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756

While it has nothing to do with the Yankees or Red Sox, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on Barry Bonds hitting his 756th home run.

It seems fitting that in a summer of scandal for sports that we are confronted with the notion of Barry Bonds as the greatest home run hitter in history. I doubt there are many fans who believe Bonds attained this record naturally, but if you are skeptical, just pick up “Game Of Shadows”. For those of you like me who believe he cheated, this has been a joyless spectacle.

756 was the most-hallowed number in sports and today it is nothing more than a sad reminder of a decade of cheating and scandal. We can take comfort in the knowledge that someday someone, maybe A-Rod, maybe not, will supplant Bonds.

Roster Moves

WFAN is reporting the Yankees have brought Giambi back and activated Chamberlain for tonight’s game. Miguel Cairo has been DFA and Bruney sent to Scranton.

It is encouraging to see Cairo sent away because as much as people loved him, he just wasn’t good enough with the bat to stay on the roster. .252./.308/.318 is just not major-league level numbers. Yes, he could play defense and steal a base, but that was not enough to keep his job.

The thing that will be interesting to see is how Torre mixes in all his weapons now. Duncan has shown great power and should get shots when a lefty pitches. Betemit has looked good so far and can help some of the infielders get a day off now and then. The big problem will be the DH spot. Torre said yesterday that Cabrera is “our centerfielder” which means Damon and Giambi are going to share a position. Giambi got hurt playing first, so I don’t see him in the field anytime soon and Damon hasn’t been put back at first in a couple of months. Andy Phillips has been solid, but .291/.333./.396 isn’t enough production at first, so trying Damon there again seems to make sense. (Then again, Damon’s numbers this year are worse than Phillips’)

Keeping Giambi and Damon happy is going to be a struggle, but it is a much better situation than the lack of a bench the Yankees had at the start of the year.

As for Bruney, the Yankees should see if Nardi Contreras can work some magic on him. Maybe he truly can’t throw strikes consistently, but the Yankees have to do everything they can to help him. He certainly has the arm to be a big part of the bullpen.

That Didn’t Take Long

Multiple sources are reporting Joba is on his way to Toronto and the only question is who is he replacing? (Please be Farnsworth) I can’t imagine the Yankees will make him pitch the ninth tomorrow, but it will be fascinating to see what they do with him. Let’s just hope that Torre doesn’t burn his arm out in 50 games.

What Happens Tuesday?

Kudos to Joe Torre for going for it this afternoon with his bullpen. The last three innings were Vizcaino and Rivera, his two best relievers. The question is, what happens if the Yankees are in a close game tomorrow night? I can’t see either Vizcaino or Rivera being used, so that leaves Farnsworth, Villone, Brower, Karstens and Bruney to pitch critical innings. Anyone else see a problem here?

Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad they got the win today and I can’t argue with how they did it, but this is where you need Scott Proctor. Since he is gone, the Yankees have just over 24 hours to find someone who Torre will trust in a similar role.

That will be next to impossible, but if they are truly going to remake the bullpen, now would be a good time to do it, They may need a different name for tomorrow and whether it is Ramirez or Chamberlain, the Yankees need to figure it out quickly, no one wants to see Kyle pitching with the game on the line and it would be best to just send him away soon.

The truly amazing thing is that the Yankees are now tied for the wild card. On July 1st they were 38-41 and 8 1/2 games back of Detroit. The Tigers have gone 14-16 since then while the Yankees have gone 24-9. Cleveland has also cratered at 13-17 since then. So, the two AL Central teams gave the Yankees the opportunity and the Yankees have made the most of it by feasting on weaker teams. Now the schedule gets much harder, but the playing field is level. 50 games to go and we have a horse race.

Who Is It?

Can anyone tell me exactly who the Yankees are bringing up to the bullpen?  The Journal News has either Ramirez or Chamberlain, Newsday has Jim Brower, while the Post definitively states it’s Joba time.

While the speculation is interesting, the important thing is that the Yankees have broken a pattern by designating Mike Myers for assignment.  Usually, they have coddled veterans and given them the benefit of the doubt at every turn.  And, since Myers has the lowest ERA on the staff (2.66) it stood to reason that he would be safe if the Yankees decided to make a change.  But, Myers was brought in with one job to do, get lefties out, and he isn’t doing it.  

The Yankees may finally be willing to take some chances with younger players and while I still am uncertain about the Joba experiment, the overall trend is great.  We will see if they stick with this when Jason Giambi is activated Tuesday. (the easy move is to demote Duncan, the right one is to DFA Cairo.)

We will know the identity of the "mystery pitcher" by 1pm when the Yankees play the Blue Jays.   

 

UPDATE: Peter Abraham is reporting that it is Jim Brower. You can forget the stuff I wrote above about a new approach. Brower hasn’t been good since 2004 and while he has been closing well at Scranton, it’s hard to see how this will help.

Must Read

Sorry for the not updating the Betemit for Basak move, but another thing that I missed from Wednesday was this.  Just read the first paragraph.  We all know this is true and I am very glad the Yankees’ front office has agreed. The question now is, how do they prevent it from happening again?  It seems unlikely that Torre is about to change after almost 30 years of managing, so how exactly are they going to get him to use and not overuse rookie pitchers?  Stay tuned….

