Jul 31, 2007

Two quick things

What a play by Melky in the first inning! He saved at least a double.

- In the minors, 17-year-old Jairo Heredia is dominating the Gulf Coast League: 34.2 ip, 1.82 era, 42 k, 7 bb, .177 baa. Supposedly he throws a low 90s fastball. That's really all I know about him, but considering he's just 17, he could be throwing 95+ in a few years!

Betemit a Yankee, Gagne a Sock

Scott Proctor was traded for Wilson Betemit of the Dodgers, a power-hitting utility infielder. I'm divided on this move. If there's one thing the Yanks do not have, it's solid middle relief. They traded the most used reliever in baseball (since the start of '06) for a guy who will probably be a pinch-hitter/utility infielder.

- Proctor is 30, and probably not going to improve much (if at all).
- Proctor has a habit of melting down against the Socks. Career vs. Bos: 29.1 ip, 8.28 era, .952 OPSa.
- Betemit is listed at just 25, so he's not yet in his prime.
- Betemit is a huge improvement (100 OPS+) over current utility infielders Miguel Cairo (76 OPS+) and Chris Basak (one career ab).
- The Yanks have an insurance policy at 3b if Arod leaves in the offseason.
- Joba could be an upgrade over Proctor.

- Proctor's failings may be attributable to overuse, and if used more sparingly, may become more effective. He still has great stuff.
- More weight/pressure falls on the other relievers: Farns, Vizciano, Myers, Villone, and worst of all, Joba, who will be getting his feet wet.
- Proctor, if nothing else, could be counted on to give innings - he led the AL in appearances last year with 83.

And the Socks traded three prospects for Eric Gagne in a lopsided trade. They gave up Kason Gabbard, a 25-year-old #4 starter at best, David Murphy, a 25-year-old 4th OFer at best, and Engel Beltre, a 17-year-old potential star in the Gulf Coast League. Unless Beltre turns into a star, or Gagne gets injured,Texas got hosed (again). What Texas wanted from the Yanks, namely Ian Kennedy, Melky Cabrera or Alan Horne are far better prospects than anything Boston gave up. Maybe the Rangers are pissed about still having to pay $10 million a year of Arod's salary (from the Soriano trade, another lopsided deal).

Jul 30, 2007

Gagne coming soon?

The rumor is Tyler Clippard, Jeff Marquez and a 'player to be named later' to Texas for Eric Gagne. The PTBNL is supposedly a 'C-level prospect.' Could it be Jeff Karstens, or Brett Gardner?

I don't know about this trade. The trio of Joba, Gagne and Mo could be unstoppable down the stretch. But for that to even be the case, they have to get good starting pitching and consistent hitting, both questions (although getting Hughes back will help). Marq, Clip AND another prospect seems like a bit too much, especially considering Gagne's a two month rental and he won't bring back any compensatory draft picks (because he missed so much time the last few years). Plus Joba is set to join the Big Club's bullpen (man, did he dominate tonight in his first relief appearance).

Back to Gagne, he will almost certainly become a free agent again - he wants to close and his agent is the infamous Scott Boras, so make no mistake, this is a two month rental. Now Marquez and Clippard might've never made it to the Bronx with the Yanks stacked pitching depth, but Clippard IS extremely healthy, unlike Gagne (who's pitched less than 50 innings the last 2.5 years). But alas, this is not the same Gagne who won the Cy Young in 2003 - he doesn't have quite the stuff (especially the velocity) he had then. Now granted, I wanted Cash to sign Gagne last offseason - and now it comes back to bite them (of course, he supposedly only wanted to close, not set up, so Cash had no choice). But I think they shied away from him because of his injuries. But it didn't stop them from signing Octavio Dotel for half a year, and Jon Lieber for two years (one of which they knew he would miss). I'm sure they could have convinced Gagne to set up (and occassionally close) for, not just the Yankees, but the best closer ever. These are the Yankees - they can take chances on injured players, just like their drafting strategy (Joba, Brackman). Now they're giving up young starting pitching to acquire it. If it does happen, I'll be excited for 2+ months, but I DON'T think Gagne will be the difference between the playoffs and not.

Yanks salvage series

Well, Saturday night's 9th inning near-comeback was a precursor to today's offensive explosion. All I can say is that at least they weren't swept.

- Elsewhere, Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes pitched great for Triple-A Scranton, and Joba Chamberlain was moved to the pen to get him used to the role before he joins the Bronx bullpen (I wonder who gets sent down...).

I do not like the move - Joba is the second best pitcher in the entire system, and I don't trust Joe Torre at all to use him correctly. Outside of Mo, he treats relievers in two ways: 1. he severely overuses them, e.g. Scott Proctor and Luis Vizcaino, or 2. he severely underuses them, e.g. Edwar Ramirez. Neither situation is good for pitchers, especially 21-year-olds with outstanding arms (and injury history), and such is Joba.

