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Step Aside, Reyes
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Jose Reyes may be on the cover of ESPN Magazine this week, but there’s another 23-year-old Dominican infielder in New York that deserves a heaping helping of praise.

I am, of course, referring to dear Robby Cano, NYY second baseman and hitter extraordinaire. Where would the Yankees be without him? In case you’ve forgotten (and who could blame you, I try to block it out as well), the Yanks were paying Mr. Tony Womack to jack up double plays and strike out for a solid month before we saw Cano last year, and I shudder to think of what their record may have been had the Yanks continued to trust TW.

Cano had a great rookie year, turning 77 double plays and hitting .297 in 2005, but it is his 2006 performance that has everyone buying #22 jerseys (Yankees Chick included). He has been absolutely amazing all season, hitting well enough to draw comparisons to Hall of Famer Rod Carew and make a run for the batting title. Even after missing 6 weeks with a bum hamstring, Cano has knocked in over 70 runs and has hit 40 doubles and 15 homers. His OBP is pretty dismal—he’s walked just 18 times all season, and I’m pretty sure that at least 13 of those were due to dust in the home plate umpire’s eyes—but with a .343 batting average I’m willing to make some oversights.

If his numbers aren’t enough to win you over as a devotee, perhaps his humanitarian efforts will impress you. He’s become a regular visitor at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center in New York over the past 2 seasons and even visited a hospital in Florida when the Yankees were in town for spring training, and he has donated lots of baseball equipment to communities in his home country. Cano’s community service even inspired one of Big Stein’s assistants to write a children’s book about Cano and a young cancer patient he met at the Children’s Hospital (right, although I'm not sure why the illustrator chose to portray Cano as a middle-aged white man)!

With the Yanks’ playing the best ball they’ve played in years, Cano’s feats have almost been overshadowed by all the Abreu walks and Jeter hit-streaks. The whole lineup has really pulled together to put the Yankees on top of the division, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from singling out Robby as one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. Come on, ESPN: give the kid a cover.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Thursday, September 28, 2006   3 comments
It’s Clinch Time, Baby: Let’s Wrap This Motha Up
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Sheffield seems like he might be an angry drunk, but bring on the champagne anyway

The air is getting cooler, my friends, and you know what that means: the post-season is upon us!

Matsui and Sheffield are both back on the roster and Carl Pavano is still on the DL, and the Yanks are just an A-Rod bloop single or Mirabelli strike-out away from joining the Mets as playoff locks. As we all learned in 2004, its best to avoid counting playoff chickens before they hatch, but I’m an optimistic gal and A-Rod has been hitting well lately, so I think it’s safe to start thinking about who they’ll likely be facing in October.

None of the Yanks’ potential October opponents have been officially determined yet, but the A’s are leading the western division by 6 games, and Detroit and Minnesota are battling it out for the central division title. The White sox are several games back in their division but could feasibly grab the wild card spot if either the Twins or Tigers drop the ball. Unlike last year, when the Yanks had to play at full force right through the bitter end to secure their spot as division champs, an early clinch will allow Torre to rest up his a-team before the ALDS – that one advantage could actually give the Yanks a good edge against their exhausted challengers.

The first round of playoff play cannot pit two teams from the same division against each other, so the Yankees will be facing the Twins, Tigers or White Sox first. The A’s and Yanks won’t face off against each other unless each of them can trump their first-round opponent, but let’s take a gander at the key numbers for all 5 teams:

As of

9/20/06

Home

Record

Away Record

Batting Ave

Batting Ave w/ RISP

OBP

SLG%

ERA, Starters

ERA, Relievers

Yankees

47-28

45-31

.284

.286

.364

.458

4.53

4.18

Tigers

45-30

45-31

.273

.275

.326

.445

3.95

3.38

Twins

50-24

39-37

.285

.294

.347

.425

4.51

3.03

White Sox

47-29

38-37

.283

.312

.345

.466

4.53

3.98

A’s

46-30

41-33

.260

.239

.340

.412

4.43

3.44



As of 9/20/06

Home

Away

Yankees vs Tigers

2-1

3-1

Yankees vs Twins

2-1

1-2

Yankees vs White Sox

3-0

1-2


Dogpile on Pavano!
The Yankees match-up fairly well with all 4 of their potential opponents, and it’s important to remember that the Yankees have been improving consistently over the course of the season. The Big Unit and even Jarret Wright have perked up significantly and much of the Yankees’ success was achieved without the help of Matsui, Sheff or Cano. The pitching of the Twins and Tigers will be a challenge, but the Yanks boast league-leading OBP numbers and solid slugging, too - if A-rod can keep hitting and if Matsui’s wrist remains intact, the Yanks have a great shot at steamrolling right past the Twins, Tigers, A’s and/or White Sox into the World Series.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, September 20, 2006   4 comments
Matsui is Back to Attack
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Advertisers across Japan let out a huge sigh of relief yesterday...and then promptly put up 90,823,487,912 new ads featuring Matsui's face

It took surgery and 4 arduous months of rehab, but the break heard ‘round the world has finally healed. Matsui returned to the lineup last night, making fans in the Bronx and a whole bunch of Japanese advertising execs very, very happy.

Way back in May when Mark Loretta maliciously struck dear Matsui down with a fly ball (sabotage mission?), it was unclear how long it would take for him to heal up or if he would even be able to get his skills back up to snuff after such a serious break. As recently as this month, ESPN Magazine speculated that even if Matsui did return to the lineup, the fact that the break was in his left wrist (his top hand when he bats, since he is a lefty) would prevent him from performing the way the Yankees have come to expect and enjoy during the past 3 years.

