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I cannot believe the lack of Yankee news this offseason.  I think it’s because last off-season was so exciting with the addition of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira that there’s really no way to top that this year.  For the last week, I have struggled to find things to that I had enough passion to write about – unfortunately there is not much.  There are a few things going on behind the scenes that I will briefly jump into.

First, the Yankees General, Brian Cashman, told Pete Caldera this week that “our team, for the most part, is set.”  When asked about left field, Mr Cashman said, “we have a left fielder.  We do like Brett Gardner.”  Now, remember how many times Cashman has said “our team is set” in the last 8 years and then he went out and signed a blockbuster name.

Eric Hinske signed with the Atlanta Braves this week, for a one-year deal.  Although he was a good guy off the bench in 2009, the Yankees had shown no interest in signing the free agent for 2010.  Also, long-time Yankee minor-leaguer Shelley Duncan has signed with the Cleveland Indians.  He’s probably joining their Triple-A team.  Good luck to Hinske in Atlanta and Duncan with Cleveland.

It’s been reported that David Cone’s days in a YES Broadcast booth may be over.  A spokesman told Bob Klapisch that Cone’s contract expired this off-season and that Cone was exploring other options.  Rumors have indicated that Cone had a big disagreement with YES executives, but that has not been confirmed at this time.

If this is true, I hope YES can come up with someone who equals what Cone brought to every broadcast.  He was a good combination with Michael Kay.

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The Yankees announced Tuesday that they are not going to offer arbitration to any of the potential free agents they have, meaning the players are free to sign with any club they want to and that club does not have to worry about giving the Yankees draft picks in return.

For the Yankees, it means that they can set and offer the contract prices they want to for those players and don’t have to rely on what an arbitrator might decide on.  It appears the Yankees feel that this off-season’s free agent market will be the same as last year’s.

Last year, the free agent market did not pay well outside of high-caliber players such as CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe and a few others.  Instead, consistently good players were forced to sign for much lower than in previous years.  For example, Bobby Abreu had to sign with the LA Angels for $5 Million, after a 3 year contract with the Phillies and Yankees that saw him earn $16 Million in his final year of his previous contract.

The Yankees have one Type-A free agent in Johnny Damon.  Had the Yankees offered him arbitration and he signed with another team, they would have received a first or second round draft pick as compensation – but they also would hypothetically have to pay him higher then they might be planning to.

Xavier Nady, Jerry Hairston Jr, Erik Hinske, Andy Pettitte, Jose Molina and Hideki Matsui are all Type-B free agents, meaning the Yankees would have received supplemental round picks for each.

I do think the Yankees have made a smart decision here.  Nostalgia and team pride makes you want the Yankee Brass to keep everyone together, but we all know this is a business and all 7 of those free agents are replaceable.  If it was Derek Jeter in this situation, I’d go nuts about it.  However, when the dust settles, I would like to see at least Matsui and Damon still on the team, at least for the next 1-2 seasons.  I’d offer them both a 1 year contract with a team option for a second year that could become guaranteed based on plate appearances or some other performance measure.

A lot of questions stand unanswered regarding the Yankees and the World Series, such as: who is pitching games 4 and 5; who is starting in right field in games 3-4-5 and what to do with Hideki Matsui in games 3,4 and 5.

Matsui is the Yankees full-time DH.  A former outfielder, Matsui has not played in the field since injuring his knee in 2008.  He has been either the DH or on the bench.  It seems as if Matsui will remain on the bench while the series is in Philly, despite his good bat.  Even though going with Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Jerry Hairston, Jr, or Eric Hinske means a worse bat at the plate, it does mean a better defensive player in the field.

Which leads me to who starts in right.  Nick Swisher was the everyday starter in the regular season, but has struggled greatly at the plate this postseason.  He is hitting .114 (4-35) with 3 walks and 1 RBI.  He has struck out an amazing 12 times in 10 games before being pulled after Game 1 of the World Series.

