The free agency dance begins

I realize that the Yankees had a bit of a deadline with their potential free agents, but Monday seems to have been heavily laden with news for its public. Well, not really complete news, more like the beginning of news.

When looking at potential free agents coming off their roster, a club can make “qualifying offers” to agents they don’t want to let go. It’s usually seen as a sign that says “we’re still interested in you and retaining you even if we’re only offering a year contract to you”. Most players don’t take it and opt to go for bigger, longer contracts (even if it’s with the same club), and by doing so, they actually gift the club with a prime draft pick for the next draft (next July). Last year, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano were offered qualifying offers, both opted free agency, and both were signed pretty quickly elsewhere (Cleveland and Washington, respectively).

This year, they made offers to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Hiroki Kuroda. There is a lot of speculation already as to what they’re each going to do, and I’ve been doing my own private speculating. But since I don’t speculate here, you’ll know if I’m right after the player deadline of November 11 to respond to the offer — they will either take it and sign for a year with the Yankees or refuse it and try for a better offer elsewhere. And honestly, I think we’ll be looking at three very different results for these guys.

Now, there were some people who didn’t get qualifying offers from the Yankees — Brendan Ryan, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Reynolds, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan. This means that all of these guys are now officially free agents, and their agents are probably busy exploring all options available to their clients. It will be interesting to see where everyone lands, and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees picked up a couple of these guys at least for a year or two.

Almost on the other spectrum of things, the National Baseball Hall of Fame has released its latest ballot and is to be voted on next month by the Veterans’ Committee. There are 12 men on that list that have had a major impact on baseball history, including Joe Torre, Billy Martin, and George Steinbrenner. I think in all Yankee fans’ minds all three should get at least the required 75% votes to walk into Cooperstown next year. The annual players ballot will be released later this month and will include the five players who didn’t make the it last year but had enough vote to carry over for this coming year and a whole slew of really amazing newcomers including former Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina.

Like I said, it’s really just a “beginning of news” kind of day. At first, it sounds like there’s news, but really it’s just  something that could develop into news someday soon. But when I think about it, baseball is always an evolving story. Even when a team wins the World Series, they have to spend the off-season rebuilding and focusing on developing their dynasty. The 2012 Giants, for example, barely made any changes last off-season and ended up holding up the bottom of the NL West in 2013; they figured “why mess with success?” and it backfired big time on them. So, now they’re working on figuring out what went wrong with their 2013 formula and what went right with 2012 and then how they can make 2014 work better for them.

And (not that I ever want to glorify the Yankees’ arch-rivals) then you have the Red Sox who were easily the worst team in 2012, fired their manager, shuffled their roster, picked up some prime guys from all over free agency, and somehow powered their way to the top of the AL and became World Series Champions just a few weeks ago. But now, the Red Sox are going to spend their entire 2014 season defending their title. This is actually good news for the Yankees because unlike almost every other team in the league only the Yankees know what it’s like to establish and maintain a dynasty. Is anyone else hoping 2014 starts a new dynasty?

Go Yankees!

This day in Yankees history — Gehrig, Martin, & today

I spent most of today waiting for the ball to drop on recent events. And seeing as if nothing’s been confirmed and we don’t talk about speculation or rumors on here, I am forced instead to write on something else, which actually works in everyone’s favor in the long run, I think. Instead of dealing in assumptions (like so many other blogs, news reports, and tweets seem to be doing today), I want to glance into the past and take a look at a couple of fun stories from Yankees history.

Lou Gehrig

Back in 1937, the Yankees were battling their way toward what would be their sixth World Series title, Murders’ Row was all but disbanded, but the roster was still jam-packed with eventual Cooperstown-bound names like Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, and a young Joe DiMaggio under manager Joe McCarthy. The veteran name on the team, however, was none other than Lou Gehrig. On this day 76 years ago, Gehrig hit for the cycle in a single game against the St. Louis Browns. Gehrig was finishing what would be his last great year before ALS would start deteriorating his body, when he sliced a beautiful 2-run home run, a single, a double, and a triple, going 4-for-5 to help the Yankees topple the Browns that day 14-5 in old Yankee Stadium. It was his second career cycle (the first one was 3 years earlier), but it was barely mentioned in the papers. But then again, Gehrig always played the game well, very Yankee-like, without demanding much attention or recognition. He just loved to play the game — kind of reminds me of some of my favorite players on the current roster. (Another blog recalled the history here.)

