Draft Update

Jim Callis is reporting the Yankees have signed their first and second round picks.  He also reported earlier this morning that they had signed their fifth round pick as well.

Who really knows if any of these guys will work out, but after last year’s draft disaster it’s nice to see the Yankees actually get the guys into the system.  

Who Are These Guys?

Saturday night’s Red Sox/Rangers game featured far too many players I know nothing about.  And I’m talking about Red Sox players.

First off, why is Brian Anderson on the team?  Why is Fernando Cabrera on the team?  Why did the Red Sox trade for Alex Gonzalez?

What is happening around here?  Does this team value on base percentage?  Doesn’t this team follow trends?  Isn’t a guy with a 1.494 career whip someone to stay away from?  Doesn’t a guy with a career .288 OBP belong in the Independent Leagues?

I realize injuries are hitting the "ludicrous speed" level on the Red Sox roster right now, but aren’t there better options?  Let’s talk about Brian Anderson, the player they traded Mark Kotsay for (I’m dangling prepositions baby!!!).  Anderson is a very bad hitter.  He has moderate power, unfortunately he couples that with nothing good.  20 home runs in 782 at bats.  Did I mention he has struck out 203 times and only walked 62 times while hitting .225?

The good news with Anderson is he WILL get DFAed as soon as tomorrow when Rocco Baldelli is activated.

As for Cabrera, clearly the front office thinks they can harness this kid (does 27 years old still qualify as a kid?).  Isn’t that the epitome of arrogance, believing you can help a pitcher that no one else has?  He walks too many but lures you into believing he can be better by striking out more than 1 per inning (189 k’s in 170 IP in the majors).

Fine, perhaps the Red Sox can harness this kid’s ability, but let’s try doing that in the Arizona Fall League, or the Dominican Winter League, not mid-August in a playoff hunt.

Lastly, back to Gonzalez, he is a fine fielder, if you look at his career work, but he isn’t good anymore.  The Boston Globe’s Adam Kilgore was able to look through the nonsense I heard on Sports Radio on Friday and basically spelled out why Gonzalez isn’t what you think he is (coach Dennis Green, are you listening?).

Gonzalez is no longer getting to that many balls and while he does handle the ones he does get to, he isn’t a "plus" shortstop anymore.  In fact, Kilgore’s research suggest Nick Green would be the better option, not only because he is a superior defender, but because he is hitting much better than is Gonzalez.  Not to beat a dead horse, but Gonzalez is terrible at the plate.  Terrible.

So Saturday night featured Jason Varitek – .754 OPS in 2009, Gonzalez – .554 OPS in 2009, and Brian Anderson .641 OPS in 2009.

That’s not going to get it done.  If an inning started with any of these 3, you might as well have turned the channel.  This is not the bottom 3 of a playoff team.  Come on!  I can’t say it more clearly than that.  This is a terrible disappointment.

The depth on this team is scary bad right now, but also confusing.  When you look at the injuries and/or surprisingly ineffective players in 2009, there have been some bad breaks, but I’m not sure why the Red Sox management has chosen to replace injured/ineffective players with the ones they have.

Things have to change.

Terry, You Dodged a Bullet

In Friday night’s game, NESN showed a replay of Victor Martinez returning to the dugout in the top of the 9th after scoring the Red Sox 6th run. Manager Terry Francona is seen enthusiastically congratulating Martinez.

Now you might ask, ‘so what, he does that with everone.’ Well, that probably is true, but Terry Francona made a very confusing and potentially disasterous move in the 9th. With no one out, Jacoby Ellsbury on first, Jason Varitek on second and Dustin Pedroia at bat, Francona pulled Varitek in favor of…Clay Buchholz. Clay Buchholz?!?

