A Bad Trend

Jorge Posada’s numbers over the last 28 days….173/.328/.231. The last 14 days show a line of .125/.276/.208. The last 7 brings you to .000/.091/.000.

The Yankees have already benched him against lefties (Andruw Jones is the DH tonight) but they really can’t keep running him out against righties if he is going to put up numbers like this. Girardi handled him poorly two weeks ago against Boston, but this clearly can’t go on. The question is, what are the Yankees going to do with him?

My first move would be to see if I could get anything for him on the trade market. It’s highly unlikely, but I do wonder if the Mets would swing at a pitch in the dirt and trade Beltran for Posada? It makes no sense from a performance standpoint, Beltran is hitting .279/.369/.514, but the Mets are in serious financial trouble. It sounds like they are going to sell a 33% stake of their team to an investor for $200 million. But, it gets better than that. The $200 million must be paid back in 3 years. If it is, the investor gets to keep 16% of the team anyway. If it isn’t, he has the option to buy up to 60% of the club. That’s how bad the Mets’ finances are, they are essentially willing to give 16% of the team away for a $200 million loan. So, maybe the $5.5 million difference between Beltran and Posada’s salary is something that would interest them. And their catcher hitting at a .230/.301/.278 clip. But, I assume that won’t happen which means the Yankees are going to have to solve this one on their own and that means benching him completely or releasing him.

The problem with benching him is that he doesn’t provide any value on the bench unless he can hit. He is not a candidate to be a defensive substitute and he is certainly not a candidate to pinch run. I guess you could make the argument that he could possibly draw a walk in a key situation, like he did last week, but is that really a reason to give someone a bench spot? It’s not and the Yankees would be better served with someone like Pena, Golson or Maxwell who could provide some speed and defensive coverage on the bench. (Note, I am not in the group that says Montero should get the promotion and become the everyday DH if the Yankees release Jorge. First off, his bat has cooled big tim3- .753 OPS. Second, the Yankees have older guys who can really benefit from a day at DH. I prefer letting the DH rotate depending on the pitcher, rather than using Montero right now. If his bat heats up again, then promote him.)

So, the Posada solution would have to be cutting him and that is going to be a delicate operation. The first step is giving him the next two weeks or so and seeing if there is anything left in his bat. Assuming the answer is no, the Yankees can bury him on the bench for a week or so and then find a spot to give him one last at bat in front of the home crowd. That would show Jorge the respect he has earned and also give the fans a chance to say goodbye. It’s not a pretty way for a great Yankee’s career to end, but sadly, it is becoming more and more inevitable.

Better Play and Bullpen Ideas

After starting the year 2-10, the Red Sox have gone 25-12 and now stand 5 games over .500 at 27-22.

The reason for the turnaround is simple, just about everyone is playing better. Yes, I know, a very complicated answer.

Through May 11, the Red Sox had posted the following offensive line: .256/.333/.400/.733. Well, just 2 weeks later, they have a .267/.343/.424/.767 line. Pretty good improvement in a short period of time. The pitching has improved as well: 4.40/1.34 on May 11 and now a 4.08/1.31.

A few bullpen implosions notwithstanding, this team is playing very well.

During this stretch, there has been a ton of roster turnover:

Josh Reddick – promoted.
Darnell McDonald – DL.
Hideki Okajima – DFA, cleared waivers and outrighted to Pawtucket.
Drew Sutton promoted.
Daniel Nava DFA’d to clear room for Sutton on the 40-man.
Marco Scutaro shelved on the DL.
Jose Iglasias promoted and subsequently sent back down.
Kevin Millwood (our savior) signed to a minor league deal.
Franklin Morales received in a trade.
Michael Bowden called up and subsequently sent back down.
Scott Atchison promoted.
Dan Wheeler activated off DL.
Daisuke Matsuzaka to the DL.

Wow, that’s a bunch of moves.

I’m obviously happy with the way the team has performed but there are a few issue to address:

The bullpen hasn’t worked they it was supposed to. Daniel Bard has not been what I’d expected what with 4 losses already, Dan Wheeler has been forgettable. Bobby Jenks has been horrid but maybe injuries are the reason.

On the other hand, Matt Albers has been great (his last start the exception) as has Jonathan Papelbon (performing like 2007) and recently promoted Rich Hill has been fantastic, providing some key innings of relief.

