Series 6 Pack: New York Yankees

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1.     CC Sabathia is without a doubt the Yankees greatest pitcher.  But with his inability to control the Red Sox offense and these two teams possibly meeting in the ALCS, how much are the Yankees fans worried that CC is 0-4 against the Red Sox?  Is it in CC’s head?  Do you expect a different CC on the mound on Tuesday night?

Oh, I think Yankee fans are definitely worried over the inability for Sabathia to beat the Red Sox. I know he had his issues with the Indians in 2007 in terms of beating Boston, but he was 3-1 against them the last two seasons with the Yankees. The last start, it was his changeup that he said was not working. I wonder if CC struggles tonight, what will he say was ineffective? I think it has to weigh on a pitcher’s mind, but Sabathia has more mental toughness than any pitcher on the Yankees with the exception of Mariano Rivera. Fans are worried, but if CC wins tonight and puts up an ace-like performance, the worry level severely decreases going into the postseason. I do expect a different CC tonight and I expect a Yankee victory, but CC’s August has not been that great. I would not be surprised if he struggled just because that has been the trend for him this month.

2.       A.J. Burnett recently had a blow up with manager Joe Girardi.  Is all forgotten about in New York between the two or is AJ still in the doghouse?  Does AJ Burnett make the playoff roster?

If you read Yankees’ fans tweets, A.J. Burnett has been in the doghouse for some two months. For some reason, the only two guys who it seems like are in Burnett’s camp are Girardi and GM Brian Cashman. The patience has to be wearing thin with him and the blowup against the Twins appears to be the icing on the cake. AJ has been awful this season and does not deserve to be on the playoff roster. When he goes to the mound, people in New York already expect to lose and he blows up over one mistake he makes. I think AJ was furious at the umpire and not Girardi because if he did curse out his manager, he would have not made another start after that. If Burnett struggles Thursday, the Yankees will go back to a 5-man rotation and the 90 million dollar man will be out of the rotation for the rest of the season. As far as the playoffs, I would put a guy like Noesi on the playoff roster who pitched well against Boston in June compared to AJ.

3.        There has been a lot of speculation about who the next manager of the Chicago Cubs will be.  Both Theo Epstein and Brian Cahsman’s name have come up as possibilities and given the public feud between Cashman and the Steinbrenner’s, how realistic is that Cashman goes to the Cubs?  How much would this hurt the Yankees?

I don’t think Brian Cashman is going anywhere. I think Cashman would leave if the right opportunity came along, but I don’t see the Cubs as a good place for him  because they are a long ways away from winning anything. He would want a team that can win now, but still have the flexibility to use a farm system that he does not have with the good prospects he has with the Yankees. Will he use the opening for leverage? Absolutely, but I don’t think he is leaving the Yankees. It will hurt a little bitbecause although people look at Cashman as only having a blank check to make move, he made some great moves in 2011 with the signings of Colon., Garcia, and Russell Martin when people were panicking about not getting Cliff Lee. He gets ripped when the team does not perform, but does not get his fair share of accolades when they do perform because the team is expected to win. I think the perfect candidate for the Cubs is Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman. He knows how to use young kids and he would get more accolades for his job. Epstein is better as well because we know from experience that he knows how to build a team that can break a curse.

4.       There have been rumblings today that Jeter may miss a considerable amount of time with a bruised knee as a result of a foul ball over the weekend.  How much does it hurt this club to not have their captain in the lineup?  To what level of concern is there in New York that the age of this team might be catching up to them?

To some degree, it does hurt not having the Captain the lineup. Remember the stretch the Yankees had in late June where Eduardo Nunez picked up Jeter at shortstop when he went on the disabled list with the calf injury. It does hurt not to have your leader there, especially when he is hitting a ton of line drives and is batting over .300. For the record, I think he is back rather quickly. The Yankees did the smart thing by not playing him the rest of the O’s series because they have enough offense to beat the bottom feeders in the AL East.

The age does concern me with this team because of the lack of off days the team has to end the year. If New York is a considerable amount of games behind the Red Sox, they might decide to rest some of the veterans more and get ready for the playoffs, similar to what they did last season. Jeter’s loss does hurt, but the bats with Nick Swisher‘s hot streak, Granderson’s MVP year and the power of Tex and Cano, they have enough offense to make up for the lack of Jeter. Plus, you can put Brett Gardner into the leadoff spot and make teams think a little bit more.

5.      If the season ended tomorrow, in your opinion, is Curtis Granderson the AL MVP?  Why or why not?

Justin Verlander has an excellent case, but the pitcher’s MVP is the Cy Young award or at least it should be. Curtis Granderson is my MVP in the American League. The guy is having a career season and he carried the Yankees in the early part of the season when A-Rod and Jeter were struggling, Tex had his April funk and the team was wondering what to do with Jorge Posada. He has 38 home runs, 107 RBI’s and 121 runs which leads the league. You can make the case he has been the catalyst to the Yankees this season with their pitching questions. Boston has a lot of worthy candidates, but I think they will split the vote between Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury. Give me Grandy for the MVP for finally using Yankee Stadium to his advantage.

6.       Is winning the AL East important to the Yankees or does it matter who they play in the first round, Detroit or Texas?  With that being said, if the Yankees don’t win this series is the AL East race over in your opinion?

Last year, I don’t think it mattered, but I think it means something this year to the Yankees for two reasons. For one, you can tell by the frustration the organization has with the Orioles about putting the makeup game from Hurricane Irene to September 8th, the day before they have to go to the West Coast to play a team in the Angels, who are fighting for their postseason lives. I agree with Curtis Granderson that the game should be played the day after the last game if the game meant anything or the doubleheader should have been Friday, not Sunday. With the multitude of veterans on this team, they need the off days which could hurt them come playoff time. Now, if I have to pick an opponent I would want the Yankees to play, that would be the Texas Rangers. I want no part of Verlander in a 5 game series despite the Tigers’ pitching woes and Valverde has been great in the closer role all year. New York is 8-1 against Texas and other than C.J Wilson, the Yankees rocked Ogando, Harrison, and Holland this season. There is no Lee in Arlington this year, plus the bullpen even with Uehara and Adams is not much better than last season.

As far as this series, if the Yankees get swept, that would put them 2-13 against the Red Sox and 4.5 games behind with 3 weeks to go. With Boston’s relatively easy schedule the rest of the way, that’s a tough deficit to make up. My mindset is if the Yankees can take one game and keep the deficit at 2.5 games, they have a shot to win the division still with three games in the Bronx with Boston to end the season. So, unless the Red Sox completely dominate the Yankees this week, this AL East race is not over.

7.       Bonus question:  Give us your thoughts on the pitching matchups and who wins this series?

For Tuesday’s game, I expect CC to be CC and for Lackey’s streak of success to come to an end. By the way, it amazes me that Lackey’s ERA is worse than Burnett’s, yet he still has a respectable 12-9 record. I expect the Yankees to win Game 1. Other than that, I think the Red Sox have the edge in the series because they throw their two top aces in Beckett and Lester who have dominated the Bombers this year. I think Hughes can hold his own with Beckett since he is 2-1 as a starter at Fenway Park when he is healthy. Thursday with Burnett on the mound will just be downhill especially if NY has lost the first two games. Hughes and Burnett are pitching for their rotation lives. I think Hughes rises to the competition like he did against the Twins and White Sox while Burnett folds under pressure. Nevertheless, I think your Red Sox take 2 of 3, but the Yankees remain in striking distance just 2.5 games behind in the division. This should be a fun series as always!

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