A particular event in 1975 certainly changed the Bronx Bombers forever. George Steinbrenner fired manager Bill Virdon, who never won a game at Yankee Stadium. Instead, he put Billy Martin as manager, which became the first of his five hirings to run the team. (Just Google the Billy Martin-George Steinbrenner saga for more details on their continuing feud through the 70’s.) The Yankees were playing at Shea Stadium in Queens, sharing the field with the Mets for the 1974-1975 seasons while Steinbrenner remodeled and updated Yankee Stadium, which is sometimes blamed for their downturn during the early 70’s. Martin was picked up just days after being fired from the Rangers and began the journey to bring the World Series title back to the Bronx in 1977 and 1978, despite his very obvious feuds with Steinbrenner and new hot-shot player Reggie Jackson. Martin’s number (#1) is now retired out in Monument Park. I sometimes wonder how many times during his career that he doubted he’d even have an office the next day, let alone a permanent fixture at Yankee Stadium.

Today, the current Yankees (most of whom weren’t even born when Martin was hired) are spending their off-day in San Diego before starting their weekend series tomorrow. I’m not a huge fan of the big “travel day” when you’re just hours by car (and they fly the 40 minutes from LA to San Diego) from your next destination. But a day off is a day off. And San Diego sounds nice this time of year.

Across the league, there is some major movement on the injury front.

  • Curtis Granderson will be joining his teammates tomorrow in San Diego, but his place on the roster is still uncertain with an already packed outfield with Gardner, Suzuki, Wells, and Soriano already filling out that area pretty well.
  • Alex Rodriguez participated in a simulated game in Tampa today and is now scheduled to join AA Trenton this weekend and may end up on the Yankees line up early next week in Chicago, barring any further set-backs.
  • Francisco Cervelli is having recurring set-backs in both his broken finger and his elbow. I think this is a real shame because he worked so hard to make it this year after being sent back down last year. He is scheduled to see another doctor next week to determine the next course of action.
  • And Kevin Youkilis’ name is back in circulation again after his back surgery. His healing and rehab seem to be progressing better than expected, and now there seems to be a slight chance that he might rejoin the team later this year (think: right before play-offs, like late September, if at all).
What baseball is all about…

So with all this talk and wondering what’s going to happen with recent investigations, let’s remember that there is so much to love about this game. And take a stand against those who would try to sully it with cheating or scandals or inappropriate behavior. After all, it’s supposed to be a kid’s game, it’s supposed to be clean, and it’s supposed to be fun. Baseball hasn’t lost its fun; you just have to know where to look for it.

Go Yankees!

Games 70 & 71: LAD vs. NYY — Splitting the difference

Due to yesterday’s rain out, the Yankees and Dodgers pulled doubleheader duty today in the Bronx, with about a 3 hour break in between to clean the stadium, reset the field, and admit the new crowd (though I suspect some repeat customers). Today, 6 was the magic number for both teams as each score 6 in a game to win. That’s right, the Yankees took the first game 6-4 and the Dodgers shut them out of the second game 6-0.

The first game was really a great game for the Yankees, taking advantage of the Dodgers errors (they made 4 in that game) and really using the momentum to keep the consistent offense behind pretty good pitching by Hiroki Kuroda against his former team. Kuroda threw 107 pitches through 6.2innings, keeping the Dodgers scoreless through 6 full innings. But it was his allowed single and walk in the 7th that started the Dodgers rally when they both scored before the inning was over. A 2-run home run for the Dodgers in the 8th would add to their totals and put the Yankees in a save position, hence Mariano Rivera’s 10 pitch 9th inning — 3-up, 3-down for his 25th save of the season.

Offensively, the Yankees seemed to find holes in the Dodgers defense early on in the game. Lyle Overbay hit a nice double deep out to center field to score 2 runs in the 2nd inning and Ichiro Suzuki solo-homered out to the right field seats in the 6th. On what would be the messiest play I’ve seen all season, in the 7th inning, the Dodgers allowed Vernon Wells to reach 1st base on a fielding error and a run in on a sloppy throw to second. Here’s what happened: Wells popped up to the pitcher, who ended up missing it and fielding it like a Little Leaguer; Wells runs to 1st safely, so the pitcher throws it to 2nd to get the runner going there, but overthrows it, so Cano advances to 3rd and Nix scores; 2 errors on the pitcher in a single play. (Video is with the errors mention earlier.) Then a soft Ichiro single manages to score 2 runs at the bottom of that inning to cement the final run for the Yankees.

