Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chamberlain Continues to Stretch Out

Andy Pettitte was pitching at a high enough level last night that the Yankees didn't bring Joba in until midway through the bottom of the 7th inning.  Chamberlain pitched 1.1 innings, threw 28 pitches and faced 6 batters. With a 2 run lead, Joe Girardi went with Mariano Rivera in the 9th and Joba continued to throw in the bullpen afterward.

Jason Giambi went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and a home run. His average is now up to .244 and he continues to have a hot bat. You've gotta respect the 'stache. Melky Cabrera has been struggling at the plate a bit lately and had a nice outing hitting in the 9th spot and going 2 for 4. Matsui also had 2 and Damon went 3 for 5.

It's good to see Pettitte deliver a quality outing, going 6.2 innings. The bullpen is looking rather vulnerable at the moment and the Yankees absolutely aren't equipped to handle an early exit by too many of their pitchers. Ian Kennedy has a strained Latissimus muscle and some shoulder bursitis. Apparently he is expected back in 15 days and shouldn't miss an extended period. He probably deserves an extended stay down in the minors, and might need to be joined by Ohlendorf for a while.

There has been no official word yet on what will happen for Ian's next scheduled start. Pettitte may move up a day or Joba may get his first start. I doubt we'll be seeing Igawa back in New York. Chris Britton was called back up to fill Ike's spot on the roster temporarily, but the Yankees like moving him back and forth too much to let him linger long in the Big Apple.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

The Yankees big wins over Seattle seem like a thing of the long past, having now lost two straight to Baltimore.

Darrel Rasner looked good on Memorial day, giving up only one run in his six inning outing. Because his teammates failed to provide any run support during that time, Rasner got saddled with the loss. So far this season, I think Darrel has proven to be the biggest surprise and the best performing  fresh face.

Ian Kennedy left last night's game after pitching three innings and giving up four runs. Ike had a muscle strain near his ribcage. The number of Yankee injuries this season has been absolutely staggering.

Relief pitching proved to be the Yankees weak spot in Tuesday's late night game. Ross Ohlendorf gave up 4 hits and 4 ER in 2.1 inninngs to blow an early 4 run lead and later, Latroy Hawkins gave up 2 ER on 3 hits in the 11th to end the game. The night before Hawkins gave up 3 ER in 0.2 innings and Jose Veras gave up 2 ER over 1.1 innings.

The other big factor in last night's game was 3 errors by the Yankees and a baserunning mistake by Jeter. The errors really come back to haunt you in close games. Also, Jeter, who got thrown out taking too big of a lead at second (after successfully stealing) cost the team a potential game winning run with A-Rod coming to the plate.

Tonigh Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to pitch another extended outing. He may get a chance to start soon if Kennedy is out for an extended period of time.

It's hard to find too many silver linings in the clouds of the last two games. The Yankees had some offense but still left 8 and 9 runners on base. Darrel looked sharp in his start but the bullpen is coming undone. While I've been very high on Ohlendorf, he's really showing a lack of consistency. Latroy Hawkins is just plain bad. Veras had a bad outing and Farnsworth is completely unpredictable. Edwar Ramirez is looking like the only dependable bullpen guy right now, but that observation is based on very few appearances and doesn't account for much.

Just when you think these Yankees might be digging themselves out of a hole, Baltimore sends them sliding right back in.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Clutch hitting by Yankees

The Yankees were down 5-2 to start the bottom of the 8th inning.  Jeter walks, Abreu drives in a run with a double. A-Rod walks, Giambi strikes out and Matsui comes in to pinch hit for Duncan. With a weak hit to the pitcher, Matsui hustles down the first base line and the throw to first is off the mark, allowing Abreu to score. Robbie Cano hits a sac fly to score A-Rod and then Molina hits a double to score Matsui, putting the Yankees up 6-5.

With a little help from the errant throw, the Yankees put together a solid inning of offense when they needed it. While Matsui could have been thrown out, give him credit for hustling to first to force the off-target throw. The Yankees got the hits when they needed and put the game in the win column despite an off day for Wang. If they can continue to play like this, the rest of the season could be interesting. Wang will have better days but it's nice to see the team pull out a victory even when the pitching staff is off their game.

Edwar Ramirez pitched 1.2 innings and hasn't allowed a run all year. Mariano Rivera came in to pitch the 9th and struck out two, retiring the side in order for the save. Things looked iffy for a second there as Kyle Farnsworth was warming up in the 8th, but after the Yankees took the lead Mo was the go-to guy. The idea of bringing in the Farns in a close game is a little scary, as he hasn't shown he can be reliable in tight situations. Ramirez looks sharp and could also be a candidate for the setup job later in the season.

The Joba Plan Continues

Joba pitched 2 innings and threw 40 pitches in an effort to get stretched out and ready for the rotation. Chamberlain wanted to come in for a third inning but Joe Girardi held him back and sent in Farnsworth instead. I'm a bit surprised that Joe didn't march him out to face at least one more batter, but I guess this is going to be a slow process, gradually increasing the pitch count.

Mike Mussina barely held on to a lead and ended up getting the win. The Farns had another off day, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits including a home run. It's really hard having a guy like Kyle on the team. He can pitch very well and can throw hard, but it seems a lot of hitters just plain have his stuff figured out.  When he's pitching well, he can be dominating, when he's not, he'll give up a lot of runs quickly. The unfortunate heart of the matter is that you cannot count on Kyle to deliver. You can put him in and hope he's having a good day, but there is little day-to-day consistency. There have been rumors that Farnsworth would take over as a setup man when Chamberlain went into the rotation, but I think that would be a horrible role for Kyle. He's more of a "use him whenever you think you can safely get away with it" type of pitcher than a setup man who you expect to be reliable.

Even though he's been iffy lately, I'd rather see a guy like Ohlendorf in the setup role. Veras is doing nicely and could do the job also.

