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Yankees Daily Briefing 09/21/11

The Yankees play a doubleheader on Wednesday; a sweep coupled with a Red Sox loss will not only give them a playoff spot, but wrap up the AL East as well. CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes are scheduled to be on the mound for the Yankees, though in what order remains uncertain due to Hughes' back spasms. The Rays, still fighting for their playoff lives, will counter with James Shields (15-11, 2.78) and Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.91)

Discussion of the Day: Who would you rather face in the first round of the playoffs, the Texas Rangers or Detroit Tigers?

Behind Enemy Lines: Roger Mooney at Tampa Bay Online writes about Matt Moore's thoughts on his major league debut. Moore remains one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, and pitched against the Yankees' Manny Banuelos in the minor leagues this season.

1) Will Leitch at New York Magazine offers his thoughts on the Joe Girardi era.

What most stands out in Leitch's piece is the notion that the Yankees' seasons under Girardi have largely been "monotonous and dull", free from late-season pennant or playoff drama -- simply because the Yankees teams have been that good (or their opponents that weak). Given the personalities in the clubhouse, which includes some of the game's highest-paid players, and personalities that didn't take being slotted ninth in the lineup lightly, it is not an overstatement to say that Girardi has excelled at his task, managing personalities as much as a team. Girardi already has a World Series ring as manager, and came up just two game short of making the World Series in 2010, and most Yankee fans would take the success his teams have achieved, monotonous though it may be, every single time.

2) Jay Jaffe at Pinstriped Bible laments what's become of A.J. Burnett.

It seems a long time ago that Burnett was starting the second game of the 2009 World Series; his numbers for nearly two whole seasons now would have gotten him released if not for the hefty sum still owed on his contract. Burnett couldn't even keep it together against a team that has won just five games since August 20th, and any notion that he'll pitch in the postseason for the Yankees except in a dire emergency seems outlandish to say the least. Burnett has at times offered tantalizing glimpses of why the Yankees signed him in the first place, but he is 34, and there seems little reason to believe he can regain that form. What the Yankees do with him for the next two seasons is to be determined, but there might, at least, be some consolation in knowing that majority of Burnett's contract is now past.

3) Jimmy Golen notes the awkward quandary in which Red Sox fans find themselves rooting for the Yankees.

The situation is either cruel irony or utter Schadenfreude depending on whether one supports Boston or New York, but with the Red Sox reeling, Boston needs the Yankees to beat the Rays to hope to maintain their slim lead in the wild card standings (Boston is just two games ahead of Tampa after both teams lost Tuesday night). The Yankees, on the other hand, need to win just one of their games tomorrow to secure at least a wild card spot, and a doubleheader sweep combined with (another) Red Sox loss would give the Yankees the division outright. Although Yankees fans can no longer chant "19-18" to torture Red Sox fans, the pain of having to actually root for one's rival is another sort entirely.

4) Josh Leventhal notes that Triple-A Scranton still doesn't have a home for the 2012 season. Their stadium is set to undergo renovations, and Lehigh Valley, Rochester and Staten Island would seem to be the best candidates for an interim location, given their proximity to both Scranton and New York City.

Dante Bichette and Ravel Santana topped Baseball America's list of the 20 best GCL prospects; the GCL Yankees were the best offensive team in the GCL, and it wasn't close.