The Move The Yankees Should Make

Tomorrow night at midnight postseason rosters are sort of set.  I say sort of because there is a convenient loophole that teams always exploit. 

The rule is basically that anyone on your active roster plus your DL is eligible for the postseason.  So for the Yankees it is the 25 guys currently in the majors plus Gardner, Wang and Nady.  Now, we all know that no matter what, Wang and Nady won’t be healthy for the postseason and that is the loophole.  The Yankees can replace Nady and Wang with anyone in the organization as long as they play the same position.  So, Nady could be replaced by Austin Jackson for example.  

So, with 13 pitchers and 12 hitters, the Yankees can keep the roster as is tomorrow and then use Nady and Gardner’s injuries to subtract two pitchers and add two oufielders (with Gardner obviously being one of them)  But, why not give yourself maximum flexibility tomorrow and bring Ramiro Pena back and demote a pitcher?  That would give the Yankees 13 bats and 12 pitchers on the playoff roster, but remember the injuries to Wang, Nady and Gardner mean they could change the roster to contain anywhere from 10-13 pitchers or 12-15 batters- basically a very flexibile situation. 

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Joba pitched an inning more than I thought he would today, but that may have been a function of economy (only 35 pitches) more than anything else.  Unfortunately, the results were not great, but let’s see a couple of more "short" turns before we evaluate it.  

 

Thank You!

The Yankees have amended the "Joba Rules" in a very smart way.  Joba will get the ball every fifth day, but he will be limited in the innings he throws.  His last start will be around six innings so he would be ready to go at full strength if the Yankees make the playoffs. 

I think this is a much better plan that the "your next start will be revealed to you later" plan.  Joba is trying to establish himself in this league and he doesn’t need the distraction of wondering when he is getting the ball next.  Now he knows and I think that will help him.

The interesting thing to watch will be how the Yankees limit Joba over the next month.  He has pitched 130 innings so far and if they want to keep him at 160 for the season we can take a pretty good guess and it looks something like this:

August 30th- 2 Innings

September 4th- 2 Innings

September 9th- 2 Innings

September 15th- 2 Innings

September 21st- 3 Innings

September 27th- 3 Innings

October 3rd- 6 Innings 

You would have to assume as things stand that means Chad Gaudin gets the ball after Joba but that could change too.  Now the only question that remains is how will Joba perform under the new rules?

A Penny Saved

Sadly, Brad Penny really would be an upgrade for the Yankees.  Yes, his numbers are bad.  A 5.61 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP while striking out 6.1 per nine is nothing to write home about.

But then you have to remember that the current fifth starter is Sergio Mitre.  Mitre has a 6.82 ERA, a 1.879 WHIP and has only struck out 5.3 per nine innings.  

Admittedly, when that is your baseline, it is very easy to surpass it.  Penny isn’t much, but he is definitely an upgrade over what the Yankees have in the fifth spot of the rotation.  If he clears waivers on Monday you can sign him Tuesday when rosters expand and have another arm at your disposal.   

Good Work Brian

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From the department of why wouldn’t you do this, the Yankees have claimed the player the Red Sox were trying to trade to the Mets for Billy Wagner.  As a result, Buster Olney speculates that they have made life harder for Boston. 

Again, why wouldn’t you do this?  Squeeze your closest divisional rival and tweak your crosstown one at the same time.  Isn’t that win-win? 

A Penny of Your Thoughts

You want my thoughts?  Fine.  Brad Penny is gone and I am very happy.  He did not pitch well for the Red Sox and, in fact, really hurt them (lost 7, won 6).

Good luck to all the teams rumored to have interested in Penny.  Here’s a quick scouting report:  He throws 90% fastballs and 10% miscellaneous (curves, wild pitches, balks, time outs, hit batters, more fastballs).  His fastball is fast, but very straight, just ask the Yankees who were quoted as being elated he threw straight, fastballs.

Now that I have breathed out the bad and am now breathing in the good, we can move on.

Tim Wakefield looked great Wednesday night and it was nice to see David Ortiz look like the Ortiz of old (Yankees fans, please start your comments now).

Welcome Billy Wagner.

Fact and Fiction

Fact: A.J. Burnett blew up in his last start throwing to Jorge Posada

Fiction: Posada and Burnett can’t work together.

Fact: Before that start, Burnett and Posada had compiled a 4-3 record and an ERA of 3.00 over their past ten starts together.

Fact: Joe Girardi didn’t exactly make this better by starting Posada last night making it necessary to start Molina today.

I think what you have are two "opinionated" players in Jorge and A.J. and that means sometimes they wil disagree.  That doesn’t mean they cannot work together (see Fact #2) but they might need someone to help them get on the same page.  I don’t know if they have found that person yet.  I think the guy who needs to play that role is Girardi, but he seems better at creating controversy (see Fact #3) than stopping it.  He certainly caused more column inches to be wasted on this today by his choice of catchers.  Which leads me to my final fact.