On the other side, Yankee hitters have been coming to life, especially the struggling Cano and Giambi. If they continue to play at their current level for the rest of the season, they will both have respectable numbers. So I ask this: If Giambi and Cano have late season turnarounds and post decent numbers for the season, do you want them back? Giambi's contract is up at the end of the season, I'd still let him go personally. The free agent market for first basemen is looking very tempting with guys like Teixeira coming available.  Robbie Cano seems to make a habit of slow starts and I don't particularly like his fielding, but I'm not sure the Yankees really have any better options coming up through free agency. I would like to see Alberto Gonzalez get a lot more playing time, however and think he could turn out to be an everyday type of player.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Offensive Explosion

The Yankees put another game in the win column last night by scoring runs. A lot of runs. The final score was 13-2 and almost everyone in the Yankee lineup got in on the fun. Other than Hideki Matsui, who went 3 for 5, no one particular Yankee really stood out above the rest, the whole team seemed to get the hits when they were needed. Even guys like Shelley Duncan, who got 1 hit in 4 AB, had the hit come at the right time and was able to drive in a run.

Jason Giambi went 2 for 3 and Robbie Cano went 2 for 4 and both seem to be hitting better lately.

Andy Pettitte needed 105 pitches to get through 6 innings, but only allowed 2 runs on 8 hits.  Hawkins and Ramirez were scoreless in their 2 and 1 innings of relief, respectively.

Joe Girardi had the night off after being suspended for his tirade on Thursday.

There's not much commentary that I think needs to accompany last night's game. The Yankees, as a team, started hitting the way they were capable of. They strung together hits and scored runs. The starting pitching wasn't perfect, but delivered a quality start and the relievers shut down opposing batters.

Let's just hope we see a lot more of this from the Bomber's in the days and weeks to come.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Some Bright Spots for Yankee Fans

The Yankees got a much needed win last night and the bad news is the offense still stinks. There were three positives that jumped out at me while watching the game.

Ian Kennedy pitched his best big league game of 2008. When you look a little more closely at the numbers, and those 4 walks to go along with the 4 strikeouts and 4 hits, and if you saw him get into some tight spots with bases loaded and only 1 out, he wasn't exactly in total control. Last night Kennedy pitched about as well as you would expect a number 5 guy to pitch. It was an improvement from every other outing he's given us, but he still needs a little work. In the first two innings he seemed to be more aggressive on the mound, but as the game wore on he seemed to be slipping more and more into his old self. In the end, it was a solid performance and something to build on. Kennedy is going to have to keep elevating his game quickly as soon Phil Hughes will be back and after that Joba will be moving in. Rasner has all but locked down his spot in the rotation and it's looking like Kennedy will be the odd man out.

Next up is Mariano Rivera. Flashback to the beginning of last year and I'll admit that Mo's struggles had me worried. I was fairly certain that the end game spiral of age had finally caught up with Rivera and his career was winding down. Mariano turned his season around and had a very respectable year. This year, he's playing the best baseball I've ever seen him play in his career. His ERA is down to .47 and his WHIP is .53. He's only allowed 1 run all year, has struck out 15 and hasn't walked a single batter. It's safe to say Rivera is the greatest closer in the history of the game and we're fortunate to be able to watch him continue to pitch at a masterful level. Last night it really struck home with me as I sat back and just said "Wow."

The biggest positive I saw last night and the thing that gave me the most hope for this team was Joe Girardi. Joe has been way too complacent lately and largely devoid of emotion. It was very encouraging to see him finally blow his stack and argue a call with an umpire, getting thrown out of the game. It was a long overdue move. Joe needs to occasionally show emotion, show his players that he's behind them, that he's got their backs. He also needs to show a little emotion toward his players too, but that's another story. Joe's antics (and I jumped out of my chair and hooted when he started kicking dirt) provided an emotional spark that the team needed and provided an immediate catalyst for the game winning hits later. I'm not saying Joe should do this all the time, but every once in a while it's a necessary evil. This was a very important move from Joe.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rasner Win Overshadowed by Joba News

Let's get one thing straight, Darrel Rasner pitched one heck of a game last night. 7.0 innings of work, 6 strikeouts and only 1 walk with 0 runs. You can't ask for anything more from a starting pitcher. It's something no other Yankee pitcher has come close to in their recent starts. For a guy called up in the middle of the season, Rasner is doing a commendable job. It wasn't a flawless performance, as Rasner got himself in trouble once or twice, but just as quickly he got out of the jam without giving up a run.

I like what I see from Darrel. I'm not putting him down as the next Cy Young winner, but I think he could prove a reliable back end guy. If he could pitch like he did last night all of the time, he'd be the ace on someone's rotation, but not all of the games will go as smoothly as what we just saw.

The big news generated after the game was Joe Girardi's comments about Joba Chamberlain stating that the process had begun and that the Yankees were beginning to stretch out Joba's innings to prepare him for a starting role. More news has been coming out from various sources that Cashman had talked with Joba and the young star confirmed that he's mentally ready and wants to give starting a try. That is the most important part of the equation for me. I was getting worried that Joba would become too comfortable in his set-up role and might not look favorably on the move to the rotation which would subconsciously kill any real chance of him ever succeeding in that role. The fact that Chamberlain thinks he's ready is a good sign. It's also a good sign that the Yankees still have some baseball sense about them and realize what a tragic mistake it would be if they didn't give him a shot as a starter.

On the other side of the ball, Alex Rodriguez was on fire. Officially he had 3 hits including 1 home run and 2 RBIs, but anyone watching on TV saw the replay clearly indicating that one hit ruled a double was clearly a home run. There was no doubt about it in anyone's mind and it will again cause a bit of talk about the idea of instant replay in baseball. A-Rod looked good at the plate and seemed to run well also, hustling out plays and going near full speed. Even in his absence, the Yankee hitters should have been producing more runs and playing better than they had. I'm not buying the lack of A-Rod as a valid excuse for their previous struggles. Having A-Rod back, having a guy who starts making contact and hitting the ball can provide a spark that jump starts some of the other players.

