Could Cervelli Make The Postseason Roster?

Last night was another good start by AJ Burnett, something very positive to see, but it also came with Jose Molina behind the plate.  Molina has been behind the plate a lot recently when Burnett pitches and it is becoming increasingly hard to ignore the fact that Burnett has put up a line of .212/.303/.333 with Molina catching him and .270/.353/.421 with Posada catching him. 

Now Burnett has one more start and that is Sunday and I am very curious to see what the Yankees do.  Will they try and put the combination of Posada and AJ back together again and hope it works?  Or will they bow to the gorwing evidence that those two can’t play nicely with each other?  And what happens if Posada catches Burnett and he blows up again?

I think the answer to that is Francisco Cervelli making the postseason roster.  That would allow the Yankees more flexibility in pinch-running for Posada and allow them to use Posada as the DH if Molina caught AJ.  The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Cervelli is going to make it.  Just another thing to watch in this final week. 

Dumb Luck

The Red Sox managed to drunkenly stumble into the playoffs last night, despite riding a 5-game losing streak.  The Texas Rangers made life easy by losing to the Angels thus clinching Boston’s post-season reservation.

They have been playing poorly, but I’m not going to worry too much about their on-field play, instead I’m more concerned with the healthy of Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell as well as having an eye on a hot-button topic:  how are the Red Sox going to stop the running game?  Sounds like a question for Bill Belichick, doesn’t it?

First the health issues.  Mike Lowell had an injection into his hip and is out for a few games.  The injections done in anticipation of the playoffs in hopes that it will allow him to stay healthy.  Beckett had 3 cortisone shots in his back but he describes it as a minor deal.  Good.

As for the nightly track meet in the Red Sox infield, things are scary.  Peter Gammons brought this up first a week ago (at least from a media standpoint), when he talked about the inability of the Red Sox to prevent stolen basis.  Some facts:

The Red Sox have allowed 150 stolen bases in 2009.  They’ve thrown out 23 would be base stealers.  That’s a caught rate of…13%.

Jason Varitek has allowed 106 and caught 16 (13%).  Victor Martinez has allowed 17 and caught 2 (11%).  George Kottaras has allowed 26 and caught 5 (16%).

Ugly.  The Red Sox have to get this under control as the Yankees exploited their problems this year, as did the Rays and several other teams.  Obviously putting all the blame on the catchers isn’t fair as the pitchers can and need to do a better job.  It’s one thing to control the running game by not letting guys on base, but against a good line-up like the Yankees, you are always going to let guys get on base.

From an organizational standpoint, there has never been emphasis on stopping the stolen base, but if you extend every walk and single to a double, it will bite you in the buttocks (run Forrest!).  I don’t want to spend next week watching the ALDS and Chone Figgins, Torii Hunter and every other Angel taking a free base every time they get on.

Take The Long Way Home?

Whenever the Tigers and Twins settle the AL Central the Yankees will have a decision to make.  Do they want the eight-day ALDS or the seven-day ALDS?

The conventional wisdom is to take the 8-day series which would allow the Yankees to only use Sabathia, Pettitte and Burnett, but consider what that would allow Detroit to do.  Depending on what they need to do this week, the Tigers could potentially throw Verlander twice, Jackson twice and Porcello once.  That’s just as good, or maybe better than the Yankees 1-2-3 punch.

In addition, the 8-day series would allow both sides to rest their bullpens a lot.  With days off between each of the first three games and Game 4+5, you could use certainly relievers more frequently and longer.  That could be a potential advantage for the Tigers as well because their bullpen isn’t as deep as the Yankees’ and therefore would be worn out more in a the 7-day series.

The good news for New York is they don’t have to pick until they know who their opponent is.  If the Twins take the AL Central, I think the 8-day ALDS becomes the obvious choice.  But, if the Tigers are the opponent, some thought needs to go into the choice.  I would want to examine the pitchers the Tigers could throw twice in the series carefully before choosing the 8-day option.   

Guessing Tonight’s Lineup

With nothing to play for, the Yankees are going to give the regualrs a lot of rest this week.  I bet tonight they field a lineup like this:

 

Gardner- CF

Hairston- SS

Matsui-DH 

Duncan-RF 

Miranda- 1B

Hinske-3B

Cervelli- C

Pena- 2B

Guzman-LF

What’s your guess? 

Step One

You have to feel great about this team right now.  They beat the two most dangerous teams (at least in the AL) five-of-six this week and clinched the AL East and best record.  It’s a long way from 13-15 and 0-8.  

None of that matters now.  The Yankees have a week to fine tune a couple of things and most importantly, stay healthy.  You have to figure there are three questions heading into the final week.

1- Is Joba fixed?  If he has a good start this week you nod yes and cross your fingers

2- What will the postseason bullpen look like?  I would bet they take 10 pitchers.  CC, AJ, Pettitte, Mariano, Hughes, Aceves, Joba and Coke would be my locks right now.  I think Robertson and Marte are probably the favorites for the final two spots, but Gaudin could make a case as could Bruney.

3- Which ALDS format will the Yankees pick?  This one won’t be answered until we know for certain who they are going to play and how Joba pitches next week.

For now just enjoy this.  The 2009 Yankees are a fun team to root for. 

