June 30, 2009

Yankees acquire OF Eric Hinske for two minor leaguers

The Yankees traded two low-level minor leaguers for Pirates outfielder/corner infielder Eric Hinske, according to ESPN.

UPDATE: No roster move has been made to make room for Hinske yet, but he is listed on the bench for tonight’s game. I suspect the decision is between Ramiro Pena and Cody Ransom. I’d choose to keep Ransom.

Outfielder Eric Fryer of the Tampa Yankees and pitcher Casey Erickson of the Charleston RiverDogs were the two minor leaguers sent to the Pirates. The Yankees also received some cash from the Pirates.

Hinske was hitting .255 in 106 at bats this season with nine doubles, one homer and 11 RBI. He had 24 pinch-hit at bats and felt unhappy with his playing time. He won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2002 with the Blue Jays, and is a career .254/.337/.436 hitter.

I would not expect him to gain any playing time with the Yankees, who are very deep in the outfield and at first base. He’s basically a duplicate of Nick Swisher, but not as good and can play third.

Mariners-Yankees series preview

The Yankees have won five in a row, and are just 3-1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, while the Mariners are only 3-1/2 games out of first in the AL West.

Finally, the Yankees will return to their new home in the Bronx after a nine-game road trip to National League ballparks. The return to the AL allows for Hideki Matsui to return to the starting lineup at the DH role.

Luckily for the Yankees, they will not have to face Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. But the Yankees will use their No. 4, 5 and 1 pitchers, so it is not too much of advantage. Here are the matchups:

Date Mariners starters Yankees starters
Tuesday Brandon Morrow (0-3, 5.64) Joba Chamberlain (4-2, 3.58)
Wednesday Jarrod Washburn (4-5, 3.22) Andy Pettitte (7-3, 4.38)
Thursday Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.79) CC Sabathia (7-4, 3.55)

Two converted relievers will go at it in game one. Chamberlain is further along in the transition than Morrow, and simply has better stuff, but don’t count out Morrow in this one.

Washburn has tossed five quality starts in his last six, while Pettitte is coming off his shortest and worst outing of the season.

In Vargas’ last three starts, he has been awful in two and great in one. Sabathia has been good lately and pitched well against the Mets despite a minor elbow injury.

June 29, 2009

Wang scouted by Phillies, Yanks not selling

Perhaps the biggest news of the day for the Yankees was reported from the Philadelphia Inquirer, announcing that the Phillies have been scouting Chien-Ming Wang.

The Yankees have shown no indication that they are looking to trade Wang, or any other starting pitcher for that matter — and rightfully so, I might add.

Wang’s trade value is at a career low, and the Yankees have not given up on him yet — especially with his recent signs of improvement.

Besides, with Andy Pettitte most likely out the door after this season, Wang would remain the No. 3 starter, and Phil Hughes would be reinserted to the rotation as the fifth starter.

However, if I were Brian Cashman, and the Phillies dangled Jayson Werth, I would consider dealing Wang. It is highly unlikely that the Phillies would offer that much for Wang, but I am just using him as my minimum asking price.

Werth is batting .271/.364/.494 with 15 homers, 59 RBI and 10 steals this season. He is also a strong defender in the outfield and seems to be entering his prime at 30 years old.

Moving Wang at the deadline would allow Hughes to get back in the rotation immediately, but would create a hole for next season if Pettitte is not re-signed.

I give the Phillies a five percent shot at landing Wang this deadline, maybe.

Mariano Rivera wins AL Player of the Week

Mariano Rivera was awarded with the American League Player of the Week honors by Major League Baseball, along with Jermaine Dye.

Via MLB.com’s announcement:

Rivera did not allow a run and struck out six batters in his three appearances. Against the Mets on Sunday, he became the second pitcher in Major League history, and the first in the American League, to record 500 saves. Only Trevor Hoffman of the Brewers has more career saves. He has 571.

This award doesn’t do justice to what 500 saves mean in baseball. As Buster Olney said (approximately), “It classifies a reliever on the highest level. It’s like hitting 700 homers.”

Despite Hoffman’s record, Rivera is still the top dog among closers.

Would you be surprised if the Yankees traded for Matt Holliday?

The Yankees have always been known to make a significant move at the trade deadline. The bullpen seems to be the only place due for an upgrade, while the outfield is neither a weak spot nor a strong spot. Judging from the Yankees history — and Xavier Nady’s Tommy John surgery — I would not be surprised if the Yankees traded for Matt Holliday or another star outfielder.

The Yankees have not officially been linked to Holliday, but he seems to be the biggest player available at the deadline as of right now. Another possible target could be Jermaine Dye of the White Sox.

Here’s a list of recent moves by the Yankees at previous trade deadlines.

2008: Acquired Xavier Nady, Damaso Marte and Ivan Rodriguez
2007: Acquired Wilson Betemit
2006: Acquired Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle
2005: Acquired Shawn Chacon and Alan Embree
2004: Acquired Esteban Loaiza

Notice: the Yankees have acquired an outfielder in each of the past three deadlines.

I feel that the Yankees will make an unexpected significant move right before the deadline, because they know they will need more than they have to beat the Red Sox and make a run at the World Series.

For once, starting pitching is not a concern whatsoever, and the infield is stuffed with impact players at every position. The outfield and the bullpen should be the only focuses at the deadline.

When will Mariano Rivera retire?

In ESPN’s Sunday Conversation, Bob Holtzman interviewed the great Mariano Rivera. When asked about retirement, Rivera replied that he will quit when he is no longer effective and/or not competitive. When do you think that will be?

Rivera turns 40 years old after this season, and is signed through next season as well. Rivera has nothing left to accomplish, as he is already widely recognized as the greatest relief pitcher of all time. Here’s his baseball career resume:

  • 500 saves
  • 2.31 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 971 Ks
  • Nine-time all-star (most likely 10 in a couple of weeks)
  • Five top-5 finishes in Cy Young Award voting
  • 34 postseason saves (most all time)
  • Four World Series rings

The craziest thing about his career, is that he did it all with one pitch. Every hitter knows the cutter is coming, but it is still rarely hit hard.

He posted his highest ERA as a closer in 2007 at 3.15, and his lowest in ‘08 at 1.40. He’s off to a “rough” start in ‘09, but could easily go the rest of the season with less than two blown saves.

Unless Rivera completely loses it after this season, or he gets hurt, you have to expect that he will demand another contract with the Yankees. I hope the two parties reach an agreement on something, because he better not end up in any other uniform in 2011.

If he has a good season in 2010, I believe the best thing to do is sign him to a one-year deal with a club option. Do you agree?

Reggie Jackson Featured Yankee Card of the Week

jackson (2)I chose this card of Reggie Jackson in honor of his 563 career home runs, as he was surpassed last week by Alex Rodriguez, and dropped to 12th on the list of all-time home run leaders. 

The Yankees signed Jackson before the 1977 season, and he led them to a championship that year and in ‘78. He earned the nickname “Mr. October” when he hit three homers on three consecutive pitches in the ‘77 World Series against the Dodgers.

This card is a 2001 Upper Deck Legends of New York Banner Seasons, and has little value. It is one of a 200-card set that features nearly all of the “legends of New York.” The set is interesting, because the team name on the front of each card is made of felt that actually juts out from the card.

Poll Results: Girardi not a good manager for Yankees

In my latest poll, I asked fans if they think Joe Girardi is a good manager for the Yankees. The consensus said he is not, but it was not a one-sided vote by any means. Here are the full results:

He is good: 27%
He is bad: 43%
He is not the problem: 29%

I feel that Girardi is not really hurting or helping the team much, so I voted he’s not the problem. I think he’s become more respected by his players as he gains experience, but he’s so young compared to guys like Joe Torre, Jim Leyland and Tony LaRussa.

I think Torre should never him been let go, and should still be managing this team. Everyone respects him, and he offers class and experience. Guys like Lou Piniella or Ozzie Guillen are too distracting for the Yankees, so that’s why I’d rather have Girardi. I just feel I have the most trust with Torre than any major I know.