Lastly I want to comment on another guy who's doing an outstanding job, Chad Moeller. Moeller seems to be doing an excellent job of reading his pitchers and hitters. He's made some nice defensive plays and has been hitting decently. Last night he went 2 for 5 and brought his average up to .262. Despite being placed on waivers earlier in the season, Chad indicated he would be happy to remain with the organization even in the minors. When he was called back up he continued to perform well. This guy has done all that you could ask and more. I don't know what his future with the Yankees will be, considering you've got Posada, Molina and Cervelli, but he certainly has served the team well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A-Rod In, Jeter Out

The Yankees managed to lose again last night in humiliating fashion by a final score of  "way too many runs" to "pitiful number of runs".

Alex Rodriguez made his first start after coming off the DL and hit a home run. With his powerful bat back in the lineup the baseball fates found it necessary for Derek Jeter to get hit in the hand with a pitch, forcing him out of the game.

Yankees pitching slid back into familiar territory with Mussina not making it out of the first inning and Ohlendorf giving up quite a few in relief. Mussina is just cooked. There is no way he can contribute to a team that doesn't have a decent long reliever ready to come in at any time and finish out the game for him. The Yankees don't have that for him. On a related note, Ohlendorf isn't a long reliever. I think he could turn out to be a decent one inning guy, but he is not a long reliever. Three innings is too much for Ross. He's done it before this year with satisfactory results at times, but he's also gotten shelled in some of those extended appearances on the mound.

In minor league action, Jeff Karstens was roughed up a bit in his first appearance of the DL. Don't look for him to fill in as a long reliever anytime soon. Also, Girardi and Cashman seem to believe a long reliever isn't necessary. I have no idea why they think this, but they do. The evidence for this notion is the fact that Rasner was sent to the minors after spring training. Most of the media had assumed that after Karstens was injured that Rasner was a lock to make the team but Joe and Brian decided otherwise. Despite that fact that Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes and Kennedy all frequently got knocked out of games early, Rasner was never called up for long relief.

Mark over at the Baseball Hot Corner has a good look at the current Yankee situation. He points out that there is no short term cure and that the market for over the hill veterans is nill. I'd like to argue a small point that over the hill veterans can always find a home in a Steinbrenner led team like the Yankees, but his point that the Yankees won't find a trade partner for it's current over the hill veterans is spot on. Another good point, to quote Mark, "The payroll drops as Giambi, Mussina, Farnsworth, Abreu, Hawkins and Ensberg go away." This is as close to good news and optimism as you'll see. None of these guys will be around next year. The one possible exception is Farnsworth, who Girardi seems to love.

Earlier this week Hank Steinbrenner said there is a chance that Brian Cashman could be back. I don't see it happening. Personally, I don't think Cash is the end all be all GM. I don't see a whole lot of his labors paying off at the moment. The only success story that seems to have come out of his revamped scouting and farm system is Joba and the Yankees can't even seem to handle him. My prediction is that Cashman is done in New York. I don't envy whoever fills his shoes, but I can only hope they can do a more sensible job while still dealing with the likes of the Steinbrenner family.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Moves the Yankees Need to Make

None. That's right, none.

After watching last night's debacle, it became painfully clear that even the Yankees best pitcher, Chien Ming Wang is going to have off days. The bullpen won't always be able to keep a game close. The offense won't always score runs. This team, despite the close race in the AL East, has little chance of reaching the post season.

I'm willing to chalk up this season as a loss right now. I'm sure the Yankees will improve, but I doubt they'll end up first in the division and I doubt the runner up in the AL East will get the wildcard this year.

The Yankees would likely need to make two or even three high profile moves to get the team into contention again, and the quality of player required would come at a high cost. As such, I sincerely hope the Yankees sit tight and do nothing.

The moves the Yankees do need to make this year are getting the young guys some experience and sitting the overpaid veterans who won't be around next year.

Alberto Gonzalez could use more at bats to see more big league hitters. Even once A-Rod comes back, AG should be platooned in the infield as much as possible to give the stars a few days off and to get the plate appearances to help him develop. Wilson Betemit had better not see the majors again this year.

Giambi isn't doing anything for the team. He won't be around next year. Trade him, cut him, or bench him but give Shelley Duncan a few more at bats. I don't think Shelley is going to turn into the star many hope he will, but give him half a season's worth of regular starts and see what happens.

Ian Kennedy might turn out OK. I don't think he's a guy who can handle New York, but I could be wrong. What he needs is a decent long reliever in the bullpen behind him. When Karstens comes back, bring him up right away and use him for what a long reliever is supposed to be used for.

Right now Rasner is getting his chance which is good. There will be growing pains but let him pitch the rest of the season in the rotation. He might struggle all year long or he might settle into a solid number four or number five spot.

Move Joba into the rotation now. This talk of Joba possibly not starting in 2008 is ludicrous. If not now then when? When will the Yankees ever decide to use Chamberlain as a starter? At this point it just makes no sense. If you want him to transition to the Rotation, you need to have him starting games. The longer he pitches in relief, the less equipped he'll be for the rotation. Joba has done a great job in the bullpen and could be a dominant reliever, but so what? Chien Ming Wang would make a great relief pitcher as well so why aren't Yankee fans and brass clamoring to groom him to replace Rivera? The answer is simple - a good starter is more valuable to your team than a good reliever. The Yankees have plenty of good relievers and very few good starters.

I don't know what's going to happen with Phil Hughes, but if someone comes knocking on my door to trade for him, I let him go easily. He may have the stuff to be a big time starter, but his health issues are a monkey he can't get off his back. My one maxim in all of sports scouting is never to invest much if anything on an injury prone player. Sure, some may turn out well and be superstars, but the last thing a team needs is to get saddled with a roster full of Carl Pavanos. Hughes has had his chance and shows flashes of brilliance, but hasn't made it through a single season without injury. It's time to set him aside and let some of the other guys get a chance.

There are a few other pitchers in the minors who might deserve a chance to come up by the end of the season. McCutchen is climbing his way up through the ranks. Melancon might be ready soon. Patterson looked strong out of spring training. Bullpen guys like Farnsworth and Hawkins could easily be kept in the bullpen while young guys come out and prove themselves.

At this point I think the Yankees have nothing to lose. The season is looking pretty hopeless right now but they have a chance to build for the future. While the fans might not like it, it hurts more to lose with overpaid washed up stars than it would with budding young prospects.

