This And That

I know this, Nick Swisher has a OPS of over .900.  He sees a lot of pitches and he can hit balls over the wall.  Oh yes, he is also a switch-hitter.  He’s should be the #2 hitter in the current lineup, no questions asked.

Yes, I am a Brett Gardner fan and yes, Gardner has done a lot this year.  But, Gardner is not going to hit for power.  Ideally, he is going to put up a line of .300/.380/.400 with 50-60 steals.  That’s nothing to sneeze at and the Yankees should be thrilled if he does that.  That still doesn’t make him the #2 hitter.  

It’s always struck me as funny that managers have never embraced the truth about lineups- essentially, the lineup is just a way of handing out playing time.  For every spot you move down the lineup, that hitter has about 20 less plate appearances over the course of a season.  So, Jeter hitting first would have approximately 60 more plate appearances than A-Rod hitting fourth over the course of a year.  The difference between the #2 spot and the #8 spot is 120 plate appearances.

So, it makes a lot of sense to give the "extra" 120 plate appearances to Swisher over Gardner, after all Swisher might park one.  And yes, tonight he did exactly that.  Using last year’s numbers, Swisher would probably hit five more dingers than Gardner would out of the #2 spot.

*****

Very nice to see another good appearance from Robertson.  I still say he is going to be the "7th inning" guy and maybe even the 8th inning guy when Joba isn’t available.  If Gaudin can come in and provide innings, I hope the Yankees consider letting Aceves try out for 7th inning guy.  I bet he would be great at it. 

*****

Russo looked pretty good again.  I hope the Yankees give him an infield start tomorrow.  If his glove can handle that, he should definitely stick when Granderson comes back Friday.  

Gaudin Is Back

According to Mark Feinsand, the Yankees have agreed to a minor league deal with Chad Gaudin and he will be activated after the Twins and Yankees complete the suspended game today. 

I’m all for trying Gaudin again.  Yes, his Oakland numbers were hideous, but while looking at that 8+ ERA, consider the fact that his walks were down, his strikeouts were up and his BABIP was .431.   His problems stemmed from giving up a lot more flyballs.  Is that something that will change in New York?  To me, it’s worth finding out for a low price.

Now the big question with Gaudin’s addition is who get sent away?  The Yankees could send a hitter down (please no!) but even if they did, they still need to create a 40-man spot for Gaudin.  I don’t think they are ready to put Aceves on the 60-day DL, that would seem to be an overreaction to news that he needs further tests.  Shane Lindsay hasn’t pitched for the Yankees yet, not sure why.  Obviously, they could kill two birds with one stone if they gave up on Chan Ho Park, but that seems unlikely.  They could also do the same with Randy Winn and that’s my guess.  100% speculation, but I think the move will be Winn DFA’ed and Gaudin activated.  Then when Granderson is ready Logan gets sent to the minors and the team goes back to 12 pitchers. 

UPDATE (6:47) Is this a hint?  Girardi announced on the pre/post game show that Russo is in the lineup tonight with Thames as DH.  Hmmmm

UPDATE (7:05) I was wrong about Winn.  They DFA’ed Lindsey (that was fast) and demoted Logan (two days early on that part.  So, still 12 pitchers which is good.  Now we can wait and see what happens Friday, but I think the chances of Winn sticking are near 100%  It makes no sense to keep him today and cut him Friday because it costs you a player (Lindsey)  So, perhaps Russo in left is about seeing if he can hit enough to keep him over Pena?

 

Don’t Look Now

Don’t look now but the Red Sox find themselves 1.5 games out of the wild card.  Having won 7 of their last 8, the Red Sox have snuck up in the standings.

First off, I think we can put to bed the notion that David Ortiz is done.  He got out of the gate poorly, again, but has turned things around to the tune of a .878 OPS with most of his damaging coming in May.  Ortiz is .359/.408/.781/1.190 in since May 1.  He might not keep that up, but he is probably more like the player we saw from June 1st on in 2009.  He’ll never hit 50 HRs again (lob your steroid jokes here), but he is good for decent production.

