Not So Home Cooking

Late last night, Aaron Cook pitched a 2-hit, 81-pitch shutout for the Red Sox in their 5-0 over Seattle. It was the kind of outing Red Sox starters are capable of but simply haven’t delivered in recent years. Why did it take an injury project type pitcher in Cook to finally have a Red Sox do this?

In other news Darnell McDonald was designated for assignment so the Red Sox could make room to activate Josh Beckett. I hope Beckett realizes that the Red Sox are releasing one of the best character guys they have to make room for one of the worst character guys they have.

This starting pitching malaise seems to point to Beckett and his poor attitude. I think a trade deadline goal should be to trade Beckett. He’ll be hard to move with his no trade rights and high contract but I really think it needs to be done, as I suggested this off-season. As Michael Felger of 98.5 the Sportshub points out, all you’d need to do is replace a pitcher who has a 4.09 ERA over the past 3 seasons (2010-2012). That really shouldn’t be hard to do.

Throwing It All Away

I don’t think there is a Yankee fan out there who agreed with the way Joe Girardi handled the 9th inning last night. But, if Clay Rapada makes that throw, it probably would have worked. Not letting Robertson start the 9th obscured what I found to be a more curious decision by Girardi, his use of Boone Logan in the 8th. Let’s go back and take a look at the final two innings.

With a 2-1 lead, Ivan Nova gives up a single to start the 8th and then a wild pitch let’s the runner move to second. Nova strikes out Youkilis, bringing up the lefty, Adam Dunn, with the tying run on second.

Now going to a lefty here is an easy call, but with the righty, Paul Konerko on deck, you are probably only going to use the lefty for one batter. That’s what made the pitching change of Nova to Logan so interesting to me. When it happened, I figured Joe was going to keep Logan in there to finish out the 8th, something I wasn’t thrilled about. Instead, Logan got Dunn and then Girardi switched to Eppley to face Konerko.

So, Girardi used up Logan, who hadn’t pitched in four days, after three pitches. Why wouldn’t he use Rapada in that spot? The only answer that makes sense is he was going to use Robertson to start the 9th.

And I think that was his plan. Eppley would face Konerko and assuming he got him out, Robertson would pitch the 9th. But, Mark Teixeira hit a homer in the 8th and with a two-run lead, Girardi gambled. He figured that Eppley and Rapada could match up with the first two guys and then bring in Robertson to get (hopefully) the final out. Funny thing is, it almost worked.

CC To The DL- UPDATED

I wondered in the comments today what would happen if the Yankees had an injury to their rotation. So, feel free to blame me for jinxing them now that we know CC is headed to the DL. The good news is that it sounds like he should be back right after the break. Of course you never know with pitchers.

Freddy Garcia will get the start on Friday. Considering that Freddy has thrown a total of 81 pitches in JUNE it is doubtful that he will be able to provide much length. Personally, I would rather see the Yankees promote Adam Warren and let him start. Since his last start was Sunday, he is in line to pitch again Friday. Looks like the Yankees’ depth will be tested again.

6:15PM I didn’t realize how prophetic the end of this post would be when I wrote it before the start of today’s game. Now the Yankees are down a second starter because Andy Pettitte has a fractured ankle. From piecing together the various beat reports it seems that these are the moves that will be made.

Adam Warren will be called up to start on Friday.

Freddy Garcia will start on Monday.

Ryan Igarashi will be called up tomorrow.

Now, some questions/concerns/clarifications

How will they add Warren to the 40-man? According to this tweet, the Yankees are considering putting Pettitte on the 60-day DL. That means Pettitte is not going to be out six weeks.

How long will Pettitte be in the boot? That’s the key question in all of this because he can’t start throwing until he is out of the boot. So, if he is going to be in the boot for six weeks, you might as well put him on the 60-day DL because he will need at least two more weeks to get his arm back into shape and possibly much more. The timing is critical for not only the 60-day DL question, but the minor leagues wind down in a little over two months time.

Why are the Yankees calling up Igarashi? Forget his numbers right now he is a short reliever. With Garcia in the rotation, the Yankees have a bullpen of Soriano, Robertson, Logan, Wade, Rapada, Igarashi and Eppley. Last time we saw Garcia starting he was a disaster and I as I pointed out above, he is nowhere near being able to give more than 50-60 pitches in a start. Adam Warren will be making his big-league debut Friday. Chances are high that the Yankees will need a long guy in the next few days so why Igarashi?

Along those lines, why not Phelps? Perhaps Igarashi is a place holder because Phelps threw 55 pitches Monday? Maybe the Yankees are thinking they will promote Igarashi for tomorrow’s game, then DFA him and add Warren and Phelps for Friday? (That could be one way to avoid sending Pettitte to the 60-day DL) I suspect they will keep Phelps building up arm strength for now and see how Warren and Garcia do before the All-Star Break and see if Sabathia is indeed ready to return right after it.

Once again the old adage that you can never have too much pitching proves true. Wow, what a terrible day.