Vote in next week’s poll on the left pane: Besides Mo, who is the most trusted bullpen arm?

Mariano saves 500th in sweep of Mets

Mariano Rivera pitched four outs to earn his 500th career save, and also added his first career RBI on a walk to give the Yankees (43-32) a sweep and 4-2 win over the Mets (37-37).

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yanks jumped out to an early lead off Livan Hernandez, but he was able to hold the Yankees scoreless from innings two through seven. After a Derek Jeter double and a fielders choice attempt, Mark Teixeira drove in two runs with a double to left. Jorge Posada drove him in on a sac fly, giving the Yankees all they would need to beat the Mets.

Chien-Ming Wang notched his first win of the season (wow) with 5-1/3 quality innings. His only blemish was allowing a two-run rally to the Mets in the fourth. His groundout-flyout ratio was very promising: 11-2.

Phil Coke relieved Wang and struck out Fernando Martinez in the sixth, and Phil Hughes induced a fly ball to end the threat. Hughes pitched the seventh, and Brian Bruney recorded two outs in the eighth before Rivera entered the game.

He got out of the jam left by Bruney on a strikeout, and then accomplished something unforgettable in the top of the ninth. He then did his thing in the ninth for his 18th save of the season. Full box score here.

Rivera accomplished another amazing milestone, and showed such class in doing so — not even showing a fist pump. He is clearly the greatest reliever this game has ever seen, and 500 career saves is just another gem to add to his resume. Congratulations, Mo.

Let’s not forget about Wang. He was good again, and pulled early again (85 pitches). Girardi said before the game that he will make his next start, so that’s good news at this point.

Line of the Night:
Rivera: 0-for-0, BB, RBI. 1-1/3 IP, 1 H, 2 K, SV.

Up Next:
The Yankees have a well-earned off-day on Monday, and open a three-game set against the Mariners on Tuesday. I’ll post a complete series preview later.

June 28, 2009

Mariano Rivera gets his first career RBI!

With the bases loaded and two out in the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez walked Mariano Rivera, giving him his first career RBI in three career at bats.

Rivera lined out to center on Wednesday against the Braves, and it has always been known that he is very athletic. He showed that when he took a vicious cut at K-Rod’s 2-2 pitch, and fouled it off. It really was a good swing. It was his only swing, but that’s all he needed against the wild K-Rod.

Derek Jeter was intentionally walked to get to Rivera, even though Joe Girardi had sent out Francisco Cervelli to the on-deck circle. The Mets ignored Girardi’s mind games, and Rivera walked out of the dugout.

Oh by the way, Rivera just got his 500th save.

Yankees FA starters finally hit expectations

Almost a quarter of a billion dollars was invested in starters CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett this past offseason. Both had excellent seasons last year, and both have started to pitch like it again recently.

Sabathia started the season with a 4.73 ERA in April, but it now stands a full run lower at 3.55. He has pitched over seven innings in nine of his last ten starts, giving the bullpen a nice breather every fifth day (he left one start early with elbow tightness). He is clearly the team’s ace and is one of the best in the league.

Burnett has been inconsistent all season, but perhaps blowing a six run lead against the Red Sox has turned his season around. Since the loss at Fenway, he has allowed just two earned runs in 20-1/3 innings. His strikeout numbers have been high all season, and that is a really good sign moving forward.

Together, the two are leading a deep rotation, and could do some serious damage in a playoff series. Everyone saw what Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did for the Diamondbacks in 2001. These two starters at their best could be the closest duo to match what the D’Backs had.

Now if only Chien-Ming Wang could start pitching like the ace he was…

June 27, 2009

Burnett fans ten Mets in shutout

The Yankees (42-32) and A.J. Burnett shut out the Mets (37-36) in a 5-0 victory. Burnett held a no-hitter through five innings, but Alex Cora - who was 0-for-21 prior to his at bat in the sixth inning - broke it up with a clean single to right-center field.

Quick 'Cap:
The Yankees scored the first run of the game off ex-Yankee Tim Redding when Nick Swisher hit an opposite-field homer. The Yankees broke the game open in the sixth inning on four straight pitches. Mark Teixeira doubled, Alex Rodriguez singled him home, Robinson Cano doubled and Jorge Posada hit a three-run shot in the same place Swisher's landed to end Redding's night.

Burnett's breaker was dominant all night, and he ended up with a season-high 10 strikeouts. He left after seven innings (108 pitches), and Brian Bruney and David Robertson pitched the last two innings perfectly. Full box score here.

I knew the Yankees had a good chance to win this one, but I was not expecting Burnett to be as good as he was. He and the rest of the rotation has been very good lately, as has the defense. It seems like four runs a night will be good enough to win.

Line of the Night:
Brett Gardner: 0-for-5, 1 K. What a way to follow up a five-hit night. I wonder if he bats leadoff in Sunday's game with possibly Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter returning to the lineup.

Up Next:
The winless Chien-Ming Wang (0-6, 11.20) will pitch under a national audience against Livan Hernandez (5-2, 4.05) to look for the sweep.

Alex Rodriguez climbing list of all-time home run leaders

His career will forever be tainted, but it’s hard to ignore Alex Rodriguez’s accomplishments. He passed another hall of famer, Reggie Jackson, in last night’s landslide victory over the Mets.

He now has the 10th most homers in the history of baseball. He trails another PED-linked player, Rafael Palmeiro, by five home runs. Here is the current list of the top 12 all-time home run leaders:

1. Barry Bonds 762
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 619
6. Sammy Sosa 609
7. Frank Robinson 586
8. Mark McGwire 583
9. Harmon Killebrew 573
10. Rafael Palmeiro 569
11. Alex Rodriguez 564
12. Reggie Jackson 563

It is nearly impossible for A-Rod to reach 600 dingers this season, but if he continues to slug, he could find himself ahead of Frank Robinson by year’s end.

June 26, 2009

Brett Gardner earns his pinstripes as Yankees rout Mets

You know that guy who doesn’t hit well enough to play in the majors, and is only good for his speed? If the headline didn’t give it away, it’s Brett Gardner. He posted an unheard of 5-for-6 night to help the Yankees (41-32) beat their National League rivals, the Mets (37-35) 9-1.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Mets made a slew of errors in the second inning, and the Yankees took full advantage. Ramiro Pena had an RBI double, CC Sabathia had an RBI single, and the Yankees scored two more runs on successive errors. Four-zip good guys.

Starter Sabathia tossed seven innings of three-hit ball, and struck out eight. His only mistake was to Gary Sheffield, who homered to left, as he did so many times with the Yankees.

The eighth inning was like a dream come true. After Sabathia struck out — he would have pitched the eighth if it weren’t for what happened next — Gardner hit his third homer of the season (his fourth hit of the game) . After Johnny Damon grounded out and Mark Teixeira walked, Alex Rodriguez hit his 564th career home run (to right-center) to surpass Yankee legend Reggie Jackson on the all-time home run list.

Gardner’s fifth hit was a triple that scored Pena, and then Damon doubled in Gardy for the Yankees’ ninth and final run. Brett Tomko (normally Brett Bombko) pitched two perfect innings to close out the victory. Full box score here.

Two huge storylines came from the game, and both were in the Yankees favor. What a night. What a win. I think Gardner is here to stay, and A-Rod is finally back to his old ways. It’s too bad Derek Jeter couldn't join the fun on his birthday, as he was a late scratch due to a cough.

The win was the third straight for the Yanks to keep pace with the surging Red Sox.

Line of the Night:
Gardner: 5-for-6, HR, 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI, SB. As you can see, he fell a double short of the cycle.

Up Next:
The Yankees could take the series Saturday night if A.J. Burnett (5-4, 4.24) can beat Tim Redding (1-2, 6.08).

