Good News

Scroll way down in this piece, but according to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are aggressively shopping LaTroy Hawkins with the idea of bringing up Cox.

I know everyone who reads this blog will be excited to hear that news.   

Questions, Questions

It seems like a lot of people have two big questions from last night’s win.  First, why was Wang lifted in the 8th and second, why did Betemit start at first over a lefty?  I think you have to stop and think a little deeper before you ask those questions. 

Wang looked much better last night and he lifted after only 83 pitches which is unusual for him.  But, consider the cirumstances before he was lifted.  The only reason he got out of the 7th with a lead is because Kurt "double play" Suzuki hit a grounder to A-Rod.  Before that he had given up two singles and a walk.  Starting the 8th, he induced a pop-up that should have been an out, but then gave up a deep flyball to Damon for the first out.  I can’t disagree with Girardi’s thinking that it might be time to get him out of there with a 1-run lead.  Sure, Veras could have blown up and everyone would have been screaming, but I think Girardi’s reasoning was solid in this spot and it did work out.

As for playing Betemit, it makes no sense to play him against a lefty pitcher, that is certanly true and you also forced Matsui to the bench with the move.  But, with Wang on the mound, you want the best infield defense you can find and while it pains me to say this, Betemit is the best option on the team.  The bigger question to me is what role does Duncan have on this squad?  He is not a very good defender and his bat is AWOL.  What value does that add?  Joe Girardi made a terrible move Monday, pinch-running for Posada with Moeller and he escaped criticism because Moeller got hit by a pitch in the ninth instead of striking out to end the game.  If Girardi wants to pinch-run, the Yankees should get someone who can actually do it on the bench.  How about Brett Gardner joining the club?  He has 25 steals and an .852 OPS in Scranton.  I am not sure how much more he needs to prove down there and the questions about his lack of power won’t be answered until he gets to the majors, so why not give him a shot?  

The Yankees will have a spot opening in the near future when they decide to go with only 2 catchers, could that be a chance for Gardner?  They already have 12 pitchers, so I would guess it will be unless they recall Gonzalez.  We shall see….. 

Has Girardi Gotten Smarter?

Did anyone notice who didn’t come into today’s 6-3 win in the 8th inning?  That’s right, Kyle Farnsworth stayed on the bench while Jose Veras came into the game and recorded a perfect 8th.  Now, maybe Girardi didn’t feel the need to use Kyle with a 3-run lead, but he did use Mo with that same lead in the 9th, so it made me wonder if he has rethought his use of Farnsworth?  Veras was warming up in the 7th with the game 4-3, so maybe Girardi is going to try him in a bigger role.  I think it is worth a shot, the guy has impressive stuff and his numbers haven’t been bad.   

Now, the Yankees need to win tomorrow.  Taking three-of-four against KC is expected from teams that want to make the playoffs.  Then it’s on to Oakland and Houston, the last two teams on the June schedule with records over .500.  It’s time for the Yankees to make some noise.   

You Can’t Lose That Game

Saturday’s game was an amazing, wonderful, breathtaking win, but the fact of the matter is, the Yankees had to win it.  Imagine if they had lost that game.  Imagine if they had dropped two-straight to KC, especially after coming back from 5-1 and 10-6. 

No, this was one they had to have, and there are a lot more they have to have if they are going to climb back in this race.  This was a nice win, but it means nothing if the Yankees don’t follow up with a streak, it’s time to say goodbye to .500 now.   

Yanks Catch A Break- Hawkins Suspension Upheld

Good news fans, LaTory Hawkins suspension has been upheld meaning we won’t see him again until Monday. 

Now if we could just get him suspended for the rest of the season…. 

First Things First

Right then, a very interesting night for the Boston Red Sox.

First off, the Red Sox had to deal with the 2008 amateur draft.  While I’m eligible, I’m looking for the right fit, I need PT and refuse to accept a weak financial offer.  My secret is OBP.  I’m getting so fat that my gut hangs well over the plate creating a very small strike zone for the pitcher.  Hit the very small unoccupied strike zone or hit my lard and force the HBP.  I rule.

