In a night where the Red Sox and the Rays both lost, giving the Yankees an opportunity to close the gap in the AL East race, they also lost in fashion to division rival Baltimore, 13-4.

Mussina was uncharacteristically off last night, pitching five innings and allowing 8 hits and 6 runs, and two home runs. Dave Robertson had to have his bad outing at some point and it came last night. He only pitched .1 of an inning, and allowed 5 runs to score. Simply put, both were awful last night. Damaso Marte, late of the Pirates, did good, pitching one inning and struck out two batters. Edwar Ramirez continued his pace for a hitless July with an empty frame of 2/3 of an inning pitched.

The Yankees offense must have stuck around in Fenway park as they only got four runs. On the positive side, Xavier Nady got his first Pinstripes homerun, and Johnny Damon hit a 3-run home run to avoid a shut out.

Yankees look to tie the series tonight with Darrell Rasner on the mound. Daniel Cabrera pitches for the O’s. Cabrera had the Yankees’ number last time he faced them, so it’s a 50/50 game — as long as Rasner pitches well and the offense shows up, the Yankees should be able to avoid a three-game losing streak.

(Courtesy of AP)

There’s been a lot of discussion the last few days about what Jeter said, and did not say, about his future with the Yankees.

It all started late last week with an article by Mark Feinsand at the Daily News where Feinsand reports

…the Yankees’ captain has no plans to pull a Robin Yount or Ernie Banks and shift positions for the latter years of his career.

My Baseball Bias has an excellent article about this subject. Among things Jason said that I agree with:

  • It’s time for Jeter (and the team) to start preparing for a switch to another position.
  • Jeter’s defense has been declining, and statistically, he was ranked last or at the bottom of several defensive categories.
  • Rob Neyer, who isn’t a fan of Jeter’s also said this in 2001:

Is Jeter the worst defensive shortstop in the major leagues? Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. There is some evidence to suggest that he is, but I’m sure there’s evidence to suggest that he isn’t, too. My point is that there’s no evidence to suggest that he’s an outstanding defensive shortstop, or even a good one.

Claiming to have come off a new, different conditioning and work out program this past winter, he says his first step is faster. That has yet to be seen until we actually see him in the regular season.

It’s time for the team to prepare for the move of the Captain. Jeter must face reality, and soon.

Over the weekend, the Yankees had spring training moved indoors due to rain, had live BP, nearly had Jeter decapitated by Wang, and announced their pitching schedule for this week’s scrimmages. It feels like a short weekend, huh?

I’m ready for some real baseball action.

What to do with Matsui and Damon? And Giambi for that matter?

With Damon and Matsui competing for a starting position in left field, both veterans have already proven themselves as effective players. Both players are coming off slow starts or injuries during the 2007 season. Girardi has already vowed to have Damon start as the leadoff, and wants to get him “600 plate appearances and stay healthy.” If that’s the case, it appears Damon would be starting in LF, or in the DH role. Whither Giambi?

Giambi reported to camp in shape, and actually appeared to have lost weight. He was asked to come to camp with the mentality that he will be starting 1B. Can he be trusted to burden the defensive load there? Only time will tell. The Yankees have other players they can rely on if Giambi falters (Duncan, Ensberg, Betemit).

Back to Matsui — he had the trust of Torre. Now things are different. Trade rumors are swirling around Matsui’s hat. Last winter’s rumors about a possible trade with the San Francisco Giants are gone — for now.  But, honestly, who can resist the fact that Matsui has given the Yankees 100+ RBIs in four of his five seasons (the non-100 RBI season was 2006 where he broke his foot early in the year), and has averaged a double digit figure in home runs since. Matsui is offensively capable.

But, so is Damon. When healthy and in top form, Damon is a OBP threat and a strong threat to get to home once brought home by those batting after him. With this offensive juggernaut, he’s more likely to get runs on the scoreboard.

The Yankees haven’t had this many veterans competing among younger stars (i.e. Melky Cabrera), and stars waiting in the wings (i.e. Austin Jackson).

As much as I hate to say this… if Matsui proves to have a slow start or isn’t contributing offensively (and defensively), the Yankees should consider trading him. My wife would kill me when she sees this as he is her favorite player, but we need a leadoff hitter more than we need a number 5 or 6 hitter.

Here’s what I think Girardi will do: He will keep all the veterans, and send the rookies or minor league invites to Triple A and call them up as soon as he can. I’ve seen how hungry players like Shelley Duncan are — heck — who comes to Tampa a month early?

A-Rod boldly claimed Derek Jeter would win the AL MVP this year.

Is this A-Rod’s way of trying to patch things up between the two teammates? Relations between these two were not so warm last year. Now he makes that prediction. At least it’s more sane than Kevin Millar’s dumb prediction that the Orioles would win the World Series this year.

Seriously…Jeter had a good year last year with .322/.388/.452. While those numbers were not as high as his second-place finish in the 2006 MVP voting (where he had a .343/.417/.483), it was still consistently trademark Jeter.

However, Jeter has struggled in the playoffs as of late. He hit well in 2006, but faltered in 2007. Voting for the MVP award does not include playoff performance.  Any given year, Jeter could win the MVP. He’s that good.

Wouldn’t that be cool if there were two straight Yankee MVPs, the first time since the 1960s. Look at the list of consecutive Yankee MVPs below:

1941: Joe DiMaggio
1942: Joe Gordon
1943: Spud Chandler

1950: Phil Rizzuto
1951: Yogi Berra

1954: Yogi Berra
1955: Yogi Berra
1956: Mickey Mantle
1957: Mickey Mantle

1960: Roger Maris
1961: Roger Maris
1962: Mickey Mantle
1963: Elston Howard

2007: Alex Rodriguez
2008: ???

After a long meeting yesterday morning, the full squad took the field for the first time together this season.

That has got me stoked!

A-Rod needs to get a PR director. He gave a very short interview with the media yesterday, and said that he was tested “9 to 10 times” last year for amphetamine use and steroids. PeteAbe reports that it’s usual to be tested 1-2 times a season. Oops.

With A-Rod’s new contract and his pursuit for all of the records he can get, he’s got to be careful at what he says. After all, he plays in the biggest baseball media capital.

According to multiple blogs and ESPN, the Yankees are doing more conditioning and running during this camp. Can’t blame them after a rash of hamstring injuries last year, most notably to Phil Hughes. It’s better to be in near-prime conditioning condition (isn’t that a good combination of words?) at the end of spring training than at any point during the regular season.

Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, among others, are all reporting to camp in better condition than last year and ready to hit the ground running. Apparently Kei Igawa isn’t. What a fat $4 million waste he is so far. Ben at RAB reports that John Harper at the Daily News says that Girardi’s lit a fire under the current squad of Yankees. Good for him.

Hal Steinbrenner offered his first interview in 20+ years. Read it at GQ here.

Congrats to the folks at RAB on their one-year anniversary! Hats off to you guys!

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