Matsui is not interested in “medical science” or “batting logistics”, though. He is interested in one thing: baseball. What he exhibited last night with his 4 hits (all off different pitchers) and 1 base-on-balls was more than just talent; Matsui is one seriously dedicated player.

As for the Yanks’ other wrist-breaker, Sheffield seems to have been lost in the excitement of Matsui’s long-awaited return. Shef is apparently eager to get back into the game, but since there is really nowhere to put him Torre is taking his time activating him. Melky, Abreu and Damon have the outfield under control; and with Matsui in the DH spot Giambi will be playing 1st base regularly; when Shef returns there will be some serious shuffling to do.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, September 13, 2006   5 comments
Injuries, Shminjuries: Watch Out, AL
Friday, September 08, 2006
Torre kindly offers golf balls to the teams that won't be around in October.

With Matsui lighting up the minors and Sheffield also on the road to recovery, Mariano Rivera was understandably concerned that the Yankees wouldn’t have enough injured players anymore. Always reliable, Mo stepped up to the task and strained his pitching elbow, ensuring that the Yanks will be without him for a week or so. Heaven forbid the Yankees have a healthy, complete lineup for the first time since April!

Joking aside, Mariano’s right elbow is mildly strained, but it doesn’t appear to be anything that a few days of rest can’t fix. With the Yanks up 9 games in the AL East, there is no need to push Mo (right, busting the dance move that is likely to blame for the elbow trouble) to pitch when he’s not feeling tip-top; both Torre and Mariano are wise enough to know that a healthy Mo is critical if they want to get past the first round of the playoffs this year (lucky for the Yanks, the Angels will most likely not be playing much baseball outside of their own backyards come October). The rest of the bullpen has been picking up the slack for Mo, and while no one can compete with Mariano’s overpowering presence, Ron Villone and especially Scott Proctor have been irrefutable blue-ribbon workhorses this year for the Yanks and even ol’ Farny has been better of late. Dotel hasn’t been quite as exciting as I had hoped, but he threw scoreless innings in both of the last 2 games he appeared in and he is still recovering from the TJ surgery so my hopes for him are not all lost. Brian Bruney, who was scratched by Arizona and subsequently picked up by the Yanks earlier this season, has also been getting some playing time in Mariano’s absence and he just might have staying power: his ERA is 1.08 after 8 bullpen appearances.

As I mentioned above, Matsui and Sheff are both on the mend from their wrist surgeries (left: this is what you automatically look like when you break your wrist) and Matsui is slated to return next week! Rather than risk another dive-and-break injury in the outfield, Torre plans to use Matsui strictly as a DH for the rest of the season. When Sheff, whose return date still hasn’t been announced, returns to the show, he’ll most likely be splitting first base duty with Giambi. Where this leaves Craig Wilson, who has been playing first when Giambi is the DH, and dear Bernie is uncertain. “Out in the cold” is probably the answer for Wilson, but my guess is that Torre will continue to use Bernie several times each week either in the field to give Damon or Abreu a rest or as a late-inning pinch-hitter.

With Boston essentially rolling over and calling it a day and just 24 games left to play, the Yanks are very nearly a lock for a playoff spot. Even without Matsui and Sheffield the Yankees have been playing better than they have since 2000; with those two joining the lineup by the time the post-season begins I’d be very nervous if I were a Tigers, Oakland, Chicago or Twins fan…

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Friday, September 08, 2006   4 comments
2 Sluggers, a Captain and a Pizza Place MVP
Monday, September 04, 2006
The 2006 AL MVP race has been hotter than the ’04 presidential election and there’s just about a month to go for the candidates to finish up their campaigns for the title. AL big shots like Jeter, Mauer, Thome, Dye, Papi have been kissing babies and shaking hands with war veterans all season to get the fans and baseball writers on their side and each one of them makes a good case for the award. Jeter, Ortiz and Dye have emerged as the big 3 in the competition, but whittling those down to just 1 is tough. Papi and Dye have both been RBI and homer machines and Jeter has been hitting for the best average of his career. All three are obviously very important to their respective teams, but which one is the most valuable?

Let’s have a look at the 2006 numbers for the frontrunners:

Generally speaking, the MVP is taken to mean “best player” and the best athlete in the league wins. By this definition, Jeter should be the clear winner. His numbers are incredible and he hasn’t hit a slow spot all year; there is little room for argument that he has played better than Papi and Dye throughout the season. If the award were truly for the Most Valuable Player, though, I would see a strong argument for Papi to take the cake (figuratively…he does not need to eat any more fattening foods). Jeter’s numbers are better, but the Red Sox would not have lasted in the post-season running for nearly as long as they did if not for Papi’s clutch hits and walk-off homers.

"I don't 'do' defense"
Papi may have saved the Red Sox from a truly miserable season, but I still foresee the MVP going to Jeter. Not only are his offensive numbers superior to Papi’s and Dye’s—he may not have the homers, but I’ll take that batting average and OBP any day!—but he plays great defense daily, which should not be discounted. I know it seems obvious for the Yankees Chick to root for Jeter over Papi, but I consider myself to be a fairly objective baseball buff and the bottom line is that the award is not just an offensive award, nor is it an award for the player who is most helpful to his team. Papi and Dye are having great years and are doing their best to keep their respective teams in the playoff running, but Jeter is simply head and shoulders above the competition in the AL.


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posted by Yankees Chick @ Monday, September 04, 2006   5 comments
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Home: San Diego, CA, United States
About Me: Just your average 26 year old Yankees lovin' gal from the SD.
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