UPDATE: Staten Island Yanks being sold, SWB Yanks being purchased

Update (Sept. 15th): More from Pimpsner. Apparently Mandalay doesn’t want anything to do with the Staten Island franchise after the sale if the Yankees are not involved. They will likely look to purchase another team, and their are several on the market. Important thing to remember: SI will remain the Yankees affiliate.

In other news, Mandalay and the Yankees are teaming up to buy the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees for $14.6M. Much of that money is going towards PNC Field renovations, which will force the team to play all their games on the road next year.

Original Post (Sept. 14th): Via Robert Pimpsner, the Staten Island Yankees are being sold to a NYC hedge fund manager for $8.3M. It’s the second time the franchise has been sold in the last five years, but the first time it was the Yankees and Mandalay Sports Entertainment that did the purchasing. Average attendance has been dropping in recent years, and the sale was financially motivated. It’s unclear if Mandalay will remain involved with the team, but the franchise will remain in Staten Island and affiliated with the Yankees. An official announcement is expected soon.

Open Thread: Rooting for the Rays

(AP)

The Yankees are off, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything on the line tonight. The Rays and Red Sox are starting a huge four-game series in Fenway Park this evening (Hellickson vs. Weiland), a series that will determine the AL wildcard, for all intents and purposes. If Tampa sweeps, they’ll tie Boston and then we’ll really have ourselves a race. If they don’t, then they’re still going to have to make up some serious ground during the final week and a half of the season. It can happen, but it probably won’t.

Regardless of who wins tonight, the Yankees will gain a half-game on one team and lose a half-game to the other. I’d much prefer to see them gain ground on the Red Sox and increase their lead in the division than put even more distance between then and the Rays. They’re eight games up on the wildcard with 14 left to play, so that race is really close to being over. I feel confident in saying that the Yankees will make the postseason, even if the Rays manage to sweep. That’s why I want Tampa to take this series, to help put some distance between the Yanks and Sox. For the next four days, I’m pro-Tampa.

Anyway, the game will be shown on MLB Network at 7pm ET tonight, and you can talk about it (and more!) here in the open thread. You all know what to do by now, so have at it.

How Mariano became the Sandman

The game of baseball has countless sounds associated with it, like the crack of the bat, the pop of the mitt, Take Me Out To The Ball Game, and if you’re in the Bronx, “Enter Sandman” as well. Mariano Rivera has been storming out of the bullpen to the song for more than a decade now, but how did a quiet guy from Panama end up with Metallica as his entrance music? As Bryan Hoch explains, is was largely due to Trevor Hoffman.

Some Yankees higher-ups saw Hoffman’s theatrical entrance with “Hell’s Bells” during the 1998 World Series (and, more importantly, they saw how the fans reacted), and decided they needed something like that for Mo. I don’t remember this at all, but apparently Rivera came out to “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise City” by Guns n’ Roses in 1999, but neither stuck while “Enter Sandman” did. Something about Mo warming up to Axl Rose makes me want to stick a pen in my ear. Anyway, make sure you check out the article, it’s a pretty neat story.

The Eric Chavez Appreciation Thread

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

It wasn’t supposed to work. When the Yankees agreed to bring Eric Chavez to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, it was supposed to be nothing more than a sidebar story for a weeks before the two sides parted ways before the end of camp. Chavez hadn’t been healthy in years and even when he was healthy, he didn’t produce. There was no risk involved, but it didn’t exactly qualify as a high-upside signing either.

Chavez came to camp and got his fair share of playing time (45 plate appearances), and he hit. Boy did he hit. A .395/.422/.558 batting line with just six strikeouts, but most importantly, he stayed healthy. There wasn’t even a day-to-day situation, no lingering soreness, a tight something, nothing at all. Chavez did his work and stayed healthy, and he performed well enough that the Yankees took him north out of Spring Training as their backup corner infielder.

After a pinch-hitting appearance in the second game of the season, Chavez sat on the bench for more than a week and didn’t start a game until the team’s eighth of the season. Filling in at DH in Fenway Park, the former Oakland Athletic went 3-for-5 with a pair of opposite field doubles off the Green Monster. He started at third base the next day and picked up another hit. Chavez’s playing time gradually started to increase, and by the team’s 25th game of the season, he was hitting .290/.405/.355 with twice as many walks (six) as strikeouts (three) in 37 plate appearances.

The power production wasn’t there, but that wasn’t all that surprising given his history of back and shoulder issues. The important thing is that the Yankees had a rock solid left-handed bat available off the bench, a veteran player that would put together a quality at-bat. Chavez’s season came to halt on May 5th, when the inevitable happened and he got hurt. He suffered a deep bone bruise in his right foot rounding the bases on a triple in Detroit, an injury that kept him on the shelf for more than two months, a total of 72 team games.