Jul 27, 2007

Pete Abe is all over it

From Lohud.com -

- Kei Igawa was demoted to Scranton and utility infielder Chris Basak was called up. No decision has yet been made whether the games on August 3rd or 4th will be started by Phil Hughes.

- Randy Johnson is having season ending back surgery. That trade looks much better than it did two months ago, even if none of the prospects pan out.

- The offense went quiet for the second straight night and wasted another good outing by Andy Pettitte. It's one thing to lose those Kei Igawa games, but when the starter goes seven innings (and three runs), those games should be won. Posada and Jeter went 0-8.

Jul 26, 2007

Torre puts all his eggs in one basket

The losing basket that is. By having his weak-hitting backup catcher play with his worst starter, he basically conceded this one. Posada has to rest, and Igawa has to pitch (until Hughes or Karstens returns), so even if Posada played this game, his bat would not have made up for Igawa's poor pitching. He might as well be given a rest when the odds of winning are already below 50 percent - so yes, I agree with Joe on this one. You're conceding the battle to win the war. But fortunately, tonight was probably Igawa's last start of the season because an off day is coming up - his spot can be skipped, and Phil Hughes will most likely be ready to return the following time through the rotation.

ML Yankees
Igawa 7/26
Pettitte 7/27
Clemens 7/28
Wang 7/29
Off day 7/30
Moose 7/31
Pettitte 8/1
Clemens 8/2
Wang 8/3
Hughes? 8/4

AAA Yankees
Desalvo 7/26
Karstens 7/27
Kennedy 7/28
Hughes 7/29
Joba 7/30
Desalvo 7/31
Karstens 8/1
Kennedy 8/2
Igawa? 8/3
Joba 8/4

What really sucks is that August 4th game is a Saturday afternoon game, meaning I won't be able to watch it because of FOX's exclusive deal with MLB. Bastards! I'll probably just break down and buy it for $3.95 on MLB.tv.

Jul 25, 2007

Joba's AAA Debut

Wow - 5 ip, 4 hits, 0 r, 1 bb, 10 Ks. Just wow. 88 pitches in five innings is a lot though, but strikeout guys generally do that.

Edwar pitched in his first game since being demoted: 1.1 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 2 Ks.

As far as the Big club goes, the Yanks have to retaliate for Jeter getting hit. I'm sick of our Captain taking abuse from opposing pitchers just because the team can hit. One of these times he's going to get seriously injured, and our pitchers must retaliate to lessen those chances. It's upsetting that Mo didn't hit someone in the 9th, but that's Mo - he always wants to be a classy guy.

Batting practice off Elarton

The offense jumped all over Scott Elarton, who was returning from the DL. Wang pitched just OK (poor command), but his stuff is good enough to get outs, especially against a team like the Royals.

Melky with another assist, nailing Billy Butler at third base. Jeter went 4-6, raising his average to .335. Robbie Cano's average is creeping toward .300 (.295), and even drew three walks tonight. Farnsworth pitched an inning, and (predictably) despite throwing high-90s heat, failed to strikeout a batter.

Jul 24, 2007

A first test for Phil

And he passed with flying colors. For the first time in Phil Hughes' pro career, the bases were loaded against him (with no outs) - a leadoff double, a walk and an error. He proceeded to get three straight outs - a shallow flyout to right center (on a curve), a three pitch swinging K (fastball), and another swinging K (fb). It was his fifth and (probably) last inning of the game, and aside from that inning, pitched near flawlessly: 5 ip, 2 hits, 0 r, 1 bb, 4 k.

8:42 Update: Hughes did pitch the sixth, and it was brilliant: 1-2-3 inning, two Ks. Now that he's up to 73 pitches, I'm calling his night over (his max for this game was 75). So his final line: 6 ip, 2 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 7 k.

Joba and Kennedy promoted

to triple-A Scranton.

- T-Clip and Chase Wright demoted to double-A Trenton.

I like the move, however I feel for Tyler. He had that one great start in Shea, but never had success like that again, and his control (his forte) regressed after that. Wright was having an ok year in Scranton, but had a horrible bb/k ratio of 42/40 (in 85.1 ip). Joba and Kennedy are just too good to keep down in Trenton. They could be in the Bronx shortly though, which would allow Wright and T-Clip to move back up.

Close for eight

But then the potent Yankee offense (assisted by KC's bullpen) blew the game open in the 9th. Arod's one-out rbi single (on a 94 mph fastball) started the five-run rally.

