August 31, 2009

Pettitte misses out on perfection, still wins

Andy Pettitte carried a perfect game through 6-2/3 innings, but an error and a hit later everything was lost. He ended up escaping the jam, and the Yankees (83-48) went on to beat the Orioles (54-78) 5-1.

Quick ‘Cap:
The first two runs for the Yankees came from Nick Swisher. A long homer to center in the third and an RBI double in the fifth to drive home Robinson Cano was more than enough support for Pettitte. He went eight innings, and let up his lone run in the eighth on a leadoff homer to Melvin Mora.

Jerry Hairston Jr.’s error on a hard grounder in the seventh may have provided a “spark” to the offense. Johnny Damon had an RBI single, and a few batters later Cano delivered a two-run double. Brian Bruney attempted to finish the game, but couldn’t. Mariano Rivera came to the rescue for his 37th save. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
This was definitely one of the more exciting games I’ve watched this year. I was really into Andy’s perfecto starting in the fifth. When Hairston made the error, I immediately felt bad for the guy. He had just made an amazing barehanded play on a slow roller the inning before. Like Swisher said after the game, “it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Line of the Night:
Pettitte: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K. Ok, who else would it be? Sorry Pettitte, maybe next time. Pettitte appreciation post coming tomorrow.

Up Next:
The Yankees could win this series and the season series with a win on Tuesday night. It will be A.J. Burnett (10-8, 4.10) against David Hernandez (4-6, 4.24).

Brad Penny to sign with Giants; Phew!

After rumors of the Yankees interest in Brad Penny, I nearly had a heart attack. But now Buster Olney is reporting Penny will sign with the Giants.

Penny is a good fit for the Giants, as Randy Johnson has said his arm will not be strong enough to start again, so Penny would presumably take his spot in the rotation.

I’m just glad he’s not with the Yankees, that’s all.

Sabathia and Tex paying dividends

The two biggest offseason signings have been worth every penny, that is if you consider $23 million/year a legitimate contract for a baseball superstar.

CC Sabathia ($161MM/7-years) is on pace to win the team triple crown, as he is leading the Yankees in wins (15), ERA (3.56) and Ks (158). If he can duplicate his August in September, he immediately becomes a worthy Cy Young Award candidate. He has made every single one of his scheduled starts (I think), and has only left one start before the fifth inning as a precaution to a possible injury on June 21.

Then there is Mark Teixeira ($180MM/8-years), who leads the Yankees in homers (32), RBIs (101) and SLG (.547). He has also been on an RBI tear since Aug. 19, totaling 15 in 10 games. He has only missed four games this year, and has completely solidified the first base position. After dealing with a guy like Jason Giambi, Teixeira means a lot.

Like I said in the beginning, both contracts involve an astronomical amount of money and I don’t think any athlete should make close to what they do. But I’d say both are doing the best they can to live up to their contracts.

As for A.J. Burnett ($82.5MM/5-years), he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. But a good September, and an even better October would erase any negative thoughts of him.

Orioles-Yankees series preview

The first-place Yankees (82-48) take on the last-place Orioles (54-77) at Camden Yards for three lovely night games with plenty of Yankees fans expected in attendance.

Head-to-Head:
The Yanks are 6-3 against the O’s this season, but have not faced each other since the middle of May. The Yankees host the Orioles next weekend for the last three times of the season.

Pitching Matchups: (via PeteAbe)
Monday, 7:05 p.m. — Andy Pettitte (11-6, 4.18) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (9-12, 5.25)
Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. — A.J. Burnett (10-8, 4.10) vs. David Hernandez (4-6, 4.24)
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. — CC Sabathia (15-7, 3.56) vs. Jason Berken (4-11, 6.33).

My Outlook:
Guthrie, Hernandez and Berken are nothing special, and the Yankees are bringing their top three starters. f the Yankees sweep, the Orioles are one game away from being officially eliminated from the postseason. Yes, it’s getting close to that time of the year already.

Damon and Yankees clicking for next year

John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus posted an enticing segment about the Yankees plans for the future outfield dilemma in his latest weekly roundup (h/t RAB).

The Yankees would prefer to re-sign Johnny Damon to a one-year contract for 2010 and allow outfield prospect Austin Jackson a second year to develop at Triple-A, meanwhile pursuing such big-name free-agent outfielders as Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in the offseason.

Meanwhile, Damon reiterated his preference to stay in pinstripes to the NY Post.

If Perrotto’s information is from a trustworthy Yankees source, it seems highly probable that Damon will be able to work something out with the Yankees.

I’ve been saying it would be a good idea to keep Damon because of his love for the new Yankee Stadium. Plus, the top four in the lineup seem to mesh really well together, and I would hate to split that up after just one season.

As for the other info from Perrotto, Jackson is having a decent year in Triple-A, just below my expectations. He is striking out way too much (118) for someone with only five homers on the season. A .294 BA is respectable, but not for a top prospect. I’ve been starting to lose some hope in A-Jax, but he is still only 22 years old.

Perrotto mentioned Holliday and Bay as the possible free agents the Yankees will be after this offseason. I would choose Holliday because he has proven with the Cardinals he can hit in a ballpark besides Coors Field. Holliday would be the best No. 5 hitter in the majors if he and Damon signed.

Remember, this is just speculation for the offseason. The Yankees still have a World Series to win this year!

In defense of the new Joba plan…

For all I know, a new Joba plan will be announced later today. At this point, I think the Yankees may have finally found the right way to use Joba Chamberlain in the remaining weeks.

The key for this move is that Joba keeps his routine. Knowing that you are going to have the same number of days rest between starts allows you to plan ahead and do the same weights/throwing routine.

I know his last start was only the first of the new plan, but it is clear he will be pitching between three and six innings each start. Knowing he doesn’t have to go deep into ballgames might take some pressure off Joba and give him more control.

After a lot of consideration, I think the innings limit is right for Joba, just as long as they let him loose in the postseason. I hope he pitches 150-160 innings this year, and then expand to 200 next year.

Some might say it would be easier to regulate his innings if he were in the bullpen, but that doesn’t work. Preparing for a start is a lot different than pitching out of the bullpen. A starter will use more pitches, pitch to the same hitters twice and throw a longer bullpen before pitching. He also would probably not be pitching every five days, so this totally hampers with his routine, which is something Joba is trying to establish right now.

Some might say he needs to go to the minors to work on his pitching. All that does is leave a hole in the rotation for Chad Gaudin, who would hurt the team a lot more than a shortened Joba outing would. Joba is the number four guy in the postseason, and he needs to be pitching against major league hitters heading in.

Alfredo Aceves: Best in the Pen Aug. 24-30

I’ve decided to add an additional section to my weekly posts. The pitcher who is named “Best in the Pen” is the pitcher who I think had the best week in the pen (no crap). Somehow it hit me that every reliever has their good weeks and their bad weeks, so I felt it would be a nice little update to have going into the next week.

The stats used will always be grabbed from Monday through Sunday, and the post will always be here on Mondays at 10 a.m. (As will the Featured Yankee card of the Week at 8:30 a.m., and the weekly poll at 9 a.m.) Also, for all intensive purposes, I will be excluding the great Mariano Rivera from this honor, as he is not human and would probably deserve this honor each week.

Finally, onto this week’s choice. Alfredo Aceves appeared in two games and didn’t allow a run. He only gave up two measly singles in yesterday’s three innings of relief for Joba Chamberlain against the White Sox. He also pitched a 1-2-3 ninth against Texas on Thursday.

Note: I will keep a box on the left column devoted to the Best in the Pen. The picture will link back to the weekly post.

Poll Results: Best record should grant home field in postseason, nothing more

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The majority voted with the current rule of only home field during the postseason, but I still believe the home field advantage in the World Series should be decided based on record.

If the AL and NL representative have the same record, then refer to head-to-head in the season and then refer to run differential. But that’s just me.

Note: Sometimes I struggle to think of a good poll question for the week, so if you have any Yankees/MLB question you want answered, just shoot me an e-mail at lennysyankees@gmail.com.

Vote in next week’s poll on the left pane: Do you like the new Joba plan?

Derek Jeter Featured Yankee Card of the Week

I know I have already featured Derek Jeter twice on this section of the blog, but he is hitting too well to not get recognized.

