Thursday, March 14, 2013

2013 Storylines: All About Robinson Cano

(Courtesy of Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)

This didn't work out so well the last time I made a season about one player, or the last time I singled one player out as the one who needed to step up this season, but there's no way to deny that the New York Yankees' 2013 season begins and ends with Robinson Cano.  And it has nothing to do with the recent rash of injuries.  Well it does, but that's not the only reason.  This has been brewing for a few years now, a bunch of different factors all working towards this eventual endgame.  The collection of big contracts, the age-related decline, the self-imposed payroll cap plans, all of it has been building to this point, when the fate of the Yankees would be placed on the shoulders of Robbie Cano.

Not Much To These Joba-Texas Rumors

George King of The NY Post kickstarted the rumor mill yesterday with this story about the Texas Rangers sending scouts to watch Joba Chamberlain in his latest ST appearance.  The Rangers are woefully thin on bullpen arms right now and the Yankees actually have a bit of a surplus, so it makes sense from Texas' standpoint.  There are more than a few intriguing trade pieces on their side, names like Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, but I wouldn't read too deeply into this situation.

For starters, Texas isn't trading either of those guys for Joba straight up, and I don't see either team wanting to add players to the deal to turn this into something bigger than Texas looking to fill a need.  Despite his statements to the contrary, Joba is a middle reliever coming off two major surgeries in the final year of team control before hitting free agency.  The Yankees aren't in much of a position to ask for something of real value in return for a trade piece like that, and there isn't much to be gained by trading away a useful piece of their bullpen for a player that doesn't help fill one of their needs.

If the Rangers are willing to talk multi-player deals and include Profar and/or Olt in the talks, then the Yankees should be all ears.  But I'd say this is more Texas just doing their due diligence for the trade deadline.

Spring Training Game 18 Wrap-Up: NYY 6 PHI 2

(Always a welcome sight.  Courtesy of Reuters)

The remaining three of the Core Four were all back in action yesterday, so that game clearly merits recap coverage.  While trimming their roster and waiting for Robinson Cano to return from the WBC, the Yankees have started playing better baseball lately and now have a nice little four-game winning streak going.  The pitching has been very good in the last week, with Andy Pettitte continuing that trend yesterday in his season debut.

Game Notes:

- Pettitte wasn't nearly as sharp as he is on his best days, but he was still pretty good for a first start.  3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.  He threw about 60 pitches, so definitely room for improvement in the command area, but that should come in the next few weeks.

- Derek Jeter looked good in his first game back at shortstop since last October, even if he only had one ball hit his way.  At the plate he was 0-2 with a walk.

- Cody Eppley relieved Andy in the 4th and finally had a good outing, and then it was on to Mo.  As he did in his first ST appearance, Mo sat the Phils down in order in the 5th.

- The Yankee starters smacked Cliff Lee around early and often.  They tagged him for 2 runs in the 1st, another in the 2nd, and 2 more in the 3rd before Lee hit the showers.  Only 2 of the 5 runs were earned, but Lee also gave up 6 hits and 2 BB, so it's not like he was just the victim of bad luck.

- Newest Yankee Ben Francisco contributed in his first game, doubling and driving in 2 runs.  With Zoilo Almonte getting sent to MiL camp, Francisco should jump right near the top of the mix for the open outfield spots.

- 2 hits apiece for Juan Rivera and Ichiro, who are both quietly swinging the bat very well this spring.  The Yanks need something from both of them, in April especially, so here's hoping they don't use up all their good swings in March.

- Props to Shawn Kelley, who threw another scoreless inning with 2 K.  He's another guy quietly getting the job done and impressing the coaching staff.