Now I’m sure Buchholz is faster than is Varitek, but he is a pitcher…and this is the American League. Well, wouldn’t you know it, Pedroia hit a ball to the left field fence that ricocheted off the wall presumably scoring Buchholz, except that Buchholz misread the play (the lighted scoreboard embedded in the left field wall didn’t help) and ultimately got thrown out at home, by a wide margin, and he went in head-first, a serious no-no for a pitcher.

I just don’t get it, I think Francona was desperate and was completely irresponsible with that move. Buchholz could have blown out any part of his arm/shoulder area and, more importantly, he has no clue what to do on the basepaths. Fortunately, Victor Martinez put the Red Sox ahead with his 2-run double and ultimately scored. The look we saw on Francona’s face as he congratulated Martinez was relief, relief that his silly move didn’t cost the Red Sox A.) the game and B.) the season for a young, talented pitcher.

I guess every manager is entitled to a few dodged bullets in a season and this definitely qualifies. I generally don’t engage in second-guess Francona as he has proved himself a competent manager, but I couldn’t let this one slide.

The Red Sox poured it on in the 9th and came away with a very important road win against their closest wild-card competition. Good start to the road trip.

The Once and Current Shortstop

Update:  I was wrong about Gonzalez’s salary for this year, he is on the books for $5.4mm.  Reports are out that the Reds are sending $1.1mm to Boston to offset part of his salary and the Red Sox are sending them A – shortstop Kris Negron.

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The Red Sox acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez today from the Reds.  Gonzalez cleared waivers and was traded to Boston.  Boston.com isn’t clear on what the Red Sox are sending in return.

He makes $4.5mm this year and there is a team option of $6mm for 2010.

Gonzalez is hitting very poorly this year with a .210 average, a .258 OBP and a .296 SLG (which means he makes it just over a quarter of the way to first base in each at bat) for a scrawny OPS of .554.  Wow is that bad.

His defense is average at best this year it would seem.  He makes the plays he gets too, but it seems he isn’t getting to as many balls as he did in the past as he has posted below league average range factors on a per 9 inning basis and a per game basis.

So Gonzalez is seen as an upgrade over recently acquired Chris Woodward, but really, it isn’t that big an improvement.  What do you expect for this time of year?

And Here We Go Again

The New York Post is having trouble with its website or I would link to a story that isn’t "clickable" right now. In fact you can only read the first paragraph, but here that is:

SEATTLE — Joe Girardi didn’t make it official before last night’s game, but it appears Joba Chamberlain will start Sunday against the Mariners and not Wednesday in Oakland 

Totally agree with that decision because Mitre and Gaudin back-to-back is asking for trouble, but my head hurts from how this decision has whipsawed from one place to another.  I wish the Yankees high command would just come out and be honest with everyone about what the goal is with Joba and when they plan to pitch him.  

This Is Interesting

So here we are in the Top of the 10th and that’s Chad Gaudin on the mound.  Not that I have a problem with using him, but isn’t he Sunday’s starter? 

It will be interesting to see if that changes if he has to pitch a lot today.  You would have to think it would.   

UPDATE: Two innings from Gaudin, not sure if that will affect the Yankees’ plans.  You could have had a very interesting situation if they had not won that game when they did.  With A-Rod drilled in the elbow and only Molina on the bench, you were probably looking at Teixeira going to third if A-Rod couldn’t keep it going. 

Anyway, on to Seattle.

5 For Fighting

MLB announced today that Kevin Youkilis will be suspended for 5 games for his part in last night’s brawl.

Ouch.  I think that ought to make any other Red Sox player think long and hard before charging the mound again (as long and hard as one can given the circumstances).  Rick Porcello also got 5 games.  Basically he’ll miss one start while Youkilis misses 5 games.  Make it pretty clear who MLB thought was the main culprit here.

Boston.com says both have appealed meaning they can play in the meantime.

Fireworks

Didn’t Kevin Youkilis look like a linebacker last night?  His pursuit of Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello made me think of pre-season football what with Youkilis looking slightly hunched over, keeping his center of gravity low and not falling for any head-fakes.  He came right in and made the tackle.  From what I could see, not a punch was thrown.  For a bench clearing brawl, it was over very quickly and there was no spill over or simultaneous fights.