Nady expected to undergo Tommy John surgery, may miss next season too

Outfielder Xavier Nady pulled himself from a rehab game in Scranton last night after making a throw in the fifth inning, and it sounds like will undergo Tommy John Surgery, according to George A. King of the New York Post.

According to several teammates, the Yankees outfielder told them late Thursday night that his right elbow requires Tommy John surgery, a procedure that often takes 12-14 months recovery.

That’s too bad for Nady. He tried to bypass surgery with a special procedure on his elbow, but I guess it didn’t work.

Nady would have added even more depth to this young and talented outfield.

I believe this opens the door for Brian Cashman to look for a decent bat at the trade deadline. But I think it is clear the main goal for the deadline is to acquire a bullpen arm.

Yankees-Mets subway series preview

Yankees and Mets fans will take the No. 7 train to Citi Field in the final showdown of the rivalry in this regular season. The Yankees took two out of three at Yankee Stadium (thanks to Luis Castillo’s miscue).

The Yankees offense struggled in the first four games of the road trip, but they reversed their fortune in the past two nights against the Braves. The Yanks trail the Red Sox by four games in the AL East, and lead the Wild Card by a game.

The Mets have been decimated by injuries all year long, but they still sit in second place behind the slumping Phillies in the NL East.

Should be a fun and heated series as both teams are playing well going in. Here are the pitching matchups:

Date Yankees starters Mets starters
Friday CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.71) Mike Pelfrey (5-2, 4.74)
Saturday A.J. Burnett (5-4, 4.24) Tim Redding (1-2, 6.08)
Sunday C.M. Wang (0-6, 11.20) Livan Hernandez (5-2, 4.05)

Tonight’s matchup should be a good one, and possibly the only low-scoring duel of the series. Too bad Johan Santana’s start yesterday wasn’t pushed back a day, because him and CC would have been an awesome matchup.

The Yankees have the clear cut advantage in Saturday’s game. Redding has been awful, and Burnett has looked good recently. Don’t forget what Redding did against the Red Sox a few years ago. It’s pay back time.

Wang has pitched well enough to win in both of his last two starts, but the Yankees provided hardly any run support at all. Sunday’s game is the ESPN Sunday night game, so that should be fun.

Happy 35th birthday, Captain Jeter

jeter4 My favorite player, Derek Jeter, turned 35 today.


Jeter had a big game last night, so let’s see if he can duplicate that performance against the Mets tonight.


Here’s how he has fared on his birthday in his illustrious career:


2008: off-day
2007: 2-for-4
2006: 1-for-4, 2 R, BB
2005: 1-for-3, RBI, 2 BB
2004: 2-for-4, BB
2003: 0-for-5
2002: 1-for-4, R, BB
2001: 1-for-5, R
2000: off-day
1999: 2-for-4
1998: 2-for-5, RBI, R
1997: off-day
1996: 1-for-2, 2B, RBI, BB
Totals: .361 batting average, .422 OBP

I told you so

On Monday, I posted about Joe Girardi and the Yankees revealing too much information about how the team deals with injuries and other matters of the team. Yesterday, beat reporter Peter Abraham posted some information about Alex Rodriguez that proves my point made earlier.

As for A-Rod, turns out he’s going to play through the end of the weekend. The Yankees have again reversed direction and have decided that Monday’s scheduled day off will suffice. Remember four days ago when “he’s getting a day off whether he likes it or not.” Yeah, not so much now.

This information was posted a little over an hour before the game by Abraham, so apparently his monster game last night had no effect on the decision. Good to see him finally back to normal, hopefully.

Joba Chamberlain becoming Yankees best starter: Still, the debate continues

I wouldn’t have brought up the Joba Chamberlain debate if Bryan Hoch hadn’t. But he did, and another convincing nugget from Joe Girardi was released.

"It is a great debate," Girardi said. "But our plan is for him to be a starter. I think he's a top-end starter in our rotation. I think he has that ability, if he stays healthy, attacks the zone and just becomes a little more mechanically sound."

The most important thing I take from Girardi is, “he’s a top-end starter in our rotation.” He really is. I consider Chamberlain the Yankees No. 2 — maybe 3 — starter only behind CC Sabathia — and maybe A.J. Burnett.


Sabathia’s uncanny ability to go deep into ballgames puts him over the top, and is clearly the ace of the staff. Burnett and Chamberlain share 95 mph fastballs and nasty sliders. Burnett has the experience and pitch count efficiency, but Chamberlain has improved as a starter in June.


He is averaging a little over six innings per start, which is his highest average in any month of his career. He has also lowered his number of pitches per inning from May to June by over two pitches.


So with Chamberlain improving as a starter, is this really still a debate? I don’t think so.

Hitting analysis: A-Rod squared up at plate

Alex Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI in last night’s victory. It was his first good game in a while, and I think the direction of his hits were a promising sign for the rest of the season.


His first hit came in the first inning on a sinker, low-and-away. He went with the pitch and drilled it over the center field fence (a little right of center). When he’s slumping, he grounds that to shortstop or third base. Keeping that left shoulder in — and staying back on the ball — is really a good sign.


His second hit came in the second inning on a fastball, middle-in. He kept his hands inside the baseball and lined it right back up the middle. On that pitch, he had been over swinging, looking for a long ball to left.


His third hit came in the seventh inning on a sinker, low-and-in. Again, he kept his hands inside and put a Derek Jeter-like swing on the baseball, and drove it to right field to score two runs.


Overall, all three hits landed to the right of center field, and that’s where he should be landing his hits. If he can hit the pitches away from him hard to right field, he’ll have no trouble turning on fastballs down the heart of the plate.

Sixteen hits boost Yankees past Braves

The Yankees (40-32) roughed up Derek Lowe in a pitching matchup of two veterans, and went on to take an 11-7 victory of the Braves (34-38). Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez all had huge nights in the 16-hit feasting of Atlanta pitchers to take the series.


Quick ‘Cap:
Jeter scored once in each of the first three innings as the Yankees scored six times in that span. They added two more in the fourth off Lowe when Cody Ransom doubled in the gap in left-center field. Ransom was n the starting lineup for the first time since April in place of Robinson Cano (wrist).


Andy Pettitte made it through the first three innings relatively unscathed, but the Braves dropped the hammer on him in the fourth. Four hits, a walk, a hit batter and a Brett Gardner error gave the Braves five runs and sent Pettitte out of the game.


Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke held Atlanta’s offense in check from the fifth inning until the ninth, but David Robertson allowed an earned run in his second straight appearance. Mariano Rivera was brought in to shut the door in the ninth, and he did, for the 499th time of his hall-of-fame career. Full box score here.


The game lasted 3 hours and 49 minutes, and 370 pitches were thrown between the two teams (if my mental math is correct). It looks like A-Rod and the Yankees offense are back in order as the team has scored 19 times and slugged 26 hits in the past two nights. A-Rod is 5-for-15 with eight RBI over the last four games.


Line of the Night:
Mark Teixeira: 0-for-5 with a walk. He scored a run on a double play, but that means no RBI. He was the only player in the starting lineup without a hit, besides Pettitte.


Up Next:
CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.71) is set to go against the Mets Friday night under the new lights of Citi Field. The Mets counter with Mike Pelfrey (5-2, 4.74).

June 25, 2009

Nady’s setback answers outfield overflow

Bryan Hoch’s report on Xavier Nady via twitter:

Nady hurts elbow on throw at Triple-A ... Cashman said it could be the worst case scenario.

He has no return timetable set as of right now, but I’m assuming an MRI is coming and then we’ll go from there.


Nady would have forced a couple of tough decisions on who to keep in the outfield. If Cashman’s belief proves true, Nady’s looking at Tommy John surgery, and we all know what that means.

Welcome back, Ransom; so long, Veras and Berroa

Cody Ransom’s 60-day DL stint finally expired, and has been activated in place of Angel Berroa, who was designated for assignment. The Indians picked up Jose Veras, who was DFA’d on June 16 to make room for Brian Bruney, in exchange for cash.


