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Showing posts with label NY Yankees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NY Yankees. Show all posts

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Yankees SOS!

Yankees SOS!
Ellsbury Can’t Save Yanks
Yankees Home Woes Continue; Lose Fourth Straight

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 5- The Yankees continue to falter at their home ballpark. The 7-4 loss to Oakland on Wednesday night was their fourth straight defeat at home. They have lost 12 of their last 16 games in the Bronx. The combination of poor hitting, especially in the clutch, and lack of dependability from the relief corps has resulted in many recent defeats.

A base on balls to Ichiro Suzuki and three consecutive hits, a single by Brett Gardner, an infield single by Derek Jeter, and a three-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury provided the Yanks with a four-run inning and a 4-0 lead at the end of three innings.

Unfortunately for the home team, the third was the only inning in which the Yankees scored. During their final five frames, the Yankees only managed two singles. To make matters worse for them, the Athletics scored seven unanswered runs to achieve a victory.

The versatility of Oakland is shown by the variety of ways their runs on Wednesday were driven in. Three were scored on solo home runs. Cuban native Yoenis Cespedes blasted his 11th of the season in the fourth and his 12th two innings later. Third sacker Josh Donaldson lifted his 16th into the stands in the seventh. 

Three other runs did not need base hits to move an Oakland runner across the plate. Sacrifice flies by Jed Lowrie in the third, Alberto Callaspo in the sixth and Kyle Blanks in the ninth were as meaningful as the four baggers. 

Another strange manner of scoring occurred in the ninth as Brandon Moss was hit by a pitch of Wade LeBlanc in his first game as a Yankee. 

Yankee starter Vidal Nuño gave up two runs in 4.2 innings, but the relievers gave up five in 4.1. Matt Daley gave up two, Leblanc surrendered two, and in his major league debut, Jose Ramirez yielded a home run to Donaldson in the seventh, which earned him the loss. 

Yankee skipper Joe Girardi said, “It’s a product of not having your bullpen set up the way you want it.” 

The passing of Don Zimmer was of far more importance than the loss of a single ballgame. The feisty, colorful, knowledgeable and fun loving individual was a fixture in MLB for 66 years. He was remembered with much emotion by those who knew him well for his time as a Yankee coach. 

After the game, Girardi recalled, “I was with him in 10 of my first 11 years. Wherever he went, I went. He was a close friend. I’m going to miss him. Our relationship was always close. He gave me my first opportunity. It’s going to be really strange not to see him.”

Another scene of the evening at Yankee Stadium that had greater meaning than the final score was the thoughtful treatment received by 12-year-old Matthew Miller of Queens and his family by CC Sabathia. Miller was severely injured and his 7 year-old brother Chris killed in a house fire at the start of 2014. Sabathia tried to provide some happy memories for the family who came as his guests for on-the-field activities.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Yankee Bullpen Loses

We Miss Mo!
Bullpen Continues to Cost Yanks a Win
as Pitchers Sputter from Loss of Mariano Rivera


By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 4- Close games are costing the New York Yankees this season and no longer having the reliable Mariano Rivera could be a reason. The Yankees were prepared for the inevitable day when closing a game would not be routine when Rivera retired. In two of the last three games they realized more how much Rivera meant.

The bullpen implosion led to the Yankees third straight loss, 5-2, on a long Tuesday night in the Bronx in a game that was delayed over an hour by rain. And there are two more games with Oakland to close the home stand before another long road trip.

It was the Twins on Sunday when the Yankees pen imploded. Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, in the Oakland Athletics 10th inning, there was another implosion. Oakland scored three-runs off Adam Warren, and what was left of the 41,677 in attendance realized again the Yankees without Rivera are very beatable.

The Yankees are no longer a power threat and lacking a run producing lineup, so much different when Rivera was closing another win. Close games in the late innings are not a guaranteed win, evident by the extra inning loss and the second home run of the night by Brandon Moss, in the 10th off Warren that broke a 2-2 tie.

To say there is panic or that the Yankees are in deep trouble, it is still early with a third of the season complete. However, if close games are continually lost by the bullpen implosion, as has been the case as of late, then there is reason to panic.

