Who Ya Gonna Call (Up)?

Forgive the Ray Parker, Jr., tribute, but I just read that “Ghostbusters 3″ is going to be made. This fact depresses me, so I will move on and talk about the potential Yankee call ups when rosters expand tomorrow.

Joel Sherman has reported that Jesus Montero is on his way up tomorrow. Obviously, one of the first things you want when rosters expand is a third catcher and the Yankees don’t have one on the 40-man. Montero has to be protected anyway this offseason, so why not add him to the 40-man and see what he can do? If you are a Yankee fan, this is exciting news.

I would expect Brandon Laird to definitely be a callup as well. We’ve seen him already this year and with Scranton out of the playoff race and A-Rod hurting, another guy who can play third makes a lot of sense.

I would imagine we will see both Chris Dickerson and Greg Golson by the end of the AAA season, but probably only one of them tomorrow. Flip a coin.

If Ramiro Pena is ready (he is rehabbing in Trenton) he would clearly get the call.

I would bet on two pitchers minimum being added tomorrow (more if the Yankees empty the bullpen tonight) and my guesses would be Pendleton and Whelan. Hector Noesi can’t return until September 6th, but he will certainly get a call. I would expect Andrew Brackman to get a callup when the AAA season ends and the same thing to happen with Dellin Betances since he is on the 40-man, but I don’t think we will see Betances do much in the majors. The other “killer B” Manny Banuelos is probably going to stay off the ML roster because he doesn’t need to be protected this offseason from the Rule 5 draft and he is still adjusting to AAA. If the Yankees are smart, they will squeeze Adam Warren and David Phelps onto the roster. I believe both need to be protected this offseason (another reason Banuelos will not be added now) and they might as well get some experience down the stretch.

It should be an interesting September.

Old School

Lackey plunking Cervelli last night was fine by me. But, I also recognize that it is applying 20th-century justice to a 21st century game. There used to be an unwritten rule in baseball that you didn’t show up the pitcher. Both sides knew this and both sides acted in a certain way. But, those days are long gone. What Cervelli did last night is nothing different from what he always does; he claps when he gets to a base after a hit just like Swisher points to the sky. I understand why Lackey didn’t appreciate it, but using his logic, David Ortiz should be drilled every time he poses like a statue after launching one into the seats. I also think Lackey did the Yankees a favor, he hit a very popular member of the team and he fired up the Yankees.

As for the game itself, a few observations.

CC Sabathia gutted that one out, didn’t he. Use whatever tortured sports cliche you want, I prefer bend but didn’t break, but they are apt descriptions of that performance. I wasn’t surprised that Girardi went to him in the 6th with that pitch count, but I hope Joe doesn’t abandon the six-man rotation after the Boston series now. CC threw 125 pitches, an extra day off would not be a bad thing at all.

I really like the job Boone Logan did last night after giving up the base hit to Crawford. Those were two big outs he got and he was throwing heat to get them. Since May he has been a much better pitcher.

The Yankees really had to win that game. They face Burkett and Lester in the next two and we all know who they are starting tomorrow. I’m not saying the next two are automatic losses, but if they had lost Tuesday, getting swept out of Boston would have been a definite possibility.

I can’t figure Jorge Posada out. Each time he looks like he is heating up at the plate he cools off almost as quickly.

Game 2 tonight, which Phil Hughes will we see?

What Does 2-10 Mean?

Another Yankees-Red Sox series, another chance to hear that the Yankees can’t beat Boston. So far in 2011 that has been true, but it isn’t something I will worry about if they meet in the ALCS. And it doesn’t matter what happens in the final six games of their season series either as far as playoff predictions go. Let’s say the Yankees win all six, does that mean they are now the “hot” team and would clobber Boston in the postseason? As anyone who watches sports knows, of course not.

The 2007 Yankees dominated Cleveland in the regular season, sweeping them twice and outscoring them 49-17 in six games and then promptly got bounced out of the playoffs by that same team. The 2007 Giants lost to the Patriots in the final game of the regular season and then beat the perfect Pats in the Super Bowl. LeBron James is still waiting to get the ring Dirk Nowitzki now has. And did anyone have the Mavericks making the finals when the NBA Playoffs started this year? We just saw Aaron Rogers lead the lowest seeded team in the NFC, Green Bay, to a Super Bowl title. Nope, the playoffs are unpredictable and it is foolish to try and extrapolate a future result from past performance.