The Yankees were just waiting for Ransom to finish serving his 60 days, as he had been with triple-A Scranton for a while, and it was an obvious choice to get rid of Berroa. Ransom joins Ramiro Pena as the two backup infielders.


I was glad when Veras got DFA’d, but I was a little sad to see him moved to another team. Veras certainly has major league stuff, he just needs to hone his skills in the minors a little more. I’ll be he has some success with the Indians by the end of this season.

Girardi sparks some offense, finally

The Yankees bats finally got going after Joe Girardi was thrown out of the game after arguing a call in the sixth inning, and Joba Chamberlain pitched a solid game for the Yankees (39-32) to beat the Braves (34-37) 8-4.


Quick ‘Cap:
The Yankees’ first base runner came in the sixth inning when Brett Gardner walked, but soon he was picked off causing Girardi to storm out of the dugout and eventually get tossed from the game. Francisco Cervelli hit his first career homer five pitches later to tie the game at one. The Yankees scored twice more when Alex Rodriguez came through with two out and the bases loaded.


The Yankees tacked on one in the seventh, and two in the eighth and ninth innings. Joba Chamberlain allowed a solo shot to Jeff Francoeur in the fifth inning, and two more runs in the seventh (one earned).


After Brian Bruney let one score in the eighth, the Yankees brought on Mariano Rivera for a four-out save. He struck out Kelly Johnson on a nasty cutter to end the eighth, and then did his thing in the ninth for his 16th save of the season. Full box score here.



It’s about time the Yankees hit well and pitched well in the same game. They made another error (Chamberlain throw), but Atlanta committed two. It was pretty cool to see all 10 of the hits for the Yankees in the sixth inning or later.


Line of the Night:
Mariano Rivera: 1-1/3 IP, zeroes, 4 K. You can’t pitch any better than that.


Up Next:
Thursday night’s rubber match features Andy Pettitte (7-3, 4.26) and Derek Lowe (7-5, 4.08)

June 24, 2009

Wang to make next start, Hughes on reserve for Sabathia

Chien-Ming Wang is still on tap for Sunday’s start, while Phil Hughes is the emergency starter for Friday if CC Sabathia’s bullpen does not go well today, according to Peter Abraham.


It seems the Wang-Hughes debate always rekindles after Wang’s start. Why? Maybe because Hughes has relieved Wang in each of his last three starts. Is this a coincidence, or is Girardi doing this on purpose to get a look at both pitchers against the same opponent?


Hughes has fully embraced his role in the bullpen — at least that’s what he has told the media — but it’s hard to ignore him pitching lights out after Wang gets knocked around a little. Hughes has struck out 14 men in 10-2/3 innings from the pen and his ERA stands at 1.69. His only two allowed runs came against the Red Sox and it was over 3-2/3 innings after Wang couldn’t finish the third frame.


The strikeout numbers really impress me, and I think that is the most convincing stat for Hughes’ case. However, I am still riding Wang’s bandwagon because of his potential. Wang’s line last night was nearly identical to his previous one against the Nationals.

Opponent Dec. H R ER BB K
Nationals L 6 3 3 2 4
Braves L 6 3 3 1 4

The  underlying difference: His most recent start against the Braves was completed in 62 pitches — 29 fewer than the start against the Nationals.


Wang was pulled when his turn in the order came up — yet another problem the NL has dealt Wang — and I think it was too early of a gamble on Joe Girardi’s part. Wang was on pace to throw eight innings, but didn’t get a chance to prove he could do it. Honestly, I’d say the importance of that start outweighs a struggling offense.


Hopefully Sabathia doesn’t feel anything funky in his left biceps today, and Hughes can continue to thrive in relief.

Open discussion: Moving around outfielders causing errant throws?

Commenter Perry Arnold brought up an interesting topic of debate:

“We have seen a lot more bad plays from these outfielders this year than can be attributed to lack of concentration or anything else. What I am trying to say is that for three years, Melky was an excellent outfielder and was praised for his great arm and accurate throws. How can it possibly NOT AFFECT them when they are being moved constantly.”

As Perry pointed out, I think you can fault Joe Girardi for moving him around all the time. I happen to be a Girardi supporter, but perhaps Melky is getting mixed up from moving between all three spots.

“There has been more than one occasion this season where Melky has played the three outfield positions in three successive games. The ball comes at you differently, your angle of approach when lining up your throw to any base is different, etc. etc, etc. Also you have to adjust to who is playing next to you, how much range they have, what their arm is like, etc, etc,” Perry continued.

There has definitely been an issue with throws from the outfield recently. Do you blame Girardi? Or do you blame the players?

June 23, 2009

Yankees shut out by Braves

The Braves pitching staff yielded four hits and six walks to the Yankees, but allowed none to cross home plate. The Braves (34-36) scored four runs — three off Chien-Ming Wang — to hand the Yankees (38-32) their third straight loss.


Quick ‘Cap:

Wang had struck out the first two batters of the third inning, so everything was looking good for a pitcher with a lot to prove. Instead, the wheels fell off and the Braves rallied for three runs on a single, walk and two doubles.


There isn’t much else to recap in this one. Bottom line is the Yankees left all 11 of their runners on base. Full box score here.


Give credit to Braves starter Tommy Hanson. He’s a young pitcher with a ton of potential. I’m just surprised the Yanks couldn’t touch the Braves’ bullpen.


Line of the Night:
Phil Hughes: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K. If he continues to pitch like this, and Wang continues to throw average baseball, the two should switch places.


Up Next:
Joba Chamberlain (3-2, 3.89) looks to even the series against Kenshin Kawakami (4-6, 4.42) Wednesday night.

Xavier Nady to begin rehab Wednesday in AAA, the debate continues: Nady or Nick?

The rehabbing Xavier Nady (elbow) went 2-for-3 and made throws to second and third base in a simulated game yesterday, according to a release from the Yankees (via PeteAbe). He is on his way to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today, and will see game action tomorrow.


Barring any setbacks, Nady should be back in pinstripes within the next couple of weeks. His return will spark a familiar dilemma mentioned on this blog: Who to start in right field, Nady or Nick Swisher?


swisher2 Swisher is steadily maintaining his offensive numbers in June (.245/.383/.505), after a blazing start in April and an ice cold May. Just to give you a glimpse at the improvement: he has eight doubles already in June compared to just one in all of May. He is an average right fielder defensively, but also carries a quirky and entertaining persona that lightens the mood of the clubhouse.


nady3 Nady’s numbers were on the rise heading into the 2008 trade deadline (.301/.353/.482 in three years with the Pirates), and it seemed he was entering his prime. With the Yankees, his production has dropped down slightly (.270/.319/.469) and I believe is a cause of concern. Compared to Swisher, he has the edge defensively — more range and stronger arm — but is not as valuable offensively.


If GM Brian Cashman plans to keep both outfielders on the roster, one will be in right field and the other will be on the bench or at DH. Either one would join Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner on the bench. Sounds like a lot of outfielders to me, not to mention Hideki Matsui hogging the DH spot.


My verdict is to trade Nady (along with a minor leaguer) for a reliable reliever — preferably Huston Street. Overall, I feel more confident with Swisher on the team, and I feel the bullpen needs to be addressed. The Yankees have plenty of slugging outfielders in Triple-A (Shelley Duncan, John Rodriguez and Austin Jackson), while a quality bullpen addition would be a diamond in the rough in this year’s trade market.

Yankees-Braves series preview

The Yankees (38-31) continue their tour of National League ballparks on Tuesday at Atlanta’s Turner Field, home of the Braves (33-36).


