The New York Yankees off-season transactions have always been followed with microscopic intensity by their fans, and baseball in general, because of the amount of money and the caliber of players involved. This past off-season was no different. The Yankees refused to match an offer to Robinson Cano from the Seattle Mariners, brokered by Cano’s new agent, Jay-Z, of 10 years, $250 million dollars. Apparently Brian Cashman knew what he had in switch-hitting rookie, Yangervis Solarte, who is batting .303 , is second on the team in on-base-percentage, and fourth on the team in hits. He has more hits right now than Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter. While Solarte is on fire , his counterpart in Seattle is batting .280 with one home run in 71 at-bats. That is just five more at-bats than Solarte.The New York Yankees are in first place by a game over the Toronto Blue Jays. It is early in the season but, by every measure, it looks like the New York Yankees do not miss their former All-Star second baseman, Robinson Cano.
Cano went 2 for 4 last night, in a game that the Mariners really needed. The Mariners have lost eight out of the last ten games they have played. Including an eight game losing streak. Cano had only eight hits in those eight games they lost, and saw his average fall from .304 to .269. All of the Mariner woes can not be placed onto Cano’s shoulders, however. The team ranks 28th in league in hitting ,with a paltry .222 batting average. They are 5.5 games out of first and in second to last place in their division. The New York Yankees ,on the other hand, are leading a competitive American League East by one game, have beaten the Red Sox four out of the last six games, and are getting rookie of the year production from the guy tapped to replace All-Star, Cano. The Yankees do need infield help. Mark Teixeira has been injured and Jeter’s range at shortstop is not what it used to be. His arm is not what it used to be either , as was shown in an error given to him after a throw to first, on a ball hit right to him, one-hopped to first- baseman , Teixeira, and he could not hold on to the ball. Jeter immediately tapped his chest signaling it was his fault, and what could be seen as a subtle acceptance of his limitations at this point in his career. Jeter was on an eleven game hitting streak until going 0-4 at Fenway , but his body is definitely showing wear and tear when he is in the field. This is one of the reasons the Yankees need infield help. To give Jeter a rest during the week and also to shore up third base. Teixeira’s return bodes well for them but the hot stove is boiling as far as the Yankees and infielders are concerned.
Michael Pineda decided to give the Yankees one more thing to worry about by getting caught using pine tar in last nights loss to the Red Sox. Red Sox Manager, John Farrell, it is agreed by most analyst like Barry Larkin , was forced to ask umpire, Gerry Davis, to check what was an obvious glistening substance on Pineda’s neck. This was after an inning where Pineda gave up 2 runs. He returned to the pitcher’s mound with a shiny substance on his neck. Davis rubbed it with his finger and ejected Pineda. The temperature was a brisk 50 degrees with a 20 mph wind. Many pitchers find it hard to get a grip on the ball in cold weather conditions like that. One of the ESPN announcers for the game compared the need for the pitcher to get a grip on the ball to the need for a batter to get a grip to the bat , thus the use of pine tar. Either way, Pineda, apologized and said he was embarrassed. A similar offense by pitcher Joel Peralta got 8 games. Brian Cashman will have to address this somehow. Cashman said he, as well as the team is embarrassed, even though, as baseball writer ,Tim Kirchin, relayed on ESPN, he was told by a manager that 30 catchers have pine tar on their shin guards so they can transfer that substance to the ball on a cold night. He mentioned that because of the obvious placement of the substance, the Red Sox were almost forced to do something, a nod to the apparent prevalence of the practice of pitchers using something to gain a grip on the ball in cold weather. Some people are blaming the manager, Joe Girardi.
What they can also blame him for is the New York Yankees still being in first place despite losing an anchor in the field and the batting order. Cano changed the way pitcher’s attacked the Yankees and was probably the only reason there was a thought they might make the playoffs last year, which they did not.
The acquisitions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran have paid the dividends they were supposed to. Beltran is leading the team in home runs and Ellsbury leads the team in hits. Couple that with the veteran hitters of Ichiro, Jeter, Gardner, and Soriano , who are all hitting better than they were two weeks ago, and the New York Yankees look more and more like a team that is eager to show why they do not miss Robinson Cano.
Commentary by Daryl McElveen