I would want to choose Brett Gardner, but it seems as if skipper Joe Girardi wants Gardner’s speed off the bench.  I am torn.  I can appreciate how much his speed can make the difference as a pinch-runner, but couldn’t he impact the game more with his speed in center field (move Melky Cabrera to right) and his speed as a batter with 4+ chances to get on base?  Gardner is also 2-4 in his 4 AB this postseason

Hinske and Hairston provide some veteran experience in the field and at the plate AND both were acquired in trades from National League teams mid-season – so they both have experience against Philly and national league teams in general.  I want to resist Hinske as a starter because he was a beast as a pinch-hitter this season and with no DH in games 3-4-5, I would want him available to pinch-hit for the pitcher when needed.

Finally, what to do about the starting pitching.  With no day off between games 4 and 5 like there was in the ALCS, the Yankees can start CC Sabathia in Game 4 on 3 days rest and then Burnett and Pettitte in games 5 and 6, also on 3 days rest (which I am sure both can handle) and then CC again for game 7 (if needed) on 3 days rest.  This is probably the least likely scenario.  If a Game 7 is needed, you don’t want to have tired out CC as much.

The most likely scenarios are Game 4-Sabathia, Game 5- Chad Gaudin, Game 6 Burnett, Game 7 Pettitte with Sabathia in relief or Game 4 – Gaudin, Game 5- Sabathia, Game 6 – Burnett, and Game 7 Pettitte with no Sabathia available.

My predictions?  Hideki Matsui stays on the bench.  Gardner should start in CF, Cabrera in RF, with Hinske, Hairston and Swisher off the bench and the first pitching scenario (Sabathia, Gaudin, Burnett, Pettitte/Sabathia.)

Even with their “B” team, the Yankees were still able to easily defeat the Royals 8-2.

Chad Gaudin started and picked up his sixth win of the season. In 6.2 innings pitched he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 5.

Ramiro Pena hit his first career homer, which was greeted by the silent treatment in the dugout, then a flurry of back slaps and high fives came afterwards. He got the WWE championship belt also. He also drove in a second run later in the game with an RBI single in the seventh.

The big blow of the game came off the bat of Robinson Cano, a grand slam in the seventh to blow the game wide open and give the Yanks an 8-2 lead. With his RISP struggles this year, it was great to see. It was Cano’s 25th homer of the season. He also doubled in the game, his 48th of the year.

Erick Hinske and Shelley Duncan also had RBI singles.

The bullpen did a good job tonight. Damaso Marte retired the only batter he faced, and Alfredo Aceves threw two perfect innings.

It was the Yankees 101st win of the season, three more wins would give them the most they’ve had since 1998. Here’s an interesting fact I didn’t know until reading other bloggers and checking it online myself: Besides that 1998 season they’ve only won more than 103 games in the last 46 years, and that was in 1964.

Boston lost again, 11-5 to the Blue Jays. Sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to throw away the Wild Card?

The opener of that big four-game set between the Tigers and Twins was rained out. They will play a day-night doubleheader today.

Another day, another win for the AL East-leading Yanks. Last night it was a 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics. The Yanks are now 58-37, a season-high 21 games over .500.

Things didn’t start smoothly for the Yanks. Not only did they have to sit through a 2-hour, 43-minute rain delay, but they also fell behind 3-0 in the top of the fourth. CC Sabathia was shaky over the first three.

The Yanks quickly turned their 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead with four runs in the bottom half of the fourth. Mark Teixeira got things started with a two-run homer. After A-Rod walked and stole second, Posada drove him in with an RBI double to tie the game. The Yanks then took the lead on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Eric Hinske.

They’d add on two more in next inning to put the game away. The first run came on a Teixeira RBI double, scoring Jeter, who led off the inning with a walk. Posada capped off the scoring with an RBI single.

After the Yanks took the lead CC settled down and held the A’s scoreless through the seventh. It was the thirteenth time this season that CC has pitched at least 7 innings in a start. Tonight he allowed 3 runs on 9 hits, did not walk a batter, struck out 4, and threw 71 of his 109 pitches for strikes. Tonight’s win was his team-leading tenth of the season.

Phil Hughes pitched two more spotless innings out of the pen to finish off this one and pick up his first major league save. He retired all six batters he faced and threw 19 of his 28 pitches for strikes.

These two teams meet again later tonight in the Bronx, with Joba Chamberlain going for his sixth victory on the season. The Yanks will be going for their eighth straight.

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