19 Years

Tonight was the first time since 1991 that the Yankees have lost back-to-back complete games at the Stadium.  It’s pretty amazing that a team with two pitchers like Lee and Hernandez is 11 games under .500, isn’t it?  When the Yankees get dominated like that, there is little point in dissecting it, so I will spare you my questions.  Instead, let’s look at a decision the Yankees are reportedly thinking about- whether or not to promote Dustin Moseley from AAA.

Moseley can opt out of his deal tomorrow, but I hope that doesn’t force the Yankees’ hand.  You would have to assume that Moseley would be added to the roster at the expense of Gaudin and I don’t see the reason to do that.  Gaudin is younger, has a better track record than Moseley in the bigs and has pitched better recently.  Over his last six innings, Gaudin has surrendered two hits and a walk while striking out five.  With news that Mitre and Aceves are not coming back before the All-Star Break, I would give Gaudin a chance to pitch a few more times before cutting him loose.  

As for Moseley, a guy with a 4.97 ERA in 543 innings at AAA doesn’t seem worth a roster shake up to me.  Let’s see if the Yankees agree.  

 

Feet, Thumbs and Knees

It was a rough weekend for the Red Sox as injuries hit 3 important cogs. Dustin Pedroia has a broken bone in his foot and will miss 4-6 weeks. Victor Martinez has a fracture in his thumb and could miss anywhere from a few days up to a month and Clay Buchholz hyper extended his knee in another example of AL pitchers proving they can’t run 90 feet.

The good news on Buchholz is that he is hoping to make his next start. All of this is happening at a bad time as the Red Sox have clawed their way back into contention just 2 games back of the Yankees and a game up on the imploding Rays.

Speaking of the Rays, they are in town for a quick 2-game set and then the Red Sox have a rare 2nd day off in 4 days…slackers.

If the injuries keep mounting, this will prove difficult and more pressure will be put on the pitching staff.  Red Sox pitchers have posted a 3.91 ERA in June which is nice but they will have to keep up the good work.  The offense has also been raking going .300/.373/.511 in June and scoring 154 runs, but you have to expect the offense will drop off a bit with Pedroia and Martinez out.

The most frustrating part of this team is that the starting 3 outfielders have all been hurt.  Ellsbury and Cameron have missed significant amounts of time while Drew has already had a hurt hammy and will most likely have to sit again throughout the course of the season.  But despite all of that and despite a sub-par outfield defense, the Red Sox are in the thick of it.

Theo Epstein will need to evaluate whether or not Ellsbury will be able to contribute anytime soon and if Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall represent adequate talent for the stretch drive.  With the trade deadline not too far away, the idea of trading for Adrian Gonzalez seems unlikely as the Red Sox really need outfield help (and they might not have the chips San Diego is looking for).

It surprises me every year, but we are almost at the halfway mark of the season.

Quite The Comeback

Did you get the feeling that Joe Torre really wanted that game last night?  Does anyone else think that Scott Proctor called Jonathan Broxton this morning? That was a wild game and it showed once again the good and bad sides of Joe Torre’s managing style.

Unlike the ESPN crew, I don’t knock Torre’s decision to open the 9th with Broxton.  Yes, there was a 4-run lead, but if Broxton is your best reliever why not let him face the heart of the Yankees’ order?  I imagine Torre thought that he could go with a lesser reliever and then summon Broxton if trouble arose or just put Broxton in and hopefully stop that trouble before it even started.  Let’s face it, Broxton has earned Torre’s trust. 

Instead the Yankees rallied, and that is where Torre’s loyalty played to their advantage.   I’m not sure what the exact moment was for you, but for me it was when Huffman singled to right that it became obvious that Broxton didn’t have it.  Yet, Torre kept with him through the bitter end, even after the Yankees had tied the game, and he had his closer throw 48 pitches.  That’s quite a lot for a mid-June game, especially when the guy had to throw 20 the night before and that’s the downside of Torre’s trust- he doesn’t trust many.  (Sidebar here, but why did Girardi send Cervelli to pinch hit in the 9th?  I get that Cervelli has been amazing with runners in scoring position, but he has hit .200/.302/.273 over the past 28 days and .238/.298/.307 vs RHP for the season.  Using your only other catcher in that situation, a game likely to head to extra innings, seems pretty reckless to me, why not give Pena or Russo a shot?)