A Joke Call

If you haven’t seen the incredibly bad call from last night’s Yankees’ game, here it is. The umpire has to make that call correctly, but people who are screaming that this is another reason to expand replay are missing the point. That call gets made correctly if the umpire simply asks Wise to show him the ball.

Look at the replay, Wise jumps into the stands as the ball is falling into his glove. It is understandable that the umpire, running up the line, might not see the ball glance off the side of Wise’s glove. But, here is where it gets silly. You see a guy on the left side of the frame pick up the ball and hold it over his head as the umpire is running into the frame. You see the guys friend slap him and laugh over the fact that he is holding the ball over his head. You see Wise get helped up, looking a little dazed, with his glove completely closed. Even on TV you can see the glove is flat, how could the ball be in it? All the ump has to do is ask to see the ball and the call is made correctly. That’s umpiring 101, not a need to expand replay and further slow down the pace of the game.

What makes this all worse in my mind is the subsequent ejection of Jack Hannahan. Hannahan tried to discuss the call with umpire Mike DiMuro, but got ejected despite the fact that he didn’t curse at the umpire. If Hannahan is telling the truth, MLB should suspend DiMuro for at least a game because he is the one who escalated that argument.

Look at the video again and watch when Hannahan comes out to argue. DiMuro wags a finger in his face and then chucks him. What happened to the days when umpires turned their backs and walked away? More and more we are seeing umpires who not only refuse to ignore an angry player, but choose to escalate it. Two mistakes were made by DiMuro last night. As bad as the call was, the ejection was worse. Let’s see what MLB does about it.

And it looks like Joe Torre and his guys will be busy this morning….

My Bad

With almost half of the season in the books and Johnny Damon arriving in town tonight, it is time for me to admit to a big mistake. I thought Damon or Matsui would be a much better DH for the Yankees than Raul Ibanez. All I can say is that I blew that call. Damon or Matsui would have been disasters while Ibanez has been pretty good for the Yankees.

But, Ibanez still worries me. There are some good things about him and some bad things. His power has been good and his line drive rate has rebounded to where it used to be in his salad days. Conversely, he doesn’t walk anymore and despite a recent surge, he has hit .189/.259/.321 in June. Then again, his BABIP is only .226, which means he has had very poor luck.

A lot can happen between now and the trade deadline. Right now, there is no obvious need that the Yankees need to fill. But, I keep thinking that a bat could become an important addition. Ibanez’s trajectory from here will be a big part of determining if that is true.

The Greek God Departs

Just 2 seasons removed from playing stellar baseball, Kevin Youkilis has been traded to the Chicago White Sox.

Youkilis is one of the poster boys for Money Ball, what with his high on-base percentage, and never give away an at bat approach. It is these characteristics that has made him popular not just with Red Sox management but also the fans. He’s always dirty, looks like an average slob (slightly more fit I’ll admit) and shows his emotions on his sleeve.

Kind of the exact opposite of J.D Drew, maybe that’s why we liked Youkilis so much.

Youkilis never got rolling in 2012 and his numbers reflected it. His walk rate and average way down, he never got untracked. With the emergence of Will Middlebrooks, something had to give. From a practical standpoint, no longer will Adrian Gonzalez need to play rightfield just to created space for Youkilis and now the infielders have a much stronger sense of who is playing everyday. Also, Middlebrooks is ripping it up with a .949 OPS vs. Youk’s .692.

Whether or not Youkilis has anything left in the tank remains to be seen, but the team has an able replacement and the time was right to move him, at the very least, for his sake. Youkilis was a bit player in the 2004 World Series run and a major player in the 2007 Red Sox run, he played hard for Boston and for that he is to be commended.

Reading a yahoo.com piece this AM (cannot find it now), the question came up whether or not Red Sox management/ownership,will rip him on the way out. I see no reason why they would. He played well, started to slow and was traded, a fairly usual set of circumstances. If there is a hatchet job on the way out, however, it’ll do a great deal to lessen my like of the Red Sox organization and hope for change.

Let’s hope both sides are off to bigger and better things.

Don’t Call Me Chicken!

Just when you thought we were settling in for a rather ho-hum Subway Series, along comes Frank Francisco and his mouth. Francisco had this to say about the Yankees:

“I can’t wait to strike out those chickens. I want to strike out the side against them. I’ve done it before.”

This being New York, the comment landed on the front cover of the New York Post. (Speaking of quotes, that back cover is priceless.)

It will be interesting to see what effect this has, if any, on the Yankees. I don’t think they will do anything without another provocation, but if a Yankee gets hit tonight, things could get interesting.

Of course we might not have a game tonight. As I write this, the scene outside my window looks like that scene in “Caddyshack” when Bishop Pickering and Bill Murray play that round of golf. Hopefully, things calm down and dry out before 7pm.

The Rocket

Roger Clemens has been found not guilty of lying to Congress. Some will say being found not guilty does not mean you have been found innocent. Some will bring up O.J. Simpson being found not guilty of murder. Some will point out that a man is presumed innocent under our judicial system and therefore Clemens is innocent.

