Talkin’ Yankees with Rob Abruzzese – Bronx Baseball Daily

6 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Quick notes before starting:

  • By the way, be sure to go to the left side of this screen and check out all the Twins blogs today. A lot of passionate Twins fans/bloggers have put in a ton of work in anticipation of this series, so check out some other twins blogs today.
  • Be sure to check out last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast. The first guest was Twins minor league pitcher Kane Holbrooks, who had a tremendous season between Beloit, Ft. Myers and even made a start for the New Britain Rockcats. We were then joined by Robby Incmikoski from Fox Sports North. He talked a little about his job, some of the Twins players, the manager and the state of the Twins going into the playoffs. He did a great job and hopefully we’ll be able to have him on the show more in the offseason.  
  • The Twins will take the 30th overall draft pick in next year’s MLB Draft thanks to having the fourth best record in baseball this year.
  • MLB Trade Rumors posted the final update of Eddie Bajek’s reverse-engineered Elias rankings, and it showed that the Twins have three Type A Free Agents and four Type B free agents. Carl Pavano and Matt Guerrier are Type A’s, and so is Jason Kubel, although the Twins have an easy-decision-to-pick-up-$5.25 million option for next year. The four Type B free agents are Brian Fuentes, Orlando Hudson, Jon Rauch and Jesse Crain. I’m sure once we get to the offseason, we’ll have plenty more to say about that.
  • Saturday night, the TwinsCentric guys will be at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park, watching the Twins game which starts at 7:30 central time. Stop by! More information to come.

Today is the day that Twins fans have been waiting for much longer than just the three days since the season came to an end. The playoffs are upon us and with it another opportunity to face the Yankees. Today I have for you an interview with Yankees blogger and fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member, Rob Abruzzese, from Bronx Baseball Daily. It is a tremendous blog on the Yankees. So if you want the other perspective throughout this series, be sure to check out his site for great analysis and frequent updates.

Rob was kind enough to ask me to answer several Twins questions for him and his site (which you can find here), and today he was kind enough to answer questions for us about the Yankees and this series. Thank you to Rob, and Enjoy! Please feel free to comment below.

SethSpeaks: I think a lot of Twins fans were hoping to get to face the Rays in the first round of the playoffs, hope that Cliff Lee could beat the Yankees and help the Twins toward the World Series. Meanwhile, I think it’s fair to say that the Yankees and their fans preferred to play the Twins. What are your thoughts on the way the season ended for the Yankees and what it means going into the playoffs?

Rob Abruzzese: There is no denying the end of the season was ugly for the Yankees. That said, this is a veteran team that obviously has a good amount of playoff experience. They ran into a tough schedule at the end and didn’t come out looking pretty, but they have been dealing with a fair amount of injuries and manager Joe Girardi refused to over-tax his bullpen. In the last couple of weeks though Brett Gardner, wrist, Nick Swisher, knee, and Mark Teixeira, thumb, have gotten a good amount of rest and should be closer to 100 percent.

It’s hard to argue that Girardi wasn’t managing to win every game, but now it’s the playoffs and this is what the team has been focused on since spring training. They’re here, they’re healthy, and I think they’re ready to play. The Twins are a very good team that should be respected so I can’t guarantee the Yankees will win, but it won’t be because they are not ready.

SethSpeaks: How can you explain the Yankees dominance of the Twins in the last several years?

Rob Abruzzese: I think it’s been pitching more than anything else. In 2003 the Yankees beat the Twins biggest threat in Johan Santana and in 2004 they stole took advantage of a weak staff around him and got lucky in game no. 4. Last season they just didn’t have the the horses to match up against the Yankees staff who was red hot last October.

This time around I think the Twins have one of their better chances to win. To me the key is Brian Duensing is the key to this series. Francisco Liriano obviously has top of the line stuff and can even beat CC Sabathia if he’s on. Carl Pavano can go either way and a lot of that rests on how good Andy Pettitte can be. The big game will be game no. 3. If Duensing can pitch as well as he did down the stretch and beat Phil Hughes then the Twins have a big advantage in taking this series. Duensing was very impressive down the line, but in my mind he’s a big question mark. He’s young and inexperienced, can he backup his strong season in October?