“They are not going to be perfect they have been a big part of wins this year and not going to always be perfect,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi commented. The reference was to the reliable Dellin Betances who has been unstoppable, but finally had an implosion

The closer, David Robertson pitched a perfect ninth but gave away the lead Sunday. Betances had not walked a batter in his previous 10 appearances but, with two outs in the eighth inning Albert Callaspo got one. Pinch hitter Stephen Vogt followed and on a full count hit a tying double into the right center field gap.  

And, as good as Betances has been, you can’t pitch like that to the A’s who happen to have the best run producing offense in baseball.

"I felt good,” Betances explained in a quiet Yankees clubhouse. “I just think the two-out walk hurt. I had him in my head and I just did not put him away I think from there  I just fell behind on Vogt and just threw him a good pitch to hit. I think Callaspo, that at-bat was more frustrating."

Frustrating is the word Girardi used as his Yankees at 29-28, are in danger of falling to the .500 mark if they lose the second game of the three-game series tonight. It is not only the pen, but an anemic offense that showed some hope with a solo home run from Mark Teixeira in the sixth, his team leading 10th that gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead off A’s starter Scott Kazmir.

Teixeira got clearance to start after missing the last two games with a sore right wrist. He has driven in 21 runs in his last 25 games, but when the wrist that is still heeling from surgery becomes bothersome, Teixeira, who appears to be the lone home run threat in this lineup, will have to sit down.

But it is the bullpen implosion that has the Yankees concerned. And without that late Hall of Fame closer no longer around, the Yankees have realized how different the late innings have become.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com   Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso  www.Newyorksportsexaminer.com



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Terminator Tanaka

Terminator Tanaka
Pitcher Shuts Down Mets,
Gives Yankees Hope

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 15- Masahiro Tanaka is now the stopper for the New York Yankees. The Mets were first hand observers and will not say anything different after the right-hander shutthem out at Citi Field Wednesday evening. And there should be no doubt about the stopper role because that is what the Yankees needed to end a four-game losing streak.


He was also what the Yankees needed to stop a six-game losing streak against the Mets dating back to last season. And with CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda, three quarters of the Yankees’ starting rotation on the disabled list this is what manager Joe Girardi was looking for.

“We needed a win,” Girardi said. “After losing a couple of tough games at home he got better as the night went on. He’s been special. The young kid throws good… he has a lot of weapons and knows how to handle the baseball.”

Though Girardi did admit, Tanaka will be managed differently because of the injuries. In other words, despite getting the first complete game shutout of his Major League career, Tanaka who threw 114 pitches, will be protected from going the route. Girardi knows he does not need his best to also go down with an injury.

But, Tanaka was purchased by the Yankees to pitch like every other starter. Go deep into games and get the win, providing there was enough run support. The Mets showed a resurgence of power and run production, in two games at Yankee Stadium this week, but they came home to Citi Field and again their bats went quiet.

And it was attributed to Tanaka who became the first Yankees rookie pitcher to begin the season at 6-0. At this rate, and there is every expectation he will continue to be dominant, Tanaka is a cinch to win the AL Rookie of the year or AL CY Young Award.

However, there is a long way to go before Tanaka is considered for those prestigious post season awards. The Yankees are more inclined for Tanaka to keep pitching well, and to be the one who can keep the ship afloat as their ailing pitching staff gets back to health.

Here is how dominating Tanaka was: He threw 28 splitters where the Mets hit into eight outs and managed only one base runner. Eric Young Jr. hit a double in the sixth inning, one of their four hits and that was the only other time they had a runner reach second.

He had the Mets swinging and missing. He had them confused at the plate, just as he has done in seven previous starts against American League opponents. So, by now, not even teams in the National League can figure a way to hit that splitter.

"I knew what was coming, but I couldn't hit it," the Mets’ Daniel Murphy said. "He's commanding all his pitches to all zones. The splitter is the equalizer. You don't see it that much, someone using it in any count like that.”

Tanaka said, through his Japanese translator, "I just go up there and basically try to win every single game.” At this rate, and the way the Yankees have been scoring runs, they would love to see Tanaka on the mound every game.

The spotlight of pitching in this inter-league Subway Series game, and opposing the debut of Mets rookie pitcher Rafael Montero, did not cause a distraction. He gets on the mound and gets the job done, as has been the situation since his debut on the mound at Yankee Stadium last month.

He became another storyline in what has become an interesting three games between the Yankees and Mets….

As for the Mets, who will debut rookie Jacob deGrom in the series finale Thursday night, manager Terry Collins praised Tanaka. deGrom is one of those young promising arms getting an early season look, like Montero early in the season, and needed with Dillon Gee on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right lar.