He’s hitting .381/.403/.576 in August, and a staggering .468 BA since Aug. 10. Somehow he went the first 21 games of August without walking once, but he has walked four times in the last six games (including the intentional walk yesterday).

The strong month puts him right back into contention for the MVP award, especially since Joe Mauer has hardly produced since Aug. 19. Then again, Jeter may not be the best MVP candidate on the Yankees, as Mark Teixeira has also been a strong contributor to the Yankees success.

This card is part of the 1997 Pinnacle Certified series. It’s a pretty neat card too because the back of the card chronicles his 1996 season by opponent. So you can see his BA/H/RBI/HR statistics against all of the teams he faced.

August 30, 2009

Yankees complete sweep of White Sox

The Yankees (82-48) beat the White Sox (64-67) 8-3 for the sweep, and to end the short homestand at 4-2. Mark Teixeira’s three-run homer in the seventh gave him 101 RBIs on the season, marking the sixth straight year with 30 HRs and 100 RBIs.

Quick ‘Cap:
Johnny Damon’s two-run homer in the third made it 3-2, and it stayed that way until the seventh. Melky Cabrera doubled in a run, Jerry Hairston Jr. hit a sac fly and Teixeira blasted his 32nd homer of the season.

Joba Chamberlain pitched the first three innings in 35 pitches, but was still yanked early to preserve him down the road. Alfredo Aceves was lights out in relief for three innings, earning his ninth win of the year. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I was surprised to see Joba leave so early. He could have finished five in 50 pitches to earn the win. Also, looks like Aceves is back. After three terrible outings in a row, he’s only allowed two hits in his last four innings.

Line of the Day:
Derek Jeter: 2-for-3, 3 R, BB. Machine?

Up Next:
The Yankees are off to Baltimore for three games starting tomorrow, and then end the road trip with four in Toronto.

New Joba plan breaks after one start

Remember when I wrote this article about how stupid it was to announce plans like these? Well, my point was proven after just one awful start from Joba Chamberlain. Forget the old Joba plan, he’ll start on five days rest for the rest of the season (still with limited innings).

Maybe Joe Girardi will learn what to make public and what to keep private after this. I don’t have to say anything else.

August 29, 2009

Yanks dispose of White Sox in 10-0 rout

Four runs in the second and fourth innings propelled the Yankees (81-48) over the White Sox (64-66) to a 10-0 win. Sergio Mitre made his best start as a Yankee, and only allowed one hit before leaving the game with a bruised forearm in the seventh inning.

Quick ‘Cap:
Jerry Hairston Jr. and Johnny Damon each had two-run doubles in the second inning off ex-Yankee starter Jose Contreras. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each tallied three hits to lead the team, and Alex Rodriguez hit the only homer of the game in the eighth inning, his 23rd of the season.

Mitre carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, and the frame started off with a diving play by Alex Rodriguez. But Jim Thome broke it up with a hard double past a diving Mark Teixeira. Mitre continued into the seventh, but walked the first hitter and then took a line drive off his right forearm. He made the play at first, but he had to leave the game for x-rays. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
Every starter scored a run, which is pretty impressive considering only 10 runs were scored. Mitre has switched his nickname from “Meat-tray” to “Surging Sergio” over his last two starts, allowing just one run in 11-2/3 innings.

Line of the Night:
Chad Gaudin: 2-2/3 IP, zeroes, BB, 4 K. Easily his best appearance for the Yankees, and it came in relief. Go figure.

Up Next:
The Yankees will look for the sweep tomorrow. Same time, same place, but different pitchers. Freddy Garcia (0-1, 6.75) vs. Joba Chamberlain (8-4, 4.34).

Cano’s walk-off homer downs White Sox

Robinson Cano’s three-run homer in the 10th inning led the Yankees (80-48) past the White Sox (64-65).

Quick ‘Cap:
The White Sox squeaked across two runs off CC Sabathia in the seventh inning to tie the game at 2. The only offense for the Yankees came on Derek Jeter’s leadoff homer in the first and Johnny Damon’s leadoff homer in the third.

Sabathia struck out 10 in his effort to reach six wins in August, but the game was handed to the bullpen after the seventh. Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera and Brian Bruney each contributed a perfect inning. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I’m really happy for Cano, who rarely comes through with runners in scoring position. Mark Buehrle and Sabathia lived up to the hype, as both were rock-solid all night.

Line of the Night:
Hughes: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K. All three strikeouts were swinging. That’s nasty.

Up Next:
Jose Contreras (5-12, 5.09) was finally announced as tonight’s starter, and he will face Sergio Mitre (2-1, 6.82).

August 28, 2009

White Sox-Yankees series preview

The Yankees (79-48) are coming off their first series loss of August, and the White Sox (64-64) have lost four of their last five.

Head-to-Head:
The White Sox beat the Yankees three out of four at the end of July, and this is the last time they will meet in the regular season.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: White Sox starters Yankees starters
7:05 p.m., Fri. Mark Buehrle (11-7, 3.92) CC Sabathia (15-7, 3.59)
1:05 p.m, Sat. TBA Sergio Mitre (2-1, 6.82)
1:05 p.m., Sun. Freddy Garcia (0-1, 6.75) J. Chamberlain (8-4, 4.34)


Better late than never, I guess.

August 27, 2009

Burnett’s 12 Ks fall short to Rangers

A.J. Burnett carried a no-hitter after the second out of the fourth inning, but Ian Kinsler smashed a three-run homer and the Rangers (71-55) went on to beat the Yankees (79-48) 7-2.

Quick ‘Cap:
After Mark Teixeira’s first-inning RBI-single, Kinsler’s homer and Chris Davis’ three-run homer in the seventh off Phil Coke destroyed the Yankees’ chances of another series victory. Teixeira drove in Derek Jeter for the second and last run for the Yanks in the fourth.

Burnett struck out a season-high 12 batters, but only lasted six innings. He has not won since July 27, and has lost his last three starts. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
The Yankees forced out Rangers starter Dustin Nippert quickly, but the bullpen was nearly unhittable. They allowed just two hits and one walk over 5-1/3 innings.

Line of the Day:
Kinsler: 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, K.

Up Next:
The Yankees host the White Sox for a weekend set starting tomorrow. Series preview will be posted before game time.

Imagine if…

The Yankees dealt with injuries to Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez in the first couple months of the season, and Chien-Ming Wang totally failed expectations. That’s about it in terms of injuries, unlike the other team that plays in New York. Imagine if…

  1. Jeter missed half the season (Jose Reyes)
  2. Tex missed 3/4 of the season (Carlos Delgado)
  3. CC missed the second half (Johan Santana)
  4. A.J. Burnett missed 2/3 of the season (John Maine)
  5. Andy Pettitte missed half the season (Oliver Perez)
  6. Brett Gardner missed nearly the entire season (Fernando Martinez)
  7. A-Rod misses a month (David Wright)
  8. Johnny Damon missed half the season (Carlos Beltran)

The sad part is there are even more.

The Mets are 13 games below .500 and have fallen way out of the playoff picture. The Yankees would be in the same boat with all of those injuries.

Remember when the Yankees thought it was bad when Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui missed most of the season in 2006? I’m pretty sure the Mets have one-upped (downed?) that case.

Oh well. Maybe next year, Mets.

Yankees ride Pettitte to victory

Behind Andy Pettitte’s seven strong innings, the Yankees (79-47) cruised to a 9-2 victory over the Rangers (70-55).

Quick ‘Cap:
Up 4-2 in the seventh inning, the Yanks rallied for five runs led by two-run singles from Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter. The key play of the game was definitely Jorge Posada’s three-run blast in the second to open up the scoring.

The Rangers nibbled one run in the fifth and seventh innings, but that was all and not close to enough. Brian Bruney escaped a huge jam in the eighth and Phil Coke pitched an easy ninth. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
Nice to see the Yankees get revenge so quickly after the devastating loss on Tuesday. Good pitching and good hitting won this ballgame. (Easier said than done.)

Line of the Night:
Jerry Hairston Jr. 1-for-2, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, K. He has really proven himself as a premier utility player. He’s a great defender and an underrated hitter.

Up Next:
This afternoon’s rubber match features Dustin Nippert (4-2, 3.95) and A.J. Burnett (10-7, 4.08).