So, the Yankees 2-10 record versus Boston means two things to me. First, head-to-head the Red Sox have been significantly better than the Yankees so far. Second, as a result of their superiority so far, they are in first place and the Yankees are not. Think about it, if the Yankees had split their series with Boston so far they would be 84-48 and Boston would be 78-55. That’s translates into a 6-1/2 game lead in the AL East. That is what is significant to me about 2-10, because I believe that winning the AL East is vitally important to the Yankees chances to win a World Series title this year.

I don’t know if Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman would agree with that. Last year, the Yankees seemed confused about what to do during the final month of the season and they alternated between taking their “foot off the gas” and “putting the pedal to the metal”. (Remember when Dustin Moseley got scratched from a start and Hughes took his place after the Red Sox crept close in late September?) This year, I would love to see a definitive push for the AL East title. The good news is, despite their ineptitude against Boston, the Yankees are right in that race. The question is, will they take advantage of their good fortune?

The Curious Case Of Hector Noesi

Coming into 2011, it was generally accepted that the Yankees had two “A level” pitching prospects in Manny Banuelos and Delin Betances and four “B level” prospects, Phelps, Warren, Noesi and Brackman. While it is obvious that all of these guys wouldn’t end up in the starting rotation, developing them towards that goal was the best move for the long term health of the franchise.

As we enter the last week of August, we can see the Yankees mostly followed that plan. Betances and Banuelos were started in AA and have recently been promoted to AAA. Phelps and Warren have become cogs of the AAA rotation while Brackman’s poor performance led to his removal from the rotation. He is now part of the bullpen and pitching much much better since making a mechanical adjustment. Hector Noesi is the lone exception. He has languished in the majors as the “long guy” in the bullpen and will probably get sent back to Scranton today to make room for Freddy Garcia.

Last season, Noesi threw 160 innings between A, AA and AAA and compiled a 3.20 ERA. Baseball American rated him as the 7th-best prospect in the system and also tagged him as the guy with the best control. Many of the same things said about Ivan Nova in 2010, were repeated about Noesi in 2011. Yet to date, Noesi has thrown a total of 68 innings between AAA and the bigs, probably shattering any chance that he can be an effective starter in 2012.

The Yankees would probably defend their usage of Noesi by saying they needed a long guy in the bullpen and he was the best candidate. But, is that really true? Lance Pendleton could have filled that role. Brian Gordon, who the Yankees chose to make two starts in June before selling him to Japan, could have filled that role. George Kontos, a former prospect who put it all together this year, could have filled that role. The 12th guy in the bullpen is a luxury and not a necessity and I don’t understand why the Yankees put Noesi in a role where he essentially lost a year of development.

Hopefully, it won’t matter in the future. Betances and Banuelos will step forward and fill the rotation. Hughes and Nova will continue to pitch well, leaving the Yankees with four homegrown starters and Sabathia. But even if that happens, the Yankees wasted an asset in Noesi. If he had succeeded in AAA this year as a starter he would have been a valuable trading chip or another name for organizational depth. But, the Yankees chose instead to let him languish on the bench, a strange choice for their present and their future.

How About A Win?

In this weekend of hurricane-disrupted baseball, it may have escaped your notice that the Yankees are now 2-1/2 games behind Boston. The Red Sox won a doubleheader yesterday to pickup a game on New York and the Yankees lost a 1/2 game with today’s defeat in Baltimore. And, Tampa has crept to within six games of the wild card.

It’s kind of funny. The Yankees had a “bad: win on Thursday and they had a “good” loss today. I characterize those two games that way because of the pitching performances in them. Think about it. Thursday’s win over the A’s obscured the fact that Phil Hughes was terrible. Today’s loss does the same with a very good start from Bartolo Colon. The amazing thing is that 32 games before the playoffs start, we have absolutely no idea who the #2, #3 or #4 starters would be. We can assume AJ Burnett won’t be one of them, but other than that it is impossible to guess.

Speaking of AJ, any predictions for his upcoming start in Boston? Mitchell stated the other day that he wouldn’t watch AJ pitch live anymore and I think that is an excellent suggestion for his upcoming effort in Boston. At this point it really wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t make it out of the first inning.

Game 2 on tap, back tomorrow.

Sun, Sun, Sun, Here it Comes!

Happy to report from NYC that the sun is shining and everything in my neighborhood is intact. I hope the same is true for you as well.

We have a Yankee doubleheader on tap for today. Back with more after the first game.

A Saturday Morning Poll

What Are They Thinking?

Give the Mets credit, they can read a weather forecast and they are smart enough to react to it. They have canceled their games tomorrow and Sunday. Contrast that with the Orioles who not only expect to play a doubleheader tomorrow (good luck) but would not agree to the Yankees’ request to move the doubleheader to today. Now, it seems pretty likely that the Yankees and Orioles will have two games rained out tomorrow and another one probably rained out Sunday.

