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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.

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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.)

Alex Rodriguez is turning this into the postseason that erases all of previous failures.

After Gary Matthews scored to make it 3-2 Angels in the top of the 11th, Rodriguez hit a tying homer in the 11th inning and the Yankees edged the Angels 4-3 Saturday night on Maicer Izturis’ throwing error in the 13th for a 2-0 lead in the ALCS.

After the rain came and went on another chilly night, New York pulled out its latest late-inning thriller. The game ended at 1:07 a.m. when Izturis threw away Melky Cabrera’s grounder to second base. Jerry Hairston ran around third to home and slid safely. For his winning run, Hairston got a pie in the face from starting pitcher AJ Burnett.

The Yankees used eight pitchers, starting with AJ Burnett going 6.1 innings, allowing three hits, two runs, while walking two and striking out four. Burnett ran into trouble in the fifth and threw a wild pitch that tied the game 2-2. He settled down the next two innings to keep the game close. Then Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes all struck out a batter to bring in Mariano Rivera, who pitched 2.1 innings, striking out two with only 25 pitches. Dave Robertson was the winning pitcher tonight.

The Yankees’ lineup didn’t fare well. The 3-4-5 hitters went 2 for 15, with the two hits being A-Rod’s homer and Matsui’s single. Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera both had two hits for the Yankees, who totaled 13 hits as a club, but gave up three errors in this cold, wet night.

With the day off for a cross-country trip tonight, the Yankees will face the Angels in Anaheim Monday night, with Andy Pettitte taking the ball. The Yankees now only need two more victories to get to the World Series.

Bombers utility man Jerry Hairiston, Jr was given a cortisone shot for tendinitis in his left wrist and is listed day-to-day with the injury.  Hairiston left Wesneday night’s game against the Angels in the middle of his at-bat, sending some fans into a state of worry.

Hairiston said after the game that the wrist has been sore since July when he was with Cincinnati.

Although not an everyday player, Hairiston has been exactly the type of bench player that a chaampionship team needs – a aguy who plays his heart out, runs fast and is ready when called upon.

I can see the Yankees letting him take it easy this week since a playoff spot is already guaranteed and they will want him rested up and comfortable.

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We have Mr. October and Mr. November. We need a Mr. August, and that person should be CC Sabathia. Sabathia extended his August dominance to 31-9 in his last 49 starts in the month of August last night in a 11-1 beatdown of the Seattle Mariners.

Derek Jeter homered in his second at-bat. Batting clean-up, Hideki Matsui had his fourth career two-home run game and a season-high five RBIs and Sabathia struck out a season-high 10.

Without A-Rod (elbow) and Posada (finger) in the lineup, that didn’t stop the Bombers. They rolled on, winning for the 10th time in 11 games to increase their lead in the AL East over the Red Sox back to 6 1/2 games.

Recently acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. again proved to be an invaluable fill-in with a double, single and two RBIs subbing for Rodriguez at third base.

Matsui celebrated his temporary return to the cleanup spot with his 18th and 19th home runs. Per PeteAbe, asked if he loves batting fourth, which he’s done 15 times this season to Rodriguez’s 82, Matsui said: “I don’t hate it.”

Matsui hit his second two-run homer in the eighth. This one barely eluded the reach of Ichiro Suzuki.

Andy Pettitte takes the mound tonight at 10:10pm EST.

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