Collins also saw the difference again of long balls that went for outs at Citi Field. Six home runs hit by the Mets in two games at Yankee Stadium will make a manager see things differently.

He said, "You asked me about the home run barrage? We hit three of them tonight. They were just in the wrong park.”

The night belonged to Tanaka and the Yankees. And the Mets may have come to a decision and anointed Jennry Mejia as their closer when Kyle Farnsworth was outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. Though Farnsworth has a right to refuse the assignment and could be with another team.

To that, a frustrated and disappointed Farnsworth had his say in the matter. He said there was anger and disappointment in the decision to let him go. And for the Mets, who appeared to have Farnsworth in the closer role, it was another way to get the bullpen up to par. Farnsworth was not the answer, neither is Jose Valverde who could also be out the door.

But the Yankees have a different situation. They have a stopper in Masahiro Tanaka.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Grand Disaster

Grand Disaster
Mets once again made Yankee Stadium their home


By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 14- The Mets bid a farewell to Yankee Stadium this season. And perhaps they would want to play in the Bronx more after another two-game series sweep over the Yankees. That’s four straight wins in the Bronx dating back to last season and now six straight over their cross-town rivals.

In all probability, the two teams won’t meet again in October, but for some reason, Yankee Stadium has a way of making a hitter look better. What looked like a dismal offense the past two weeks has become a distant memory and after their 12-7 win Tuesday night, you wonder if Manager Terry Collins would prefer the next two games to be played in the Bronx and not at Citi Field.

“A lot has to do with the ballpark,” commented Collins. “Guys get a descent pitch they know they can drive. For sure we have swung the bats better here.” His team scored a season high 12-runs Tuesday night and in the two games hit six home runs.

They don’t get that type of offense at Citi Field where the dimensions are different. Curtis Granderson knows. He spent enough time at Yankee Stadium, and hit 64 home runs when he wore pinstripes at the new Yankee Stadium. Add two more with long balls in the first two games of this home-and-home series.

But, Citi Field is different. Granderson can’t hit the home run to right, or over the fence in any of the other power alleys. Though the more viable explanation about Granderson is, he is not the same hitter that once was.

And 21- runs in two games for the Mets, well that was a rarity until they came to the Bronx. A lot may be attributed to the decimated Yankees pitching rotation that has manager Joe Girardi doing some patch work with three front line starters on the disabled list.

“We have to stay in rotation,” said Girardi. “These are the people we have.” Vidal Nuno got roughed up in 3 1/3 innings and it was not pretty. The night before, Hideki Kuroda allowed four runs in six innings. When the series shifts to Citi Field Wednesday night, the 5-0, Masahiro Tanaka gives some hope for the Yankees to get a win.

Oh, then there is the Thursday night series finale. The Yankees will have Chase Whitley on the mound making his major league debut. 

There are concerns for the Yankees, but the Mets want to take this momentum to Citi Field. The Mets believe this is psychological and the same production coming in the Bronx can continue in their home ballpark.

“When you play here you know you can score,” said Granderson who hit his fifth home run with two on that put the Mets in front 4-0 in the first inning. “Now we have to take that to our place.”

But, Granderson and the Mets have been trying to figure it out for the first six weeks of this season. They have been trying to figure a solution to the power outage at the plate since their new ballpark opened five years ago and they know Citi Field is not Yankee Stadium.

One media member in the Mets clubhouse commented, “The architects got it wrong” when it came to the construction of Citi Field. Of course they did, because Citi Field is not a hitter’s park, though opposing hitters have never seemed to complain when they bang out hits and the home runs, again maybe attributed to a psychological issue with the Mets over the years.

Whatever it is, this Mets team comes home Wednesday evening with a psychological advantage over the Yankees. Quickly, the mighty Yankees are not as invincible as they once were.  

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso  www.newyorksportsexaminer.com  



Sunday, May 4, 2014

#Tanaka Remains Unbeaten

#Tanaka Remains Unbeaten

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 4- On Saturday afternoon, the Yankees ended a three-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Tampa Rays. The outcome also terminated the three-game winning streak for the Rays.

Masahiro Tanaka, the starting pitcher for the Yanks, remained undefeated after his sixth start in the majors. His credit for the win raised his win/loss mark to 4-0 this season. During his stint on Saturday, the 25 year-old yielded eight hits and three runs. He did not issue a walk for the third of his six starting assignments. 

