Amazing

Jorge is back and the Yankees have sent Cash down to the minors.  So, Berroa still has a role with the team, though I can’t figure out why. 

Cervelli is going to catch Sabathia tomorrow, but he probably will be headed to the minors soon- Molina is getting into a game tomorrow in the minors.  

Now we just need the rain to clear and we are ready to play.   

UPDATE: How’s this for a stat via Kim Jones?  This is the first time the Yankees have had Posada, Matsui and A-Rod in the lineup at the same time since June 22nd of 2008.  

Why Play With 24?

So Melky "should" be ready to go after 5-7 days of rest.  That’s the good news, the bad news is the Yankees are going to do nothing with the roster for now.  So, for the next week or so the Yankees are going to play with three outfielders- Damon, Gardner and Swisher.  That’s it, so if someone gets hurt, like Damon almost did in tonight’s game, you probably can expect to see Ramiro Pena trying to play the outfield. 

Now, add in the fact that Shelley Duncan has hit 15 homers in AAA and I don’t get it.  Do we really need Angel Berroa clogging up a roster spot? Isn’t the logical move to DFA Berroa and add Duncan to the Yankee roster?  I would guess that Berroa’s time with the club is going to come to an end Friday when the Yankees hopefully activate Posada, but I am hopeful the memory of Damon crashing into that wall spurs the Yankees to change plans.  I understand wanting to keep three catchers on the roster right now, but how about this?

DFA Berroa, promote Duncan, activate Posada and DFA Tomko or Veras.  They can go with 11 pitchers until they feel Posada is ok.  Then DFA Cash and bring up another reliever.   Or, bite the bullet and DL Melky now, just don’t fool around with only 12 position players- it’s too dangerous. 

Now It’s Tough

Maybe it’s because the game was in Texas, but Phil Hughes looked awesome today.  Personally, I was most impressed with his curve ball, but the whole thing looked great.  Yes, he has been uneven. But he struck out nine guys his last start and dominated the Rangers and their potent offense today. 

So the question is, how do you remove this guy from the rotation?  I don’t think you do, at least not yet.  Wang didn’t look great the other night and he was supposed to get one more minor league start.  I would keep him in the pen and see if he improves.  Give Hughes another start and see what happens.  If he keeps pitching like this, you have an interesting decision to make. 

My only gripe today was using Aceves in the ninth.  Bruney is probably gone for awhile and you need to develop someone for the 8th, why not try Aceves?  More to the point, why waste him in a game that is a blowout?  I don’t get it at all. 

Edwar Is Out

Or should I say Bruney is back?  Thankfully, they put at least a temporary end to the Edwar era.  I like the kid, I wish him well, but he doesn’t belong in a big league pen. Yes the strikeouts are nice, but 19 HR’s in 93 IP is not good enough for the bigs. 

Now, the question is who is going to step up behind Bruney and Mo?  Coke has been bad in May.  Albie doesn’t look like he wants to throw strikes.  Veras is the same way and Tomko just strikes me as a sucker’s bet.  I would like to see Aceves get a shot, see him try some late inning situations.  The guy seems to have the nerves for it and he gets the job done.  Of course that leaves you without a long guy, but isn’t that a role Tomko could fill? 

Red Sox Trade Winds

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported recently that the Red Sox inquired about Cleveland’s Victor Martinez.  Talks never progressed.

If the rumor is true, it means the Red Sox either don’t like George Kottaras or are really worried about David Ortiz.  My guess is they are/were worried about Ortiz.  No matter what the Front Office’s thinking, the Red Sox line-up struggled badly on their recent 6-game road trip.  They scored 3.8 runs per game putting up: .235/.322/.376  We know that David Ortiz struggled, Kevin Youkilis wasn’t available and Dustin Pedroia missed 2 games.

This combination of events really exposed the Red Sox line-up.  Jeff Bailey struggled (.143/.280/.286), Rocco Baldelli struggled (.077/.143/.077), Mike Lowell struggled (.167/.200/.208), Jason Bay struggled despite 2 home runs (.167/.259/.458).  What that Red Sox lack right now is depth.  With Ortiz an unknown, if any of the other regulars goes down, the Red Sox don’t have much to fall back on.

I expect Ortiz back in the line-up tonight and this home stand will probably spell his last opportunity to salvage his starter status.  If he is unable to get things going, I expect we’ll see a trade.

A few thoughts on the Red Sox.  Jacoby Ellsbury, despite hitting .300, is still refusing to work the count (3.77 pitches per plate appearance, team average 3.89).  His 8 walks and .330 OBP suggests to me he is best suited for 9th in the order.  He has a home run swing, but isn’t a home run hitter.  He refuses to take pitches or slap the ball the other way.  It drives me nuts.  He either needs to start setting the table, or he’ll be the one doing the dishes (I have no idea what that means).

