THE STORY OF MATT AND JUAN

So, now the Yankees must count on images (8) Matt Diaz and images Juan Rivera, to fill in for Curtis Granderson.  We get from the Yankees analyst, that it is only a month.  I say, we need them to fill in a hole that stands next to other holes in the lineup.  We need Mark Texierra, to get off to a good start.  We need Robinson Cano, to help carry the team.  We need Breet Gardner to bunt, hit for a high average and to steal a lot of bases.  If you look at Diaz, his best year was in 2009 when he hit .313 in 371 Atbats with 13 hrs and 58 RBI’s, with 18 doubles and a .390 on base percentage.  This was the most at bats Matt has even gotten and that was three seasons ago.  Juan Rivera has faired much better.  In 2009 like Diaz, Juan hit .287 in a full season with 25 hrs and 88 rbis.  He hit 24 doubles and had a .332 on base percentage.  This was also three seasons ago.  I hope one of these two players works out.  Let’s be realistic, it does not look good for the Yankees.  I am waiting to hear Hal’s gibberish when the Yankees are not doing well.  He did not allow Brian Cashman to fix all of the holes that were left when so many players left for free agency.  EDB

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YANKS SORT THROUGH QUALITY TO REPLACE GRANDERSON…OH! REALLY!

Baseball

Yankees will sort through quantity, not quality to replace Granderson

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Blogger

February 24, 2013 5:52 pm ET

Following an offseason of relative inactivity, the Yankees reported to spring training with questions about their age and overall durability. CC Sabathia (elbow), Mariano Rivera (knee) and Derek Jeter (ankle) are all coming off surgery while new imports Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner have combined for nine DL trips in the last three seasons. Ichiro Suzuki is among baseball’s most durable players, but he turned 39 in October.

Related — Heyman: Yankees should pursue Soriano | Miller: Ibanez’s reaction

Despite all those concerns, it was Curtis Granderson who suffered the first significant injury of New York’s season. The team’s center fielder was hit by an errant J.A. Happ pitch during his first Grapefruit League at-bat on Sunday afternoon, a pitch that fractured his right forearm and will sideline him for 10 weeks. That puts his expected return in early May.

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Granderson, 31, is the Yankees’ top power hitter thanks to his back-to-back 40-homer seasons. His batting average (.232) and strikeouts (195) were an issue in 2012, but his overall production (116 OPS+ and 2.7 WAR) will be impossible to replace at this point. All the free agents have signed and teams are well aware New York now needs a starting outfielder. Trade prices, like the one for Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs, have suddenly gone up.

Luckily for the Yankees, the injury occurred early enough in spring training that Granderson will only miss about a month of the regular season. If he had suffered the fracture in his first at-bat on opening day, well that would be a much bigger problem. The Yankees need a 30-game replacement, not a 162-game replacement. Still a problem, but not a season crippling problem.

Following the injury, GM Brian Cashman said they will go internal for their outfield solution and will “have to adjust,” according to Erik Boland of Newsday. Those internal solutions include veterans Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz, who are in camp on minor league contracts and competing for a job as a right-handed bat off the bench. Neither is much of an everyday player these days but both could wind up on the team by default.

The farm system doesn’t offer a ton of immediate help either, at least in terms of impact talent. Outfielders Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott are all top 100 prospects in the eyes on Baseball America, but they have a combined eight plate appearances above Class A and can’t be counted on to replace Granderson this year. I suppose they could wind up as trade bait, but Cashman his never been one to panic and rush into a move. His bosses, however …

Anyway, 26-year-old Melky Mesa is likely first in line among farm system options. He made his MLB debut last September after hitting .264 with 23 home runs and 22 steals in 121 games split between Double-A and Triple-A, though he will spend most of March playing with the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Cuban defector Ronnier Mustelier, 28, has done nothing but hit since signing with the team in 2011, producing a .324/.378/.497 line in 150 minor league games. He isn’t much of a defender, however. Fellow Cuban defector Adonis Garcia drew rave reviews in winter ball but only played 57 minor-league games after signing last summer. Cashman & Co. have options, just not very appealing ones.