Some very nice defensive plays by Melky (taking over RF as Abreu sat against the LHP), Matsui, Cano and Phillips.

Clemens pitched another solid game, going seven innings of two-run ball for the win - no walks, three Ks; his era is down to 3.72. Vizcaino looked untouchable as he pitched another perfect 8th inning (with two Ks).

The Yanks scored nine runs, but ironically failed to hit one HR. That's a good sign in my opinion. I don't trust teams that rely on the HR.

- Elsewhere, Scranton's game was rained out, so Phil Hughes will start Tuesday night. This sucks, because it means Hughes' return to the Bigs might be delayed an extra day - that could mean another start for Igawa, and, if lost, could mean the difference between making the playoffs and not.

- Austin Jackson had a nice write-up by Baseball America today, as did a 20-year old Panamanian outfielder playing for the Dominican Yankees.

Jul 22, 2007

In Scranton

Jeff Karstens pitched an outstanding game: 6 ip, 3 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 6 k - he also faced two legitimate major leaguers on the opposing team: Scott Podsednik, Darin Erstad (and Sox #1 prospect Ryan Sweeney). If Phil Hughes (who pitches for Scranton Monday night) isn't deemed ready to return to the Bigs yet, hopefully Karstens will take over Igawa's spot in the rotation, moving him to the pen or back to the minors. Chase Wright pitched three innings of solid relief, a good move for him, because that will likely be his role should he ever become a major league regular (I'm pulling for him to become the 2008 LOOGY or long reliever).

How'd the other farmhands do?

Scranton defeated Charlotte 7-2
B. Gardner, 2-5, 2 runs, k
K. Thompson, 0-3, r, rbi, bb, sb
K. Reese, 2-3, HR, 2b, 5 rbi
E. Duncan, 0-4, k
C. Wright, 3 ip, 2 h, 1 er, 0 bb, 2 k

Trenton defeated New Britain 7-2
C. Curtis, 1-3, r, 2 bb, k
A. Gonzalez, 3-4, 2b, r, 3 rbi, bb, k
J. Miranda, 2-5, 2b, r, 3 rbi, k
I. Kennedy, 5 ip, 3 h, 2 er, bb, 6 k
S. Patterson, 1 ip, h, 0 r, 0 bb, 2 k

Tampa no-hit Lakeland, 4-0 (game 1)
R. Corona, 1-3, bb
A. Jackson, 1-4, 2b, r
J. Tabata, 0-4, k
M. Vechionacci, 1-3, HR, 2 rbi
T. Battle, 2-3, 3b, r
F. Cervelli, 1-3
J. Veras, 2 ip, no hits, runs or walks, 4 k
D. McCutchen, 5 ip, no hits or runs, 5 bb, 2 k

Tampa defeated Lakeland 4-3 (game 2)
R. Corona, 1-3, r, rbi, bb
A. Jackson, 1-4, HR, 2 rbi (on fiiiiiire!)
M. Vechionacci, 1-3, 2b, k
T. Battle, 2-3, r, k
Tabata didn't play
A. Claggett, 5 ip, 7 h, 2 er, 3 bb, 5 k
D. Robertson, 2 ip, no hits, runs or walks, 5 k (wow!)

Charleston lost to Asheville, 5-3
M. Hilligoss, 2-4
S. Fortenberry, 0-4, r, 2 k
J. Calzado, 2-4, HR, 2b, 2 r, 2 rbi
G. Medina, 2.1 ip, 3 h, 1 er, bb, 3 k
F. Tejeda, 2 ip, 3 h, 2 er, 0 bb, k
G. Patterson, 1 ip, 0 h, 0 r, bb, 2 k

Staten Island defeated State College 4-3
J. Snyder, 1-4, bb, k
D. Sublett, 2-4, 2b
R. Zink, 6 ip, 5 h, 0 r, bb, 5 k

GCL Yankees didn't play

First off

Why the hell is Posada catching in the top of the 9th? The Yanks are only up by 18 runs, and Molina was acquired yesterday (specifically) to solidify the backup catcher spot.

Isn't it great to see a guy like Shelley Duncan come up and succeed right away? Two walks and two more homers.

Arod has 99 rbi, and Cano and Matsui upped their batting averages over .290.

21-4, and now the suddenly not terrible Royals for four in KC.

Left field D

This post would have made more sense had the Yanks not scored 17 runs tonight. When the game was 7-5, the difference in left field defense between the teams was what allowed the Yanks to even have a lead at that point. Johnny Damon made two tremendous catches in LF, which may have saved as many as three runs - Matsui probably doesn't make either catch. Meanwhile, playing LF for the injured Carl Crawford was Johnny Gomes, who's basically a DH-type. His poor play gave the Yanks about four runs - Crawford almost certainly makes the plays that he couldn't. That's a seven run swing right there.

