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Around the Yankee Universe, 06.08.09

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There are a lot of interesting stories to touch on in the Yankee Universe today as our Bronx Bombers enjoy the view atop the American League after Sunday's 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

  • After Saturday's fiasco, it felt really good watching Mariano Rivera close out Sunday's victory. After the controversy created Saturday when Joe Girardi forced Rivera to intentionally walk Evan Longoria, it was cool that Rivera got the Rays' star for the final out Sunday. He earned himself the championship belt that goes to the star of each Yankee victory. When it comes to Rivera, John Harper of the Daily News voiced the thing no Yankee fan really wants to think about.

What if the timing turns out to be all wrong for the Yankees? What if this is the year all of the championship pieces fall into place again...only age finally catches up with Mariano Rivera?

There is so much to like about these Yankees, from the best starting pitching this franchise has had since 2003 to a late-inning grit that has the home dugout believing no deficit is too big to overcome.

But what if the great Rivera, at age 39, has lost just enough to make the ninth inning an issue after all these years?

Girardi, of course, was asked a lot of questions about Rivera over the weekend, especially since he has been hit harder than usual on a couple of occasions. Here is what he said Saturday.

"We know he's coming off surgery," Girardi said. "We thought it would take some time to get back to exactly where he was."

Overall, Girardi said, this season has been Rivera "showing that he's human…Guy coming off surgery, it's taken some time. But I still feel pretty good about him.

"Because he's been so great for so long, whenever he does have a blip, people are like, 'Uh, oh.' If you're 30 and you have a blip, people don't say 'Uh, oh,' but if you're older, that's always the initial reaction. I don't always think that. "

  • Maybe instead of looking for ghosts in the nooks and crannies of the new Yankee Stadium, the Rays should be looking for some of that 2008 magic that has been missing for them so far in 2009.
  • David Wells said Sunday that he passed when Jose Canseco suggested he try HGH.
  • Brian Bruney sounded optimistic following a Sunday bullpen session. Of course, after the last time Bruney came off the DL saying he felt fine we will just believe he is healthy when we see it.
  • The MLB Draft is Tuesday. The New York Post says that it was 2006, when the Yankees began approaching the draft differently, that they began to see better results from their selections. Here's a snippet of the Post's piece.
This year's draft is Tuesday -- the Yankees pick 29th in the first round and at No. 76 in the second -- and they will continue to use the philosophy born in 2006. That year vice president of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer became, in Cashman's words, "fully empowered." Before that, Cashman said, "There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen. A lot of different philosophies colliding at times."

But beyond who does the picking, the draft targets for the Yankees have changed. For example, now it's more about a pitcher's stuff than his statistics.

"Players with tools, tools scouting rather than performance scouting," Cashman said. "Going aggressively after the difficult signs. ... It's really just keeping it simple. Going after players with big tools. Big tools hopefully lead to championships."