Let’s Leave Joba Where He Is

Through five innings tonight at AAA, Joba Chamberlain has given up four hits, one walk and 0 runs while striking out 10. He has thrown 88 pitches, so I am not sure if he is done or not, but why would you want to mess around with trying this guy in the bullpen?

Two Moves To Avoid

The Yankees still have a lot of work to do, but now that they are 4 1/2 back in the wild card it is pretty obvious they will not be sellers at the deadline next week. That means they are buying and a lot of possible moves are out there. Here are two that I just don’t think make any sense at this point. Trading for Mark Teixeira. It is impossible not to like this guy, he hits, he fields, he is still only 27. As an added bonus he is a switch-hitter and won’t be a free agent until after 2008. Adding him to the lineup would give the Yankees an embarassing group of offensive talent. But, Teixeira is going to be very, very expensive after 2008 and command a long deal, probably something similar to what Giambi got after the 2001 season. Yes, it is probably safe to say that Teixiera hasn’t done the steroids Giambi did and he will be about two years younger than Giambi was when he signs his next deal, but this is the type of move the Yankees need to get away from. Trading one of their best pitching prospects (I assume it would take at least Kennedy to get him as part of a package) isn’t a smart move right now. The Yankees finally have some homegrown talent to build around and while Tex is enticing, it is the wrong move. Andy Phillips is going to cool off soon, but he is adequate at first and you have Giambi and Mientkiewicz coming back in the next few weeks. The offense has enough horses for now, if the Yankees want to use one of their top prospects, use it for pitching, not hitting. The other move I wouldn’t make is trading Scott Proctor for a utility bat. Proctor isn’t going to take Mariano’s place anytime soon, but there are a lot of things about him that make him valuable to this staff. He never shies away from taking the ball and he is one of the few, maybe the only, pitcher on the staff who will protect his hitters by buzzing the opposing team. With Duncan off to a good start, plus the returns of Giambi and Mientkiewicz, where would the Yankees find time to play a Wilson Betemit if they got him? Keep Proctor for the seventh inning and see if you can get someone else for the 8th besides Vizcaino.

Quite A Tuneup

I think Phil Hughes is ready to come back, the question is, do the Yankees agree? Six innings, two hits, one walk and seven K’s over 73 pitches is pretty impressive, but I imagine the Yankees will go ahead an pitch him Sunday in AAA. With next week’s day off the Yankees can juggle things so that Igawa doesn’t pitch again after Thursday (I can hear you celebrating) and then slot Hughes in for Saturday the 4th against KC.

Something’s Different

The Yankees have promoted Joba (pronounce that with an "a" instead of an "o") Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy to AAA and demoted Tyler Clippard and Chase Wright to AA.  This is a marked departure from previous seasons when the Yankees have coddled pitchers (see Phil Hughes 2006 season) and hopefully shows that the Yankees are serious about using their youth. 

This could also be a move by Brian Cashman to hedge his bets.  If the Yankees don’t make the playoffs (a very strong possibility despite the recent winning streak) Cashman can point to Chamberlain and Kennedy as evidence that he has turned the farm system around.  Assuming they do well at AAA, they are definitely in the mix for the rotation in 2008 and possibly could help the Yankees in 2007.  I would suggest that Chamberlain’s addition to AAA at the expense of Wright and Clippard means the Yankees are keeping him in the rotation, as they should.  No matter how the bullpen looks, taking Chamberlain and trying him there is the wrong move.  You just don’t fool around with prospects who could be top of the rotation starters.  

Sending Clippard and Wright down is interesting because it damages their trade value.  Based on their performances, it isn’t the wrong move, but it will obviously make it harder for the Yankees to use them as trade chips in the next week. 

But, that is a concern for another day.  For now we have two of the best prospects in the system at the top of the minor league chain.  A 2008 rotation of Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy is looking more and more likely and Yankees’ fans should be very, very excited by that.   



Good Luck, Jon

On the Yankees side of this page, we generally root for the Red Sox to lose every game and hopefully go out of business. Tonight is different as Jon Lester is taking the mound for Boston in his first start in the bigs after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Lester has made a courageous comeback and for one night we are going to put our partisan feelings aside and hope he has a great game and a long and healthy life.

