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The pitching of David Price and a pair of two-run homers led the Tampa Bay Rays over the Yankees on Friday night, 9-3.  Price allowed three runs and seven hits in a career-best 7 2/3 innings. Carlos Pena and Willy Aybar hit the two-run home runs.

Javier Vazquez got the start for the Yankees and for the first three innings was effective, but in the bottom of the fourth, Jason Bartlett started the offensive surge for the 3-1 Rays. Carl Crawford, Dioner Navarro and Ben Zobrist also drove in runs for the Rays.

Alex Rodriguez had a RBI triple in the top of the fourth for the Yankees, who were limited to four hits until Derek Jeter and Nick Johnson doubled to open the eighth, producing New York’s third run. Price gave up an infield single to Robinson Cano and walked Jorge Posada to load the bases. Lance Cormier replaced Price and struck out Nick Swisher to get out of the jam.

A-Rod’s triple scored home Nick Johnson, who got his first hit of the season before A-Rod’s at-bat, and Rodriguez scored when Dionner Navarro threw erratically, producing an “in-the-park-homer”. That was all the Yankees could do until the 8th inning.

Price was simply the better pitcher tonight. The Yankees have batted .123 against Price since his debut in 2007 and they simply need to find a better way to perform against him.

Saturday’s game is at 3:10pm and features CC Sabathia in his second start of the season against Wade Davis, making his first start of 2010. I’m feeling the Yankees will rebound and get this one.

(AP photo of David Price)

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From ESPN Notes:

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Johnson gets a $5.5 million salary next season, and the deal includes a $5.5 million mutual option with a $250,000 buyout. He can earn $1 million annually in performance bonuses: $50,000 each for 400 and 425 plate appearances, $75,000 each for 450 and 475, and $125,000 each for 500 and each additional 25 through 625. The option price would increase to $6 million with 500 plate appearances, $6.5 million with 550 and $7 million with 600. If he has at least 550 plate appearances, the buyout would be $500,000.

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My Two Cents:  I like deals with some incentives in them.  I’m in sales and have worked on commission for a long, long time, so I can appreciate the idea of working harder to make more money.  Sure the money is not “guaranteed” to Johnson, but if he stays healthy he can make up to $1 Million more in 2010, not to mention, more money in a mutual option for 2011.

That being said, I don’t see Johnson in pinstripes beyond 2010.  The Yankees are most likely going to sign Joe Mauer in the 2010 off season, pushing Jorge Posada to DH if he does not retire.

Nick Johnson is now back with the team he grew up with.  Drafted and developed by the Yankees, OF/1B/DH Nick Johnson is all set to be back in pinstripes for the 2010 season after signing a 1 year deal worth about $5.5 Million with some incentives.  The deal also includes a mutual option for 2011.

Johnson spent the first three years of his career with the Yankees but was traded to the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) after the 2003 season for Javier Vasquez.  He has spent much of his career on the DL, but managed to stay off of it for most of the 2009 season. As a result of that, he had one of the highest on-base percentages in the bigs last season at .426 and his career-high BA of .291.

Johnson played first base for the Yankees from 2001-2003, alternating time there with Jason Giambi.  His $5.5 Million salary is the exact same amount he has earned for the last 3 seasons.

Many are saying that this indicates the Yankees are moving on from Johnny Damon.  Rumors are that Damon’s people reportedly told the Yankees not even bother making an offer unless it was in the $13 Million/year range.  The Yankees had reportedly been planning to offer a two-year deal in the $18 Million range.

I still don’t believe this means the Yankees are done adding position players or that Damon is definitely not coming back.  We all thought the Yankees were done last December before they surprised us in the days before Christmas by adding free agent slugger/awesome first baseman Mark Teixeira.

I do feel happy about this move.  Johnson was a solid guy for the Bombers earlier in his career and it’s good to see him back in the Bronx once again.

(photo by Sipkin/NY Daily News)

The newest Yankee was introduced in a press conference today.

Said the new outfielder –

One thing I’ve learned over my world travels, being in China, being in Africa, being in Europe, Latin America, when you mention Major League Baseball… the Yankees are the first team that comes up… To get a chance to be a part of that now… I’m excited about that.

As previously discussed, Joba Chamberlain will have any innings limitations removed next year. Hopefully that will make him more effective since he won’t need to worry about pitch counts.

Phil Hughes’ limits will remain, but he’ll probably be allowed to go about 180 innings.

The Yankees are comfortable with Frankie Cervelli as the backup catcher. Good to hear, since he’s cheap, plays as well as Jose Molina, runs thrice as fast, and allows for Jesus Montero to continue developing.

Dr. Marc Philippon told A-Rod his hip is fine, and he will not need surgery this off-season.

Nick Johnson is close to agreeing with the Yankees on a contract, but has yet to take a physical. $5.5 million for one year. Does that mean Damon’s done as a Yankee?

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