Regardless of how the Yankees plug their outfield hole, that player(s) will be a downgrade from Granderson. The club lost its best power hitter on top of letting Nick Swisher (24 HR), Russell Martin (21 HR), Raul Ibanez (19 HR) and Eric Chavez (16 HR) walk as free agents this winter, meaning manager Joe Girardi will have to switch gears and rely on some small ball. Players like Ichiro, Jeter and Brett Gardner are certainly capable of playing an NL-style of baseball, but it has been a very long time since a club bunted and hit-and-run its way to the top of the ultra-competitive AL East.

The short-term impact of Granderson’s injury is significant for the Yankees because their offense already took a big enough hit in the offseason. They’re going to have to rely on their veteran pitching staff to win some close games in April and hope their center fielder (left fielder?) misses no more than the 10 weeks. The health of Youkilis and Hafner has become that much more important, ditto Ichiro proving his September hot streak was a career revival and not a fluke. It’s only a month of the regular season, but Robinson Cano is the only position player on New York’s roster that is more irreplaceable.

CREEP ROD’S CHARITY…NOT CHARITABLE

Report: Alex Rodriguez’s charitable foundation was not … charitable

By Dayn Perry | Blogger

February 25, 2013 10:47 pm ET

text
Not again, A-Rod. Not again. (Getty Images)

As though Alex Rodriguez were in need of more bad publicity, there’s a damning report in the Boston Globe on A-Rod’s former charitable endeavors. Here’s the money shot (pun totally intended):

A foundation started by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez gave only 1 percent of proceeds to charity during its first year of operation in 2006, then stopped submitting mandatory financial reports to the IRS and was stripped of its tax-exempt status.

As noted by Callum Borchers, the author of the Globe piece, nonprofit observers say foundations at a minimum should be devoting 65 to 75 percent of every dollar directly to the stated mission. To say the least, Rodriguez’s foundation fell well short of that.

And so does Josh Beckett’s. Borchers reports that Beckett’s charity directly donated just 37 cents of every dollar it raised. What’s the problem? While a number of athlete-run charities are very efficient (Borchers highlights a number of them), most jocks lack the acumen to run a major charitable organization. Greg Johnson, executive director of the Sports Philanthropy Project in Boston, sums it up with pith to spare:

“Athletes’ charities are subject to many pitfalls because most of them are not trained in how to raise and distribute money, and it’s difficult. A lot of them get into expensive golf tournaments and that kind of crap. They can be self-serving as hell.”

In related news, Alex Rodriguez continues to come across not unlike Alex Rodriguez.

ALFONSO SORIANO?

New York Yankees: Should Bombers Look into Trade for Alfonso Soriano?

By

(Featured Columnist) on February 24, 2013

Hi-res-152934857_crop_exact Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The New York Yankees lost another key bat on Sunday due to injury.

In Sunday’s spring training game with the Toronto Blue Jays, Curtis Granderson was lost for 10 weeks after suffering a broken forearm after taking a pitch off the arm by J.A. Happ.

Because of the injury, Granderson will now be out until at least May, which eliminates another key member of the offense for over two months.

Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues and CBS Sports reported that the Yankees will try to fill the void left by Granderson internally, and a guy like Melky Mesa could be first in line for a shot to get playing time.

With a team that is trying to cut payroll, bringing up a guy like Mesa seems like the best option to take the spot of the injured Granderson.

But will it replace the power and productivity that is lost with Granderson’s injury? Not likely.

If the Yankees want any chance of contending in 2013, they’re going to need to upgrade the offense and go outside the organization to do it.

CBS Sports and WFAN’s Jon Heyman suggested that the Yankees try to make a deal for Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano.

Five days ago, my fellow B/R writer Kenny DeJohn wrote about the possibility of adding Soriano to the Yankees lineup, which was before the injury to Granderson.

Should the Yankees look into trading for Alfonso Soriano?

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Should the Yankees look into trading for Alfonso Soriano?

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    Total votes: 253

A few days ago, adding Soriano didn’t make sense because it wasn’t a necessity.

Now with the injury to Granderson, trading for Soriano may be a necessity, and I happen to agree with Heyman’s story.

In 2012, Soriano hit .262 with 32 home runs and 108 RBI in 151 games for the Cubs.

The one issue with Soriano is that he’s still owed $36 million over the next two years, so if the Yankees were going to make a deal for him, the Cubs would have to eat most of the contract in order for the Yankees to take Soriano.