The Braves are the only NL East team the Yankees are yet to play this season, and the Yanks haven’t had much success against the division so far (5-7). Here are the probable pitchers for the series:

Date Yankees starters Braves starters
Tuesday C.M. Wang (0-5, 12.30) Tommy Hanson (2-0, 4.08)
Wednesday J. Chamberlain (3-2, 3.89) Kenshin Kawakami (4-6, 4.42)
Thursday Andy Pettitte (7-3, 4.26) Derek Lowe (7-5, 4.09)


As you can see, Wang is still searching for his first win and he will get another shot to do it against one of best pitching prospects in baseball, Hanson. Hanson’s been very good in his last two starts, and Wang will try and build on a 5 IP, 3 ER performance against the Nationals in his last start.


The Yankees are the better team, but both teams aren’t playing their best baseball right now. It’s always fun to see rematches of past World Series, and this is will be no exception.

June 22, 2009

Sabathia says he will make next start

After leaving with a tight left biceps in the second inning of Sunday’s game against the Marlins, CC Sabathia says he will be ready for his next start. Joe Girardi hasn’t confirmed that decision yet, but CC seems pretty confident.


Here’s CC’s plan for the week: (via PeteAbe)

Monday: Receive treatment in Atlanta from team trainers.

Tuesday: Play catch.

Wednesday: Throw a bullpen.

Thursday: Rest.

Friday: Face the Mets.

Sounds good to me. Let’s hope his plan is followed without any hiccups along the way.

Too much information from Girardi

Joe Girardi announced yesterday that he would rest Alex Rodriguez once a week until the All-Star break. I’m glad to know the plans, but, as a fan, should I really be hearing this?


Announcing plans like this just creates an unnecessary overflow of media craze. Now, I will be wondering which day of the week is the best to have off. It just creates one more question for the media to ask Girardi about. He could avoid possible scrutiny by simply not revealing his plans.


I also disagreed with the Yankees disclosing their plans with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in the beginning of the season. As Chamberlain nears his limit by the end of the year, Girardi and the Yankees will be getting a lot of questions from the media about shutting him down or moving him to the bullpen. These matters should be discussed privately to avoid media distractions.

Video: Yankees-Marlins fans fight in the stands (With Update)

Via Deadspin:



My reaction after the Marlins fan jumped over the railing: “HOLY $#!@!” I feel bad for the kid at 0:56.


UPDATE: Deadspin received some information from the people at the incident. Check it out.

Thoughts on the new template?

I hope you like the new template, but I am definitely looking to improve it. I’m open to any suggestions, just leave them in the comments section.

I also hope the new domain, http://www.lennysyankees.com/, will be a little easier for everyone to type/remember.

Papelbon/Posada Featured Yankee Card of the Week!

This might be the only time Jonathan Papelbon and Jorge Posada ever have a meeting on the mound, especially after Papelbon’s latest ramblings about signing with the Yankees. If you are still wondering why these two are together on the mound, it is because they were battery mates during the 2007 All-Star Game.


It is a 2007 Topps Update Classic Combos card that I found in a 2007 Topps pack. It is valued around $4.00, which is the highest price among this Classic Combos collection.

Check out all of the previous featured cards on this blog here.

Another unearned run costly for Yankees

Last night’s loss was the second game in a row when an unearned run gave the Marlins a one-run victory. Melky Cabrera’s throw home in the seventh inning could have actually nabbed the first runner if it were on target, but instead it scooted past Jorge Posada allowing the game-winning run to score. Full box score here.


I know there were many other reason’s for the loss — Derek Jeter’s failure to drive in Brett Gardner in the ninth, and ace CC Sabathia leaving the game in the second inning — but just think about when the Yankees didn’t make any errors during their record-setting streak. No unearned runs, no extra chances for the opponent and no extra pitches from the staff.


Errors bring the team down mentally too. Like Joe Girardi said during the errorless streak, it shows an extreme amount of focus and effort from the team. The more focused the team, the less likely it is for them to make errors.


It’s tough to blame the bullpen for the loss because of Sabathia’s unexpected exit, but Brett Tomko really showed why he is the least-capable of the entire staff. There is no question that he is the next pitcher to be demoted.


Alfredo Aceves tossed 2-2/3 shutout innings in relief of Sabathia to extend the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 18-2/3. That has to be a season high for the Yanks.

Poll Results: AL East a four-team race

In my latest poll, I asked which of the five AL East teams are in playoff contention. Of course, the Yankees and Red Sox were voted in nearly every time, but the Blue Jays and Rays collected a decent percentage as well. Here are the full results:


Red Sox:  86%

Yankees:  80%
Rays:  44%

Blue Jays:  27%

Orioles:  0%


Despite the Rays currently standing in fourth place in the division, the respect for the defending AL champs showed in this poll.


The Yankees are clinging to a one-game lead in the wild card —just to put the rest of the league into perspective — as it is way too early to be eyeing the wild card race.


Honestly, this division is up for grabs at this point; the Rays and Jays could easily overtake the Sox and Yanks. It’s hard to imagine the playoffs without the Sox and Yanks, but it is actually a possibility this year.


Check out next week’s poll on the left pane: Is Joe Girardi a good manager for the Yankees?

June 21, 2009

CC Sabathia leaves with tight biceps

CC Sabathia left today's game in the second inning due to left biceps tightness.

From the AP:

A team trainer went out to look at Sabathia while he was warming up for the inning. He gave up a one-out double to Brett Carroll, then Yankees manager Joe Girardi and a team trainer went out to check on the left-hander again before taking him out of the game.

The reliable Alfredo Aceves took over for him, but this sounds like bad news for Sabathia.

More on the injury later.

Notes and thoughts from loss to Marlins

The Yankees lost a heartbreaker against the Marlins in the second game of the series. It all came down to another ball bouncing off the mitt of a fielder. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the mitt belonged to one of their own, Johnny Damon.

Hanley Ramirez came all the way around from first to score after Jorge Cantu’s liner bounced off Damon’s glove in the sixth inning to make it 2-0. The Yankees rebounded with one run in the seventh off starter Josh Johnson, but couldn’t beat the Marlins bullpen. Full box score here.


  • Sounds like a tough loss to me. One unearned run can cost a team a win, and it did last night for the Yankees.
  • You cannot fault Jorge Posada’s catching abilities in this one. He threw two runners out trying to steal, and “called an excellent game” according to starter A.J. Burnett. However, Posada and his bat were stifled at the plate, along with most other Yankees against Cy Young Award candidate Josh Johnson.
  • You also cannot fault the bullpen. They now have tossed 16 consecutive shutout frames.
  • The expected pitchers’ duel held up on both ends. Both pitchers allowed just one earned run each.
  • Nick Swisher had the only RBI for the Yankees in the loss. He’s not having a great June, but it’s a heck of a lot better than his May.

June 20, 2009

Yankees tidbits 6/20/09

Here’s the latest buzz on the Yankees:

  • They picked up a much-needed win last night, beating the Marlins 5-1.
  • Even though the Yankees were eyeing Pedro Martinez in the Dominican Republic, they are now saying that they have “no interest.”
  • Remember that 16-year-old on the cover of Sports Illustrated?  It was Bryce Harper and he will be in a Yankees uniform sooner than expected. 
  • Normally, fans are bashing the Yankees bullpen left and right.  Now, it’s hard to do that.  Two more shutout innings last night tallied 14-1/3 consecutive scoreless from a new-look bullpen.
  • Meanwhile, on a day that the Yankees actually won, a very well-known blog—River Avenue Blues—found the flaws in the Yankees’ offense and pitching.  Read both, they are interesting.
  • The slumping Alex Rodriguez finally is getting a couple days off.  Let’s hope he can catch his breath and help this team score some runs!

Yankees bullpen brilliant lately

It wasn’t so long ago that everyone was blaming losses on the bullpen, which even rekindled the Joba Chamberlain debate.  Now, I feel extremely confident in any pitcher taking over for a Yankees starter.  Yes, I said any.

For starters (no pun intended), let’s look at everyone’s numbers from the bullpen:

Pitcher ERA IP K
Alfredo Aceves 2.54 28.1 25
Brian Bruney 2.61 10.1 14
Phil Coke 3.45 28.2 21
Phil Hughes 2.35 7.2 10
Mariano Rivera 3.25 27.2 33
David Robertson 2.08 13 19
Brett Tomko 5.11 12.1 6

The only negative standout here is Tomko, but that ERA is really inflated by his one wretched outing against the Mets.  Anyway, if you think the rest of these numbers look good, they’re actually better if measured only in June.

