Ugh

Clever me, worrying about Joba and his innings limit.  Well, that doesn’t sound like it will be a problem.  Not a ton of details yet, but he is on his way to Dr. Andrews.  That doesn’t mean he is done, but it means that the MRI showed "something".  What that is remains to be seen and the Yankees aren’t going to say tonight. 

The Yankees cannot, cannot compete with a rotation including Rasner, Giese and Ponson.  Cashman needs to come up with an answer, maybe it’s Kennedy, maybe a trade, but something has to be done. 

The Start Of Something Different?

Perusing the lineup tonight I see that Justin Christian is playing center in place of Melky.  I am sure that Joe Girardi is just doing this as a reward for Christian’s base running yesterday, but he should give a long thought to making some change in center.  Simply put, Melky isn’t cutting it. 

In 387 AB’s, Melky has put up a line of .243/.297/.341.  Yes, very nice defense in center, but that doesn’t make up for that production offensively.  You never want to write off a young kid, but Melky has gotten worse every year in the majors numbers-wise and it seems fair to say after almost 1500 AB’s that he looks like a spare outfielder and not a starter. 

The Yankees don’t really have many options here.  Damon seems too banged up to play center and his arm is not an asset when he does.  If Matsui returns, you put Damon in center and grit your teeth, but for now that isn’t the way to go.  Gardner showed he wasn’t ready in his tryout in July so the options are limited.  One thing the Yankees could do is make center into a platoon.  Cabrera has never hit lefty pitching and Christian is a righty, so why not let them split the spot?  Or, if Christian gets hot just ride him until he cools off. 

The good news is that the future in center looks bright.  It is one of the few positions where we can identify a prospect in the upper levels who is on track to fill it.  Austin Jackson had a slow start in April, but he is hitting in Trenton now and he is quickly becoming the Yankees’ #1 prospect.  He still has to get through AAA, but he will probably be in the mix for a spot in 2010.  

Until then, the Yankees have to hope Gardner comes on.  He has shown a pattern of getting to a level, struggling and then doing well.  He will probably never hit for power, but a guy who can put up a .400 OBP in the majors isn’t a bad thing.  Problem is, he won’t help until 2009.  Christian can now, the Yankees should let him take a shot at some semi-regular playing time.

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Interesting decision with the Yankees going with Dan Giese starting Friday.  Not sure why they didn’t turn to Kennedy, but it might be to protect him.  As many have noted in the comments, Kennedy doesn’t lack confidence, but the Angels are a tough team to beat.  The Yankees can try Giese for a turn and then see what happens.  Hughes is on his way to Scranton, where he will make his next start, so the Yankees will have some choices to make in the near future. 

A Math Problem

As the Yankees try and build some momentum from a nice comeback and try to start a long stretch of road games off on the right foot, it’s nice to have Joba on the mound.  The guy is transforming into the starter we hoped he would be and if Phil Hughes can get going (nice start in Charleston today) the Yankees could really have a dynamic 1-2 punch.  But, Hughes is a topic for a later date, today I am wondering about Joba and specifically his innings limit. 

The Yankees never came out and gave you a number, but the whisper has always been "140" since the season began.  And, with Joba right around 85 innings, that poses a bit of a problem.  Assume Joba makes ten more starts this season and he would need to average just over 5 innings a start to stay under that number.  And, that doesn’t factor in the playoffs.  I don’t know about you, but my money is on Girardi tabbing Joba as his starter in Game 1 if the Yankees make the playoffs.

So, is the whisper number wrong or are the Yankees going to run into a problem over the final weeks of the season?  They certainly won’t announce their intentions either way, but it is something to watch closely over these final two months.   

Go Away Rain

August 2nd will always mean one thing for me and that is the day we lost Thurman Munson.   It’s been 29 years, but I still remember vividly exactly where I was when I heard the news. 

So, it is entirely fitting that today is Old Timer’s Day at the Stadium and the Yankees will honor Munson and Bobby Murcer.  Problem is, the weather looks like it won’t cooperate.  Come on rain, get out of here so we can get this ceremony in! 

Now We Wait

So the Yankees stayed quiet at the deadline, except for a trade of Alberto Gonzalez for a pitching prospect.  (Side note, not a bad deal there for the Yankees because Gonzalez isn’t going to hit in the bigs so his value is limited)  The thing is, there is work to be done, the rotation needs some help. 