The Cubs nearly dealt Soriano last season to the San Francisco Giants, but Soriano induced his no-trade clause that nixed any potential deal.

Soriano’s preference is to play on the East Coast, so going back to the Yankees could in fact be a possibility if trade talks were to happen.

The Cubs can afford to spare Soriano, especially now that they have Jorge Soler in their plans to take over Soriano’s spot.

Even when Granderson does return from injury, the Yankees are still in need of a right-handed bat to be in their lineup.

Against left-handed pitching, the Yankees could use Soriano as a part-time DH to give Travis Hafner a break so they also don’t burn out Soriano in the outfield.

Soriano once started out as a top Yankee prospect and lead-off hitter who got off to a great start before being dealt to the Texas Rangers in 2004 in the trade that landed the Bombers Alex Rodriguez.

That trade made sense considering the Yankees had just lost Aaron Boone to a broken leg and A-Rod was clearly the better player in his prime.

Nine years later, the 37-year-old Soriano is no longer a second baseman but an outfielder. An outfielder that can still drive the ball and be useful in a Yankee lineup that is losing pop by the day.

It would be fitting that Soriano could get a shot to end his career with the same team he started his career with.

There are two major questions that have to be asked.

1. Do the Yankees want Soriano?

2. If put on the block, would Soriano waive his no-trade clause to come back to the Yankees?

Since the Yankees will likely be contending for another AL East title and the playoffs, going back to the Bronx would be an attractive option for Soriano.

I think Brian Cashman will try to go with the internal options first. But if they don’t work out, don’t be surprised if Soriano’s name comes up for the Yankees

GRANY’S FRACTURED FOREARM: WHAT’S NEXT?

Curtis Granderson’s Fractured Forearm: What Next?

By on Feb 25, 10:43a 3

US PRESSWIRE

Options abound, all of them on the mediocre side.

As has already been discussed here quite a bit, in the absence of Curtis Granderson, the Yankees have four basic choices, three of which come down to roughly the same thing:

  • Sit out the ten weeks with a patchwork of veterans.
  • Sit out the ten weeks with a patchwork of kids.
  • Sit out the ten weeks with a patchwork of veterans and kids.
  • Make a trade.

Let’s dispense with the last first: the kinds of veterans available in a deal will come with a significant penalty attached, be it in the form of what the Yankees would have to give up, what they would have to pay, or how many years they would have to carry that player for after the deal. Even were the Yankees to be simply gifted with an Alfonso Soriano or a Vernon Wells, they would be patching a six-week problem (the regular season portion) with a two-year commitment. Worse, in both cases, you really don’t know what you’re going to get. Soriano still has something viable left, whereas Wells has been deadly to his own team in both two straight years and three of the last four.

The veterans on hand, particularly Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz, are equally problematic. They just don’t hit right-handed pitching enough to be viable regulars (there is an argument that Rivera doesn’t hit anyone enough to be a viable anything). They also play weak enough defense that their gloves, combined with likely subpar hitting against right-handers, will actively row the team backwards.

Still, a platoon could be kept in order with the acquisition of a lefty-swinging bat, and that player need not be anything special, just one who could field a bit and have the platoon in his favor. Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Tim Dierkes listed some possibilities among outfielders who are out of options, among them Jordan Schafer, Ezequiel Carrera, Casper Wells, Gorkys Hernandez, Jose Tabata, Julio Borbon, and Xavier Paul. This is not an inspiring bunch, but with a few of them, Borbon perhaps, you could imagine a team catching a singles-fueled hot streak for a few weeks, as the Rangers did in his rookie year of 2009. He always looked a bit lost in center, but perhaps in left his speed might play up.

Still, not even those players will necessarily be available for free, or even at all, so we go back to looking inside. Zoilo Almonte swings from both sides of the plate, but with weak plate judgment and low batting averages. .277/.322/.487 while playing at Trenton is impressive in its way, but knock some of that production off to compensate for the difficultly of two promotions and you don’t have a great deal left. Melky Mesa clearly has ability, but you wonder if he can hit .220 against big-league pitching. Cuban veteran Ronnier Mustelier is intriguing, with his .324/.378/.497 rates in 150 minor league games, but there is a strange absence of talk about him as a viable major leaguer, and it’s not clear if it’s simply his age (28), tendency towards contact hitting (with its attendant lack of walks), or the absence of a clear position at which he can play — his five errors in 90 career games in left field is troubling.

