name of getting Alex Rodriguez -- is not just unseemly, it is shameful.

"I believe a federal investigation of this misconduct is needed -- and specifically, of the commissioner of baseball and the extent of his involvement and knowledge of the professional misconduct by investigators he hired, as reported by The New York Times." (via ESPNNewYork)

The Daily News also reported that a spokesman for MLB declined to confirm or deny whether A-Rod failed the stimulant test, citing their office's adherence to its collective bargaining agreement regarding announcements of drug violations by its players.

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The Boulevard Is Back!

Good Monday morning folks! After a six month hiatus, and with my deepest apologies for what I can only describe as poor time management skills on my part, Bomber Boulevard is back. I know, it sucks to have to make a comeback on the heels of our biggest rival team--the Boston Red Sox--winning the World Series, but I find that now I have the time to get back to the business of baseball; most importantly, Yankees baseball.

So in the coming weeks during this offseason, the plan is to make note of every rumor; every acquisition; every trade and every salacious detail of the "Alex Rodriguez vs Major League Baseball Arbitration Drama" that is reported. While I'm sure that A-Rod will supply us fanatics with plenty of headlines to get us through this offseason, the Yankees should be making much noise as well; coming off of a season that I'd dare say was horribly painful to watch--particularly down the stretch as they completely collapsed and failed to make a real run for the playoffs--Brian Cashman & Co. have a lot of work to do to get this team back to being the biggest threat in the AL East.

And of course, I will bring to you all my final farewell to the great Mariano Rivera. I know it's been weeks since his last game was played; weeks since every team had cast their final good-bye; weeks since every sports writer and baseball blogger bid their adieu. But for me, Mariano's exit was more painful that I'd realized it would be and the words still have not come to me completely. But they will come, and I will get to share my feelings for Mo with you all.

So there. Baseball is officially over and it's time to get crackin' on the offseason. Stay tuned!

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Friday, April 19, 2013

Va, Va, Va-voom Jorge!

While I would love nothing more than to have just one more season with Jorge Posada back in pinstripes, I must admit that I'm digging his new gig as the spokesperson for Johnnie Walker Black. Jorge is looking absolutely fantastic in both the commercials and print ads for the whiskey maker, but that's not surprising. Our former catcher was a looker even in a dirty uniform and a mask.

Congratulations Jorge!! I'm sure that Johnny Walker sales will triple now with your face as it's new marketing strategy.

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Cervelli Made A Game of It, But...

In the 9th inning of last night's game against the Diamondbacks, Francisco Cervelli gave the Yankees and the home crowd a reason to believe that, once again, a late-inning rally would precede another comeback win. But in extra innings, the Yankees would fall to Arizona and lose the game, 6-2.

Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin pitched a brilliant game, tagging the Yankees lineup with fast ball after fastball. He would pitch only one mistake--a 78 mph slider--to Robinson Cano who launched it into right center field on a line drive. he would keep the Yankees at bay from there until the 7th inning.

Then with JJ. Putz in for Arizona to close in the 9th, Cervelli launched a monster home run to left field, tying the game at 2-2. Brennan Boesch had already committed an out, so groundouts by Ichiro and Lyle Overbay sent the game into overtime.

And it would be all Arizona from there. David Robertson and David Phelps were able to keep the D-backs of the board through the 10th and 11th innings. But Phelps got touched up in the 12th. His first batter, Gerardo Parra, smacked a double to left. Two walks came from Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero, on an interference call and hit by pitch, respectively. Then, Cody Ross singled to left scoring Parra. And finally, Eric Chavez, who I felt the whole series would get a big hit in somewhere, launched a double to center clearing the bases. Overbay, Brett Gardner and Vernon Wells would go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.

