Eric Hinske?

Wasn’t it just the other day that Brian Cashman said the team didn’t need to trade for a bat?  Well he lied, because the Yankees have apparently traded for Eric Hinske

Hinske doesn’t hit for much power these days, but he can play the corners in the infield and outfield.  He is also a lefty bat.  I suspect this means the Yankees will send Ramiro Pena back to the minors and let him play everyday.  That would leave a bench of Cabrera, Hinske, Ransom and Cervelli on most days.

The Yankees didn’t give up much in the way of prospects.  Erickson is in A ball and I believe would need to be added to the 40-man at the end of this year or be subject to the Rule 5.  (Very, very doubtful they would have protcted him)  Fryer was acquired from the Brewers for Chase Wright and hasn’t done much in Tampa.

UPDATE: Joel Sherman has a blog post up with some reasons for the deal and it sounds like Pena is going to the minors.  

What Is Girardi Doing?

As I write this it is 3-2 heading into the 7th.  Normally, I would wait until after the game, but Girardi is managining this like he is drunk, so I felt inclined to post now.

Question 1: Bottom of the fourth, two outs with a runner on third, 8th-place hitter up for the Mets.   Don’t you walk him and face the pitcher? (He didn’t)

Question 2: Bottom of the fifth Gardner on first with one out and Wang batting.  Don’t you order Wang to take a pitch to let Gardner steal second before trying to bunt him over?  The worst case scenario isn’t that Wang doesn’t get the runner over, it’s a double play which Wang bunted into.

Question 3: You pull Wang for Coke to face two lefties (eventhough Coke is better against righties) and then the Mets put in a righty.  Two outs in the inning and you go to bring Hughes in.  Absoultely fine with that, but why would you double switch?  Girardi brought Hughes in and put Damon into left, moved Cabrera to right and took Swisher out of the game.  What did that all accomplish?  It moved the pitchers spot from the 4th all the way to 6th.  So for two lousy lineup spots you lost a good hitter and cost yourself a bat on the bench?  If the Yankees go 1-2-3 in the 7th, the pitcher won’t get up anyway and what are the chances Hughes is going to pitch more than 1-1/3?  You could then have led off the 8th with a pinch hitter anyway.  If the pitcher’s spot comes up in the 7th you could alway pinch hit then.  Plus, if the Yankees do go 1-2-3, the pitcher’s spot is going to come up in the 8th, just like it would have.

Maybe Joe is having an off night, but these decisions are weird.   

Your Turn Chien-Ming

Ok, so the Yankees have held the Mets to four hits and one run over 18 innings of baseball.  We can point to dominant pitching by Sabathia and Burnett, we can also point to the fact that the current Mets’ lineup resembles a beer softball league squad.

And that is what makes tomorrow’s start for Wang so interesting.  Here is a lineup in terrible shape and a pitcher struggling to regain his stuff.  I know Joe Girardi says that Wang is in the rotation for the long haul, but if he gets shelled tomorrow how do you justify that?  I’m not expecting Wang to dominate the Mets like Sabathia and Burnett have, but I would expect at least a quality start from Wang.  Anything less and I hope the Yankees reconsider keeping him in the rotation.   

Tough Break

Xavier Nady is done for the year.  He is going to need Tommy John surgery and that means a minimum recovery of a year.

Now if the Yankees are searching for a righty bat, how about looking at Shelley Duncan again?  He has 21 homers in AAA this season and he can be added to the 40-man when Nady gets placed on the 60-day DL.  Duncan would provide a lot of pop off the bench and he can play both corners.   

Seriously?

Anyone catch Michael Kay’s home run call for A-Rod’s homer last night?  

Yes, from a fact standpoint, A-Rod caught Reggie Jackson on the home run list last night.  But, don’t we all agree that there is a huge asterisk next to A-Rod’s home run total?

And why would the Yankees (via YES) promote this achievement?  I know they cannot simply ignore it, but Kay’s home run call was over the top and there was delicious irony in the fact that he mentioned Rafael Palmeiro is next up on the list. 

The really interesting thing will be if Alex starts hitting those five "historic" home runs he gets money for in his new contract.  (Hitting #660, 714, 755 and tying and breaking the career record earn him $6 million a swing.)  You know the Yankees paid that money because they were expecting to make a bunch of money selling the bats, balls, cleats, etc., involved in those achievements.  But will anyone want that stuff now? 

I don’t know, but I don’t think we should be celebrating any of A-Rod’s career achievements in light of what he has admitted to doing.  I certainly hope that YES will ditch that "Chasing History" grpahic they sometimes show with Alex.   

An Old Joke

Kind of a weird week with Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both dying today and Ed McMahon the other day. 

It reminded me of an old baseball joke that involved Michael Jackson.  (You will need to be at least 30 to get it)

Question- What do Steve Sax and Michael Jackson have in common?

Answer- They both wear a glove on one hand for no apparent reason.   

You can dislike the man, but you cannot understate his impact on music.  He and Madonna were my generation’s answer to Elvis.  Now one is gone and the other one was dating A-Rod.  