August 26, 2009

Sunday is redemption day for Joba Chamberlain

It appeared Joba Chamberlain was hurt by the eight days of rest between his last two starts. His control was a major issue once again (96 pitches, 55 strikes), and he got bombed. Joe Girardi announced Chamberlain as the scheduled starter for Sunday’s game before last night’s game.

Last night: 4 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.

"We have him scheduled starting for the rest of the season," Girard said. "At times, he will go on extra rest."

I would hope last night’s start would influence that decision to continue letting him pitch on extra days rest, but I guess he doesn’t have any other options. He can’t pitch him every five days until he reaches his limit and then bench him until his first start of the postseason. It’s a really tough situation right now.

After ending July with three of the best starts of his career, Chamberlain has been on a dreadful streak in August. In four starts, he has allowed 19 earned runs, 27 hits, 15 walks in 20 innings pitched.

Chamberlain needs to figure out what he was doing right in July and what he is doing wrong now because he could turn into a major problem for the Yankees down the stretch if he doesn’t start performing.

What worries me is his only throwing 58.7 percent of his pitches for strikes in August. Throwing a lot of pitches in not a lot of innings is very bad for your arm, and that really makes me scared of his health.

Chamberlain will face the White Sox on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. in the last game of the short homestand. I am sure he knows how important it is that he gets back on track come Sunday, and I am sure he wants to get back on track.

After Chicago, he is in line to start one of four games at Toronto.

Brett Gardner makes progress in rehab

Bryan Hoch is reporting that Brett Gardner could be activated from the DL sometime next week after testing out his thumb before last night’s game.

Gardner took swings and threw at what he estimated to be 50-60 percent prior to the Yankees game against the Rangers.

"Everything felt pretty good," said Gardner, who is confident he can at least serve as a pinch-runner in the coming weeks.

This is great news for the Yankees. Gardner could be just the spark the Yankees are looking for right now to keep them sharp for the postseason. His defense and speed are his most valuable attributes, which would greatly help the Yanks a both areas.

Don’t get me wrong, Melky Cabrera has done a fine job as the regular center fielder, but it is clear the two play better when both are active.

August 25, 2009

Too little, too late for Yanks in ninth

The Yankees (78-47) rallied for four runs in the ninth, but fell one short to the Rangers (70-54) in a 10-9 loss.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yanks had the tying run on second base with no out in the ninth for Nick Swisher, after already rallying for four runs in the ninth. Swisher proceeded to pop up a sacrifice bunt attempt to third base, and then Melky Cabrera lined out to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who doubled up a leaning Jerry Hairston Jr. at second base. Game over.

This was a back-and-forth game all night, starting with a four-run lead after the first inning, and being down as many as five in the ninth. Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano both homered and had three RBI each. Joba Chamberlain took the loss after allowing seven runs in four innings. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
What a heartbreaker. Then again, the Yankees didn’t deserve to win. Nine of the Rangers’ runs came after the first two batters of the inning were retired. That is downright awful, and is becoming a nagging problem for the Yanks in the past week.

Much will be made over Joe Girardi’s decision to bunt Swisher in the ninth. "He's been a good bunter all year, and I was trying to get the runners over,” Girardi said afterward. Same story as usual for me. If Swisher lays down that bunt and Melky wins the game with a single, Girardi looks like a hero. Unfortunately, the worst possible scenario occurred, and Girardi looks like an idiot.

Line of the Night:
Derek Jeter: 2-for-3, 2 BB, 2B. On base four of five times. Is he human?

Up Next:
The Yanks look to even the series Wednesday night with Andy Pettitte (10-6, 4.25) on the hill. He will face Derek Holland (7-7, 4.72).

Rangers-Yankees series preview

This could be the first series of the season the Yankees wouldn’t mind losing. If the Rangers (69-54) swept the Yankees (78-46), the Rangers would most likely become the AL wild card leader, moving ahead of the Red Sox. Going into the series, Texas is down 1.5 games to Boston, and New York has a commanding seven game lead over Boston.

Just for the record: I believe the Yankees should never lose games on purpose. Letting Texas win would mean the Yankees are scared of the Red Sox. For one, they shouldn’t be. Secondly, that gives the Sox all the confidence in the world if they did face each other in the postseason. 

Head-to-Head:
The Yanks have won both sets against the Rangers, winning four out of six games. These three upcoming will be the last time they meet in the regular season.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Rangers starters Yankees starters
7:05 p.m., Tues. Kevin Millwood (9-8, 3.48) Chamberlain (8-3, 3.98)
7:05 p.m., Wed. Derek Holland (7-7, 4.72) A. Pettitte (10-6, 4.25)
1:05 p.m., Thurs. Dustin Nippert (4-2, 3.95) A.J. Burnett (10-7, 4.08)
Tuesday:
Millwood has been one of the keys to the turnaround in the Rangers’ rotation. Chamberlain hasn’t pitched since two Sundays ago, so it will be interesting to see how he deals with the extra rest.

Wednesday:
Holland has been very impressive since the All-Star break, but so has Pettitte. Wednesday night could be an intense battle between two lefties. (Is it just me, or does it seem like Pettitte always matches up against another lefty?)

Thursday:
Nippert, a converted reliever, is having a solid year in the rotation. He has beaten the Red Sox twice in the last five weeks (if you didn’t believe my first statement). Burnett will make his sixth bid at his 11th win of the season.

My Outlook:
As I said earlier, I always want the Yankees to try to win every game, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they lost a couple this series. Something to keep in mind: the Yankees are 41-18 at home (best in baseball) and the Rangers are 28-30 on the road.

Red Sox bolster bullpen, Yankees unresponsive

The Red Sox added another piece to their prized bullpen today with the acquisition of Billy Wagner from the Mets minutes before the deadline.

My question is, when will the Yankees respond? Brian Cashman predicted a lot more moves through waivers in August. There have been a few big moves, but no significant ones by the Yankees.

Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre are not going to cut it in the playoffs, so they don’t matter to me. I have been urging the Yanks to improve their bullpen all along, but still no response.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has been doing a great job with his borderline playoff team by acquiring an All-Star bat in Victor Martinez, and now another former closer to help set up the hated Jon Papelbon. Takashi Saito, Wagner and Papelbon combined for 110 saves in 2007 — not bad.

I’m still hoping for a new quality arm for the Yankees bullpen, but it seems time is running out. Oh well. I guess Cashman believes this team is already set to win the World Series. Right…

August 24, 2009

Does Pettitte have another year in him?

Andy Pettitte spoke out about next season to Christian Red of the NY Daily News before Sunday’s game against the Red Sox. He implied he is looking to stay with Bronx Bombers next year.

"I really would hate . . . I really don't want to go into the offseason, you know, and sit there and be a free agent again, have to worry about other people making me offers and whatever," the lefthander told the Daily News before the rubber game against the Red Sox.

Pettitte sounds eager to sign another contract with his beloved Yankees. That makes two core players of this season excited for a new deal to stay with the Yanks.

Johnny Damon, who is having a career-year, has been very open with the media about his wanting to return to New York next season and possibly beyond.

Anyway, Pettitte is having a very solid year after agreeing to a one-year, $5.5 million deal with incentives prior to this season. He’s 10-6 with a 4.25 ERA, and would easily have three more wins with some decent run support. His strikeout totals are right where they should be at this point in the season, but his walks have already surpassed last year’s total.

Another number to keep in mind is his age. He is 37 years old and turns 38 next June. That is not terribly old for a starter, but he is definitely nearing his end.

I have been extremely content with Pettitte, and have enjoyed watching him pitch on numerous occasions. As far as I’m concerned, he has been a steal for the Yankees considering what they are paying their top two starters ($30.5 million total between CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett).

I think the Yankees should continue to re-sign Pettitte in one-year increments as long as he continues to provide quality starts.

Yankees intend to re-sign Damon

Jon Heyman is reporting the Yankees will be looking to re-sign LF/DH Johnny Damon after the season to a one-year deal, possibly two.

The Yankees intend to try to bring back Johnny Damon, probably for about $6-8 million a year (that'll be the first offer, anyway), and might be willing to give him a second year. Damon's been saying in the papers all year that he wants to be back, which is quite a departure from the usual free-agent script and could mean he's that rare player amenable to a below-market contract. Yankees management loves Damon personally, too, and that doesn't hurt.

