Kennedy Gone, Igawa Next?

The Yankees have optioned Ian Kennedy down to make room for Rasner.  Since Kennedy has to stay in the minors for 10 days (unless the Yankees have an injury) it is safe to assume that he is out of the rotation right now and Igawa is probably going to take his place.

It’s hard to argue with the move because Kennedy is a mess right now.  The Yankees can send him to Scranton and hopefully he will find his control.  The problem is Iggy, I just don’t trust the guy but I don’t think the Yankees have many other options right now in Scranton.

I am still trying to figure out why Dave Eiland has the reputation of being great with the young pitchers.  I haven’t seen much from him so far. 

This Is A Good Idea

I admit, I am a big Joel Sherman fan.  The guy has some great columns and he did a wonderful job filling in on the radio for Suzyn Waldman last year.  His latest blog entry is a good read for any Yankees’ fan.

I don’t know why the Yankees are playing with a 24-man roster for three games.  It makes no sense and if you don’t want to add Gardner to the 40-man and bring him up, why not promote a pitcher who can give you a couple of bullpen innings?  Rasner doesn’t have to be activated until Sunday, it makes no sense. 

The Yankees are 14-16 right now, the same record they had in 2007.  The thing is, it was May 7th, 2007, when they reached the 30th game last year and that season also started on April 2nd.  They have played a brutal schedule and when you throw in the injuries, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they are 14-16.  The thing is, this year they probably won’t have the luxury of taking May off like they did last season.  Remember, in 2007 they went 7-13 from this point to fall to 21-29, 14 1/2 games out of first.  They went 73-39 the rest of the way to win 94 games.  

The biggest difference between that team and this one is offense.  That team scored 176 runs in their first 30 games while giving up 150.  This team has scored only 129 while giving up 141. So, the pitching is a little better and the hitting is a lot worse.  Will that turn around?  You would assume the pitching has to get a little better just by removing Hughes from the rotation right now (and maybe Kennedy)  When two of your starters are surrendering a run an inning, you have nowehere to go but up.  The offense is a trickier matter.  Other than Cano and Jeter, who is really underperforming right now?  You could say Giambi, but he is 37 and may simply be finished.  Moeller and Molina are going to be a huge downgrade from Posada and Ensberg is not going to come anywhere close to the production that A-Rod provided.

So, what can the Yankees do about it?  First, I would get some real doctors to tell you honestly how long Posada and A-Rod are going to be gone.  If the answer is truly a month for Posada and two weeks for Alex, sit tight.  If not, time to work a trade for hitting.  Even if the answer is a good one, I hope Cashman is working the phpnes for a pitcher because it certainly looks like the Yankees need another starter.

Other than that, get creative.  Brad Wilkerson is a little too young to be finished and he just was DFA’ed.  Freddy Garcia is still out there, why not take a flier?   The Yankees are like every team in baseball, they need to score more and give up less.  How they get there is the question. 

Cracked Rib?

OK, the Yankees didn’t make up Hughes’ injury, but how exactly did he go from healthy to having a cracked rib?  That leads me to big worries about the Yankees’ medical staff, but the bottom line is don’t expect to see Hughes again until July. 

Of bigger concern is Hughes’ history with injuries.  His 2005 season was cut short because of injuries and we all know what happened in 2007.  Now, he has his 3rd season in 4 years interrupted by injuries.  That is a very bad sign for now and the future.  

That is something we can worry about another day, for now the Yankees would be wise to start thinking about Joba’s transition to the rotation.  They might need him there very soon.   

An Offense at Rest Tends to Stay at Rest

Perhaps Newton’s theories are readily applied to baseball, and specifically to the Red Sox offense.

Last 7 day performance for the Red Sox offense:  .198/.260/.264/.524 (avg/obp/slg/ops).  Yes, it got worse after last night’s win.  Included in the past 7 days:  39 H, 197 AB, 2 HRs, 13 runs, 13 RBI, 16 BB, 37 K’s.  For an entire offense to do that, especially one with at worst decent hitters, is just amazing…amazingly bad.

The good news?  The pitching has also done well:  2.55 ERA over the same timeframe.  Yes they have a 2-4 record over the last week, but it could have been worse had the pitching not stepped up.

Given Peter’s comments on the Yankee offense and the numbers to back it up, .211/.286/.336/.622, it is amazing to see such apparent powerhouse offenses struggle so badly.  Perhaps if the two teams merged you could patch together a league average offense.  Did I just say merge the Red Sox and Yankees?  That’s a sacrilegious thing to say on this sight, please forgive me.

Comings And Goings

Just another night in Yankeeland as Chad Moeller is back, Stewart is sent to AAA, Sean Henn has been DFA’ed and Phil Hughes is on the DL.  Oh yes, Chris Britton was recalled in place of A-Rod.

The Yankees could have put Bruney or Cervelli on the 60-day DL to make room for Moeller, so I have no clue why they simply DFA’ed Henn.  Then again, Henn isn’t exactly the second coming of Sandy Koufax. Still it seems odd to give up on a 27 year-old lefty when you don’t have any in the big league pen. 

Hughes on the DL is simply bizarre.  The Yankees are obviously making up an injury here, but what is the point?  (And I say that because Joe Girardi said he was healthy before tonight’s game) Why pretend he is hurt when everyone knows what is going on?  You can send him to Tampa on a rehab assignment, but why wouldn’t you simply demote him and let him try at AAA?  Now he can’t appear in any games which makes no sense to me.  