But one bright spot to last night's game was the pitching performance of Phil Hughes. Although he
Getty Images / Elsa
gave up two home runs last in the 3rd and 6th innings, Hughes pitched a good game, getting his fastball up to 93 mph and having good location on both his fastball and changeup. His demeanor on the mound was also markedly different from his last start when he got hammered in Baltimore. Hughes pitched with an intensity suggesting that his first two starts were needed warm-ups following his injury, and that perhaps he's good to go now. He couldn't get the win, but he didn't lose either. And being able to stay in the game and pitch 7 innings was key in the Yankees having a chance to comeback and win the game.

Tonight, Andy Pettitte is back on the mound to open the series against Toronto. He faces RHP Brandon Morrow. I'll be paying close to attention to Andy's face looking for any signs of a grimace, possibly indicating tightness in his back. Game time is 7:07 pm.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jeter Out Until After All-Star Break

AP Photo / Paul Sancya
Well, it can't get much worse than this. Unless of course, Derek Jeter ends up missing the entire season.

Jeter visited Charlotte, NC today to visit the doctor that performed his ankle surgery last year. A CT scan revealed a small fracture in the area that was originally injured. According to this tweet by ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand, Brian Cashman confirmed that, like Alex Rodriguez, the Captain will be out until after the All-Star Break.

My initial reaction to this is that Jeter was obviously given the green light to play too soon. First, he was shut down in Spring Training after the ankle became sore again. Then this week, he was ordered to cut back on fielding ground balls and running. Sounds to me like this last time, the Yankees knew something was up, as this visit to Charlotte was reported as "unscheduled."

The good news is that this new injury won't require further surgery. But simply put, it's time for Jeter to just sit down and let his body heal. I know it kills him not to play, but the area of the ankle is one that you don't want to mess around with. The Yankees can go forward and continue to weather the injury storm without him for now. So far, so good.

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Comeback Kids

Getty Images / Al Bello
What was looking like an apparent loss for the Yankees and CC Sabathia last night, turned into their first great comeback of the season. With a little help from Brett Gardner and a major blast from Travis Hafner, the Yankees were able to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the seventh inning to beat the Diamondbacks, 4-3.

This was one of those nights where CC did not have his best stuff, yet was still brilliant. After giving up a two-run homerun to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning, he settled in, using a variety of different pitches and speeds to keep the game within reach. Following the Goldschmidt home run and a single to Cody Ross, CC would retire his next 10 batters and would not give up another run until the fifth inning, when AJ Pollock hit a sacfly to score Josh Wilson who tripled on a line drive. He continued through the next two innings getting groundball outs and strikeouts with a bevy of pitches ranging anywhere from 74-90 mph.

Then, in the seventh inning, the Yankees' offense came through. Ben Francisco, who got his first hit of the season, singled on a grounder to left. Brennan Boesch followed with a double on a fly ball which moved Francisco to third. Eduardo Nunez walked on a groundball in the dirt from Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley to load the bases. Miley then walked Jayson Nix, scoring Francisco, and gave up a line-drive single to Gardner which brought in Boesch and Nunez, and tied the game at 3.

CC would return for the 8th and pitch a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Yankees another opportunity to take the lead. And on his first swing, Hafner nailed a 96 mph fastball from David Hernandez to right center field. Mariano Rivera closed out the ninth inning, getting his fourth save in 4 opportunities.

AP Photo / Kathy Willens
The Yankees appear to be on a nice roll now. The pitching staff has really settled in and the offense is coming through in key spots.What has to happen now is figuring out what adjustments need to made with Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. It's been the veterans carrying the load while the young arms are continuing to struggle. Tonight, as Hughes pitches for the sweep, the key for him will be to get good movement and location on his changeup for strikeouts, and to keep his pitch count within reason. So far this season, when the starters have pitched beyond 5 innings, the Yankees have won. Hughes has yet to get into the fifth; hopefully tonight he will give this team length and secure his first win.

Hughes goes up against Patrick Corbin whose 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Game time is 7:05 pm.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Noteworthy News

Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera teamed up to secure the Yankees' win against the Diamondbacks last night, but other noteworthy news made its way around Yankeeland as usual. Here are some interesting reads on our boys in pinstripes:

  • George A. King III of The NY Post recounts the Yankees "Sweet Caroline" tribute supporting the people of Boston in lieu of the Boston Marathon bombings.