Wherever you stand, here’s my problem. Clemens may have done something, he may not have done something. It certainly hasn’t been proven that he took steroids. Yet, I think we can all agree that he won’t get much support if any, when his name comes up on the Hall of Fame ballot next year. And that strikes me as fundamentally unfair.

You can’t keep a guy out of the Hall of Fame because you suspect he did steroids. Take any player from the 1990′s and early 00′s and prove to me that he didn’t do steroids. We simply don’t know. Andy Pettitte hardly profiled as a drug cheat, but he has admitted that he was.

So Clemens will probably live out the rest of his days in a strange limbo. Suspicions will be used to keep him out of the Hall, but those suspicions will never be confirmed. Worse, he will never have a way to clear his name, today was about as close as he will get.

I think instead of trying to play judge and jury we should just all admit that we don’t know what happened. Pick a season, 1987 with its home run explosion seems right to me. Put up an exhibit between the plaques of those who entered the league before that era, or played the majority of their careers before it and those that entered afterwards, or played a majority of their career after it with an explanation of PED’s and a timeline of the major events. Then, vote everyone in or out based on their numbers and nothing more. So, Clemens is in, Bonds is in, Palmeiro is in, Piazza is in, etc.. (I don’t know about McGwire because he truly was a one-dimensional player) If they have admitted to steroid use, note that on the plaque. If they were accused of it, give the details of their conviction or acquittal.

It isn’t elegant, but I think it might be the fairest way to handle it. I suspect that some guys you would never think of as juicers did it with abandon. Until we know for sure who did what and when they did it, how can we judge any one individual, no matter what we think?

Someone’s Gotta Go

Friday, the Yankees will activate David Robertson from the DL. While the team has played some of its best baseball of the year without him, there is no doubt that his return is a boost. The question is, who gets sent down/released to make room for him?

While Joe Girardi may think that Cody Eppley has been “great” the numbers tell otherwise. Eppley has walked 6 and struck out 6 in 12.2 innings of work. He has survived that by inducing an amazing ground ball to fly ball rate of 2.33 and a line drive rate of 8%. In short, his 3.55 ERA is all about small sample size and big luck and you can expect it to jump a lot closer to his FIP of 4.55 in the near future. Normally, that would make him my choice to be sent down, but there is a longer-term question that needs to be considered. What are the Yankees plans for David Phelps?

Phelps has looked good in his 33 innings, but he has become a victim of too many arms in the bullpen. In the last two weeks he has made one appearance and thrown nine pitches. While he may not project as a top of the line starter, he looks like he could be a very competent back of the rotation guy. But, if the Yankees leave him as the 12th guy on the big league staff, he certainly won’t throw enough innings to fill that role in 2013. The Yankees had a similar situation last year with Hector Noesi. They left him to rot in their bullpen for long stretches of time. I hope they don’t make that same mistake with Phelps.

To me the decision comes down to either finding a way to use Phelps more, or sending him down to the minors to pitch. I truly believe he can help this team more than Eppley or Freddy Garcia, but unless the Yankees are willing to use him, there is no point in hampering his development. If the Yankees send Eppley down Friday, I won’t complain. But, if they do that and then leave Phelps languishing in the pen, I certainly will.

Experiment Over

Daniel Bard was optioned to AAA today, ending, I hope, his run as a starter.

I’ve said since day 1 that I didn’t like this idea. You can read about it here, here and here. Not to pat myself on the back, as this had disaster written all over it. Bard was a failed starter in the minors and in spring training. Why did anyone think this outcome would be different?

I’m not sure what they have in store for Bard at AAA, but let’s hope it is to get his confidence back and to put him back in the pen where he can dominate. That’s where he’ll make his money.

As for the Red Sox, not bad of late. They aren’t in last place alone anymore. Tied with the Blue Jays in last at 2 games over .500, the Red Sox are only 3.0 games out of first. Either the AL East is really tough, or it really stinks.

What is great is that things have settled down quite a bit and Bobby Valentine has been left to manage his team. Gone, for now anyway, are the distractions and I think the players are just playing baseball. Will Middlebrooks has added some excitement and Felix Doubront is the best starter on the team at the moment. A youth movement of sorts. Speaking of the rotation:

ERA in 2012
3.75 – Doubront
4.26 – Beckett
4.79 – Lester
5.24 – Bard
6.58 – Buchholz
4.06 – AL Average

Yikes. Overall, a mess, but much, much better since May 1. The team ERA for March/April was 5.54, 3.93 for May and 3.12 thus far in June. Things are headed in the right direction.

If Bard is done as a starter, expect either Daisuke Matsuzaka or Aaron Cook to assume starting duties. I’d put Matsuzaka in the mix first as he’s pitched in Boston before and presumably has more to his fastball than does Cook. Not sure it is a big deal either way.

Looking ahead, we should start to see the injured troops getting back to good health. Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury are probably candidates for an early to mid July return while Cody Ross might be sooner. Andrew Bailey is likely an August return and Bobby Jenks might not return at all.

Orioles at Red Sox this week.