Of more immediate concern was the ruckus that looked like an MMA event.  The Red Sox and Rays had a bit of a throw-down.  Winner…of the game anyway, was the Red Sox.

Here’s my take on the rumble:  Ray’s starter James Shields was either really off (he hit 2) or he decided to even things up far too early in the game.  By hitting Coco Crisp in the 3rd rather than say, a later inning, he guaranteed himself an early exit and put the Rays bullpen in a difficult position.

For those not sure what in freak caused tonight’s brawl, here’s a quick summary.  On Wednesday, Coco Crisp stole 2nd with a headfirst slide.  In stealing the base, Ray’s 2b Jason Bartlett blocked the bag with his lower leg.  Crisp was successful in his attempt, but slightly injured his left thumb in the process b/c instead of grabbing a base, he made contact with Bartlett’s bag.  While not uncommon, blocking 2b with your leg is sometimes frowned upon.  Crisp took matters into his own hands and later in the game, with another steal attempt, took out Ray’s 2b Akinori Iwamura with a takeout slide at second, one you’d expect to see when trying to break up a double play.

Clean?  Probably not, but Crisp saw it as legitimate retaliation.  He said as much after the game and told the media that if the Ray’s were unhappy, he was the one to talk to.  They did.

Crisp was plunked by a James Shields fastball in the 3rd in tonight’s game.  Here’s where things got interesting.

Crisp could have just trotted to first, but he instead chose the charge method and took off after Shields.  Crisp dodged a right handed hay-maker by Shields and countered with a fairly weak jab.  He was then smothered by Ray’s catcher Dioner Navarro which led to a free for all on Crisp’s face as Johnny Gomes jumped on board and started throwing right handed bombs.

The scrum lasted about 90 seconds or so when Crisp finally emerged.  He looked battered as his eyes were swollen and his nose a bit larger than usual.

Result?  Crisp, Shields and Gomes ejected.  A very good trade-off for Boston.  Shields picked a lousy time to retaliate or perhaps never expected Crisp to say "yes" to his offer.  Crisp forced the issue and put Tampa Bay in a tough spot.  Crisp isn’t a regular while Shield’s is.  I equated tonight to an NHL fight.  A goon vs. a legitimate talent in a fight.  Both go off for 5 PIM’s but the legitimate player’s team suffers more.

Anyway, a very interesting development and one sure to keep the Red Sox Tampa Bay match-ups entertaining.  Of course the Red Sox lost Jacoby Ellsbury to a wrist sprain and Manny Ramirez to a slight knee injury, so the depth of the Red Sox was utilized tonight.

One uglier note was the apparent fight between Kevin Youkilis and Ramirez in the dugout.  I think we’ll probably never know what was said to cause the dust-up, but it wasn’t a good site. 

It looked liked Youkilis said something to Manny who threw a right elbow to Youkilis and then shoved him away before teammates could restrain Manny.  No one restrained Youkilis which leads me to believe Youk said something which set Manny off. 

Jerry Remy, and later, former Red Sox David McCarty said team conflicts probably happen 2-3 times a season, but usually not in front of the TV cameras.

No matter what the cause, Boston went into this series down 1.5 games to the Rays and now is up 1.5.  Good series.  I expect they’ll lose Crisp for a few while Tampa will lose Shields, Gomes and Carl Crawford few a few games.  A decent trade-off.

Oh yeah, the Red Sox made a bunch of picks in the 2008 MLB draft.  You know where to go to see the picks.

Interesting Times, Interesting Times indeed.

Update:  This quote from Shields after the game tells me it wasn’t a mistake hitting Crisp:  "I protected my own players and that’s what we need to do around here.  We’ve been getting stomped around the last 10 years and it isn’t going to happen anymore. I had to let them know early and let them know right away.”

Fine James, but way to make an early exit.

