Monday, June 30, 2008

Yankee Hitters Can't Handle Perez

Darrel Rasner got saddled with another loss, but he didn't pitch all that badly. Sure, giving up 8 hits over 5.0 innings is a lot, but he only allowed 2 runs. Oliver Perez had no problems manhandling the Bomber bats and only gave up 1 run on 3 hits over 7.0 innings.

Justin Christian filling in over in right field didn't do much and David Robertson didn't inspire too much confidence in his relief appearance.

Joe Girardi has said that Ian Kennedy, who was activated off the disabled list, has his work cut out for him. Kennedy has been optioned (to Tampa) and isn't scheduled to return to the big leagues any time soon. Girardi has said that he likes the way the guys he has are throwing at the moment. It's an interesting statement from Girardi. Obviously he thinks Rasner, Giese and possibly even Ponson are doing a decent job.

Pete Abraham reports today that the Yankees have called up Brett Gardner. He seems to be an internet favorite, getting lots of blog fans clamoring for his call to the big leagues. Well, we'll finally get a chance to see what he can do. Also, it will be interesting to see who gets sent down in his place. Gardner's speed could be useful to the Yanks, who need to play a little more small ball and start manufacturing runs. Losing low scoring games gets tough to take after a while.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Yanks Clobbered Early

Pete Abraham over at the LoHud Yankees Blog really summed up some of the key points of the game.

Dan Giese is Dan Giese. He's not some wunderkind the Bombers have been grooming for a while, and he's not the next Doc Gooden. He's pitching about as well as can be expected. He made a few mistakes, but pitched like we should expect.

Ross "the run generator" Ohlendorf was bad. Worse than bad. His performance got him a quick demotion to Scranton and Kei Igawa was brought up. It's a sad statement when the Pinstripers replace you with Igawa. Actually, Igawa provides insurance if Ponson bombs and someone needs to be called in for long relief.

Pete really did a nice job summing up Edwar Ramirez. I like the guy and think he's got potential, but he really hasn't changed much since last year. He's got one decent pitch and the rest are sub-par. The biggest problem is that good hitters who do their research can figure him out fairly easy. Initially, and with unexperienced hitters, Ramirez can have great success. After a while, he starts getting hit hard.

At least things can't get worse in the second game. Wait a minute, did I just jinx us?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Joba Gets First Starting Win

The New York Yankees walloped the Pirates last night 10-0 and Joba Chamberlain got his first win as a starting pitcher. He still as a little too high of a pitch count, throwing 114 over 6.2 innings, but he only allowed 6 hits, striking out 7 and only walking 1.

Joba has been a great starting pitcher for the Yankees so far. I can't imagine anyone still thinking that he belongs in the bullpen at this stage. Sure, the bullpen could use him, but the rotation needs him more.

Ohlendorf was satisfactory but Veras gave up 2 hits at the end.

The Bomber bats came alive with Jeter, Abreu and Cano all getting 3 hits. Even though he's been hitting better lately, I still have zero faith in Robinson Cano's ability to hit or field.

Sidney Ponson is scheduled to pitch on Friday. That means that Girardi has no hope that any of the prospects working their way up through the minors are going to be ready to pitch. The Pinstripers already have minor leaguers Rasner and Giese in the Rotation, and so the farm is pretty well drained. There are guys who will be ready soon, but it's probably best to give them a little more time at AAA before rushing them into the big leagues.

Before too long Hughes and Kennedy will be healthy and ready to pitch again, and so Girardi will have more options. The pressure is really going to be on Rasner to start pitching a little better or else Joe might decide to take another look at Ike or the Franchise. Actually, it's probably safe to say that Hughes is guaranteed a spot in the rotation when he's healthy again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Didn't Have the Heart to Blog This Morning

The Yankees were clobbered by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yes, those pirates. One of the perennial basement dwellers and one of the teams with a ridiculously low payroll compared to the Yankees.

The painful part was the pitching. I really would like to see Rasner succeed at a starter, for Hawkins to turn his game around, and for Ramirez to solidify his job as a top-notch set up man. None of that happened last night. Rasner's success in his first few outings is starting to look like a fluke. If Hawkins ever looks good for an inning it's definitely a fluke, and Ramirez is dead set on showing me how inconsistent he can be, despite all the nice things I say about him on this blog.

