July 31, 2009

Yanks add Jerry Hairston Jr., Nothing more at deadline

According to the Star-Ledger, the Yankees and Reds agreed to a deal sending utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Yankees.

Brian Cashman didn’t acquire a pitcher — much to the dismay of most Yankees fans — but there is still a chance a waiver deal is made in August. This assumption would fit nicely with Cashman’s statement from about a week ago.

According to Marc Craig’s tweet, Mark Teixeira said, “We have everything we need here to win.” I sort of agree with him there, but sometimes the deadline is good for adding pitching depth. Hairston is an upgrade over Cody Ransom, but I expected pitching to be the main focus of today.

Meanwhile, the White Sox acquired Jake Peavy, and he approved it this time around. The main player from the White Sox just so happens to be tonight’s starter Clayton Richard. No word on the replacement, yet.

Shelley Duncan gets the call (With deadline bits)

Bryan Hoch has reported on his blog that Shelley Duncan has finally received his long-awaited call. Duncan will join the Yankees in Chicago tonight, and presumably will be available off the bench tonight.

It’s about time. I’ve been saying for quite a while that he deserves another chance in the bigs. I thought the Yankees would try and trade him today (it doesn’t look like it now), but maybe he still goes in a waiver deal in August.

So far today, Jarrod Washburn has been traded to the Tigers, and now the Red Sox are close to acquiring Victor Martinez from the Indians. Both deals are bad news for the Yankees, as they were in serious discussions with Washburn and the Red Sox are now a much better offensive club.

More news later after the deadline (hopefully).

David Ortiz is latest leak from 2003 PED list

Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reported that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez tested positive for PEDs in 2003. What concerns me is the last part of his lead paragraph:

…according to lawyers with knowledge of the results.

This is otherwise known as a leak. Alex Rodriguez’s name was leaked before the season, and now right before the trade deadline, another significant name is leaked. As for Manny, we already knew he was on something.

As ESPN’s Skip Bayless pointed out on Twitter, it would make perfect sense for the guy who leaked this information to be a Yankees fan that was mad about A-Rod being leaked.

With Ortiz now revealed, Yankees fans can happily take their shots at Red Sox fans who brag about the Red Sox’ recent championships.

Keep in mind that 2003 was the year Ortiz was traded to the Red Sox when he broke out of his shell. Even though Ortiz has struggled in the past two years, he is still another borderline hall of famer with a tainted career.

As Peter Gammons said last night, more key information on this matter will be revealed over the next few days. The question is, will the media explode around Papi as they did with A-Rod. The only difference I can see between the two cases is that it is midseason oppose to preseason.

Pettitte pitching analysis

For the first time in a long while, I was able to watch the Yankees on TV. As a pitcher myself, I was delighted to watch two pitchers go at each other inning after inning. Gavin Floyd clearly had the better stuff (95 MPH fastball, sharp curveball), but Andy Pettitte was able to match him for six innings with basically one pitch.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Pettitte used 47 fastballs, 23 sliders, 22 cutters, seven changeups and only two curves. That confused me a little because I always thought the big breaker he used for backdoor strikes on righties was his curve, a pitch Pettitte used several times.

It was amazing to see a guy who averages 89.06 MPH with the fastball compete like Pettitte did with a guy who hits 95 consistently. If you look at it that way, you could make the argument that Pettitte actually pitched better than Floyd last night because he practically matched him with less.

The one thing these two pitchers had in common was their ability to paint the black. It seemed nearly every pitch on either corner was called a strike by HP ump Ted Barrett. Some might say he had a wide zone, but I give a lot of credit to both pitchers for throwing borderline pitches all night.

Pettitte finished with eight Ks over 6-1/3 and Floyd finished with 10 Ks over 7-2/3. Seven of Floyd’s strikeouts were called on his curveball. According to MLB.com’s Gameday, six of Pettitte’s strikeouts were swinging on his cutter. A called fastball and a swinging slider accounted for the last two.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Pettitte’s cutter has more horizontal break than Mariano Rivera’s legendary cutter. Don’t get me wrong, Rivera’s moves at the last second and is indubitably considered the best cutter of all-time. However, Pettitte’s ability to spot his cutter like Mo is what made him incredibly effective last night.

After watching Pettitte last night, I now have a newfound confidence in him as the third starter for the Yankees. He lost last night to a better pitcher and because a couple of freak-like errors from himself and Robinson Cano in the seventh inning. I feel for Pettitte, I really do. But at the same time, I’m very pleased with his performance and am excited to have him for the rest of this year.

Girardi makes questionable bullpen move

With a tie game and one out in the ninth inning, Joe Girardi yanked Phil Hughes out of the game with two runners aboard.

Rather than upgrading to Mariano Rivera, he downgraded to Phil Coke to hopefully sit down the two upcoming lefties. I was startled when Girardi came out of the dugout, and was ticked off as I watched Coke take one off his glove resulting in a loss.

I am sure Girardi would base his move on the lefty-lefty matchup, as Coke has limited lefties to a .190 oBA and a 23/3 K/BB ratio. Hughes’ numbers aren’t nearly as good, but aren’t bad either: .255 oBA and a 29/12 K/BB ratio. Sometimes, you have to look past the numbers, which is what I believe Girardi should have done.

Hughes has been the strongest reliever other than Mo this year. He hadn’t allowed a run in over 20 innings, and has struck out 10.9 per nine innings as a reliever.

It was also an awkward time to take Hughes out. At 35 pitches, it was already clear he probably won’t be pitching in Friday night’s game, so why not leave him out there for two more batters? If this game had gone  deep into extras, which I thought would have happened, the Yankees would have run out of pitchers first. That may or may not have impacted Ozzie Guillen’s decision to keep lefty Matt Thornton in the game, rather than his closer Bobby Jenks.

Bottom line, if you are going to take out your second best pitcher in the middle of an inning, only replace him with your best. Rivera comes into that situation, he gets out of it nine times out of 10. Simple as that.

Thursday night Washburn to Yankees rumors

With Cliff Lee already traded to the Phillies, and Roy Halladay most likely off the table, Jarrod Washburn becomes the Yankees No. 1 target for a starter. Here’s the latest from Jon Heyman and Buster Olney (via MLBTR).

11:05 p.m: Executives from three teams that have spoken with the Mariners tell ESPN.com's Buster Olney that they get the sense the Mariners won't move Washburn. The Mariners made a request earlier today, without asking for Hughes or Chamberlain, but the two sides haven't spoken since.

10:33 p.m: Heyman says the Yankees and Mariners are now "talking Washburn." The Yankees won't part with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Austin Jackson, Austin Romine or Jesus Montero, but with those exceptions, Heyman says the M's have their pick of Yankees prospects.

The last parts of both reports are almost conflicting, because Heyman says the “M’s have their pick of Yankees prospects,” while Olney says “the two sides haven’t spoken since (earlier in the day).”

I would hope the Yankees would be able to acquire Washburn without the prospects mentioned by Heyman, but at this point a deal seems unlikely to me. Why? Because the Mariners traded for Ian Snell and Jack Wilson on Wednesday, so it seems they aren’t sellers anymore.

If Snell and Washburn are now off the Yankees’ radar, that leaves starter Brian Bannister and Scott Downs as the best bets to join the team. According to Olney, the Royals and Yankees talked about Bannister but ran into trouble with money issues. Ken Davidoff reports that the Blue Jays increased their scouting of Yankees’ prospects, possibly having something to do with a deal for Downs.

Crushing loss for the ‘Philthies’, Yanks

Despite the delayed start, I had the privilege of watching my beloved Yankees on television. Yes, the game itself was highly entertaining — a stellar pitchers’ duel — but the outcome was truly heartbreaking as the White Sox (52-51) walked off with a 3-2 win against the Yankees (62-40).

Quick `Cap:
Both starters, Gavin Floyd and Andy Pettitte, brought their ‘A’ stuff with them to U.S. Cellular Field, as they struck out 18 combined hitters. The White Sox pushed across a run in the third on Gordon Beckham’s double, but Johnny Damon’s sixth-inning single scored Jose Molina to tie the game at one.

The seventh inning would haunt Pettitte for the rest of his life if it were the postseason. Jim Thome led off with a swinging bunt down the first base line, and Pettitte botched the play by slipping to the ground after lunging for the ball. He struck out Paul Konerko, but a single from A.J. Pierzynski chased him from the game.