My question is, where is MLB in all of this? No matter how much rain Baltimore does or doesn’t get tomorrow, it is pretty clear it will be a nasty, nasty day there. Having fans trying to drive to a potential ballgame doesn’t seem like a very good idea and I hope somebody has the good sense to announce that the games are canceled tonight, before the weather hits.

And since I am cracking on MLB and the Orioles, let me add the Jets, Giants and NFL to the list. They moved tomorrow’s EXHIBITION game to 2pm to try and avoid the weather, but now that New York City is shutting down all public transportation at noon, they should just cancel it. The rain is supposed to start tomorrow around noon and just get worse. Whatever fans show up at the game will have wet roads and lousy conditions to contend with when it ends around 5pm. Why risk anyone getting hurt for a game that doesn’t even count?

Well, good luck to everyone out there in the path of this storm. Stay safe and stay dry.

Back tomorrow with some baseball thoughts.

UPDATE 9:45pm Sanity has prevailed as the doubleheader is canceled and the Giants-Jets tilt has been moved to Monday. Still wondering, what took them so long?

Say What?

Rumors abound today that Theo Epstein might considering taking the Cubs GM position. What? No! That’s crazy talk.

First off, both Buster Olney (subscription required) and Peter Gammons said Epstein might be tempted by the opportunity to bring a championship to Chicago.

My take, while the Cubs would probably hand Epstein any job he wants in their organization, just what would it mean if he left Boston? As it stands now, he never has to buy a beer in this town again. If he left, no more free beer. That should be enough for anyone to stay, but on a deeper level, it would be like a divorce of sorts.

Epstein hasn’t been perfect, that is true, but he has a plan in place and is very disciplined in sticking to that plan. I find that most GMs, just wing-it and the results are spotty at best. It also can’t be argued that having one of the largest payrolls and MLB draft budgets in baseball is a blessing, but money doesn’t guarantee success, just look at the Cubs.

Sure Epstein could leave for another challenge, but being able to work in the town you grew-up in, run the team you’ve loved all your life and keeping some continuity at home all the while having almost any tool at your disposal would be nice and the fan base would always ensure it remains a challenge. I just can’t see him leaving. My guess is Brian Cashman gets the nod. He isn’t thrilled with NY and they (ownership) aren’t thrilled with him.

Help!

The Beatles couldn’t have said it better, the Red Sox line-up needs help, it’s just not what it was.

Ellsbury – out
Youkilis – DL
Ortiz – out
Drew – DL

Drew wasn’t helping from the get go, but the other 3 are major contributors and without them, the line-up just isn’t generating runs. Ellsbury’s injury is the most confounding as he was hit by an 88 mph on the upper right back. Don Baylor felt those like the rest of us feel a greenhead fly (in my case, I drop to the ground and groan for 20-30 seconds all the while looking around to make sure those around me are feeling sufficiently sorry for me, then I pop up and I’m ready to go).

In fact, Baylor never, EVER, reacted to a HBP. I never once saw him grab the spot he was hit and grimace. He’d just take his medicine and take first. Amazing.

Now Baylor was otherworldly. Ellsbury isn’t otherwordly when it comes to injuries. I certainly am not suggesting he is not tough, it’s just that he takes a bit longer, based on visual evidence, to come back from an injury incident. That last part sounded like an insurance disclaimer.

The Red Sox are trotting out Darnell McDonald, Ryan Lavarnway and Jed Lowrie/Marco Scutaro in place of Ellsbury, Ortiz and Youkilis. Lavarnway is holding his own posting a .293/.429/.353 line, not bad for a rookie in his first 5 games, but McDonald has been bad overall this year, but in his defense, had an OPS of .988 in July and .863 in thus far in August. So wait, both Lavarnway and McDonald have been good of late, what about Lowrie/Scutaro? Scutaro has a .787 OPS in August and Lowrie? Ok, he has been bad in August with a .604 OPS. In fact, Lowrie hasn’t been good since April. He’s another guy who gets injured and that’s basically it. He needs to figure out how to stay on the field for a full season.

So why else are the Red Sox not scoring runs?

August:

AGon – .668 OPS
Pedroia – .711 OPS
Saltalamacchia – 643 OPS
Crawford – .770 OPS (ok, but need much, much more except that’s his career OPS!!! Cripes!!!)
Reddick – .639 OPS

Wow, the healthy starters have been terrible. That’s the real reason for the Red Sox offensive woes. Time for the regulars to pick it up and score some runs. Nothing Terry Francona can do here, he just needs his injured core players to get healthy and his healthy core players to start hitting again.