Now the Yankees can approach this two ways.  The first is a trade, maybe the Mariners put Washburn on waivers, the Yankees can claim him and then either work out a deal or just assume his entire salary if Seattle decides to dump him on them.  There are some other pitchers who will certainly go through waivers that could become trade targets.

I would prefer that they go back to the minors and see if the guys they started the season with can carry them into the playoffs.  We know Ian Kennedy was a disaster in the bigs, but since returning to the minors off the DL he has been very good.  In July he compiled an ERA of 2.61 and his control seems to be back. Why not give him a shot instead of Ponson?

And, Phil Hughes went three innings the other night.  He will be stretched to 50 pitches his next start and assuming it goes well, you can probably say he has three more starts in the minors before being ready.  That would put him in line to come back to the team somewhere around August 22nd.  

There is also the chance that Chien-Ming Wang will comeback, but I would put those odds much lower. 

So, what do you think?  Do the Yankees keep looking for a trade or use Kennedy and Hughes to fill out the rotation? 

Final Thoughts and Moving On

Some final notes on the Jason Bay deal.

Sean McAdam on Sports Tonight said the following:

 – The Red Sox Front Office received and solicited feedback from the players on Manny.  Most of the veteran players said it was time for a change.  They weren’t sure they could count on Manny or trust Manny.

 – Jason Bay will be playing his first meaningful game of his career at the MLB level Friday night.

 – McAdam says Bay will hit 5th in the line-up if for no other reason than to limit the comparison to Manny Ramirez as a # 4 hitter.  At least for the time being.  Either Lowell or Youkilis will hit clean-up in the meantime.

 – The inclusion of Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen was interesting.  They both had value, but to move Manny, were necessary to include.

Sports Tonight showed a clip from David Ortiz commenting on Manny Ramirez.

Ortiz Quote:  "Always I had people asking me questions about Manny, you know, like I’m Manny Part 2.  You know, he wore me out, I mean, you know, because I know everyone is going to ask ‘hey David, what do you think about what Manny’s thinking?’  I don’t [expletive deleted] know, you know?"

 – Super (or former Super) agent Scott Boros represents both Ramirez and Bay (and Hansen).  McAdam believes Boros convinced Manny to agree to refuse arbitration to any team that got him thus making sure Manny would not accept arbitration, and thus a mega payday, for the acquiring team.

 – The Florida Marlins were in on a deal but wanted the Red Sox to add an additional $2 million dollars on top of the Red Sox paying all of Manny’s salary.  The Red Sox said no and the Marlins eventually said goodbye.

 – By making this deal, the Dodgers essentially gave up Andy LaRoche and Adam Morris for a FREE Manny and 2 compensation draft picks (sandwich between round 1 and 2) in the 2009 draft.  A steal for the Dodgers which makes you wonder why other teams out there didn’t get involved.  Why?  (caution, Andy opinion) Because they knew that Manny is potentially the biggest headache in baseball.

 – In answering how desperate Theo Epstein was to move Manny, McAdam said there was a "mandate" from the veteran players to move Manny in order to avoid a sinking ship even if they couldn’t get full value for Manny.

Final thoughts:

Are the Red Sox a better team after this deal?  Well, not to anger anyone, that is a difficult question to answer.  With a Manny Ramirez actually trying hard, the Red Sox are a worse team than they were at 3:59pm Thursday.  By far.  So on paper, the Red Sox lose big.

But, Manny wasn’t going to try hard.  Or at best, the risk of Manny tanking was too great to ignore.  Jason Bay and the $10mm the Red Sox paid (approx. $7.5mm for Manny’s contract for the next 2 months and the $2.0mm they owe Bay) and Hansen and Moss were what it took to rid themselves of a malcontent.

With Bay, the Red Sox have a good hitter who finally has protection.  Consider he hit behind Ryan Doumit and in front of Doug Mientkiewicz in Pitt.  Some protection, eh (Bay is Canadian, so I threw in the local talk).  Now he gets Ortiz, Youkilis, Lowe, Drew or Pedroia protecting him.  A better selection, no?

The age of Manny has passed.  On to the Back Bay Basher.  I guess Fenway isn’t in the Back Bay, but rather the Fens.  But Back Bay Basher sounds better.