I  have no idea what the Yankees will actually do as the season goes on. The new regime baffles me even more than the old.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Poor Pitching and Poor Hitting

The Mets beat the Yankees 7-4 yesterday afternoon and there weren't many positives to take away from the game.

Andy Pettitte started out sharp, getting 5 strike outs and a pick off in his first two innings. In the fourth inning, the wheels were coming off and Pettitte began giving up runs. He later settled down in the fifth a bit, but did hit a batter.

Later in the game Farnsworth came in and looked like the Farns of old, giving up 3 runs on 3 hits in one inning. I was trying to stay up on Kyle when it seemed he had turned a corner, but I think the book on him is closed. He'll pitch a few gems and look good, then at other times he'll get hit hard for quite a few runs. There's no way you can go to this guy in a close game. No way. A lot of teams out there need help in the bullpen, Farnsworth might be of some value in a trade.

The Yankees just cant hit. I know Posada and Rodriguez are big parts of the offense, but the rest of the guys are expected to perform a lot better than they currently are. I think the Steinbrenners and Giardi have been remarkably patient and calm throughout all of this. If it were me, I'd be reading the team the riot act.

Giambi and Cano are still struggling. Better lately, but still struggling. Ensberg and Duncan had a few good hits early on but are starting to settle down into poor hitters with a little power. Jeter and Matsui are the only offense the Yankees have. I can't hold replacement players Gonzalez and Moeller to too high of a standard and think they've done reasonably well. Johnny Damon has produced, but you'd like to see him doing even better. Melky Cabrera also seems to be delivering the goods mostly.

This team isn't going anywhere this year. Only being 5 games out of first, they're definitely still in the mix and have a very real chance of winning the division if they turn things around, but I don't see it happening. I think at this point the Yankees need to start focusing on next year. Start working on Kennedy and Hughes and settling them in, seeing if they really can handle the big leagues. Get Joba into the rotation now. If he reaches his innings limit by September, fine, the Yankees aren't going to be in the race by September.

If moves need to be made, get rid of over-paid, aged veterans who aren't producing, like Giambi. Get rid of someone like Cano, who has potential but doesn't look like he's going to find it again in NY. Get rid of guys who are afraid of the walls at Yankee stadium like Abreu. The Yankees have a decent bullpen with a few arms to spare and could easily trade Farnsworth or Hawkins.

A few veteran utility backups and young bats could also find a home somewhere else. Betemit needs to be dealt or cut. Ensberg and Duncan aren't ever going to be much more than they are now. Duncan seems like a great, fun guy, but he's not going to start hitting like Paul O'Neill anytime soon. I'd rather keep him than Giambi, but if the right trade offer came my way for Duncan, I'd take it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kennedy Returns - Results Are the Same

Final Score: 5-2 Rays

Ian Kennedy returned to the major leagues today to pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays and had similar results as before. 5.0 innings pitched, 5 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. Granted, Kennedy has pitched worse at times and did make it through 5 whole innings this time, but he certainly didn't impress on the mound. He was dominant in his last start in the minor leagues but little of that showed today. In fairness, he did go at hitters a bit more than he has in the past and that's an improvement. Unfortunately for Ian and the rest of the team, it wasn't enough.

The bullpen did look good, however. Hawkins, Veras and Ramirez pitched 3 perfect innings.

Once again the offense was pitiful. There were opportunities, however. Jason Giambi brought the tying run to the plate late in the game but could only muster a line drive out to left field.

Right now, you have to be happy Kennedy made it five innings. The Yanks don't have many other options for the number 5 spot and honestly there aren't any guys in the Yankee minor leagues that I can confidently say would have an ERA less than 9 if they started in New York. Maybee a guy like McCutchen after he gets some starts at AAA and maybe Karstens when he comes off the DL, but right now, Kennedy is as good as it gets.

Yanks Grit Out 2-1 Win

Mike Mussina pitched 6.1 innings giving up only 1 run on 5 hits and the Pinstripers had just enough runs to carry the day. The only run credited to Mussina came from a walk in the seventh inning which later scored after Ross Ohlendorf gave up two consecutive base hits.

Glass Half Full: Mussina looked good on the mound. Chamberlain and Rivera were locked on in their appearances. Joba struck out 3 batters and walked 1. Despite getting himself in a tight spot, Ohlendorf managed to get out of a jam with a double play.

Robinson Cano went 4 for 4 and brought his average up over .200 for the first time this year.

Glass Half Empty: Moose doesn't seem to be able to last a full seven innings, which would be ideal. Still, six innings is very good for the aging veteran.

Ohlendorf gave up 2 hits in 3 batters faced, allowing an inherited runner to score. I don't necessarily like the way baseball credits runs and earned runs and I think there needs to be another stat for runners who score while you're on the mound.

The Yankees only scored 2 runs. Without such a good pitching performance the Yanks would have been in trouble. This team needs to score more runs consistently. They won't always have good pitching to fall back on and even when they do (like with Wang yesterday) they still need to tack on a few more.

Overall: A win is a win. Moose's pitching was encouraging. The Yankee bats were disappointing, but they were good enough to get the job done.

Other Stuff: Joe Girardi's locker room closed-door meeting before the game inspired the Yankees to get the job done, but did'nt do much for their sleeping bats.

The Rays signed Kazmir to another contract, locking him up for a while. There had been talk about possibly trading Kazmir or another starting pitcher, but looks like he's going to stick around for a while.

Jeff Karstens threw five innings in extended spring training and should be available before long. He won't be a superstar but hopefully will be an option if someone gets injured or as a long reliever now that Rasner is in the rotation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another Disappointing Loss

Chien Ming Wang pitched well. Kyle Farnsworth gets the job done, Joba Chamberlain got himself out of a jam and Mariano Rivera finally gave up a run. Despite all around good pitching, the Yankees inability to score more than a single run in 11 innings proves to be their downfall as they lose 2-1 to the first place Tampa Rays.

Alberto Gonzalez was 0 for 2 on the night and then Girardi had Duncan and later Ensberg pinch hit. I don't quite understand the logic behind that move because Gonzalez has been hitting better than either of them. Granted, Alberto's numbers are only based on a few plate appearances but Duncan and Ensberg are generally poor hitters, with a little bit of power.