  • The Post's Dan Martin and George King III also report that Andy Pettitte is ready to return for his start this Friday.

  • Anthony McCarron also reports on Curtis Granderson's visit to Abraham Lincoln HS yesterday in Brooklyn, citing Grandy's admission that free agency is weighing heavy on his rehab.

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Cano Homers Yankees Past Diamondbacks

The Associated Press
On a night of tributes at Yankee Stadium, Robinson Cano came up big, hitting a three-run blast to propel the team past the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 4-2 win.

Although Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson Monday with all players wearing the number 42 on their uniforms, the Yankees paid tribute last night because they were off on Jackie Robinson Day. The team also paid tribute to the city of Boston in the wake of the bombings during Monday's Boston Marathon by playing Neil Diamond's classic, "Sweet Caroline" at the end of the third inning. The song is normally played at Fenway Park during the Red Sox's Seventh Inning Stretch.

But last night was a big night for Cano and further proof that he is stepping up to carry this team on his power shoulders. With the Yankees down 2-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, Cano smacked a 3-run blast into the second section of the right field bleachers to put the Yanks ahead 3-2. Before the homer, Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart got on with singles to left field. The home run would be all the offense the Yankees needed to win.

"Since I saw [Cano] in the minor leagues, he has a kind of easy way to getting it done," Mariano Rivera told the media after the game. "You make a mistake with a guy like that, and you're going to pay."

The Associated Press
Last night was also a special night for Mo. We all know that he is the only player in MLB that wears the number 42 on his uniform, as he was "grandfathered in" when Jackie Robinson Day became official. So to get the save on a night in tribute to the man that broke the color barrier in baseball felt good for him.

"Definitely," Mo said. "To come up with the victory and be the guy to close the game, that's pretty good."

And Ivan Nova pitched well enough to get the win, but it was not a very good performance for him overall. As former Yankee Al Leiter pointed out several times during last night's broadcast, Nova seems afraid to throw his fastball, relying mostly on breaking balls and sinkers. By the end of the fourth inning, his pitch count had almost reached 80. But a win is a win, and Nova probably spared himself from being removed from the lineup for now.

Tonight, our ace CC Sabathia will get the start against LHP Wade Miley. Miley has been superb for Arizona so far, with a 2-0 record and 2.13 ERA. Should be a good matchup. Game time is 7:05 pm.

Quote credit: Bryan Hoch /

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yankees Starting Lineup for 4/16/13

Eduardo Nunez takes his place back at shortstop tonight. This kid is Teflon!! Here is tonight's starting lineup:

Brett Gardner CF - .244/.333/.422
Robinson Cano 2B - .311/.367/.600
Kevin Youkilis 3B - .333/.404/.571
Travis Hafner DH - .303/.410/.576
Vernon Wells LF - .324/.405/.649
Ichiro Suzuki RF - .176/.237/.265
Eduardo Nunez SS - .250/.333/.300
Lyle Overbay 1B - .282/.300/.410
Chris Stewart C - .200/.200/.200

Ivan Nova RHP - 0-1, 7.71 ERA

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For Nova, It's Time to Hit the Reset Button

The Associated Press
Tonight, Ivan Nova will get his chance to make a second impression.

To say that it is do or die time for the young righty is about as close to accurate as one can get. If he does not pitch the game of his life against the Arizona Diamondbacks, in front of the home crowd, his time in the rotation is as good as over.

