Yankees clinch postseason spot

Our nightmare is over. After a tense past week, or so, the Yankees have clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Although there really was no doubt that the Yankees would make the playoffs, it still is soothing to know that they are guaranteed a postseason spot. YES is covering the celebration, so you can check that out if you wish.

The Yankees’ Late Season Skid

"The Yankees have been going through a frustrating stretch of games lately, but the team needs to pick its collective heads up and start playing better baseball soon." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

It’s hard not to notice that the Yankees have not been winning a lot of ballgames lately. The Yankees went 16-13 in the month of August, and so far have gone 10-12 in September. So since August 1st, the Yankees have gone 26-25, just one game above .500. Fortunately, it seems that they are all  but a lock for a playoff spot, whether it be by means of winning the division or by winning the wild card. Still, the Yankees don’t appear to be in great shape. Still, is there reason to worry?

I can certainly understand if you are a concerned Yankee fan, and I too am concerned, but I’m just not sure how concerned we should be. We have to keep in mind that for majority of the time the Yankees have gone 26-25, Joe Girardi has not been using the “A” team. It seems like Chad Gaudin has been called upon to come into a big spot countless times lately, and that probably will not happen in the playoffs. On the flip side, Girardi has heavily rested his better relievers like Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson, most likely in preparation for the postseason. Turning the attention away from the bullpen, the position player regulars have not been used as often as usual lately. The bottom line is, Girardi has not been throwing out the “A” team very much lately, and I’m okay with that in this case, but it means the team has not won as many games as it most likely would have under normal circumstances. Fortunately, once the playoffs begin, we should be seeing the “A” team every game, and if we don’t, there is something wrong with the head of the Yankees’ skipper.

While I do not think the Yankees recent struggles is as big a deal as it has been made out to be, I certainly don’t think it is a non-concern. It would inspire a lot of confidence if the Yankees finished up the season strong heading into the postseason.

“Hopefully Mr. Harrison is right, the sun will come up tomorrow.”

Around the Horn: Montero, Aceves, Posada…

As the Yankees prepare to begin a road trip in Texas allow me to sum up some recent stories.

  • Alfredo Aceves, who has been recovering from a back injury, had a setback and will not be returning to the big league team this year. Surgery is not out of the question, and it would surprise me if he did not undergo surgery. Backs are a terribly tricky thing.
  • Yesterday, Joe Girardi said Damaso Marte probably won’t be back this year as well. As we learned earlier, he may need surgery.
  • While we are talking about surgery, Jesus Montero had an unexpected operation performed on his ankle yesterday. He was not in Scranton’s lineup yesterday which led people to believe he may be called up, but the truth was that he had an infection in his ankle. Montero underwent surgery yesterday to have the infection cleaned up. Don’t worry, the surgery seems to have been very minor, and while he will miss the rest of the minor league playoff season, he should be a candidate for a major league job next Spring.
  • Yesterday, we learned that Jorge Posada has been suffering from concussion like symptoms. Fortunately, he underwent some tests and the results were negative. Posada has been cleared to play, but I would expect him to take a few days off in Texas.
  • Coming off some recent struggles, Phil Hughes’ next start will be skipped, Dustin Moseley instead will be pitching this Sunday. Hughes will return to the rotation next Wednesday, and the Yankees say they only skipped him to deal with his innings limit. Still, it should be beneficial to give Phil Hughes a breather since he is not used to throwing this many innings.

Marte may go under the knife

"The Yankees could really use another lefty now like Marte." Photo Credit: Associated Press

Left-handed reliever Dámaso Marté has been out of action since this year’s All Star break, and unfortunately he may not return to action anytime this season. Buried within an article via the New York Post, we learn that a decision will be made in about two weeks on whether Marté will undergo on his shoulder. While the report is not very definitive, if I had to guess, I’d say Marté probably will need surgery, but what do I know. Hopefully, if he does indeed undergo surgery, it won’t be a major reconstruction, but rather a clean up.

Dámaso Marté is the second year of a three-year contract and his only major contribution to the team seems to be his stellar performance during the 2009 postseason. However, I wouldn’t call Marté a bust. He’s clearly a very good pitcher who has unfortunately been hampered by unpredictable injuries. We can only hope that he comes back strong in 2011 and remains healthy for a full season.

Around the Horn: Call-ups, Javy, Jeter, Ted Lilly…

A few interesting items to cover during this edition of Around the Horn.

  • As reported last night, Jonathan Albaladejo, Chad Moeller, and Greg Golson have been called up as “September call-ups”. Furthermore, Lance Berkman has been activated. That’s gives Joe Girardi four new players to manage with, and more should be on their way, especially after the minor league playoffs are finished. Despite the hate he gets from many Yankee fans, Berkman should be a nice addition to this team, and when/if Marcus Thames cools down, “The Big Puma” should be able to get regular at bats at the DH position. I look for Jon Albaladejo to possibly have a huge impact with this team. I would say more about Albie, but Mike Axisa of RAB already has it covered with a post about the righty reliever.
  • After two very good relief appearances following his removal from the starting rotation, Javier Vazquez will be returning to the rotation. Earlier today Joe Girardi told reporters that Javy would be taking Dustin Moseley’s spot in the rotation and will be starting on Saturday. This seems like the perfect time to do this because Javy has been pitching well lately, and unfortunately it looks like the real Dustin Moseley has shown up.
  • We all know Derek Jeter has struggled immensely this year. It hasn’t become a huge issue yet for several reasons, a couple of them being that Derek Jeter is well, Derek Jeter, and the Yankees are winning without his contributions. The issue was, however, brought up during a pregame session with Joe Girardi today. Via Chad Jennings, we learn if Joe has considered moving Jeter down in the lineup, a move I would fully advocate for and support. Unfortunately, Girardi’s answer was, “I don’t see that happening.” Sure, it’s not a huge deal now to have Jeter at the top of the lineup, but when the postseason rolls around will the Yankees still be set to having Jeter at the top of the lineup if his struggles continue? I’m not so sure I would be comfortable with him up there. I love Jeter as much as the next guy, but I really would like to something done. If his name wasn’t “Derek Jeter” he’d be batting eight or ninth for the Yankees now. If the Yankees don’t have the guts to move him down in the lineup, will they have the guts to offer him a reasonable contract this offseason? Or will they overpay him for his past performances? I can only imagine.
  • Last night we got news that the Yankees won the waiver claim for Dodgers pitcher, and former Yankee, Ted Lilly, but the Dodgers pulled Lilly off waivers. Oh well, end of story. But wait, there’s more! The rules state that in order for a player to be eligible for the playoffs they have to be in the organization before September 1st, so while the Yankees could technically still acquire Ted Lilly, he wouldn’t be able to pitch in the playoffs. Here’s where it gets interesting. According to a Daily News report, the Yankees believe that because they had a waiver claim in for Lilly before September 1st, there is a loophole which would allow Lilly to pitch in the playoffs if they were to acquire him. Interesting. I don’t know what to make of it, so let’s just wait and see.
  • Alfredo Aceves has been on a rehab assignment in the minors for a while now, but has yet to be called up. Joe Girardi said, “he’s just not up to where we believe he can be yet [performance-wise].” Back problems are a tricky thing to recover from.
  • The Arizona Fall League rosters were recently announced, and Frankie Piliere says the Yankees will be sending Austin Romine, Brandon Laird, Corban Joseph, Craig Heyer, and George Kontos to Arizona this year. He also says there are a couple of open roster spots, so the Yankees could opt to send more players.