“Philthy” Phil Hughes induced a hard grounder to third, but Robinson Cano failed the double play attempt with an errant throw up the first base line. Mark Teixeira knocked it down, but it squibbed away and Jim Thome came around to score from second.

As dramatic as you can get, “King” Nick Swisher tied the game with a two-out, solo homer off Matt Thornton. In the last half, Hughes allowed two straight singles after getting an out, but was pulled at 35 pitches. The other “Philthy” Phil, Coke, came in for two lefties. Coke popped up the first, but Dewayne Wise, the guy who made the heroic catch in Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, lined a fastball off Coke’s glove that sailed into the outfield. Pinch-runner Scott Podsednik easily scored the game-winning run. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
Although it was definitely a great display of pitching, home-plate umpire Ted Barrett was very generous on borderline pitches. Floyd’s seven caught-looking Ks is a testament to Barrett’s calls.

It was a thrilling game all around, and was awesome to see two pitchers fight it out. As baseball goes, neither wound up with a decision in the game, as the White Sox won the battle of the bullpens. If this were a Yankees-Red Sox game, it would fall right into the “historic games” category.

Line of the Night:
Pettitte: 6-1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. The eight strikeouts tie a season high from two starts ago against Baltimore.

Up Next:
The Yankees find themselves behind in a series for the first time after the break, and will look to get back on track Friday night with Sergio Mitre (1-0, 55.91), who will face Clayton Richard (4-3, 4.65).

July 30, 2009

Yankees-White Sox series preview

Heading into the four-game series, the Yankees (62-39) hold a three-game lead in the East, while the White Sox (51-51) trail the Tigers by three games in the Central.

The Yanks are clearly playing better baseball right now, as they have won all four series since the break. Meanwhile, the White Sox have lost five of their last six.

Head-to-Head:
This will be the first time these two teams meet this season, and will face off again at the end of August in the Bronx.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters White Sox starters
8:11 p.m., Thur. Andy Pettitte (8-6, 4.67) Gavin Floyd (8-6, 4.24)
8:11 p.m., Fri. Sergio Mitre (1-0, 5.91) Clayton Richard (4-3, 4.65)
4:05 p.m., Sat. A.J. Burnett (10-4, 3.53) John Danks (8-7, 3.89)
2:05 p.m., Sun. CC Sabathia (10-7, 3.83) Mark Buehrle (11-4, 3.45)
Note: Sabathia hasn’t been slotted in to Sunday’s start as of 6:30 on Thursday, but I would hope he gets the nod. It’s his turn in the rotation, and Mr. Perfecto is starting.

Lineups Tonight:
Yankees lineup White Sox lineup
Derek Jeter SS Mark Kotsay CF
Johnny Damon LF Gordon Beckham 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B Jermaine Dye RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B Jim Thome DH
Hideki Matsui DH Paul Konerko 1B
Nick Swisher RF A.J. Pierzynski C
Robinson Cano 2B Carlos Quentin LF
Melky Cabrera CF Chris Getz 2B
Jose Molina C Jayson Nix SS
Note: I’d like to see Cano and Swisher swapped. I know Swish has the pop, but I like Cano’s hitting more.

My Outlook:
It’s hard to bet against the Yankees right now. However, the White Sox believe they still have a chance at the postseason this year, as they were not sellers at the deadline. Don’t count them out of the series, but the Yankees could easily win three of four.

Joba Chamberlain tightens grip on rotation spot

Not that his job was in jeopardy, but Joba Chamberlain has been simply dominant since the All-Star break, and last night might have been his best performance of his career. He pitched eight shutout innings, struck out five and allowed three hits and two walks.

He has won each of his last three decisions — right after the B-jobbers started acting up — and has allowed just two runs over 21-2/3 innings.

I was starting to worry a little bit about his career as a starter after his three prior starts, which were quite poor. Now, I have no doubts of his potential as a starter, and I think he will continue to excel in the second half.

Garza says he hit Teixeira on purpose

In tonight’s 6-2 win over the Rays, Joba Chamberlain threw a pitch directly at Evan Longoria’s head in the fourth inning. Matt Garza countered by hitting Mark Teixeira on the upper arm in the following inning, but he interestingly admitted it.

"I hate to be that guy, but someone had to take a stand and say we're tired of it," the right-hander added. "You can go after our best guy. Well, we'll make some noise, too, and that's what happened."

It’s very rare that a pitcher openly says something so clear about this kind of thing. As Longoria noted, intentionally throwing at players is “just part of the game.”

Longoria is right about that, but Garza is not right to openly admit he did throw at a player intentionally. Garza will most likely incur a suspension because of it.

July 29, 2009

100 games and counting

The Yankees played their 100th game of the season last night against the Rays, and they possibly will be playing for another three months.

Baseball is like no other sport in that each team plays nearly everyday for half of a year. Basketball and  hockey seasons both last 82 games, which is slightly over half the 162-game baseball season. The NFL season doesn’t light a candle to the aforementioned sports’ season, as it only is 16 games in 17 weeks.

So why is baseball the longest season? Does it have to do with the physical toll of playing a baseball game versus a more taxing sport like football, or is there another reason?

I don’t really care why, I’m just glad it is the longest season. There are just so many games to root for my team.

What’s up with CC Sabathia?

sabathia7 CC Sabathia got rocked last night by the Rays. Did anyone see that coming after A.J. Burnett made the same team look foolish the night before? Not me. So what’s the explanation?

This is not the answer: in Sabathia’s career against the Rays prior to last night, he was 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA. After each poor start, last year’s domination of the National League seems more and more like a fluke against less-challenging lineups.

But don’t fret. He still has been a bullpen saver in almost all of his starts and has given up four runs or less in 17 of his 22 starts.

Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News digs even deeper on the same discussion on his blog.

Hideki Matsui silently producing

matsui2 It’s tough to find the bright side of a guy who is batting .256 and can’t run or play the field. Hideki Matsui fits that description, but does in fact have a bright side: his production.

In 270 at bats, he has tallied 16 doubles,15 homers and 46 RBIs to go along with a .360 OBP. To put those totals in a full-season perspective, multiply them by two. That’s 32 doubles, 30 homers and 92 RBIs; also known as a very good year for a dwindling DH.

I know there is hardly any chance whatsoever the Yankees re-sign him after this season, but still, this guy is a respectable ballplayer and a true hitter. If he continues this production and boosts his average up a little, he might find a job in the majors for 2010.

Which available starter is best for Yankees?

The Yankees have been linked to practically every starter available in this year’s trade market, specifically Bronson Arroyo, Cliff Lee, Ian Snell, Jarrod Washburn and even Roy Halladay.

Jeff Fletcher of FanHouse reported a couple days ago that the Yankees had scouts at Lee’s last start and also were in serious discussions with the Reds about acquiring Arroyo .

Jon Heyman speculated on MLB Network last night that the Yankees could possibly settle for both Snell and Washburn, rather than Lee or Halladay.

As much as I wish the Yanks could land either Lee or Halladay, I would love to see the Yankees nab two coveted starters at the deadline, especially with the latest news of Chien-Ming Wang.

If I had to choose, I’d go with Snell, unless Washburn would agree to a contract extension right after the deal gets done. Snell is signed through 2010 with two club options and is significantly cheaper than Washburn. I think if the Yankees are going to give up a big-time prospect for a starter, they have to be assured he will be with the team for at least one full season.

Even though Snell is in Triple-A right now, I like his potential. He’s dominating in his small stint in the minors, so it seems he has worked out the kinks. I know pitching in the AL East is asking a lot for a guy who has only won 10 games in a season once, but I just like him as a 27-year-old pitcher.

I’m surprised Heyman didn’t mention Arroyo to the Yankees based on what Fletcher wrote, but that doesn’t bother me. I would consider Arroyo the fifth option at this point, unless the Reds want to eat a significant amount of his pricey contract.

Yankees shut down by Kazmir

Rays starter Scott Kazmir silenced the Yankees bats to just one run through seven innings, as the Rays (55-46) beat up on CC Sabathia and went on to a 6-2 win over the Yankees (61-39).

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yankees fell behind early in the second, and then the Rays rallied for two more in the third. The Yanks picked up their only run off Kazmir in the fourth on Hideki Matsui’s RBI single, but Matsui was thrown out at second on the play. Evan Longoria homered in the fifth, and Sabathia was relieved with two outs in the sixth after surrendering two runs.