And what does pitching the game of his life specifically entail? Nova must get good speed, movement and placement on the fastball and curveball that devastated batters in 2011 when he pitched to a 16-4 record and 3.70 ERA. The opposite has resulted in an increased ERA and whip, and a decrease in the number of opposing batters left on base and production of groundball outs which decreased from 52.7% in 2011 to 45.2% in 2012. Nova's also steadily declining in his K/BB ratio. Check the charts:

The stats don't lie. Bottom line is, Nova has gone from being the Yankees No. 2 starter in 2011 to losing a spot in the rotation to David Phelps by the end of last season. And Phelps has looked very good so far, going all the way back to Spring Training. Until the cavalry return, I will continue to point out how important pitching is for the Yankees right now. Perhaps without so much offense being missing from the lineup, tonight's start would simply be a "second look," to see what adjustments Nova needs to make. But this is a much bigger game for him...and the Yankees.

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This Morning, My Heart Is In Boston

Yesterday's bombings during the Boston Marathon was a painful reminder that the anger and aggression that exists within people in this world is reaching a frightening boiling point. It sickens me and should sicken everyone that on a beautiful, sunny day, a community came together to support a charitable and beloved cause only to walk away with feelings of devastation, grief and hopelessness. I'll never understand what the reward is in destroying people's lives; but I do know that a resolution to all this madness needs to happen and fast.

My prayers and sincerest condolences go out to the people of Boston. There is no Boston-New York rivalry today as far as I'm concerned, and there won't be for a very long time.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Noteworthy News

With the Yankees blanking the Orioles 3-0 last night, much was "a-buzz" over Hiroki Kuroda's pitching performance. But there's always much more to talk about in Yankeeland and some stories made for interesting headlines. Here is some noteworthy news you might be interested in:

  • Dan Martin of The NY Post reports that Curtis Granderson has yet to take a swing and is unsure of his timetable to return to the lineup.

  • John Harper of the NY Daily News says that the aging Yankees are getting no help from the young arms in their rotation.

  • Bleacher Report's Zachary D. Rymer breaks down his assessment of the Yankees' future path.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Kuroda Sparkles; Yankees Take Series Against Baltimore

AP Photo / Kathy Willens
Hiroki Kuroda was at his best last night, limiting the Baltimore Orioles to 5 hits but no runs as he pitched a complete game shutout in the Yankees 3-0 series win.

You would think during a shutout game that a starting pitcher would have to mix in a bevy of different pitches going through a lineup several times. But Kuroda managed to shut down Baltimore throwing nothing but splitters and sinkers. There may have been a few times he threw a curveball and he only threw one fastball the entire night to Adam Jones. The result was the Orioles being mainly limited to hitting ground balls.

In the end, Kuroda would allow 5 hits, no walks, and would strikeout 5 over 113 pitches.

I don't think anyone believed that Joe Girardi would keep Kuroda in the game for the ninth inning. With the Yankees leading by three, it would have been a save opportunity for Mariano Rivera. Also, considering how important pitching is to the Yankees right now, it would have been the right move for Girardi to rest Kuroda for the last frame. But Kuroda showed no signs of fatigue, and would have pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th, if not for Jayson Nix's fielding error that allowed Nick Markakis to reach first base.

The Associated Press
And while the loud bats of Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis were silenced last night, the Yankees got all the offense they needed in the fifth inning from Brett Gardner. After Brennan Boesch scored on a sacfly from Nix, Gardner hit a two run home run to right field scoring Francisco Cervelli, who had previously singled to left field.

Alex Rodriguez was with the team in the dugout for the second game in a row last night. Looks like Alex is re-acclimating himself to the fans and the media following all the drama of the Biogenesis scandal. I like that he's supporting the team this way and besides, no need to stay "underground" if you're not guilty, right?

The Yankees get the night off tonight but will begin interleague play against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Ivan Nova will get the start--and a chance to keep his spot in the rotation--against RHP Brandon McCarthy. Andy Pettitte's start has been pushed back to Friday, as the Yankees want to proceed with caution and give him more time to rest his back. Game time is 7:05 pm.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Clock Is Ticking On Phil Hughes

The Associated Press
There's really no way to say this except to be brutally honest: if Phil Hughes does not find a way to win games, he's going to find himself working out of the bullpen.