Jason Giambi went 2 for 2 and walked twice. Hideki Matsui's solo HR was the only score for the Yankees.

There really isn't much commentary to add here. The Yankees offense stunk. They only scored 1 run on 6 hits. This team needs to score more runs than this. The lack of production can't be blamed solely on injuries to guys like Rodriguez and Posada. The rest of the team needs to step it up and start hitting.

In other news, Goose Gossage affirmed for all the public that the game of baseball has passed him by and he's officially out of touch. The Chamberlain fist pump really isn't a big deal Goose, so just let it go.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Garza Shuts Down Yanks

Matt Garza went 7 innings and didn't allow any runs to score on 5 hits. Andy Pettite gave up 8 hits and 5 runs over 4 innings. The bullpen wasn't as bad for the Yankees, but did help Tampa tack on a few extra runs. Chris Britton gave up 1 hit and 1 run in 2.0 innings while Jose Veras gave up 4 hits and 1 run over 1.2 innings. Edwar Ramirez got the final out of the game.

Alberto Gonzalez is hitting .310 and went 2 for 3. Hopefully he can continue to do well at the plate and open Girardi's eyes to that fact that he's a much better all around player than Betemit.

As a team, the Yankees left 11 runners on base, and won't win many games if they can't drive in those runs.

Ian Kennedy only pitched one inning in his minor league game today and likely will get the start on Friday, in place of the inept Igawa.

I really think Kennedy could have used the benefit of another full start in the minors to help him get his head screwed on straight, but the Yankees don't have many other options when it comes to starting pitchers right now. Kennedy has looked very sharp in AAA and if he can continue to pitch that way up in NY, he'll be a fine pitcher at the back end of the rotation.

What worries me is that Kennedy will get scared again when he returns, won't throw strikes and will revert to trying to paint the corners. When he does this, hitters work him deep in counts and start taking advantage of him. If Ian can come out and throw strikes and challenge the hitters, he should be fine.

Alex Rodriguez's quadriceps hasn't fully healed yet and he'll be out another week.

Thankfully for Yankee fans the Red Sox lost again tonight and so the Bombers remain 4 games back.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Win for Rasner

Six innings pitched and two earned runs for Darrel Rasner in his second major league appearance of 2008 and his second straight win. Darrel threw 87 pitches - 61 for strikes. He only walked one batter and generally looked sharp all afternoon.

The Farns had a slightly rocky outing, giving up 2 quick hits and allowing one inherited runner to score. Although the stats don't look that bad for him, Farnsworth had us all holding our breath. Chamberlain and Rivera did their job although Rivera did give up a hit. Pete Abraham over at the LoHud Yankees Blog summed Farnsworth up nicely by saying "If he pitches and you still have the lead, that’s a plus." I'm trying to stay positive about the up and down Farnsworth, but he sure can keep a game interesting.

Most of the offense was provided by Derek Jeter, who went 2 for 5 and hit a home run. Jeter scored twice and drove in a run. Jason Giambi hit a nice double but later was thrown out after he completely missed the signal to stop at third. That most likely cost the Yankees a run.

Wilson Betemit left the game after hitting a double and straining his hamstring. I can't say I'll miss him if he goes on the DL.

Jeff Karstens threw today and continues to make progress in his rehab. He'll be a useful tool to have either as a long reliever or a spot starter. For some reason the Yankees are insisting that Igawa is still scheduled to make the start next Wednesday. I don't see how they could let him take the mound again unless they had a fully rested bullpen ready to pitch 7 innings of relief.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Igawa Pitches, Results Unsurprising

Kei Igawa pitched predictably poor, only getting through 3 innings while giving up 6 runs. I hope the Yankees aren't seriously still thinking about starting him on Wednesday. Igawa's 18.00 ERA makes you fondly recall the good old days of Ian Kennedy's ERA under 9.

With the way he pitched the other night, I think Kennedy should be brought back up. The plan was to have him pitch at least two outings in the minors, and I can understand wanting him to get another start under his belt, but you cannot let Igawa anywhere near a major league park again. Ever.

Chris Britton was optioned but will be back soon as Albaladejo left with elbow pain after throwing 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Sean Henn was claimed off waivers by the Padres. I think Henn would have been a better left handed option than Traber, who didn't work out. The constant reliever shuffle is going to cost the Yankees as there are a few teams out there that need bullpen help and anyone with potential has a good chance of not clearing waivers.

Joe Girardi's pregame interviews had some good injury updates with Posada taking BP and A-Rod fielding some balls and running. Also, Long reliever Jeff Karstens should be throwing this weekend in extended spring training.

The Yankees had some positives tonight. Albaladejo, Hakwins and Ramirez all pitched very well coming out of the bullpen. Giambi and Cano each went 2 for 4 and might be slowly coming out of their slumps.

The New York offense came close to tying up the game, and the ninth inning rally was exciting to watch, at least up to the point where they eventually lost. The bullpen really did an outstanding job of keeping the team in the game, it's too bad the bats came up short.

Wilson Betemit also went 2 for 4, but cost the team several runs with his poor defense. This guy is a huge liability. Ideally you want a utility infielder that can play excellent defense. The kind of guy you can put in late in a game if you have a lead. Betemit should be playing for a minor league team. Or the Pirates. I lost count of the poor plays he had where he didn't hustle, missed a ball, misplayed a ball. Ugh. While he had a decent night hitting, about all you are going to see out of Willy is his current .250 average with some power.

Yankees Sneak in Afternoon Game and Win

I missed yesterday's game because I didn't realize it was an early start. The Yankees won 6-3 with the help of 4 home runs during the game and a solid outing by Mike Mussina. Moose pitched 5 innings but started to crack at the end. Ross Ohlendorf gave up 1 hit and 0 runs in 2 innings, Joba Chamberlain retired the side in the eighth and Mariano Rivera gave up 1 hit and 0 runs in the ninth.

