Could Matsui be heading to the bench soon?

A healthy Jeff Mathis could spell trouble for struggling DH Hideki Matsui, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Angels last December.

Mathis, who has been sidelined since April 20 because of a broken bone in his right wrist, is hoping to begin his minor league rehab soon and once he’s ready to return to the club, Matsui’s spot in the lineup could be in danger. Mathis is the Halos’ best defensive catcher, but Mike Napoli has been the club’s hottest hitter this month and could move to the DH position that is currently being occupied by Matsui.

Even though Matsui is hitting just .229 with a .302 on-base percentage this year, his manager Mike Scioscia told the L.A. Times that he’s not giving up on the veteran hitter.

“His track record — and I mean recent track record, not seven years ago — is clear,” Scioscia said. “Maybe his timing is not right, maybe he hasn’t squared balls up on a consistent basis, but he’s shown that it’s in there; he was our best hitter the first three weeks of the season. We’re confident he’s going to be productive.”

Matsui said through an interpreter that he “feels good physically,” though one has to wonder whether his arthritic knees aren’t a factor in his struggles.

“The results just aren’t there,” Matsui said, “so I’m going to have to keep working until they are.”

The killer for the Angels is that Vladimir Guerrero, the man who hit in the DH position last year, is now hitting .339 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI for division rival Texas. The Halos thought they had sewn up their hole at DH last winter with the signing of Matsui, but in the early going it appears that allowing Vlad to escape to Texas was a poor decision.

It’s kind of amazing to think that the 2009 World Series MVP might be benched soon, but if Matsui doesn’t start hitting that scenario will surely become a reality.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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2010 MLB Preview: AL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

First up is the AL East.

1. New York Yankees (1)
If you think I would get cute in these rankings and suggest that some upstart team would derail the Yankees this season, then you sir, are sadly mistaken. I just don’t have the conjones to bet against them, especially after they added Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson to their already stacked roster. Sure they lost World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the latter of which loved to work the count and provided the Yanks with some pop over the last couple of seasons. But thanks to Granderson, Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the lineup is still stacked from top to bottom. Vazquez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mariano Rivera will once again highlight a strong pitching staff and assuming they don’t suffer any major injuries, there’s nothing to suggest that the Bombers won’t make another championship run. That said, let’s not be oblivious to the potential problems that could arise for the Yanks this season. Age is a factor, as is the fact that Granderson can’t hit lefties and will be under the spotlight as the club’s biggest offseason acquisition. Plus, for as good as Vazquez was over the past couple of years, he was a disaster the last time he wore pinstripes (Boston fans remember this well.) Should the Yankees win another World Series? Yeah – especially considering they have the best-purchased roster in baseball. But just like last year, they still have to prove it between the lines and they’re not immune to hurdles getting in their way.

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Yankees win 2009 World Series

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, the New York Yankees were at home on their couches watching as their 2009 World Series counterparts, the Philadelphia Phillies, defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to become world champions.

One of the big reasons the Bronx Bombers were at home during the Fall Classic and not participating in it was because their pitching wasn’t good enough. That’s why GM Brian Cashman opened George Steinbrenner’s fat checkbook to sign starting pitchers CC Sabathia (7-years, $161 million) and A.J. Burnett (five-year, $82.5 million). And just to make sure he had enough offense, Cashman also inked the top bat on the free agent market, Mark Teixeira, to an eight-year, $180 million deal.

The end result is that the Yankees got what they paid for.

With their 7-3 victory over the Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series, the Bombers won their 27th championship in club history. Hideki Matsui (who was later named Series MVP) went 3-for-4 with six RBI and a run scored, while Derek Jeter finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Long-time veteran Andy Pettitte earned the victory, yielding three runs on four hits over 5.2 innings of work.

The Yankees are clearly at an advantage because they’re willing to spend. But at least they spend their money the right way unlike clubs like the Mets, who spend widely only to miss the postseason every year. The Yankees want to win and they knew last year that they’re pitching wasn’t good enough to match their offensive firepower. So yes, they spent and spent big. But they spent to win and they accomplished their one and only goal: To win a World Series.

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Yankees take 2-1 series lead with Game 3 win

Apparently all Nick Swisher needed was a fire lit under his ass.

Swisher, benched in Game 2, homered and doubled in the Yankees’ 8-5 win over the Phillies in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night. With the victory, New York takes a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.

Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui also went deep for the Bronx Bombers. A-Rod’s shot was memorable because it was the first call overturned by replay in the history of the World Series. He finished 1 for 2 on the night with two RBI and a walk, while Swisher went 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI.

The Phillies got two home runs from Jayson Werth and one from Carlos Ruiz to take a 3-0 lead in the second inning. But the Yankees answered with two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings on their way to victory. Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels was touched up for five runs on five hits in just 4.1 innings of work. He struck out three and walked two.

With this win, the Yankees have the Phillies right where they want them because CC Sabathia opposes Joe Blanton tomorrow night. But a win is vital for the Bombers because if they lose, not only will Philly even the series but it’ll also have the momentum with Cliff Lee (who beat the Yankees in Game 1) starting Game 5.

Tomorrow is critical for Joe Girardi, who decided to start Sabathia on only three days rest. If the Yankees can’t take a 3-1 series lead, then Girardi’s gamble could wind up costing his club.

2009 MLB Preview: #1 New York Yankees

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Offseason Movement: To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Bronx Bombers went out and threw gobs of money at top free agents after missing the postseason last year. They signed the biggest bat on the market in 1B Mark Teixeira, then added the two best arms in CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. The Yanks also added 1B/OF Nick Swisher via a trade with the White Sox, but they might ship him elsewhere since he’s drawing attention from clubs like the Pirates, Nationals and Braves. With Xavier Nady being penciled in at right fielder, Swisher might become expendable.

Top Prospect: Jesus Montero, C/1B
The 19-year old Montero is being groomed as a catcher but could make the move to one of the corner infield spots if he doesn’t clean up his footwork behind the dish. Said to have excellent strength and raw power, Montero could emerge as a future All-Star. He has a great arm and that’s why the Bombers envision him as a future catcher but regardless of his eventual position, Montero will be given the opportunity to play in the big leagues as long as he continues to work on his plate discipline and patience at the plate.

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