The player of that game is definitely Ichiro Suzuki, going 3-for-4 at bat, driving in 4 RBIs, and (as usual) playing outstanding defense. (Though there were two nice defensive plays by Cano and Gardner to get out the newest star of the Dodger line-up, who is making some big mistakes due to his over-eagerness/over-aggressiveness.)

The second game began with that old sinking feeling, as evidenced by starter Phil Hughes giving up 5 hits and 2 runs (both RBI singles with no outs recorded yet) in just the 1st inning. But the Dodgers weren’t done (remember, I said 6 runs earlier?). An RBI double in the 3rd and an RBI single and sacrifice fly in the 5th put LA up 5-0. Hughes went 6 innings, allowing 10 hits and 5 runs, on what won’t be described as one of his better outings. Short of a first pitch homer off Adam Warren (recently recalled to replaced injured players, see below), Warren was able to keep the Dodgers from gaining more ground in tonight’s game. I really like what Warren can contribute to the team, and he seems to be able to throw short- and long-term relief as well as some minor dabbling with starting. He really could prove a vital part of the pitching staff for a long time, should he keep his consistency and health.

And while Warren was definitely a contender for my POTG for game 2, my player of the game for game 2 is David Adams. He played in both games today, starting at 3rd base. And though he failed to get anything short of a sacrifice bunt offensively, his defensive role is really cementing his place on the Yankees roster, like this great diving catch in the 3rd inning of the second game. He played key roles in many of the infield plays and outs and is always ready to hustle. With Kevin Youkilis out for the next 10 weeks, at least, following back surgery for a bulging disk, Adams will continue to play a key part in what’s known as the “hot corner”, a role he is filling out very well. Now to work on that offense…

It’s never easy to split your victories in a series, let alone a single day of play. But on days like this, it’s rather fun to watch the stamina and potential of those not quite at veteran status yet. It’s a chance to see their level of professionalism and strength. When you’re the low guy on the totem pole, so to speak, you’ll spend quite a bit of time on the bench waiting to be called in to pinch hit, pinch run, or give some guy a day off. But with doubleheaders and the recent rash of injuries, the newbies have had to step up their everyday (or nearly everyday) playing time and skills to help the team. I once heard that the old saying “practice makes perfect” is wrong because you can be practicing the wrong things and never make perfect and you’ll forever wonder why. So instead “perfect practice makes perfect” is what the goal should be. And I’m thinking this is what these guys get challenged with a lot lately.

We’ve already seen some guys come and go, but there are those who have stayed, despite outcomes. Maybe it’s a mix of clubhouse chemistry, maybe it’s the potential the “big guys” see in them, maybe it’s the newbies’ willingness to work and push and challenge themselves further than what they originally expected, or maybe it’s all of these. Last year, we saw what happened when Gardner went down. Instead of looking outside for help, the Yankees looked at the guys they acquired to sit on their bench or DH, like Raul Ibanez, the “King of New York”, due to his postseason amazingness. You never know about those great moments — where they come from or when they come, but you are always grateful when they do, for those steps you took to set the things in motion to see all the pieces fall into place and turn that “perfect practice” into sweet perfection.

Go Yankees!

Standards, injuries, and the “old guard”

Injury news alert — they’re everywhere…

On the new injury front:

  • Mark Teixeira may or may not be placed on the Disabled List because he won’t be playing for at least the rest of the week.
  • Kevin Youkilis is still awaiting his results from the doctor regarding his back injury. Back injuries are tricky, so they are exercising extreme caution with him and his progress.

And in Tampa:

  • Michael Pineda (the long-awaited fireball pitcher) is on his rehab assignment in with Advanced-A Tampa; he is on track to finally be with the team next month.
  • Alex Rodriguez will face live pitching tomorrow, after getting batting practice and fielding grounders today.
  • Derek Jeter began swinging in the batting cage today and took some minimal grounders at short.
  • Eduardo Nunez, looking to rejoin the Yankees before the All-Star Break, hit off the tee, threw long toss, and took ground balls today.
  • Curtis Granderson will see the doctor on Thursday to have the pin taken out of his hand, which will allow him to begin rediscovering his grip and hand strength.
  • Francisco Cervelli is on track for a return right around the All-Star Break, going through basic fielding drills today. He will begin swinging a bat underwater.