Kevin Youkilis is the main offensive force for the Red Sox and Adrian Beltre, even though I cannot stand watching him hit, has been productive.  Beltre’s at bats are just so opposite of what I’ve come to appreciate about Red Sox hitters.  No patience, no selectivity, but if he can maintain his .327 average, then his obp and slg will probably be just fine and I can more than cope.

The next reason, and probably the biggest reason, is pitching.  The staff has posted a 1.90 ERA over the same period with a WHIP of 1.03.  Since my 2nd to last post, a mere 8 days ago, the staff has cut its ERA by half a run.

Things have been going well especially with the return of Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron.

Speaking of Ellsbury, he might not be out of the woods injury-wise just yet.  He reported some soreness and was a scratch from last night’s game.

Observations from Tuesday night:  Adrian Beltre has seemingly found his way with the glove making 2 great diving, ranging plays to his left.  Manny Delcarmen has found his fastball posting 95 mph heat in the 7th inning.  Daniel Bard has one of the easiest, effortless deliveries I’ve seen.  There is a buzz when he comes into the game what with his ability to light up the radar.

Last observation, it is amazing how quickly things can change.  I was really worried about this team just a week ago and while I can’t say with any certainty they have figure things out, their play has improved enough to at least allow me to think they could make the playoffs.  There’s a reason people say "it’s a long season."

Interesting Lineup

The Yankees have put Kevin Russo in left tonight with a RHP on the mound.  I’m just spitballing here, but that makes me think they are considering releasing Winn when Granderson comes back. 

Winn hasn’t done much hitting this year, but the hitting he has done has been strictly from the left side of the plate.  (0-11 against LHP)  Winn is also a switch-switch hitter with Russo being a righty, so Girardi is ignoring the book with this move. 

I like it and I also like the move of putting Teixeira at DH tonight.  The Yankees have to find a way to get his bat going again. Overall, Teixeira’s May numbers look good (.836 OPS) but that was all done early in May.  Over the last two weeks he has put up a .626 OPS and over the last week he was 3-for-21 with one of those hits that baltimore chop against the Mets in the 9th Sunday.  It’s time for his to get going and it’s time for the Yankees, losers of 9-of-15 to get going again too.  Boston has revived as expected and Tampa looks awfully good.  The schedule gets very favorable after this series, but it would certainly be nice to get two of the next three as well. 

Who Goes?

Curtis Granderson played with Scranton yesterday which puts him on track to rejoin the Yankees sometime later this week.  Probably at home on Friday, but he could possibly come back in the Minnesota series. The question is, once Granderson is ready, what’s the roster move the Yankees are going to make?

The obvious move is to demote Russo.  He can be returned to Scranton and the Yankees can recall hm when another injury inevitably occurs.  But, this is also the wrong move because Russo is quickly showing he has a place in the bigs with his bat.  That walk he drew last night in the 8th inning was a very impressive at bat.  Add in his positional flexibility, and Russo could be a very valuable piece on a team with older players who need some rest. 

The Yankees might agree with that and send Ramiro Pena down when Granderson comes back.  Pena is a whiz with the glove, but his bat is woeful.  It probably will never turn into much, but some time in the minors playing everyday could help him become a better hitter.  The problem with this scenario is that we don’t know how good Russo is with the glove in the infield.

That brings me to the move the Yankees should make when Granderson comes back, releasing Randy Winn.  Winn was brought in to hit lefty pitching and provide solid defense and speed off the bench.  The defense has been pretty good, but the hitting hasn’t happened.  Winn hit .262/.318/.352 last season and that coupled with his line of .213/.300/.295 this season makes me wonder if he is simply finished as a player.  

If the Yankees kept Russo, they could use him as a righty platoon partner with either Gardner or Granderson (more on that in a moment) and use Thames as a platoon partner with Miranda.  That would keep Thames’ bat in the lineup against LHP, which is good and also keep Thames’ glove out of the field, which is really good.  