An Interesting Vibe

Well Andy survived his trip to the Bronx, and I think he came away impressed with the new place, but we will let him write about that later. 

As for me, I was amazed at the number of Yankees-Red Sox couples I saw.  I stopped counting after awhile, but it felt like everywhere you looked there was a Yankees’ fan holding hands with a Red Sox fan.  How does that relationship survive?

We also didn’t see a single fight. The closest we came was when one guy in a Youkilis jersey and one in a Jeter jersey started jawing at each other, but I think they were both too drunk to throw punches. 

Weirdest moment of the day came from a guy talking to Andy.  He was from Philly and claimed that his two favorite teams were the Yankees and Red Sox.  He really couldn’t explain it either.

 

Play Ball!

As I write this, Andy is cruising through Connecticut in his 1976 Ford Pinto for his first visit to the new place.  We will get his reaction and thoughts on the place in a blog post later this weekend.  Expect a post later today and some tweets from the Bronx throughout the game. 

A Good Start

First things first, let’s hope Jon Lester is ok.  That kid has been through more than his fair share of health issues and I hope he isn’t badly hurt.

As for the game, you couldn’t ask for a lot more from the Yankees.  Joba looked a lot better.  Was it knowing he could pitch six innings?  Was it the talk he had with Girardi?  At this point I would believe pretty much anything and I am hopeful we see that again in five days when he faces the Royals.

You also have to like the fact the Yankees ran on Boston every chance they got. Expect more of it tomorrow with Matsuzaka on the mound and I am sure the Angels will take note of that approach. 

Speaking of noticing things, is Bruney hurt?  If not, Girardi has basically shunned him off the team.  I can’t think of any other reason they would use Albie in the 7th tonight.  And speaking of the 7th, Marte may have made the playoff roster by getting Ortiz out.  I bet Girardi wants two lefties and Marte is making his case.  A bullpen of Rivera, Hughes, Aceves, Robertson, Coke and Marte would cover a lot of situations.  

More tomorrow as we celebrate Yankeesredsox.com day in the Bronx. 

Wouldn’t This Be Odd?

You could conceivably have the Yankees and Red Sox opening champagne on Sunday.  It’s an extreme longshot, but if the Yankees sweep and the Rangers get swept then Sunday you would have the Yankees as the AL East winners and the Red Sox as the wildcard winners. 

It’s too bad the Texas game on Sunday starts so much later than the Yankees’ game because that would be a sight to see.  Can you imagine it?  Ortiz grounds out to Rvera to end the game and Rivera starts to jump in the air as the Yankees swarm out of the dugout.  But, Ortiz doesn’t even get near first because he is mobbed by his teammates as they celebrate the wild card.  Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia do a fist bump and champagne is everywhere. 

 

Red Sox Numbers

Jason Varitek since June 1st: .192/.308/.313 with 20 runs, 4 home runs and 29 RBI in 253 Plate Appearances.

Jason Varitek since the trade deadline:  .129/.219/.212 in 96 PAs.  Wow…

David Ortiz since June 1st: .265/.357/.551 with 57 runs, 25 homer runs, 73 RBI in 384 PAs.

Mike Lowell since trade deadline:  .281/.347/.477 with 20 runs, 6 HRs, 24 RBI in 144 PAs.

Victor Martinez since the trade deadline:  .332/.401/.489 with 25 runs, 6 HRs, 34 RBI in 207 PAs.

Jon Lester since June 1:  10-2, 129.1 IP, 2.16 ERA, 141 K’s.

Josh Beckett since mid-August:  2-2, 50.1 IP, 5.90 ERA, 13 HR allowed.

Manny Delcarmen 2nd half:  3-1, 7.15 ERA, 22.2 IP, 26 H, 16 BB, 18 K’s.

Daniel Bard since August 1st:  2-2, 6.89 ERA, 15.2 IP, 19 H, 11 BB, 24 K’s, 4 HR.

Clay Buchholz since Sept 1st:  4-0, 1.38 ERA, 32.2 IP, 24 H, 8 BB, 22 K’s, 1 HR.

Takashi Saito 2nd half:  1-1, 0.79 ERA, 22.2 IP, 16 hits, 11 BB, 23 K’s.

From a trend standpoint, the bullpen seems to be figuring itself out for post-season play.   Delcarmen and Bard might be spectators (or mop-up options) while Saito has pitched his way into a more prominent role.  Billy Wagner too.

Jason Varitek has been a vacuum.  It is tough to watch, as he got off to a good start, but has completely disappeared.  I see now why the Red Sox saw the Victor Martinez trade as more than just a nice addition to the line-up.  He has been vital providing significant offense and, by catching, it has allowed Terry Francona to bench Varitek.  Come playoff time, I am not expecting to see Varitek at all baring injury and or a blow-out situation.

David Ortiz has also put together a fine 2/3 of a season.  He isn’t the player he was in 2007, but he is still dangerous.

As for the rotation, I think we are going to see Lester, Beckett and Buchholz with Matsuzaka as the 4th starter when/if needed.

Big weekend in New York, not so much for standings and playoff spots, but because the Red Sox have been roughed up by the Yankees of late and it’d be nice for them to stop that trend.

Look for me, I’ll be the Red Sox fan getting pummeled in the stands by angry Yankee fans.