And, the Yankees now have to make a move to replace Hughes spot on the roster.  Just to review, Mo, Farnsworth, Hawkins, Ohlendorf, Albie, Britton, Ramirez and Joba make up the bullpen with four starters in the rotation.  Do the Yankees promote a batter the next few days in place of Hughes (and Betemit is apparently unable to go) or do they just recall Rasner at this point to pitch Sunday?  Talk about needing a scorecard to identify the players!

And, please let me know if you see the Yankees’ offense.  It is missing and presumed to be dangerous, but hasn’t proved to be yet.  

 

A Great Story

As we continue to hear about HGH and Roger Clemens’ many women, it is nice to read a story like this.  It serves as a reminder of why we watch sports in the first place. 

Phil Hughes Is Rick Vaughn

Thanks to Mitchell for pointing out that Phil Hughes can’t see.  Reading the story immediately made me think of the movie "Major League".  Vaughn, played by Charlie Sheen, is a top rookie pitcher, but his blurry vision makes him wild.  He gets fitted for glasses and goes on to dominate. If you think about it, the Yankees have a lot of similarities with that movie. Shelley Duncan could be Cerrano and A-Rod certainly has some Roger Dorn in him. 

 
But I digress, the real point is how do the Yankees fix this problem? If the guy can’t see the catcher’s glove or the signs, it would explain a lot.  One thing, for his career and the sample size is small, his ERA in the day is almost twice that of his ERA at night so the numbers don’t back up the claim.   

 

Out to Pasture? How About the Glue Factory?

Such harsh words about Mike Timlin, eh?  I am a big fan of Timlin, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s time to take old Mike out behind the barn.  As baseball players go, he is old at 42 years old.  He did put together a good 2007, but that was after a bad start (ERA’s of 5.87 in April, 9.00 in May and 5.59 in June).  He finished very nicely in 2007 and was a contributor in the playoffs, but I think the writing is on the wall.

Not being able to rely on Timlin early in the season due to whatever various injury he has puts a major strain on Terry Francona.  Additionally, you typically sign a pitcher to give you 6 and hopefully 7 months of service, not 3-4 months.

His 2008 has been dreadful:  6 IP, 14 H, 9 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 13.50 ERA, 2.83 WHIP, 2-2 record.  That is a fairly small sample size and certainly not the definitive sign his career is over, but it isn’t a good trend.

If I’m Theo Epstein, I DL Timlin right now with the idea of working with him to fix whatever physically ails him and to best position him for the remainder of the season.  If John Farrell and others feel Timlin can contribute, great, let him prove it in an extended rehab assignment at Pawtucket (he’s already pitched 2 scoreless innings there this year before he was activated).  If they feel he can’t contribute, let him go.  Of course, he is a popular player and just cutting him might not sit well, so the organization should give him some options to allow him to exit gracefully and with class, something he is worthy of.

To replace Timlin, let’s give Craig Hansen another look.  Hansen has gone 15.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 17 K, 1.72 ERA, 0.64 WHIP at Pawtucket and finally seems to have found his slider.  In his 1.2 IP appearance in Boston this year, despite giving up a HR, he had sharp break to his slider and struck out 3.

One other quick observation:  The Red Sox can’t hit right now!!!  Last 7 days:  .212/.275/.278 as a team, hence the 1-5 record over that time.

It Keeps Getting Worse

The Yankees announced after the game that A-Rod is headed to the DL with a grade 2 quad strain, no word yet on a callup, but Wilson Betemit could be activated if he is healthy.  Beyond that it is hard to guess what way the Yankees would go.  Juan Miranda is the only healthy position player on the 40-man roster who isn’t already in the majors. 

Without A-Rod and Posada, the Yankees are missing two huge parts of the offense.  Apart from hoping that Cano’s homer tonight will wake him up the Yankees don’t have a lot of options.  I would activate Betemit and let him loose against righty pitching.  Matsui in the lineup every night is a must.  Giambi and Duncan can split first with whoever is hitting getting the nod. 

My bigger question is what is going on with the Yankees’ doctors?  Both Posada and A-Rod came back from injuries too soon and were then forced to the DL.  Last year Marty Miller walked the plank for the injuries the team suffered in April, is someone going to pay the price in 2008? 

Just Wondering

I am not saying it had anything to do with Hughes’ dud tonight, but why did the Yankees choose to put Chris Stewart in at catcher?  Stewart joined the team yesterday, apart from the guys who played this year at AAA he doesn’t know the pitchers.  Molina has caught the bulk of Hughes’ innings this season and while the results haven’t been good, at least they have a relationship.  Stewart gets put into a tough spot and Hughes has to work with his fourth catcher of the season.  Add in the fact that Hughes pitched well last time out and Molina caught him then, and I really don’t get the move. (And someone should tell Stewart to pick a different #.  # 38 reminds me of Matt Nokes, which is not what you want in a catcher.)

The Yankees now have a big decision to make about Hughes.  He has made six starts, pitched 22 innings and given up 22 earned runs.  The Yankees can’t afford to keep sending him out there if he isn’t going to be at least competitive in his starts and you would have to be generous to say he has been that in half his starts this season.  He is scheduled to pitch against Seattle Sunday and if he doesn’t do well in that start, the Yankees have to strongly consider sending him to AAA.