And guess who's second on the team in wins? If you said Luis Vizcaino, you'd be right. He picked up both wins today, and has eight on the year.

Jul 21, 2007

Amidst blow out, Yanks acquire Molina

As announced on YES during tonight's game, the Yanks traded Jeff Kennard (of Double-A Trenton) to Anaheim for backup catcher Jose Molina.

Kennard, who turns 26 in four days, has posted for his career:
2.99 era, 329 k, 188 bb, 1.32 whip.

Molina is a weak-hitting but very good defensive catcher. He turned 32 in early June. His career (that spans just 372 games): 63 OPS+, .238/.276/.339. But his D is outstanding - for his career, he's caught over 41% of potential base stealers. Nieves, on the other hand, has caught just 24%.

Odd that during the game that a new backup catcher was acquired, Wil Nieves had probably his best (offensive) game of the season - he went 2-3 with two doubles, but also made two errors...

Good move, but nothing groundbreaking. I just hope Kennard doesn't turn into another Scot Shields.

Help me out here

It was nice to find out the Yanks won game 1 - and that Shelley Duncan had his first major league home-run. But then I found out that Duncan is not in the lineup for game 2, but Damon and Matsui are! This would make sense were a righty pitching for Tampa Bay, but it's JP Howell, a southpaw. So Duncan (a righty) hits a HR in game 1, and the next game against a lefty he sits in favor of a lefty. Someone help me out and explain this move. Damon is hitting .230-ish, and Duncan (including the last few Scranton games) is hot right now. Then add in that he'd be a righty facing a lefty and move looks inconceivable, nevermind the fact that Damon is starting in CF over Melky. Now that's really asinine.

Move Matsui (or Damon) to LF, Melky to CF, and DH Duncan or stick him at 1b. It's not complicated.

This is one game

I'm glad I missed. I was in the car and listened to the horrible third inning that Moose surrendered. After Upton's bomb, I shut off the radio.

Having not seen the game, I can't comment in detail, but here goes:
- Mussina's nibbling is extremely annoying. In the inning I listened to, it seemed like every batter was down 0-2 before Moose tried to hit the corners (and missed), bringing the count to 3-2. The hitters then, of course, proceeded to rocket balls all over the field. Moose only gave us 4.2 ip, a horrible start the night before a doubleheader, especially where both starters are unlikely to go beyond five innings.
- Edwar pitched terribly. What was it, two strikes and 19 balls? I put most of the blame on Joe however. Edwar hasn't been used in two weeks, what did he expect? I suppose he can now say, "See, I was right. I can't trust a rookie." When Mo doesn't pitch for two weeks, he's rusty too. At least if Edwar is sent down, he'll get regular work.

But overall, it's just one game. Remember last year's 19-1 rout by Cleveland? That jumpstarted the Yanks. Hopefully tonight's game will do the same...

And in other bad news, Joba Chamberlain was shelled, allowing three homers and seven runs in 4.2 innings - his worst start of the year.

Jul 20, 2007

Shelley Duncan finally promoted

Shelley Duncan was promoted from Triple-A Scranton to the Yanks today. He will (hopefully) replace Damon as the primary DH. He has a lot of power (he's big at 6'5", 215), and can also play a little 1b and OF. He's having the best year of his career at 27: .295/.380/.577, 25 HR, 79 RBI, 45 BB, 82 Ks.

I hope he actually gets to play, because the last minor leaguer to get called up was Edwar Ramirez, and Torre hasn't used him in two weeks...

Jul 19, 2007

Unlucky 13

The Yanks held a 2-0 lead for six innings, then Toronto put a 3-spot on the board, and there's the game. I had a bad feeling when the offense scored two in the 1st, but failed to score again after that - it seemed like their rallies were either snuffed out by double-plays, or they seemed overconfident in Wang to continue holding Toronto scoreless.

A winnable game that wasn't won. The left 13 runners on base. 7-1 in the lineup killed us: 0-13 with one walk.

And of course, 13 days and counting for Edwar riding the bench...

Jul 18, 2007

In case you missed it

The Tampa Yankees used three pitchers to complete a no-hitter tonight. Kevin Whelan went five, David Robertson and Josh Schmidt went two apiece. Congrats to them!

- As for the big boys, Mike Myers was lucky because Lyle Overbay hit that grounder hard, but right to Andy Phillips. His one out 'earned' him the win.

- Both Proctor, Bruney and Villone failed in their late game relief attempts. That's why Mo had to be called on to get five outs. Hence, he's probably unavailable for tomorrow's afternoon game.