And there is a run of recent injuries in AAA Scranton as well hitting Ronnier Mustelier, Melky Mesa, and Corban Joseph. This makes GM Brian Cashman looking forward to another meeting with fellow GMs to discuss trade options before the trade deadline at the end of July.

Cashman seemed rather pessimistic during his press conference earlier today, and I suppose right now these do seem rather bleak. I mean, the team can’t seem to go a week without someone spending an extended amount of time in a doctor’s office. And I do have to admit that there are times I get more than a little bummed about the outlook of such a fractured (pun intended) team. But like I’ve been saying a lot this week, that’s just continuous negativity and that accomplishes nothing good.

So the Yankees have hit a low point in their season. That’s just reality. But I was checking up on other teams that played today and I saw the statistics with them. There are some teams that are barely pulling in 10,000 people per game (the Yankees are averaging around 30,000 across the country). And other teams have been hit with recent strings of injuries. And there are several teams hitting the same kind of mid-season slump. Other teams are also flirting with inconsistency in their average game performances. But because they are the Yankees and those standards for excellence are high, it’s a bigger deal than it probably should be.

That high standard is a wonderful thing, but it’s also how people seem to measure epic failure when the team isn’t hitting that standard on a regular basis. I know the standard of the “old guard” is anything short of the world championship is failure, and seeing as we’re not in an assured spot to even make the playoffs right now, I’m guessing the “old guard” isn’t too happy with the current direction.

So while Cashman, Girardi, and company work their magic to turn this team around, I’m forced to go back to my old standard for baseball players — ability, teamwork, and character. With so many new guys or replacements, I’m not sold on how they measure up yet. I think they all have the ability, or they wouldn’t be playing at this level. The teamwork aspect definitely needs some overall work because this is where they recently have had some obvious holes; the defense is immediately affected and the overall clubhouse vibe is indirectly affected. And the character factor really plays into how the individuals react to conflict, disappointment, and even celebration; and again, since we’re dealing with relatively new players, we’re not sure how everyone stacks up in this area, though some recent events have displayed some character qualities that reveal how some players measure up here.

Maybe that’s what made the Yankees work so well before. Everyone on the team (with some minor exceptions) fit these categories and excelled, especially where it counts most (character and teamwork). And at the end of the day, I’d rather see a team that functioned as a team and was full of integrity than some convoluted patchwork of superstar athlete divas. Again, teams win games, not individuals, especially not divas. So maybe that’s what we’re missing right now — the team. And with the guy that usually pulls everyone together as a team nearly 1200 miles away, it’s going to be up to someone else to step up and rally the troops, as it were, and get everyone back on the road to that ultimate victory — the World Series. And there’s no doubt in my mind that in roughly 4 months, we could be talking about the Yankees as world champions once again.

Go Yankees!

Game 67: NYY vs. LAA — Shuffling the deck

Apparently, in the midst of a team-wide slump, the Yankees decided to do some shuffling of the players around to see if a change could spark a bit of life back into some of those hitting those skids. Kevin Youkilis woke up with some numbness in his feet that wouldn’t go away, so he’s placed on the DL until they know what’s going on with his back (the usual cause for such an ailment). Adam Warren (who was really outstanding yesterday) was sent to AAA to call up pitcher Chris Bootcheck and outfielder Thomas Neal (both played in tonight’s game). To make room for Neal and Bootcheck, the Yankees transferred still-recovering Eduardo Nunez to the 60-day DL and recently recovered Cesar Cabral to stay with the team he’s been on rehab assignment with — AA Trenton.

On the field, they gave Cano a half day and used him as DH, moved David Adams to cover 2nd base, Nix at 3rd, and Neal in Right (Ichiro would replace in the 8th inning). Shuffling didn’t seem to help the Yankees win against the Angels tonight because it certainly didn’t help them play as a team behind starting pitcher Andy Pettitte. And while Pettitte certainly wasn’t at his best tonight, I think he has grown accustomed to the great defense, especially in the infield, to help him out on a weaker outing. His usual suspects weren’t there to help him out, so he unfortunately took tonight’s loss. Pettitte ended up allowing 11 of the Angels’ 13 hits and 4 of their 5 runs, and even after escaping some really tight jams, it’s a shame that he still has to celebrate his 41st birthday tomorrow coming off tonight’s loss.