Karstens Up

The Yankees have recalled Jeff Karstens to take Proctor’s place on the roster. My understanding is that Betemit hasn’t made it to the Stadium yet, so Basak is still active as of now (6:10pm) Interesting that Karstens got the call, I wonder how Joe will use him? I have a feeling this is only the beginning and we will see Ramirez and Chamberlain here soon.

Trade Deadline Thoughts

It’s interesting, but as I have heard the Yankees and Brian Cashman repeatedly bashed on the airwaves the past few hours, it has made me more sure than ever that Cashman is doing the right thing.  

I have been saying in this space for years that the Yankees have to get younger and they certainly did so today, trading a 30-year old middle reliever for a 25-year old third baseman.  No, it wasn’t a sexy deal, but it gives the Yankees a nice bat off the bench who might be able to play some first as well.  

Yes, Proctor will be missed, but let’s face it, the bloom was off the rose.  The guy who dazzled us last year wasn’t the same this year.  Last year he walked 33 in 102 IP, this year he has given out 29 walks in 54.  His strikeout rate is way down as well.  Hey, I loved watching the guy and I really admired his toughness, but you have to wonder if Torre’s overusing him has finished his career.  I certainly hope not because he deserves better, but I think the Yankees got good value for a guy who could very well be hitting the downside quickly.  

And yes, it is tough to sit here today and see that Boston acquired Eric Gagne, but they are in a position where they should make trades like that.  They have the best record in the AL and are clearly gunning for a title.  They have an eight-game division lead and they are willing to pay an expensive price for a rental.  The Yankees are four-games back of a playoff spot and giving up on some of the young pitchers now would not be smart.  Let me put it to you this way, if October rolled around and the Yankees missed the playoffs with Gagne, what would you have thought of that deal then?  

Instead Cashman chose to try a different plan.  The Yankees are already getting two significant pieces back in the next week or so, Hughes and Giambi.  Maybe Chamberlain, maybe Ramirez, maybe Britton maybe no one can fill the bullpen role that they needed filled.  But, they have kept all of their chips for another day.  That may be the smartest thing of all.  This offseason could be devastating with the losses of Rivera, Posada and A-Rod, so the Yankees might just need some chips to trade for a new closer, catcher and third baseman.  I don’t know if Gagne would have helped them get over the hump in 2007, but I do know the prospects they kept will help them in 2008 when Gagne is back to closing for another team.  

Plus, the Indians didn’t make any moves today and they are the team the Yankees have to catch and as much as you don’t want to see Gagne in Boston, it would be worse if he went to Cleveland.

The one thing I will knock Cashman on is not dumping Farnsworth, but it is a small knock.  I assume he didn’t want to trade Proctor and Farnsworth without getting back someone for the pen and I bet he just couldn’t do that.  Plus, you can always send him though waivers if he doesn’t improve his performance and attitude and if a team does claim him, you can just let him go.

Looking at the big picture, I would say Atlanta and Boston are clearly the winners, but I can’t find anyone else who really won.  On the losing side, it’s also hard to identify a clear loser, but I have to wonder what the Pirates were doing grabbing Matt Morris and his entire contract.  

Some Trades/More Rumors

ESPN is reporting on their trade deadline special that Eric Gagne is going to either Boston or the Brewers, if he is traded. 

Meanwhile, the Red Sox have traded Joel Piniero to the Cardinals for the infamous "PTBNL"

The Yankees have sent Scott Proctor to LA for Wilson Betemit.

I will update this post as I hear more rumors and expect a full breakdown of the deals after 4pm. 

UPDATE 2:10- Jon Heyman says the Red Sox have made a deal for Gagne, no word on the players involved.

UPDATE 2:50 Buster Olney is reporting that the Red Sox will send Engel Beltre, Kason Gabbard and David Murphy for Gagne. He further states that the Yankees could have had him, but refused to part with either Ian Kennedy or Melky Cabrera.

UPDATE 3:05- There is a surreal scene at Yankee Stadium as members of the Yankees and MLB gather to unveil the 2008 All-Star logo. Lon Trost, Hank Steinbrenner and Randy Levine are there on the field as speeches are being made. Does this mean it’s Cashman and Steinbrenner in a bunker somewhere trying to trade Farnsworth? How does this get scheduled one hour before the trading deadline??

UPDATE 3:45- Gagne deal is done according to Olney with the Red Sox guaranteeing $3.6 million in incentives. Jon Heyman is reporting the Dye deal is unlikely. Still very, very quiet on the Yankees side, maybe they spent up all their creative energy on the All-Star logo?

This And That

Chamberlain looked pretty good in AAA tonight according to this report.  All I can say is "wow".

I normally don’t go with unsubstantiated rumors, but this one comes from one of our frequent commentators and a web author on his own, Jimmy.   Now, Pete Abraham says it isn’t so and I am not sure if he has the right names, but it is interesting that both Jeff Marquez and Alan Horne do not show up on minorleaguebaseball.com with a team name next to their entries.  Yes, it is a conspiracy theory, but Alberto Gonzalez was just promoted to AAA today and his name is listed on the correct team.  Plus, you know the Yankees would want to really check Gagne out medically, so is it possible a trade has been agreed to in principal and Gagne is on his way to New York from Cleveland where the Rangers play tomorrow night? 

Should be fun to sleep on tonight, back in the morning.