When he finally did return, Chavez got regular starts at third base because Alex Rodriguez was on the shelf with his knee injury. He went 11-for-32 in his first eight games back, then started to see some more time at DH. A month later, his season batting line sits at .274/.331/.363 in 148 plate appearances, or about 148 more than I expected him to get before the season. He also has three hits and a walk in ten pitch-hitting appearances, and his defense at the hot corner has been surprisingly awesome. I figured he’d lost a step in the field after all the injuries, but he’s been legitimately fantastic with the glove, living up to the Gold Glove reputation.

The Yankees came into the season with their best bench in a long time, opting to shore up the reserves in the offseason rather than in-season like they had in the past. Chavez was a total flier, it was impossible to expect anything from him given his lengthy injury history (just 154 games played from 2007-2010), but he’s been a very value reserve player for a team that has dealt with injuries, especially on the infield. He embraced his role, the first time in his life he wasn’t playing everyday, and the Yankees have reaped the rewards.

What’s important in the final two weeks

The end is nigh. Today marks the final day off in the Yankees’ 2011 regular season schedule. They’ll play 14 games in 13 days starting Friday, running through a gauntlet of AL East foes (and the Twins once). That might sound like a daunting task, but the Yankees have mitigated it by placing themselves in a favorable position.

At the start of September they trailed the Red Sox by a game and a half, though they had a comfortable 7.5 game lead in the Wild Card race. Since then the Red Sox have collapsed, going 3-10 and yielding the AL East lead. The Yankees now sit four games ahead of their foes and have a magic number of 11. Even more importantly, their magic number for a playoff spot is down to seven. This is important, since it takes a little emphasis off the grueling schedule ahead.

Because they haven’t yet clinched the Yankees can’t quite start planning ahead. They’ve taken their foot off the accelerator to a degree, but they can’t trot out a lineup composed almost exclusively of September call-ups just yet. But with the Sox and the Rays locking horns this weekend, the Yankees stand to gain some ground. They could be in a position to clinch the Wild Card early next week, and the division not long after.

The expediency with which they clinch holds a certain importance this year, since the team faces a few challenges as they prepare for the playoffs. Here are some things to consider in the final two weeks.

Get Alex Rodriguez Reps

Joe Girardi said that Rodriguez will appear on Friday’s lineup card, and barring any last-minute setbacks he’ll play third base and bat fourth in that game. There’s a chance that he could hold those spots for each of the 14 remaining games. He has appeared in just 90 this year, and is guaranteed to play in his fewest number of games since 1995. Resting him at this point would be counterproductive.

Getting Alex going is of great importance right now. As we’ve seen throughout the year, even the best bats on the team can go cold for stretches. Even Curtis Granderson, the team MVP, has slowed down lately. The more quality bats the Yankees have in the lineup, the better chances they get a few who are hot and will produce runs in the postseason. Despite his power outage Rodriguez has still been one of the most productive Yankees, on a rate basis, this season. Getting him sharp in time for the postseason will surely add some runs to the ledger.

Rest The Walking Wounded

Playing through injuries is the reality of a 162-game schedule. Every player does it at some time or another, but that doesn’t mean he could use a breather when convenient. These guys will likely keep playing straight through the game when they clinch, but will be due a few games off in the days following.

Russell Martin could use a couple of days off. He’s battled through nagging injuries all year, most recently a foul ball off the thumb. Nick Swisher has that elbow issue, and while it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem now he could still probably use a few days without high-stress throws. And that doesn’t even mention the guys who could use a breather after going at breakneck speed all season, such as Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson.

In essence, clinching early allows Girardi to give these guys a few days to back off, recover, and get ready for the playoffs. The earlier they clinch the earlier they can take these breaks, and the earlier they can get back in the swing of things.

Lining up the pitching staff

The Yankees are already shifting around the pitching staff, but as Mike mentioned earlier this week, they have to do some serious rotation juggling to get CC in line for a Game 1 start in the ALDS. They also have to line up the guys they want going in Games 2 and 3 as well. The sooner they clinch, the sooner they can tinker with things and give guys extra (or perhaps short) rest leading into the series.

While there is no way to line up the bullpen, the same principle applies to them as the position players. There’s a certain balance the Yankees need to strike between giving them rest and giving them work to keep them sharp. A week of meaningless games will afford them that exact opportunity. Heading into the playoffs they should have Soriano, Robertson, and Rivera rested and sharp enough to pitch any game needed.