Chris Bootcheck came in to pitch in the 8th inning and looked a little rusty having spent the last three years in the minors. Tonight, he gave up 2 hits and a run, walked two batters, and threw 30 pitches in one inning (just 18 were strikes). If he wants a more regular place in the bullpen, he’s going to have to get a little more Adam Warren and a lot less {name redacted for positivity’s sake}.

Now, my player of the game is most certainly David Adams. He made some truly fantastic plays from 2nd base, including a really great flat-out diving catch and toss to 1st for an out early in the game. He also was responsible for the only 2 runs the Yankees scored in the game with a really nice 2-RBI single in the 4th inning. And honestly, I’m going to give him the nod for good sportsmanship on a wonky play in the 7th inning. It is customary for the junior fielders to cede a play to a more senior fielders, which in the middle infield meant Adams must cede to Reid Brignac (at shortstop), unless he calls it. Well, a fly ball goes up and both players go for it, but Adams notices Brignac’s approach and steps off his effort. Neither calls the play and the ball plops down between them for a base hit on what should have been an easy out, followed by the two exchanging some rather heated words for few moments. (I wish I had a video link.) I don’t imagine that incident will go unnoticed by anyone that matters, and it’s one of those plays that once it happens, it won’t happen again.

Today’s one of those days you might actually miss the no-namers of April making a big splash all over Major League Baseball. But when I look on the field, I see a whole bunch of no-namers. Just today’s no-namers weren’t playing as a team. Okay, except for a few excellent exceptions. And I have to note there were two rather excellent throws to home to keep the Angels from really racking up the score any more than the 5-2 they ended up with. Austin Romine, while definitely needing to improve his offense, is proving rather consistent behind the plate, especially when it comes to blocking a runner, like one in the 6th when Wells threw a very long ball from left field directly to Romine to tag out a LA runner from scoring. They compared this one to the one from yesterday’s long game between Wells and catcher Stewart.

Look, bottom line is the Angels clearly out-played the Yankees tonight, which is weird because the Yankees (on paper, at least) should be a better team. But they’re hitting LA in the middle of this slump, which just makes the season-long slumping Angels looks like a better team. Well, maybe they are a better team right now because when the time came for the Angels to make some team-related plays, they made them (not as cleanly as one might like, but they were made nonetheless) — something the Yankees didn’t really execute well tonight. And again that’s a shame for those who made an effort and played well. But again, like I’ve always said (and how certain teams are proving this point since Day 1 of the season), you can have all the “best” players in league, but if they don’t play as a team, you just don’t win games. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the team’s win-loss record and not the individual

So go (Team) Yankees! (And a happy birthday to Andy Pettitte!)

Game 54: BOS vs. NYY — Back in business & ain’t it grand

Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis picked a great night to come back. The rivalry of the Boston-New York is alive and well, especially as the two teams are currently battling for domination over the AL East. And coming off a 5-game losing streak, the Yankees certainly needed a win tonight, and a win is what they got thanks to the dominance of CC Sabathia. Sabathia was in fine form tonight, throwing 109 pitches over 7.1 innings, allowing only 1 run (an RBI double in the 7th) off 6 hits, walking no one, and striking out 10 Red Sox batters. That last statistic alone is what makes me think Sabathia is back in true form. Most teams are lucky to get 10 strikeouts over an entire game from 3 pitchers; in fact, the Red Sox notched 8 Yankee strikeouts for all 3 of their pitchers tonight, and their starter is about as good as Sabathia with his form and consistency, including strikeouts.

But the Yankees weren’t going to let their slide continue. So the offense struck early. Teixeira earned a lead-off walk in the 2nd inning, Vernon Wells doubled, Jayson Nix singles and scored Teixeira (nice way to mark your 2013 MLB debut), a strike out, Ichiro Suzuki singles Wells home, and a double play to end the inning. The Yankees were 2-0 very quickly.

Then we had some drama in the 5th inning, with a close call on David Adams, for which Girardi went out to argue and promptly was ejected from the game. Unfortunately, the umpires got the call right, but it was nice to make a fight for his player. At the end of the inning, Kevin Youkilis singles to hit in Ichiro to make it 3-0, and right after he scored the run, Stewart makes a run for 3rd and is tagged out for the 3rd out. It’s not often that you can score a run and make the 3rd out in what is essentially the final play of the inning.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, after two Yankee singles by Ichiro and Stewart, a replacement pitcher allows a single to Brett Gardner which scored Ichiro again for the 4-1 final score. The bullpen finally kept the Yankees from doing any further damage, getting the next five batters out straight.

