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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.

The Deadline Looms

I hate to break this for you Red Sox Fans, but Andy has selfishly gone on a family vacation which means you are stuck with me for the next 24 hours. Then again, I am quite sure this experience will do us both some good.

Anyway, for the next day I will be dishing info about both teams, Yankees and Red Sox as we approach the non-waiver deadline.

So far, not much is going on. The Red Sox were reportedly close to getting Jermaine Dye but that deal seems to have stalled.

The Yankees and Red Sox are both in Gagne according to Jason Stark, but the Rangers asked for Hughes or Chamberlain from the Yankees which won’t happen and Gagne can block a trade to Boston which means the Red Sox would probably have to pony up some cash. (Don’t forget Scott Boras is Gagne’s agent)

The big movers are clearly the Braves who have reportedly landed Teixeria and could be adding Octavio Dotel (see above) and maybe even Bronson Arroyo

If the Braves make all those moves would that compel the Mets to up the ante on Gagne? What do you think will happen? Feel free to vote below

A New Reliever

The Yankees have officially moved Joba Chamberlain into the bullpen.  He will pitch Monday and Wednesday and then the Yankees will evaluate his progress. 

I am heartened by the fact that Brian Cashman confirmed that Joba’s future is in the rotation, but this move has me conflicted.  Joba could come up to the Yankees and blow people away and make me look stupid in the process, but what if he doesn’t?  What if he struggles and loses confidence?  Some scouts have said they rate Joba higher than Hughes which means the Yankees should have two great young pitchers in their rotation for the forseeable futute and I don’t like messing with that.   

Furthermore, what does this say about pitchers like Ramirez, Bean, Beam and other relievers in the organization?  Jose Veras is back pitching after being hurt earlier in the year.  Only six innings so far, but why don’t the Yankees take a look at him?

I suppose I should be glad that the Yankees are finally trying different approaches.  Their refusal to do so in the past (using Phillips as the utility infielder, Matsui learning how to play firstbase, etc.) has bothered me and I probably shouldn’t complain now, but this move seems like a big risk to me. 

********

Depending on what you read, I have seen trade rumors about just about every pitcher in the bullpen.  One fascinating one is that the Mariners might be interested in Igawa.  (Check out Rosenthal’s full count on fox.com)  It’s hard to invision what role Igawa would have with the Yankees in 2008 since the Yankees will probably go with some of their young pitchers (Kennedy pitched six shutout innings last night in his Scranton debut.) and I can’t see him in the bullpen.  His contract is very reasonable ($4 million a year) it is just the $26 million they spent on his posting fee. If they could get a prospect back (and please not Richie Sexson) it could be worth doing.  

One thing is certain, this had better be Farnsworth’s last game as a Yankee.  He is useless to them at this point and he could have broken Posada’s wrist with that pitch he crossed him up on.  It really seems like they have reached the point where his subtraction from the club would be an addition.  

The Yankees have about 44 hours to figure all of this out as the trading deadline is Tuesday afternoon.   

*****

Phil Hughes is obviously ready.  6.2 innings, three hits, no runs, three walks and four K’s.  He threw 91 pitches.

Should be a fun two days, I will be updating as things happen and tomorrow and Tuesday I will try and aseemble links to all the rumors.