Nick Johnson will be the Yankees' number 2 hitter

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No, Joe Girardi hasn’t announced it, but the Star Ledger’s Marc Carig has deduced as much from what Girardi said about the two slot yesterday. Girardi’s comments:

“On-base is extremely important to me because the guys behind him
can all hit the ball out of the ballpark. So, yes, you’d love to have a guy that had an extremely
high on-base percentage that can run and hit for power. But if you had
that guy he might hit somewhere else . . .You like to have guys who can run, but as I said,
because of the guys in front of him, that becomes less important. You
don’t have to be a flyer.”

I agree with Carig that this is Girardi basically saying, without saying it, that Nick Johnson is batting second this year. Which makes total sense. He’s an OBP God, and with A-Rod and Teixeira hitting three and four, anyone who has guys stealing bases in front of them should be summarily shot.

I think Nick Johnson’s addition is the single most underrated move of the offseason.  If he stays healthy — and really, his injuries tend to be more freak things than chronic things — the Yankees are going to score tons and tons of runs.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.