Roster Surprise

The Yankees have announced their playoff roster and I am shocked by the fact that Ron Villone didn’t make it. That means the Yankees won’t have a lefty arm in the bullpen and considering that several of the Indians hit much better against righties than lefties, it is a curious deicsion. I guess the Yankees didn’t view Villone as a guy to call in in a big spot against a lefty hitter. In addition Ramirez didn’t make the team, as the Yankees have put both Ohlendorf and Veras on the roster with Sardinha as an extra bat.

The fact that Veras and Ohlendorf made the playoff roster after pitching 15 innings combined shows you how highly the Yankees think of them. Unlike years past, this team is willing to take chances and I can’t argue with that approach, I just wonder if it would have been better to have a lefty in the pen instead of both Ohlendorf and Veras.

In addition, the lineup for Game 1 has been announced. It is the standard lineup of recent weeks

Damon- LF

Hard to argue with the idea of Mientkiewicz with Wang on the mound, getting good infield defense is critical. I was curious to see if Shelly Duncan would make the cut since they are facing a tough lefty, but I think Joe wanted to keep Abreu in there. Abreu hit .262/.329/.349 against LHP, so I would have gone with Shelly.

All The Best Love The Yanks

Not that it matters, but here is one Cleveland athlete who will be rooting for the Yankees this week.  While the best player in the NBA is a good get, this is my personal favorite.

The Year That Was

In March, I think most of us would have said 95 wins would be the minimum needed to get to the playoffs in 2007 and we were almost dead on. The Red Sox won 96 which took the division, ditto Cleveland and the Yankees and Angels won 94 which got them into the playoffs too. We will reflect on all of that later, but for now, let’s review 2007.

Let’s start with the biggest surprises and I think you have to say there are three big ones, Posada, A-Rod and Joba. Let’s start with the hitters, if you thought A-Rod would turn in the best offensive season by a Yankee in 50 years and Posada would turn in one of the best ever offensive seasons by a catcher over 35, you should head to Vegas. What that duo did is amazing and as impressive as A-Rod’s year was it overshadowed an amazing one by Posada. Jorge hit .338 and his OBP and SLG%’s were career highs. That doesn’t usually happen at 35 and the Yankees have to be careful when negotiating a new deal with him.

Joba came literally out of nowhere and transformed the bullpen. I wasn’t a fan of the move at the time and boy was I wrong. Let’s just hope the Yankees are smart enough to put the kid back into the rotation next year.

Disappointments? Well Carl Pavano’s continued fragility comes to mind, but let’s put Kei Igawa at the top of that list. It certainly looks like the Yankees threw away the $26 million posting fee, but maybe they can trade him in the offseason. Giambi and Damon had bad years and Kyle Farnsworth continues to underwhelm.

Big kudos have to go to Torre and Cashman for getting this team to the playoffs. Torre deserves huge credit for keeping a steady hand throughout an awful start and refusing to panic. 2007 showed that Cashman’s rebuilding of the farm system is real and he wisely chose to stand pat at the trade deadline. The Yankees are still not a young team, but Cashman has at least made it plausible that the Yankees will rebuild on the fly.

So, 94-68 and a 13th-straight playoff spot. Now the real fun starts.

A Case For Hughes

I think it is safe to say that Hughes is back to the form we glimpsed in early May and while I know it won’t happen, Joe Torre should really think about using him as a playoff starter.

We know what Mike Mussina is at this point, he is a pitcher who when he is on can pitch six innings or so of effective baseball. Hughes has a much higher upside and he could take over a game and dominate it. I guess we might see that if Clemens can’t go, but my suspicion is that Cleveland would select the longer ALDS format and therefore the Yankees will need only three starters in Round 1.

Interesting conversation between Sterling and Waldman tonight speculating on the playoff roster. They felt that the Yankees would take only 11 pitchers and include Sardinha on the roster. The 11 pitchers were: Wang, Pettitte, Clemens, Mussina, Hughes, Rivera, Joba, Viz, Farnsworth with the final two spots coming from Villone, Ohlendorf or Veras. Based on how he was used and how he performed tonight, I would bet Veras is in the lead right now. They also said that Kennedy won’t pitch in the first round, but might be used in later rounds if the Yankees get there. He will travel with the team except presumably October 6th, when he is due to be married.

I will check in tomorrow night with some observations from down the thirdbase line at Camden Yards.

