Comings And Goings

Just another night in Yankeeland as Chad Moeller is back, Stewart is sent to AAA, Sean Henn has been DFA’ed and Phil Hughes is on the DL.  Oh yes, Chris Britton was recalled in place of A-Rod.

The Yankees could have put Bruney or Cervelli on the 60-day DL to make room for Moeller, so I have no clue why they simply DFA’ed Henn.  Then again, Henn isn’t exactly the second coming of Sandy Koufax. Still it seems odd to give up on a 27 year-old lefty when you don’t have any in the big league pen. 

Hughes on the DL is simply bizarre.  The Yankees are obviously making up an injury here, but what is the point?  (And I say that because Joe Girardi said he was healthy before tonight’s game) Why pretend he is hurt when everyone knows what is going on?  You can send him to Tampa on a rehab assignment, but why wouldn’t you simply demote him and let him try at AAA?  Now he can’t appear in any games which makes no sense to me.  

And, the Yankees now have to make a move to replace Hughes spot on the roster.  Just to review, Mo, Farnsworth, Hawkins, Ohlendorf, Albie, Britton, Ramirez and Joba make up the bullpen with four starters in the rotation.  Do the Yankees promote a batter the next few days in place of Hughes (and Betemit is apparently unable to go) or do they just recall Rasner at this point to pitch Sunday?  Talk about needing a scorecard to identify the players!

And, please let me know if you see the Yankees’ offense.  It is missing and presumed to be dangerous, but hasn’t proved to be yet.  

 

A Great Story

As we continue to hear about HGH and Roger Clemens’ many women, it is nice to read a story like this.  It serves as a reminder of why we watch sports in the first place. 

Phil Hughes Is Rick Vaughn

Thanks to Mitchell for pointing out that Phil Hughes can’t see.  Reading the story immediately made me think of the movie "Major League".  Vaughn, played by Charlie Sheen, is a top rookie pitcher, but his blurry vision makes him wild.  He gets fitted for glasses and goes on to dominate. If you think about it, the Yankees have a lot of similarities with that movie. Shelley Duncan could be Cerrano and A-Rod certainly has some Roger Dorn in him. 

 
But I digress, the real point is how do the Yankees fix this problem? If the guy can’t see the catcher’s glove or the signs, it would explain a lot.  One thing, for his career and the sample size is small, his ERA in the day is almost twice that of his ERA at night so the numbers don’t back up the claim.   

 

Out to Pasture? How About the Glue Factory?

Such harsh words about Mike Timlin, eh?  I am a big fan of Timlin, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s time to take old Mike out behind the barn.  As baseball players go, he is old at 42 years old.  He did put together a good 2007, but that was after a bad start (ERA’s of 5.87 in April, 9.00 in May and 5.59 in June).  He finished very nicely in 2007 and was a contributor in the playoffs, but I think the writing is on the wall.

Not being able to rely on Timlin early in the season due to whatever various injury he has puts a major strain on Terry Francona.  Additionally, you typically sign a pitcher to give you 6 and hopefully 7 months of service, not 3-4 months.

His 2008 has been dreadful:  6 IP, 14 H, 9 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 13.50 ERA, 2.83 WHIP, 2-2 record.  That is a fairly small sample size and certainly not the definitive sign his career is over, but it isn’t a good trend.

If I’m Theo Epstein, I DL Timlin right now with the idea of working with him to fix whatever physically ails him and to best position him for the remainder of the season.  If John Farrell and others feel Timlin can contribute, great, let him prove it in an extended rehab assignment at Pawtucket (he’s already pitched 2 scoreless innings there this year before he was activated).  If they feel he can’t contribute, let him go.  Of course, he is a popular player and just cutting him might not sit well, so the organization should give him some options to allow him to exit gracefully and with class, something he is worthy of.

To replace Timlin, let’s give Craig Hansen another look.  Hansen has gone 15.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 17 K, 1.72 ERA, 0.64 WHIP at Pawtucket and finally seems to have found his slider.  In his 1.2 IP appearance in Boston this year, despite giving up a HR, he had sharp break to his slider and struck out 3.

One other quick observation:  The Red Sox can’t hit right now!!!  Last 7 days:  .212/.275/.278 as a team, hence the 1-5 record over that time.

It Keeps Getting Worse

The Yankees announced after the game that A-Rod is headed to the DL with a grade 2 quad strain, no word yet on a callup, but Wilson Betemit could be activated if he is healthy.  Beyond that it is hard to guess what way the Yankees would go.  Juan Miranda is the only healthy position player on the 40-man roster who isn’t already in the majors. 

Without A-Rod and Posada, the Yankees are missing two huge parts of the offense.  Apart from hoping that Cano’s homer tonight will wake him up the Yankees don’t have a lot of options.  I would activate Betemit and let him loose against righty pitching.  Matsui in the lineup every night is a must.  Giambi and Duncan can split first with whoever is hitting getting the nod. 