Mark Melancon relieved Sabathia, and mowed down the Rays for the rest of the game. This was his Melancon’s first appearance since July 10, but Peter Abraham reported that the layoff was for no apparent reason. Matsui doubled in the second run for the Yankees in the ninth, but a comeback was not in the cards. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I was really disappointed with CC’s start. After watching A.J. Burnett make the Rays hitters look like fools the previous night, I was expecting no different from the big lefty. I hate bringing up the overpaid argument, but right now CC is not earning his contract. If he’s a second half pitcher, when is he going to start pitching like an ace?

As mentioned, the only bright spots of the game were Matsui and Melancon. Melancon is regarded very highly around the organization, and probably has the most potential of the borderline young relievers right now.

Line of the Night:
Matsui: 2-for-4, 2 RBI. He was the only lefty for the Yanks to have a hit, let alone two.

Up Next:
For the first time since June 25, the Yankees will play in a decisive third game of a series. The 7:08 p.m. start time features two of the premier young-guns in the American League: Joba Chamberlain (6-2, 3.86) and Matt Garza (7-7, 3.68).

July 28, 2009

Wang is long gone

The supposed ace of the Yankees staff from a couple years ago, Chien-Ming Wang, will undergo arthroscopic surgery tomorrow. He might be ready to play around this time next season, according to the beat writers on Twitter.

Poor Wang. It seems his whole career has fallen apart since he injured his leg running around the bases last year in Houston.

He even looked like he was coming back to normal in his last three starts, but he obviously never got back to full strength physically. I actually think he could return to the good old Wang if he has a good rehab. I hope he does.

Shelley Duncan, not Austin Jackson, deserves promotion

Brett Gardner’s thumb injury has temporarily opened up a spot on the roster for a position player to fill. I think since it is a center fielder who is injured, people want to see what Austin Jackson can do in the majors. I believe that this is a perfect time for the over-performing Shelley Duncan to show the Yankees, and baseball, what he can do.

Duncan still leads the International League in homers and RBIs by a long shot. If the Yankees have no room for Duncan in the future, isn’t this the perfect time to audition for other possible suitors?

Also, I don’t think Jackson is ready for the majors yet. He is striking out way, way too much for a guy who only has four homers. Jackson will bring good speed and defense to the Yankees, similar to Gardner, but he has not matured into the five-tool player that he seems destined to be. I’m comparing him to Alfonso Soriano, correct me if I’m wrong.

There is a possibility that neither Jackson nor Duncan will get this call this time around. It could be John Rodriguez or even Ramiro Pena, who has played in center field recently for Scranton.

The move should be coming any day now. I really hope it will be Duncan’s lucky day when that time comes.

Brilliant Burnett leads to rout of Rays

The Yankees (61-38) banged out 15 hits while A.J. Burnett allowed just two in their 11-4 win over the Rays (54-46). The Yankees hold the best record in the AL by 2.5 games and are one game shy of tying the Dodgers for the best record in the majors.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yanks started their hit barrage in the second inning when the first three batters scored after reaching base on hits. To open the sixth, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back homers. Tampa Bay managed their only run off Burnett when B.J. Upton, who reached base on a strikeout/passed ball, scored on Evan Longoria’s double play.

Burnett’s night was plagued by a high pitch count early on, but made it through the seventh inning with five Ks and two BBs. The birthday boy, Alex Rodriguez, lined a two-run double in the eighth to seal the game. Swisher’s solo shot in the ninth and Johnny Damon’s three-run job clinched the rout despite Jon Albaladejo and David Robertson struggling in the eighth and ninth. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
Last night was a really big win for a team that was barely over .500 against AL East teams this season. Not only did they beat them, they crushed them. It is a huge tone-setter for the rest of the season, and was a disheartening blow to the Rays, who sent out “Big Game James (Shields).” To make it even harder on the Rays, the Yanks can take the series tonight with CC Sabathia.

Line of the Night:
Derek Jeter: 3-for-5, 2 R, BB. Jeter’s having a heck of a season at 35 years old, not showing any signs of slowing down.

Up Next:
Sabathia (10-6, 3.67) will face off against lefty Scott Kazmir (4-6, 6.69) tonight.

July 27, 2009

Yankees-Rays series preview

The first-place Yankees (60-38) begin a nine-game homestand at Tampa Bay, where they will meet the Rays (54-45), who stand 6.5 games out of first.

Head-to-Head:
The two teams have split their four previous meetings this season. They will meet again four times in August, and then play the last series of the season in September.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters: Rays starters
7:08 p.m., Mon. A.J. Burnett (9-4, 3.74) James Shields (6-6, 3.70)
7:08 p.m., Tues. CC Sabathia (10-6, 3.67) Scott Kazmir (4-6, 6.69)
8:11 p.m., Wed. J. Chamberlain (6-2, 3.86) Matt Garza (7-7, 3.68)

My Outlook:
Both teams have their best pitchers lined up for this series, and each matchup is intriguing. The only reason I give the edge to the Yankees is because they are playing better baseball as of late.

Poll Results: Yankees need to add starter at trade deadline

The trade deadline is looming at the end of the week, and still, the only move the Yankees have made is acquiring Eric Hinske. The Yanks have always been known to make some kind of swap at the deadline, and my latest poll tells us that Brian Cashman should be looking to add a starting pitcher(s).
image
I definitely agree with the fans in this case. I, and am sure most fans, do not want to see Sergio Mitre making starts in a close race in September.

However, I would have liked to see more votes for adding a reliever. The Yankees only have a couple reliable relievers, and would benefit from adding Heath Bell of the Padres or even John Grabow of the Pirates.

Vote in next week’s poll on the left pane: What kind of pitcher will Hughes become?

Derek Jeter/Robinson Cano Featured Yankee Card of the Week

Despite an excellent offensive attack from the Yankees lineup this season, there are only two players batting over .300. Those two are the players featured on this 2006 Topps card.

Derek Jeter is leading the team at .321, while Robinson Cano is sporting a respectable .306 average. Both players also have the most at bats on the team and rank in the top five in hits in the American League.

This is the 20th Featured Yankee Card of the Week on this blog. Be sure to check out the rest of them here if you already haven’t.

July 26, 2009

Yankees win Athletics series, 60th game

The Yankees (60-38) came from behind twice in its latest victory, using first and sixth inning rallies to dispatch the Athletics (41-56) in the four-game series. It was the Bombers’ ninth win in ten games since the All-Star break, and also marked the 60th win of the season.

Quick ‘Cap:
Derek Jeter’s two-run single in the sixth gave the Yankees a 6-5 lead, and proved to be the game-winner. Robinson Cano’s three-run double in the first highlighted a four-run rally to overcome a 2-0 deficit.

Sergio Mitre’s second start was just as mediocre as his first, but kept the Yankees in the game, which is all they asked for. Phil Coke surrendered a two-run shot to Mark Ellis in the sixth, putting the A’s back on top.

The back-end of the bullpen pitched beautifully, as usual, and Mariano did his thing in the ninth for the 29th time this season. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
When the Yankees are winning on Mitre’s day, it’s always a good sign. Granted, the A’s are one of the worst teams in the league, and the Yanks should definitely have won the series.

Line of the Day:
Every Yankee recorded at least one hit, Jeter, Teixeira and Ransom had two-hit games.

Up Next:
The Yankees finally hit the road after finishing its homestand at 9-1. They will fly to Tampa to face the third-place Rays in a three-game set. Full series preview coming up tomorrow.

P.S. Look forward to regular posting for the rest of the summer and beyond now that my baseball season is over.

Yankees watching Ian Snell; another Pirate

According to Jenifer Langosch at MLB.com, the Yankees had scouts in attendance of Ian Snell’s start for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate.

Snell’s line: 5 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. That’s actually Snell’s worst start by a long-shot since being demoted to correct some flaws. His ERA dropped to 0.96 over six starts and 37-1/3 IP.

The Yankees and Pirates have made a lot of moves together in recent years. Snell could be snagged at a pretty low price I’m guessing, considering he has been awful this year with the Pirates.

I happen to like Snell. He’s a strikeout pitcher, averaging 7.5 K/9 in his career. I think the Yankees should give this guy a shot. If he doesn’t pan out, then send him down. He shouldn’t cost them too much.

