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When I read that quote, my first thought was that Sabathia was talking about Alex Rodriguez. How could you not think that? Were Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera the bad eggs? Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain? Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher? If the Yankees had a chemistry issue in recent years it isn’t unreasonable to think A-Rod was the root cause given all his off-the-field nonsense. The man is a living, breathing distraction and it is no doubt tiresome.

For what it’s worth, Sabathia clarified his comments to Wally Matthews yesterday — “It just seems like the team is having more fun this year than last year. We added a lot of good guys, Mac, Jacoby, Carlos. It’s just a good group of guys this year” — and it seems like he was referring to all the roster turnover they dealt with last season. I imagine it’s tough to develop chemistry when you have a new shortstop every week and a revolving door of faces in the clubhouse. Would Sabathia really take a veiled shot at A-Rod like that?

Anyway, I bring this up because the Yankees have placed a renewed emphasis on character and good clubhouse guys in recent years. They’ve admitted as much. It started back during the 2008-09 offseason, then they brought in Sabathia and Swisher, among others, and it has trickled down into their scouting and development staff. Strong makeup is definitely something the team emphasizes and they should. Every teams wants players who are good people and hard workers. I imagine it’s a tough thing to scout but it’s not impossible.

The value of good team chemistry is unknown. It is absolutely a good thing, there’s no denying that, but how much does it actually help a team win? I don’t think we’ll ever be able to put a number on it despite some, uh, weak attempts. Chemistry is a chicken or the egg question, really. Does winning comes from good chemistry or does good chemistry come from winning? I think the answer is both. You need a strong group of guys as a foundation and when the wins start to pile up, the chemistry improves. At least that’s my opinion as a layman. Talent is extremely important as well, obviously. Chemistry only goes so far.

Baseball is all about commitment. The 162-game season is a real grind and these guys practically live with each other from February through October. If they don’t get along well, the team is almost doomed from the start. There are exceptions to rule, sure, but by and large teammates have to get along well for a club to be successful. When you have new faces in the clubhouse every week like the Yankees did last season, that chemistry is tough to build. The team added some great players and high-character guys this winter, and in addition to on-field production, one of the most important things they added was stability.

Categories : Musings
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11:49pm: The Yankees just announced that Cabral has indeed been designated for assignment. Matt Daley was called up from Triple-A Scranton as the corresponding move. The Queens native had 13 strikeouts in five innings for the RailRiders.

: Via Marly Rivera: Cesar Cabral was designated for assignment following tonight’s game. He failed to retire any of the six batters he faced tonight, including three hit batsmen. It was ugly.

There is no word on the corresponding roster move just yet, but it’s worth noting Danny Burawa threw 45 pitches last night and Mark Montgomery has pitched in each of the last two days. Fred Lewis and Al Aceves both pitched tonight as well. Not sure who is getting called up. Maybe Matt Daley? Here is our Bullpen Workload page for your perusal.

Categories : Asides, Transactions
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Source: FanGraphs

It was bound to happen eventually. The Yankees came into Friday’s game with five straight wins and the bullpen with 17 consecutive scoreless innings. Both streaks came to crashing halt with an ugly come-from-ahead 11-5 loss to the Rays. Let’s recap the carnage:

