The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Are the Yankees already dodging a bullet with Cano’s contract?07.06.15

Robinson Cano, Salvador Perez

Obviously a lot of talk today and tonight about deserving all-stars, and borderline all-stars; about all-star mistakes and all-star snubs. Through all of this, the name Robinson Cano hasn’t been mentioned, and really hasn’t deserved to be mentioned.

More than a year ago, when the Yankees refused to match the Mariners’ offer and let Cano leave for Seattle, the decision was immediately met with anger and second guessing (and a few sighs of relief). This was a homegrown star, a premium bat at a premium position, and the Yankees — with all their money — didn’t pay the price to keep him.

It was always going to be a short-term mistake. The Yankees basically knew that. They didn’t like the idea of a 10-year commitment, and so they let Seattle take the short-term upside with the long-term risk.

Is it possible the upside lasted only one year?

Cano essentially lived up to expectation (power was down, but most everything else stayed the same) last season. This season, though, Cano’s been an underwhelming hitter. His OPS is basically halfway between Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley.

Last week, FanGraphs took a look at Cano’s decline trying to determine whether his offensive struggles are strictly age related. It’s interesting from the Yankees’ perspective only because everything Cano does is a study of what might have been. Letting Cano leave was a decision, just as signing him would have been.

For better or for worse, the Yankees decided to move on. Last year it was for worse. This year, it’ seems to have been for better.

Associated Press photo

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Cano: “I would never regret my decision”06.02.15

Robinson Cano

Here’s what the struggling second baseman had to say for himself on Monday:

“There’s a lot of balls that I’ve been hitting hard, but just right at guys. There’s things you can’t control in this game. You just can hit the ball, but you can’t control it. … But I’ve been in a situation like this before, and we’ve got a lot of games left in the season, so I just have to stay positive and keep working hard and do what I know how to do: play baseball.”

The latest show of confidence from Stephen Drew? Nope. Those are the words of Robinson Cano, the former Yankees superstar who’s off to a .246/.290/.337 start with the Mariners this season.

“This is not a thing that’s going to bring me down,” Cano said. “… You guys know me. I always stay positive. Every at-bat is a different one. I’m not going to over-think it.”

Last year was Cano’s first the with Mariners. He hit for his usual high average with a high on-base percentage, but his power numbers were down (not only at Safeco, he actually had a lower slugging percentage on the road than at home). Even with fewer homers, it was still a great year, and Cano was again a top five finisher in MVP voting.

This year? He’s a great player off to a bad start. Not as bad as his start to 2008, but still a bad start by his standards. Does it mean he’s finished being a great player? Of course not.

Does it mean the Yankees made the right decision to let him go? It’s going to take a lot more than two months to make that determination.

Until one of two things happens — the Yankees find a productive everyday second baseman, or Cano’s career completely falls apart — the decision to be outspent on a career Yankee with Hall of Fame potential is going to be a point of heated debate. It was a decision built around the long-term, not the short-term, but even staying focused long-term leaves the decision debatable.

Whether it was right or wrong is going to hinge largely on Cano’s durability and perhaps the development of Rob Refsnyder (or some other middle infielder in the farm system). For now, Cano’s not hitting up to his standards, but the Yankees haven’t found a second baseman to replace him, either.

“That’s something that I don’t really care about,” Cano said. “I’m just here. I’m here to help this team to win, and not just focus on somebody else. … I would never regret my decision.”

Associated Press photo

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Former Yankees selected for next week’s Japan All-Star Series11.07.14

Robinson Cano

Major League Baseball and the Players Association today announced the full roster that will travel for next week’s Japan All-Star Series against Japan’s national team. There are no current Yankees on the squad — the one listed as a Yankees player is Chris Capuano, who’s currently a free agent — but the team is filled with former Yankees including Robinson Cano, Mark Melancon, Eduardo Nunez, Randy Choate and Jose Veras.