Anyway, RIP Michael.  RIP Farah. RIP Ed.   

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Kind Of A Waste

Casey Fossum has decided to leave Scranton and become a free agent.  I am not suggesting that Fossum was going to come back to the AL East and dominate, but wouldn’t he have been a better choice than Brett Tomko?

I never get how the Yankees make these decisions, but they seem good at signing players to fortify the minor league teams, but lousy at using them to help the major league teams.  A few years ago they had Carlos Pena in the minors for most of the season but never promoted him (whoops!).  How many more appearances by Tomko do we have to see before they turn to someone else?

Centerfield

So here we are almost at the All-Star Break and we have two guys who make up an imperfect fit in center.

Melky Cabrera has a great arm, is prone to long slumps and doesn’t get on base enough. 

Brett Gardner can cover tons of ground, run like the wind, but he has no power.

If there was someway to platoon the two of them it would be great, but neither guy has proven the ability to hit lefties over their career.  

So, let’s play to the two guys’ strengths.  Gardner can run and Melky has some pop, so how about using Garnder in center when the Yankees are on the road and Melky in center when they are at home?   

Consider Melky’s home/away splits: At home Melky is hitting .284/.346/.491 on the road he is .278/.329/.354.  Would it be fair to say he is enjoying the bandbox that is the new place?

Consider Gardner’s home/away splits: .296/.397/.407 at home and on the road he is .275/.330/.400

So, Brett outhits Melky away from the Bronx and Melky outhits Brett in the Bronx.   Boil it down to OPS and it becomes even clearer Melky (.837 at home/.683 on the road) vs. Gardner (.804 home/.730 road)

So, why not take advantage of that difference and make it formal?  Or, let Gardner play center all the time?  (Don’t see that happening)   

Bring Back The Joba Rules

Phil Hughes became a reliever back at the start of June.  Since then, he has pitched a total of 8.2 innings out of the pen.  So, the Yankees have basically wasted one of the best arms in their organization and now it is unreasonable to expect him to be able to start again without building up his arm.

The Yankees have a tough balancing act with Hughes in 2009.  Clearly, he is going to be a starter at some point, but the Yankees would be wasting him in Scranton right now.  So, the goal for 2009 with Hughes should be utilizing him to help win now while getting him enough innings to be a part of the rotation in 2010.  

Hughes has about 63 innings under his belt in 2009, the Yankees need to get him up well past 100 this year to safely use him as a starter next year.  That’s where the Joba Rules come in and the Yankees need to think back to 2007, when they took a power starter and made him a reliever.

To refresh your memory, the rules were Joba could pitch one or two innings, but he was not allowed back-to-back appearances and he got a day of rest for every inning he pitched.  So, use him for one inning and he was off the next day.  Use him for two and he got two days of rest.  Over the last 50 games of the season, Joba pitched 24 innings.

Putting in the Joba rules for Hughes would hopefully make Girardi actually use him.  Hughes should be pitching everyother day at this point because he is good and he needs the innings.  Use those rules until August, about the same time in games that the Yankees did with Joba.  (Remember at the end of September 2007, the rules changed and Joba was allowed to be used as needed)  The Yankees could then enter the stretch with Hughes deployed like Joba in the 2007 playoffs (without the midges) or Mariano in 1996.

Either that or get him back to Scranton and pitching every fifth day.  Having him sit idle in the bullpen is just a waste of an asset.   

Let’s Think Outside The Box

Ok, so Brett Tomko isn’t that good.  Not a shock to anyone outside of the Yankees’ organization.  Will today’s performance make the Yankees realize that Tomko isn’t helping?  I have no clue, but just in case it does, how about this move?

DFA Tomko and promote Kei Igawa from the minors.  

I know, I know, Igawa is a HUGE mistake.  The Yankees threw money after him to counter the Red Sox Matsuzaka move and it blew up in their faces. They spent $26 million to win the posting and then signed the guy to a five-year/$4-million deal.  Let’s face it, at this point that money is a sunk cost.

And that is why the Yankees should promote Igawa to the majors.  Is Igawa better than Tomko?  I don’t know for sure, but I think he might be.  Brett Tomko is signed to a minor-league deal.  Igawa is signed to a deal where he is going to collect another $8 million from the team after this season.  If you think both pitchers have the same ability doesn’t it make sense to try the guy who you are paying the bigger salary to?  Maybe Igawa comes up and surprises everyone by getting outs.  In that case you can try and trade him and get some of that $8 million back.  More likely, he struggles and you need to get him back to the minors. That would mean passing him though waivers and I would bet not a single team would take on that $8 million obligation. 

So, what’s the downside?  I guess it is you lose Tomko.  You certainly won’t lose Igawa and maybe you catch lightning in a bottle.  Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon, it has happened before.  It isn’t likely, but why not try it again?

BTW- June 25th is a big day for the Yankees.  It is the day that Cody Ransom is eligible to come off the DL and I would bet anything that it will mean the end of Berroa’s tenure in pinstripes. It’s sad it has come to this, but getting Ransom back is a big plus for this team.