A few weeks ago, I would have said that the Red Sox really only surpass the Yankees in the bullpen.  Now, I give the edge to the Yanks.

Guys like Edwar Ramirez, Jonathan Albaladejo and Jose Veras had no reliability whatsoever, and really brought the team down.  The Yankees have replaced all three, and impressively all from within the organization.  Maybe Edwar and Alba are doing well in triple-A, but why change what’s working?

A steady bullpen is vital for postseason success, and I think that’s what the Yankees are vying for this year.

Support a charity, and win Legend Suite tickets!

Yesterday, a man e-mailed me about a raffle with great Yankees rewards, and it helps support a great charity as well.  Here are the details, and be sure to find the link below.

Currently we are raffling off Two Legends Suite Tickets to the August 8, 2009 game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.  The prize also includes hotel accommodations to the Marriott Marquis Times Square in NYC, a $250 travel voucher as well as a cash prize to mitigate taxes as a result of winning the raffle.  Raffle tickets are only $2 a pop with a minimum purchase of five tickets. The proceeds go to charity and help a good cause.

Buy some raffle tickets here for a chance to win two Legends Suite tickets to a Red Sox-Yankees game on August 8.

I will also host this link on the right pane until we reach the raffle deadline of August 5.

June 19, 2009

Pettitte nets Marlins and victory for Yankees

It took the oldest man in the Yankees rotation to get a win.  Andy Pettitte twirled a gem, propelling the Yankees (38-29) over the Marlins (33-36) 5-1.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yankees’ offense hit early and often, resulting in all five of their runs in the first three innings.  Derek Jeter scored on Jorge Posada’s single after he led off the game with a ground-rule double.  It took Angel Berroa 19 games—or 17 at bats, to be nicer—to capture his first double and RBI with the Yankees when he drove home Robinson Cano in the second inning. 

Another unexpected RBI-double followed when Pettitte sliced a pitch down the left field line.  Pettitte scored on Johnny Damon’s single after Jeter slugged his second hit.  Melky Cabrera put the cherry on the cake with a solo shot in the third.  All five runs came off a pitcher they had never seen before, Sean West – quite contrary to my post earlier in the day.

Pettitte gave up his one and only run in the third when Cody Ross homered.  Besides that, Pettitte pitched brilliantly.  He scattered three hits over seven innings, and tied his season-high of seven strikeouts.  Also, the bullpen pitched in two more shutout innings, which adds up to 14-1/3 consecutive scoreless frames for the ‘pen.  Full box score here.

There was never any doubt about this game.  Not the way Pettitte was pitching, and the way the bats were going.  A spotless win, other than a meaningless throwing error by Jeter in the fourth.  Andy hey, it was only his third error, and it’s already June 19.

Line of the Night: (It’s new, and it could be a good or bad line.)
Pettitte: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (I’d say it was a good line tonight.)

Up Next:
Saturday night’s game features two right-handed flamethrowers.  A.J. Burnett (5-3, 4.46) vs. Josh Johnson (6-1, 2.76).  Should be a good one.

Papelbon tries to make amends

I know what you’re thinking.  I don’t want to read about Red Sox players too often on this site, but I don’t mind when they dig themselves into a deeper hole.  Here’s how Jon Papelbon “clarified” what he said yesterday:

"I said I would go to any team I felt was best for my situation, whether it's the Yankees or whoever," said Papelbon. "But the thing that you have to understand is that's three years away. OK?"

Oh, only three years away? Gotcha.  I’m sure Brian Cashman will be asking for your phone number any day now…


“I just think that when people hear what I said or people read what I said sometimes they can only see certain things. I want to make that clear, I don’t want to go (expletive) for the Yankees,” Papelbon said. “Believe me, I’ve got a ring here and I’m playing for a manager and general manager who are going to protect me. I’ve been on a team in baseball who has been in first-place more than any other (expletive) team in baseball. It’s just a simple fact for me that what I was stating that guys nowadays don’t necessarily get the opportunity to be with a team for a long period of time. Do I want to be with the Red Sox for as long as I can? Of course. There is no question about because I know I’m playing a manager and general manager who are going to protect me and to me that’s all that matters.”

Wow. That’s all I have to say.

Yankees-Marlins series preview

This three-game series against the Florida Marlins will be the first time this season the New York Yankees play on National League turf. 

Heading into the series, the Yankees (37-29) are trailing the Red Sox by three games, and the Marlins (33-35) are five games behind the Phillies.

So far this season, the Yankees are a surprisingly low 4-5 against NL teams.  Normally, the Yanks, along with the rest of the AL, dominate in interleague play.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Date Yankees starters Marlins starters
Friday Andy Pettitte (6-3, 4.52) Sean West (2-1, 3.00)
Saturday A.J. Burnett (5-3, 4.46) Josh Johnson (6-1, 2.76)
Sunday CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.67) Chris Volstad (4-7, 4.75)

And tonight’s lineups:
Yankees Marlins
Derek Jeter SS Chris Coghlan LF
Johnny Damon LF Wes Helms 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B Hanley Ramirez SS
Alex Rodriguez 3B Jorge Cantu 1B
Jorge Posada C Dan Uggla 2B
Robinson Cano 2B Ronny Paulino C
Nick Swisher RF Jeremy Hermida RF
Melky Cabrera CF Cody Ross CF
Andy Pettitte P Sean West P

I’m really surprised to see A-Rod in the lineup again.  He needs a break.  Also, note that Brett Gardner isn’t starting after his collision last night.

UPDATE:  A-Rod was a late-scratch due to fatigue.  He will miss Friday’s and Saturday’s game.

Yanks can’t hit pitchers they haven’t seen before

It’s not a secret. The Yankees have always hit miserably against young pitchers, no matter how bad they are.

The issue was brought up in middle of the game yesterday by John Sterling, while NY Daily News writer Anthony McCarron was in the booth. McCarron quoted Mark Teixeira saying that the team doesn’t know how to prepare for new pitchers.

Then McCarron pointed out that the Yankees lineup is filled with patient hitters, and that hurts them against these kind of pitchers. He used Jason Giambi's stint as a Yankee as an example, and said that he would have had more hits if he hadn't taken so many called strikes. He might be right.

Yesterday’s starter Craig Stammen is known for throwing too many strikes and getting too much of the plate. With a patient approach, any offense is bound for failure. And that’s what the Yankees showed last night, as they neither walked nor scored against Stammen.

I know this is just one example, but this is really becoming a nagging issue for the Yankees. Maybe they need to change their approach, or maybe they need to watch more film. Whatever it is, they need to make a change, because losing two out of three to the Nationals really puts things into perspective.

June 18, 2009

Yankees shut out by worst team in baseball

The Yankees struggles against no-name pitchers continued on Thursday night, and it cost them a series loss to the worst team in baseball.  The Nationals (18-46), behind Craig Stammen (who?), shut out the Yankees (37-29) 3-0 after a 5-1/2 hour rain delay.

Quick ‘Cap:
The long delay didn’t stop the Nationals from a quick start.  Adam Dunn’s RBI double scored the first run off Joba Chamberlain, and that was all the Nats needed to win.  Chamberlain was incredibly efficient in the first three innings, but stumbled in the fourth and fifth.

Former Yankees catcher Will Nieves drew a bases loaded walk—Chamberlain’s third of the inning—in the fourth to make it 2-0.  Ryan Zimmerman’s second double of the game plated Cristian Guzman for the third, and final run.  Chamberlain lasted six innings, and the bullpen had no troubles once again.

As for the Yankees offense, well, it was nonexistent.  I’m not even going to begin to describe all of their squandered opportunities.  Full box score here.

