Change Of Plans

The Yankees have reversed course and DFA’ed Chad Moeller while DL’ing Bruney.  Bruney is having surgery so who knows when we will see him again.  In their places are Albie and Chris Britton.  In addition, Shelley Duncan is not in Scranton, so it sounds like he will be activated soon. 

Nice to see the Yankees becoming smarter with their roster management and I am excited to see Britton get a shot. I don’t know who Britton pissed off last year, but the guy pitched 57 innings last year with a 2.51 ERA and a K per inning.  Why he didn’t get more of a chance makes no sense to me, but maybe this time will be different.

And that is an interesting question, who do the Yankees send down when they activate Duncan?  Ohlendorf is certainly a candidate and none of the pitchers promoted are long relievers, so things may still be fluid.   

Get A Long Guy!!

Bad luck and bad planning contributed to this debacle of a fourth inning tonight.  The bad luck was the rain, forcing the Yankees to pull Hughes after two innings.  You can’t do anything about that and you can’t question the decision to pull him, you don’t mess around with franchise pitchers.

But, Brian Bruney was seen by multiple reporters wearing a knee-length boot in the clubhouse today and went for a MRI at some point Thursday.  He is going to NY to see a specialist tomorrow.  Why would the Yankees mess around with that and not put him on the DL to get another pitcher up to help out the pen?  Or, would this have been a smart time to DFA Chad Moeller for another reliever? (I am nodding yes as I type that)

This game is far from over in the fifth, but I don’t understand the thinking here.   

I Wasn’t Kidding

I wasn’t kidding the other day when I said the future is now.

The Red Sox called up Justin Masterson for a spot start from AA Portland today.  The move was necessitated by what appears to be the plague making its way from Red Sox player to Red Sox player.

Masterson has been dominating so far at AA and after today, he might go straight to AAA Pawtucket.

With Josh Beckett (neck), Daisuke Matsuzaka (flu), Jason Varitek (flu) and Manny DelCarmen (touch of the flu) incapacitated lately, the team is really flying on 1 wing.  Anyway, if you have TV nearby, tune into the game and see a potential future star.

Why?

Caught part of the pregame tonight and heard that Joe Girardi wants to keep all three catchers on the active roster through the weekend.  Chad Moeller has been great filling in, but considering that he is 33, do you believe his 20 AB’s this year represent his ability or the 1198 that came before this year?  Moeller has produced career #’s of .226/.287/.351 and that means he has no value with his bat. 

Keeping him around while Shelley Duncan languishes in AAA is just stupid.  Jason Giambi may have hit a home run last night, but he is hitting .120 this season and some smart writers have suggested it may by time to say goodbye to him.  I am not ready to go there yet, but sitting him down isn’t a bad idea. Plus, the Yankees are scheduled to face Sabathia this weekend in Cleveland, so having a power-righty bat for the lineup would be a plus.   

But, the Yankees will keep Duncan in the minors and Moeller in the majors.  It’s only five games, but the Yankees need every advantage they can get in 2008 and this one seems to be a no-brainer.   

Hank The Tank!

As some of you commented already, Hank had some things to say about the Yankees and specifically Joba.  I urge you to read this story, before you jump to too many conclusions. 

Hank is obviously going to spout off like his Dad, but as long as he doesn’t mix in the personal abuse like his Dad, I am ok with it.  I don’t agree with it, but he does own the team.

Now, let’s look at the "Joba Plan" 20 games in.  Joba has pitched a total of 6.1 innings.  Keep in mind that he missed five games, so let’s say he has pitched those innings in 15 games and that means he is on pace to pitch about 70 innings.  Keep in mind, his limit is 140 or so, so throwing him into the rotation right now (even if that was possible) would mean he would only be able to go about 4.2 innings per start if he didn’t miss a turn.  

Now, fast forward to June and assume the same usage to date of Joba or even a little more.  He might be at somewhere around 30 innings with 100 games to go.  He could then start and average around 5.2 innings per start.  The longer you wait until you make the change, the deeper he can go into games.   Transfer him in July and you probably have seven innings a start to play with.  Plus, you have give the Yankees time to see if they have a replacement for Joba’s role in the bullpen.

I wasn’t in favor of this move initially (like Hank) or when the Yankees announced it this spring.  But, the die has been cast so to speak and it would be stupid to bail now.  No matter what Hank the Tank has to say about it.   

The Future is Now

I am not being original here, but the sight of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Jed Lowrie scoring on David Ortiz’s granny Friday was nice to see.  Here’s my line-up and rotation prediction in 2012:

c – George Kottaras – swinging a nice back at Pawtucket thus far

1b – Kevin Youkilis

2b – Dustin Pedroia

3b – Jed Lowrie – hot start in the majors

ss – Will Middlebrooks – might be a stretch as he has yet to play a professional game

lf – Ryan Kalish

cf – Jacoby Ellsbury

rf – Josh Reddick – who you ask?

dh – Lars Anderson – Will probably be in Portland later this year in just his 2nd pro season

 

sp – Clay Buchholz

sp – Justin Masterson

sp – Dustin Richardson

sp – Nick Hagadone

sp – Michael Bowdon

This exercise is obviously nonsense, but there is some reason to expect 30% of this prediction to come true given what we’ve seen lately.  I will say that having Lancaster, an extreme hitters park, as your high-A team is probably not a good idea and not going to last.  I believe Boston signed a 2 year deal with them as they were lacking options.  They will drop this quickly and necessarily.  Lancaster, using limited data, is inflating offensive numbers and killing pitching numbers.  I don’t think the Red Sox want that static in their minor league system.