There are also veteran free-agent fill-ins along the lines of Scott Podsednik. Podsednik doesn’t produce much even when hitting .300, but he can at least do that and steal a few bases while hitting from the needed side of the plate. The Yankees outfield would resemble something out of the Deadball era most of the time he was out there, but at least there would be a known quantity on hand just in case Mesa or Mustelier didn’t look like they could handle the job. In this scenario you wouldn’t sign the player just to give him the position, but only to break glass in case of emergency.

The good news to this whole mess is that as bad injuries to starting players go, this one has relatively good timing. Sure, it messes up the whole Curtis-to-left thing, but that could be practiced under game conditions during a minor-league rehab assignment. If Granderson misses the minimum, he could be back in time to get in half of May and the rest of the season. If anything, the greatest damage might have been done to a scenario that was somewhat unlikely anyway — the Yankees feeling far enough out of it at the trading deadline that they tried to move free-agent-to-be Granderson for prospects. Had he been healthy, he would have had enough time to show that he was over last season’s massive second-half tailspin as well as demonstrate proficiency at two positions. Now neither may happen.

Ironically, if they are that far out of it, Granderson’s injury will have played a part in putting them there while at the same time making him a less attractive trade commodity. Again, it wasn’t likely — the pitching staff is too good for that, for one thing, but a thin slice of the wheel of fortune just got a little bit thinner.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Where Are They Now? Chase Wright (2007)

By on Feb 25, 10:00a +

They just remembered that Chase Wright existed – Bruce Bennett

There are many ex-Yankee prospects currently roaming around MLB and we all know who they are. These are the players you might know or maybe not. These are the players who kind of made it. Made it a little. So, here’s to you.

This guy is known for one game and one game only. I didn’t even realize he pitched in two other games between it and actually got the win for both of them. It’s that one in the middle that’s the most damning. Wright was such an uninteresting prospect that he had to look this bad if he ever wanted to be remembered by anyone. Giving up four home runs in a row had only been done once before, but Chase Wright needed to match history in a career that was destined to be otherwise uninteresting, unceremonious, and just plain ugly.

From his first year in Rookie Ball, Chase Wright made a living in ineptitude, even as an 18 year old. Despite a promising 11.9 K/9, he flat out disappointed in every statistic after that point. It’s a miracle he even made it to the majors in the first place, so perhaps Chase Wright can be a symbol for all those that fall very, very short of expectations, yet somehow, by not giving up, will get their day in the sun. Chase Wright got burned.

His lowest walk rate was a 3.2 and his highest strikeout rate after his debut season was a 7.5, both having happened in 2006 in accompaniment with a 1.88 ERA in 119 innings. That was on top of the world for him. In his first six years of professional baseball he averaged an 8.9 H/9, a 5.6 BB/9, and a 7.3 K/9.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone thought very highly of him, yet they had to give him a shot. Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano (duh) were hurt. Joe Torre didn’t think much of him when he let the 24 year old rookie give up a home run to Manny Ramirez, and then J.D. Drew. He left him in to give up another to Mike Lowell and then another to Jason Varitek. He left him in. Thankfully, Wily Mo Pena was up.

Just like the day Kennedy was shot, you remember what you were doing when it happened. I was sitting in my friends’ dorm room, in front of the tv, bragging how awesome the Yankees were and how bad the Phillies (I was in Pennsylvania) were at the time. Then it happened, and it continued to happen. Needless to say, I got destroyed. Thanks, Chase.

He spent the entire 2008 season shuffling around the minors until the Yankees managed to trade him in February of 2009 to the Brewers for Eric Fryer. Five months later Eric Fryer and Casey Erickson turned into Eric Hinske. Thanks, Chase. He rattled around in Triple-A for the next three seasons, managing to be even more terrible than he was in the New York system.

Maybe Wright was just never very good. So why was he such a disappointment? Probably because he was drafted in the third round of the 2001 draft. Scott Hairston was drafted only three picks later, Ryan Howard and C.J. Wilson two rounds later.