Here’s the roster that’s going to Japan:

Chris CapuanoPITCHERS
Jeff Beliveau (TB)
Jerry Blevins (WSH)
Chris Capuano (NYY)
Randy Choate (STL)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC)
Tommy Hunter (BAL)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)
Mark Melancon (PIT)
Franklin Morales (COL)
Hector Santiago (LAA)
Matt Shoemaker (LAA)
Jose Veras (HOU)
Tsuyoshi Wada (CHI)
Rob Wooten (MIL)

Drew Butera (LAD)
Erik Kratz (KC)
Salvador Perez (KC)

Jose Altuve (HOU)
Robinson Cano (SEA)
Alcides Escobar (KC)
Evan Longoria (TB)
Justin Morneau (COL)
Eduardo Nunez (MIN)
Carlos Santana (CLE)

Chris Carter (HOU)
Lucas Duda (NYM)
Dexter Fowler (HOU)
Yasiel Puig (LAD)
Ben Zobrist (TB)

Here’s the schedule



*All times ET


Tue., November 11th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Exhibition vs. Hanshin Tigers / Yomiuri Giants at Koshien

Wed., November 12th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka

Fri., November 14th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

Sat., November 15th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

Sun., November 16th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

Tue., November 18th

5 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo

Thu., November 20th

4 a.m. / 9 p.m.

Exhibition Game vs. Team Japan, Okinawa

Associated Press photo

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Yankees postgame: Kuroda, offense in search of consistency05.01.14

Hiroki KurodaHiroki Kuroda gave up four runs, three of them earned, and seven hits in the first four innings, then turned in two 1-2-3 innings. He wasn’t great overall, but he wasn’t terrible like in his last start. He was mediocre.

Or as Joe Girardi put it: “He didn’t pitch horribly tonight.”

This 4-2 loss to the Mariners was progress. Girardi called it “a step in the right direction.” But it wasn’t good enough when the other starter was throwing so well.

Kuroda said via an interpreter that his “breaking balls are not working. That is leading me to struggle.”

His record is now 2-3. His ERA fell from 5.28 to 5.14.

“When things are going well, you tend to become more aggressive and just go after the hitters,” Kuroda said. “But when you’re not, you, in a sense, try to do too much with your location and that leads to a bad count, which turns into a bad cycle.”

Roenis Elias was in a good cycle. The 25-year-old lefty from Cuba looked sharp in just his sixth major-league start and first against the Yankees, staring down any sense of pressure.

“Coming into Yankee Stadium or coming off of a boat? The young man is tough,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Elias struck out a career-high 10 and gave up two runs, only one of them earned, six hits and two walks in seven innings.

“I thought he used his fastball and his curveball really effectively,” Girardi said. “Pretty good stuff by the young man.”

Derek Jeter said: “He was better than us today.”

There are several hitters here who really haven’t found their way yet. The Yankees have scored four runs or less in each of the last five games.

“Obviously the consistency of the offense is important for us,” Girardi said.  “I believe it’s going to get better as the year goes on. But right now we’re struggling to score runs, and every team goes through that.”

Robinson Cano didn’t let the constant booing get to him in these two games. He had a double and two RBI in this one.

“You have to understand the fans, but it is not going to be a distraction for me,” Cano said.

“Both days felt good because both days we won so it has to feel good,” he added.

The Yankees are 2-3 on this now eight-game homestand. They were swept by the Mariners for the first time since May 2002 when Seattle took all three games in a series at the old Yankee Stadium.

Now the Rays come in for three. Friday night, the pitching matchup is Vidal Nuno and David Price.

Photo by The Associated Press.




Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 244 Comments →

Yankees pregame: “He’s down. He’s frustrated.”05.01.14

Derek Jeter, Michael PinedaFirst the suspension, now the injury.

Michael Pineda strained that upper back muscle — it looked like it was near the right shoulder from where he was pointing this afternoon — and he did it throwing a pitch in a simulated game Tuesday.

“When I threw it … it was tight,” Pineda said in his first comments since the injury. “I threw two more pitches. I felt a little tight.”

He also said: “I’m coming back soon.”

But he has been shut down for 10 days. Joe Girardi said three or four weeks was a fair estimate of when he should be back pitching for the Yankees. The manager has spoken to Pineda.

“He’s down,” Girardi said. “He’s frustrated. But the good part of it is, if you’re going to have an injury as a pitcher, a lot of times it’s your elbow or your shoulder. It’s really neither. This will heal and he’ll get back out there.”