I'm starting to feel a little better about Mussina. He's settled down in his last few games and pitches decently. If he can get run support, he can get a few wins. He's still going to carry that 4.0-4.5 ERA and give up runs, but hopefully the offense will help him out.

I don't know what to make of Ohlendorf. I think he's got good stuff and have thinking that he would eventually be a setup man or closer. He had some troubles earlier in the season with long relief appearances, but yesterday he managed 2 innings just fine. He'll probably be fine with 2 innings of work but I think 3 might be pushing it, getting him a little outside is effective zone.

Joba created a stir once again with an animated fist pump that was all over the television media. I'm tired of this non-story.

Hideki Matsui remains the teams best hitter. If I ever mentioned a trade involving Matsui before, I retract it. We need his bat right now. Wilson Betemit hit a home run and may actually seeing the ball a little better. Struggling Robbie Cano went 2 for 3.

Team LOB: 1 - that's the kind of number I like.

Coming Up:

Kei Igawa vs. Kenny Rogers. The Yanks have been hitting Rogers hard and Igawa might actually stand a chance. I don't like to be pessimistic, but I doubt Igawa will get out of the fourth inning and won't be back in New York for a long time.

David Wells was mentioned in the Post as wanting to come back and play for the Yankees, who have rotation issues. I think that is pretty unlikely at this point. Expect Ian Kennedy to be back soon and Darrel Rasner to continue filling in for the injured Phil Hughes.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wang's First Loss

Chien-Ming Wang wasn't pitching his best, but still managed a decent performance, only allowing 3 runs in 7 innings of work. Kyle Farnsworth, pitching for the second straight night, came on in the eighth and allowed a hit but no runs. In the ninth inning, Albaladejo got into some serious trouble, loading the bases, but worked out of the jam with some defensive help from Molina.

Jose Molina brought his A game, making some nice throws during the game to get runners out and had a 2-3 double play in the ninth to bail out Albaladejo. Molina fielded a short bunt, touched home for the force out and then made the throw to first for the other out.

The story of the game was Cliff Lee's dominance of the Yankee hitters, allowing 6 hits but no runs. Six hits is a little misleading, as watching the game you really got the sense the Yanks were overmatching by Lee's pitching.

Yankee fans are used to the team scoring a lot more runs than they have been. Losing a game 3-0 is not typical Yankee style. Hopefully A-Rod will be back soon and contributing more, and some of the other slumping bats will come to life.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Yankee Fans Are Pitiful at Times

This is a rant about one thing I can't stand - fans who boo their own team. This phenomenon is especially prominent with many New York teams and has been plaguing the Yankees quite a bit this year.

There are a few times when I could be convinced it's OK for a quick boo, for instance if your team makes a boneheaded play call, or a player who doesn't put forth any effort. There really isn't an excuse to boo a guy who is out there honestly doing his best to help the team.

Joba Chamberlain, the team's best young pitching prospect received a few boos from the stands last night after blowing a save and costing the team a win. Joba is a class act. He tried hard, he's pitched extremely well, he's a nice guy and most likely is a key piece in the future of this franchise. There's absolutely no reason to boo a guy like this. After his unfortunate outing, Joba immediately returned to the locker room and very patiently and politely answered a host of questions from the reporters gathered there. No avoiding the questions, no avoiding the reporters, no ill-tempered remarks, just a guy doing the right thing. It's  a shame that a few fans decided to lessen the game by booing a decent kid.

The other incident that really gets me is the booing of LaTroy Hawkins. Early in the year Hawkins was abysmal and I frequently suggested he should be cut, sent down, or traded. New York fans seemed to care less about his poor performance and more about the fact that he wore number 21, which some misguided fans think should be retired because Paul O'Neill wore it. No way does Paul O'Neill deserve to get his number retired. A very good player, but not "number retired" great. The saddest part of all of this was that the number was chosen to pay tribute to Roberto Clemente. I'm still shaking my head that O'Neill trumps Clemente in anyone's book.

Eventually Hawkins switched numbers and the booing stopped. His performances at Yankee Stadium improved quite a bit after that as well. I wonder if the fans know what a nice guy Hawkins is? If you follow the team in the media, you'll know that he's a stand up guy who goes out of his way to support his new teammates. This isn't behavior that deserves booing.

This behavior isn't limited to just the Yankees, it's common for most NY sports teams, and some other big city teams as well. It just doesn't seem right to me and can't be helping matters any if the team is struggling. Maybe next time these so called fans feel like booing, they'll just get up and get a hot dog instead and cool off a bit. Yeah right.

JC Human After All

It turns out that Joba Chamberlain isn't some otherworldly entity sent down from the heavens to dominate opposing hitters. In the end, he's just a man; one who doesn't always have perfect control.

Andy Pettitte pitched masterfully, giving up 2 runs in 6.1 innings. Kyle Farnsworth continues to excel, retiring the last 2 batters in the seventh inning.

In the eighth however, Joba Chamberlain walked two and then gave up a three run home run. Joba was shaking off pitches from catcher Jose Molina, threw too many curve balls and eventually got ripped on a high inside fastball that hung out over the plate a little too much.

Jose Veras went 1-2-3 in the 9th inning and pitched well in his second appearance in the majors this year.

The offense was sluggish again, with Hideki Matsui providing most of the excitement going 3 for 3.

This game was shocking for many to watch. Pettitte gave everyone something to cheer about with his performance and the offense had given the team a slim lead. By the time you get to Joba, fans are expecting smooth sailing and an automatic win at that point. Seeing him give up not one, not two, but three runs was heartbreaking. Manager Joe Girardi felt bad for him and commented that he felt like he should give the guy a hug.

Much maligned reliever LaTroy Hawkins had some words of wisdom for the stuggling star, "Now he knows what baseball will do to you. If he's smart, he'll never forget it. That right there is part of the job."

It was bound to happen, we all knew it was coming eventually, but it still hurt.

The good news is that hopefully Joba learned from the experience and perhaps will listen to his catcher a little more next time. Joba seemed disappointed but was handling it well, indicating a willingness to move on, "It stinks when it happens but you understand it's part of the game."