Gardner to the DL; Albaladejo named temporary replacement

Brett Gardner broke his thumb and didn’t even know it. He broke it in yesterday’s game on a takeout slide at second base, but that didn’t stop him from hitting an RBI triple and making two diving catches later in the game.

Reliever Jonathan Albaladejo took Gardner’s spot on the roster, but Peter Abraham informs us that he will only be a temporary replacement. He suggests a position player (Austin Jackson, Shelley Duncan & John Rodriguez) will be added within the next couple of days.

Gardner is still the man, in my opinion. He gives the Yankees a spark and was having a very solid rookie season. I’ll miss him, but the Yankees should be just fine without him.

July 24, 2009

Joba pitches past A’s

The most debated Yankee player this season, Joba Chamberlain, pitched very well for the Yankees (59-37) in an 8-3 victory over the lowly Athletics (40-55).

Quick ‘Cap:
A close game throughout, the Yankees blew the game open in the eighth. In a 4-1 ballgame, the Yankees rallied for four runs commenced by Jorge Posada’s leadoff bomb. As soon as he hit it, Mariano Rivera, who had just started throwing, sat right back down.

The Yanks gave David Robertson a shot in the ninth after Phil Coke did a beautiful job in the eighth. Robertson was a little shaky, but he wasn’t about to blow a seven-run lead. But it was Joba Chamberlain was the guy who held the A’s to one run over seven innings.

Three of the first four Yankee runs were scored via groundouts. Derek Jeter was responsible for the first run when he drove in Melky Cabrera, who went 3-for-4, on a single. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
Joba is the story of the night, of course. He tried to pitch into the eighth for the second time in his career, but totally fell apart. Luckily Coke was there to clean up his mess.

Line of the Night:
Chamberlain: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. He only threw 56 of his 100 pitches for strikes, nevertheless, it was a very strong outing.

Up Next:
The Yankees will look to extend their winning streak to nine in Saturday’s afternoon delight. Two lefties Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 9.33) and Andy Pettitte (8-5, 4.62) will battle it out.

Why Matt Holliday trade helps Yankees

Matt Holliday was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for a trio of prospects today. How does this trade benefit the Yankees?

Well, the Yankees are playing the Athletics, Holliday’s former team, right now. It looks like the Yankees won’t have to deal with Holliday the rest of the series. That’s it, that’s all.

Feinsand: Hughes should close

Phil Hughes recorded his first career save last night after tossing two perfect innings in relief with a three-run lead. Apparently, that is enough for NY Daily News beat reporter Mark Feinsand to believe Hughes will be Mariano Rivera’s successor.

No, it was not a knee-jerk reaction, as he had already stated that he thinks Hughes should be the next closer in the Bronx after Mo. However, this was the first time I’ve heard the idea come from one of the Yankees’ beats.

As my readers know, I’m firmly in support of Hughes as a starter. Sorry, Michael Kay, the “Philthies” will be breaking up after this season, hopefully. As much as Feinsand’s opinion ticks me off, I’m still only worried with Brian Cashman’s opinion. From what has been said, this is only a temporary time in the bullpen for Hughes.

Hughes is riding a 22-scoreless inning streak, and has allowed only two runs as a reliever. I am sure these numbers will be compared to Joba Chamberlain’s 2007 stint in the bullpen.

For me, there is no question that a dominant starter is more valuable to a team than a dominant closer. And I think Hughes still has a chance to become an ace, as he was wrongfully pulled from the rotation for the oft-injured Chien-Ming Wang.

Yankees take seventh straight

One would tend to think that a game played against the Athletics ending at 12:41 a.m. would have been played on the west coast. Instead, a two hour and 43 minute rain delay delayed an inevitable Yankees (58-37) 6-3 victory over the A’s (40-54).

Quick ‘Cap:
The A’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning against CC Sabathia on a sac fly and an RBI single. It was 3-0 in the fourth after a Kurt Suzuki RBI single, but then the Yanks stormed back in the bottom half.

Mark Teixeira drilled a 3-0 pitch into the second deck in right for a two-run homer. Jorge Posada later doubled in Alex Rodriguez, and Eric Hinske singled home Posada to give the Yanks a 4-3 lead. The Yankees made it 6-3 in the fifth on Teixeira’s double and Posada’s single.

Sabathia lasted seven innings to earn his 10th victory of the season. But he wasn’t the story from the pitching standout, the guy who relieved him was. Phil Hughes pitched the last two innings in perfect fashion, notching his first career save. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
“We expect to win every night,” Teixeira said after the game. That pretty much explains my feelings with the team right now. They are playing all facets of the game, and playing them well.

Line of the Night:
Hughes: 2 IP, zeroes. Hughes now has 22 consecutive scoreless innings since June 14.

Up Next:
Joba Chamberlain (5-2, 4.05)will take the ball for game two of the series against Brett Anderson (5-7, 4.25) tonight at 7:05 p.m.

July 23, 2009

Athletics-Yankees series preview

I love previewing a series when the Yankees are already in first place. The Yanks are off to a blazing 6-0 start since the break after sweeping the Tigers and Orioles. Next up: the Oakland Athletics.

The poor Athletics (40-53), who stand in last place in the AL West, will play four in the Bronx this weekend and then head to Fenway for another four games.

Head-to-Head:
The Yankees beat the A’s twice back in April, but the first game of the series was rained out and postponed to tonight. Unfortunately, more rain tonight could lead to another postponement. The two teams will meet again three more times in Oakland in August.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Athletics starters: Yankees starters:
Thursday Vin Mazzaro (2-6, 4.09) CC Sabathia (9-6, 3.66)
Friday Brett Anderson (5-7, 4.25) Joba Chamberlain (5-2, 4.05)
Saturday Gio Gonzalez (1-2, 9.33) Andy Pettitte (8-5, 4.62)
Sunday Dallas Braden (7-8, 3.40) Sergio Mitre (1-0, 4.76)
Tonight’s game looks really bad on Weather.com, but if it does happen, Sabathia will shoot for his 10th win.  Mazzaro has lot his last five starts and has been hit somewhat hard by some good teams.

Chamberlain is coming off one of his best starts of the season, but so is Brett Anderson. He fell seven outs short of a perfect game, and has shut down the Angels, Rays and Red Sox in his last three starts.

On Saturday, Pettitte will square off against another lefty starter. Gonzalez is one of Oakland’s best pitching prospects, but he allowed 11 earned runs against the Twins on Monday. Pettitte just pitched a gem against the Orioles on Monday.

Mitre will get a well-earned second start on Sunday after a pretty good outing against the Orioles on Tuesday. Braden is pitching well as of late, but I’m predicting a high-scoring affair for Sunday.

My Outlook:
It’s hard not to think sweep every series when the Yankees have swept three out of their last four opponents. However, even against a last place team, a four-game sweep is tough to accomplish, especially without A.J. Burnett. Bottom line, Yankees should come away with at least a split and hopefully a series win or sweep.

Kate Hudson’s friend crashes A-Rod’s car

FP_IMAGE_3303024/FP_SET_3301330 Alex Rodriguez’s girlfriend, Kate Hudson, reportedly crashed his Suburban earlier this morning. A-Rod didn’t look so pleased.

CORRECTION: Hudson lent A-Rod's car to her friend. Hudson's friend crashed the car, NOT Hudson.
FP_IMAGE_3302478/FP_SET_3301330 FP_IMAGE_3302476/FP_SET_3301330
Honestly, though, how could he be pissed? He’ll have it replaced by the end of the day.

Guest Blog: Two Cents From Beantown

Call it fraternizing, or call it socializing. I’ve been in close contact with the enemy. The owner/operator of Two Cents From Beantown, Chuck Hanf, was gracious enough to offer a guest blog opportunity on his Bostonian site. I put our differences aside, and wrote the damn thing. Hope you like it.

July 22, 2009

Another sweep for Yankees

The Yankees (57-37) brought out the brooms for the third time in four series, sweeping the Orioles (41-53) with a 6-4 win.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yankees had the game won in the first inning when they rallied for four runs, highlighted by Nick Swisher’s two-out, two-run single. It was Swisher’s only hit of the game, but his presence came up big later on in the game.