Backup Plans

A great indicator of how bad Wil Nieves was is the fact that Jose Molina is considered an upgrade over him.  That isn’t to say I don’t like this trade, Jeff Kennard wasn’t going to help this team anytime in the future, but I just wonder why Cashman went with Nieves for as long as he did. 

Getting rid of Nieves is a positive, but adding Molina doesn’t mean they should stop looking for a backup.  For his carrer, Molina has been .237/.275./.319.  Those are terrible numbers and the Yankees still are screwed if Posada gets hurt.  Plus, Molina is 32 and with Cervelli still in A-ball and Montero quickly gorwing too big to be a catcher, there are no prospects anywhere near the majors who can catch.  Cashman may think he took a need off his list with this deal, but he still has work to do.   

How Will This Work?

Peter Abraham is reporting that the Yankees will recall Shelly Duncan from AAA today.  Nothing against Duncan, he is killing the ball at AAA, but I don’t get the move.  First off, Andy Phillips has played well and is a much better defender, so I don’t think Duncan will start unless the Yankees are suddenly benching Johnny Damon (wouldn’t argue against it, but I strongly doubt it)  So, Duncan becomes a righty bat off the bench I guess?

The harder part to understand is that Duncan isn’t on the 40-man.  That means they have to make a move and they are already faced with two moves in the near future when Karstens and Hughes come back from the DL.  Looking at the 40-man, I would guess Colter Bean and Bronson Sardinha are the top candidates to be let go, but Bean is scheduled to spot start for Scranton tonight.  Sardinha has gone backwards this year and is back in AA, but he is still only 24.  Does this mean someone else will be dropped?  Is there a trade about to happen?  Stay tuned….

UPDATE- Thompson has been sent down and Mientkiewicz put on the 60-day DL. Ok, that just delays things (they could do the same with Giambi when they want to bring Hughes back) for a couple of weeks. And, Damon is starting in CF with Duncan at DH and Melky on the bench.

This Has Got to Stop

The Red Sox seem incapable of bashing their way to victory.  If their pitching doesn’t shut the other team down, then there is isn’t a chance of a victory.  The Red Sox of recent were prone to winning slugfests.

What has gone right offensively thus far?

Pedroia, Youkilis, Varitek and Lowell

What hasn’t gone right?

Lugo, Crisp, Drew, Ortiz, Ramirez

Certainly Ramirez and Ortiz have been productive, but not to the degree we’ve become accustom.  Since the All-Star break, Manny has turned it on, so hopefully (never a word we like to use) he has found his way.

Let me illustrate some problems:

Ortiz vs lefties – .250/.352/.327/.679

Ramirez vs righties – .261/338/.416/.754

Lugo couldn’t hit against anyone through June (the #s are too sorry to post)

Drew – Has been getting on base (.366) but hasn’t produced anything.  His slg% is .385.  Wow, that is far from league average.  Drew’s struggles are more apparent when Ortiz and Manny aren’t hitting.

Oh yeah, Drew against lefties – .221/.291/.351/.641

Crisp against righties (231 at bats) – .255/.307/.364/.670

The Red Sox, for whatever reason, are not hitting.  The first thing most are inclined to do is to look at Dave Magadan the new hitting coach.  Well, hitting coaches are important, but they aren’t everything.  Well, perhaps he has played a role in this, but I think it unfair to lay the blame entirely on him.  Age, injuries, the inability to quickly adapt to playing in Boston, all play a part in these things.

With less than 2 weeks to the trade deadline, I would not be surprised to see a large trade happen.  A few ideas have already been discuss on my last post (comments), but my guess is that Red Sox management might feel compelled to deal a big prospect (Ellsbury, Buchholz, Bowden, Masterson, Bates or Bell) to make this offense right.

The most important thing for management to do is identify the real problems versus the temporary problems.  Is Ramirez really done?  Is Ortiz’s knee that big a deal?  Is Drew incapable of playing in Boston?  Or is Manny just in one of his funks (ala Manny’s struggles at the end of 2004 and the beginning of 2005), and Ortiz just dealing with a few minor injuries and Drew just getting through the "First Year Red Sox Blues?"

I expect we’ll see some movement over the next 2 weeks.