SethSpeaks: What is different about the Yankees since last year’s ALDS?

Rob Abruzzese: The biggest and most obvious difference is A.J. Burnett. He was instrumental in helping the Yankees to win the 2009 World Series and he’s basically been crap this season. The Yankees are lucky because Phil Hughes has been so big for them this season. Hughes had trouble in October last season though so there certainly are question marks surrounding him, but then again even when Burnett was pitching well there were always question marks surrounding him.

The Yankees are also a bit older. Derek Jeter had one of his best years in 2009 and has followed that up with his worst in 2010. He finished up the last couple of weeks strong, but at age 36 he cannot be counted on as he has in the past. Alex Rodriguez is another guy that because of his age you can’t be sure of what you are going to get out of him. The key for the Yankees this year is what they get out of guys like Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson. If those guys can step up and just let some of the older guys play bit rolls, the Yankees should have a strong offense.

SethSpeaks: What is the current state of the rotation?

Rob Abruzzese: Let’s face it, the Yankees right now have CC Sabathia and everybody else. Yankee fans should be prying for rain so they can send the big man out there as often as possible. Andy Pettitte is obviously a big time veteran, but he had groin issues that kept him out for a long stretch of time and he hasn’t been the same since coming back. Phil Hughes has never started a playoff game and struggled in October last season after dominating all year. A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez have been so bad that A.J. won’t start unless there is an emergency and Vazquez isn’t even on the ALDS roster. If either of those guys have to start for the Yankees they are in a lot of trouble.

SethSpeaks: How will the Yankees get from the starter to Mariano Rivera?

Rob Abruzzese: That actually has been a great strength of the Yankees lately. Kerry Wood was a huge pickup for them and has pitched as well as any reliever they’ve had since the dynasty of the 90’s. He’s the key. Before him Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson will be counted on to get big outs. They’ve both been up and down this season, but lately there have been a lot more ups than downs. If they pitch well the Yankees will have no problem getting to Rivera. Boone Logan, their lone lefty in the pen, has had a great season as well and against a team like the Twins he’s going to get plenty of opportunities to pitch. Hopefully for the Yankees sake he continues his good season.

SethSpeaks: What is the current state of the offense? Who is Hot? Who is not?

Rob Abruzzese: The Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has really done wonders with this lineup. Really the only players that have struggled lately are guys that have been dealing with injuries like Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, and Jorge Posada. That said, they have been given a lot of time off lately and should be ready to go in October.

The reason why I give Kevin Long a lot of credit though is because he has turned guys around who struggled for large stretches of this season. Curtis Granderson has probably experienced the biggest difference. He has been a big help to Derek Jeter and Lance Berkman as well. Nick Swisher has hit 40 points better on his batting average than he did last season and he has given all the credit to Long for helping him quite down his swing.

SethSpeaks: Do you think the Yankees would do better against the Twins in a short series or a longer one?

Rob Abruzzese: Definitely a short series because it means they can avoid using four starters. Their bullpen will also benefit because there is a pretty big drop off at the end of that pen and if they don’t have to pitch more than back-to-back days they should be able to avoid their B-squad relievers.

SethSpeaks: Are the Yankees and their fans overlooking the Twins?

Rob Abruzzese: Some of the fans might be, but I don’t think the Yankees are. They know that the Twins are a good team and probably better than they were last season. The Yankees might not have played with the pedal to the metal down the stretch, but that was more about keeping everyone healthy than looking forward to the match-ups and thinking the Twins would be easier than the Rangers.

 

So there you have it, a little background on the Twins opponents, the New York Yankees. Thank you very much to Rob for taking the time to write such great responses.

I think it’s going to be a terrific series. I think most of the games should be tightly contested. I mean, we are talking about two teams that were separated by just one game in the overall standings over the course of a 162 game season. Both are terrific teams. Both have good pitching, really good offenses and strong bullpens.

So before the series gets started, get your predictions in? Who will win the series? In how many games? Who will star? Leave your comments here.

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