It was an embarrassing loss, and an embarrassing series.  Seven runs in three games against the worst pitching staff in baseball is pathetic — especially at the “hitter friendly” Yankee Stadium. 

Peter Abraham said a series win was expected at the least, and I predicted a sweep was easily in the cards.  Nobody, predicted losing two out of three.

Two notes:  1. This was the first game at the new Yankee Stadium without a homer from either team.  2.  Brett Gardner made a great catch in the eighth inning, but crashed into the wall afterwards.  He was carted off the field, but it sounds like he’s okay.

Noteworthy Performances:
- Nick Swisher
had a solid day at the plate: 2-for-4 with a double (nearly two, but was thrown out at second).
- Alex Rodriguez went ‘0-for’ the fourth straight game, and is in one of the biggest slumps in his career.  He has three hits in his last 34 at bats.
- I’ll praise the bullpen again just to give Yankees fans some hope.  Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke and David Robertson each tossed one scoreless inning.

Up Next:
It’s time for Yankees pitchers to grab some pine tar.  The Yanks begin their nine-game road trip to NL ballparks in Florida to face the Marlins.  Lefties Andy Pettitte (6-3, 4.52) and Sean West (2-1, 3.00) will go at it on Friday night at 7:10 p.m.

Papelbon says he would consider being a Yankee

Jonathan Papelbon said on Sirius XM Radio that he would consider the Yankees an option if he had to leave the Red Sox.

"Not only the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can't just be one-sided and think that, "Oh, I'm going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career" because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there's no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what's best for me and play in an atmosphere where I'm wanted."

I understand what he’s saying about not being close-minded, but to mention the Yankees like that is a little appalling to me.  Not only that, but another Red Sox player was linked to the Yankees today.  What is this world coming to!?

I understand Johnny Damon is a Yankee now, but he’s an “idiot.”  Papelbon is hated by all Yankees fans.  I’m sorry, but if No. 58 ever dawns pinstripes, I may have to move to another club myself.

Yankees eyeing Pedro Martinez

According to a source, the Yankees—along with three other teams—will look at Pedro Martinez throw in the Dominican Republic on Friday.

The Tampa Rays, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels are the other teams planning to watch Martinez throw. On Wednesday, Martinez said he had spoken with the Cubs and Rays and “there’s a good chance I’ll be signing soon, but there still isn’t anything firm.”

I have no idea why the Yankees would be looking at another starting pitcher, let alone one of the most hated players of the franchise.  Do I even have to refresh everyone’s memory of “who’s your daddy?” or Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter being sent to the hospital in the same game?  These are just the moral reasons why he shouldn’t be a Yankee.  What about the medical reasons?

Pedro hasn’t pitched close to a full season since 2005 — his first season with the Mets.  I don’t know if that is just the luck of the Mets, or if Pedro is just too frail.  Either way, he’s averaging 16 starts per season for the past three years.  He’s almost 38 years old and his best years are clearly behind him.

How about his statistical problems?  He was awful in 2008 with a 5.61 ERA, and still way too high in 2006 with a 4.48 ERA.

The only thing this guy is pitching for is his 100th loss, as he currently is sitting at 99.  He’s 86 wins shy of 300 and 883 Ks shy of 4,000.  He already has a spot reserved in the Hall of Fame, so I really have no clue what he is thinking.

Here are a few reactions to the idea of Pedro as a Yankee from some of my twitter followers:

mincontro:  if he can still pitch, yes!!
section59mike:  No, I've seen enough has been, injured players fail at pitching for the Yankees
FootballGeek:  NO to pedro
tommyreyes:  not in a million years!
ryan_kantor:  and no, we don't want Pedro! Wang will work out, if not HUghes will be fine. Tomko and Kennedy are also viable options.

There you have it.

June 17, 2009

Yankees edged out by Nats (With Wang update)

The Yankees (37-28) had another comeback in order in the bottom of the ninth, but it ended with a double play and the Nationals (17-46) evened the series with a 3-2 win.

Quick ‘Cap:
The spotlight was on Chien-Ming Wang from the get-go, and he wasn’t bad at all.  He retired all but two batters through 3-1/3, and then Adam Dunn cranked a good sinker for a homer to right.  In the fifth, the Nationals caught a couple of breaks, and Nick Johnson took advantage with a two-run triple.  Ramiro Pena misplayed a great throw from Jorge Posada, and Alex Rodriguez made a great play at third but Christian Guzman was called safe at first.

Robinson Cano broke up John Lannan’s no-hitter in the fifth inning with a solo shot, but that didn’t bother Lannan.  He pitched all the way to the ninth only allowing two hits.  Johnny Damon got the third hit off him—his second of the game—and it landed in the first row in right field making it a one run game. 

The Yankees had first and third one out for Cano after Brett Gardner stole two bases and A-Rod walked.  On the ninth pitch of the at bat, Cano hit a sharp grounder right at the shortstop and that was it.  Full box score here.

It sucks to lose without your captain.  Derek Jeter sat out his fourth game of the season, but said he will be ok for Thursday’s rubber match.  Poor Cano.  He carried the Yankees yesterday, and almost did it again tonight.

As for Wang, I highly doubt he loses his next start.  In my mind, the two fifth inning runs were unearned, and he only was up to 91 pitches.  I’ll keep watch on that news until the decision is made.

UPDATE: Via Bryan Hoch’s twitter:

Looks like Chien-Ming Wang will get at least one more start in the Yankees rotation.

Noteworthy Performances:
- Damon had two of the four hits for the Yanks — both extra base hits.
- The bullpen did their job kept the Yankees in the game.  Phil Hughes tossed two scoreless, Phil Coke threw 1-1/3 and Alfredo Aceves recorded the final two outs.

Up Next:
The third and final game of the series is set for Thursday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.  Craig Stammen (0-2, 5.86) will face Joba Chamberlain (3-1, 3.84).

A-Rod becoming a major cause for concern

Everyone saw Alex Rodriguez get off to a slow start in May, but what he is doing in June is even worse.  I suggested before that Kate Hudson could be causing the hitting drought, but that’s highly unlikely.  The only other thing I can think of is that his hip is still bothering him.

Here are his batting numbers by month:

May:  .260/.412/.584
June:  .178/.339/.356

Of his 28 hits this season, nine have landed over the fence – eight of which in his new home in New York.  Even with the eight homers at home, he’s still hitting far worse than in road games.  His day/night numbers are even more weird: .318 vs. .179, respectively  These are some very quirky splits for a normally very consistent player.

It’s impossible to tell what is troubling him based on the numbers, so I feel he is hiding something from the media and/or the team.

He’s a career .305 hitter.  He will not finish the season below .250.

Sosa’s positive drug test leaked: No more leaks, please!

Yesterday, Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reported that Sammy Sosa tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in 2003.  Sosa and Alex Rodriguez are now the only two names that have been leaked of the 104 players who agreed to take part in an “anonymous” drug test.

The fact is, these players are being cheated by the law firms that have leaked these two names.  Many firms have access to these names, but I think the documents should be destroyed.  It’s unfair to to the players for these names to be revealed.  There’s a reason why baseball does not use blood tests.

Bud Selig said that baseball has the strongest drug abuse policies of any American sport.  He’s right, but the Olympics still use the most effective tests because of the blood tests.  The blood tests reveal everything about a person’s medical history, and no major leaguer wants to share that personal information with the rest of the world.

I always liked Slammin’ Sammy, even after the corked bat incident, but lying removes him from the guys I like.

Like A-Rod, Sosa is a liar!  Here is what Sosa said in front of a House committee in 2003, via the NY Times:

“I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything,”  Sosa said in a sworn statement.

Sosa’s PED use was even more obvious than A-Rod’s, but now it’s official.  I’m mad that he lied about it, but I’m even more mad that another name was leaked.  Two names is bad enough.

Like Peter Gammons said on Baseball Tonight, if over a dozen future Hall of Famers are leaked from that list, Sosa’s chances at the Hall become even slimmer.  I’m not worried as much about the Hall as I am with the integrity of the game.