But between the 10-game suspension for pine tar use and the injury, it lessens concern over Pineda’s innings limit for the season.

“It’s not the way we wanted to do it, but it’s another way you can look at it,” Girardi said.

David Phelps will take Pineda’s place in the rotation. Phelps said he was frustrated that last night’s rainout KO’d his scheduled start and caused him to get skipped. He likes being a starter. The Yankees tried to stretch him out Wednesday, having him throw a simulated game inside of about 80 pitches.

“I think he did a pretty good job as a starter when he’s filled in,” Girardi said. “That’s what I expect him to do, do a good job.”

Two-fifths of the rotation is injured, with Pineda and Ivan Nova, who made an appearance in the clubhouse before the game in the wake of Tuesday’s Tommy John surgery.

In light of those injuries, Girardi said about the starters: “We need everyone to carry their own weight. That’s the big thing.”

Jacoby Ellsbury sat out Tuesday night’s series opener with a sore left hand, then got a day off thanks to the rain. Now he’s back in the lineup for this series finale against the Mariners.

“It was a little swollen,” Ellsbury said. “I iced it up. I was ready to go the day before. … I’m not really concerned about it.”

Robinson Cano is batting .387 in his current eight-game hitting streak. He went 1 for 5 with an RBI in Tuesday night’s boo-fest.

“It’s kind of strange to see him come up in a different uniform,” Girardi said. “It’s probably going to be that way for a little bit of time. Usually the only time I would see him coming toward me is when he was scoring a run, coming around third base. But to see him walk from the on-deck circle on the other side was really strange.

“I have a lot of respect for what Robbie’s done in this game. We know he’s a very dangerous hitter. So we need to make our pitches on him or he’s going to hurt us.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Yankees postgame: So Alex, your thoughts?08.10.13

Tigers Yankees BaseballWe were all waiting around A-Rod’s locker for a comment about the reception he got here tonight during the 4-3 win in 10 over the Tigers. But we were finally told by media relations director Jason Zillo that Rodriguez had left.

Joe Girardi did speak about the boos and the cheers for his lightning rod at third.

“It was probably 50-50, maybe a little more cheers,” Girardi said. “It’s something he has to be able to put out of his mind and be a player for us.”

Rodriguez wasn’t a very effective player for them in this game. He went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He’s now 3 for 15 since his return.

Mariano Rivera hasn’t been effective the last two games, blowing back-to-back saves for the first time since April 2011. Miguel Cabrera got him for a two-run homer to tie it at 3-3 in the ninth.

“You’re talking about one of the great hitters,” Rivera said.

The Yankees won it on Brett Gardner’s two-out walk-off single. That stopped their four-game losing streak and the Tigers’ 12-game winning streak. It also saved the Yankees from falling to .500. They’re up to 58-56.

“We haven’t been playing good baseball for a couple of months,” Gardner said. “Sometime you have to keep winning or you’ll be out of it.”

Robinson Cano had two RBI on a double. He had driven in two runs in his previous 15 games combined.

The pitching matchup later today will be Phil Hughes and Anibal Sanchez.

Associated Press photo.



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Yankees pregame: The Captain returns in the minors07.05.13

Derek Jeter is scheduled to be back playing baseball tomorrow night at around 7:05. For now, he’s a RailRider. The  Captain was cleared today to begin his 20-day rehab assignment clock. So he will play at least five innings at shortstop for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against visiting Lehigh Valley.

“That’s really good news,” Joe Girardi said. “That obviously means his ankle feels a lot better. He’s been dying to get out there since spring training and he’s had some setbacks. But this is a really good sign.

“I think he has to feel comfortable playing. He really hasn’t had a whole lot of at-bats. He hasn’t played a whole lot of infield. So (we need to see him) being able to go back-to-back days, back-to-back-to-back days that sort of thing.”

Asked if he would rule out Jeter returning on this final homestand before the break, Girardi said, “I don’t really have any expectations because I haven’t seen him play. If I can see him play in some games … I’d feel a lot better about making that decision.”