- Clemens was lucky to escape most innings unscathed. I think the Yanks poor luck from the first half is finally turning around (knock on wood).

- Edwar went a 12th straight day of riding the bench.

- That was an unsually hard ass-slap that Arod gave to Mo after the game.

- And guess who the closer will be tomorrow? That's right, everyone's least favorite reliever, Kyle Farnsworth... Hopefully the Yanks are up 10-1 when he comes in.

Yanks win in spite of Torre

- Why Joe, why? Is Torre living in some strange, bizarro universe in which bad pitchers are good, and good pitchers bad? That seems the only explanation for his continued use of Kyle Farnsworth late in close games. Edwar Ramirez goes on his 11th straight day riding the bench. He might as well be sent down to Scranton to stay sharp, because no pitcher can stay sharp after this long a layoff. Then predictably, when Torre does use him - and he falters due to rust, he'll be even deeper in Joe's doghouse. A vicious cycle. He's better than just a mop up guy - save that for Myers, Farnsworth and Villone. Just watch, now that Vizcaino is pitching well, Joe will overwork him and burn him out (like every good reliever so far).

- Maybe its about time Damon is DLed, and either Shelley Duncan is brought up to DH, or one of Brett Gardner or Justin Christian is brought up to play LF, pushing Matsui to DH. Damon is hurt, right? How else could he be hitting .238? Their season stats -
Damon, .238/.339/.330, 16 sb, 1 cs
S. Duncan, 28 (AAA): .292/.376/.571, 2 sb, 2 cs
Christian, 27 (AA & AAA): .266/.310/.370, 29 sb, 4 cs
Gardner, 23 (AA & AAA): .301/.395/.419, 21 sb, 4 cs

- Melky seems to make another great play every night. Tonight it was on Aaron Hill's liner to left center (that looked like a sure double) that he ran down. Not to mention practically tying the game by himself in bottom of the 9th.

- Cano went from goat to hero in two innings. He struck out with two on to end the 8th, then drove in the winning run in the 10th.

- The forgotten hero is Andy Pettitte, who escaped several jams, and matched Halladay pitch for pitch through seven strong innings.

- Arod had a two-out, two-strike RBI single in the first which didn't seem like much at the time, but turned out to be the difference in the game. He also made some very nice plays at 3b.

- The forgotten goats are Bobby Abreu and Derek Jeter, who - in the second and third spots in the lineup - went 0-10 with three Ks.

- An organizational sweep today as every team under the Yankee umbrella won - the GCL Yankees even swept a doubleheader.

Jul 17, 2007

2013 All Under 25 Team

What the 2013 Yankees might look like if they only promoted from their system.

Batting order, position, age, current level:
LF Abe Almonte, 18 (Rookie Gulf Coast League)
CF Melky Cabrera, 22 (Majors)
RF Jose Tabata, 18 (High-A Tampa)
1b Juan Miranda, 24 (Double-A Trenton)
DH Jesus Montero, 17 (GCL)
2b Robbie Cano, 24 (Majors)
C Frankie Cervelli, 21 (High-A)
3b Mitch Hilligoss, 22 (Low-A Charleston)
SS Justin Snyder, 21 (Short Season Staten Island)

IF Prilys Cuello, 18 (GCL)
IF Alberto Gonzalez, 24 (Double-A)
OF Brett Gardner, 23 (Triple-A Scranton)
OF Austin Jackson, 20 (High-A)

Phil Hughes, 21 (Majors)
Joba Chamberlain, 21 (Double-A)
Dellin Betances, 19 (Staten Island)
Christian Garcia, 21 (High-A)
Ian Kennedy, 22 (Double-A)

J.B. Cox, 23 (Double-A)
David Robertson, 22 (High-A)
Edwar Ramirez, 26 (Majors)
Mark Melancon, 22 (Staten Island)
Kevin Whelan, 23 (High-A)
Alan Horne, 24 (Double-A)
Humberto Sanchez, 24 (Triple-A)

There's a ton of potential there, especially in the pitching staff. The only problem is that there's not a single southpaw among all 12 pitchers (and several are currently rehabbing from major injuries).

Honorable mentions: OFs Colin Curtis, Seth Fortenberry, Carlos Urena, IFs Marcos Vechionacci, Reegie Corona, RHPs Zach McAllister, George Kontos, Jeff Marquez, Chris Britton, Ty Clippard, Ross Ohlendorf, Scott Patterson, Dan McCutchen, Jairo Heredia, LHPs Chase Wright, Mike Dunn and Angel Reyes. No 2007 draftees yet.

Yankee Prospects
First Inning

Jul 16, 2007

Another close game

Some thoughts on another good, close game:

- Abreu busting it down the line, beating out that double play in the 3rd allowed Arod to come up next and drill a two-out, two-run shot to break a 2-2 tie.