Quite A Day

Not a bad day at all for the Yankees who had a huge comeback win and also ended up with a top-rated arm in the draft.  I won’t pretend to know anything about Gerrit Cole, (I don’t watch a lot of high school baseball) but the scouts love him and think the pick is a steal. I am just happy to see that the Yankees are once again using their considerable financial might on draft picks. 

Some will pan the Yankees’ draft because their first three picks were pitchers.  I guess I think of how the New York Giants just won a Superbowl thanks in part to believing that you could never have enough pass rushers.  Pitching is fragile and unpredictable, to me the more eggs you have, the better the chances that one will hatch.

As for the game, if this doesn’t send this team on a big streak, nothing will.  To go from Damon’s "almost" hit in the 8th, to the mess Farnsworth created in the 9th (and then escaped from) to 2 outs, no one on, down two runs in the ninth and a win is remarkable.  Look at the schedule for June and tell me why we shouldn’t expect a run out of this team over the next 20 games?  That is, if this team is what we thought it was.  

One last note, remember the name Jeremy Bleich.  The Yankees selected him with the pick they got for losing Vizcaino.  As we collectively curse Hawkins in the present, we can hope that Bleich will turn into the real deal and the "trade" of Hawkins for Vizcaino was worth it.   

Draft Day

The 2008 MLB Draft starts Thursday, June 6th, at 2pm.  The Red Sox have the last pick in each round.  You know why.

With round 1 now televised and MLB trying to make the draft a bigger spectacle than it has been in the past, you too can be a part of the action.  How?

1.)  Watch TV.  ESPN2 will televise the first round.

2.)  Best Option – Visit SoxProspects.com.  This site consistently monitors Red Sox prospects and on draft day, gives you as much info as is available on each player (by the Red Sox) drafted.

While it doesn’t seem fair, the Tampa Bay Rays have the 1st overall pick…for the 2nd straight season.  So while they challenge the AL East, they keep adding to their inventory.  Seriously, after so many rough seasons, eventually year after year of top picks have to shine through.

As for Red Sox notes.  We all know David Ortiz is shelved for a bit.  I suffered the same injury, albeit during a tennis tournament.  With a torn tendon sheath, you can hear your tendon making a creaking sound as it passes through the sheath.  An odd and painful sensation.

The Red Sox are playing decent ball over the past week so hopefully no drastic trades are necessary to replace Ortiz’s pop.

There are some other things going on here in Boston too (yes, I’m talking about the annual MIT engineering contest), so I apologize for not updating more frequently.

Could It Have Been Worse?

Short of injury, can you think of a worse result than tonight’s game?  Not the score, but how things transpired.  Think about it, Joba makes his first start and doesn’t make it deeper than 7 outs.  Then, with the score close in the seventh inning, the Yankees turn the game over to Joba’s replacements in the bullpen and they blow up in a huge way.

People who didn’t want Joba to be moved will be screaming from the rooftops tonight and I advise those of you who did want him to be moved to avoid talk radio tomorrow.  

So, what happens now, where do the Yankees go from here?

First and foremost, they should not abandon their plan to keep Joba in the rotation.  He didn’t look great, he didn’t look bad and he certainly was still throwing hard after 60 pitches.  That is a starting pitcher and they need to continue to develop that.

But, the bullpen is a mess.  (One question, if Ohlendorf is a grounball guy and you love his arm then why not bring him in with the bases loaded when you need a grounder?)  The Yankees need to rebuild the pen on the fly and they need to do it first by subtracting Hawkins and Farnsworth.  There are lots of young arms in the minors, clear out the old and let’s start with the young. 

And now depression sets in.   

Patterson Down/Giese Up

Chris Britton must have done something right, how else can you explain the fact that the Yankees optioned a pitcher back to Scranton today and it wasn’t him?

It’s a mystery to me, but the Yankees finally have a long guy (Dan Giese) and Joba is finally a starter.  Now, if we could get Girardi to start trusting someone other than Farnsworth with the 8th inning, we really might have something.