  • If You’re Going To Blow It, Might As Well Really Blow It: Even without David Robertson, the Yankees’ bullpen had been very strong over the last two weeks or so. They got their collective asses kicked on Friday, with five relievers combining to surrender eight runs on nine hits and one walk in 2.1 innings. Ugly. Adam Warren was on the mound for the biggest blows in the seventh and poor Cesar Cabral failed to retire any of the six batters he faced. Not coincidentally, five of the six were righties. He also plunked three batters. Let us never speak of this meltdown again.
  • Early Runs: It looked like the Yankees were headed for another laugher, scoring three runs on Scott Sizemore‘s bases-clearing double in the second inning to jump out to early 3-0 lead. Brett Gardner plated another run with a ground out two batters later, then Alfonso Soriano singled in the fifth run later in the game. Five runs is enough to win most nights. This was not most nights.
  • Kuroda’s Grind: “Not having it” was a common theme for the pitchers on Friday. Hiroki Kuroda battled his command and his trademark splitter was non-existent all night, and the result was three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He only struck out two. With his splitter not working, Kuroda had nothing to go to in two strike counts and the Rays worked him hard. Hrmph.
  • Leftovers: All eleven Rays runs scored with two outs. Ridiculous … Jacoby Ellsbury was the only Yankee with two hits, though Soriano and Yangervis Solarte both singled and walked … the Yankees only had two hits after the ineffective Erik Bedard was knocked out of the game in the fourth … Ichiro Suzuki made an excellent running grab in the ninth that ultimately meant nothing. has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Sometimes, the bullpen is just going to melt down spectacularly. What are you gonna do? These same two teams will play the third game of their four-game series on Saturday night — yes, a stupid Saturday stupid night game — when Ivan Nova squares off against Chris Archer.

Categories : Game Stories
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11:14pm: Phelps is fine, Joe Girardi confirmed after the game. I imagine he’s a little sore, but he’s not actually injured.

10:03pm: David Phelps left tonight’s game after being hit by a line drive in the right side, pretty much right in the ribs. Matt Thornton was brought in to replace him and it appears it was to get the left-on-left matchup. Phelps might have been coming out of the game anyway. For what it’s worth, he remained in the dugout after exiting. Seems like he is okay, but it was a pretty good shot. Stay tuned for an update.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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Sorry for the lack of a minor league update last night, but thankfully commenter Get Phelps Up picked up the slack. Here is his recap. The highlight of the night was OF Aaron Judge‘s first professional homer, which you can see in the video above. It was a bomb.

In other news, RHP Al Aceves was added to the Triple-A Scranton roster according to Chad Jennings. He had been getting stretched out in Extended Spring Training. Also, RHP Rafael DePaula placed tenth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet.

Triple-A Scranton (5-2 loss to Lehigh Valley in eleven innings)

  • RF Ramon Flores, DH Corban Joseph & SS Carmen Angelini: all 0-5 — Flores walked, scored a run, struck out, and threw a runner out at the plate … Angelini struck out
  • 2B Jose Pirela: 2-6, 1 R, 1 E (throwing)
  • CF Zoilo Almonte & 1B Russ Canzler: both 1-4, 1 K — Almonte walked, Canzler drove in a run
  • 3B Adonis Garcia: 4-5 — yep, third base … he’s been working out on the infield since winter ball in an effort to improve his versatility
  • LF Ronnie Mustelier: 1-5
  • C Austin Romine: 0-3, 2 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Al Aceves: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 6/3 GB/FB — 53 of 79 pitches were strikes (67%) … right back where it all started, in DotF
  • RHP Shane Greene: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 13 of 20 pitches were strikes (65%) … believe it or not, this is his first appearance of the season
  • RHP Preston Claiborne: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 15 of 29 pitches were strikes (52%)
  • LHP Fred Lewis: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 15 of 29 pitches were strikes (52%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 1 IP, zeroes, 0/2 GB/FB — seven of 13 pitches were strikes (54%) … still super early, but only six strikeouts in 6.1 innings so far

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Game 17: Go For Six

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(Brian Blanco/Getty)

(Brian Blanco/Getty)

The Yankees have won five games in a row (six of their last seven!) and they’ve done it with offense, with pitching, and with defense. One phase of the game is not carrying them, it’s all three. Unlike last April, when the team played well but it felt like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop for certain players (Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner, specifically), this year’s success feels far more sustainable. I can’t be the only who feels like that, right?