- Igawa's 2-2 pitch to Vernon Wells was clearly a strike. I think the pitch actually fooled the ump. He walked Wells, and Glaus followed up with a two-run HR.

- Robbie Cano is so quick on the DP. It's one of those things that doesn't show up in any of the metrics, e.g. Range Factor, Zone Rating, Fielding Pct, Fielding Runs Above Average, etc. Is it ironic that two Yankee farmhands (and the best buddies on the team) are also the best defensive players (Melky and Cano)?

- Proctor and Vizcaino mostly did their job, but does Joe Torre know that there's a man named Edwar Ramirez in the pen (who dominated AAA)? Fucking Mike Myers was warming for god's sake (and would've been used instead of Edwar had Proctor faltered). I know he's not a 'proven' major league veteran, but how's this for comparisons? His minor league stats are far better than Proctor's or Farnsworth's: Proctor 1.9 k/bb, 1.38 whip, .89 HR/9; Farnsworth 2.3 k/bb, 1.38 whip, .83 HR/9; Edwar 4.1 k/bb, 1.11 whip, .60 HR/9 (and that's not even counting this season, when Edwar's put up even more impressive numbers).

- The at-bat of the game goes to Andy Phillips, who hit a two-out, two-run single to break a 4-4 tie.

- Great outfield defense by Matsui and Melky saved a couple runs tonight. Melky didn't make any spectacular plays, but he made a few tough ones look routine. Matsui made a nice running catch in left center, and then an over-the-shoulder catch in the 8th that saved a run.

- As far as Igawa goes, it wasn't all bad, and I think he can build on some positives from tonight. He set a season high in Ks (with seven), and 5 ip, 3 er I'll take from the #5 starter most every time.

Jul 15, 2007

I've come to the conclusion

That Joe Torre cannot manage anymore. His complete ineptitude in managing a bullpen is unreal! He brings in Ron Villone (wait, it gets worse) for a second straight day, while rookie Edwar Ramirez sits idly in the pen on eight days of rest! And it's not like this is a 'hindsight is always 20/20' kind of thing; this occurred to me during yesterday's game, and again today (but even more so) - all before Villone gave up Carlos Pena's two-run shot.

Torre has such an irrational fear of rookies that he's made me sick watching Kyle Farnsworth (also for the second straight day while Edwar watches) warming up for the eighth (after the Yanks took the lead again).

Unfortunately, I don't think firing him now would make the difference between making and missing the playoffs - for one, it might cause more harm than good, what with all the loyalty the players and coaches seem to feel toward him. But if he doesn't retire in the off-season, he has to be canned. I want Joe Girardi helming this team next year. There's going to be a huge influx of rookies over the next few years, e.g. Hughes, Joba, Kennedy, Tabata, Betances, etc. and Girardi has the (recent) experience of working with a very young team (the 2006 Marlins), and he does not have an irrational fear of rookies - he may actually use them instead of washed up 'veterans.' What a concept!

Postgame update: Torre is so freaking lucky. If not for a diving stab by Andy Phillips, Farnsworth allows the Rays to tie the game, and who knows what after that? He just can't pitch a 1-2-3 inning. He allowed a leadoff double, then a run (to make it 7-6), and was bailed out by Phillips.

Even though Melky went 1-4, he may be the underrated hero of the game. He had two assists (both at second base) which probably saved the Yanks two runs - a good thing he got over the flu. But Robbie Cano's fifth inning at-bat may have been the turning point of the game: he saw seven pitches before blooping a single to center; Phillips followed with a triple, Nieves with a double, then Jeter hit a huge two-run homer that gave the Yanks the lead. And Mussina should be commended after surrendering three first inning runs, but then shutting out the Rays the next five innings (yet without one K) - practically a xerox of Wang's outing from yesterday.

Jul 14, 2007

Joba and Wang pt. II

Having not attended last night's Trenton Thunder game, I made my way up there tonight to watch Joba Chamberlain pitch - and how! He had perhaps his best start of the season: seven innings, three hits, no runs, one walk, nine strikeouts. My wife and I managed to get seats directly to the right of Trenton's dugout, and were able to watch the players interact. Joba seems like a great teammate - he's talkative, always into the game, and seems to really respect his coaches and colleagues. (pictures coming soon.)

