Thank You- Sort of

I asked and apparently I received.  Kevin Russo is up and active with the team.  Nick Johnson is going on the DL.  I don’t know if you saw the postgame last night, but he looked pretty worried when he talked about it.  No point in speculating further, but Juan Miranda might get a callup when he heals from being HBP in Scranton.

The problem of course is that if the move is indeed Johnson to the DL for Russo, that still leaves 13 pitchers on the roster.  And, since Posada is again out of the lineup.  That leaves a bench of Posada with his cranky calf, Cano with his cranky knee (though Girardi said he could play if he feels ok in BP) and Russo. The papers today were full of stories about Joe Girardi looking at Javier Vazquez and asking him if he used to play infield during last night’s game.  So, why didn’t the Yankees take advantage of Johnson’s injury to recall Golson and turn Sanchez into Russo? Hughes gave them seven innings last night and while Robertson and Logan each worked an inning, they only threw 24 and 11 pitches respectively.  Do you really need that extra reliever under those circumstances?

UPDATE (2PM): Sweeny Murti is reporting that Cano will DH today and that Johnson received a cortisone shot in his wrist and Brian Cashman said he would be out "several" weeks.

 

Get Me Russo!

Kevin Russo has played 2B/3B/SS and CF this season at Scranton and before tonight he was hitting .304/.388/.422.  The Yankees need to get him up to the bigs before Saturday’s game.  

I’ve griped and yelled and screamed about this over and over again, but carrying 13 pitchers is just way too risky in the AL.  It leaves you with only three guys on the bench and the Yankees came way too close to running out of position players tonight.  After Johnson and Cano left, Jeter got drilled.  If he hadn’t been able to continue the Yankees would have been forced to put Posada behind the plate, Cervelli at 3B and A-Rod at SS.  Hopefully tonight scares the Yankees into avoiding 13 pitchers at all costs in the future.  It is absolutely criminal in my mind that the Yankees demoted Golson before tonight’s game.  With Mariano available and yesterday’s offday, they had six relievers available why in the world did they need another pitcher?  Girardi kept referring to his "card being a little short today", the solution to that is don’t carry 13 pitchers!!

Since I started this post, Joe Girardi has basically said the Yankees are gong to make a DL move tomorrow and it will probably be an infielder.  That practically guarantees Russo is going to be on his way.  Nick Johnson sounds like he might be in big trouble.  Boston has wonderful hospitals, but the Yankees have decided to send him back to New York for tests.  This was the risk with Johnson, great OBP, but very, very brittle.  If he is gone for significant time then the Yankees should be thankful they have Thames on the bench.

As for Cano, he sounds like he isn’t going to play tomorrow (more evidence of an IF on the way) but the long term concern is good.  The Yankees can survive losing Johnson, losing Cano would have been very tough to overcome.

Interesting reaction from CC Sabathia during Beckett’s meltdown in the sixth.  I got the impression that Sabathia felt Beckett was using the Yankees for target practice.  I’m not sure I agree with that assessment, but it will be interesting to watch if Sabathia sends a message tomorrow afternoon.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

Lost in all of this and unfairly so is an awesome start from Phil Hughes.  He is truly blossoming into the pitcher the Yankees hoped he would become.  He has four pitches and he controls all four.  Throw in his ability to dial it up into the mid 90’s and the Yankees might have thier best first round pick since 1992 when they took Derek Jeter.

Boston Bust

Did I say Boston Bonanza? Well, Boston did have representation in many pro-sport contests tonight, but finished 0-3. Two games were blow-outs and the other was just painful. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Playing For Second?

I have heard a lot of chatter as Round 2 of the Yankees-Red Sox gets started that both teams better get used to the reality that only one of them is going to make the playoffs.  The reason for this line of thinking is of course the incredibly fast start of Tampa Bay.  And the statistic most used as evidence for that is this one- the Rays are only the second team since 1961 (1984 Tigers) to have a +83 run differential over the first 28 games.

That run differential is very impressive, but like most things it is useless unless you put it in context.  I like Baseball Prospectuses’ adjusted standings which adjust for the strength of your opposition (look at column 3)  In that world the Rays +83 run differential shrinks to +41.  The Yankees +55 shrinks to +40 and Boston’s 0 rises to +13.  I should probably note that Toronto would be +18, but I am not expecting them to last this season.

