Game 22: No Tex, no Cap’n

Won't see either of these guys tonight. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

In the final game of this four game series against the Pale Hose, the Yankees are going to be without two of their key offensive players. Mark Teixeira is out of the lineup and is day-to-day with the same sore shoulder that took him out of last night’s game. It’s not a long term concern, but it’s always good to give guys an extra day of rest when they’re banged up this early in the season. Derek Jeter, on the other hand, is presumably out of the lineup just to get some rest. The Cap’n has eight hits in his last 20 at-bats to go along with three walks and just two strikeouts, so he’s starting to show some signs of life.

If the Yankees need to sacrifice offense in the name of good health, today is a good day to it. They have their ace on the mound, and the White Sox have Ramon Castro, Gordon Beckham, Brent Morel, and Brent Lillibridge batting in consecutive lineup spots. CC Sabathia is coming off a fantastic outing against the Orioles over the weekend, the game that started this run of excellent starting pitching. I’m sure the big guy will keep it going. Here’s the lineup…

Curtis Granderson, CF
Nick Swisher, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Eric Chavez, 1B
Russell Martin, C
Jorge Posada, DH
Brett Gardner, LF
Eduardo Nunez, SS

CC Sabathia, SP

The weather was anything but great in the Tri-State Area today, though it looks like it’s cleared enough to start the game on time and play it without interruption. You can watch on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Phil Hughes Update: St. Phil is going to visit a specialist in St. Louis on Monday to determine if he actually has Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Brian Cashman compared the ongoing health saga to an episode of House, though hopefully not one of the new episodes that’s more about relationships than medicine. WTF is that about.

When Derek and Alex became BFFs again

To promote his upcoming book on Derek Jeter, Ian O’Connor has slowly been releasing the jucier excerpts for a public that enjoys baseball gossip. Over the weekend, we read about how Derek Jeter’s relationship with A-Rod went sour, and then we heard about Jeter’s contentious negotiations with the Yankees over his contract this past winter. It almost seemed as though O’Connor’s book was designed to knock down some myths about Jeter.

Worry not though for the latest installments do anything but that. ESPN New York today ran an extensive excerpt on the great thaw between Jeter and A-Rod and how the two became friends, thanks to Jeter’s magnanimity, as the Yankees were facing down the Twins, Angels and Phillies in October 2009. The not-so-subtle lesson O’Connor seems to imply is that Jeter’s decision to make nice with A-Rod contributed to the chemistry that led to the Yanks’ World Series win. And I always thought it was great pitching and an oppressive offense.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten my hands on the four-page introduction to the book, and it’s, well, saccharine. O’Connor opens up with an anecdote from 2009 when John Hirschbeck, an umpire, defended Jeter after the Yankee captain blew up after a bad call at third base. It goes on to cite Jeter’s “common acts of decency” and how he is a “patron saint of clean players in an era defined by performance-enhancing drugs.” With an introduction like that, the rest of the book could just write itself.

Soriano turns to an old friend for help

It’s no secret that Rafael Soriano‘s first month in pinstripes has been … um … underwhelming, but the right-hander is trying to get himself back on track. As Dan Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal writes, Soriano recently sought out the help of his best friend, his former co-closer in Atlanta Mike Gonzalez. After skipping out on reporters a few weeks ago, the first person Rafi called was Gonzalez, who basically told him if acts like Mariano Rivera, and he’ll be fine. The two had the dinner over the weekend in Baltimore to further talk about Soriano’s struggles.

“I feel fine, I feel comfortable with the team and everything,” said The Eighth Inning Guy™. “I just had a bad day…a bad month.” As frustrating as it’s been, Joe explained yesterday why we shouldn’t rush to call Soriano a failure just yet. His talent is obvious, as is the impact he could have on team’s chances of winning.

New design added to the RAB Shop

Yesterday we unveiled our new online shop, and we’ll be rolling out some new designs in the coming weeks. I added the Evolution design you see above this afternoon, which was designed by Tyler Wilkinson. Remember, you can customize the color and style of the shirt, or hell, you don’t need to buy a shirt at all. The logo is available on hoodies, clocks, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, tons of stuff. Click through and check it out.

Thanks in advance.

Looking Way Ahead: The 2013 Free Agent Class

Could Hamels be a target ... in two years? (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Yankees have been, and pretty much always will be a team that relies on high-end free agents to remain king of the MLB jungle. Sometimes those players work out, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they’re in between. MLB Trade Rumors posted a list of players currently scheduled to become a free agent after the 2012 season yesterday, and there are plenty of attractive names in there, especially when it comes to starting pitchers. Just a sampling…

Matt Cain (28)
John Danks (28)
Zack Greinke (28)
Cole Hamels (29)
Francisco Liriano (29)
Shaun Marcum (31)
Jonathan Sanchez (30)
Jered Weaver (30)

The ages listed are their 2013 season age, so Cain, Greinke, and Danks will all still be two years away from the big three-oh when the hit the market. That’s great because the Yankees, like just about every team, is always in need of starting pitching, especially of the young and high-end variety. In a perfect world, New York would sign two of these guys and have them join forced with CC Sabathia to form a powerful 1-2-3 combination. That would make breaking in a young pitcher (Manny Banuelos? Dellin Betances? Brett Marshall? who knows) slightly easier, at least in theory.

Here’s the question though: what is the Yankees payroll situation going to look like in two years? As of right now, the team has $128.2M tied up in just six players in 2013, and that assumes club options for Robinson Cano ($15M) and Curtis Granderson ($13M) are bought out for $2M apiece. That also doesn’t account for the extremely likely scenario in which Sabathia opts out of his contract after this season and re-signs to a much more lucrative one. It also assumes that Rafael Soriano won’t be using either of his opt outs. So despite that near $130M commitment, the Yankees would still be lacking three starting outfielders, a second baseman, a catcher, a designated hitter, three starting pitchers, plus an entire bullpen and bench.

If you figure it takes $50M to fill all those holes except the rotation, we’re still looking at $180M committed with three starting pitchers still needed. Figure one is a kid making the minimum or close to it, Ivan Nova in his final pre-arbitration season or something like that. Each of those eight pitchers above will command at least $10M a year on the open market, a few of them $20M or so. The Yankees would have to support a $210-220M payroll in 2013 to bring two of those guys aboard using my rough estimation of the cost to fill the rest of the roster.

Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t, but it’s worth noting that after the 2013 season, the Yankees will be waving goodbye to A.J. Burnett ($16.5M) and Soriano ($14M), and maybe even Derek Jeter ($17M). I highly doubt that last one though. Could the team take the hit of a huge payroll that one year knowing some money will come off the books after the season? I dunno, possibly. Possibly not.

Now that we’ve wasted a sufficient amount of time looking at a free agent market that is still two years away, I have to remind you that not everyone listed there will actually become a free agent. Teams are locking up young players (not just pitchers) to long-term contract extensions more than ever before, and all of those guys seem like prime candidates for such deals. Realistically, maybe two or three of those guys will be available in two years, in which case the Yankees would probably pursue one. Then again, it could be the 2008-2009 offseason all over again.