Which brings me to point #2: where's the respect for Juan Miranda? I have to presume the reason he didn't play is that New Hampshire started a southpaw. But is that it? If Miranda (who's probably now the Yanks #1 firstbase prospect) doesn't face lefties in the minors, how will he ever hit them in the majors? He should be facing every single one now - minor league teams have the luxury of an 0-4 from their cleanup hitter. That's much tougher to do in the bigs, especially in the Bronx. I'd say it's far more helpful to have Miranda face lefties instead of righties (if you had to choose). Lefties who hit lefties are very valuable (and would have helped the Yanks immensely this year). Anyway, he was the first base coach for half the game, and we could see how massive his arms were (a true power hitter's body) - so if the Trenton coaching staff is reading this, please play Juan Miranda against southpaws, and play him more at 1b (instead of DH) than non-prospect Cody Ehlers.

As far as the big Yankees go, they squeaked out a 6-4 win against the lowly D-Rays tonight. Wang had just one bad inning (the first), and pitched five scoreless frames after that (six Ks, no walks). The big blow was a Bobby Abreu two-run shot that gave the Yanks a lead they never relinquished. He, more than anyone, is the catalyst for the team - when he hits they win, and when he doesn't they lose.

Kyle Farnsworth gave up another homer in the eighth, so I have to ask: why does Joe Torre have an aversion to using Edwar Ramirez? The guy has four Ks in 2.1 ip, with just one run allowed. I suppose because he's a rookie, and had only a mediocre outing his last time that he can't be trusted in the 'critical late innings,' (or so goes Joe's thinking). So instead he used the useless Farnsworth. I'm counting the days until he's traded...

And here's a tragic story on something that I'm surprised doesn't happen more often.

Scott Kazmir

Just pitched better than Roger Clemens tonight. He can get by with mediocre command because he has superior stuff, but Clemens can't anymore. Kazmir's one of those 'effectively wild' guys - you really never know if the pitch is going to be a strike, so when he does throw one, that extra split-second of doubt causes the hitter to swing late at a (normally hittable) 91 mph fastball.

- I did not get to attend tonight's Trenton Thunder game, featuring Phil Hughes' second rehab start, but I'm holding out hope for tomorrow's (Joba Chamberlain) and Wednesday's (another Hughes start) games. By the way, he dominated: three innings, three hits, no runs, no walks, six strikeouts.

Jul 11, 2007

Odds & Ends

1. watching Robbie Cano warm up.
2 & 3. progress on the new Stadium.
4 & 5. a beautiful night watching Ian Kennedy pitch.

- Phil Hughes will make his second rehab start tomorrow night for Double-A Trenton. I plan to be in attendance, with some photos posted here soon.

- Centerfielder Brett Gardner was promoted to Triple-A Scranton, and rightfielder Bronson Sardinha was demoted to make room. Since Gardner came off the DL in early June, he's been tearing it up (.933 ops) - so much so that his season stats become remarkable: .300/.392/.419, with 18 steals against four times caught. He also struck out just 32 times against 33 walks. Speak of the devil - in his first game with Scranton tonight he walked twice and stole third. He could (and should) be a very valuable bench (or possibly starter) player with the Yanks who will play great outfield defense and be a super pinch-runner.

- Elsewhere, Arod said he won't talk contract until after the season. Now me personally, I’d be hesitant to sign Arod past age 37. Just look how quickly other players fell off: Bernie, Damon, Giambi, etc.

And how fitting is it that he’s having his best year in his walk year? Haven't we learned to be hesitant with those guys? e.g. Gary Matthews, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre, Jason Giambi, Farnsy, A.J. Burnett, Carl Pavano, etc. The list goes on and on.

Of course, I’m not saying the Yanks shouldn't sign him, because opting out would leave a giant hole in the lineup, but I wouldn't go overboard. 2004: subpar (for Arod), 2005: MVP, 2006: subpar (for Arod), 2007: MVP. That should tell us something, especially when he’s (historically speaking) past his prime.

I’d like to see a 3-year extension (starting in 2011) for about $80 mil, as long as Arod takes out the opt out clause. I think that’s fair. But it seems that Scott Boras doesn't want to settle for less than $30 million a year... but who beside the Yanks will ever pay that much?

Jul 10, 2007

I was sitting here watching the All-Star game

And then I saw something astounding - Placido Polanco's head! What the fuck is up with it?!

I know I've noticed it before, but has it possibly grown since last year?

Jul 9, 2007

Joba and Wang

- Three-run homers from Matsui, Cano and Arod sealed the win today as the Yanks went on to a 12-0 rout. Wang pitched 6.1 shutout innings, and Myers, Proctor and Villone closd out the game. The Yanks go into the All-Star break having won five of seven and are one game under .500. They open the second half with a four game series in Tampa Bay.