As for the platoon in the outfield, the Yankees need to seriously consider sitting Granderson instead of Gardner against LHP.  Gardner’s OPS of .698 against LHP is not terrible, especially when you compare it with Granderson’s .413 OPS against LHP.   The Yankees won’t do it, but sitting Granderson against lefties instead of Gardner looks like the smart move at this point.

But that’s an argument for another day.  For now it’s simply a matter of keeping Russo on the roster when Granderson returns.  

 

I Had To Laugh

I have trouble listening to Yankees games.  On YES, I am not a fan of Michael Kay’s shtick and I find him a shameless homer.  (I may be in the minority at objecting to that, but I have always felt announcers should just tell it like it is)  On the radio you have John Sterling who needs some new eyeglasses because he seems to think every flyball is headed for the moon. 

So, I will admit I got a good laugh out of the ten minutes that they spent on the air tonight extolling Javier Vazquez’s bunt in the 7th.  It seemed pretty clear to me on the first view that Javy had wrapped most of his right hand around the barrel of the bat.  It seemed even clearer that I was correct when Vazquez went into the dugout, met with the trainers and left with them holding his index finger.  But, the guys on YES kept talking about what a great bunt it was and how the finger problem had to be a blister on a humid night.   (I guess it is humid, but it is also only about 70 degrees, not exactly mid-July weather tonight)  I hope the Yankees’ coaches are reminding all the pitchers "fingers in back" tonight.

Either way, the good news is that Javy dodged a bullet.  His x-rays were negative and the Yankees have the advantage of a day off on on Monday.  If they want, they can give Javy eight days off if needed to get ready for his next start.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because he looks like he is remembering how he pitched in the past and starting to remind people about his FIRST half in 2004.

What has to concern you is Mariano.  I wonder if it is simply a matter of not enough work, but something seems to be missing. One clue might be his groundball to flyball ratio, which is currently at 0.62.  Rivera is at about a 1 for his career and hasn’t given up more flyballs than grounders in a season since 2002.  More discouraging is the fact that hitters had a .167 BABIP against him entering tonight.  Add it all up and statistically he is giving up more flies and getting lucky on the ones he does.  That is not a formula that will garner a lot of success in the long run.

And finally a very nice job by Kevin Russo.  Russo has shown an ability to draw a walk in the minors and his seems versatile enough with the glove that he can play all over the diamond.  Jerry Hairston got a World Series ring last year, despite a career OPS below .700 because he can play all over the place.  Russo looks like he has more pop than that and the Yankees have him under their control for the next five-plus years.  That could be a valuable weapon off the bench. 

A Bad Homestand But…

I know, the Yankees lost 4-of-7 on their recent homestand and looked pretty bad against Tampa.  But, I would argue that the 3-4 record on the homestand was ok considering that they played the three best teams (besides the Yankees) in the AL and they played most of the games without four of the original players in the starting lineup this season. 

But enough about excuses because now the Yankees have a period where execution is the name of the game.  Over their next 19 games they will play the Mets, Twins, Cleveland, Baltimore, Toronto and Houston.  Apart from Minnesota, what team in that group do you consider a challenge for the Yankees?  (Yes, I know Toronto is off to a great start, but do you really expect it to last?)   The point is, even with a depleted lineup, the Yankees should be able to run off some wins over the next three weeks.  12-7 over these 19 games is certainly attainable.

******
Interesting move by the Yankees yesterday recalling Kevin Russo instead of Golson or a different outfielder.  I hope it means the Yankees will let Russo fill in around the infield when they want to rest a Jeter or A-Rod and reduce Pena to defensive replacement only.  What I am unsure of is how much defensively Russo can contribute in the outfield.  But, with Swisher back, Winn should be the predominant choice in left and Thames can go back to a DH role. 

*******

Lost in the hoopla of the last few games has been some positive signs from David Robertson.  Robertson is looking more like his 2009 self and that is a HUGE development for the Yankees.  I assume Joba will straighten out, but if he doesn’t the Yankees have a real problem on their hands.  A 2009 version of Robertson would greatly reduce that problem.  