The best chance for the Orioles to score against A.J. Burnett came in the third, when Swisher’s dropped fly ball allowed the lead man on. However, after some hard work from Burnett, Swisher made up for the error with a running grab to end the inning. Jorge Posada made it 5-0 when he launched one into the Yankees bullpen in the third.

The Orioles finally broke through against Burnett in his last inning of work, the seventh, on a sac fly and a wild pitch. Brian Bruney pitched for the first time since July 10, and it wasn’t pretty. He struck out the first two like he was Phil Hughes, but then surrendered back-to-back jacks, ending his night. Mariano Rivera did his thing for the final out and recorded his 28th save. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I was counting on Bruney to give Mo a breather, but he had to make it interesting. To his credit, the homers came against Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, both very good hitters. But now Rivera has already been used in five games since the break, and is probably unusable for Thursday.

Line of the Day:
Alex Rodriguez: 2-for-4, RBI, R, SB. His second straight day with a steal, and boy do I love to see that batting average climb.

Up Next:
The Yankees finish up their homestand with a four-game, weekend series against the Oakland Athletics. I’ll post the full series preview tomorrow.

Yankees fading away from Roy Halladay Rumors

Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi has set a “soft” deadline of July 28 to trade ace Roy Halladay, and also is saying that a deal is becoming more and more unlikely.

"…at this point it's probably unlikely we'll trade Doc," after both he and Halladay recently pegged the chances for a deal at "50-50."

As for the Yankees, the NY Post is reporting “that both New York teams are not serious pursuers of the ace right-hander.”

It seems the frontrunners now are the Phillies, Cardinals and Brewers.

Oh well. I always thought Halladay would cement a spot in the World Series for the Yankees, but I guess they’ll have to win without him.

Yankees crushing southpaws in 2009

jeter6 The Yankees scored five runs in three innings off lefty starter Rich Hill in last night’s win over the Orioles. But beating southpaw starters is not uncommon for the Yankees, as they are 19-10 against them this season, and are hitting .291/.375/.492 as a team against all lefties.

One possible reason for the team’s success against lefties is its surplus of switch hitters. In last night’s starting lineup, the Yankees used four switch hitters (Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher & Melky Cabrera), who ironically combined to go 0-for-13.

However, the two regular switch hitters in the lineup have normally raked against lefties: Teixeira: .330/.336/.538 & Posada: .333/.394/.460. The other two regulars that have dominated left-handed hurlers are Robinson Cano: .333/.363/.598 & Derek Jeter: .441/.519/.634.

No, those numbers for Jeter are not mistakes. In 93 at bats, he has garnered 41 hits, six doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs. Jeter has always been great against lefties in his career (.336/.409/.502), but obviously never this good.

Notably, Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez are sporting very high slugging percentages against southpaws (.620 & .588, respectively).

Also, don’t think these numbers are skewed because these hitters haven’t been challenged by good lefties. The Yankees have beaten the likes of Johan Santana, Cliff Lee and J.A. Happ, just to name a few.

Against the two-time Cy Young Award winner, Santana, who is probably the best lefty in baseball, the Yankees ripped nine hits and tallied nine runs in three innings off the ace. Although, that could have just been the Mets stinking.

Another possible reason for this unheard of success is that the Yankees have a couple of the best lefties in the league in their rotation in CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Two left-handed starters is a lot for most teams, and the Yankees could wind up with three if they add Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn at the trade deadline or call up their own Kei Igawa.

Hitting well against lefties can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. It’s favorable because a lot of times a lefty is considered the toughest opponent in the rotation, but the Yankees actually look forward to facing lefties. However, the majority of starters are righties, so being good against lefties isn’t going to help.

Anyway you look at it, it’s definitely a positive that the Yankees are hitting lefties well. The Yankees can enjoy first place for at least one day, and will (maybe) be looking forward to facing another southpaw on Friday.

July 21, 2009

Yankees walk into first place

People always say a walk is as good as a hit. The Yankees (56-37) proved that tonight, as they worked eight walks — four scored — and went on to beat the Orioles (41-52) 6-4. The Red Sox lost to the Rangers, giving the Yankees sole possession of first place for the first time since June 8.

Quick ‘Cap:
The traditional Orioles struck early off new Yankees starter Sergio Mitre. Brian Roberts doubled and Nick Markakis singled him home. The Yankees evened the score in the second without banging out a single hit. Alex Rodriguez walked, stole second, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on a sac fly from Nick Swisher.

Down one run again, A-Rod gave his team a 3-2 lead on a two-out, two-run single in the third. Robinson Cano hit a long two-run homer in the fourth, and Johnny Damon singled home Cody Ransom to make it 6-2.

Mitre was pitching well above expectations until the Orioles finally came through in the sixth. Melvin Mora poked a two-run single, and Mitre was relieved by Alfredo Aceves one batter later. After Phil Coke pitched the eighth, Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth for the 27th time this season. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I feel the Yankees got a little lucky with this one. The Orioles had their chances, but a couple of double plays helped the Yankees hold on to their lead.

Cano was the only Yankee with two hits, and he along with A-Rod and Ransom were the only ones to reach base three times. The Yankees totaled eight walks to go along with six hits.

Line of the Night:
Cano: 2-for-3, R, 2 RBI, BB. His 37 multi-hit games ranks him among the league leaders in that category.

Up Next:
The Yankees can sweep their second straight series with a win Wednesday afternoon. They will put A.J. Burnett (8-4, 3.81) to the task against Jason Berken (1-7, 6.44).

Tomko DFA’d to make room for Mitre

According to PeteAbe’s game post, Brett Tomko is the odd man out to make way for tonight’s starter Sergio Mitre.

This was expected. Tomko is clearly the least reliable of the Yankees’ staff. As said before, I have a good feeling about Mitre tonight. He couldn’t possibly have an easier first task in pinstripes.

Here is tonight’s lineup:

Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez DH
Posada C
Swisher RF
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF
Ransom 3B

Buster Olney suggests Duchscherer as good fit for Yankees

Buster Olney reported on ESPN’s SportsCenter that the Yankees could possibly look into trading for Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer in the first week of August when he returns from the DL.

Duchscherer’s contract expires at the end of this season, making him far easier to acquire than Roy Halladay.

Here’s a little background on Duchscherer from MLB.com’s Mychael Urban:

Duchscherer was an All-Star last season in his first full year as a starter, but he's also been an All-Star setup man. The stated plan has been to bring him back as a starter, yet Geren gave the club some wiggle room when asked if that remained the plan.

Last season was his first in the majors as a starter. He went 10-8 in 22 starts with a 2.54 ERA.

I would love to see Duchscherer as the Yankees fifth starter down the stretch. Surely, the Yankees would be keeping a lot more of their best prospects.

Yanks win 2-1, again

matsui.pie If you haven’t heard, the Yankees (55-37) won 2-1 last night against the Orioles (41-51) on Hideki Matsui’s walk-off homer in the ninth. Eric Hinske homered for the fourth time as a Yankee in as many starts. The win ties them with the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.

Peter Abraham is reporting it is the first time in team history they have won three straight games by a score of 2-1.

Sergio Mitre to get second chance

Newsday is reporting that Sergio Mitre will get at least a second chance no matter what happens in his first start, tonight against the Orioles.

"I'm not looking at it as a start-to-start basis," Joe Girardi said. "He's our fifth starter."

I don’t have any trouble believing that. The only thing that could come in between Mitre making a second start is if the Yankees acquire another starter, like Roy Halladay or Jarrod Washburn.

By the way, I think Mitre will find success tonight. The stage is set: Yankee Stadium, home crowd and the Orioles. Here’s Girardi’s mini scouting report on his former player in Florida:

"The key for him is his sinker. If his sinker is going, he's going to give us some distance.''

Sounds like Chien-Ming Wang… Speaking of, he experienced a setback yesterday.

July 20, 2009

Orioles-Yankees series preview

The Yankees (54-37) continue their homestand against the Orioles (41-50) this week, starting tonight at 7:05 p.m.

Head-to-Head:
The Yankees have won seven of nine games against the Orioles this season, most recently sweeping them in late May. After this week, the two teams will meet again at the end of August and once more in September.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Orioles starters: Yankees starters:
Monday David Hernandez (2-2, 3.94) Andy Pettitte (8-5, 4.85)
Tuesday Rich Hill (3-2, 7.22) Sergio Mitre (0-0, –.—)
Wednesday Jason Berken (1-7, 6.44) A.J. Burnett (8-4, 3.81)
Tonight’s start for Pettitte is very important for him because he is coming off his two worst starts of the year. It is highly unlikely he loses his spot in the rotation, and a good start tonight would cement his place.