I could be way off about that, but it's what I believe to be true. Hughes laid another goose egg yesterday afternoon to the Orioles, helping the Yankees to a 5-3 loss. He gave up 3 home runs, 2 walks and 9 hits pitching in only 3 innings. In his two combined starts this sesson, Hughes has allowed 17 hits and 8 earned runs in a measly 7 innings.

Granted, Hughes is coming off of a back injury that had him sidelined during Spring Training. And he did pitch earlier than expected following the Yankees' horrific 1-3 start, so perhaps he simply needs more time to get his pitching groove back. But the Yankees may not be willing to show much more patience for Phil when they are relying on pitching to win games, and when they have David Phelps waiting in the wings.

Phelps was originally slated for last Saturday's start against Detroit which was eventually given to Hughes. Today, Phelps came in in relief and pitched brilliantly, allowing only one hit and striking out 6 in 4 innings. This was the kind of pitching performance that helped him earn in a spot in the rotation out of Spring Training. This will be the kind of pitching performance that will earn him a spot back on to the rotation in replacement of Hughes.

There is another variable to this situation, however. Ivan Nova was horrible in his first outing against Detroit and the Yankees appear to have a short leash on him also. If he bombs out in his second start, whenever that is, Phelps could replace him giving Hughes a reprieve. But if Nova bounces back with a solid win, the pressure will be on Hughes to make a decent game of it in his next outing.

And the Yankees offense wasn't great today, as the bats were cooled by Orioles pitcher, Jason Hammel. Only Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and Francisco Cervelli were able to get hits, with Hafner and Wells both hitting solo home runs.

Hiroki Kuroda will get the start in Sunday night's game against LHP Wei-Yin Chen. Game time is 8:05 pm.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Saturday, April 13, 2013

MLB Playing a Bad Hand In Pursuit of A-Rod

The Associated Press
We knew that the drama surrounding Alex Rodriguez's alleged link to the Biogenesis scandal would  only intensify as the investigation by Major League Baseball ensues. What we might not have realized is how willing MLB might have been to cross the line in order to secure evidence that would lead to Alex's suspension. And perhaps I'm being completely naive in making that last statement.

The New York Times broke the story yesterday that MLB believes a representative from Alex's camp purchased documents that would divulge his connection to Biogenesis, a connection Alex denies. The documents, if purchased, were to obviously be destroyed. In it's haste to out-duel Alex in it's apparent game of "information tag," MLB also tried to purchase documents, unsuccessfully.

The information on this alleged purchase was leaked by two sources to investigators that have been in Miami since last summer. They in turn provided this info to MLB, who in turn decided to pay thousands of dollars to former employees more than willing to spill the alleged beans on A-Rod. As stated in the NY Times:

"Those ex-employees were paid for the time they spent talking with baseball’s investigators, the two people said, with the payments not believed to have exceeded several thousand dollars."

So MLB, in their desperation to bring down Alex Rodriguez, who they clearly are focusing the majority of this investigation on, are now paying people to secure information? Without their ability to purchase documents, and without the help of The Miami News Times who broke the scandal and refuse to assist them in their investigation, MLB has chosen to use testimony to go after A-Rod.

And why not? Every avenue MLB has taken to get something to tie Alex to biogenesis has been unsuccessful thus far. Hell, they can't even get the feds to supply any information linking A-Rod to drug use. And maybe that's because after the one test he did test positive for back in 2003, there just isn't any? Let's remember, Alex has passed every drug test given by MLB since 2003, and he is tested regularly and without warning like every other player.

In essence, MLB has become hypocritical in their pursuit of A-rod. These charges against him are driven by the belief of everyone that PED use is a bigger ethical issue than health issue. Well, I would say that when Major League Baseball goes underground to pay for testimony, there's something seriously wrong with the ethical landscape there. Not to mention the idiocy of a move like this, which would certainly lead to lawsuits by any of the players connected to this scandal and most assuredly the Player's Union if they are indicted on charges based on paid testimony.