But hey, it all worked out and the Yankees finished the interleague portion of their schedule with an 11-7 record.  They have 13 games until the All-Star Break and seven of those are against a last-place team.  The Red Sox have some injury trouble and the Rays are in a bit of a slide.  This could be the chance to seize the AL East.

Would You Make This Trade?

Burnett for Zambrano

Zambrano makes about $1.5 million more a year, but his contract terminates after 2012 unless he is 1st or 2nd in the Cy Young in 2011 or finishes in the top-4 in the 2012.  (So, he wouldn’t be around in 2013 unless he pitched very well in one of the next two seasons)  AJ’s deal runs through 2013.  

On the downside, Zambrano might be nuts and not in the good way like AJ.

So, one problem for another?  Any takers?

That Was A Ballgame

If you didn’t watch Friday night’s Yankees’s game, you missed a great game.  Start with the whole Torre vs. the Yankees for the first time plot.  Then add the fact that A-Rod got "revenge" against his former manager by scoring  both runs and hitting the game-winning homer.  To ramp up the tension, put Vincente Padilla, the noted Yankee headhunter, on the mound and have him hit Cano.  Then have CC administer justice back to Padilla by drilling him.  If that wasn’t enough, put Mariano on the mound in the ninth with a one-run lead and watch him stirke out the the side, including Manny Ramirez.  And to cap it off, you had Don Mattingly or Joe Torre (I’m not sure which) ejected by the home plate umpire for arguing the final strike.  In short, you had a game with an October feel to it in June.

Let The Madness Begin!

Which will be stranger tomorrow night- the sight of Torre in a Dodgers’ uniform or the sight of Mattingly in a Dodgers’ uniform? For me, and I imagine many others, it will be Mattingly, but that is purely a function of never having seen him wearing anything else.  But the thing about Mattingly is, you can picture his return to Yankee Stadium some day in the future.  Whenever Donald Arthur decides to hang it up on the coaching circuit, you know he will immediately jump to the back-5 of the line on Old Timer’s’ Day.  (Ten years from now you have to imagine Mattingly is right back there with Jeter and Rivera) 

But what will become of Torre?  The divorce from the Yankees was ugly.  The book he wrote fed into everything that Yankees’ management said about him after he left.   Yet for all his faults, and there were many in the later years, Torre handled the job with class and dignity. (Until he had the book published)  He was the one who stepped in front of the players when George came into the clubhouse like a hurricane.  He is the reason that Jeter, Pettitte, Posada and Rivera grew into the players they did.  The Yankees have been petty and foolish since he left.  Yes, it was ultimately his choice, but the Yankees also didn’t give him a lot of options. For his part, Torre should stop telling confidants that he will never set foot in the new place. 

And, October 18, 2007 is a long time ago.  (Long time readers, should check that link out, since you will see your comments on that date)  The Yankees have won a World Series while Torre has had a lot of success in LA.  This seems like a good chance for both sides to find common ground.  Can you imagine Joe Torre ever being elected to the Hall Of Fame without having managed the Yankees?  Likewise, can you imagine the Yankees winning those four titles without Torre at the helm?  It’s not a stretch to imagine that it’s 2010 in an alternate universe and the Yankees just won title #23 and Joe Torre is a very popular broadcaster for the Cardinals. It’s time to put it all to rest. Both sides need to make peace and move forward.  The Yankees could announce that Joe Torre is welcome back to New York whenever he wishes to return.  Torre could speak about how much he is looking forward to seeing Yankee Stadium in person some day.  A guy can dream I guess.

Good Move Joe

Last night was one of those games that are very tough on the East Coast fan.  The Yankees played like garbage in the early innings, completely letting Dontrelle Willis off the hook.  They really should have scored 5 runs or more in the first couple of innings, but instead they trailed 4-2.  Then they tie it up, only for Joe Girardi to make a strange bullpen choice, allow Damaso Marte to pitch the sixth. 

I imagine he looked at the Arizona lineup and saw that two of the first three hitters were lefties and figured he would go with Marte.  My question is, what are the rolls of Chan Ho Park and Chad Gaudin in that case?  Sixth inning of a tie game, I am not bringing in my lefty specialist to get multiple outs if I have other options.  Both Gaudin and Park threw 30-something pitches the other night, if that makes them unavailable for work after a day off, the Yankees should be looking for new pitchers.

