The reports all over the internet say that Andy Pettitte will announce his retirement later today. Pettitte is scheduled to make two more starts, one at home this Sunday and one next weekend in Houston. That means he will close his career pitching in the only two baseball homes he has ever known. His last start at home will also coincide with the day the Yankees have chosen to honor Mariano Rivera.
I wrote about Andy in detail when he retired back in 2011 and I don’t think I can do it better now. As for 2014, I think this is actually a good thing for the Yankees. Andy has done a solid job this year, but the Yankees have to break their dependence on older players.
I imagine plenty of reporters will now connect the retirements of Mo and Pettitte to Jeter and speculate that he is going to hang them up as well. I would bet almost anything against that. Jeter will be back next year unless a doctor tells him he can’t physically play anymore. He has a player option and I see no reason why he wouldn’t exercise it.
The one major downside to this news is that it will put more pressure on the Yankees to overpay Robinson Cano. We can get into the wisdom of paying Cano later, but for now let’s just all agree that a 10-year/$200 million deal would be insane.
The Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-3, coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the 9th after making what seemed to be the final out. What happened? A fan (who was either “drunk” according to the first link I posted, or “overzealous” according to Jack Curry’s game story in the NYT) fell/walked onto the field as the final pitch was being delivered. One of the umpires called time, but the pitch was on the way and Mike Stanley (ironically the last player traded between the Yankees and Red Sox) flied out on it. But because time had been called, the play didn’t count and the Yankees went on to win the game.
The thing that surprised me about looking back at that boxscore was that the game was sold out. My memory isn’t as sharp as it once was, but Yankees-Red Sox in 1993 wasn’t much of a rivalry. The Yankees had stunk since the late 80′s and the Red Sox finished last in 1992. Yet, they got a full house for this game. I guess the rivalry had more juice than I remember. (As a comparison, only 27,000 came out for a Saturday game two weeks earlier against Cleveland)
Let me start with the Mariano tribute. There was the part shown on ESPN and the part you could only see online. I would like to talk about the part online which I thought was in poor taste. Yes, Mariano blew the save in Game 4 of the ALCS, but if you are honoring him is that the time to bring it up? Did we really need to see Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller and Dave Roberts walk us through that again? If the Red Sox didn’t want to honor Mariano, I can’t blame them, but don’t put on a ceremony and then bring up one of his bigger failures. If the Giants ever decided to honor Tom Brady, I hope they wouldn’t show highlights of the Super Bowls the two teams have played to date. The rest of it was nice, but the first part really struck me as off key.
As for the baseball itself there isn’t much to say beyond that they lost to a better team. Boston is playing great baseball and the Yankees are not. Just like last weekend they didn’t pitch. Unlike last weekend, they didn’t hit either. That’s a pretty bad combination.
But the Yankees have to thank Texas and Tampa for falling apart at just the right moment. Texas got swept this weekend as well and they are 1-9 over their last 10. Tampa won 2-of-3, but they have been shaky over the last few weeks. Add it all up and those two clubs are tied for the two wild card spots with four teams, including the Yankees, within 3.5 games of them.
And now Texas travels to Tampa for a four game set, so one of the two wild card leaders is guaranteed to lose each of the next four nights. The Yankees have three games in Toronto starting Tuesday, so they certainly have a great opportunity to get back into the race. The question is, can this team get off the mat one more time?
The Yankees have gone 4-4 over their last eight games. That’s usually not a good formula for making up deficits in the standings, but over that same period the Rays have gone 2-5. So, what once was a 2-1/5 game deficit in the wild card standings is now a one game deficit.
And here’s the really good news. After this series against Boston, the schedule gets a lot easier. The Yankees have only one series left with a team not in last place and that series is against the Rays. Meanwhile, the Rays have to face Texas and Baltimore, two good teams and two teams in the thick of the wild card race, so the Yankees have a number of things in their favor, but they have to survive this upcoming weekend.
That’s going to be tough. Boston is tearing through the AL right now and the Yankees certainly couldn’t stop them last weekend. The one positive you can take from last weekend is that the Yankees certainly hit well. They will need to do that again and try and bring some pitching this time. They have the right three guys starring- Kuroda, Sabathia and Nova. The bullpen is healthier, but also a bit overused. They are going to need their starters to give them length.
And Brett Gardner is probably out of this series and maybe much more. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Yankees make a trade for someone to help cover the outfield. After all, they just brought in Ryan to do the same with shortstop. If they do, that would be their 55th player this year, only four short of the MLB record. And yet, here we are with two weeks to go and they are legitimate playoff contenders. Keep that in mind the next time you get frustrated with Joe Girardi.
The Yankees have decided to DL Derek Jeter. They have also announced that he will not return even if they make the playoffs. That explains the trade last night for Brendan Ryan.