Going into the season, it was expected that Jenks would pitch the 7th, Bard the 8th and Papelbon the 9th. Well, when 2/3 of that equation are underperforming/hurt, you need a fallback. I have been frustrated with Terry Francona’s insistance on pitching Bard as much as he has. Bard has appeared in 24 of 49 games and for a younger, extreme fastball pitcher, this is a recipe for Tommy John surgery. Time to back off Bard and figure out other options. If Dan Wheeler can’t handle it, try Atchison, if Atchison can’t hack it, use Albers more in the 8th. Mix and match and try to get more than 1 guy able to handle 8th inning duties.

Bullpens are always a chemisty experiment to be sure, but if you have 6 guys in the pen, use them all, otherwise find someone else you trust.

Apprearances:
24 – Bard
20 – Papelbon
13 – Albers
13 – Wheeler
12 – Aceves (includes 1 start)
12 – Wakefield (includes 3 starts)
11 – Jenks
11 – Lester (all starts)

I threw Lester in there to show you that Francona has used some of his relievers as little as Lester. I’m not as worried about how little he has used some pitchers, rather I’m worried about Bard’s workload. To use Bard that much is irresponsible and going to lead to health trouble.

Subway Series Time!

Hey, it’s time to play the Mets! That’s right, once again our two teams will face each other in a battle for bragging rights of NYC. The initial series will be this weekend in the Bronx with the deciding series in Queens….

Ok, I have to stop and admit that I just don’t care about these games anymore. In fact, I really don’t care about seeing the National League play the American League in the regular season anymore. This was a cool idea in 1997. Now it is getting really tired. We have seen about every scenario possible that baseball fans want to see and with the Cubs going to Fenway this weekend and the Yankees going to Wrigley in June about the only one left is for the Dodgers to come to Yankee Stadium. We’ve seen everything else! With 18 games against the NL, things get pretty repetitive over time and after 14 years we have reached that point. It’s time to change the format, to use the approach of “less is more”. It’s time to cut interleague down to two series, six games total.

Let’s make one of the series the “rivalry” series so we would still have Yankees-Mets, A’s-Giants, White Sox-Cubs, etc.. But, in areas where both teams play in the same city (or within 20 miles of each other, let’s alternate the games. So in 2012 we could have Game 1 of the Yankees-Mets series in Yankee Stadium, Game 2 at Citi Field and Game 3 back at Yankee Stadium. Flip that in 2013. It won’t increase the travel costs and it might provide a little extra juice to the whole thing.

For the second series, let’s use baseball history to create some interesting matchups. For instance, wouldn’t it be neat if the two teams in the World Series played each other automatically the next year? Obviously, you would have to go further than that, so how about the two teams that lost in the ALCS and NLCS facing off? You could do things like teams going back to the cities they left. So the Brewers go to Seattle, Minnesota heads to Washington, etc.. Mine through baseball history enough and you could make a compelling matchup most years using previous World Series, etc. Anything to get away from the current tedium of interleague.

There is also a fairness factor in all of this. 18 games represents over 11% of the schedule. Some teams in the AL East will have tough interleague opponents this year, some will have easier ones. Is that a fair way to determine the best team in the East? I think not and I hope baseball does something to change things. Then again, maybe I am missing the intrigue of tonight’s Houston-Toronto matchup.

No One To Call

It looks like the Yankees will enter tonight’s game with the same roster that completed last night’s 15-inning affair. Normally, you would expect the Yankees to recall a pitcher after a game like that. The problem is, there really isn’t anyone they can call.

The Yankees have six pitchers on the 40-man who currently pitch in the minors. Of those, the two obvious candidates, Carlyle and Pendleton are ineligible to be recalled because they haven’t spent 10 days in the minors since getting sent down. The only way they can be recalled is if there was an injured player. Next you have Betances, who is obviously not going anywhere and Brackman, who isn’t pitching well and made a start Sunday. That leaves Steve Garrison, currently on the DL at Trenton and Ryan Pope, who sports a 5+ ERA at Scranton and threw three innings Tuesday night.

The Yankees could DFA Molina and bring someone like George Kontos (23 IP 23K’s 2.35ERA) up from AAA. But with Pendleton eligible to return this weekend and CC on the mound tonight, it probably makes the most sense to just sit tight.