The Clincher!

I remember being thrilled in 1995 that the Yanees took the wild card because it meant I would finally see Don Mattingly in the playoffs.  1996 made the ’97 wild card seem cheap, but this one is very special to me.  Special because I didn’t think we would ever see it.  21-29 and left for dead, Chase Wright, Matt DeSalvo and 50 starts by rookies during the year, Shelly Duncan, Hughes’ hamstring, Joba and now this. I can’t remember a season like this and once again we can look forward to October. 

Give Joe Torre a lot of credit for this.  Just like Bob Lemon in 1978, Torre provided the right demeanor for this team to thrive.  I don’t know what will happen to Joe, but if this is it, he went out on a high note, no matter what happens from here.  But, that’s for another day, for tonight just sit back and enjoy.

Take A Knee

As nice as it would be to win the division, at this point it simply isn’t worth it. Boston can go 3-2 and clinch things no matter what the Yankees do. Instead, the best idea is to get the one more win (hopefully tonight with Wang on the mound) and then go into spring training mode. (And I say this as someone who is going to Baltimore Friday night for the game)

It has been a long season and thanks to a 21-29 start, the Yankees have had to play the second-half of the season like every game is a playoff game. Giving Posada, Jeter, A-Rod, etc., time off to rest is a critical need at this point. Get one more win and then take the regular season off, it’s the smart thing to do.

What do you guys think, is the push for the division worth it?

Clemens Scratched (Again)

While the magic number sits at 1, the Yankees have some serious health problems. Roger Clemens has been scratched from tonight’s start and replaced with Kei Igawa. More ominously, the Yankees have announced that Clemens will not pitch in any of the games against Tampa.

Clearly, this is a little more than a hamstring “tweak”. How bad it is remains to be seen, but the Yankees have to hope that Clemens can get back on the mound once more before the regular season ends.

Kennedy Scratched

Not sure what is going on, but Mike and The Mad Dog are reporting that Ian Kennedy has been scratched from tomorrow’s start.  Clemens moving up to take the start makes the most sense, but no official word yet. 

We Have A Fourth Starter

Mike Mussina earned a playoff start last night. Torre always wanted to go to him and last night he gave Joe a reason to. Yes, Mussina will probably pitch two more times, but unless Hughes dominates his next time out, this race is over.

And that brings up a great question, which pitchers make this postseason roster? You have to figure that Wang, Pettitte, Clemens, Mussina, Rivera, Chamberlain, Vizcaino and Ramirez are locks right now. I would assume Hughes and Villone also make it which leaves 1 or 2 spots open right now.

I say 1 or 2 because I am not sure how many pitchers the Yankees will actually take into the playoffs. Conventional wisdom would dictate that you only need 10 or 11, but look at the current 40-man roster. The Yankees only have 15 hitters and numbers 14 and 15 are Alberto Gonzalez and Bronson Sardinha. Neither one of those guys can steal bases and you wouldn’t consider their bats to be weapons, so what value would they provide to a playoff team?

That’s why I assume the Yankees take 12 pitchers in the playoffs and those final two spots are truly up for grabs. Joe Torre doesn’t trust Kyle Farnsworth, so adding him to the roster is a waste, but it’s a move the Yankees will probably make to keep his trade value from dissapearing. (They could have him fake an injury too) I am sure Joe would like a second lefty, but I don’t see Henn making it so forget that. (don’t mention Igawa to me)I think the last guy could be Ohlendorf.

Now Kennedy has pitched the best, but I don’t think the Yankees are going to make him a reliever for the playoffs. Bruney did it last year, but he hasn’t been good this year and I don’t see Joe trusting him in a big spot. Britton hasn’t done much and Joe doesn’t seem to want to use Veras in big spots. Joe hasn’t used Ohlendorf much, but he keeps talking about how he is intrigued by him. Ohlendorf was bombed as a starter earlier this year and his reliever numbers while not dominant, were better.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the last week.

Tonight’s Lineup-9/17


I think Torre is very smart to rest Melky, the guy needs a day off. I think his last one was a month ago against Detroit and he is hitting .190 in September. I am a little worried that this past weekend is going to convince Torre to start Mientkiewicz a lot more. I am not sure why Betemit doesn’t get a shot to play, especially against righties.

Big start for Hughes tonight. I think it’s down to him and Mussina for the final rotation spot if the Yankees make the playoffs.