In other news, Wilson Betemit was called up and made a start last night after suffering from a protracted bout of conjunctivitis. He quickly fell back into form of mediocre hitting and was decent over at third base. The unfortunate side effect was that Alberto Gonzalez got sent down. Gonzalez isn't a star just yet, but the more big league at bats he gets, the better his chances. Betemit has established himself and isn't going to get any better.

Lastly, Ian Kennedy pitched the game of his life down in AAA. He went 7.1 innings giving up only 1 hit and no runs. He had a no-hitter going through six. There were no walks and 8 strike outs. I think Ian got the message the Yankees were trying to send him.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gotta Love Melky

Of all the players on the New York Yankees roster this year, has anyone been more exciting and fun to watch than Melky Cabrera? Melky is the new Shelley, or Bernie depending on how you look at it.

Cabrera's numbers so far are similar to those of Yankee great Bernie Williams, but what really catches my eye is his enthusiasm on the field. At the end of an inning, Melky always has a spring in his step when he jogs toward the dugout. When the camera pans over to the dugout during a Yankee at bat Melky is frequently seen fist bumping a teammate or making a joke with a big smile on his face.

You have to love the enthusiasm shown by Cabrera on a regular basis. Even when the clubhouse seems to have a dour mood, you can count on the Melkman to deliver a few smiles.

I'm impressed with his play this year as well. He currently leads the team in home runs, has a solid bat and has delivered in the clutch. It's amazing how much ground he covers in center field and he definitely has an arm. It's quite a contrast from guys like Matsui who is probably better suited as a DH.

It's becoming more and more apparent why the Yankees didn't make the Santana deal and why they were reluctant to give up on their budding center fielder.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Kyle Farnsworth: Another Look

I've been pretty down on Farnsworth most of the season. Historically he's been a bit of a disaster for the Yankees. I'm starting to come around to him a bit lately.

First of all, almost everything I read and hear about him from the mainstream sports media says that he's a great guy in person; a very likeable and friendly guy. It's hard to really stay down on a nice guy.

Farnsworth's pitching has been very good of late. Girardi has put him in for a few single inning appearances and he has delivered. In today's game, the Farns was getting ahead in counts, throwing strikes right out of the gate and looking relaxed and in command on the mound.

The historical criticism of Farnsworth has been that his stuff doesn't work. He throws hard fastballs in the nineties, but can be very hittable at times, not getting much action on the ball. Farnsworth was on target with his fastball today and was able to establish it early, allowing him to maximize the effectiveness of his slider, sinker and change up later on.

With two outs and two strikes the fans got on their feet and Kyle delivered. It was a great moment for the beleaguered pitcher. I think the Yankee fans will quickly let Kyle back into their hearts if he continues to perform like this. I just hope they won't turn too ugly if he does have a setback and get hit hard again.

I think Farnsworth is bound to get shelled every now and then, but if he can continue to pitch like he is, challenging hitters and getting his fastball working, he could be a dependable set up man. I like the idea of using Farns for only one inning, as too many at bats might start giving opposing hitters a good look at Kyle's stuff.

Historically he hasn't been any worse in two innings compared to just one, but I like limiting Farnsworth to just one inning.

Rasner Makes Strong Case to Stay

Darrel Rasner pitched well in his 2008 major league debut. Rasner landed in trouble early and gave up 2 runs in the first inning on a single and a 2 run home run. After that he got 3 quick outs in the second inning, pitched out of a jam with 2 on in the fourth and went 1, 2, 3 in the fifth inning. His total numbers were 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR, 76-49 Pit-Str.

I don't know what kind of roster shuffling we're going to see in the next few weeks, but I hope we get to see more of Rasner. With a few days off this month the Yankees could get by with four starters, but I have a feeling we'll see Igawa getting a few starts.

I'm a bit surprised Girardi didn't let Rasner throw a seventh inning, but the Yankees have nine guys in the bullpen and Joe had plenty of fresh arms to finish the last three innings of the game.

Ross Ohlendorf gave up 1 hit and no runs, as did Kyle Farnsworth. Mariano Rivera wasted little time getting the last three batters out in order.

I don't remember ever seeing Rivera pitch this well. He's just dominating as a closer.

The Yankees had plenty of offense. Derek Jeter had 4 hits and brought his average up to .313. Melky Cabrera had a nice 2 run home run and was followed by a solo shot from Robinson Cano. Cano went 1 for 4 and Giambi went 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly. Bobby Abreu had 3 hits and drove in a run. The team LOB was 8, which is a respectable number, but could be a little better.

The big picture

This was a very good win for the Yankees and should do a lot to settle down restless fans (I can't be the only one). Darrel Rasner made a strong case to stay in the rotation or to serve as a long reliever. The Yankees offense came alive, delivering the type of scoring that makes you worry less about your pitchers.

The bullpen guys have looked good for a few days now. Ross Ohlendorf and Kyle Farnsworth both looked in control, throwing strikes and getting ahead in counts. I get the feeling Joe has a lot of confidence in these guys as long as he can limit them to one inning.

Moose Survives 6 Innings, Yanks Win

Mike Mussina looked decent pitching yesterday and impressed Joe Girardi enough to leave him in the game through six whole innings and the Yankees ended up winning the game. Girardi was able to put in Hawkins, Ramirez and Veras for one inning each to finish up the game. If your starters can give you six or seven innings, you're more likely to win the game. Since you are using your relievers less, it also helps with tomorrow's game.

Mussina had some ups and downs. He looked sharp early on, and then got into some trouble. He got bailed out of some jams with double plays and a little luck. He came alive again in the sixth inning, striking out the side. Giving up only 1 run on 7 hits tells you that there was some luck involved, and Moose didn't quite dominate opposing batters. Yankee fans have to be happy that he was a little more economical with his pitches and lasted as long as he did.

Edwar Ramirez walked two batters in his scoreless inning. He definitely was struggling. I don't think Ramirez is ready yet. He's a guy with two pitches, a fastball and a change up. The change up only works if he establishes his fastball early on and he clearly couldn't do that last night.

LaTroy Hawkins was decent, but I'm still leery that he's going to blow up in a critical game sometime soon.

Jose Veras retired all 3 batters faced on only 10 pitches and closed out the game.