Now, the Yankees can try and dress this up anyway they choose, but they have two serious problems with Jeter. The first is the $9.5-million player option he holds for 2014. You have to assume he is going to exercise that and that will create the second problem- what do the Yankees do then?
The organization simply cannot plan on him being the shortstop in 2014. Even if Jeter shows up in camp next year in the best shape of his life, the odds are seriously stacked against him playing short next year. Defensively, he has never been good and he is going to turn 40 next season. Odds are he will be terrible at short next year. If he can hit, they can move him to DH, but if he hits like he did this year, the Yankees will have to bench him and think of how that will go over.
Some people get excited by mundane things. I certainly do when it comes to the MLB schedule. Today, we have the preliminary 2014 schedule to ponder.
Some points of interest.
The season opens in Houston and ends in Boston. Encouragingly, the Yankees play their first six games in domes or warm weather. (Houston and Toronto)
The home opener will be April 7th against Baltimore and the Red Sox come in right after that and the Cubs right after that.
The pitchers better be ready to hit in May because all 10 of the Yankees games in NL parks are that month. They have the four-game subway-split series May 12th-15th and Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Louis that month.
After June 15th, the Yankees have three games west of the Mississippi and those three are in Texas in July.
They play 17 of their final 26 games at home.
I don’t usually take notice of official scoring decisions, but ruling the last pitch of today’s game a wild pitch seems crazy to me. That pitch was down the middle. It was a bit out of the strike zone, but not a hard one to catch. If that’s not a passed ball, I am not sure what one is. Anyway, on to some analysis.
The Yankees saw Mariano blow two saves, gave up more than 8 runs in three-consecutive games and still emerged from the weekend with the same playoff situation they entered it in. Of course my nerves are completely shot and now I have a pretty big football game to watch tonight, but that’s the bottom line.
I have no idea what it will mean next weekend in Fenway and I am not going to worry about it. The Red Sox cleaned our clocks this weekend, but now it is time to worry about Baltimore. The Yankees need to do a lot better over these next four games.
It has come to this. The Yankees are promoting Jim Miller from AAA today because they need a healthy body in the bullpen. Miller is a career journeyman who did post a 3.55 ERA in AAA this year and there is a decent chance you see him in an important point of the game today.
That’s because the Yankees won’t have the following pitchers today: Robertson, Kelley, Chamberlain, Claiborne, and Logan.
So, I imagine Warren is the first call out of the pen and then Girardi is going to have to get creative with the group of- Hughes, Betances, Miller, Marshall, Daley, and Cabral. Of course Mo is available for the 9th, if they make it.
And don’t count on the weather saving them, it’s about as perfect a day as you could ask for here in NYC.
It’s hard to think of two worse losses than what has happened to the Yankees the past two nights. Last night they came back from a big deficit only to see their brilliant closer flush it away. Tonight they had an 8-3 lead only to see their bullpen flush it away. I guess Girardi’s binder didn’t tell him using a lefty against Mike Napoli was a bad idea. Then again, Joe doesn’t have a ton of options.
That’s because the injury bug has now moved to the bullpen. David Robertson is shut down for 5 days or so with a shoulder issue. Shawn Kelley has a sore tricep and won’t be used until next week. Boone Logan is going to get a MRI for a biceps issue. So, the Yankees are in serious trouble.
And now the reeling Yankees will turn to David Huff to try and slow the Red Sox down.
Thursday night’s Red Sox vs. Yankees game was one of the more exciting games I’ve seen in a while. Keep in mind I only really saw a bit of the first few innings and from the 9th inning on what with my softball game taking up my time in the middle (we lost 7-15. We had a 6-0 lead and then gave up 15 runs in the bottom of the 3rd…what the heck. And thus concludes my ramblings on my softball game). But for the few innings I did witness, there was energy, excitement and a definitive playoff feel, something I really haven’t felt since perhaps 2009.
Mariano Rivera is the best closer baseball has ever seen and anytime you can get a win out of a Rivera pitched game is a great thing. It will be an odd sight-seeing someone other than Rivera close in 2014.
Two Red Sox thoughts:
The most impressive performer for the Red Sox this year has been Koji Uehara. Consider this, since being named closer on June 26th, Uehara has pitched 34.1 innings. He’s allowed 10 hits, 2 walks, struck out 46 and posted a 0.26 ERA and he has faced 114 batters vs. a minimum possible of 103. His ability to lock down the 9th has been a blessing for the Red Sox as Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, both of the all you can eat Buffet lifestyle, are both injured for the year and when healthy were ineffective. Uehara’s ability to throw his 89, 90 MPH fastball by the best fastball hitters astounds me and his splitter is unhittable. Uehara, apologies, consider yourself jinxed.
The call-up of Xander Bogaerts hasn’t produced the splash like Yasiel Puig’s call-up generated, but that is probably how the Red Sox hoped it would happen. The idea of letting a young player take in the atmosphere with an eye towards preparing him for the following season is appealing to me.