In other news, Gary Carter continues to shoot his mouth off and prove that he's now officially a low-class has-been. It's sad to see one of baseball's former greats act so childishly.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yanks Take 1

Jason Giambi continues to light up opposing pitchers without mercy, this time going 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs. You gotta respect the 'stache.

Which leads me to the question, what do you do with Giambi next year? Earlier this season I repeatedly said the Yankees should let him go, making room for some young guys to get a shot or bring in a high quality player from free-agency. Jason was hitting extremely poorly and was a liability at 1st base. His defense hasn't improved, but he's been one of the Yankees best hitters lately. 

Shelley Duncan wasn't the answer. He wasn't playing 1st any better than Giambi, and never really found a grove as a hitter (although Girardi never gave him too many plate appearances.)

Jorge Posade seems like a perfect answer if his shoulder troubles continue, but he's said several times that he's a catcher, implying that he won't play 1st base if called upon.

Mark Teixeira will be a free agent next season and is an attractive alternative, but I think the Braves have the inside line on keeping him, and if not, his services won't come cheap and there's no guarantee the Yanks could land him.

So we're back to the Giambino. Are his early season struggles enough to make you not want him back? Does the fact that he seems to have turned things around make him a desireable option to resign? How much money do you give him and how long do you sign him for?

Keep an eye on him over the course of the rest of the season. If he continues to produce, you have to try and keep him on the team and sign him for a 1 or 2 year deal until you can get a decent prospect ready to move up. If his production drops off and he gets into another big slump late in the season, you spend some time looking around for other options, and only sign him as a last resort. I'm thinking he's going to continue to hit fairly well, and the Yanks will (and should) look to keep him around a while longer.

Getting back to last night's game, Pettitte was impressive, looking like a true ace on the mound, Farnsworth struggled and was injured, and Rivera picked up his 21st save. The kind of game you'd like to see more of.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yanks Can't Solve Reds' Pitching

The good news is that Dan Giese looked decent on the mound during his first regular start, and hopefully will be able to toe the line for a few more outings while Chien Ming Wang is out. None of the 3 runs allowed were credited as earned by Giese, but he had a hand in them, making a bad throw to second and allowing a key hit later.

Billy Traber got rocked for 2 runs while only securing 1 out after Jose Veras gave up 1 run facing 2 batters. Traber has had more bad than good outings this year while Veras is usually a decent reliever. The problem is that other than Rivera, there really aren't any guys that can be counted on to reliably shut down the opposition late in the game.

Ohlendorf gave up 2 hits but no runs and Hawkins retired the final 3 in order.

While the Yankee hitting wasn't horrible, it wasn't effective. The Bronx Bombers left 12 men on base and couldn't string together the offense to put runs on the board. If you have bases loaded with no outs, you need to put runs on the board. The Pinstripers had problems with this earlier in the year and need to figure out a way to manufacture more runs.

At the end of the day, you still have to be happy that Giese wasn't too bad, and should give the team a chance to win when he pitches next.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Girardi Stung by Intentional Walk

Mike Mussina was not so thrilled with the call.

Intentionally walk the lead off man to get at the guy hitting who's actually hitting better? Yeah, right Joe. How'd that one work out for you?

Mussina pitched a reasonable game, giving up 4 runs over 8 innings, but the story of the night was Edinson Volquez, who was practically unhittable.

Billy Traber was back in action and looked good in a garbage inning at the end of the game.

Hideki Matsui was back in action and went 2 for 4 and Robbie Cano went 2 for 3, but had a fielding error to make up for it.

I'm not going to place all of the blame for this one on Girardi's shoulder, his call certainly took away most of the Bombers' chances. Mussina could have pitched better, Damon and Cano could have fielded better and the most of the team could have hit better.

With the Cardinals beating Boston, the Yankees don't lose ground in the division race. The loss stinks, but boy that winning streak was fun while it lasted.

In Thursday's game, Joba Chamberlain lasted 5.2 innings and used 100 pitches against the Padres. 4 hits and 1 run is pretty decent, but eventually you'd like to see Joba becoming a bit more efficient with his pitches and getting that pitch count down. Striking out 9 batters is nothing to shake a stick at and overall, Yankee fans have to love what they see in Joba.

