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.

The Big Finish

Last night’s win was important for a lot of reasons. It allowed the Yankees to take the season series 10-8 after starting out 1-5 against Boston. It capped off a 7-2 road trip. But, most importantly, it kept the wild card lead at 2-1/2 games. Detroit has woken up and they are playing very, very well right now.

Detroit also has a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way. After playing three games in Cleveland, they should cruise the rest of the way. Three home games against the Royals, three home games against the Twins and a road trip for three games in Chicago. The Yankees start a three game set at home against Baltimore tonight followed by four against Toronto. Then they hit the road for three games in Tampa and three in Baltimore.

I think the Yankees should be able to close the season 8-5. That would force Detroit to go 10-2 to tie them, which doesn’t seem impossible when you look at their schedule. The odds favor the Yankees, but things will probably go down to that final weekend.


I never would have guessed that Jason Giambi would be in today’s lineup playing firstbase. After last night’s defensive nightmare, I would have figured that Torre would stick him at DH or on the bench for a day, but he hasn’t. I give Joe credit for his faith since Giambi’s bat should stay in the lineup, but I think Joe needs to back off a bit on playing him there all the time. Giambi tends to break down when he is in the field a lot and I wonder if that played a part in last night’s problems more than just a simple lack of ability.

Anyway, the rest of the lineup is the same as yesterday with Matsui at DH and Damon in LF. More after the game.

Message Sent

There are a lot of things you can take away from last night’s win, but the biggest one to me is that this team can beat the Red Sox. I remember in 2003 and 2004 when the Yankees were in first and the Red Sox were chasing them, I always felt that none of that mattered because Boston was just as good as the Yankees were. Today, I fell exactly the same way, except it.

Unlike some, I still don’t see the Yankees winning the division, but I don’t really mind. With or without homefield, the Yankees can beat this team in the playoffs and that’s all that matters. Now they have to get in and get past the first round to have that chance.

Why Not Six?

I think Mike Mussina earned another start tonight.  He showed me enough that I want to see if he can do it again.  The thing is, I also think the Yankees should keep Kennedy in the rotation, so why not just go to a six-man rotation for the rest of the year?

Think about it, the guys you are counting on in the playoffs, with the exception of Wang, could use the extra rest.  Clemens’ elbow is a mess, I am not sure he should even start Sunday- more on that in a minute- and Pettitte probably wouldn’t get hurt from the rest.  Wang is really the only guy who should pitch every fifth day since you don’t want a sinkerballer to get too strong.  So, why not pitch Kennedy, Pettitte, Wang, Clemens, Hughes, Mussina, Kennedy for the next week and then start Wang against Toronto on the 21st?  That would leave Wang, Pettitte and Clemens in line to pitch games 1,2 and 3 of the ALDS while you could audition Mussina, Hughes and Kennedy for the final playoff rotation spot.  

As for Clemens on Sunday, I think the Yankees shouldn’t start him unless they have won the first two games of the series.  At best, the Yankees will head into Boston 4-1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  If they won the first two games of the series, they would be 2-1/2 back with a chance to cut the lead to 1-1/2.  If that is the case, I could see the argument for starting Roger.  Otherwise, I think it is better to bring him along slowly, with the goal of getting him on the mound for Game 3 of the ALDS. Wins are important, but pitching Roger Sunday in Fenway seems to be more about giving him one last game in Boston than what may be more important for the team as a whole.  

The division was lost before July, the Yankees can have another crack at Boston, when it matters in October.  Save Roger’s final Boston start for then.   

Almost Perfect

You can quibble with the results of this weekend, after all it would have been better if Detroit had lost two to Seattle, but the end result is that the Yankees gained a game in their wild card lead while taking three off of the schedule.

The next three games will be very interesting as Toronto is playing better of late and the Yankees are sending three starters, Hughes, Moose and Kennedy, who are essentially mysteries right now. By giving the Wednesday start to Moose, the Yankees have setup their pitching for the Boston series and beyond, let me illustrate.

As things are now, here is my guess at how the rotation shakes out the rest of the way:

Hughes (11th, 17th, 23rd, 27th)
Mussina (12th, ??)
Kennedy(13th, 18th)
Pettitte (14th, 19th, 24th, 28th)
Wang (15th, 21st, 25th, 29th)
Clemens (16th, 22nd, 26th, 30th)

This maximizes the starts of the top four starters (four each) and puts the three best on schedule to pitch the final weekend if needed. This can obviously be amended if needed and the Yankees could start almost anyone that final weekend (since I am going to Baltimore I can just see it: Wright, Clippard and Igawa). As for the playoffs, they start Wednesday in one of the AL matchups and Thursday in the other, but both AL matchups play their second game on Friday. That means even if Wang makes his start on the 29th, he is ready to pitch by Game Two.

But, I get ahead of myself. The Yankees still need a combination of 16 wins and Tigers’ losses to clinch, but the picture looks pretty good right now.


I was totally wrong about the move made to add Ohlendorf to the 40-man. The Yankees put Andy Phillips on the 60-day DL which means he is out for the year. Considering his limited production this year and all the arms in the system, it may be the end of Andy on the roster.


Whenever I think of 50 home runs, I always think of Cecil Fielder. I remember watching him absolutely crush two balls against the Yankees in the final game of the 1990 season for home runs #50 and #51. It was remarkable to me at the time because it was the first time I had ever seen it happen (or at least be old enough to appreciate it). Of course a lot has happened in the last 17 years and 50 home runs doesn’t seem as impressive as it once was. But, A-Rod is the first Yankee to do it since Maris and Mantle both did it in 1961. So, I imagine for most of us this is the first time we have seen a Yankee do it.

Pretty cool and a pretty good night, apart from Bruney (shut up, meathead). Three up, twenty to go and a chance for a sweep tomorrow.