Not one to be kept down for long, Wright has looked on his disastrous time with the Yankees with a bit of sad optimism, “I’d rather have had that happen than walk three guys and give up a grand slam.” If you’re still coming up with something that’s worse than the worst thing ever then you must be unstoppably positive about your terrible luck. He pitched for the Somerset Patriots in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball for the 2012 season and scrapped his delivery in favor of becoming a sidearm reliever. Chase Wright might not even be the same person anymore, but at least he’s carrying on.

YANKEES NEWS & NOTES 2/25/13

New York Yankees News & Notes: 2/25/13

By on Feb 25, 6:00a 5

Elsa

Evaluating Centerfield: The metrics tell us that Curtis Granderson was a bad center fielder in 2012, but he’s also been a very good center fielder too. Metrics such as UZR are considered the foremost authority on evaluating fielding talent, but it is still a work in progress and can be very inconsistent at times. Granderson might actually just be league average, but it still would leave him inferior to Brett Gardner, at least where UZR metrics are concerned.

Not An Easy Decision: The Captain’s Blog considers whether or not switch Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson will really improve the team. Gardner is obviously the better defender, but with left field being notoriously difficult to play at Yankee Stadium, is it worth the risk? The goal of an outfield alignment is to optimize its ability to get outs, so if Gardner does well and Granderson struggles with his new position due to inexperience, the team will suffer overall.

Injury Prone: Phil Hughes has avoided being labeled as “injury prone” in his short MLB career, but the long list of injuries could catch up to him eventually. The injuries have mostly come from freak accidents, and not troubling health concerns and most of his injuries have not limited his playing time due to the time they occurred. However, he has missed around 1.5-2 years of accumulative playing time and with his latest back injury is beginning to show signs of a pitcher with potentially recurring back problems.

A Satisfactory Retirement: Jorge Posada believes he made the right decision to retire at the end of the 2011 season. He has no plans to make a comeback, like his longtime teammate, Andy Pettitte; he’s enjoying retirement and enjoy being in camp as an instructor. Though he enjoys being an instructor, Posada has no plans to be involved with baseball on a full time basis, but he did state that he is talking with the organization and discussing a potential role he might have.

Ring for Sale: The World Series ring replica that Alex Rodriguez gave to his cousin, Yuri Sucart, has been sold to a collector and now is headed to auction. The ring is estimated to fetch around $40,000, with the opening bid set at $5,000 on Monday and ending April 5th.

Slade on the Rise: Joel Sherman chronicles Slade Heathcott’s rise from problem child to mature, responsible athlete. He’s a person marred with mistakes and tragedy, family trouble, gun control, alcohol, but after finding God he has taken a new lease on life. The Yankee organization has certainly helped mold him into the person he has become, but it is his own drive to better himself and make good on past mistakes that make him truly worth the risk.

Work Ethic: When his teammates do fielding drills, Travis Hafner diverts from the group and works on his hitting. He stays in the batting cages, talks with Kevin Long, and works on his swing because there is no other side to his game. Hafner will be effective, but he will also limit the roster flexibility and it is always a concern that he might get injured again.

FILLING IN FOR CURTIS

Filling In For Curtis Granderson

By Tim Dierkes [February 24, 2013 at 6:05pm CST]

A J.A. Happ fastball struck Curtis Granderson‘s right forearm today in a Spring Training game, which will knock the Yankees’ projected left fielder out until May.  GM Brian Cashman intends to look at all possibilities, but of course the team will start by considering in-house corner outfielders such as Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera.  YES Network’s Jack Curry tweets a reality check: the Yankees’ plan to replace Granderson will be made with the expectation that he’s likely to miss 30 games, not the entire season.

That’s why a relatively complicated deal for veterans such as Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells seems unlikely.  Both players were quizzed by reporters today nonetheless, and both professed a desire to win with their current teams.  Regarding Soriano, Cubs president Theo Epstein told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, “If we can get him to a winner and get a good package back we’d consider it. We haven’t even been tempted yet.  He’s a valuable guy here. He’s more valuable to us than anything we’ve been offered…by far.”

A couple of ex-Yankees continue to toil in free agency: Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu.  Scott Podsednik is available as well.  They’d all be candidates for minor league deals, so the risk is minimal if Cashman wants to add some depth.

