Thursday, September 29, 2011

Yankees Notes prior to the start of the Postseason on Friday

Here are some notes from today's workout at Yankee Stadium with the postseason beginning tomorrow night.  ALDS Game One at Yankee Stadium will begin at 8:37PM with a marquee matchup of two aces in Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, Game Two will be the same time on Saturday night.  The teams will have off Sunday and then shift to Game Three on Monday and Game Four if necessary on Tuesday.  The start times for the games in Detroit haven't been announced yet but I am sure they will also be at 8:37PM.  The games in the first round will be broadcast on TBS. 

The Yankees were in Tampa last night to finish their season.  It was a crazy night in baseball with a lot of emotion.  The Yankees didn't get home until the wee hours of this morning and that’s why Joe Girardi opened this afternoon’s press conference by saying up front that he wouldn’t be answering one of the most basic questions.

“Let me just start out by saying, and I’m sure this question is going to be asked, we do have the roster put together, but I have not had a chance to talk to everyone,” Girardi said. “So as soon as I get a chance, I will share it with all of you. Most of us got to our homes about 5 in the morning. You can understand why a few players aren’t here yet.”

Before you get too upset at Girardi, it’s worth noting that Jim Leyland also refused to announce his roster. So, for now we’re stuck waiting for an official group of 25 Yankees will be active for tomorrow’s division series.  I understand when Girardi protects his team but the fans and media can't stand it. 

“Just because people weren’t picking us to win the World Series (in spring training), doesn’t mean we didn’t believe it,” Mark Teixeira said. “At the same time, it’s nice to say, ‘Hey guys, told you so. Told you we had a good team.’ We don’t go out there trying to disprove people’s theories or hypothesis of what’s going to happen in the season. What we do is try to win every single game, and at the end of the year, it worked out for us.”  I don't think the Yankees can every really be a true underdog but it is crazy that basically no one picked them and there were some that said they wouldn't even reach the postseason. 

 Girardi confirmed what was suspected: That Jorge Posada will be his everyday designated hitter this series. All of the Tigers starters are right-handed. “I don’t live in the past,” Posada said. “I live in the future. I live day-by-day, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”  This is good to see with Posada as it should be his swan song, if he has a good postseason and the Yankees go deep what a way to finish his career. 

 Girardi on Alex Rodriguez: “If last night was a postseason game, I’m playing him. That’s the bottom line. As I said, the time of year, we had to be somewhat cautious with some of our players, because I would hate to lose a player on the last day of the season… I have no doubt that he’s healthy enough to play every day.”

 Jesus Montero is also healthy enough to play. “I saw him today,” Girardi said. “He’s fine. He got hit on the outside of the last two fingers. He’ll have a bruise, but I saw it. There wasn’t really any swelling. He’s okay.

 Because Girardi wouldn’t announce a roster, he wouldn’t announce whether Austin Romine is going to make the team as a backup catcher. With Montero healthy enough to play, and not expected to get any DH starts, he could serve as the backup catcher this series.

 Obviously A.J. Burnett hasn’t officially made the roster, but it’s clear he’ll be an active part of the division series bullpen. “You want to see how quickly he can warm up,” Girardi said. “That’s something we got an idea about (last night), and I feel that he can do it if he has to do it.”

 If the Yankees carry Burnett and Phil Hughes with Mariano Rivera, Dave Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Cory Wade and Boone Logan, that’s already a seven-man bullpen. Hard to imagine they’d carry more than eight, which would leave room for only one of Luis Ayala, Hector Noesi and Bartolo Colon.  I would be on Luis Ayala with Noesi and Colon being left off the roster.  I don't think Colon has anything left to offer them at this point.  Colon was a huge plus on this team for the whole first half, he was a suprise and gave the team everything that he had. 

 Girardi on his conversation with Burnett about moving to the bullpen for at least this round: “He was good about it. We talked about it, and I gave him the option, because he had just thrown about 100 pitches on Sunday, and it would have been his throw day, his bullpen day anyway. He said, ‘Yeah, I want to give it a shot.’ I said, ‘I’m going to have you face one hitter, that’s it. I can’t tell you exactly when it’s going to be, but I’ll try to give you sufficient time to warm up.’ He was great about it.”

 Leyland announced only his first three starters: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer. He didn’t say whether Verlander will pitch Game 4 on short rest. Girardi has committed to Sabathia pitching that game.

Remember Josh Hamilton in last year’s ALCS? Given that context, Girardi was asked how he’ll approach pitching to Miguel Cabrera. “We understand the type of hitter Miguel Cabrera is and how you have to be careful with him,” Girardi said. “I think the biggest difference between this lineup with Detroit this year and maybe last year was the addition of Victor Martinez and how Avila has arrived. But in saying that, we will be careful with Miguel Cabrera.”  There is no way they can let Cabrera beat them, they had to learn from last year. 

It should be a good series, I would give the slight edge to the Yankees and say they are going to win the series in four games.  I know it is going out on a limb a little, I think most will probably say five games.  If the Yankees beat Verlander though, that makes it awfully tough on the Tigers.  The thing about the Yankees this year is they have the speed to go with the power which is a great combination, they can hit homers but also manufacture runs which you need to do in the postseason.

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