The offense was producing runs, but still left 10 men on base. Giambi and Cano both went hitless, doing little to help their case for remaining in the lineup.

I'm eager to watch Rasner pitch this afternoon, and hope he can do well enough to earn a long term spot on the rotation or as a long reliever. With Hughes out and Kennedy struggling, the Yanks could surely use it.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Solid Pitching Wins the Day

Rock solid pitching for 9 innings propelled the Yankees to a much needed win. Chien-Ming Wang continues to surpass expectations and has blossomed into a true ace. Wang's 6 inning, 1 run performance was a beauty, earning him his sixth win of the season.

Kyle Farnsworth entered the game to a chorus of boos but received a decent ovation on his exit after retiring the side in order. Chamberlain and Rivera were sharp as well with Joba allowing one hit and Mo knocking them out in order.

The Yankees offense put together some hits and drove in enough runs to maintain a comfortable lead, highlighted by Melky Cabrera's 2 run double. Matsui had an RBI single and was the only player in the lineup currently hitting over .300.

Jorge Posada's shoulder appears to be a case of rotator cuff tendonitis and might require surgery, but no until the off season. Team officials expect him to be out up to 5 weeks. The immediate plan is to give him 10 days off then try a 2 week rehab and see how things are.

Phil Hughes saw an eye doctor who told him he was nearsighted and needs glasses. Hopefully that will help with some of the vision complaints Hughesy has been having.

RHP Jose Veras was called up to the bullpen to fill an empty roster spot after Hughes went on the DL.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tigers Sweep Yanks at Home

Ian Kennedy only looked horrible for one inning, the third, and looked sharp for a few innings. Unfortunately in the fifth he started struggling again and was pulled by Girardi. If your starter doesn't make it at least six innings, your chances of winning are pretty small. Kennedy is second to last in the league for average innings per game for starters. The bottom of the list is occupied by Phil Hughes. That should tell you something about the Yankees chances of winning.

Jonathan Albaladejo came in and got out of one jam, but then started allowing a few runs in the next two innings he pitched in, eventually being replaced by Chris Britton. The one ray of hope was that despite all his shuttling back and forth between NY and Scranton, Britton was sharp and pitched 2.2 hitless and scoreless innings.

The Yankees had a nice start to the game offensively, with a walk a hit and then a three run homer by Bobby Abreu. The Yankees had a few other hits during the night and Shelley Duncan picked up an RBI single, but the Yankees once again couldn't score enough to save their struggling pitchers. The team LOB was 11, once again showing us the Yanks are having trouble hitting with runners in scoring position.

I can't see Kennedy spending too much more time in the rotation here. I think he needs to spend the rest of the year in Scranton. The problem is the only replacement available at the moment other than Joba is Kei Igawa and no one wants to see him in NY.

Hughes Injury Worse Than Thought

Phil Hughes officially has a stress fracture of his right 9th rib. This explains the side pain which was earlier attributed to his right obliques. During his time off, Hughes will also see an eye specialist regarding his night vision and glare problems.

The stress fracture puts all of my conspiracy theories to rest regarding Joe Girardi's use of the DL. Yes, Phil has a real, honest to goodness injury and my suspicious were incorrect.

Unfortunately for Phil, he's going to be out about 4 weeks, possibly more. He'll have to let everything rest completely before he picks up a baseball again, and then he'll likely need some rehab starts.

Hughes' career has been plagued by injury and this is yet another setback in a long list. He may still turn out to be a star and the longer he has remained healthy at one time, the better he has looked.

For the Yankees, this means Darrel Rasner will get a few starts and if he can't get them through some innings the impatient Yanks will likely look to make a trade. There's always the slumping Barry Zito, aging Smolz, the oft-injured Rich Harden, Tampa's Kazmir or Boston's Bartolo Colon. (Actually the odds of any of these guys ending up in NY are very small, but the Yanks will be looking for a trade if Rasner struggles.)

I feel bad for Phil, this injury is something the struggling pitcher doesn't need to deal with. Despite my past criticism, I sincerely wish him a speedy recovery and hope for an all-star performance when he comes back.

Buzz Bissinger is the Definition of Hypocrisy

If you haven't seen it yet, check out this link to where Bob Costas hosts a roundtable with Braylon Edwards, Buzz Bissinger and Will Leitch.

The premise of the piece is taking a look at sports blogging and newspaper sports journalism.

Will Leitch starts out making a few comments on sports blogging before he is quickly interrupted by Bissinger who quickly starts swearing and reading select quotes from the deadspin sites, ripping into Leitch unfairly and unprofessionally.

Buzz Bissinger is crude, starting off his rant by saying "You're full of s**t," later throwing in "Oh 'come on' my a**"

Buzz Bissinger is hypocritical for belittling Leitch and Deadspin for their crude and unprofessional writing when his entire rants are profane enough to make a sailor blush. There was little in the way of intelligent opinion in his arguments and Buzz was mostly spewing venom at someone he was accusing of spewing venom.

Buzz Bissinger is highly unprofessional, using strong language and loud speech to overpower the conversation.

Buzz Bissinger can't put forth any sort of reasonable arugment in this debate. If any of you have taken a debate class or studied logical fallacies, you'll realize that a majority of his arguments were ad-hominem, appeal to antiquity, appeal to ridicule, hasty generalization, and to some extent appeal to force and judgemental language. If this is the way you frame an argument, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

Bob Costas clearly has a bias here and doesn't seem to "get" the internet. He unfairly criticizes Deadspin for the comments posted by readers. I don't think Costas clearly understands the innerworkings of blogs and the differences between a commenter and a writer. Lastly Bob does a poor job of keeping the obnxious Bissinger under control at all.

Poor Braylon Edwards doesn't get a chance to say much, but maintains an air of professionalism and raises a valid point or two.

If HBO wants to be taken seriously in the sports world, it would be best to avoid guys like Bissinger whose definition of professionalism includes obnoxious behavior and profanities.

I think I can safely say that 95% of all the sports blogs I have read present themselves more favorably than Buzz Bissinger.

Irony, thy name is Buzz.