Fact: No matter what you think, Posada would catch AJ in the playoffs.   

The New Lefty

In a last second change of heart, Billy Wagner decided he did want to come to Boston and waived his no-trade clause.

Piecing together various reports:

 – Red Sox will assume the rest of his 2009 salary (approx $2mm)

 – The Red Sox agreed not to exercise his 2010 option

 – The Red Sox did retain the right to offer him salary arbitration (he is a Type A as of this post meaning the Red Sox would get a first round pick and a sandwich pick in the 2010 draft if he signs elsewhere).

 – The Mets will get two AA level pitchers as compensation

 – A fight has been scheduled, underneath the bleachers, at midnight, between Wagner and Jonathan Papelbon.

I like this addition.  There are risks as Wagner is 38 and is coming off Tommy John surgery, but with Enrique Gonzalez on the 25-man and Brad Penny without a rotational spot (seriously, Gonzalez is better than Penny right now), there are 2 main candidates to be cut.

Adding a power lefty to the pen is always a good thing, but what worries me most is what we’ve seen in recent years with the Red Sox.  They go out and get a decent National League arm only to have that arm fizzle, loudly.  Examples include Eric Gagne, John Smoltz and Brad Penny.  Of course Takashi Saito has seemingly made the adjustment and obviously it can be done.

But the AL East is a tough place to learn the American League.

No word if we can expect to see Wagner tonight.  The Mets are playing in Florida tonight and given the deadline on this deal, I have to assume the Mets charter had already landed in FLA or was well on its way.  I think John Henry might shuttle Wagner back up North in his private plane, no?

A Small Complaint

Joel Sherman wrote an amuisng piece in the Post today about how Yankees’ fans are having to dig for things to complain about.  While I agree to most of it, I think he forgot one issue that will be a problem in thr future if it isn’t corrected and that is Phil Hughes and his lack of innings. Today is August 25th and so far Hughes has thrown 8 innings in the month.  For the season he has thrown about 90 innings between the majors and minors.

This isn’t a problem right now, it is a problem for 2010.  We know the first three rotation spots are going to C.C., A.J. and Joba and I would put it at 60-40 that the Yankees bring Pettitte back.  That leaves one rotation spot and that spot belongs to Hughes.  The problem is Hughes isn’t throwing a lot of innings this year and that will impair his ability to throw a lot next year.  

The Yankees need to figure out a way to get more innings from Hughes.  Whether it is spot starting him after rosters expand or bringing him into pitch the 7th and 8th innings of games, they need to get creative.  Otherwise, we will spend all next summer playing the innings limit game again. 

6-9 Means Little

So, do you look at things and say the Yankees have lost nine-of-fifteen to the Red Sox?  Or do you say they have won six-of-seven?  Aren’t stats great?

Here’s what I am willing to say on August 24th. The Yankees have a better chance of making the playoffs than the Red Sox right now.  In fact, they have a significantly better chance because even if they blow the division they could make it as the wild card, but beyond that who knows.  If these two teams meet in the ALCS I would flip a coin. 

That’s a topic for another day.  For now the Yankees passed another test and leave Boston with a 7-1/2 game lead.  38 games to go. 

Further Evidence

Further Evidence that Jonathan Papelbon is a doofus. Basically Papelbon doesn’t think Billy Wagner would help the club and was entirely disrespectful, in my mind, when talking about the idea.

ESPN has the following quote from Papelbon on WEEI: "What has he done? Has he pitched this year? Is he ready to pitch or is he not? I think our bullpen is good where we’re at right now. Don’t get me wrong. But I guess you could always make it better. It’s kind of like the Gagne thing, I guess."

What is he thinking?  Isn’t Billy Wagner better than Enrique Gonzalez?  Seriously?  Isn’t he potentially better than almost anyone in the bullpen?  Why is he even talking about it?  He clearly lacks the "better left unsaid" gene.  Completely low-grade.

He toned things down again with the following to Providence Journal:  "We have a good dynamic down there in the bullpen and guys who work well together.  Is Billy Wagner a good pitcher? Will he bring more depth to our bullpen and make our bullpen better? There’s no question about it. But you still have to think about what we have now and what we’ve been able to accomplish to this point in the season."

Ok, Papelbon has spoken, the bullpen is the best ever and cannot be improved.

Granted, if the rumors are true that Wagner wants the Red Sox to guarantee that they A.) won’t exercise his 2010 option and B.) will not offer him salary arbitration.  The only way they agree to that is if the Mets basically give him away.  Silly demands for a player that wants to win, and more like demands from a pitcher that wants to get paid more money and doesn’t concern himself with winning.

So much turmoil, baseball ribaldry!