Anyway, Carlos Beltran is not in tonight’s lineup after tumbling over the right field wall in foul territory last night. According to the various beat writers on the scene, Beltran had an MRI on both his wrist and shoulder and everything came back clean. He is sore though, and he will skip batting practice today and instead receive treatment. Beltran hopes to play tomorrow but Joe Girardi is fond of giving players that one extra day when they’re banged up. We’ll see. Here is the Rays lineup and here’s the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. DH Alfonso Soriano
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Yangervis Solarte
  7. 1B Kelly Johnson
  8. 3B Scott Sizemore
  9. RF Ichiro Suzuki
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda

It is hot, humid, and pouring in St. Pete tonight, but none of that matters because of Tropicana Field. It’ll be a climate-controlled 72 degrees (or thereabouts) for tonight’s game whether you like it or not. First pitch is scheduled for just after 7pm ET and you can watch live on YES and, depending on where you live, MLB Network. Enjoy the game.

Categories : Game Threads
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RAB Live Chat

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Categories : Chats
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(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

The Yankees are starting to get healthy. Or, really, several of their players have started working their way back after being shut down for various lengths of time. No one has actually come off the DL yet. Here are some updates on the walking wounded, courtesy of George King, Erik Boland, and Jorge Castillo.

  • Mark Teixeira (hamstring) went 0-for-1 with two walks during an Extended Spring Training game yesterday and 1-for-5 with a strikeout today. He played the field both games and had to run hard on several occasions. “I will be fully ready to play Sunday and disappointed if I don’t.,” said Teixeira, who is eligible to activated off the DL on Sunday.
  • David Robertson (groin) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session yesterday and is scheduled to throw in an inning in Extended Spring Training tomorrow. “Get Sunday and Monday off and be ready to go Tuesday,’’ said Robertson. He’s eligible to be activated off the DL on Tuesday.
  • Brendan Ryan (back) got several at-bats in a simulated game this morning, his first game action since getting hurt. Because he missed just about all of Spring Training, Ryan’s rehab will be much longer than a handful of minor league games. He’s still a few weeks from returning.
  • Jose Ramirez (oblique) was one of the pitchers to face Teixeira this morning. He missed all of Spring Training but is throwing now, so that’s good. No word on when he’ll rejoin one of the minor league affiliates.
Categories : Injuries
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Friday chat reminder

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It’s been a few weeks since the last chat — last chat was before the start of the season, no? — so we’ve got plenty to talk about this afternoon. Chat starts at 2:30pm ET, a little later than usual. See you then.

Categories : Asides, Chats
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Got seven questions for you this week. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week. Don’t be discouraged if I don’t pick your question. Usually it comes down to not having the room/time or simply not knowing the answer.

Bring to me. (Greg Fiume/Getty)

Bring to me. (Greg Fiume/Getty)

Chris asks: How about a trade for Chase Utley? Good idea and what might it take?

Yes, please. Forget about his insanely hot start — hitting .462/.517/.769 (247 wRC+) with seven doubles and three homers in 58 plate appearances — the 2011-12 version of Utley (112 wRC+) would do just fine for me. He’s a power hitting left-handed second baseman who draws a lot of walks and plays strong defense. He also has no platoon split and some experience playing first base. Oh, and he’s an elite base-runner even though he doesn’t steal as many bases as he once did. Utley would be a wonderful addition to any team, but especially the Yankees since they have a black hole a second base.

The problem is that Utley signed a two-year, $25M extension with the Phillies last season, taking a discount to remain with the team rather than test the free agent waters. Given the market, I think he could have gotten three or maybe even four guaranteed years as a free agent. I’m sure his hometown Dodgers would have been all over him. Utley has a partial no-trade clause and I have no idea what teams are included, but, more importantly, he’s beloved in Philadelphia and the only way the Phillies would trade him is as part of a total rebuild. I’d have no trouble giving up two top prospects to get him. Gary Sanchez and Manny Banuelos? Plus a third, lesser prospect? Fine by me. Utley would be a legitimate five or six win upgrade for the Yankees this year.

Aaron asks: If the D’Backs continue to struggle would the Yankees be more interested in Aaron Hill or Martin Prado?

Man, the Diamondbacks are just awful this year. The rotation especially. It could be historically bad. Both Hill and Prado would fit the Yankees’ need at second base, though they are different players who wind up providing similar value. Hill (7.3 fWAR from 2012-14) is more of a power hitter and average defender while Prado (7.8 fWAR from 2012-14) is a contact hitter and above-average defender. They are both owed similar money t00, $33M-35M through 2016. Prado can play third and left field, so he has that going for him. Either guy would work for the Yankees, but if I have to pick one, I’ll go with Prado because he does more things well and is two years younger. If either hits the trade market, the Yankees should be interested.