The Red Sox are playing surprisingly well given their tough schedule.  New York is having trouble with their starting pitching and their Yankee Stadium contractors.  I expect that both will continue for the Yankees.  In all seriousness, the Yankees are really scuffling with Ian Kennedy and Phillip Hughes while the Red Sox are trying to get Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester on track.  I would like to think that both Lester and Buchholz will settle down.  If Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield can keep the ship righted, Boston will allow Lester and Buchholz keep cutting their teeth regardless of the outcome.

With all my talk of the future, it is really nice to see Manny swinging a hot bat.

Happy Patriots Day all you Massachusettsans (or Bay Staters if you prefer).

What Was Joe Thinking?

Longtime readers know that I am not a big Michael Kay fan.  I just don’t enjoy the way he calls the games and I think he is way too much of a homer.  But, I have to give him credit for asking a great question on today’s telecast, what was Mariano Rivera doing on a wet mound in the ninth innnig of a 7-1 game?  Kay was absolutely right when he said there was no point to the move and I really want to hear from Girardi as to why he risked Rivera’s health in that situation with Kyle Farnsworth available and probably Hawkins as well. 

One other thing I would like to know is what’s the plan with Giambi?  Unelss he is is facing Mike Timlin, Giambi is totally lost with the bat right now.  Before A-Rod’s injury I would have suggested a couple of Ensberg games at first.  Now, you probably need Ensberg to play third for a couple of days which leaves Giambi in the lineup.  Shelley Duncan has 4 HR’s in 40 AB’s down in Scranton.  I would expect him to be recalled as soon as the Yankees feel they can get by with less than three catchers.   

The Wrong Answer

I understand Jorge Posada wants to catch and he said so last night: 

"I’m a catcher. I’m playing first base today, and I don’t know what’s going to happen later, but I see myself as a catcher," he said. "I like thinking the way I do when I’m a catcher. That’s the way I always think. If I have to play another position to help out the team, I’ll do it, but I see myself as a catcher."

Jorge can catch this year and probably next year, but there is going to come a point over the next four years where his body won’t be able to hold up to catching 130+ games a season.  Assuming his bat is still a positive, the Yankees would be smart to put him at first from time to time and it would be nice if Posada embraced that a little more.  Don’t get me wrong, Jorge is a warrior and I love the guy, but the Yankees just made a HUGE investment in him.  They need to protect that investment and protect Posada from himself.  Having him pick up his firstbaseman’s glove will do that.

Unfortunately, this will not be the biggest position battle the Yankees will face, that will come with Derek Jeter.  We got a taste of what life at short is without Jeter there when Alberto Gonzalez played five games there last week and the numbers were startling.  Through 13 games, Jeter has a range factor of 4.08 and a zone rating of .763.  For his career, Jeter has produced 4.18 and .816.  In five games Gonzalez had a range factor of 5.27 and a zone rating of 1.000 (perfect).  It may not be time now, but Jeter will need to move from shorstop in the immediate future and the Yankees have to start laying the groundwork for that move, especially if they are going to extend Jeter’s deal past 2010.

And where would he move?  There are two possible positions he could take, left field or first.  The Yankees have a plethora of leftfielders until after 2009, but they could pencil Jeter into left for 2010.  Or, they could think about moving him to first after this season when Giambi goes away. 

Cal Ripken jr., became a third baseman when he was 35.  Robin Yount moved to the outfield in his late-20’s.  Ernie Banks moved to first when he was 30.  Those are three Hall of Famers and someone who knows the history of the game like Jeter has to realize the day is approaching when he must move from short.  The Yankees are going to need to find another shortstop (I don’t think Gonzalez will hit enough), but I hope they are having the discussions with Derek now.  He turns 35 next June, the clock is ticking.   

On The Job Training

Next to the term "young pitchers" in the baseball dictionary should be some sort of warning label.  Something along the lines of: "No matter how talented, young pitchers will struggle at times with their control and decision.  They will drive you crazy rooting for them and make you frustrated that they don’t trust their own abilities more.  But, if you have some patience they may turn into the greatest asset in the game, a true ace."

The Yankees are watching two of their young guns struggle right now.  Hughes was better last night, but he isn’t where the Yankees need him to be.  And by that, I mean keeping them in ballgames.  Kennedy was better the other night and has a big start tonight.

The thing is, the Yankees do not have a fallback plan.  If you sent Hughes to the minors to straighten out, who would you bring up who could be more successful?  The answer is probably no one and the Yankees need to keep Hughes going out there, unless they determine it will damage his psyche.  This is where Dave Eiland is going to earn his paycheck.  Eiland has been touted as a great teacher for the young pitchers and that is why the team kicked Ron Guidry to the curb.  Eiland needs to back up his reputation with some results now, he needs to get Hughes and Kennedy to challenge hitters and stop monkeying around.  If he can’t Eiland will learn that pitching coach is one of the most tenuous jobs in the Yankees’ organizatio. 

Kyle Farnsworth has been suspended three games for his idiotic pitch behind Manny’s head the other night.  I am all for sending a message, but you don’t do it that way.  Farnsworth is appealing which means he can play until his hearing is heard.   

Joba Chamberlain is expected back tonight which is great news on and off the field.  The Yankees brought Edwar Ramirez up last night, but I would expect him to head back to Scranton when Joba is reinstated from the bereavement list.   

Moose Went To Stanford?

For a bright guy, Mussina is a slow learner; Let me try, hey Moose… YOU DON’T HAVE THE HEAT TO CHALLENGE MANNY!!! HOW MANY HOME RUNS IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO REALIZE THAT??

Serenity now, serenity now, serenity now….