Let’s Use Our Heads

There are a ton of stories in the paper today about how yesterday’s rainout helped the Yankees.  The thinking is that because the rain washed out Andy Pettitte’s start, the Yankees can shift the rotation and skip Igawa’s scheduled turn on Wednesday.  All of that is true, but consider the fact that by pitching today Pettitte will not be able to make his scheduled start on Friday which is the opener of the Subway Series.

Add in the fact that the Mets were rained out last Friday and had to play two on Saturday.  They used Santana and Pelfrey in their two games Saturday.  They play this upcoming Thursday and then head to the Stadium Friday.  They can slot Pelfrey and Santana however they want for those two games so does anyone doubt that they will save Santana for Friday night against the Yankees? 

Because of the rain, the Yankees have to chose when they want to pitch Rasner, Thursday or Friday, they will need to use either Igawa or the infamous "TBA" for the other start.  Considering the opponent and likely starter, I think it is unlikely you would see any of the rookies, including Kennedy make Friday’s start.  So, I would imagine Rasner goes Friday and that leaves Thursday’s start up in the air.  This is just a guess, but I would suspect that Dan Giese, the 30-year old journeyman who is doing well in AAA gets the call.  Giese pitched for Scranton on Saturday which means he is in turn and he has a 1.13 ERA in 39 innings so far this year.  My backup candidate would be Chase Wright.  Wright is only at AA, but he has pitched pretty well and we have obviously seen him before.  Wright’s one advantage is that he is already on the 40-man roster.  The Yankees could move Cervelli to the 60-day DL to make room for Giese so I don’t think it is that big an advantage.   

I think the one thing every Yankees’ fan can agree on is that we don’t want to see Igawa again.  Stay tuned…. 

UPDATE 6:10PM- Apparently it will be Kennedy pitching Thursday.  Is one start in the minors enough to have fixed him?  I’m not sure about that, though I favor using him over Igawa.  The problem is, what do the Yankees do if he bombs on Thursday?  And, what do they do with Igawa at this point?  That’s definitely $46 million down the tank, but how long do they continue to pretend he has a future in New York as a starter?  How about trying him as a reliever now and see if that does anything to improve his value?

 

There’s A Hole…In My Lineup

So far the "Merry Merry Month of May" has been anything but that for the Yankees’ catchers.  Combined they are 4-for-29 with 1 RBI (.138 AVG).  That is absolutley putrid and below their combined career numbers (.233 AVG combined).  Jorge Posada is starting to do some light throwing, but he is three weeks away at best and probably more.  The Yankees can’t even be sure he will be able to return as a catcher on a full-time basis because his shoulder needs surgery, they just hope he can wait until November. 

The Yankees need to go out and trade for a backup catcher who can hit.  Failing that, let’s bring Stewart up from AAA again and see if he can hit.  I’m not sure he can, but he does have the benefit of some youth on his side.  Either way, the Yankees know what Moeller and Molina can do with the bat and it isn’t much. 

The Yankees are 18-19, they have scored exactly the same number of runs as they have allowed.  They either need to pitch better or hit better to break out of this funk and that is hard to do when you have a hole in both the lineup and rotation.  Ideally, you fix both, but realistically nobody is going to trade you a starter in May.  So, try and find some offense and catcher would be a wise place to start. 

Farewell Lugo

Julio Lugo is just awful right now.  Let’s see, the Red Sox as a team have committed 21 errors as a team.  Lugo has 11, that’s more than half.  Lugo was never considered an elite SS, but he was considered at worst average.

Theo Epstein got himself into this mess signing Lugo to a 4 year, $36mm deal.  Lugo’s Red Sox career has been bad, and that’s being generous.  So what can the Red Sox do about it?  With 2+ years left on his deal, benching Lugo seems a bit silly but trading him also seems silly as the Red Sox would likely have to pick up a big part of his deal (baring receiving an equally bad contract in return).

If they do sit him down, I suppose Alex Cora (due back Sunday) could play each day or at least be put into a platoon situation.

If I’m Epstein, I find a way to cut this guy loose ASAP.  Trade him or bench him, but just don’t keep him out there.  Jed Lowrie has proven that at worst he is an equal swap and by giving him the job, the Red Sox get to see another component of their future.  If Lowrie stumbles, Cora can lend a hand.

I think the most telling thing about Lugo and his inability to fit in here is this quote after Thursday’s game given to the Herald’s Steve Buckley:

“I don’t care, but sometimes it would be nice to say something positive,” he said. “But all the time it’s negative things, you know? Sometimes, you know, people should say something that’s positive. But every time it’s something negative . . . bring it up, bring it up, bring it up. Why?

“I understand you (the media) are going to write whatever you want . . . but I come here every day and bust my ass . . . if things don’t work out sometimes, that’s the way it’s going to be. You understand? But sometimes you bring up the same things . . . You get tired of that.”