My bigger question is what is going on with the Yankees’ doctors?  Both Posada and A-Rod came back from injuries too soon and were then forced to the DL.  Last year Marty Miller walked the plank for the injuries the team suffered in April, is someone going to pay the price in 2008? 

Just Wondering

I am not saying it had anything to do with Hughes’ dud tonight, but why did the Yankees choose to put Chris Stewart in at catcher?  Stewart joined the team yesterday, apart from the guys who played this year at AAA he doesn’t know the pitchers.  Molina has caught the bulk of Hughes’ innings this season and while the results haven’t been good, at least they have a relationship.  Stewart gets put into a tough spot and Hughes has to work with his fourth catcher of the season.  Add in the fact that Hughes pitched well last time out and Molina caught him then, and I really don’t get the move. (And someone should tell Stewart to pick a different #.  # 38 reminds me of Matt Nokes, which is not what you want in a catcher.)

The Yankees now have a big decision to make about Hughes.  He has made six starts, pitched 22 innings and given up 22 earned runs.  The Yankees can’t afford to keep sending him out there if he isn’t going to be at least competitive in his starts and you would have to be generous to say he has been that in half his starts this season.  He is scheduled to pitch against Seattle Sunday and if he doesn’t do well in that start, the Yankees have to strongly consider sending him to AAA. 

Looking For A Laugh?

This won’t be funny if you are a Giants fan, but Jason Stark had an interesting chat on ESPN.com yesterday.  He debated which free agent signing was worse, the $121 million deal Mike Hampton signed or the $126 million deal Barry Zito signed. 

It took all of two questions for someone to bring up Carl Pavano and Stark even says in the chat that he was "flooded" with Pavano questions.  As he correctly points out, Pavano’s deal doesn’t compare to these two.  Anyway, it’s an interesting piece.

You Take It

Yes, 14-13 doesn’t sound that great after 1/6th of the season, but when you consider that the Yankees have played 18-of-20 on the road it isn’t that bad.  Throw in the fact that it is good enough for one-game out of first and you have to be happy with things so far. 

Let’s recap some of the challenges so far.  Jeter was lost for a week, same with Joba.  Hughes and Kennedy have been awful and the Yankees have lost Bruney for the year and Posada for an uncertain amount of time.  Robinson Cano is hitting .153 and Jason Giambi is hitting .167.  Derek Jeter has an OPS of .660.

On the plus side, Wang is 5-0 and striking guys out at a higher rate than usual.  Melky has five HR"s and Matsui is off to a great start.  Joba and Mo have given the Yankees a devestating 1-2 punch at the back of the bullpen.  

14-13, two weeks away from the 1/4 poll.  Not a bad start all things considered, but Kennedy and Hughes are going to have to step up if the Yankees are going to have any chance of moving past .500. 

Who Is Chris Stewart?

Connect the dots back to Scranton with the Posada injury and you would guess that Chris Stewart will soon be on his way to the Yankees.  Who is the guy and what do we know about him?

Stewart was originally a 12th-round draft choice of the White Sox and he just turned 26.  He bats and throws righty and was once considered the top defensive catcher in the White Sox organization.  Baseball America liked his "quick release".  Stewart had cups of coffee the past two seasons with Chicago and Texas, hitting .200 in 45 plate appearances.  

Baseball Prospectus has Stewart projected to actually out-hit Molina by a bit (.237/.287/.370), with both providing above-average defense.  But here’s the interesting thing, because he is only 26, Stewart has a much higher upside and if he hits at the top of their projections, they have him at .277/.332/.463.  For the Yankees, anything approaching the league average at catcher .274/.332/.408 from Molina and Stewart will be a bonus.  For now they will have to hope that both continue to play stellar defense and the other eight guys in the lineup get the offense going. 

Disaster

It sounds like the one guy the Yankees cannot afford to lose is headed to the DL. 

As Jimmy wisely said in the commments of another post, "that decision to DFA Moeller doesn’t look so smart now".  And that is what has me scratching my head in this story.  How do you explain the fact that the Yankees knew Posada had a tear in his shoulder yet didn’t send him to Dr. Andrews sooner and DFA’ed Moeller?   It seems to me like the Yankees totally blew it here.  Posada is way too valuable to take chances with, but the Yankees did exactly that. 

Now, what are they going to do?  Molina should be able to catch every day, but he won’t hit.  Currently, there is no one to backup Molina and Moeller was only DFA’ed on Friday which I believe means he would not be available to be brought back until at May 5th.  So, the Yankees are going to need another catcher for at least a week and that assumes Moeller makes it through waivers.  

Plus, the team simply isn’t hitting.  Ok, I am depressed now, I will be back after the game.   

UPDATE: Posada said on the postgame "I am going on the DL".  Interestingly, his manager wasn’t sure.  According to Jorge, there has been no evidence of a tear in any of his MRI’s, so that’s a positive I guess but he is going to visit Dr. Andrews.

Gotta love Jorge, he apologized to the Yankees because he signed a big deal in the offseason and now he is hurt he called it "the biggest dissapointment of his career".   

Wang pitched a beaut today on a day the Yankees sorely needed one.