This is very pleasing news to me. It’s really delightful to hear a player so eager to re-sign with a team. Now, the Yankees have finally responded with mutual feelings.

The Yankees are usually a team that likes to deal with contracts in the offseason, so don’t expect a re-signing anytime soon.

------
Hope your off-day is going well. Since there is no game tonight, I thought I’d take a look at the other contracts expiring after this season. Here’s a list of players who’s contracts expire or have an option for the 2010 season.

  • Xavier Nady
  • Hideki Matsui
  • Andy Pettitte
  • Jose Molina
  • Sergio Mitre (club option)

The meaning of the best record in baseball

The Yankees finished their 10-game road trip with the best record in baseball (78-46), and lead the majors with a 62.9 winning percentage. So what?

If the playoffs started today, then the Yankees would get home field advantage for the entire postseason, but only because the AL won the All-Star Game this year. If you didn’t know, the winner of the All-Star Game determines which league gets home field.

This rule doesn’t click with me so well. Why should a team lose their home field in the World Series because players for other teams choked during the All-Star Game?

I was trying to think of another way to honor the best team in baseball, and I could only think of making it a yearly award based only on records so at least there is something to be fighting for. But that’s just an idea.

Poll Results: Joba Chamberlain’s innings rightfully limited (open thread)

Now that the full Joba plan has been revealed, fans can bicker whether they like the idea or not. Should Joba Chamberlain’s innings be limited as an up-and-coming 23-year-old? Here are the results:

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I voted with the majority. I understand he has pitched far more innings this season than any other in his career, but I also know he is just 23 years old. Yes, he has had some control problems this season, but he also hasn’t hit the DL once.

Feel free to use this post as a place to fight for your standpoint on the polled issue each week.

Vote in next week’s poll on the left pane: What should having the best record in baseball mean?

Joe DiMaggio Featured Yankee Card of the Week

In 1941, Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games, a record that still stands today. This card highlights his ninth game in a row with a hit during his record-setting stretch. The red hot Derek Jeter just lost an eight game hitting streak on Saturday, so DiMaggio’s record will remain untouchable for now.

DiMaggio is always in the conversation of the best Yankee of all-time, right next to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle. Unfortunately, all four are only legends now and are no longer living.

Topps released a Joe DiMaggio collection in 2007 to help commemorate his legacy. There is a card for each one of his 56 historic games.

The Yankee Clipper’s No. 5 is retired for the Yankees franchise.

August 23, 2009

Matsui’s two jacks anchor Yanks in finale

Hideki Matsui hit his third and fourth homers in the last three days, as the Yankees (78-46) took the series with a 8-4 win over the Red Sox (70-53). CC Sabathia earned his major league leading 15th win over fourteen-game-winner Josh Beckett.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yankees scored one or more runs in each of the first five innings off Beckett, but he remained in the game for eight innings. Six of his eight earned runs came on long balls, including solo homers from Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Matsui (2). Alex Rodriguez’s two-run homer in the fifth provided key insurance runs for Sabathia.

Sabathia, plagued by a high pitch count early on, only could record two outs in the seventh before Phil Hughes finally got his turn. Hughes didn’t have great control, but easily rolled through the top of the Red Sox’ order. Mariano Rivera got some much-needed work in the ninth and was typical Mo. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
The series win shuts up all Red Sox fans who thought the Red Sox were the Yankees’ weakness this season. After losing the first eight, the Yankees have fought back to a 6-9 record with three more left to play in September.

Sabathia has quietly won his last five starts and is now the major league leader. He will have a chance to go 6-0 in August when he pitches against the White Sox this weekend.

Line of the Night:
A-Rod: 1-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, K. His only three homers in August have come against the Red Sox. He would have had two more this past Friday if the game were played in the Bronx.

Up Next:
The Yanks finished the road trip 7-3, and head back to New York for six games against the playoff contending Rangers and White Sox. Series previews to be posted later on. But first, the Yanks will enjoy an off-day Monday.

Control, not Posada, Burnett’s problem

There has been much hype over the relationship between battery mates A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada. Of course, with Burnett blowing up on the mound for the world to see and a couple of shake-offs, this situation is waiting to be overblown. The fact is, Burnett didn’t have control last night, and tossed too many fat pitches.

Even if there were disagreements between the two, it is still up to Burnett to throw whatever pitch he wants.

“I just make suggestions,” Posada said. “It’s up to the pitcher to throw the pitch he wants. He’s the guy in charge.” – via PeteAbe

Burnett agreed, and expanded on his outing a little bit.

“There were a couple of heaters (when) I felt that I should have thrown a hook. I step off and re-gather and that’s when the non-executed pitch came. (Posada) calls fine back there. It’s just a matter of me throwing what I want to throw.

“There’s no pattern there. I’ve had a great run now with Jorge. So there’s no fingers to point but at me.”

Firstly, he’s right about blaming himself. This is what everyone needs to understand. He didn’t make the pitches, and the Red Sox made him pay.

Secondly, this sounds a lot like what he said after his struggles early on this season. The only thing missing was a promise that he would figure everything out like he said after his slow start.

Remember, Burnett leads the American League in walks at a pace of nearly one every two innings. His eight consecutive balls in the with two out in the second inning resulting in two walks and a three-run homer didn’t help that statistic.

Comparing his last two starts against the Red Sox — one great, one awful — he threw a much higher percentage of fastballs in his successful start (67.8 to 55.7 percent). Ironically, this information would point to Posada making the right calls, and Burnett wrongly shaking him off. And everyone wants to blame Posada?

Burnett was on a roll before getting lit up last night. In 12 prior starts, he was 9-3 with a 2.59 ERA with Posada catching 10 of those games. And everyone wants to blame Posada?

Even if Burnett was right about the shake offs, it doesn’t erase the bad memories Burnett will have after surrendering a career-high nine earned runs.

With Burnett scheduled to start against Texas this Thursday, I would let Jose Molina have a chance to calm him down and hopefully gain his confidence back.

Damon expected back for rubber match

After fouling a ball off his right knee in the first inning of Friday’s game, Johnny Damon said he expects to be back for tonight’s finale.

Damon has always been known as someone who plays through the pain. I believe him when he says he’ll be back.

Damon’s presence was missed in yesterday’s blowout loss. Despite only 13 hits in 55 at bats this season against the Red Sox, he’s slugged six homers and scored 11 times.

August 22, 2009

Rookie Tazawa shuts out Yanks in blowout

Less than 24 hours after outslugging the Red Sox (70-52) in a game that saw 31 runs scored, the Yankees (77-46) fell to the Red Sox and Junichi Tazawa 14-1.

Quick ‘Cap:
A.J. Burnett’
s woes at Fenway Park continued in his 2009 campaign, as the Red Sox tagged him for seven runs in the first two innings. Burnett lasted five innings, but Alfredo Aceves and David Robertson weren’t any better.

Nick Swisher was the only bright spot for the Yanks. He came a triple short of the cycle and was responsible for the only Yankee run on an opposite field homer to lead off the seventh.

A few offensive notes for the Red Sox:

  • Thirteen of their 14 runs were scored with two out.
  • Eleven of their 15 hits went for extra bases.
  • Kevin Youkilis led the team with six RBI and 10 total bases.
  • The Red Sox lead the total scoring in this series 25-21, despite the Yankees posting a season-high 20 runs last night.

Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I hate to place the blame on someone, but I just have to put this on the Fox Network. The Yankees have been outscored 89-40 in eight games this season, and have lost six of those eight, according to PeteAbe.

However, I guess some of the blame has to be placed on Burnett. He used to be lights out at Fenway Park, but this season he has allowed 20 earned runs in 12-2/3 IP in Boston.

Line of the Night:
Tazawa: 6 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K. That’s extremely impressive for a guy who gave up a 15th inning, walk-off homer to Alex Rodriguez a couple of weeks ago.

Up Next:
Sunday night’s stage is set. A rubber match between the co-leaders in wins this season: CC Sabathia (14-7, 3.58) and Josh Beckett (14-4, 3.38).

Connect with lenNY’s Yankees

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Jeter defends himself against Jim Rice’s idiotic remarks

In case you didn’t get to see Jim Rice’s disgraceful comment about Derek Jeter, here’s the wonderful nugget from Bryan Hoch:

The AP reported that Rice said he believes today's big leaguers are too focused on individual goals and getting big contracts.