It doesn’t mean that the pundits are wrong, Tampa has a very good shot of making the playoffs.  Yankees’ fans certainly remember 2008, but it also means things are not quite as lopsided as they may appear.  What it emphasizes again to me, is how important every win is going to be this year.  It is going to be a dogfight in the AL East.

******

No Posada in the lineup tonight apparently, which isn’t a shock to me.  With tomorrow’s afternoon start you had to think Posada wasn’t going to catch both games.  In that case, why not give him another day of rest?  

What is interesting, is Mark Feinsand is reporting that the Yankees will skip Pettitte for one start and use Mitre in Detroit on Monday.   Not sure why they would put him in Monday when Pettitte’s turn is coming up Tuesday and why they chose Mitre over Aceves, but I am sure we will find out.  I would suspect that another pitcher will be summoned to the bigs to help out the bullpen at the expense of Golson.  We shall see.

Back after the game with some thoughts and take a look at Twitter (http://twitter.com/YankeesRedSox) during the game for some thoughts.   We have six followers and I bet we can get that to 7 by the end of the month!

UPDATE 5:05: And LoHud is reporting that Romulo Sanchez is in the locker room in Boston with Greg Golson "nowhere to be found".  I don’t know why the Yankees would not have waited until tomorrow for this move because the bullpen should be pretty fresh with six rested arms and we already know the lineup is down Posada.  I wonder if Mariano isn’t available tonight?

UPDATE 5:40: Rivera is available tonight.  So that means the guy with the 6+ERA in Scranton and 14 walks in 25 innings is in the bullpen.  Meanwhile the bench has three guys on it with the manager trying to keep one of them, Posada, out of the game. I hope everyone in the lineup stays healthy!

Boston Bonanza

Tonight represents one of the most exciting sports nights Boston has seen in quite some time.  The Boston Celtics are playing game 3 of their playoff series, the Boston Bruins are playing game 4 of their playoff series and the Red Sox host the New York Yankees.

I don’t have picture in picture technology so I am going to be forced into much channel changing.  My left thumb should be pretty well worn out by the time the night is over.

Because this isn’t CelticsCavaliers.com nor is it BruinsFlyers.com, I’ll stick with some YankeesRedSox.com commentary.

The Red Sox are a game over .500 and trail first-place Tampa by 6.5 games and second-place NY by 5 games.  The bad news is that that is really not how you want to start a season.  The good news is that there are 133 games left.

Red Sox starting pitching has turned a corner led by Jon Lester.  And the new additions, Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro have bit reasonably well too.  Beltre hasn’t been the defensive whiz we expected however and it just seems wrong to have him in the line-up, what with his free swinging ways.

When Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron return, this team will be more complete offensively.  Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall has been a capable fill-ins, but they’d be better suited for the bench.

If Mike Cameron cannot find his swing here, then a platoon with Jeremy Hermida (split aren’t so hot in 2010, but have been in his career) might be in order.

Victor Martinez has really gotten off to a lousy start in 2010, not great timing for a player whose value is in his bat and who is in his walk year.  If he cannot hit, he certainly can’t fall back on his defense, so time to kick it in gear Victor.

Then we arrive at David Ortiz.  He has 4 more home runs than he did at this time last year, but has been otherwise terrible.  On my April 14th post, I suggested Terry Francona give him until May 1.  If no results, platoon him with Lowell.  And that seems to be exactly what he has done.  If by June 1, Ortiz doesn’t have healthy splits against righties, well then it might be time to send him packing.

Like all Red Sox vs. Yankees match-ups, this one is important.  A sweep by the Red Sox means they are right back in the wild-card hunt, while a sweep by New York means things just got much harder.  I’ll be watching tonight, but I’ll be watching 2 other games too.

Mild Inflammation (gulp)

Well the MRI is back and it shows something- namely mild inflammation of the left elbow.  As the story says, he will be treated conservatively and evaluated day-to-day. Anytime the problem with a pitcher has something to do with his throwing arm you have to worry.  Add in the fact that the pitcher in question is almost 38 and worry may be too weak of a word choice.  

The problem for the Yankees, besides the potential to lose Pettitte, is that they don’t have any flexibility right now schedule-wise.  After tomorrow’s offday, they will have 17-straight games.  Andy is going to get an extra day off between now and his next scheduled start on Tuesday, but after that there are no breaks.  Sergio Mitre threw 29 pitches today and 46 on Saturday, but how far could he really be expected to go if needed to start- 60 or so?  Aceves is in a similar boat, having thrown a season high of 34 pitches on April 14th.