- In San Francisco, Joba Chamberlain, the Yanks top pitching prospect (assuming Hughes is now a major leaguer), pitched one inning for the U.S. All-Star Futures team, and fared ok (though considerably better than Hughes last year): one inning, one hit, one walk, one run and one K. It was a weak run - Joba walked the leadoff hitter (which seemed mostly due to nerves), he stole second, and the next hitter squeezed a groundball through the right side for a run.
But his stuff was electric. His fastball was sitting 94-97 mph, with one at 91 and another at 98. He threw a few nasty sliders (about 83-85 mph), although it's more of a hard curve, and one changeup (at 72 mph!) - that's about a 25 mph difference, which is gigantic. Check out the broadcast from the game (do it soon before it's taken down).

First half awards

These are pretty easy - I don't even have to look at anyone else because we all know who the winners are.

First half Cy Young:
Chien-Ming Wang, who since returning from the DL in late April has been the Yanks best and most consistent starter. He leads the pitchers in Win Probability (1.14), Value Over Replacement Player (25), and is second in Win Shares (6).

Who else but Arod? .317/.413/.665, 30 HR, 86 RBI, 79 runs and 9 steals for good measure. He leads the team in Win Probability (3.70), Win Shares (17) and leads baseball in Value Over Replacement Player (53.2).

Win Probability courtesy of FanGraphs
VORP courtesy of Baseball Prospectus
Win Shares courtesy of The Hardball Times

Jul 6, 2007

Yanks - Angels Preview

From USA Today -

There may have been an ulterior motive for New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to miss his first game of the season: he was resting up to face Los Angeles Angels pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Despite a current 0-for-19 slump and a strained hamstring, Rodriguez may still get a chance to extend his domination over Colon as the Yankees open a three-game series Friday against the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

The All-Star third baseman sat for the first time Thursday as the Yankees (40-42) recorded a 7-6 victory over Minnesota. Rodriguez, who tripped over Twins first baseman Justin Morneau running out a ground ball on Monday, went 0-for-4 on Tuesday while playing the field and 0-for-4 on Wednesday as the designated hitter before being a spectator in the series finale.

''He was a little uncomfortable yesterday,'' said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who listed Rodriguez as questionable for this game. ''I don't think it's anything more than it was, but probably a couple of days playing on it exposed it a little bit more. We still don't think that it's anything that's going to require anything more than maybe a day or so off.''

Colon (6-4, 5.79 ERA) may be secretly hoping Rodriguez - the major league leader with 28 homers and 80 RBIs - takes another day off. Rodriguez is batting .444 (20-for-45) with eight homers and 17 RBIs against Colon, hitting three of them in a 12-4 rout April 26, 2005, in which he ended up with a career-high 10 RBIs.

Jul 4, 2007

Wang and Edwar

Made for a hugely enjoyable game. Wang got fairly lucky, getting by with mediocre stuff but got double-plays when he needed them. I was pissed when Torre brought in Proctor for the eighth instead of Edwar Ramirez, but I held out hope he'd be used in the ninth. He came in, glasses and all, and dominated three great hitters, including last year's MVP, striking out the side (without allowing a baserunner). He got all three Ks on his nasty changeup, and after the third one even Derek Jeter had a huge grin on his face. He won't be this dominant once word and video gets around of him, but he does have the ability to be a very good to great set up man.

- Meanwhile, the Yanks top two prospects (since Phil Hughes is now considered a major leaguer) both had great nights. Joba Chamberlain absolutely destroyed the Harrisburg Senators tonight in Trenton: 6 ip, 4 h, 0 r, 12 k, 1 bb. And Jose Tabata racked up four hits (in six at-bats) and a stolen base against Clearwater.

Jul 3, 2007

Now that's the Roger

We were hoping to get: eight innings, one run. Bring in Mo for one inning and there's your ballgame. Win number 350 for the Rocket, who became the first to win that many since Warren Spahn in 1963!

Arod left after straining his hammy trying to beat out a double-play grounder (which he did). He could be out a few days or a few weeks. A few weeks without Arod will effectively end the Yanks season unless the impossible happens, i.e. Cano, Abreu and Matsui step up their offensive games.

- Edwar Ramirez was finally called up from Triple-A Scranton where he was dominating: 26.2 ip, 47 Ks, 9 BBs, .67 era. He's been with the big team for two days but hasn't pitched yet. I can't wait to see his ML debut and see if his stuff translates to the majors. I believe it will - just the fact that he throws strikes makes him a better option than many of the other relievers.

Jul 2, 2007

Of all the games to go to

I picked today's. The Yanks were down 8-0 in the second. When was the last time they even won a series? I looked it up. Two weeks ago against the Mets... Good god. At least the Sawx lost too.

Took some pics of the new stadium - they'll be posted here soon (it's a normal film camera, not a digital, so I have to finish the roll, get it developed, then upload it here; it's a process).