"You see a Manny Ramirez, you see an A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez], you see [Derek] Jeter ... Guys that I played against and with, these guys you're talking about cannot compare," Rice said.

Rice said this to a group of little leaguers participating in the Little League World Series in a cafeteria before the start of the tournament.

Rice’s comment was completely out of line, and he had no right to include Jeter in this conversation. Do I even have to mention Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, his captaincy or his four World Series rings? Everything about Jeter screams selflessness, but apparently Rice got caught up in his $20 million salary.

Jeter shrugged it off, as usual.

"That's a first for me," Jeter said. "I didn't know I was like that."

Rice, a Red Sox slugger and one of the newest Hall of Fame inductees, always has had rumors of bad character surrounding him. Now, he has embarrassed himself even more with the media.

August 21, 2009

Yankees humiliate Red Sox at Fenway

The Yankees (77-45) posted 23 hits against the Red Sox (69-52) for a 20-11 victory. The win ends a seven-game skid at Fenway Park this season for the Yankees.

Quick ‘Cap:
A four-run second, six-run fifth and four-run ninth marked the major outbursts for the Yankees tonight. Every spot in the lineup had at least one RBI, but Hideki Matsui led everyone with seven RBIs backed by two three-run homers. The scary thing is, he was only a couple feet shy of a third homer and left six men on base.

Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera both notched four hits and Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira tagged three base knocks. This was an all-around team effort offensively.

The pitching wasn’t so pretty for either team, despite Andy Pettitte only surrendering one hit over the first four innings. He ran into some trouble in the fifth inning, and then some tough luck and ugly defense wrecked what would have been a nice start. Either way, he finally got his run support, and finally got his 10th win. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
If you switched away from the game while the Red Sox were hitting, it was probably the most enjoyable game to watch of the season. But if you had to endure watching Sergio “Meat-tray” Mitre stumble through the finish line, you might not be as satisfied.

The only negative of the entire night: Johnny Damon had to leave the game after fouling off a pitch on his knee. The beats are saying it is a “bruised knee” and he did not have to take x-rays or an MRI.

Line of the Night:
Damaso Marte: 2/3 IP, zeroes, K. He was of three pitchers in the game who didn’t allow a run. He got out of a nice jam Brian Bruney left him in the seventh.

Up Next:
The Yankees will look to extend their win streak to six against the Red Sox on Saturday’s Fox showdown. A.J. Burnett (10-6, 3.69) will face Junichi Tazawa (1-2, 5.40).

Damaso Marte recalled, Pena demoted

Ken Davidoff is reporting through twitter that the rehabbing Damaso Marte is finally ready to rejoin the Yankees’ bullpen. Instead of demoting a pitcher, the Yankees will use 13 pitchers and send down *backup* utility infielder Ramiro Pena.

I used the asterisks to emphasize the unimportance of Pena to this team right now. So yes, the Yankees finally made a move that I agree with.

Pena is a solid defender and provides some speed off the bench, but he isn’t as versatile or as good as Jerry Hairston Jr. I like having a surplus of pitchers too because the new Joba rules suggested that the Yankees would have to use more pitchers.

As for Marte’s helpfulness to the club, that is to be determined. He pitched well in Scranton in 11 appearances: 11 innings, 10 hits, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 9 K. That is a little too many base runners for my liking, but at least he is escaping the jams. Time will tell if he can keep that pace up in the majors.

I hope Joe Girardi works him up from low leverage to high leverage appearances, as he is most definitely not a trusted reliever right now.

So why is he up, you might ask. He is being paid $4 million a season for the next three years. It would be a waste to see him in the minors. If he is fully healthy and can perform at a moderate level in the majors, he’s better than nothing.

Yankees-Red Sox series preview

It’s that time of the month again. It’s Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway for a weekend set, concluding with the always dramatic ESPN Sunday night game.

The Red Sox (69-51) blew their perfect record against the Yanks in their last meeting two weeks ago. The Yankees (76-45) quickly transformed an embarrassing season against their rivals to a respectable 8-4 record after sweeping the Sox in what I called Boston Massacre III.

However, last time it wasn’t in Boston. Now it is. As you will see in the pitching matchups, the Yankees — once again — have their rotation lined up perfectly, while the Red Sox will have to do without Jon Lester.

Head-to-Head:
The Red Sox nailed down the first eight against their rivals, but the Yanks took the last four. After this series, the Yanks wrap up the rivalry in the Bronx at the end of September for three final games. The only way the Yankees can win the season series is if they go undefeated. Winning five out of six earns them a tie.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters: Red Sox starters:
7:10 p.m., Fri. Andy Pettitte (9-6, 4.09) Brad Penny (7-7, 5.22)
4:10 p.m., Sat. A.J. Burnett (10-6, 3.69) Junichi Tazawa (1-2, 5.40)
8:05 p.m., Sun. CC Sabathia (14-7, 3.58) Josh Beckett (14-4, 3.38)
Pettitte has been the best starter for the Yanks since the All-Star break in terms of ERA and WHIP, but only has a 1-1 record to show for it. Penny is winless since July 24, and sits between five and six innings in the majority of his starts this season.

Saturday’s Fox game is tough to analyze. The Yankees have played terribly while airing on Fox this year (and in the past), but Tazawa shouldn’t cause any problems for their offense. Remember, Alex Rodriguez’s walk-off homer in the 15th inning came off Tazawa.

Sunday night’s game should be a gem. Sabathia and Beckett are tied for the major league lead in wins, and both have been pitching brilliantly as of late. This might be the most exciting game of the year for me because I always love a great pitchers’ duel.

My Outlook:
Frankly, the Yankees just have to avoid being swept to secure their AL East crown. A huge advantage in the first two games leads me to believe that this will be a good weekend at Fenway. However, an 0-6 record in Boston is quite daunting heading into the series. I wouldn’t mind losing two out of three as long as Sabathia outduels Beckett. Otherwise, I’m hoping for a sweep.

August 20, 2009

Why do I now know Joba Chamberlain wlll make six more starts this season?

The big news of the off-day is Joba Chamberlain’s plan for the rest of the season. Joe Girardi revealed that Chamberlain will make six starts the rest of the season. Peter Abraham estimates that “would likely put him around 165” innings for the season.

I have two issues with this. First, it is very, very stupid of Girardi to reveal his plans so openly to the media. This is the second time I feel that Girardi has given too much information to the media. All this announcement does is keep fans and writers guessing when Joba will start, and eventually lead to more media craze like it did when Alex Rodriguez was told he would get one off-day a week.

I have no problem with Girardi telling Joba the plan privately, but now the whole Yankee universe knows as well as their opponents.

My second issue with this is it is way too far in advance to be able to tell something like this. I would assume that Girardi has already mapped out which games Joba will be starting in order to determine how many starts he would make. Well, what about rain outs? What if he changes his mind and wants to give him less starts? What if he gets injured?

I also realize it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to not want this information, as I am an aspiring journalist and this info is supposed to be what I live for. However, I care more about the Yankees winning the World Series with as few distractions as possible. So please, Joe, try and keep these plans within the clubhouse and no futher.

Derek Jeter is hot, hot, hot!

One week after Robinson Cano was hot, hot, hot, Derek Jeter has somehow achieved the same degree of hotness or more. In the last seven days, Jeter even has more hits than king Joe Mauer (16 compared to 15).

Jeter is hitless in just two games in August, while he has 10 multi-hit games in 18 total.

So, is Jeter the best hitting shortstop of all time? Is he the MVP of the league, let alone the Yankees? Just wait. He still has at least a few more years in his career, and there is over a month left in the season. Both honors are up for grabs at this point.

Alfredo Aceves is a winner

aceves2 Alfredo Aceves has been nothing short of spectacular for the Yankees in 2009. Last night, he earned his eighth win of the season, improving to 8-1 on the season.

Eight wins matches Joba Chamberlain’s total, along with Clayton Kershaw and Jarrod Washburn’s total. Ace’s eight victories leads all relievers. He hasn’t lost in his last 24 appearances, dating back to May 26.

Ace is the man, and is definitely a winner too.

He has made one spot start this year, but it didn’t go so well. He didn’t pitch past the fourth, and it may have caused shoulder fatigue that forced him out of a few games. Now the Yankees won’t make the same mistake twice to try and take as much as they can get from Aceves.