Tuesday night will be fun to watch a first-time Yankees starter pitch. Luckily he is facing Hill, who has had an awful first half. Mitre hasn’t by any means earned a second start in pinstripes, but he could with a win on Tuesday.

Burnett will be the heavy favorite on Wednesday night’s matchup against Berken. Burnett has been dominant lately, and Berken hasn’t won since May 26.

My Outlook:
I think tonight’s game could be the only thing in the way of a sweep for the Yankees. Let’s face it, the Yankees’ bats should explode this week against a wretched Baltimore pitching staff.

Joba Chamberlain quiets B-Jobbers

chamberlainMike Francesa and his army of B-Jobbers probably were  speechless after Joba Chamberlain dominated in yesterday’s sweep of the Tigers.

Chamberlain struggled mightily in his previous two starts, and hadn’t pitched into the seventh inning since June 24. Perhaps all the talk of moving Chamberlain back to the bullpen was a bit of an overreaction.

However, his short-length starts all season have led to just seven decisions in 18 starts. Keeping a low pitch count is clearly a weakness, but it can only be fixed by continuing to start.

Note: he has collected a win in each of his four starts longer than six innings this season.

There is no doubt that Chamberlain has proven he can be a dominant reliever, but there is no question that becoming a great starter would be far more valuable to the Yankees.

Alfredo Aceves Featured Yankee Card of the Week

I finally got a card of Alfredo Aceves for my birthday a short while ago, so I finally have a chance to honor him for his performance this season. As a reliever this season, he has compiled a 5-1 record, a 2.20 ERA and a .951 WHIP.

He made one start before the All-Star break, but it didn’t go well, especially because of the 65-pitch limit set on him. Now he is back in the bullpen and back to doing what he has done best. The combination of him and Phil Hughes has really helped bridge the gap to Mariano Rivera.

Since this is his rookie year, this is his rookie card. I learned from the back of the card that his “Latin friends often refer to him “Paton” (“large feet”). So it looks like we have a new nickname for Ace.

Poll Results: Joba to become closer

There has been much talk concerning the future of Joba Chamberlain recently. I tried to get the consensus of fans with my latest poll. I asked what type of pitcher he will become. Here are the results:
image
Keep in mind that these results were finalized hours after Joba tossed a brilliant game against the Tigers. A lot of hype around Joba was created because of his two previous starts, but now you may see it subside a little.

Vote in next week’s poll on the left pane: What should the Yankees acquire at the trade deadline?

July 19, 2009

Yankees bring brooms in another tight one

Joba Chamberlain was sharp for the Yankees (54-37), as they swept the Tigers (48-42) in another 2-1 victory.

Quick ‘Cap:
Clete Thomas and Alex Rodriguez exchanged solo homers in the fourth, but Mark Teixeira’s blast in the sixth gave the Yankees the edge.

Chamberlain pitched into the seventh inning and struck out eight batters, allowing just three hits and three walks. Phil Hughes continued his dominance in the eighth inning, and Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
The Yankees had its rotation lined up going into the series, but nobody expected a sweep of the AL Central leaders. The common denominators: all three starters earned the victory, Rivera earned the save, and Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez homered.

Line-of-the-Day:
Derek Jeter: 0-for-4, 2 K. Jeter had five multi-hit games in seven prior to today.

Up Next:
The Yankees open a series against the Orioles Monday night. Full series preview will be posted tomorrow.

Damaso Marte doing well in rehab games

Damaso Marte has been away from the team for nearly all of the season with arm troubles. Now, he finally might be close to a return.

He completed his second rehab outing with the GCL Yankees yesterday.

  1. 7/16: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.
  2. 7/18: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.

I am sure the Yankees will be taking it slow with Marte, as he seems to be very delicate and the the Yankees’ bullpen has been as good as ever recently.

If Marte ever gets right, he would supply the Yankees with a second left arm out of the pen — joining Phil Coke — and could provide the second half boost they need.

Old Timers’ Day roster

Today is the first Old Timers’ Day at the new Yankee Stadium. Here is a list of the Old Timers attending via PeteAbe:

Luis Arroyo, Jesse Barfield, Yogi Berra, Ron Blomberg, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, Horace Clarke, Jim Coates, David Cone, Chad Curtis, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Mike Easler, Dave Eiland, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Joe Girardi, Dwight Gooden, Goose Gossage, Ken Griffey, Sr., Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Reggie Jackson, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Hector Lopez, Lee Mazzilli, Lindy McDaniel, Gene Michael, Mike Mussina, Jerry Narron, Jeff Nelson, Graig Nettles, Joe Pepitone, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Moose Skowron, Aaron Small, Mel Stottlemyre, Bob Turley, Roy White, Don Zimmer.

I’m sure Yogi will be the star of the day, as always.

July 18, 2009

Sabathia outduels Verlander, Yankees win

Alex Rodriguez’s seventh inning solo homer off Justin Verlander broke a scoreless tie, and the Yankees (53-37) — behind CC Sabathia’s gritty performance — went on to beat the Tigers (48-41) 2-1.

Quick ‘Cap:
Sabathia ran into trouble in almost every inning he pitched, but managed to escape each situation unscathed. Two 6-4-3 double plays in the third and fourth innings were key defensive plays in Sabathia’s seven shutout innings. He allowed five hits, walked three and struck out four, lowering his season ERA to 3.66.

Only two Yankees had hits off Verlander through six innings — Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon. However, A-Rod changed that, and the score in the seventh with one swing. Then with two outs in the inning, Robinson Cano singled, Nick Swisher doubled and Melky Cabrera beat out a grounder to score the Yankees a much needed insurance run.

Alfredo Aceves came on in the eighth after 114 pitches from Sabathia, and surrendered a solo shot to Marcus Thames, which accounted for the only Tigers’ run. Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth — with a little help from Jeter — to secure his 25th save of the season. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
For once, two aces lived up to expectations and provided an amazing pitchers’ duel on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. One would never guess Sabathia to come out on top, as he was the one getting into trouble, while Verlander was mowing down the Yankees all day.

Line-of-the-Day:
Mark Teixeira: 0-for-3, BB, 3 K. After a three-hit day yesterday, nobody expected to see Teixeira struggle like that.

Up Next:
The Yankees will go for a sweep on Sunday afternoon with Joba Chamberlain (4-2, 4.25) on the hill against Edwin Jackson (7-4, 2.52).

July 17, 2009

Yankees late hitting, pitching just enough

Mark Teixeira’s three-run homer and Phil Hughes’ six strikeouts in relief fueled the Yankees (52-37) to a win over the Tigers (48-40).

Quick ‘Cap:
The two teams exchanged a run in the first and fifth innings, but the Tigers added one more in the second as well. Derek Jeter singled and Johnny Damon doubled to open the seventh frame, setting the stage for Teixeira. He unloaded on a Joel Zumaya fastball and it landed in the second deck in right.

A.J. Burnett pitched the first six innings, and simply kept his team in the game. He didn’t go quite long enough to earn the victory, but it was another strong start for him. Phil Hughes struck out the side in the seventh and eighth innings. His last strikeout of the eighth led to a rain delay that lasted 57 minutes.

Mariano Rivera did his thing in the ninth for the 24th time this season. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
A lot of guys had multi-hit games, but Alex Rodriguez settled for an 0-for-5 start to the second half. I know he can still produce, but I want to see him hit.

Line of the Night:
Hughes: 2 IP, 3 H, zeroes, 6 Ks. Speaking of lights out…

Up Next:
The Yankees will get a chance to take the series in a 2:00 p.m. game on Saturday. Justin Verlander (10-4, 3.38) and CC Sabathia (8-6, 3.86) will battle it out.

Tigers-Yankees series preview

The Yankees (51-37) host the first-place Detroit Tigers (48-39) tonight to start off the second half.

Head-to-Head:
The Yanks took two out of three from the Tigers in Detroit back in April in their only meeting of the season thus far. This three-game series in the Bronx will be their last in the regular season.