Right now, Girardi thinks Eduardo Nunez has a better chance of returning before the break than Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Robinson Cano has had five different double-play partners starting opposite him, the latest being Luis Cruz. Jeter would provide stability.

“Hopefully everything goes well with him and we will see him pretty soon,” Cano said.

Michael Pineda is supposed to make the final rehab start on his 30-day clock tomorrow with Double-A Trenton and then the Yankees will have to decide where he fits.

“We’ll see how he does tomorrow and make an evaluation,” Girardi said.

Girardi said Zoilo Almonte is just getting a rest today as this long stretch of games continues to the break. Vernon Wells is starting in left.

Hiroki Kuroda said his hip flexor feels OK now. He was cleared to throw a bullpen session today.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 456 Comments →

What should the Yankees do?06.28.13

Robinson CanoSo what should the Yankees do about their offense? I think they’re going to need more than their injured hitters back after the All-Star break in order to be serious about this season. They didn’t have enough offense last October.

They could use the outside help now.  The team is just 12-18 over the last 30 games, going from 30-18 to 42-36. The production from the fill-ins was good enough earlier in the season, but it just hasn’t been steady enough the last month or so. The staff can’t afford to make too many mistakes. And the Yankees can’t always count on running into bad pitching.

“I think we’ve shown that with the guys that are in this lineup, especially early on in the year, we were able to do enough to win games,” Vernon Wells said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Rangers capped a 4-5 homestand. “We just haven’t done that consistently lately.”

The Yankees have been shut out three times this month and seven times overall. They’ve been shut out four times at home already, the most in five years. Derek Holland two-hit them Thursday when they wasted a quality start by Phil Hughes. They had two baserunners to show for their last 20 plate appearances, both on walks. Holland had to throw just 92 pitches. The game was over in just 2:24. (Here’s a link to my story about it.)

Lyle Overbay said the Yankees haven’t been grinding out at-bats lately.

“I think we get into trying to do too much and then it kind of snowballs a little bit,” Overbay said. “We’re not going to be as consistent maybe, but if we get those timely hits, we can be effective. We’re not doing that right now.”

The previous lefty to shut the Yankees out on two hits or less in the Bronx was Matt Young of the Mariners. That was 30 years ago. The Yankees have dropped three in a row and four of the last five when a lefty has started. The bottom three in the order against Holland were rookie David Adams (now batting .179), journeyman Alberto Gonzalez (.188) and rookie Austin Romine (.150). They combined to go 1 for 8.

Robinson Cano was protected in the order by Wells, who played right and struck out all three times, leaving him 11 for his last 93. Cano is down to .276, although he sounded pleased that at least he has been taking more walks.

“We don’t have our main guys,” Cano said. “I’ve just got to go out there and try to take advantage if I get one pitch. … I’m not trying to chase pitches and not trying to do too much.”

Rookie Zoilo Almonte is 0 for 10 in his last three starts in place of Wells in left after going 6 for 10 in his first three starts. Adams is 1 for his last 24. Overbay is batting .258 against righties and .186 against lefties, so a righty bat to platoon with him wouldn’t hurt, especially now that Mark Teixeira isn’t coming back until next year.

The team average is down to .238. There are still 17 games left until the All-Star break, seven games against the Twins, six against the Orioles and four against the Royals. There’s still almost a month until the nonwaiver trade deadline.

When Derek Jeter returns, he will be coming off a twice-broken ankle. He just turned 39 Wednesday. Alex Rodriguez, who had been on the decline, will turn 38 next month. He, of course, is, coming off his second hip operation. There have been conflicting reports about his return. The latest had A-Rod questioning when he would come back this season or if he would come back this season. The MLB Biogenesis investigation and a possible suspension are also hanging over him.

There was a report from earlier this week that the Yankees have thought about Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, now in the last year of his deal. So is Philadelphia’s Michael Young, who would be more expensive and more appealing. It would figure the Yankees would only want an expiring contract since their goal is to be below $189 million next season.

What should they do?

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 278 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Nothing to see here06.19.13

Robinson CanoThe second game of this doubleheader against the Dodgers won’t be included in the Yankees’ highlight video. Phil Hughes wasn’t good again. And the offense was nearly nonexistent again, like it was before the finale of the road trip and the first game of this doubleheader. It added up to a 6-0 loss, leaving the Yankees at 39-32.