So the saga continues. While I admittedly have my doubts about how clean A-Rod really is, I still believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Many haters and fans alike will disagree with me on that when it comes to A-Rod, but what else is new? Bottom line is, for those out there that want to see Alex fry, MLB is not doing a very good job of accomplishing that in a way that's fair and ethical.

Quote credit: Michael S. Schmidt / New York Times

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Triple Play, You Say?

If you were looking for early signs that the Yankees could maintain their "awesomeness" in the absence of some of their superstars, last night's game against the Orioles was a clear indication that the Yankees, no matter who is in their lineup, just know how to ball.

In one of the rarest plays you will and may have ever seen, the Yankees made a 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play in the 8th inning of last night's 5-2 win over The Birds. This was the first triple play of it's kind in Major League History.

With Nick Markakis and Alexi Casilla on first and second, respectively, batter Manny Machado who represented the tying run, hit a bouncer to Robinson Cano who flipped the ball to SS Jayson Nix to get Markakis for the first out. Nix then threw the ball to Kevin Youkilis at third, catching Casilla in a rundown. They would exchange tosses until Youkilis eventually tagged Casilla out.

Then, with Machado rounding first attempting to take second base, Youkilis threw the ball to Lyle Overbay, now catching Machado in a rundown. When Machado finally made the dash for second, Overbay threw the ball back to Cano who was able to get the tag on Machado and complete the triple play.

"That was awesome," CC Sabathia told the media after the game. "Any time you get a triple play, you're fired up."

CC would know. This was only the second triple play that the Yankees started in 45 years and CC.
The Associated Press
was the pitcher on the mound for both. The last was in 2010 against the Oakland A's, a 5-4-3 play started by Alex Rodriguez.

And speaking of fired up, CC was back in ace-like form, pitching 8 innings allowing only two runs (one earned) with no walks and 9 strikeouts. Mariano Rivera closed the game getting his second save.

There were also some not so good moments in the game last night. Eduardo Nunez was hit again, this time on his  right wrist, on a changeup by Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez. Nunez initially stayed in the game to run the bases, but realized on a practice throw to first that he would not be able to field at SS. Also, Michael Kay announced during the game that Andy Pettitte's start, slated for today, would be pushed back until tomorrow after suffering from back spasms.

Phil Hughes gets the start today against RHP Jason Hammel. Game time is 4:05 pm.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Noteworthy News

Good morning maniacs!! While the Yankees-Indians matchup was rained out last night, news pertaining to our men in pinstripes was ongoing. There is always something going on in Yankeeland that makes for interesting headlines. Here's today's batch of noteworthy news:

  • Dan Martin of The NY Post reports that Derek Jeter took batting practice for the first time since returning to the disabled list with ankle soreness.

  • The Post's Kevin Kernan discusses how the newcomers have energized the Yankees' clubhouse.

  • Christian Red of the NY Daily News covers Mariano Rivera's press conference yesterday, where he reveals the toughest batter he ever faced in his career.

  • Andrew Binninger of Rant Sports says there was no reason for Nick Swisher to be hurt after Yankees never reached out to him during the offseason.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yankees Lineup for 4/10/13

Ichiro will get a day of rest while Brennan Boesch gets the start in right field. Here is tonight's lineup:

Brett Gardner CF - .257/.333/.400
Robinson Cano 2B - .303/.361/.667
Kevin Youkilis 3B - .367/.441/.700
Travis Hafner DH - .333/.419/.556
Vernon Wells LF - .360/.467/.720
Brennan Boesch RF - .250/.250/.667
Eduardo Nunez SS - .250/.304/.300
Lyle Overbay 1B - .250/.276/.429
Chris Stewart C - .200/.200/.200

Ivan Nova RHP - 0-1, 7.71 ERA

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Noteworthy News

Much has been written about the Yankees mash-up of Cleveland last night. But other stories made for some interesting headlines as well. Here's some noteworthy news from around Yankeeland:

  • The NY Daily News' Mark Feinsand reports that Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco's drilling of Kevin Youkilis comes after a 6-game suspension for a similar incident last August.