The five batters he fanned raised his total of strikeouts this season to 51, the fifth highest in the major leagues since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The win credited to Tanaka extends his two continent (Japan and North America) win streak to 32 regular season decisions. The last contest he lost occurred on August 9, 2012, when he pitched for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

On Saturday afternoon, Tanaka was not blessed with his best stuff. Both he and Yankee skipper Joe Girardi discussed the problem. Girardi commented, “I didn’t think his command with his fastball was too good at first [and] that got him into trouble.”

The young hurler admitted he had problems, “All my pitches weren’t there today. They weren’t crisp.”

As has happened on several occasions this year, Tanaka was touched for runs early in the game. Desmond Phillips, the second batter he faced, homered to right to put Tampa on the board in the first.

Three base hits led to a second Tampa run in the second.

The third and final run for the Rays was scored on a lead-off home run by Will Myers in the fourth. Myers loves the new Yankee Stadium as he has hit successfully in all 12 games he has played in the Bronx ballpark. He thus raised the mark for consecutive games hitting safely at the start of a career in either Yankee Stadium.

After the home run, Tanaka only surrendered two singles in his final four innings on the mound. This was noted by those most involved in the accomplishment. 

Yankee catcher Brian McCann remarked, “After the third inning, he settled down. It’s hard to believe he’s 25; he has such poise on the mound.”

His manager added to the words of praise, “He’s good at making adjustments. [With Tanaka], you’re going to get a guy who competes, who gives you distance and who keeps you in the game.”

Tanaka responded to questions about his early game difficulties, “I really don’t know why the slow starts. I wish I could be better. I’m glad I was able to battle my way back through the game.”

Interesting batting stats-Mark Teixeira’s first pitch home run in the fourth was his fourth in the last five games and his fifth in his last eight. The three hits by James Loney, first sacker for the Rays, upped his average in 23 games against the Yanks since signing with Rays before last season to .410. Ichiro Suzuki has hit safely in 9 of his 11 starts. His two doubles on Saturday moved his batting average to a team high .375. Three hits by Jacoby Ellsbury gave him a batting average of .346.

Starting the final game of the three game series on Sunday afternoon will be CC Sabathia for the Yanks and Erik Bedard for the Rays. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

From Hero to Zero

From Hero to Zero
Ca$h is King #Cano gets Bronx Cheer from Fan Faithful

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 30- Robinson Cano, one of the premier players in MLB, was the center of attention at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. For the first time he made his debut with the New York Yankees in 2005, Cano dressed in the visitor’s clubhouse and wore the uniform of the visiting club, the Seattle Mariners.

Several days earlier, Cano prophesied his feelings on the day of his return, “It’s going to be weird. It’s going to feel a lot different being on the other side.” 

Cano was on the Yankee side since he signed as a non-drafted free agent at the age of 17 on January 5, 2001. Interestingly, Cano’s father, Jose, was also drafted and signed by the Yankees. After several minor league seasons, he made his big league debut on May 3, 2005.

The native of the baseball hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic compiled outstanding statistics and received many honors during his nine seasons with the Yanks. 
The five-time American League All-Star, the last four as the starting second sacker, was a winner of the Silver Slugger five times and the Gold Glove twice. 

He has been especially effective in the last five years averaging 99 runs scored, 103 runs batted in, a batting average of .314, a slugging average of .530 and an on-base percentage of .369 per season. Cano was the winner of the 2012 Home Run Derby, and was named the MVP of the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC), leading his nation, the Dominican Republic to the championship with a batting average of .469.

Not surprisingly, his recent performances increased the interest by teams other than the Yankees to obtain the services of Cano for the future. To the shock of many and the disappointment and anger of Yankee rooters, Cano signed a 10-year contract worth $240 million with the Mariners on December 12, 2013. 

In a pre-game press conference in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Cano refused to be trapped by questions in English or Spanish that attempted to get him to discuss his contract negotiations or to criticize the Yankees, “I just want to move on and not talk about the past. I’m just happy to be back and see those guts again that I played with.”

Prior to the game, the new Mariner expressed hope that the New York fans would remember his nine years and react well to him “Hopefully, I’ll be treated nice by the fans.” In spite of his high hopes, he did show understanding of the psyche of partisan sports fans, “I know I’m not a Yankee anymore. I have to understand the reaction of the fans.”