The Wrong Debate

Sports radio is filled today with questions from last night’s great Yankee win. The biggest seems to be centered around Joe Girardi’s decision to pull Bartolo Colon from the game and let Mariano close out the 9th. To me, that question isn’t worth asking. Until Mariano’s cutter doesn’t cut anymore, he is the guy I want on the mound with the game on the line. Yes, Bartolo pitched a great game, but Mariano is Mariano.

While that decision is debated into the ground, an interesting one from the 15th inning seems to have escaped notice. With the Yankees ahead 3-1, a runner on third and no outs, Chris Dickerson got drilled in the helmet. (Note, I don’t think the Orioles were throwing at him) It was one of those terrifying baseball moments. Dickerson lying almost motionless on the ground and his cracked helmet showing the evidence of what had just occurred. Girardi now had three choices.

1- See if Dickerson could take his base and continue to play. To his credit, Dickerson wanted to do it, but Girardi wisely got him out of there.

2- Since Dickerson couldn’t continue, use the last guy on the bench, Posada to run for him. Problem with this move is, Dickerson is playing right, how do you get Posada in the game and keep him in it under those circumstances? (My best guess was Posada to catcher, Martin to third, A-Rod to short and Nunez to right- MESSY)

3- Use one of your pitchers to run then move Nunez to right, Jeter to short and give up the DH.

I think everyone would agree that #3 is the best choice. Dickerson looked a bit out of it, so keeping him in was never an option in my mind. #2 causes too much shuffling of the defense and there is no reason to use Posada ever as a pinch runner. So #3 makes the most sense, but who should do the running?

Now Girardi doesn’t have a ton of options. He has used five pitchers in the game and CC Sabathia, today’s starter, is probably sitting in the hotel at this point. So, that leaves six guys who could come into the game and run- Sanit, Robertson, Chamberlain, Nova, Burnett and Garcia. If you were Girardi, which one would you pick?

Personally, I would have picked Nova. He is young and less likely to get hurt. Also, he pitched on Tuesday, so there is no practical way he is going to pitch in this game. The last guy I would have picked is the one Girardi did select, AJ Burnett. I would have picked someone with younger legs if I had been Girardi. If Nova wasn’t an option, Sanit or Robertson would have been my next choices. Either way, I thought putting a 34-year old with a history of injuries on the basepaths insanity. But the move worked and the Yankees have a wining streak thanks to a wild night of baseball.

As The Roster Turns

I joked about that phrase the other day, but it seems more and more appropriate. Today’s move is Chris Dickerson promoted and Rafael Soriano sent to the DL. That means we are down to 12 pitchers! And Dickerson is headed to rightfield tonight to play in place of Nick Swisher. Since Dickerson is a lefty bat and Tampa is starting a righty, this is a good way to get Swisher a night off. (And, with a .214 average, he could probably use one)

Also in the lineup tonight…Jorge Posada! And, he is hitting SEVENTH! I wonder how long this will last? I imagine the Yankees will be patient until Memorial Day or so, but if they keep struggling how long can they afford to ignore Jesus Montero and his monster bat in AAA?

One last AAA note. David Phelps gave up 8 earned runs in his first 10 innings this season. Since then, he has pitched 32-1/3 innings while allowing seven earned runs and striking out 33. He is scheduled to start tonight and considering the fact that he is already on the 40-man, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in New York soon.

Tonight would be a nice time for a win, I think I’ve forgotten what those look like!

Best Righty Swing – Your Vote Please

A friend and I were talking about the best swings in baseball and the majority of hitters were lefties. When we said nicest, we meant most asthetically pleasing, not necessarily most productive, although they seem to go hand in hand. Adrian Gonzalez started off the conversation, but it quickly covered such hitters as Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, JD Drew (the ball might not go anywhere, but it is a pretty swing) and Joe Mauer.

Of course the recently retired and HOFers of years past entered the mix as well.

So I’ll pose this: Who has the nicest right-handed swing in baseball right now (active player)?

Please post your reply in the comments.

My answer at the beginning of the year would have been Manny Ramirez, but he is no longer active, so back to the drawing board.

.500

Well, .500 for now. I write this in the midst of a 5-0 Orioles lead in the top of the 6th.

John Lackey was put on the DL today and will hopefully sort out his baseball and non-baseball issues. Lackey has been terrible but has alluded to off-field issues as well. Lackey’s wife is dealing with breast cancer and one can only imagine the distraction that has caused. Let’s hope for a successful fight in that regard and a successful return to the Red Sox rotation. This shelving is a good idea from not only a human interest standpoint but also a baseball standpoint as Lackey’s layoff allows him to do whatever it is he needs to do and it allows the Red Sox to offer up an alternative during his absence.