Where it certainly looks like they are having a problem is with Chan Ho Park.  Eight innings pitched and five home runs allowed is a reason for concern.  Thankfully, he hasn’t walked anyone or his ERA would be enormous, but his strikeout rate is also way down.  He is getting lucky on balls hit (only a .250 average against him) and his fastball velocity is actually a tick higher than last year.  Put it all together and Park may not last the remainder of May with this team.

 

The Answer Is…

Jack Curry is reporting that Chad Moeller is on his way to New York with Nick Johnson being shifted to the 60-day DL.  That means Johnson will not be eligible to return until July 8th. 

No word on any other move, but I will update this post as more information becomes available.

Who Gets The Call?

By now you’ve probably heard the news about Posada and the hairline fracture in his foot.  He is headed to the DL.  (Just a side note, how come nobody thought to x-ray or test this foot before yesterday?)  That means the Yankees have to recall a catcher from AAA and that means there is a chance we could see Jesus Montero in the big leagues.

There are two reasons I believe we could see Montero.  The first is, no matter what they do, the Yankees are going to have to add a catcher to the 40-man roster to get a catcher to the Bronx.  So, they might just want to add Montero now, since he obviously will be on the 40-man in the near future. 

The second reason is, Montero would have a chance to get some serious playing time right now.  Obviously, he would backup Cervelli and catch, but you may have noticed the Yankees are running out of bodies on the bench.  Montero could step in as a DH on most nights and with the Yankees scheduled to face two LHP’s this weekend, albeit without the DH, they might want another righty power bat available.  

However, there are very good reasons that he won’t be promoted.  First, he is hitting all of .230 right now in AAA with a sub-.400 slugging.  Additionally, he was benched last weekend for not running out a ground ball.  Throw in the fact that Miranda can DH and Thames is not expected to miss significant time and I would bet we will see Chad Moeller make his return to New York tonight.

One thing’s for sure, the Yankees have two moves they are going to make today.  I imagine the first one is Posada to the DL for Golson and the second is Melancon back to the minors for a catcher.  Hopefully, the last two night’s have cured the Yankees of their desire to carry 13 pitchers.  

It’s A Mystery

Corey and Mitchell commented on it and I am still fuming over it, how on Earth can the Yankees send down an outfielder last night knowing that Swisher and Posada were hurt?  I get the need to protect the pitching staff from burnout, but there are many creative things the Yankees could have done last night. 

For instance, why not let Andy Pettitte pitch an inning of relief since it was probably his day to throw anyway?  Plus, they had Vazquez available and if he pitched and couldn’t start Friday, they would have been able to go with Mitre again.  It’s not optimal, but it would have allowed them to have more than one guy available off the bench.

And the amazing thing is, they are making the same mistake tonight.  They are going to keep 13 pitchers on the team with Posada and Swisher banged up.  That means the Yankees have to start Thames in right, the only other choice would be Ramiro Pena!  

I really don’t know what else Marcus Thames has to do to convince the Yankees his glove is for emergency purposes only. I like the guy, he is fun to watch with the bat, but I close my eyes when the ball is hit his way.  I’m also not sure why they have him in right instead of left.  Randy Winn had five assists last season, Marcus Thames has 9 (yes 9!) in his entire career.  That, plus what I have seen with my eyes tells me that Winn has the better arm, so shouldn’t he be in right?  I remember watching a Mets game in the mid-80′s that went 20 something innings and they ended up with a pitcher in the outfield and they shuttled him between right and left depending on whether a righty or a lefty was up.  Maybe the Yankees can look into that with Thames and Winn?

Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.  The Yankees got burned carrying 13 pitchers last night, tonight they are going to try it again.  Perhaps they are just crazy?

UPDATE 9:20pm- Something tells me that they are going to get an outfielder added to the roster now.  I’m no doctor, but that looked like Marcus Thames rolled his ankle at the very least. LoHud is reporting Thames sprained the ankle.  Now appearing in right is Ramiro Pena.  Yikes, this is getting really bad.