The Red Sox have a 7 game lead on the Yankees.  The Red Sox have been a .500 team since Memorial Day.  Losing 2 of 3 to the Royals is not acceptable.  Time to stir to the pot I think.

Hughes Update

I guess the raindrops ended in Trenton because Phil Hughes took the mound and went four innings allowing two hits, two walks and a run while striking out five.  I haven’t see any official word yet, but I suspect his next start will be in Scranton on the 23rd (Monday)  and could be back in the Bronx as early as the 28th.  I don’t think that will happen as the Yankees are going to obviously bench Igawa for Hughes and they are not on the same rotation schedule right now.  So, I would expect if everything goes well, Hughes takes the mound for the Yankees against the White Sox on August 2nd. 

From Now Until The Deadline

Two weeks from today is the trading deadline and the Yankees have 15 games left to find out exactly where they stand.  If the Yankees can feast on the mediocre schedule and go 10-5 or better, they should consider adding some players at the deadline.  If they do not, they should become active sellers.  Let’s look at each scenario.  

If they are buyers, they key area they need to strengthen is their bullpen.  Whether it was overuse in April or just mediocre talent, there is little in the pen that is worth keeping other than Rivera and (surprise) Vizcaino.  Bruney has had some positive results, but he doesn’t have enough control to trust him in big spots.  Myers is not getting lefties out.  Proctor is struggling with his command and his strikeouts are down.  Based on past results, Villone is going to blowup soon, Ramirez is untested and Farnsworth, well we have all suffered enough of Kyle I suspect.  

For the Yankees to make a run, they are going to need upgrades to the pen.  Now, they could and should go the internal route and let Ramirez show what he has while getting Chris Britton and Sean Henn back from AAA.  But, assuming they continue to avoid doing that, trading for some relief help would be priority #1.

The second thing the Yankees have to do is bolster the bench.  Even with Sunday’s outburst, Wil Nieves is hitting .132 while Jorge Posada is on pace for the most plate appearances of his career.  The Yankees have to find a real backup catcher and actually trading for a prospect who could fill in for Jorge in the future would be an even better idea.  

That would be the extent of the moves I would make to add players.  Phil Hughes should be back in about 10 days, so that should fix the rotation and the lineup is going to live or die with players like Abreu, Matsui and Damon either doing what they have in the past or continuing to struggle.  

Now, if the Yankees are sellers at the deadline.  Things get a lot more interesting.  The first and biggest thing they should do is go to A-Rod and sign him to an extension or ask him to waive his no-trade clause.  The Yankees need to play hardball with Alex and make it clear to him that they will not be used to benefit his negotiations for a new contract.  Alex has to know by now if he wants to stay or go, so make it simple for him.  Offer him 5 years and say $150 million on top of his current deal and if he doesn’t agree tell him that negotiations are over and you would like to trade him.  

I go back and forth on what I think will happen with A-Rod this off-season, but the more I look at teams and payrolls, the more I think his potential market is very, very small.  There are 12 teams that have a payroll of $90 million or higher so let’s start with those as the potential market.  Of those, the Orioles are out because they are not a contender.  The Mariners are certainly not going to welcome A-Rod back and I just don’t see the Cardinals making that type of move.  The Mets have no need for A-Rod, so that leaves New York, Boston, both LA teams, both Chicago teams Detroit and San Francisco.  The Cubs are going to have a new owner, but probably not in place in time to bid for A-Rod.  The Tigers have a lot of young pitchers who are going to make a lot of money so both of those teams are handicapped in this sweepstakes.  The White Sox would probably need to fire Ozzie Guillen (remember he ripped A-Rod) to have a chance.  The Angels have a lot of young talent and smart ownership, would they invest all that money in A-Rod?  No, I think this comes down to New York, Boston, the Dodgers and the Giants.  Boras can take a gamble if he wants to, but if the Yankees make it clear they won’t negotiate beyond July 31st, A-Rod will have a very tough choice.  

Even if they can’t trade A-Rod, the Yankees have some very good options.  Bobby Abreu would probably accept a trade if his option was picked up and the Yankees should do that and send him and some cash somewhere for prospects.  Farnsworth and Myers might hold some appeal and they should be sent packing.