If the Yankees look to the minors, they have a rotation long on potential and short on experience.  Other than Dustin Mosley and Kei Igawa, there is nobody who has started at the big league level.  Ivan Nova is 23 and pitching very well- 2.43 ERA in 37 IP.  Maybe he would get the call, but for now we all need to hope that Andy’s elbow feels better quickly.

Why Are There Still Joba Rules?

So let me get this straight, Joba Chamberlain was unavailable today because he pitched the last two days?  He couldn’t even warm up because he threw a total of 31 pitches over the last two nights?  And because of that the Yankees came very, very close to blowing a 6-1 lead today

I get not using Rivera, he has a physical problem and the Yankees are trying to avoid having him make it worse, but Joba was supposed to be free from rules this year.  Yet, Joe refused to use him because it would mean having to pitch him three-straight days.  That is a protection we have heard Girardi talk about before, but he doesn’t use it when it comes to Mariano Rivera.  Last year Rivera pitched on three-consecutive days twice in the regular season and in 2008 he did it four times, including appearing in four-consecutive games.  Who needs more protection, the fully broken in 24-year old or the (at the time) 38-year old pitcher?

I know Girardi will defend it by saying this is all about the long term, but that ignores a number of counterpoints.  First, tomorrow is an offday, no matter what Joba wasn’t going to pitch.  Next, while you can say it is only one ballgame, what is the psychological affect to your team when you blow a 6-1 lead?  And finally, with Tampa streaking and Boston getting it’s act together every game truly does count.

Again, I am not advocating using Rivera today.  I’m not eve saying Joba should have started the ninth. But once trouble struck in the ninth Joba needed to start warming up.  That when it became his game. 

I’m Intrigued

As expected the Yankees have promoted Greg Golson from AAA.  And I am curious to see Golson play with my own eyes.  The Yankees got Golson this winter and while I still don’t think he will ever hit enough to play everyday, I have stumbled on two pieces of information about him which make him an interesting player.  First, his arm is described as "laser-like" and was rated as an 80 on the scouting scale when he was drafted and second he runs a 3.8 to first out of the box.  For a righty, that is amazingly quick.

I’m not shocked by either figure, after all he was the 21st pick in the 2004 draft (Two ahead of Phil Hughes, do you think the Phillies might like a redo on that one?)  If he can run and play defense as advertised then he could be a very valuable asset in September when the rosters expand and in October when the pitchers contract.  With Granderson out for probably a month, we should definitely get a look at him in the coming weeks. 

Thirtysomething

As someone who is rapidly approaching the end of his 30’s, I can truly appreciate the aches and pains the Yankees’ older generation is going through.  Mentally, I may still be in my teens, but my body seems more than happy to disabuse me of that notion at every turn.  Tonight it was Jorge Posada leaving the game and Mariano Rivera unavailable for it that hit the Yankees.  A-Rod apparently was lifted for a pinchrunner Saturday because he felt something in his leg. 

That’s why it is so important that the Yankees got younger this offseason and why they must continue to do so year after year.  While the hot starts by Matsui and Damon may make you wonder why the Yankees let them go; considering their ages it’s likely they might suffer some of the aches and pains the older Yankees are feeling now.  It’s just nature’s way of kicking us older folks in the butt. 

Javy Skipped

Just heard on the radio that the Yankees will skip Javy Vazquez’s turn in the rotation and move his next start to Monday in Detroit.  I guess skip is the wrong word, because they are really just moving him back a couple of days. It makes sense, but I don’t think they can just have Vazquez throw a couple of bullpens and then send him out there.  They need to think about putting him in a game for an inning of relief tomorrow or Wednesday. 

I’m still not sure if Vazquez’s problems are mental or physical.  The fact that he has lost a couple of mph off of his fastball make me think something physically is wrong with him, but he also seems afraid to throw strikes which would be mental.  If I were running the Yankees I would order a MRI on his arm just to make sure, but also try and build up his confidence.  That’s why I would try and pitch him for an inning of relief against the Orioles.  If the Yankees can find a spot in a game that is a blowout, send him out there with the pressure off and see if you can get his confidence going again. 

I still think Javy will turn things around, but time is growing short for him to do so.