I’m not sure last night’s game was a tipping point, but certainly some frustrations were released.  A night after Brad Penny hit Miguel Cabrera and Detroit’s Edwin Jackson hit Youkilis, Red Sox rookie Junichi hit Cabrera again in the first to load the bases.  Porcello then threw at Victor Martinez, and missed, but did hit Youkilis in the bottom of the 2nd thus setting off the fireworks.

Oddly enough, the ejection of Youkilis forced Mike Lowell into the game only have Lowell become the night’s offensive hero hitting 2 home runs.

Youkilis is sure to get suspended as while chasing down Porcello, he also threw his helmet at him.  At least Youkilis made Terry Francona’s job of fitting in too many players into too few spots a bit easier for the next few games.

Tazawa pitched very well after a bumpy first inning and got his first major league win.  I hope he can lay claim to a rotation spot, even after Tim Wakefield returns.  Wakefield, by the way, is set to return next week, but the video of him shown on NESN last night made me think his year is done.  He was running from the mound to first and had an enormous limp.  No way he can be that close to coming back.

Operation Fortitude?

In World War 2 the allies contructed huge armies of inflatable tanks and plywood artillery to convince the Germans they were going to invade Europe at a location other than Normandy.  Codenamed "Operation Fortitude" it worked and the much more famous "Operation Overlord" (D-Day) came off successfully.

I have been thinking about that today as I read the papers and listen to the chatter about the "Joba Plan" which is quickly crossing into the absurd. Here’s what we know right now.

  1. Joba doesn’t know when he is going to make his next start. Joe Girardi informs him after every start when the next one will be.
  2. There is some sort of innings limit on Joba, but nobody will say what it is.
  3. Joba will not go back into the pen, instead his starts will be spaced out or shortened to keep him below his innings number.

Sometimes the Yankees just get too clever for their own good.  All of this is just one big distraction and the New York press is going to keep all over this until they get some answers.  Plus, this can not be easy on Joba.  The guy should only need to focus on pitching and not all of this other crap.  Posada had an interesting quote in the paper that I think nails it:

“It’s tough what he’s been going through. He doesn’t know when he’s going to pitch. It’s tough to mentally put it all together. I think he’s doing everything he can to stay focused, but it’s tough.” 

Maybe the Yankees will realize that Jorge is right and knock this off.  Maybe fans need new t-shirts, how about "Free Joba"? 

What’s The Plan?

Mitchell pointed it out in the comments of another post, but it sounds like the Yankees plan on giving Gaudin a start Sunday in place of Joba Chamberlain.  The only problem is, to this point I can’t tell what the exact plan is.  Do they plan on skipping Joba entirely or is this just to move him back a day? 

I would assume they are not moving him back by only a day.  If you look at the rotation we should see AJ pitch tomorrow with CC, Pettitte, Mitre and Gaudin pitching against Seattle.   That sets up AJ to pitch again Monday in Oakland and Saturday in Boston and CC to pitch Tuesday in Oakland and Sunday in Boston.  Unless of course they are going to pitch Joba Monday in Oakland which means he could pitch Saturday in Boston, but then CC misses the Red Sox entirely.   Ugh, my head hurts now.

What I hope the Yankees do is skip Joba entirely.  AJ and Sabathia on regular rest in Oakland and then let Joba start Friday at Fenway with AJ and CC following him.  

As for the idea of using Gaudin, I am all for it, but not on the day after a Mitre start.  I think Gaudin will be better than Mitre, but that really isn’t saying much.  If Mitre pitches like he has on Saturday and Gaudin delivers a clunker on Sunday, you probably lose both games and burn out the pen.  

But, until we see something else in writing (morning papers?) we don’t really know how the Yankees are going to proceed from here.  Stay tuned.