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Archive for May 14th, 2010

This weekend features a 2009 ALDS rematch between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees. Not only did the Yankees get the best of the Twins in that series, but they also went 7-0 against them in the regular season. Included in that record was a four game sweep of the Twins in a home series that was held over this very same weekend last year (May 14-18, 2009). Three of the four victories were of the walk off variety, and many have pointed to that series as a turning point in the 2009 season. The Yankees enter this showdown in much better shape, but could still use a positive weekend to help salvage a 1-4 start to the week.

In order to get the weekend off to a good start, the Yankees will need A.J. Burnett to return to his early season form after a disastrous start in Boston. Burnett will be opposed by Scott Baker, who has won two in a row, including an eight-inning, one run victory in his last start against Baltimore. Baker will face a Yankee lineup that is both struggling and reeling from injuries. Nick Swisher returns to the lineup after missing a game with bicep tightness, while Derek Jeter will play despite having a sore hand, which resulted from a hit-by-pitch in yesterday’s game against Justin Verlander. Still, the bottom of the lineup features Marcus Thames, Juan Miranda and Francisco Cervelli, so it is a far cry from what Baker has likely grown accustomed. Having said that, Baker probably won’t be happy to see Thames come to the plate. While with the Tigers, Thames put up a line of .308/.333/.769, including four home runs, in 27 PAs against Baker.

The Twins were recently stung by an injury to new shortstop JJ Hardy, who suffered a wrist contusion on May 5, but do have MVP Joe Mauer back in the lineup. The All Star catcher had missed several games with a bruised heel. Otherwise, the Twins lineup resembles the same one the Yankees faced in the ALDS, with the only exception being the addition of 2B Orlando Hudson.

vs. Scott Baker PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 9 0.286 0.444 0.429 0 2
Brett Gardner CF 2 0.500 0.500 0.500 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 7 0.571 0.571 1.000 1 2
Alex Rodriguez 3B 7 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Robinson Cano 2B 6 0.333 0.333 0.500 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 13 0.273 0.308 0.636 1 2
Marcus Thames LF 27 0.308 0.333 0.769 4 6
Juan Miranda DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 2 1.000 0.500 1.000 0 1
Total 73 0.313 0.329 0.627 6 13
Yankees vs. Twins
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TIED: 0-0 NYY: 7-0 NYY: 6-4 NYY: 1101-764
  • The Twins have not won a game at Yankee Stadium since July 5, 2007. Since 2002, they are 14-41 vs. the Yankees, including 3-23 in New York.
  • Before the game, the Yankees claimed RHP Shane Lindsay off waivers from the Rockies. To make room on the roster, Christian Garcia was released. Garcia had been an emerging prospect before another in a series of injuries ended his season.
  • The Twins lead the American League with 147 walks.
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The Yankees limped home after dropping three of four games to Detroit, including two shutouts. In the series, it appeared as if the recent spate of injuries that has befallen the Yankees finally caught up with the team. Over the last four games, the Yankees lineup has been a revolving door, with players shuffling in and out from both the bench and the minor leagues. As a result, the Yankees once circular lineup has been seriously weakened at the bottom. In the losses to Detroit, the bottom three in the order, which at times included Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, Ramiro Pena, Greg Golson and Juan Miranda, stranded 30 of the 47 runners left on base by the team.

With the Yankee offense depleted by injuries, Brian Cashman may need to consider making a deal (Photo: JOHN MUNSON/THE STAR-LEDGER).

Adding insult to the many injuries has been the simultaneous struggles of several big bats in the lineup. In the four game series, the trio of Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada went a combined 5 for 39. If that trend continues, the Yankees could be facing some difficult times ahead, especially with an upcoming schedule that features the Twins, Rays and Red Sox.

With Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson both not expected to return until sometime in June, the Yankees may not have the luxury of waiting for them to get healthy. Instead, Brian Cashman may need to work the phones in an attempt to bolster his ailing roster. Below are a few players rumored to be available as well as an analysis of the likely cost to acquire them and how they would fit into the long-term balance of the team.

Lance Berkman

Year G PA R HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS+
2010 21 84 9 4 11 0 0.239 0.357 0.479 122
Career 1528 6438 978 317 1052 79 0.299 0.411 0.554 146

Availability: Perhaps the best bat currently available on the market, Berkman has come on strong since returning from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of April. Berkman is making $14.5mn in the last year of his contract, although the Astros are on the hook for a $2mn buyout of a $15mn option. Berkman has stated his willingness to accept an in-season deal, which should make the process much easier. However, he remains a favorite of Astros owner Drayton McLane, Jr., who has never been the easiest person with whom to make a deal.

Potential Cost: Considering McLane’s reticence to rebuild, it will probably take either a quality major league ready player or at least one blue chip prospect to pry Berkman away. Unfortunately for the Yankees, one of the Astros few top prospects, Jason Castro, is a catcher, a position in which the Yankees farm also has depth. Then again, most rankings of the Astros’ farm system place them well toward the bottom, so perhaps the Yankees could entice a deal with quantity as opposed to quality. If that’s the case, names like Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos and Zach McAllister might form the basis of a deal, but considering the Yankees own lack of pitching depth, such a price might still be too prohibitive.

How He Fits: As a switch hitter with power, Berkman would fit nicely into the DH role. Of course, that would pretty much spell the end of Nick Johnson. Because 1B is already occupied and Berkman really can’t play the outfield anymore, a trade for Berkman only makes sense if Johnson is expected to miss a significant amount of time. Considering his history, that’s not a far fetched scenario. (more…)

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