Loud boos were heard after the mention of his name in the pre-game introductions. Those jeers paled in comparison to the negative reception he received when he walked to the plate for his first at bat. The booing did not cease until Cano took a third strike which was cheered. 

The Seattle second baseman struck out again in the eighth, but drove in a run in the fifth with a ground ball out. He got an infield single, stole a base and scored in the seventh. 

The game is now behind him, so hopefully the fans can concentrate on rooting for the success of their team rather than for someone’s failure.



Friday, April 11, 2014

One-Two Punch Sox Boston

One-Two Punch Sox Boston
Pitching, Hitting Takes Out Red Sox

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 11- Michael Pineda made his second start of the year and his first at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. His start on April 5 at Toronto was his first since September 21, 2011. His last victory in the majors came on July 30, 2011. A serious shoulder injury and surgery kept him out of the majors for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
In each of his starts this month, Pineda pitched six innings and gave up only one earned run. He was given the loss on April 5 because the Yankees were shut out. The situation was different five days later. 
Yankee batters managed more than one hit in only two innings but made those hits count. Jacoby Ellsbury was safe on an error to begin the fourth frame. Carlos Beltran followed with a single to right, his fourth hit in the last two games. Ellsbury scored the first run in the game as the next batter, Brian McCann, broke a 0 for 14 streak with a run batted in single. McCann spoke about the hit, “I found a hole. I really needed that hit.” The second run crossed the plate on a double play on Alfonso Soriano.
The Yanks scored their final two runs in the next inning. With one out, Dean Anna hit his first major league home run. The 27 year-old was acquired from the San Diego Padres in a trade on November 20, 2013. The native of Illinois made his major league debut on April 4. He said, “Words can’t explain it.” He then tried to, “It feels really good to hit a home run at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. He [Buchholz] threw a change-up [and] I hit it well.”
Asked if he felt like giving up after playing 554 minor league games before reaching the majors, the infielder remarked, “You just have to keep your head down and work, work, work.”
The second run scored that inning was by Derek Jeter, who doubled with two out. Jeter was driven in by a single from Ellsbury, in his first game against his former team. In a pre-game press conference, the new Yankee commented that playing for both the Red Sox and Yankees was “pretty special.”
The only Boston run was scored on a seventh inning lead-off homer by Daniel Nava.
The four runs for the Yankees were more than sufficient for the win because of Yankee pitching. Pineda’s six inning performance was impressive. He gave up one run and four hits, walked two and fanned seven. 
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi was pleased, “He pitched extremely well. He mixed his pitches, location was really good, he had command of the strike zone. We’re glad to have him back.”
David Phelps, the reliever who got the save with an outstanding 2.1 innings on the mound, also praised Pineda, “He [Pineda] did a great job carrying us. He keeps guys off balance.”
Girardi also gave credit to Phelps, “Outstanding performance on his part, got huge outs for us.”
CC Sabathia (Yanks) and Jon Lester (Red Sox) will be the starters of the second contest of the big rivalry on Friday night. 



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Always the Captain


Always the Captain

Jeter on Season: It’s not about me

Derek Tried to Focus on Yanks’ Season Rather than Retirement

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 20- Derek Jeter will be missed by the New York Yankees and their fans when his wonderful career concludes this season. Others will also miss his presence, including members of the media. And there are many reasons why the media will miss Jeter.

Derek Jeter was not a friend to the dozens who followed and chronicled his career on the field the past 20 years, rather we referred to Jeter as the professional who answered every question and never ducked an issue. He appreciated this end of the baseball business, and that was displayed again Wednesday at his retirement press conference down in Tampa Florida.

This was the start of Jeter’s retirement press tour. Time and time again, he will answer similar questions as he makes the final rounds around ballparks the Yankees visit. He was patient and understanding.

Then, there was this comment showing his concern to the media: “You can go off to work if you have to.” A few seconds after commenting about his retirement decision, Jeter momentarily took notice of some reporters leaving the pavilion at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Jeter once again, as he has been so accustomed to doing, did not want to be the center of attention. He was the story, and he will be this Yankees 2014 season. But, Jeter also is aware that the media has a job to do. With those words, to those few leaving the press area, Jeter was handling business.

This is spring training, about the New York Yankees quest and hopeful return to the post season in October. This day, according to Jeter, should not be about him. However, that is the side of Derek Jeter that we have all come to know. It was again, more about the Yankees and not about Derek Jeter.