Teixeira does it again, Yanks take series

Mark Teixeira’s fourth-inning homer proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win for the Yankees (76-45) over the A’s (53-67) to win their fifth consecutive series.

Quick ‘Cap:
The Yanks manufactured a run beautifully in the first for an early lead. Derek Jeter led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored on Teixeira’s groundout to third. Third basemen Adam Kennedy may have had a chance to throw him out at the plate, but he went with the sure out at first instead.

After Johnny Damon led off the fourth with a single, Teixeira took the first pitch he saw over the left field wall. With a 3-0 lead, Chad Gaudin hadn't allowed a run through four innings. He loaded up the bases in the fifth (two walks and an error) with one out, and his day was done. Alfredo Aceves came up big with a 1-2-3 double play to get out of the jam. Aceves gave up a run in the sixth and seventh innings, but Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera locked down the last two innings. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
A lot of the craze on baseball blogs is MVP talk right now. Everyone seems to be favoring Joe Mauer, but I am still on Teixeira’s side. Tonight’s game won’t hurt his chances.

Line of the Night:
Jeter: 2-for-4, R, SB, K. That’s five straight multi-hit games, and eight of his last 10. He hasn’t walked since July 28.

Up Next:
The Yankees finished their west coast trip with a 5-2 record, and will get an off-day on Thursday. The Red Sox series held at Fenway Park is looming for the weekend, but it won’t be nearly as hectic as it was when the standings were tighter. Full series preview up later.

August 19, 2009

Cano, Jeter & Teixeira nominated for Hank Aaron Award

The Major League leading home run team — along with every other team — has three nominations for the Hank Aaron Award. Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira have been nominated from the Yankees.

Just for laughs, the Mets are a different story. After looking at what the Mets have to offer, it makes you feel kind of proud to have those three nominated for the Yanks, doesn’t it?

The Hank Aaron Award, presented by Sharp, is presented annually to the best overall offensive performer in each league, with each club having three nominees. This is the seventh consecutive year that fans have had a voice in selecting the award winners.

So who will it be out of Yankee camp? All the homers make me want to go with Teixeira, but Jeter is having another one of those years. I think I’ll vote for Jete, just because he’s homegrown (and my favorite player).

Five-run sixth lifts Yanks past A’s

Four hits, two walks, a hit batsmen and a sac fly led to five runs in the sixth inning for the Yankees (75-45) to beak the tie and eventually go onto win 7-2 over the Athletics (53-66).

Quick ‘Cap:
Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada picked up one RBI in the deciding sixth inning. Robinson Cano started, and ended the inning. Posada picked up a second RBI in the third inning on a ground-rule double, and Melky Cabrera scored the first run for the Yanks on one of the Athletics’ four errors.

CC Sabathia allowed solo shots in the first two innings, but only allowed two singles for the rest of the game. He was yanked after eight innings (94 pitches), so David Robertson could get some work in, I guess. Robertson pitched the ninth just as expected: two walks (on eight pitches), and two strikeouts. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
For CC, it was a nice time to put on a show, as he is from Vallejo, Calif. His friends and family were in attendance, who probably were just as mad as I was that he didn’t finish the game. Robertson was the only reliever used in the past two games. The bullpen gets another off-day on Thursday before the Red Sox series.

Line of the Night:
Jeter: 3-for-5, R, RBI. His third consecutive three-hit game. He will continue to be listed here as long as this streak continues.

Up Next:
The Yanks will send out Chad Gaudin (5-10, 5.13) to try for their fifth straight series win. Brett Anderson (7-8, 4.55) will try and prevent that from happening.

August 18, 2009

Melky Cabrera misses Brett Gardner

Melky Cabrera is in a slump (6-for-52), and Brett Gardner is close to a return.

From PeteAbe:

Gardner, out since July 26 with a broken thumb, is scheduled to see a doctor on Wednesday. If cleared, he will start a rehab assignment soon after. According to Joe Girardi, Gardner should return quickly.

“He’ll need some at-bats, but it shouldn’t be too long,” the manager said.

This is a good news for the Yankees. I’m sure Melky likes starting everyday (for the most part), but adding Gardner back into the mix will give him a break when needed and will bring back the havoc on the base paths.

Melky is a solid center fielder, but so is Gardner. The two splitting time make a great tandem.

Rosenthal: Yanks pursuing starter but ‘will likely stand pat’

Does that headline make sense to you? I don’t think so either. These words belong to the highly-trustworthy reporter, Ken Rosenthal. It may be just me, but I think if the Yankees are “pursuing” a starter, then they will get a starter.

The Yankees inquired about Reds right-handers Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, but backed off when the Reds said they would not include any money in a deal. While the Yankees remain active in their pursuit of a starter, they likely will stand pat and await the benefit of the roster expansions on Sept. 1.

I don’t see how the Reds expect to deal Harang or Arroyo if they won’t pay any portion of their contracts. I still hope and believe the Yankees will make a move for a pitcher, but now it seems their options are dwindling.

Speaking of starters, if you didn’t hear, Stephen Strasburg signed with the Nationals last night just before the deadline. He accepted a little over $15 million, instead of the $25 million he and agent Scott Boras were expecting.

Yankees shut out by Tomko

Talk about revenge. The Yankees released Brett Tomko on July 29, but really never gave him many chances to prove himself. So Tomko finds a perfect nesting spot in Oakland where he can eat innings and try to earn another contract for 2010. Last night’s shutout performance led his A’s (53-65) past the Yankees (74-45) to a 3-0 victory.

Quick ‘Cap:
Yanks hurler A.J. Burnett melted down in the fourth inning, allowing the A’s to break the scoreless drought and put a three spot on the scoreboard. One run even scored on a balk, but he would have scored anyway after Mark Ellis’ double. Three runs scored in the frame, and that was it for the game.

Tomko lasted five innings, but the bullpen was lights out for the A’s. Burnett pitched all eight innings, so at least in a loss the pen was saved. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
This is one of those games that you have to top your cap to a player with a lot of heart. Tomko handled his former team last night, and also handled the media in a first class manner.

Line of the Night:
Derek Jeter: 3-for-4. He is red hot: Eight for his last 12, and 17 for his last 31. He’s up to .327 on the year.

Up Next:
The Yankees will look to even the series tonight against Vin Mazzaro (4-8, 5.54) with CC Sabathia (13-7, 3.64) on the hill.

August 17, 2009

Yankees-Athletics series preview

The Yankees (74-44) enter this series with Oakland 7.5 games up in the East, while the Athletics (52-65) are well out of the playoff race.

Head-to-Head:
The Yanks swiped the first four games of the season series, and are 5-1 overall. These three games will be the last of the season, so the Yanks have already clinched the season series victory.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Athletics starters
10:05 p.m., Mon. A.J. Burnett (10-5, 3.71) Brett Tomko (1-2, 5.23)
10:05 p.m., Tues. CC Sabathia (13-7, 3.64) Vin Mazzaro (4-8, 5.54)
10:05 p.m., Wed. Chad Gaudin (5-10, 5.13) B. Anderson (7-8, 4.55)
Note: Tomko, who was on the Yankees a month ago, pitches against the Yanks tonight. Gaudin, a former starter for the A’s, pitches for the Yanks in the finale.

As Tyler Kepner pointed out, the A’s and Yanks have a little history of sharing players.

Lineups:
Yankees Athletics
Derek Jeter DH Adam Kennedy 3B
Johnny Damon LF Rajai Davis CF
Mark Teixeira 1B Kurt Suzuki C
Alex Rodriguez 3B Scott Hairston LF
Jorge Posada C Ryan Sweeney RF
Robinson Cano 2B Mark Ellis 2B
Nick Swisher RF Jack Cust DH
Melky Cabrera CF Bobby Crosby 1B
Ramiro Pena SS Cliff Pennington SS

My Outlook:
The Yankees are the best team in baseball right now, and it’s hard to see them losing a series to a last place team. However, the Yankees have a very unfavorable matchup  on Wednesday. I’d be willing to sacrifice it for a sweep of the Red Sox afterward.

Draft picks: Heathcott and Murphy signed

The Yankees selected outfielder Slade Heathcott and catcher J.R. Murphy in the first and second rounds in this past first-year player draft in June. Today, on signing deadline day, both have been confirmed signing by Lane Meyer of NoMaas.org.