This is what Red Sox players have to prepare themselves for mentally.  Those that can handle it excel, those that cannot are, well, Edgar Renteria.  Take your game somewhere else Julio.  If you want to play to empty stands and non-caring fans, go to Florida (14,980 fans a game).

No matter Lugo’s capabilities, it’s time for Boston to move on and find someone who can handle playing in Boston.

Kennedy Could Do That

Say what you want about Ian Kennedy, but it is fair to say he would have done better than Igawa tonight.  Igawa may be the only guy in the world who would lose a popularity contest against Carl Pavano with Yankees’ fans.  To make matters worse, Albie got hurt in the game and it sounds like it will be a long-term injury.   

My question is this, with Albie hurt, why wouldn’t the Yankees bring Kennedy back?  They have an injury exemption that allows them to bring anyone back to the majors, so why use it on Britton instead of Kennedy?  Not that I have anything against Britton, I wish the Yankees would give him a shot, but does anyone think Igawa will pitch well next Wednesday against Tampa?  I know I don’t and while one game in the minors doesn’t prove much, I still think Kennedy gives the Yankees a better chance to win than Igawa and isn’t that all that matters? 

Moves Made, Moves Not To Make

I credit Tyler with succinctly stating the reason the Yankees shouldn’t take a flier on David Wells.  As he wrote in the comments of a previous post, "To me, Wells is still the guy who left that huge World Series game in Florida after all of one inning."

I agree and I have mentioned before that I think that move cost the Yankees the 2003 World Series.  Add in the fact that Wells is 45, a pain in the ass and pitched to a 5.43 ERA in the NL last year and there is no reason to even think of signing him.  The guy to sign for the 50th time is Freddy Garcia.  He is reportedly going to throw off a mound this week and the Yankees should strongly consider signing him for this year with an option for next year like they did with Lieber in 2003. 

As for tonight, I know we are all looking forward to Kei Igawa’s return (sorry, couldn’t resist).  To make room for Igawa, the Yankees sent Chris Britton down.  That leaves eight relievers on the acitve roster and it is about time for the Yankees to cut that down to seven.  I imagine that will happen next week when A-Rod comes back and I think Edwar Ramirez is going to go.

The bigger question in the bullpen is how long does Joba stay in his current role?  I think they will look to move him around the All-Star Break and that means they have about two months to figure out his replacement.  I think they have three candidates currently on the roster, Albie, Ohlendorf and Veras.  It is time to put these guys into some bigger situations and see what they can do.   

Interesting Move

The Yankees activated Wilson Betemit from the DL today and demoted Alberto Gonzalez.  Activating Betemit is a no-brainer, but demoting Gonzalez is odd.  The Yankees have 13 pitchers on the roster and while Gonzalez is wasting on the bench, it still makes no sense to carry that many hurlers.

It sounds like the Yankees plan to platoon Ensberg and Betemit at third, which isn’t a bad idea.  Betemit hasn’t shown it since coming to the Yankees, but he has hit righties very well in his career.  The problem is the bench is only Ensberg or Betemit, Duncan and Moeller on most nights, that is just too thin.  Why the Yankees chose to keep 9 relievers instead of Gonzalez is beyond my understanding. 

 

Moss Gathering Moss

It seems as though Brandon Moss has developed quite a reputation of late.  As you probably know already, he was DLed Saturday, the result of an emergency appendectomy (which ones aren’t emergency?  “Mr. Moss, I don’t like the look of your appendix, let’s take it out.  Shall we say February 2010?).

The legend of Moss, a legend I’ve been largely unaware of, has been growing, here’s evidence:

From Sunday’s Globe feature “On Baseball” by Nick Cafardo:

"I’ve been trying to get Moss for three years," said one assistant general manager in the American League West. "I think he’s a guy who is going to be a very good major league player.

"He can do a lot of things. Strong left-handed bat. Good head for the game, but the Red Sox aren’t inclined to deal him. We’ve tried, believe me."

In addition, the day before his surgery, Moss had complained of abdominal pain, but then played in Friday night’s game going 2-4 with a home run.  A legend building feat, no?

I guess we should all be happy he is on the Red Sox.  For whatever reason, I’ve considered him a 4th outfielder with maybe the chance to be a starter on a team other than the Red Sox.  Let’s hope I’m wrong.

With Moss’s injury, once expected to sideline him 3-5 weeks, the Red Sox promoted Craig Hansen, thus fulfilling my wish.  I expect Hansen will stay here for the long haul with the Red Sox instead deciding to get rid of another reliever when the time comes.  Mike Timlin and Javier Lopez are the leading candidates.  Lopez because he is a side-throwing lefty who lets too many lefties get on base.  In 6.1 IP against lefties this year, he has only given up 4 hits, but walked 5.  Terry Francona wants Lopez to challenge lefties, not walk them.  Against righties, he has allowed 9 hits and 1 walk in 5.2 IP.  His 3.75 era might look good, but it’s soft.

I haven’t said much lately on this, but the late Will McDonough is being proved right about Roger Clemens more than ever.  Clemens is the Texas Con Man.

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.