His comments were to the point:

“I feel the time is right. There are other things I want to do. Physically I feel great and I look forward to playing a full season. The thing that means the most to me is to be remembered as a Yankee. Yeah, I’m emotional. It’s kind of difficult because we still have a season to play.”0

He did not laugh. Jeter did not cry. He said it was not a retirement press conference. “I have feelings,” he said.

And there have been times when we knew Derek Jeter had feelings. There have been the many times, and many more this final season when reporters await him by his dressing quarters. At the old and new Yankee Stadiums, the proper answer would always come from the Yankee captain.

Then there was this comment, so typical of what we always get to hear when Derek Jeter speaks.

“Every time the Yankees win,” he said about his favorite career moment. That had to be the toughest answer Wednesday, but one expected from Jeter. And if everything follows the Yankees illustrious history, the Yankees biggest win will come with a sixth World Series ring in the final season for Derek Jeter.

He said, “I think it would have been more of a distraction if I did not mention it,” referring to his retirement announcement on his social media Facebook page last week.

The point is, Derek Jeter has never been a distraction. He has done everything right as a New York Yankee and playing in the New York spotlight, well he handled that like a true professional.

He especially handled it right with the media. He will be missed. The good news is we get to enjoy watching Derek Jeter play one more season and like he said, baseball is fun to play.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso  www.newyorksportsexaminer.com

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Who is Pitching Phenom Masahiro Tanaka?




By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 23- Two days before the deadline for Masahiro Tanaka to sign with a major league team or return to his club in Japan, the New York Yankees announced the signing of the Japanese pitcher. Thus, they won the big sweepstakes of the 2014 pre-season with this signing. Several teams including the Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox and Diamondbacks were making a strong effort to sign the 25- year-old Japanese right handed hurler.

Although the young pitcher has yet to throw a pitch in MLB, he signed the fifth highest contract for a pitcher in the history of the majors. He was given $155 million for seven years with an opt-out clause after the fourth year in 2017. As the team that signed Tanaka, the Yankees will also have to pay the $20 million posting fee to the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). 

Tanaka began playing organized baseball as a little leaguer in his native country. He was a highly touted pitcher in high school before joining the Golden Eagles at the age of 18.

He immediately lived up to expectations as he was elected Rookie of the Year in 2007. 

Tanaka won 99 while dropping only 35 decisions in seven seasons in the Pacific League with an ERA of 2.30. He fanned 1,236 batters in 1,315 innings in 175 games. Unlike recent MLB stats, the righty completed 53 of his 172 starts. His strikeout/walk ratio is a startling 4.5-1 (1,236/275). 

His most recent three seasons were played at an even higher level of performance. He was 53-9 with a miniscule ERA of 1.44. Last year, he had a perfect 24-0 mark. 

The 25 year-old has pitched against international competition in the 2008 Olympics and in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) 2009 and 2013.

Obtaining the services of Tanaka has been a goal of the Yankees. The retirement of Andy Pettitte and the decision not to sign Phil Hughes left the team short two starters. The farm system of the Yankees has few, if any, pitchers who could make the jump to the majors and keep the team in the hunt for the championship. Tanaka will join Sabathia, Kuroda, and Nova in the rotation with a fifth starter, perhaps Pineda or Phelps, to be decided in Spring Training.

The Yankee ownership has, judging by the signings of McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran and Tanaka, shown dissatisfaction with an 85-win season in which they finished out of the playoffs for only the second time in the last 19 seasons.  

Although keeping this year’s salary below $189 million has been an organization goal, managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, at the press conferences for the signing of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, made it clear having a championship caliber team was the paramount objective. A Wednesday afternoon conference call, the Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman, remarked that these signings are proof that Hank and Hal Steinbrenner are very serious regarding raising the franchise to a level where they can compete for the World Series title.

Why the Yankees desired to obtain the services of Tanaka is much more obvious than why he chose the Yankees. There may be many reasons why he chose the Yankees, playing in New York City, having experienced players from his homeland like Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki as teammates, having his songstress wife, Mai Stoda, further here career in the international city, or receiving a call from former Yankee Hideki Matsui of his favorable experiences as a Yankee. The reasoning may be revealed at his first press conference as a Yankee.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is He Worth the Ca$h?