June 16, 2009

Yankees rally late for victory

The Yankees (37-27) and Nationals (16-46) played a tight game through six innings, but an ex-Yankee from the Nationals’ (16-46) bullpen blew a one-run lead and the Yankees went on to win 5-3.

Quick ‘Cap:
Robinson Cano went 4-for-4 and contributed in three of the five runs.  He scored the first run of the game on Melky Cabrera’s sac-fly in the second inning,and then singled home Johnny Damon in the third.

CC Sabathia pitched a great ballgame with one exception; Anderson Hernandez hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning.  Sabathia almost completed the eighth inning on his own, but Brian Bruney was called to record the final out.  Sabathia was efficient with his pitches, but struck out only two Nationals.

Ron Villone, who last pitched with the Yankees in 2007, relieved starter Shairon Martis in the seventh inning.  After five pitches, the game was tied on Mark Teixeira’s double.  Two batters later, Cano drove Teixeira home with a double of his own for the winning run.  Ramiro Pena, who took over for Derek Jeter in the eighth, added an insurance run with an RBI single.  The word on Jeter is a left ankle sprain.  Anyway, Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth for the 15th time, and the Yankees won.  Full box score here.

It was a closer game than expected, but the 5-1 Martis pitched a quality game and kept it tight.  I’m really excited about Cano’s big day and Bruney’s return, but am concerned with Alex Rodriguez recent struggles.

Noteworthy Performances:
- Cano was easily the player of the game.  Three singles, a double and two RBI.  He’s now up to .309 for the season.
- Sabathia was solid for 7-2/3 IP.  It marks his eighth straight start pitching seven or more innings.  He’s a workhorse, what can I say?

Up Next:
Game 2 is Wednesday night, and it could be the last time you see Chien-Ming Wang (0-4, 14.34) on the hill for the Yankees.  He will face John Lannan (3-5, 3.51).

Chien-Ming Wang given new reason to perform

Chien-Ming Wang’s next scheduled start is Wednesday against the lowly-thought-of Nationals, and it could be his last if he pitches below expectations.

An inexplicable start to the season caused rumors to fly about his offseason workouts or that his early-career success was just a fluke. When he returned in late May, he showed signs of returning to the old Wang, but another terrible start against the Red Sox brought back the negative rumors.

Luckily for Wang, he will have an inspiration in his next start. His wife Chia-Ling gave birth to Justin Jesse (7 pounds, 12 ounces). According to PeteAbe’s Taiwanese friends, “a new baby is supposed to bring good luck to the parents.” He will need it.

In the middle of Saturday’s game against the Mets, Joe Girardi answered questions from the Fox team about Wang. He said that he needs to pitch great, but then didn’t mention any possible consequences. But we can all infer that it his last chance, especially with Phil Hughes dominating in the bullpen.

Nationals-Yankees series preview

I don’t expect anything less than a sweep against the pathetic Washington National club.  At their current pace, they could challenge the worst record of all-time.

To give you an idea of what this team is all about, they have zero pitching whatsoever (last in the majors by ERA), but a decent offense (16th by batting average).  Something tells me the Yankees will be adding to their league lead in homers.

But just like any team, the Yankees cannot take the Nationals lightly.  No more Brian Bruney smack talk, and no picking fights.  I want to see no-mercy baseball, and three clean, easy victories.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Date Nationals starters Yankees starters
Tuesday Shairon Martis (5-1, 5.04) CC Sabathia (5-4, 3.68)
Wednesday John Lannan (3-5, 3.51) Chien-M. Wang (0-4, 14.34)
Thursday Craig Stammen (0-2, 5.86) Joba Chamberlain (3-1, 3.84)

An unrelated note:  Kevin Youkilis has retaken the lead over Mark Teixeira at first base in the All-Star Game.

Bullpen better with chatterbox Bruney

He made inexcusable remarks to one of the best closers in the game, he apologized to him, and now he’s finally back to pitching with the Yankees. Even if Brian Bruney is a little coo-coo, he still has nasty stuff and may even have the potential to be the Yankees’ next closer.

June 15, 2009

For Huston Street, Yankees fans should root against Rockies

The Rockies are on a 11-game winning streak, but are somehow still below .500.  However, the closer they are to playoff contention, the less of a chance they will be willing to deal closer Huston Street.

Street is one of the best relievers that has been talked about as the trade deadline inches closer.  In his first season in the National League, he’s sporting a 3.00 ERA and has 32 K in 27 IP.  However, he has only allowed two earned runs in his last 19-2/3 IP. 

Street has 13 saves for the Rockies so far, but if he became a Yankee, he would move to the setup man.  He’s also only signed to a cheap one-year deal, so that would not complicate the trade process.

The Rockies are 10.5 games behind the LA Dodgers in the NL West, but only 3.5 games out of the wild card.  We are still a month and a half away from the deadline, so it is unclear whether the Rockies will be buyers or sellers.  Hopefully, the Rockies will go back to their losing ways and Street will be wearing pinstripes.

Poll Results: Yankees should keep Melky

With Melky Cabrera playing the best baseball of his life, I asked if the Yankees should try to trade him while he has likely reached his peak value.  A strong turnout in votes showed a clear statement to keep the beloved Melk-man.  Here are the full results:

Trade him!:  17%
Keep him!:  56%
Hasn’t reached potential yet: 15%
Trade Gardner instead: 10%

I was surprised to see so many Melky supporters, especially with the number of people that said he still has room for improvement.  Batting over .300 is a lot to ask for a No. 9 hitter.  It may be one of the toughest things to judge when a player has reached his peak.  Let’s hope Mr. Clutch can maintain this production for the rest of the season.

Check out next week’s poll on the left pane: Which AL East teams are in playoff contention?

14th Featured Yankee Card of the Week!

Dellin Betances is one of the youngest and promising pitching prospects for the Yankees. A 21-year-old from Brooklyn, NY, Betances just posted a decent outing in High-A ball in his first start after returning from an injury.

I pulled this card in a 2006 TriStar Prospects Plus pack that I bought at a Trenton Thunder game. I always try and see one Thunder game a season when they visit the New Hampshire Fishercats (Blue Jays). Betances is a long ways away, but holds a lot of potential.

June 14, 2009

Yanks pummel Mets in series finale

After being shut down last night by a no-name pitcher, the Yankees teed off against Johan Santana – one of the top three pitchers in baseball. By the time it was over, the Yankees (36-27) had embarrassed the Mets (32-29) 15-0.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yanks first got to Santana in the second inning, when three straight singles from Francisco Cervelli, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon scored four runs. But the Yanks blew the game open in the fourth.

Santana didn’t record an out in the inning, and was responsible for five of the nine runs scored. Both Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano hit two-run homers, and Melky Cabrera hit two doubles in the frame.

Meanwhile, A.J. Burnett bounced back from an ugly start against the Red Sox, tossing seven shutout innings. David Robertson and Phil Hughes finished the game with no trouble. Full box score here.

It was completely unexpected, but it was beautiful to see hits coming from top to bottom. You have to feel a little bad for the Mets. Luis Castillo made one of the worst errors the game has seen in a long time in the first game, their best pitcher was demolished in this one, and the team has been decimated by injuries over the past month.

It was also nice to see Josh Beckett blow a four-run lead over the Phillies. Now the Yankees are just two games back in the East.

Noteworthy Performances:
- Jeter had a perfect day with four singles, two runs and two RBI.
- Cano had eight total bases on the day, adding two doubles to his homer.
- Burnett used a nasty slider at the knees all game in a strong outing. He struck out eight, walked four and allowed four hits.

Up Next:
The Yankees have their work cut out for them in their next series starting on Tuesday. They play the Nationals, who hold the worst record in the bigs by far. The Yanks are showing no mercy by sending out CC Sabathia (5-4, 3.68) to face Shairon Martis (5-1, 5.04).

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