It’s nice to see Heathcott signed after last season’s first rounder Gerrit Cole was left unsigned. Cole chose UCLA instead of jumping to the minors straight from high school.

According to Jim Callis of Baseball America, Heathcott signed a $2.2M bonus (double than expected). Also, Meyer has reported that the Yankees have signed their top nine picks and 13 of their top 14.

More details of the contracts to come when available.

Poll Results: Plenty of wins expected for CC

In my latest poll, I asked who would win the most games for the Yankees in the remaining eight weeks. The results fell in the same order as their salaries: highest gets the most, lowest gets the least.

image


Sabathia currently leads the team in wins with 13. Burnett has 10, Pettitte 9 and Chamberlain 8.

Vote in next week’s poll on the left pane: Should Joba Chamberlain have an innings limit?

Hideki Irabu Featured Yankee Card of the Week

This card is in honor of the former Yankees pitcher, who is still pursuing a career as a baseball player — just not in the U.S. News broke last week of a return to Japanese baseball for Hideki Irabu came as a surprise to me, and probably most Yankees fans who had to bare through each of his 64 starts in pinstripes from 1997-99.

Irabu apparently was impressing scouts in the Golden Baseball League and has signed a deal with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of a Japanese independent league.

On a personal note, I was “fortunate” enough to attend one of his starts for the Yanks at Yankee Stadium. Even though I was a little boy, I somehow enjoyed watching him pitch. An inning that he allows five runs but also strikes out the side is the memory I have of him. He was just a weird guy that had no consistency whatsoever.

August 16, 2009

Joba, bullpen roughed up by M’s in finale

The Yankees offense was shut down by a pitcher they had never faced before, and their pitching allowed 10 runs for the first time since Aug. 1. The Mariners (61-57) won the series finale 10-3 to avoid the sweep against the Yankees (74-44).

Quick ‘Cap:
After falling behind 2-1 in the third, Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer to center to give the Yankees their last lead of the game. Joba Chamberlain allowed two more runs in the fifth, and left the game after 90 pitches.

The normally dominant Alfredo Aceves had a good sixth, but an awful seventh. Chad Gaudin had to finish the inning for Ace, and he let all three inherited runners score. The Mariners added one more run in the eighth for the 10-3 victory. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
Let’s be honest, the Yanks have been on a torrid pace in August. Winning 13 of 15 games, still, is no easy task. The Mariners have good pitching, and they showed it today.

The lesser Athletics and the slumping Red Sox are still to come on this road trip. With a 7.5 game lead in the East, I’m still feeling pretty comfortable.

Line of the Day:
Derek Jeter: 3-for-4, RBI. His second hit, an RBI double, was his 2,674th of his career — the most ever by a shortstop in baseball history. Just another notch on Jeter’s long résumé for the Hall of Fame.

Up Next:
The Yanks commence a three-game set with the Athletics Monday night. I’ll post a series preview before game time.

Matsui banged up, out indefinitely

The Yankees will play without Hideki Matsui today because of knee swelling. He is out indefinitely.

Maybe Joe Girardi overplayed him. He had played everyday from Aug. 4 to Aug. 14. Oh well. Hopefully he’s back soon, as he was just starting to heat up.

----
Note: Derek Jeter just reached another milestone after his third-inning double. He now has the most hits ever as a shortstop in the history of baseball with 2,674.

Congratulations, Jete. You are my hero.

Joba Chamberlain to start today

Joe Girardi reconsidered his plan for Joba Chamberlain, so now he will make his originally scheduled turn in the rotation tonight against the Mariners.

Chamberlain is 8-2 with a 3.85 ERA this season, but his second half is making his season a good one. Since the All-Star break, he has collected four wins in five chances, and held an ERA of 2.75.

Girardi has said Chamberlain will miss his next scheduled start against Boston this coming weekend, but will start at home against Texas instead.

August 15, 2009

The two “one-hit” wonders of the Yanks

Mariano Rivera has one official at bat and Nick Swisher has pitched one inning this season. Swisher tossed a scoreless inning in a blowout loss to the Rays, and Rivera walked in a run in his only other plate appearance in the same game he earned his 500th save.

Hence, Rivera leads the team in on-base percentage (.500), and Swisher leads the team in ERA (0.00).

If I were drafting a wiffleball team, I would take Rivera first because he’s a freak of nature, and then Swisher second (just for the laughs).

No news here, just random thoughts before another late game (10:10 p.m.).

Yankees Minor League prospects update

It’s been too long since I’ve checked in on the Yankees’ farm system. The one big thing that needs to be mentioned is that stud hitter Jesus Montero broke his middle finger and will miss the rest of this season. He may play winter ball, but that is yet to be determined.

Also, from RAB:

Baseball America polled scouts, managers, etc., and named Austin Jackson the Best Batting Prospect in the Triple-A International Leage (subs. req’d). Zach McAllister has the Best Control and Reegie Corona is the Best Defensive Second Baseman in the Double-A Eastern League.

Nice to see some prospects being honored.

Triple-A: Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees
Austin Jackson OF: He has held a very consistent .302 BA/.362 OBP/.420 SLG this season, and is still stealing bases at a high rate (21/25). The downside? In 110 games, 103 strikeouts. Yuck. Also, just four homers and 52 RBI isn’t exactly producing for Triple-A. However, he remains the most likely outfielder due for a September call up.

Zachary Kroenke LHP: If he keeps up his current pace, he will likely join Joba Chamberlain as the only two current Yankees from Nebraska. Kroenke is dominating Triple-A out of relief with a 7-1 record and a 1.07 ERA. He doesn’t have blazing stuff, but its tough to argue with a 1.09 WHIP. I expect to see Kroenke in pinstripes as a September call up.
Full Triple-A stats here.

Double-A: Trenton Thunder
No hitters are opening eyes in Double-A now that Montero is gone. Jorge Vazquez was having a good year, but he is also out for the year.

Zach McAllister RHP: The 6-foot, 6-inch right hander is having a nice season for Trenton, and is probably the best starting pitcher prospect in the entire system (maybe Dellin Betances). McAllister is 6-4 with a 2.14 ERA. He can hit 93 MPH, and has good control of his 2-seam fastball. You might see this guy pitching for the Yankees in 2010, but more realistically in 2011.
Full Double-A stats here.

High-A: Tampa Yankees stats here.
Low-A: Charleston RiverDogs stats here.
(All of the used stats are prior to action on 8/16.)

Teixeira’s Tex message beats M’s

Two first-inning runs for the Mariners (60-56) was their only spot on the scoreboard against Andy Pettitte. The Yankees (73-43) tied it up in the fifth, and then won it in the ninth on Mark Teixeira’s leadoff jack for a 4-2 win.

Quick ‘Cap:
Pettitte allowed three straight hits in the first inning, and struggled to get the top three hitters out again in the third. However, he battled, as usual, and ended up with a season-high 10 strikeouts over six innings.

The Yankees worked a run in the second on Jerry Hairston Jr.’s groundout, and then the Yankees tied it in the fifth on Derek Jeter’s single. Teixeira finally broke the tie in Mark Lowe’s second inning of work in the ninth. Nick Swisher added an RBI single for good measure, but Mariano Rivera didn’t need the insurance, as he did his thing in the ninth. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I thought this was headed for extras, but Tex decided to hammer in the nail on his MVP candidacy. It was his 30th homer of the year, only trailing Carlos Pena by one for the league lead.

Nice to see Pettitte racking up the Ks. He, along with most of the staff, has been dealing since the break.

Line of the Night:
Hairston: 1-for-4, RBI. He is batting a cool .364 for the Yanks with five runs and six RBI. Not bad for a utility man. Not at all.

Up Next:
The Yankees can win another series with a win Saturday night. Sergio Mitre (1-1, 7.04) will face Luke French (2-2, 4.31).

August 14, 2009

What to do with Damon and Matsui

There is a lot of talk about what to do with Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui after this season in the Yankees blogosphere, so I feel I must chime in.

Joel Sherman is reporting that the Yankees will not bring Matsui back next season because he clogs the DH role. Sadly, it’s the right move for an aging team like the Yanks, allowing Joe Girardi to rotate Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and I hope, Damon too.