Is He Worth the Ca$h?

Tanaka is a risk for Yanks but the rotation looks better to put them on top
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 22- Spending never was an issue with the New York Yankees and that $189 million salary threshold by all means was not going to stop them. No, spending is not an issue when this organization is idle and not playing baseball in October. And for the Yankees it is not right to be watching, instead of playing baseball in October.
Throw away a theory that the Yankees were not going to spend their precious money, and with the agreement in place to sign Japanese right-hander Masaharo Tanaka, they may have assured themselves of playing baseball again this October.
Well from all accounts it appears the Yankees will play baseball in October. It is a long season. There are still questions about the infield with an aging Derek Jeter over at shortstop; second quality talent to fill the holes at second; at first Mark Teixeira is coming off an injury ridden season.
At seven years and $155 million, with an opt-out clause after four years, the seventh highest contract granted to a pitcher, Tanaka is a risk because he has never thrown a Major League Baseball pitch. But, the Yankees feel they got what they needed.
They saw Tanaka enough to be convinced, his 24-0 record and 1.27 ERA last season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles will work here. They may have solved the missing pieces of a puzzle. It gives manager Joe Girardi the leisure of throwing left-hander and ace CC Sabathia, followed by right-handers Hiroki Kuroda, Tanaka, Ivan Nova and David Phelps.
And Michael Pineda, who has not thrown a pitch since being acquired two years ago, could be the other right-hander in the mix along with Vidal Nuno who threw some quality pitches last season.   
A risk of seven years, Tanaka is one of four active pitchers now to have thrown over 1,000 innings, at or before 24-years of age.  The Yankees had the leverage to spend more with the departure of Robinson Cano to Seattle and the certain season-long suspension of Alex Rodriguez.  
So the Yankees were the team once again this off-season spending the money. With acquiring contracts of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, and now Tanaka, that is a combined $491 million.
Say what you want, this reminds one of the late George Steinbrenner. He took out his wallet and they came to the Bronx. The Steinbrenner sons, Hal and Hank, did not appear to be on that spending spree and perhaps the long-term and bad contract of A-Rod was a reason why.
However, the Yankees do not like to be idle in October. Declining attendance and hearing boos in the new house “That George built” was a message sent to baseball that they were not going to stand still. They threw out the bad A-Rod contract theory, and had the money.
All of a sudden a threshold of $189 million was insignificant.
Of course that figure is not important, because from all standards the Yankees have improved by spending money. However, the signing of Tanaka and others does not assure they will go all the way. With improvements they have made a step to be in the post-season this October.
It was 2009, the last time the Yankees spent all this money. You remember, the last time the team won a World Series with Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, oh, and a guy named Alex Rodriguez.
That is in the past of this illustrious Yankees franchise. The emphasis is now and the need to possibly find a replacement for Mariano Rivera, the all-time saves leader because David Robertson may not be suited for that role.
In the meantime, Tanaka will adjust to the different game and pitching to Major League baseball talent. He will get help from Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki who may have influenced his decision coming to the Bronx, a second factor of course to the contract.    
Tanaka tossed eight complete games and recorded two shutouts last season in Japan. He can make a big difference in a pitching staff that still had some question marks but that remains to be determined.
What has been determined is the Yankees have spent their money again, something that had never been an issue. And this latest signing of Tanaka assured that the organization will never be content unless they are playing baseball in October.
Time will tell if the Tanaka investment was worth the long-term risk. Rest assured for the moment it made the Yankees a better team in their quest for an October return.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Just Go Away A-Rod


Alex Rodriguez 162-game ban hopefully ends latest chapter of baseball steroid era and leaves room for Yankees