The offense managed three singles, all off starter Chris Capuano, who worked six. Two were infield hits. Robinson Cano was the only one to reach the outfield with a hit and he got thrown out trying to stretch it. That was in the fourth, and it was the Yankees’ final hit. They had just one baserunner to show for their last 18 trips to the plate — Jayson Nix getting drilled by Brandon League in the ninth.

Lyle Overbay, who had one of the infield hits, said the lefty Capuano kept the ball down, mixed his pitches and had the Yankees off balance.

“We couldn’t get anything going,” Overbay said.

The erratic Hughes had his second straight substandard start. He gave up four singles to start the game, down 2-0 just like that. He allowed five runs and 10 hits over six.

“I really didn’t have good control in the first inning,” Hughes said. “From then on, it was a struggle to find any sort of rhythm.”

Back to the offense, Vernon Wells went 0 for 7 in the doubleheader, leaving him at a nearly unfathomable 9 for his last 87. It’s hard to remember his fast start now. Zoilo Almonte made his major-league debut, grounding out as a pinch hitter in  the ninth.

The Yankees were blanked for the sixth time this season. They have dropped six of their last eight overall. With the split, they are 14-1-18 in twinbills since 2000.

Photo by The Associated Press.


Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 421 Comments →

Hal speaks on Yankees issues06.04.13

Hal SteinbrennerHal Steinbrenner was grilled on a variety of subjects before last night’s 7-4 win over the Indians. Here are some more highlights besides expressing the Yankees’ disappointment in Alex Rodriguez’s past escapades and his praise regarding how the team has done despite their injury adversity:

On Robinson Cano and his expiring contract: “There’s nothing new to report. If something significant (happens), believe me you guys will be the first to know.”

On whether Cano changing agents from Scott Boras to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is a positive thing: “We’ve had a good relationship with Scott, so we’ll see. … There’s been a lot of years and my dad certainly had his dealings with him and Scott’s been around a long time, so it is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that’s who we’ll be dealing with.”

On the challenges of meeting the sub-$189 million payroll goal for next season: “Again, tell me how the young players are going to continue to develop. Tell me how Pineda is going to do. It’s too early to speculate.”

On how George Steinbrenner would cope with losing to the Mets last week: “He went through a few, so I mean sometimes he handled it better than others, right? … Maybe he would have been fine. Maybe he would have surprised everybody. Maybe not. But it’s a long season. It’s a marathon and we’re right in the middle of it. We’re right in the middle of it.”

More on getting swept by the Mets: “Look, they are the crosstown rivals. There’s no doubt about that. But I concern myself maybe a little bit more with the teams in our division. You have to. But does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely.”

On Brian Cashman’s comments to ESPN about Alex Rodriguez not being about to live up to his contract: “It’s big contract to live up to. I didn’t see Brian’s comments to be honest with you. Look, we just hope he comes back healthy as he did in ’09 after the surgery and we hope he contributes in a big way.  I mean, he’s a heck of an athlete, and if the surgery has fixed the problem, you may see good things out of him. We hope so.”

On Cashman saying that nobody can live up to the contract: “Well, that may be true. That’s a philosophical argument there, I guess. It’s a big contract. But we all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it.’’

On how the investigation into Biogenesis has complicated the relationship between the team and A-Rod: “We haven’t been told anything, so it hasn’t complicated it at all. He’s been in Tampa. He’s been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. But there’s innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven’t heard a thing.”

On the decline in attendance: “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think there’s a lot of factors. We’re not the only major-league team by a long shot that’s down and I still think the economy’s not great and there’s other things going on, too. The weather was horrible in April as you know, but we’re starting to see better crowds now and that’s going to continue with summer coming, and I just urge people to come out and support this team. Number one, they need it right now. They’re in the fight of their lives. And number two, they’ve earned it.”

Also, here’s a link to my story today on the Yankees finally finding some offense last night, plus my feature story on Nick Swisher and his return and Lyle Overbay stepping into right field for the first time in a regular-season game since 1999 in rookie ball.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 492 Comments →

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