I have grown to hate watching the following Red Sox pitchers pitch:  Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon.  With men on, they are slow, ever so slow and it makes the whole thing unpleasant.  You three, please think of me and what my preferences are.

‘Bout Time

MLB announced today that games for this year’s World Series will start just before 8:00 pm ET, compared to recent start times which were about 40 minutes later on average.

This is a long time coming and while it might hurt revenues in the short run, it will help expand fan loyalty for years to come.  We’ve talked about this at length, but just how, in the past, did MLB expect to get young kids interested in baseball if the first pitch was just around bedtime?  Sure the West was in good shape, but the population density on the East can’t be ignored.

I still think compressing all US times zones into 1 during the World Series would be far easier.  Heck, let’s compress all international time zones too while we are at it.  Baseball is, after all, the 2nd (or 3rd) most popular sport in the US and must be in the top 15 worldwide…top 25?  It has to be top 50.  Come on now.

Good work MLB.

Wrong Target Cal

I find it fascinating Cal Ripken is going to "make it his business" to find out what Alex Rodriguez’s motives were for using steroids.  After all, Ripken was a teammate of Rafael Palmeiro and as a lifetime Oriole, shouldn’t Cal concern himself with that?

It’s an odd comment coming from somebody who certainly had the standing to speak up years ago.  Can you imagine how different the steroids era would have ended up being if Ripken had stood up in 1998 and called foul on what was going on? 

I will give Ripken credit, he says the steroids era is a dark cloud that is "hanging and hanging" over baseball.  Are you listening Bud Selig?   

Big Papi

I’ve largely avoided commenting on David Ortiz’s slow start, mostly because I figured we are looking at too small a sample size to worry.  But after Thursday’s game, where he left more men on base (12) than the entire Angels team did (11), I think it’s time for a change.

It could just be mental, he might be injured, or worse, he might just be old.

My favorite all-time baseball was Jim Rice.  To watch him fade so quickly at just age 34 was so disappointing.  For whatever reason, Rice had a short, albeit great, career.  Perhaps Ortiz falls into this category.  I don’t know.

Now let me delve the darker possibilities of Ortiz’s situation.  On talk radio and message boards (I believe everything I read on message boards), there are 2 main avenues of focus on David Ortiz’s plight:  Steroids and Age.

To date, David Ortiz has not been accused of, linked to or caught using steroids.  Other than his association with Manny Ramirez while both were in Boston, there has been no talk aside from the “you have to be juicing to hit 54 home runs.”

As for his age, many wonder if Ortiz is really just 33 years old.  Many international players (and perhaps homegrown players) have taken steps to conceal their actual age for obvious reasons.  Again, no smoking gun.

My feeling is I want to believe he is 33 and has always been clean, but as Peter pointed out a few days ago, no baseball fan can really overlook the fact that steroids greatly impacted baseball over the past 15 years without being considered naïve and no one can be removed from speculation.

No matter what the reason for his struggles, the fact is, he is terrible right now and hurting his team.  He is occupying a very important spot in the Red Sox line-up hitting 3rd and producing with a .208 average, .318 OBP and .300 SLG.  To put that in perspective, a .300 SLG means he is getting only 3 tenths of the way to first base per at bat.  That’s a convenient distance as a 90 degree right turn takes him directly into the dugout.

Sean McAdam is reporting that Ortiz will be given the game off tonight and when he returns, Terry Francona needs to put him farther down the line-up, low enough to take expectations off of him, but not too far as to humiliate the guy.

What’s The Big Deal?

There is a lot of chatter in the New York papers today about how Phil Hughes had better pitch well tonight or he will be back in the minors soon.  The thinking is that with Chien-Ming Wang almost ready, Hughes has to show the Yankees something to stick in the rotation.

But where is the spot in the rotation that Hughes can hold onto?  Even if he pitches a gem tonight, the Yankees are going to pick Wang over him.  Hughes isn’t going to bump any of the other starters out of the rotation either.  And you can pretty much forget about the bullpen, Hughes is a starter and he will go back to AAA as a starter when Wang returns.

What Hughes is really pitching for is 2010.  We know the 2010 rotation will have Sabathia, Burnett and Wang in it.  We can be 95% certain it will have Joba in it.  What we don’t know is if it will have Pettitte in it.  The Yankees could choose to give him another one year deal or they could decide that Hughes is ready to be a starter in the bigs.  I imagine they would rather go with Hughes, but that will be impossible unless he shows some success in the majors soon.   

Bookends

Sabathia started the road trip and ended it with the same result: a huge win.  There are a lot of things not to like about the Yankees right now, but Sabathia rounding into form is a reason for hope.  The Yankees haven’t had a pitcher with his ability in years and if he lives up to that potential, they will be right there throughout the summer.

For now a 4-2 road trip is pretty good and taking 2-of-3 in Toronto is a good sign.  I know the Blue Jays probably won’t be there in the end, but they are in first and picking up ground is what it is all about.