On the Yankees’ side of things, David Robertson is really developing very nicely in his role as set-up man for Mariano Rivera. Both threw excellent games tonight to wrap up the final 5 outs in the game. To me, a near perfect game is when Sabathia starts through 7 innings, Robertson sets-up in the 8th, and Rivera closes for the save in the 9th. And that’s what we saw tonight. And with recent bouts of inconsistency on some of these very reliable pitchers, it was rather reassuring to see these three back into their usual momentum and excellence.

To make room for Teixeira and Youkilis on the roster, Ivan Nova and Vidal Nuno were optioned to AAA Scranton, which means either of them can be pulled up again easily if they are needed, but they will be able to play more on a regular basis rather than waiting for a bullpen opening.

Also on the random news front, the postponed Blue Jays-Yankees game from May 19 will be made up August 20 in the early game of a doubleheader to start off their next series. And on July 28, the Yankees will re-sign former Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui for one day so that Matsui can retire as a Yankee. Matsui played seven seasons (2003-2009) with the Yankees, his last appearance in pinstripes was in the final game of the 2009 World Series where he hit a home run, drove in 6 runs in Game 6, and was unanimously picked as the Series MVP. Matsui will don his old number 55 and officially announce his retirement. This day also coincides with the promotional Hideki Matsui bobble head day. It will be an honor for the fans in the stadium that day as they play the Rays (the last team Matsui played for) in the Bronx to witness the retirement of yet another great Yankee legend, known affectionately as “Godzilla”.

It just goes to show you that no matter how many other teams you may play for, or how many other uniforms you may don, once a Yankee, always a Yankee. Congratulations on your impending retirement, Matsui.

Go Yankees!

Game 53: NYM vs. NYY — Swept away

I suppose series sweeps are rather rewarding for teams not used to sweeping a series. It was unfortunate that today it was another loss to and thus series sweep by the Mets. And this is unfortunate because short of some minor struggles in the 2nd inning, starting pitcher Vidal Nuno was actually pretty decent through 6 innings. Nuno allowed only 3 hits, one was a 2-run home run to put the Mets on top. Shawn Kelley came into the game and pitched into the 8th inning, allowing a walk, who would eventually score on an RBI single off Joba Chamberlain.

But the Yankees offense couldn’t get past the Mets’ starter, who over 7.1 inning only allowed 4 hits and a solo home run by Robinson Cano in the 3rd inning, the only score the Yankees would get tonight. And honestly, there isn’t much to talk about on either side of this game. The Mets pitched well, and the Yankees pitched pretty well. It’s just one of those games.

On a lighter note, I came across this on Twitter tonight. The Empire State Building uses its outside lights to honor different parts of the city or different events that happen around the city every night, like red for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day, purple when the Baltimore Ravens won the Superbowl, and red, white, and blue for patriotic holidays. And so to honor the Mets victory tonight, they lit the ESB blue and orange. And people noticed and used social media to make amusing remarks. This was my favorite:

So we may be coming to the end of high wave of the “no name” team, as witnessed by this 5th game losing streak and our drop to 2nd place in the AL East. And maybe the timing is right for this. Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are making their way to the Bronx to be ready for the series against the team in 1st place in the AL East (Boston) this weekend. Perhaps the series of historic rivalries and the return of some of the standard players will do well to reinvigorate the team. (Also, what this says for who gets released or moved back to AAA is still speculation.) And Andy Pettitte is right behind them and should be scheduled to pitch on Monday against Cleveland.

I think the presence of veteran Yankees (is it weird that I can call Youkilis this?) will do wonders for the team. They bring the consistency and stability that the newer guys just haven’t fully found. It’s not their fault at all; it’s something they fall into. I heard someone say that chemistry of a team is forged when the team wins, and I think there’s some merit to that. You meld together fighting for victory and celebrated together as victors. But I think it’s in defeat and in slumps that is the test of a team’s camaraderie. And veterans bring that consistency through the highs and the lows. They rally the troops, as it were, to keep fighting because until the season’s over, it’s not over and there’s yet another battle to be fought. And right now, we’re missing a huge chunk of those veterans.

Speaking of veterans, Robinson Cano tweeted a picture today of his recently received “Lifetime Pass” from MLB; this means he and a guest have access to any major league baseball park in the country for life. It is a long-standing tradition that only a handful of players, coaches, scouts, and “friends of MLB” receive one as recognition for their impact and status in MLB history. A big congratulations to him.

Go Yankees!