Matsui simply cannot play the field because he can barely run around the bases. If he plays in the majors next season, it is almost guaranteed it will be in the American League as an all-time DH. That’s one $52 million deal off the payroll, now onto Damon’s.

Damon will be 36 years old next season, but he will be coming off perhaps his best season of his career — or at least in pinstripes. His slugging percentage and OPS are at career-high’s right now, and he is three homers and 28 RBI shy of his career highs. It’s safe to say that he has been playing for a new contract with the Yankees, as he has said publicly he would like to stay in the Bronx.

This is a case that the player has exceeded expectations and has earned the new contract he is hoping for. No, I don’t want the Yankees to agree to another $10+ MM per year deal for him. But something along the lines of a two-year deal at $6-7 MM per, plus a lot of incentives. It’s hard not to like Damon in the new stadium next year, and I hope the Yankees realize that.

Is August CC’s time to shine?

After last night’s dominating performance against the Mariners, CC Sabathia is proving that August might be his favorite month. In three starts against the White Sox, Red Sox and Mariners, he is 3-0 with 24 strikeouts and a 2.38 ERA.

In his nine-year career in August, he is 31-9 with a 3.16 ERA. Not bad, eh?

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Speaking of a time to shine, ESPN’s Rick Reilly wrote a heartwarming piece about what the Yankees did to help out a group of people who cannot walk outside during a summer day.

Sabathia mows down Mariners in thumping

Hideki Matsui had a huge night at the plate, and CC Sabathia was nearly unhittable for eight innings as the Yankees (72-43) crushed the Mariners (60-55) 11-1.

Quick ‘Cap:
Matsui hit his first two-run homer in the third inning to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead, and then hit his 19th of the season in the eighth to make it 11-1. Derek Jeter also added his 14th homer of the season in the third.

Meanwhile, Sabathia only allowed one run on a home run by Seattle’s worst hitter, Josh Wilson. Wilson pulled an inside slider barely over the wall in left, but that the only blip on a fantastic night for CC: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 10 K. Six starters had multi-hit games in the thumping. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
I was kind of waiting for a night like this. A night where the offense was unstoppable, and the pitching was lights out. For it to come on the first night of a 10-game road trip is a nice tone-setter.

By the way, this trampling came without boppers Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. How many runs will they score tomorrow night?

Line of the Night:
Matsui: 4-for-5, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI. I think Matsui likes it in Seattle with all of the attention to the other major Japanese player in baseball, Ichiro Suzuki. This was Matsui’s first four-hit game of the season.

Up Next:
The Yankees bring out Andy Pettitte (9-6, 4.14) for game 2 to face Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-1, 3.86).

August 13, 2009

Three posts worth your time

It’s a late start for the Yankees tonight in Seattle, so here are a few posts that are definitely worth taking a look at in the mean time.

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are expected out of the starting lineup tonight after both were hit by a pitch in yesterday’s walk-off win.

Mariano Rivera flew to Seattle in a later flight than the rest of the team, but no word yet on his availability tonight. Check out this neat post over at The Yankee Universe about Mo. Interesting stuff.

Update 7:37 p.m.: Jeter in, A-Rod out. Full lineup here.

Yankees-Mariners series preview

The Yankees (71-43) open their 10-game road trip with seven on the west coast, starting with the Mariners (60-54) tonight and ending with the Red Sox.

Head-to-Head:
The Yankees took two of three from Seattle in the Bronx in late June/early July. After this four-game series, the Yankees visit the Mariners once again in mid-September.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Mariners starters
10:10 p.m., Thur. CC Sabathia (12-7, 3.76) Ian Snell (2-8, 5.42)
10:10 p.m., Fri. Andy Pettitte (9-6, 4.14) Rowland-Smith (2-1, 3.86)
10:10 p.m., Sat. Sergio Mitre (1-1, 7.04) Lucas French (2-2, 4.31)
4:10 p.m., Sun. Chad Gaudin (5-10, 5.03) Doug Fister (0-0, 0.00)
The only loss to the M’s this season has come at the hands of tonight’s starter, Sabathia. Sabathia has won four of his last five, but still hasn’t found that dominant level he was at last season.

Pettitte has been the man lately, but the Yankees never give him any support. Rowland-Smith has been good this season, but only in five starts.

Mitre may have had his best start for the Yankees last time, but it still wasn’t great. French was the guy on the Tigers traded for Jarrod Washburn, so it’s apparent the Mariners really like this guy.

Gaudin, not Joba Chamberlain, gets the nod on Sunday. Fister pitched six shutout innings against the White Sox in his last start, but with no run support, there can be no win.

My Outlook:
This series is a part of a tough stretch, but the Yankees are the best team in baseball. It has really been a pleasure following them this year. The Yanks should be able to win the series, even without Joba on Sunday.

Yanks not interested in Harang, Arroyo or Smoltz

Via Jayson Stark (h/t MLBTR):

Even after adding Chad Gaudin, Russ Ortiz and Jason Hirsh, the Yankees were still poking around, looking for starting pitching depth on the waiver-wire circuit this week. But they appear to have no interest in the two high-priced Reds pitchers who cleared: Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. And we're hearing they're not one of the clubs with Smoltz on their shopping list.

Ok… So who are they interested in? It looks like Gaudin is starting this Sunday to give Joba Chamberlain a couple extra days rest. Meanwhile, Ortiz and Hirsch are stuck in Triple-A, and are both No. 6 starters in the Majors at this point.

I actually don’t mind the starters the Yankees are using right now. I have been rooting for a strong addition to the bullpen all along. As Matt pointed out over at BBD, that guy could be Damaso Marte. However, if Marte is still unhealthy, I hope the Yankees would pursue an alternative.

Cano is hot, hot, hot!

cano2 You cannot get much hotter than Robinson Cano right now (as evidenced by the above picture). He is riding a 10-game hitting streak with eight multi-hit games to a tune of a .432 batting average.

Cano’s hot hitting has come just as scheduled. He is a career .329 hitter in the second half, and always seems to live up to expectations. This season, he is exceeding expectations.

August 12, 2009

Robbie Cano, don’t cha know! (seriously)

Heading into today’s game, Robinson Cano was batting .203 with runners in scoring position this year. Cano overcame the percentages and delivered a walk-off single in the 11th inning to lead the Yankees (71-43) to a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays (54-59).

Quick ‘Cap:
Johnny Damon and Cano hit solo shots in the third and fourth innings, but the Blue Jays tied the score at 3 with two runs in the sixth off A.J. Burnett. Burnett worked his way out of numerous jams in his six innings of work, surrendering 10 hits in the process.

It would stay tied until Cano hit one off the wall, easily scoring Alex Rodriguez from second base in the 11th. Phil Coke, David Robertson, Phil Hughes and Chad Gaudin combined for five innings of shutout relief. Full box score here.

Thoughts:
Cano is absolutely on fire right now. Good to see him come through with runners on, finally. It was the 11th walk-off win for the Yankees this season

Note: Derek Jeter scored after being hit on the foot with a curveball in the first inning. His X-rays came up negative, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a day or two off.

Line of the Night:
Hideki Matsui: 0-for-5, 2 K. Mark Teixeira gets a day off finally, and this is how Matsui replaces him in the No. 3 spot.

Up Next:
The Yankees head to the west coast for a four-game series with Seattle. Full series preview up tomorrow.

Is an innings limit right for Joba?

Joba Chamberlain is missing his start this Sunday because he is approaching his innings limit (estimated at 150 innings). He is at 121-2/3 right now, leaving him close to five starts until the limit is exceeded.

I’ve always been skeptical of his limit because it was never set in stone publicly, and we don’t know whether it applies to the postseason or not. If it does apply, the Yankees have Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin starting the fourth game of the series. Let’s pray it does NOT apply.

I don’t like the idea of an innings limit either. What happens if the Yankees break the limit because the playoffs are on the line? Then everyone scrutinizes the Yankees for not keeping their word.

Also, the purpose of an innings limit would be to “save” a pitcher’s arm. But does it? Stopping a pitcher after 85 pitches in a start could actually hurt a pitcher because then his arm may get used to maxing out at 85, which would be terrible for a career.

If the Yankees continue having Joba skip starts, it will make it even tougher than before for him to find a rhythm. I don’t see the positive in this decision, and am not excited about Joba missing more starts.

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