Out of options players are worth considering as well.  A few notable outfielders on that list include Jordan SchaferEzequiel Carrera, Casper Wells, Gorkys Hernandez, Jose Tabata, Julio Borbon, and Xavier Paul.  Tabata, a former Yankees farmhand, has $12.75MM in guaranteed money left on his contract, so the Pirates would have to be looking to cut bait and assume the vast majority.  If not Hernandez, the Marlins might be able to spare former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan.  The Diamondbacks recently added speedster Tony Campana to a crowded outfield, and perhaps Cashman will give Kevin Towers a call.  Dewayne Wise, Scott Cousins, Eric Thames, Aaron Cunningham, Austin Kearns, Darnell McDonald, Felix Pie, Tony Gwynn Jr., and Travis Buck are some other outfielders fighting for jobs who could become available as camp progresses.

Cashman is in a tricky spot.  Anyone who represents a clear upgrade over the team’s internal options might come with a decent acquisition cost, which wouldn’t make sense if Granderson will be out for one month.  The best strategy might be to make a couple of low-risk acquisitions to give manager Joe Girardi additional options.

 

EDB

TOP 3 REPLACEMENTS FOR GRANDERS)N

New York Yankees’ Top 3 Possible Replacements for Curtis Granderson

By

(Featured Columnist) on February 24, 2013

Hi-res-162204177_crop_650x440 Granderson will miss at least the first month of the 2013 season.
Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Yankees received bad news Sunday about another of their key players, when it was announced that starting left fielder Curtis Granderson will miss at least ten weeks with a broken forearm. This will cause the Yankees to scramble to find possible replacements.

The story was first reported in a tweet by YES’ Jack Curry:
The story was confirmed by CBSSports.com’s Mike Axisa.

Granderson suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch during his first spring training at bat in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

About to turn 32, the left-handed hitting Granderson was due to switch to left field for the first time in his career.

Since joining the Yankees prior to the 2010 season, he has become one of the most valuable hitters in their lineup. Although he slumped to a .232 batting average last year, he’s totaled 108 home runs and 292 RBI the past three seasons, and his 84 home runs since 2011 represent the most in baseball during that time.

The Yankees enter 2013 already shorthanded, with Alex Rodriguez and Michael Pineda expected to miss significant time, and aging veterans Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera coming back from serious injuries of their own.

New York will need to find a replacement left fielder for the start of the season and perhaps beyond, depending on Granderson’s recovery time.

Click through to see the top three possible replacements for Granderson.

Juan Rivera  WASHED UP!  ANOTHE GENIUS CASHMAN SCRAP HEAP PICKUP

Rivera could be a possible replacement if he can prove he still has life left in his bat.
Rivera could be a possible replacement if he can prove he still has life left in his bat.
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The 34-year-old Rivera is a 12-year major league veteran, who signed a minor league deal with the Yankees this past offseason with an invitation to spring training.

He started his career with the Yankees in 2001 and has gone on to play for the Los Angeles Angels, Montreal Expos, Toronto Blue Jays and most recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The right-handed hitter has a capable bat, hitting .274 with 132 home runs and 539 RBI for his career.

However, as he has aged, his production has declined.

Last season, appearing in 109 games with the Dodgers, he hit just .244 with nine home runs and 47 RBI.

His OPS has declined for four consecutive seasons.

Rivera is a below-average defensive player, but that would be nothing new in New York, which has seen the likes of the defensively-challenged Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui patrolling left field among others in recent years.

Matt Diaz   HAS HAD ONLY ONE GOOD YEAR IN THE MAJORS.  HE’S DONE!!!!

Diaz can handle left-handed pitching, but can he hold down left field on a full-time basis?
Diaz can handle left-handed pitching, but can he hold down left field on a full-time basis?
J. Meric/Getty Images

Like Rivera, Diaz signed a minor league deal this past offseason with the Yankees.

Turning 35 before the end of spring training, the right-handed hitter is a veteran of 10 major league seasons with four teams, including the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

He is a career .291 hitter with 45 home runs and 225 RBI.

Despite his outstanding batting average, he has never been a full-time player in the majors, with the 371 at-bats he received with the Braves in 2009 representing a career high.

He has always been pegged as a platoon player, and the statistics bear out the reason why.

He has a career .324/.364/.863 batting average/OBP/OPS split against left-handed pitchers. By comparison, those numbers dip to .258/.314/.675 against righties. While he’s certainly most effective against southpaws, he is at least a capable overall hitter.