  • Stefan Bondy of the Daily News also reports that Jay-Z will sell his shares in the Brooklyn Nets franchise, a condition necessary to take on his new venture as a sports agent.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Yanks "Hot In Cleveland"

The Associated Press
There must be something in the air in Cleveland, because the Yankees have flat-out assaulted the Indians in the first two games of their 4-game series. Their 14-1 romp makes 25 runs that they've scored in the past two meetings. It also marks their first time with a .500 record since Opening Day. The Yankees are now in second place in the AL East at 4-4.

The big bats had a huge night again, led by Robinson Cano whose home run in the fourth inning and two doubles in the second and eighth innings put 5 runs on the board. Ichiro started the 5 home run barrage, however, slapping a line drive into the visitor bullpen in right. More home runs would come from Kevin Youkilis, Lyle Overbay and Brennan Boesch. Brett Gardner broke out of his slump last night, going 4-for-5 on 2 singles and 2 doubles with 2 RBIs. Overbay also had a good night offensively, going 3-for-5.

Last week Yankee fans were frustrated with Cano's production and rightfully so. We all expect a slow start from Robbie; that's his signature. But with so many of the Yankees power hitters missing from the lineup, it was important for Cano to show that he could step up and be a major offensive threat. In these last two outings, Robbie is reassuring fans that he can put this team on his shoulders until reinforcements arrive.

But Cano is not without help. The production of Youkilis and Vernon Wells has been outstanding. They've given this ball club everything they need to survive all the injuries. Wells, who went 1-for-4 last night, has had 9 hits in these first 8 games; Youkilis has 11, and has a hit in every game played.

The Associated Press
And, it would be Youkilis to be in the middle of the first controversial call of the Yankees' season. In the fourth inning, following Cano's homer, Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco took his frustration out on Youk, throwing a pitch up and in and hitting him near his left shoulder blade. You could see the anger in Youk's face after the pitch, and the home plate umpire tossed Carrasco from the game with no warning.

Andy Pettitte had another excellent pitching performance. He would throw 97 pitches over 7 solid
innings, allowing the one run--a homer by Asdrubal Cabrera--and striking out 4. Andy's record stands at 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA.

Tonight, Ivan Nova gets his second start and a chance to prove that he still belongs in the rotation. No pitcher for Cleveland has yet been announced. Game time is 7:05 pm.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Yankees Lineup for 4/9/13

Francisco Cervelli will catch Andy Pettitte tonight. Here is the lineup:

Brett Gardner CF - .167/.242/.267
Robinson Cano 2B - .222/.300/.481
Kevin Youkilis 3B - .370/.433/.630
Travis Hafner DH - .391/.481/.652
Vernon Wells LF - .381/.500/.762
Ichiro Suzuki RF - .182/.240/.182
Eduardo Nunez SS - .267/.333/.333
Lyle Overbay 1B - .174/.208/.217
Francisco Cervelli C - .308/.438/.615

Andy Pettitte LHP - 1-0, 1.13 ERA

Mr. International Latin Lover

The Associated Press
Hey fanatics, you know me. I'll look for an Alex Rodriguez story anywhere that I can find it. This one comes courtesy of  Big League Stew's David Brown. Apparently, Alex, who has always been fond of the older, celebrity set, has found love with a 24 year-old student from the Dominican Republic.

Although I'm sure it will be some time before we get to see the lovely lady, I'm hoping she's the polar opposite of everything A-Rod has pursued thus far--blonde, muscular and athletic. Not that I have any biases against any of these traits, I just think he should go in a different direction since none of his previous choices have bode him well. How about a brunette, curvy brainiac Alex?? I kid, I kid. Honestly, whoever she is, I hope it works out for him. Maybe she'll be the presence in his life that keeps him moving in the right direction. Here's the story below via Yahoo! Sports:

Report: A-Rod finds international love with Dominican student