Pitching Matchups:

Date Tigers starters Yankees starters
Friday Lucas French (1-0, 1.93) A.J. Burnett (8-4, 3.77)
Saturday Edwin Jackson (7-4, 2.52) CC Sabathia (8-6, 3.86)
Sunday Justin Verlander (10-4, 3.38) Joba Chamberlain (4-2, 4.25)
Tonight’s matchup is against a guy who no Yankee has any experience against, and just one his first major league start against he Royals. Burnett has been red hot in his last five starts.

Saturday afternoon’s matchup should be a pitchers’ duel. Jackson is on a run of five consecutive quality starts, while Sabathia is entering the second half of baseball that he usually dominates.

Both of Sunday’s pitchers know how to throw gas, and strike hitters out. Verlander earned the Tigers only win over the Yankees in April, and Joba is coming off two of his worst starts of his young career.

My Outlook:
This first weekend will be a huge test for the Yankees. All three starters are pitching extremely well (in the AL Central), and the Yanks just got swept by the Angels. I have a feeling the Yankees bats will either explored or be silenced. Just a feeling though.

A-Rod is the key to Yankees offense

The Yankees lead the majors in runs, RBIs, walks, total bases, OBP and SLG. All five categories are specialties of Alex Rodriguez, who has riding the hit train in July.

A-Rod’s batting average sank as low as .207 in June, but is now up to .256 thanks to 22 hits in his last 59 at bats. His OBP and SLG have been as high, or higher than his career average, but hasn’t collected nearly as many hits as usual.

Normally a very consistent hitter, A-Rod’s career batting average and OBP is identical from the first half to the second half. His slow June might level out after a strong July.

When A-Rod is on his ‘A’ game, he becomes more feared, and it gives Mark Teixeira better pitches to hit.

A-Rod’s production is still where it normally is, but if his hits start to catch up too, he becomes deadly.

Sergio Mitre builds his case for call up

Scranton starter Sergio Mitre was one of the candidates to make the start for Chien-Ming Wang last Thursday, but Alfredo Aceves got the nod instead. The next time around in the rotation, Mitre has a good shot at making the start, Mark Feinsand reports.

Mitre threw eight shutout innings in just 83 pitches in his last start, and is sporting a 2.40 ERA in seven Triple-A starts.

The last start made by Aceves put the Yankees bullpen in a major bind for the weekend against the Angels. The Yanks need somebody who can eat innings and give the bullpen a rest, especially the way Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain are pitching.

It looks like Mitre has finally earned the opportunity to pitch in pinstripes, which could be as early as July 21 against the Orioles.

10,000 visits!

My blog received it’s 10,000th visit last night. This blog was born just over six months ago.

It took me almost two months to reach 1,000 visitors, and then another four months to get an additional 9,000.

I am truly grateful for all my readers and am also happy to see that more and more readers are interacting with the comments and polls. That was one of my original goals, and am thankful for the fans that are making it happen.

The more readers I have, the more I feel encouraged to continue doing what I’m doing. Thanks again, everyone.

July 16, 2009

MLB midseason awards

Based on the first half of the season, here are my midseason individual awards:

AL MVP: Justin Morneau
As much as I hate the guy for stealing the MVP from Derek Jeter back in 2006, I have to give him the nod. He is near the top of all offensive categories and is a great first basemen.

NL MVP: Albert Pujols
It’s a no-brainer. He could be the first triple crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski. And his team is in first place.

AL Cy Young:
Zack Greinke
If this pick holds true through the second half, I could be in some serious debt. But I have to give this guy credit. He is having one of the biggest breakout seasons for a starter in recent memory.

NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
This was a tough one between Lince and Dan Haren. Haren has the edge in WHIP and ERA, while Lince leads in wins and strikeouts.

AL RoY: Brett Gardner
Gardner is having a heck of a year, especially for a part time player. I know Ricky Romero is there for the Blue Jays, but he isn’t having an exceptional year. I’m really impressed with Gardy’s .282/.352/.404.

NL RoY:
J.A. Happ
He’s 6-0 with a sub-three ERA. That wins you the RoY award, not Romero’s line.

AL Manager: Mike Scioscia
I think this is also a no-brainer. He has helped his team overcome so many injuries and a catastrophic loss to Nick Adenhart. His team is leading the West!

NL Manager: Joe Torre
He has led his team to the best record in baseball by far, and has done it without Manny Ramirez for most of the season.

2009 MLB preseason predictions

Here are my predictions for the Yankees and the MLB from March 31: (I’m a little embarrassed about the first section.)

Yankees victories: over (96)
Mark Teixeira home runs: under (30)
Mark Teixeira RBI: over (129)
Derek Jeter batting average: under (.289)
Johnny Damon batting average: over (.310)
CC Sabathia wins: over (22)
A.J. Burnett wins: over (17)
Joba Chamberlain wins: over (15)
Mariano Rivera saves: under (32)


AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Angels
AL Wildcard: Rays
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wildcard: Cubs

AL World Series rep: Yankees
NL World Series rep: Dodgers

World Series winner: Yankees

AL MVP: Evan Longoria
NL MVP: Manny Ramirez
AL CY: CC Sabathia
NL CY: Tim Lincecum
AL ROY: Elvis Andrus
NL ROY: Cameron Maybin

AL East Division Standings:
Yankees 96-66
Rays: 92-70
Red Sox: 91-71
Blue jays: 76-86
Orioles: 64-98

Yankees MVP: CC Sabathia
Yankees CY: CC Sabathia
Yankees vs. Red Sox: 11-7
Yankees vs. Mets: 2-4
First hit in new Yankee Stadium: Derek Jeter
First home run in new Yankee Stadium: Jorge Posada
Phil Hughes wins: 6
Ian Kennedy wins: 2
Other: Brett Gardner will NOT be the starting center fielder at the end of the season

You can see how I did here. A commenter calculated I was 28.9 percent correct with my predictions.

I'll have a new one up with new questions for 2010 soon. If you have anything you'd like me to include, shoot me an e-mail.

Jose Tabata struggling in Double-A

Jose Tabata was one of the top prospects for the Yankees a couple years ago, but was traded to the Pirates in the Xavier Nady deal.

Tabata was thought of as the next Manny Ramirez by some people. He’s now 20 years old, and he’s only hitting .271/.354/.353 for the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate.

It seems Jesus Montero is seen in the same light as Tabata was a couple years ago. Doesn’t this just want to make you trade Montero even more now?

July 15, 2009

Yankees hitters midseason report card

The past few seasons the Yankees seem to put together All-Star studded lineups from top to bottom, but for some reason it is never as good as expected and goes through its struggles. This season is no exception. They missed two big boppers for the first couple of months, but now the lineup is where the Yankees expected it to be.

I will give each hitter a grade based on their expectations. A grade of ‘C’ is meeting expectations, ‘A’ and ‘B’ are above expectations, you get the picture.

Infield:
Mark Teixeira:
B+
Known for his slow starts, Teixeira experienced another letdown April. Though, he was worth the wait, as he has been sensational since May. He hit .200 in April, and is hitting .295 since. He has totaled 21 homers and 63 RBIs, and is hitting .275/.378/.535 on the season. I can easily see him duplicating that performance in the second half.

Robinson Cano: B+
Cano is enjoying a nice rebound season thus far. He hit .271 last season after an incredibly slow start, but he’s already at .308 this year. For a career .327 hitter after the All-Star break, Cano is bound for a great year. His 13 homers and 46 RBIs are also very high for him at this point.

Derek Jeter: B+
Jeter has hit over .300 in 10 of 13 complete seasons. He’s up to .321 this year and is tied for the team lead in hits. Jeter’s numbers have been very consistent by month, and is off to a scorching start in July. He also has a chance to reach 20 homers for only the fourth time in his career.

Alex Rodriguez: C—
A-Rod’s season didn’t start until May 8, but his production numbers have met expectations. Seventeen homers and 50 RBIs is not bad for a shortened first half. An awful June sunk his average to .233, but like Jeter, a hot July has brought him up to .256. It looks like he is having the exact same season as last year: 35 HR, 103 RBI, .302/.392/.573.

Jorge Posada: B
For a 37-year-old catcher, .285/.369/.508, 11 HR and 40 RBIs is a very good season. He spent most of May on the DL too. Posada is hitting well in July and could be ready for a strong second half.

Outfield:
Johnny Damon: B
Damon has taken full advantage of the short porch in the new Yankee Stadium this season, and is playing like he wants to be re-signed. His contract expires after this season and he has almost reached last season’s home run total already. This power and production has exceeded my expectations, which is why I want him re-signed.