Continuing the similarities with Rivera, Diaz is also a below-average defender, last positing a positive dWAR in 2007. However, while he’s played all over the outfield during his career, he has the most experience in left.

Thomas Neal OH YEAH!  WHEN I THINK OF BIG STICKS, I THINK OF NEAL…NOT!!

Neal is seeking his first extended playing time in the major leagues.
Neal is seeking his first extended playing time in the major leagues.
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

The wild card of the bunch, the 25-year-old Neal was also signed this winter to a minor league contract.

The right-handed left fielder is a 2005, 36th-round draft pick who became a top prospect with the San Francisco Giants before being traded to the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Orlando Cabrera midway through the 2011 season.

Ironically, Neal was designated for assignment this winter by the Indians in order to make room on their 40-man roster for newly signed outfielder Nick Swisher, who came over from the Yankees.

Neal has been a productive hitter in the minors, producing a .299 batting average with 68 home runs and 342 RBI in 629 career games.

His best season came in 2009 when he was in High-A, and hit .337 with 22 home runs and 90 RBI in 129 games.

He made his major league debut this past year with Cleveland, collecting five hits and two RBI in 23 at-bats.

Out of the candidates vying for the temporary left field position, he has the best glove and is nearly a decade younger, suggesting much fresher legs.

He probably doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors, so if he has a hot spring, he could be a surprise pick to fill in for Granderson.

 

EDB

GRANDERSON OUT 10 WEEKS WITH BROKEN FOREARM

Broken Arm Sidetracks Granderson Move

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

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Curtis Granderson left the game with what was thought to be a bruise after being hit on the right arm. It was later learned the bone was broken.

By SCOTT CACCIOLA
Published: February 24, 2013

TAMPA, Fla. — The Yankees were already trying to gird themselves for a season without a ton of power in their lineup, and then Curtis Granderson stepped into the batter’s box to face the Toronto Blue Jays’ J. A. Happ on Sunday.

In his first plate appearance of spring training, Granderson fractured his right forearm when he was struck by a pitch in the first inning of the Yankees’ 2-0 loss. Granderson, an outfielder, is expected to miss 10 weeks, an absence that will extend into May. The Yankees’ regular-season opener is April 1.

“Well, it’s not what you want,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “We have plenty of time to figure out what we’re going to do. I mean, Grandy’s not a bat that you’d say is easy to replace, but we’re going to find a way.”

Granderson, a three-time All-Star who joined the Yankees in 2010, led the team last season with 43 homers and 106 runs batted in. He started Sunday’s game in left field, part of an experimental switch with Brett Gardner, who played center.

“That experiment is over,” said General Manager Brian Cashman, who appeared dejected.

The Yankees have no obvious replacement for Granderson, though there are several candidates. In the off-season, the Yankees signed Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera to compete for backup roles. Ronnier Mustelier, who replaced Granderson on Sunday, hit .303 with 10 home runs and 49 R.B.I. for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.

But perhaps the most intriguing player is Zoilo Almonte, a 23-year-old Dominican who homered and threw out a runner from right field in Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Atlanta Braves. Last season, Almonte hit .277 with 21 homers and 70 R.B.I. in 106 games at Class AA Trenton.

“There are guys who are going to get to play a lot,” Girardi said, referring to spring training. “We’ll have to figure out what we’re going to do. Is it a situation where it’s a guy who plays every day? Is it a platoon situation? There are some things we’re going to have to look at.”

The Yankees initially believed that Granderson’s injury was a bruise, but X-rays revealed that his forearm was fractured.

Girardi said Granderson did not appear to be in much pain, so the diagnosis came as a surprise.

“I was actually kind of shocked,” Girardi said.

Any solution will be a short-term fix, he said, because Granderson is expected to miss about 30 games in a 162-game season. Girardi said it remained to be seen whether Granderson would play in left or center upon his return. Cashman tried to look on the bright side.

“If Curtis is going to miss two months,” he said, “you’d rather have one of the two not count.”

I have notices that both Toronta and Baltimore tend to throw inside.  Oops! Sorry!  Now that Yankees miss their top home run hitter.  When the Yankees play The Blue Jays again, oops! sortry about Bautista.  Maybe then pitchers around the American League  or or at least their managers, might think about throwing in on Yankees hitters. EDB