Yankee Stadium (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
I sent off some questions to Greg Kirkland from Pinstripe Alley, SB Nation's New York Yankee blog and, even if he is a Yankees' fan, he was nice enough to answer them for me. Now I have to go shower because I emailed a Yankees' fan and I feel dirty.
Who is your favorite Yankee to watch?
My favorite player to watch on the Yankees is, or was, Brett Gardner. I love how patient he is at the plate and I've always been a fan of fast players. His LF defense is easily the best in the league and I would love if he took over in CF. With him injured, this has personally been a sad year for me.
As for healthy Yankees, Robinson Cano would be next. His swing is so downright flawless and effortless. Every time he hits a home run, I just type the quote "The game is easy!" since it looks like hitting home runs is painfully easy with his swing.
What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of manager Joe Girardi?
I think his strengths deal with his attitude and how he manages the bullpen. One thing I like about Girardi is how he deals with the press. The NYC Press can be pretty relentless at times and he handles them very well. As for his bullpen management, he is very good at giving pitchers rest and not really wearing them out ala the Torre/Proctor syndrome.
His weaknesses are his over-reliance on match-ups, in regards to both hitting and pitching. I think the majority of managers do this though, but I still consider it a weakness. Also, sometimes he tends to look at the pitch count heavily and take out starters before their time.
Can we have a scouting report on the starting pitchers we'll likely see?
Freddy Garcia - Garcia is what we on Pinstripe Alley refer to as a "smoke and mirrors" pitcher. If his control is on point, then he can be tricky. When it's not there, he can be hit and hit hard. We're not talking bloop singles here, but rather dingers and doubles to the wall. I'm always a little nervous when he starts, but as a replacement starter for Pettitte he has been serviceable.
Ivan Nova - Nova really hasn't pitched all that well this year. I personally consider it a sophomore slump and typical young pitcher growing pains. Sadly, those pains have led to some painful games to watch recently. He's leaving way too many balls over the plate and has also been hit hard recently. Nova still has a lot of potential though and if he's command is there and his pitches are low, he can be downright nasty.
Phil Hughes - Hughes has hopefully turned his career around this year. He is finally learning to use his curve in addition to his fastball and he has pitched pretty well for the Yankees this year. Hughes still has a problem of leaving meatballs over the plate which usually leave the park. Also he can have trouble with efficiency and getting batters out without the count going to 3-2. Other than that, Hughes has been impressive this year and will hopefully continue to grow as a starter.
Derek Jeter is having a nice season with the bat, how does he look on defense? How much longer can he play SS?
Jeter has never been a primarily good defensive SS. His range is lacking and has slowly gotten worse with age. If the ball is hit in his general direction, he usually makes the play easily enough. Range is sacrificed for hitting and rarely getting errors. As for how long he can play the position, that really depends on what Jeter wants. His "True Yankee" superstar status is so great that I truly believe he will be playing SS for the Yankees until he retires.
Who has been the closer since the injury to Rivera? Do Yankee fans have confidence in their closer/setup men?
Rafael Soriano has stepped up into the closer role for the Yankees and he has pretty much excelled at the role since taking over. Regarding our confidence in him, I cannot speak for all Yankees fans but I imagine a lot of them have the same reaction as I do; it's not Mo. We are a spoiled lot due to Rivera's "best reliever in history" status. I don't know if I'll ever have the same confidence in any closer ever again due to how spoiled I've become with Mo. All I do is hope Soriano finishes the game and untucks his shirt.
Alex Rodriguez is having an ok season, but not great, is his time as a superstar over? What do Yankee fans think of him?
At this point, it's really hard to say what will become of A-Rod. He has yet to fully display the power that he use to have, but he still manages to get on base well enough. His presence in the lineup is missed, I can tell you that. I don't know if he'll ever regain that A-Rod superstar power and status again, but it's not impossible.
From what I've seen, Yankee fans are mixed regarding their feelings towards him. A good portion think that due to his ludicrous speed contract, he should be the best at all times and if he's not then he deserves to be booed. Another group of Yankee fans look at the stats and what he has done for us over the years and realize that he's been one of our best players. Overall it depends on who you talk to.
What else should we know about the Yankees?
They're fantastic singers. All of them. I'm shocked that Jeter, Tex, Cano, and Hughes haven't formed a barbershop quartet yet.
I would say that the Yankees offense is still something that most teams really have to watch out for. Since the All Star Break they have gotten much better at hitting with RISP, and the home runs are still flying out of the park. The pitching has come down to Earth slightly, but it is still very good. The bullpen is one of their greatest strengths. Despite the injuries they are still a very formidable team to face. Now that they have Casey McGee, they might just be unstoppable.
I obviously made that last sentence up!
Thanks for this Greg.