Melky Cabrera: C+
The Melk Man has hit all of his expectations as a part time outfielder, and has also taken advantage of the new stadium’s short porch. He already has reached his season-high for homers with eight. His bat really helped the Yanks out in April and May, hitting a combined .321.

Brett Gardner: B—
Gardy will always be known for his speed, and is making a solid run at the AL Rookie of the Year Award. He’s 18/22 in steal attempts and has an OBP of .352. If he bumps that number up a little closer to .400, he could be a deadly weapon for the Yanks. A .282 average is very respectable for a weak hitter.

Nick Swisher: C+
Fans were bowing down to Swisher after his blazing start, but he quickly fell back down to his usual numbers. He’s down to .237/.360/.464 with 14 HRs and 47 RBIs. Swisher may see reduced playing time in the second half with the acquisition of Eric Hinske.

Hideki Matsui: C—
Solely a DH this season, Matsui hasn’t quite met hitting expectations. He’s only hitting .265 but has driven in 40 runs. If he wants to continue playing in the majors, he is going to have to put on a show in the second half. The Yankees have already said they will not re-sign him.

Roy Halladay rumors: Asking price

Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi has openly put ace pitcher Roy Halladay on the trade market, and the Yankees, of course, are eyeing the stud. Halladay will not be easy to nab from Toronto, so what is the asking price?

Ricciardi has every right in the world to ask for at least one blue-chip prospect and two or three other good minor leaguers. The best the Yankees have to offer are pitchers Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Dellin Betances, Zack McAllister and hitters Jesus Montero and Austin Jackson.

Peter Abraham posted what he would give up to get Halladay, and I completely agree with him.

I keep Hughes at all costs, and sell Joba, Montero and one other prospect. Keep in mind this opinion is not formed just based on recent activity. I see Hughes as more of a smarter pitcher than Joba, and as Abraham points out, a more coachable player than Joba.

Montero is tough to give away because his bat is almost a certainty to excel in the majors. However, his catching skills are his weakness and the Yanks have a lot of quality catchers in their system right now: Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy.

The  main reason why I’m ready to give up these prospects is because I think the Yankees would have a good chance to win the World Series with Halladay in their rotation. Going into the season, we all thought the Yanks would have three legit aces in their rotation (CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett & Chien-Ming Wang). Now they barely have two, but Halladay would make three. If you ask me, the Yankees would have a good chance to win any series with Halladay possibly pitching three times.

Damaso Marte to begin rehab Thursday

Lefty Damaso Marte will begin a rehab assignment for the Gulf Coast League Yankees on Thursday, according to Bryan Hoch’s twitter.

Marte would be a nice supplement to Phil Coke as the only two lefties in the bullpen.

Marte’s season consists of 5-1/3 ugly innings, but if you remember the early part of his career, he could be worth the wait. He also looked good in this past season’s WBC, but maybe that had something to do with his elbow in jury in April.

All-Star Game: Jeter starts it off, Rivera closes it out

Derek Jeter scored two runs, including the first of the game, and Mariano Rivera recorded his fourth save in the All-Star Game in the American League’s 4-3 win.

Jeter went 0-for-2, but reached base twice and scored both times. Mark Teixeira had a quiet third All-Star Game appearance: 0-for-3.

Jonathan Papelbon almost blew the game for the AL in the seventh, but luckily Carl Crawford was patrolling center field and robbed a homer. Joe Nathan escaped an eighth inning jam, and Rivera shut the NL down in order in the ninth.

The AL relief pitchers combined for 7 innings, 1 hit and 0 runs.

July 14, 2009

Yankees pitchers midseason report card

The Yankees spent a fortune in the offseason in an attempt to stabilize an inconsistent pitching staff. None of their starters have been consistent (including the new FAs), but there have been a few standouts in the bullpen.

I will give each pitcher a grade based on their expectations. A grade of ‘C’ is meeting expectations, ‘A’ and ‘B’ are above expectations, you get the picture.

Starters:

CC Sabathia: C—
For starters, he should have made the All-Star team. Instead, he barely compiled eight wins and an ERA slightly below four at 3.86. That is really pathetic for the highest paid pitcher in baseball. The reason why he didn’t get a ‘D’ is because he, like many of the Yankee starters, are second half pitchers. I hope he finishes the season with around 18 wins and an ERA below 3.30.

A.J. Burnett: B
I’m going a little high with Burnett because he not only is he meeting pitching expectations, but also is staying healthy. He had a relatively inconsistent start to the season, but has been excellent since May 27. He now stands at 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA, and I expect him to finish with 17 wins and maybe a little lower ERA.

Chien-Ming Wang: F
All the pressure in the world was taken off this guy with two big starters signed, who pitch ahead of him in the rotation, but he totally has been a bust. A screwed up offseason rehab program, and arm troubles this year have led to a 1-6 record and 9.64 ERA. I don’t expect him to pitch again this season, and I am praying he will be a decent No. 5 starter next year.

Andy Pettitte: C
Pettitte has done pretty much exactly what I expected of him. His ERA at 4.85 is a little high, but so is his win total at eight. Hopefully his last two starts won’t dictate his second half.

Joba Chamberlain: D
He looked really good last year as a starter, and I was hoping he would be able to continue that pace. Instead, he still has been plagued by a high pitch count and only has half the number of decisions Burnett has, who has started the same number of games Joba has. With a 4-2 record and 4.25 ERA, Joba is going to have to impress in the second half if he wants to stay in the rotation.

Bullpen:

Alfredo Aceves: A
This Mexican-Leaguer has been the biggest surprise for the Yankees this season, and is a top candidate for MVP of the team. He is so versatile out of the bullpen, and has embraced every task assigned to him. He didn’t do well in his only start, but I’m completely fine with using him solely in the bullpen in the second half.

Phil Coke: B+
Coke had a slow start, along with the rest of the bullpen,  but has come on really strong in June and July. His ERA inflated almost a full run after his last outing, but hopefully that was just a product of playing the Angels. He’s the only lefty in the pen, and is doing a heck of a job.

Mariano Rivera: A
Every year we expect Rivera to start losing his edge, but every year he continues to dominate. He scared us a little with a rough start, but has been dominant since June 7. It looks like another 40-save season is on the way.

Phil Hughes: A
After losing his job in the rotation to Wang, Hughes has been a stud in the bullpen. He’s only allowed two runs in 13 appearances, and has a great K/BB ratio of 19/5.

Jonathan Albaladejo: C-
He has been very up and down so far. He had a nice little start going in July, but was sent back down to help out a tired bullpen.

David Robertson: B-
He has been the third best middle reliever for the majority of the season. Once again, his ERA is inflated a full run from his last appearance against the Angels, but he still has been a solid contributor.

Brian Bruney: D+
Bruney was on his way to another dominant season as the eighth inning guy until an elbow injury sidelined him for the first couple months of the season. Then he prematurely returned and pitched his way back to the DL. He is back now, but isn’t the same pitcher. Hopefully he can return to his old ways in the second half.

Brett Tomko: C
He’s hit expectations on the money. Although, those expectations weren’t very high. I don’t see how he is still on the roster.

Damaso Marte: D-
He has such a great background, but hasn’t been healthy at all. His 5-1/3 ugly innings this season explains it all.

Mark Melancon: C-
His fist couple outings were great, his last few were awful. He could have a bright future ahead of him. I see him doing well in the second half.

Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras: F
Both were main cogs in last year’s bullpen, but were totally ineffective this season and neither are on the team anymore.

Charlie Hayes last out ‘96 World Series

This signed picture of Charlie Hayes catching the last out of the 1996 World Series has been the highlight of my birthday. The inscription reads, “Charlie Hayes Last Out 96”.

You might recall this catch is extra special to me because it was my very first memory of the Yankees.

Thank you so much, Andrew McDermott!

July 13, 2009

Prince steals Pujols’ stage

In one of the most boring Home Run Derbies in recent memory, Prince Fielder ousted Nelson Cruz in the finals.

Hometown favorite Albert Pujols competed in the second round after winning a three-man playoff, but clearly didn’t have the magic the two finalists had.

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Where was Mark Teixeira in this event? The derby doesn’t mess with your swing at all. It’s just like trying to impress fans during batting practice.

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