I assume Tim Wakefield will take his spot. Scott Atchison was called up to take Lackey’s spot but could find himself waived (again) if Wakefield is not up to starting. Michael Bowden or even veteran Brandon Duckworth could get the nod. Bowden has been very good at AAA and now is probably a Shawshank Redemption time to get pitching or time to get retiring moment, at least in his mind. I’d go with Bowden and let him try to A.) showcase his talents for this year and beyond and B.) prove that he is better than Lackey and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka. Of course should he, or anyone, prove item B, the Red Sox would have to accept failure in the signings of Matsuzaka and Lackey.

Roster movements aside, it was nice to see the Red Sox sweep the Yankees in the Bronx this weekend. Some fireworks on the Jorge Posada episode (view comments on Peter’s posts) and I think the Red Sox walked into New York at the perfect time, what with the Yankees struggles and all. The offense is definitely showing signs of life for Boston. Adrian Gonzalez has been super hot and Carl Crawford is slowly climbing out of the hope he dug in April. I’m not sure I’m ready to declare this team “fixed” but they have shown more life of late.

All of their early season struggles have largely been tempered by a slow start by the AL East in general. The Tampa Rays are 3 games up and the Yankees are 1 game up on the Red Sox.. No way I would have guessed that’d be the case at this point. The Red Sox are very lucky one of the AL East teams, read the Yankees, didn’t get out to a boffo start and open up a 10 game lead by this point. Time to capitalize and graciously accept the gift they’ve been given.

Come On Now

The press in New York is really trying to whip this Posada thing into a crisis, but unfortunately for them the key ingredient, George Steinbrenner is no longer.

Now if “Original George” was still in charge, you can bet we would have some whopper headlines to digest over the next few days. He would have taken shots at Posada, questioned Jeter’s leadership and probably used the words “courage” and “tradition” over 1,000 times. But George isn’t here and hopefully the writers realize that attempts to turn this into something it isn’t won’t work.

Posada was mad, Girardi was mad, Cashman was mad, but Jorge did the right thing and apologized and it sounds as if he had a heart-to-heart with Girardi. What will matter from this point forward is if he hits or not. And while I hope they don’t, I am sure some writer will try to stir up trouble over tonight’s lineup and the fact Posada isn’t in it. But, there is a very reasonable explanation for that. First, Posada hasn’t hit lefties all year and the Rays are starting a lefty tonight. Second, you know the Yankees don’t want A-Rod to play three-straight games on turf, so this is a perfect night to move him to DH and give Nunez a game in the lineup.

On to other matters.

First, I think the Rays starting their weekday home games at 6:40 before school gets out is a stroke of genius. Weeknight baseball games are tough for working people who don’t live near the ballpark and this start time should at least allow them to watch the whole game and get on the road before 10pm. Nice job Tampa, I hope the Yankees are paying attention.

Two, as bad as things look right now, remember the Yankees went on a similar losing streak in May of 2009. They dropped five-straight at home and fell to 13-15 and we all know how that season ended. They are two-games out of first and have 124 games left to play.

Game Tonight

Hey, there is actually a baseball game tonight between the Yankees and Red Sox. And, the Yankees really could use a win. But, I should probably focus on the story of the year so far, Jorge Posada.

Give Posada credit for doing today what he should have done last night. He apologized to Girardi and admitted his mistake. Unfortunately, Brian Cashman kept this issue alive with his stupid quote about disciplining Posada for last night, “We’ve got everything going on today and then I’ll obviously talk to the people above me. So I can’t answer that question right now, but when I talk to Hal Steinbrenner I’ll get some direction from him on everything after I fill him in on everything.”

Cashman did a terrible job throughout this process. He could have prevented this from escalating by avoiding the press last night and he should simply have said tonight that the issue was resolved. Really poor job by the GM and I wonder why he acted this way.

I am also mystified by the Yankees’ keeping Sanit on the roster. Maybe he could pitch today, but with Posada out of the lineup the bench is extremely thin. If anyone in the starting lineup gets hurt, Nunez is the only guy who can realistically fill in unless the Yankees are willing to give up the DH. Why do they keep putting themselves into this spot? With Price on the mound for Tampa tomorrow, it seems likely Posada will sit again. Might be nice to drop the 8th pitcher and get a bat on the roster.