Daniel asks: If the Yankees are truly still not interested in Stephen Drew, is it because they are waiting to see what happens with the extension talks with the Dodgers and Hanley Ramirez? Or are they just trying to ride out what they have?

I don’t think the Yankees are waiting for Hanley and I don’t think they should. Sure, he’s a great player and all that, but it seems likely he will sign a huge extension with the Dodgers rather than test free agency after the season. They Dodgers have said they want to keep him, Ramirez has said he wants to stay, and reportedly the two sides have been talking about a contract. Besides, Hanley wouldn’t help the Yankees at all this year, and even if they did sign Drew, there would be room on the roster for both next season. At this point, I have to think there is something in Drew’s medicals that are scaring teams away. The state of the shortstop position around the league is too terrible for him to still be unemployed because of draft pick compensation.

(Victor Decolongon/Getty)

(Victor Decolongon/Getty)

Tom asks: Although it’s still rather early to even think about it, which free agents in next year’s class do you see the Yankees making a push for?

Hanley would be at the top of that list for pretty obvious reasons. The other big names are Max Scherzer, Chase Headley, and Pablo Sandoval. Since the team already has two huge pitching contracts on the books, I think they will steer clear of Scherzer. Headley seems more likely than Sandoval because the Yankees almost always lean towards the guy who walks and works the count. Plus I think there has to be at some concern Sandoval will eat himself out of the game if you give him $100M or so guaranteed. Here’s the list of free agents for the upcoming offseason. Other potential targets include J.J. Hardy, Asdrubal Cabrera, Aramis Ramirez, Chris Denorfia, Jason Motte, Luke Hochevar, and Luke Gregerson. That’s just my speculation, of course.

David asks: How excited can we get about Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka after these first two three starts? They have both shown flashes of dominance (especially Big Mike) but to what extent do we need to temper expectations?

Get excited. Very excited. I’m more excited about Tanaka personally only because Pineda’s shoulder is still in the back of the my mind, and guys who have had arm problems tend to continue having arm problems throughout their career. Tanaka has a (much) deeper arsenal and isn’t as reliant on pure velocity as Pineda, which is another thing to consider. The best part is that this isn’t some one or the other hypothetical. Both are actually on the team. If you’re not going to get excited about these two 25-year-olds after these last few weeks, then what the hell is the point of it all?

Jack asks: Barring injury, who among the current five starting pitchers will be the first to be permanently replaced because of poor production? And when that happens who will be given the first shot at taking over the spot?

Let’s be realistic about this: CC Sabathia and Tanaka are not going anywhere because of their contracts. Hiroki Kuroda has earned a very long leash after the last two years and, given his first few starts, I have no reason to think his performance will fall off so much that the team wants to replace him. That leaves Pineda and Nova, and I guess it’s a toss up. Pineda seems more likely to be knocked out of the rotation by injury than poor performance, and Nova has already lost a rotation spot (2011 and 2013) due to poor performance. If I have to choose, I’ll say Nova. But I don’t think any of these guys loose their spots for anything but injury this year.

nycsportzfan asks: Hey Mike, was wondering if Joe Girardi wasn’t are manager and you could have anyone else in his place, who would it be? For me, it’d be Clint Hurdle.

I’m not sure. A big part of the manager’s job happens behind closed doors in the clubhouse, and we don’t know anything about that stuff. In terms of on-field moves, I’ve always felt Padres manager Bud Black does a really good job of putting his players in a position to succeed, either through pinch-hitters or reliever usage or whatever. Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Athletics manager Bob Melvin are both good at that stuff as well. I think you’d have to consider Joe Maddon and Buck Showalter as well. Gun to my head, I’d go with either Black or Melvin. I’ll say Melvin because he has experience managing in the AL.

Categories : Mailbag
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