So, I went into bed feeling mad and looking at a 5-4 score.  I fought back sleep for long enough to see A-Rod tie the game and then Mariano enter the game in the ninth.  I was so happy with that decision from Girardi that I was happily asleep long before the tenth inning even started.

From reading the boxscores and stories today, it’s pretty clear Mariano made a miraculous escape in the 10th, but Joe Girardi was 100% right in using him in the 9th.  If you are not going to pitch Joba multiple innings there, your only other choices were Park, Logan or Gaudin.  (I would say that Phil Hughes could have thrown an inning, but I don’t think the Yankees were ready for that)  Rivera gave you the best chance to extend the game into the 10th and hope your offense woke up with a run.  Lo and behold, it worked thanks to Granderson and Rivera held on for a win.  

It drives me nuts how infrequently managers use their closer in tie games on the road.  Your closer is supposedly your best pitcher in the bullpen so he represents your best chance to keep the game going.  Throw an inferior pitcher out there and chances are you lose the game before even getting to use your closer.  Yet, managers do it all the time because they are terrified of the backlash they would get if they ended up losing a game they were leading because they had already used their closer.  So, conventional wisdom in baseball today seems to be to not maximize your chances to win, but to stay out of the line of fire.  Credit Girardi for going against that thinking last night (though I suspect we would NOT have seen Rivera if the Yankees weren’t off today) it got the Yankees a win.  

 

An Awful Lot Of Trouble

I’m not saying the Yankees should have avoided skipping Phil Hughes’ next start, but the manner in which they did so is odd to me.  Hughes is being moved from Friday to Tuesday so that he will only make three more starts before the All-Star Game and not four.  But, the Yankees could have accomplished the exact same result by simply flipping Sabathia with Hughes and letting Hughes pitch on Saturday.  Then Hughes would have started June 26th, July 2nd and July 7th.  Now he will pitch June 29th, July 4th and July 9th.  That would have also given everyone in the rotation an extra day of rest except for CC.  Instead AJ and Pettitte will go on regular rest, but Vazquez will have a week off between starts (tomorrow and next Wednesday)

The Yankees are also going to have to figure out some other ways to get Hughes rest if his innings limit of 175 is to be believed.  Through 13 starts, Hughes has averaged 6-1/3 innings per start.  Add in three more starts and he should be just north of 100 innings pitched at that rate.  The Yankees will have 78 games after the All-Star Break, so each starter would get 15 starts each.  The Yankees are probably going to need to keep Hughes to no more than 12 starts after the All-Star Break if they want to keep him under 175 innings. 

The problem of course is the Yankees don’t have any breathing room.  Tampa and Boston are right there and probably will be the rest of the season.  Unless they can jump out to a comfortable lead in the division, how do they "bench" a guy with a 3.17 ERA and 10 wins?   (Crazy side note, here is where Cliff Lee would make perfect sense for the Yankees, but I wouldn’t give up the prospects for him when you can simply write a big check after the season ends)  The Yankees have offdays and ways to juggle Hughes’ work load in the second half, they just have to be careful that they don’t juggle away their playoff hopes at the same time. 

Million-Dollar Arm/Five-Cent Head

I love "Bull Durham" and last night I was thinking about that scene where Crash dares Nuke to try and drill him in the chest with a ball while watching AJ Burnett.  You look at the stuff that guy has and you think he could dominate the league.  But, he is 6-5 with a 4.33 ERA because he simply doesn’t have the mind to match his talent. 

You can see it in performances like last night.  When he got into trouble he seemed to deflate and get into more trouble.  His shutdown was complete when he didn’t cover first on a grounder to first.  That was enough for Girardi who pulled him and inserted Boone Logan, who shutdown the same hitters that bedeviled Burnett.  

The sad thing is, the Yankees have no options other than to keep using him.  The problem is, you never know what you are going to get.  I compared AJ to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde last year and it seems iike that is what we have to look forward to for the next 3.5 years with AJ.  It’s a good thing Hughes is in the rotation and Vazquez is stepping up, the Yankees need a #2 starter. 

Forget It!

Yup, I wrote a post earlier today suggesting the Yankees go after Greg Zaun in the trade market.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Zaun’s shoulder injury had required surgery earlier today that will keep him out for the rest of the year.  I thought he would be back shortly.<sigh>

My apologies, I will try and come up with a new trade target.  (Hopefully, a healthy one!)