By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 13- There are so many questions that remain unanswered after an arbitrator ruled Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the 2014 season of 162 games and the post season. Will a federal court take on an appeal process and with $25 million off the books will the New York Yankees spend and go off their $189 million salary threshold?
One thing is certain, this is the harshest suspension leveled at a player during the steroid era. And with this, baseball can move on and hopefully close the last chapter to cheaters and performing enhancing drugs. 
Rodriquez will not go down without a fight. He loves the game and we could have seen the last of him in Yankee pinstripes and maybe the last time as an active player. At 40 years of age, after the suspension is served, A-Rod could still be a designated hitter if someone wants to take the risk.
Or, he could just fade away, but the ego and love of the game, let alone A-Rod trying to preserve whatever legacy he has, will not keep him away from the playing field.
Major League Baseball gets a victory here with the suspension, but did they? They are also culprits of the steroid saga. And through all of this, with A-Rod being implicated with obstruction of their investigation, baseball implemented drug testing with players when performance enhancing drugs was out of hand.
Added to the fact, in one defense for Alex Rodriguez, he was never administered a drug test because of the Biogenesis situation. This may have been a word vs. word situation with A-Rod, the other players implicated and the name of Anthony Bosch who headed the Biogenesis clinic.
But one thing is certain. This was a message that was sent to  the players and Major League Baseball scored a major victory even though the game has been damaged. Just take a look at the recent vote for enshrinement into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The supposed all-time home run leader, record holders and more have been denied their place up in Cooperstown because of their alleged involvement with steroids.
The following is a Alex Rodriguez Statement on the Decision of a 162-game ban and it explains something in his defense to continue his legacy: “The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.

I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.

I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal."
This is a historic suspension. The Yankees have been in the middle of this throughout the entire process of the hearing. A-Rod, notice at the conclusion of his statement, makes reference to returning on the field and helping the Yankees win another championship.
The Yankees have washed their hands with the situation and released a brief statement: “The New York Yankees respect Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel.”
But, surely the Yankees are looking at this from another perspective. And, perhaps baseball is as well. A-Rod has put himself in jeopardy many times with his admission of using PED’s in the past. Then, he says he did not do what has hopefully closed the chapter with a suspension that was rendered Saturday.
The Yankees, without having to pay $25 million of an A-Rod contract, have more money to spend in their quest to get back to the World Series as they pursue the highly touted right-handed pitcher from Japan, Masahiro Tanaka. Baseball, now that a decision has been made, hopefully will move on. The game for now is clean from further PED issues even though the players association does not agree with the severity of the 162-game suspension. 
Players have been sent a message about the risk and ramifications, and they can thank Alex Rodriguez for that because this was a historic suspension and a legacy has been tarnished.
It leaves to more questions about the legacy of Alex Rodriguez and where he goes from here.
COMMENT: Rich Mancuso Ring786@aol.com  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Soriano can't Save Slumping Yanks

C.C. Sabathia Rocked Again
Rays Top Yanks, 10-6

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, JULY 27- There was a feeling of excitement and happiness throughout Yankee Stadium on Friday night before the contest between the Yanks and Tampa Rays as the Yanks returned to the Bronx with an old favorite, Alfonso Soriano, in the starting lineup.

The good feeling subsided in the top of the second as the Rays scored six runs before the frame concluded. The Rays’ barrage included three singles, three doubles and a base on balls. The scoring was also aided by a throwing error by catcher Austin Romine. The inning only ended after a run batted in single by impressive rookie Will Myers, who was out at second trying to stretch.

Of Sabathia’s difficulty that inning, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi commented, “He was up tonight. Only one run was in with one out. That was probably the most frustrating part.”

Sabathia reflected after the contest, “I wish I could have made the pitches in the second that I did in the third.”

Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia surrendered a seventh run in his final inning, the fifth. Right fielder Sean Rodriguez led off with a double and crossed the plate on single by James Loney.

Sabathia’s start on Friday was disturbingly similar to his last two efforts. He gave up a minimum of seven runs and did not last more than five innings in each of the three games. The lefty disgustedly remarked, “Getting no help from me is tough.”

The record shows that the Rays love to bat against southpaws. The victory over Sabathia was their 10th in the last 11 games in which they faced a lefthander.
The Rays took a 10-1 advantage in the seventh. Myers led off with a single, giving him a seventh straight multi-hit game. After a walk to Matt Joyce, Loney blasted a three run homer. The first sacker continued his hitting mastery on the road. The major league leader in road batting average hit safely in his 14th straight contest on the road and reached base safely in his 33rd road start.

The Yanks in the final two innings did not die quietly as they put five runs on the board. Rookies Melky Mesa and David Adams, each of who entered the game in the eighth, each got two hits in two trips to the plate.

The month long success of the Rays has propelled them to the top of the standings in the American League East. Since June 29th, the Rays have been victorious in 20 of 23 games. Since that date, they have climbed from fourth place, seven games behind the league leader to first place, 0.5 ahead of the Red Sox.

Ivan Nova (4-3) and Chris Archer (5-3) will be the starting pitchers on Saturday afternoon.