Veras and Farnsworth were sharp and Rivera shut down the final 3 batters.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rough Pitching, Yanks Still Win

Darrel Rasner was having minor control issues and walked 5 batters last night. Fortunately, he only gave up 3 hits and 2 runs. The usually steady Edwar Ramires came in and pitched a beautiful 6th inning, then proceeded to give up 2 home runs in the 7th.  Kyle Farnsworth likewise gave up a homer in the eighth.

The good news was that the Yankee offense was swinging away and getting the job done. Damon went 3 for 5, A-rod went 3 for 4, and even the oft-maligned Wilson Betemit went 3 for 4.

The Yankees signed Sidney Ponson yesterday and will have him available as another option in the starting rotation. We'll have to wait and see what Geise does and keep a close eye on Rasner. If either one of these guys doesn't produce results, Ponson will bet a quick start. I don't have any early predictions of how Ponson is going to do in NY. He was pretty horrid the last time he visited, but has had a decent year in Texas so far. The exact issues that caused him to be released haven't been made public yet, but appear to be related to behavior. I think there's really no way to know what's going to happen if he gets a start in NY - which Ponson will show up. I hope it's the one with the lower ERA.

With Boston winning, the Yankees weren't able to close any ground, but they are tied for 2nd in the wild card race. Despite injury after injury, Boston keeps coming up with more and more starting pitching. Jon Lester has emerged as one of their best, and Justin Masterson has been doing well since he was called up and looks very promising for the future. The Tampa Bay Rays have been working the Cubs over pretty well the last few days, just beating Chicago in hard fought games that can take their toll on the losing team.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pettitte's Got Game

Andy Pettitte pitched a fantastic game, striking out 9 batters in 7 scoreless innings. The most impressive thing to watch is his pick off move. Andy picked off a runner at first today and it was a thing of beauty. Pettitte has one of the best moves ever and more pitchers should watch video of Andy's work.

Jason Giambi is on a personal crusade to prove me wrong when I said the Yanks should cut him loose earlier in the season. Giambi knocked in homers 16 and 17 today. He's been on an absolute tear lately.

Billy Traber has been brought back as a lefty situational reliever, and was effective getting the out he needed tonight. Jose Veras struggled a bit, giving up 2 hits.

Morgan Ensberg has been signed by the Indians. It's not surprising that someone picked up Ensberg, he's a decent backup if you have a particular need, but he didn't fit in on this Yankees roster.

Jorge Posada is hitting well in his return from the DL and has significantly contributed offensively.

The Yanks have won 5 straight but are still 5.5 games out of first. If they can continue to win like this, they'll creep up further in the standings, but it's still hard for me to imagine them in the playoffs this year.

It's looking like the Bombers will try to get by with Geise filling in for Wang, but despite all the talk, I wouldn't be surprised to see them pick up a veteran if they can get one for the right price.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bad News for Wang

The bottom line is that Chein Ming Wang will likely be out until September and could possibly be done for the season. This one has been all over the news and a plethora of solutions have been tossed about.

For now, the safe bet is that someone like Dan Geise gets the start. The Yanks have a few days off every now and then, and they could get by with just four starting pitchers at times. Other names that could fill in include Jeff Karstens, who is back after an injury, and prospects like Horne, Marquez and McCutchen.

I think Karstens is the guy to get called up, not because I think he's the best talent, but he's the guy with the most major league experience, and that's the way Girardi seems to think.

Lots of names have been mentioned in trade talks, but the most often mentioned is CC Sabathia. That is a tough deal to make, given the fact that he's going to be a free agent soon and that he hasn't pitched terribly well. I have a feeling that Cleveland is going to want a lot and the Bombers will be hard pressed to pull the trigger. Rich Harden is probably still on the radar as well, but his injury history worries me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Couple of Big Wins for Yanks

Sometimes playing a really bad team can work wonders for your morale. The Pinstripers put together two quality wins over the hapless Houston Astros, including an absolute drubbing today.

Yankee starters Mussina and Wang both looked good in their starts, but Wang could have a serious injury to his right foot, initially being diagnosed as a sprain with more tests to come soon. It will be interesting to see what will happen if Wang has to miss a start.

The bullpen only gave up one hit in four innings on Sunday and Ross Ohlendorf bounced back nicely today after a bit of a shaky outing on Saturday. Edwar Ramirez continues to pitch well and Dan Giese remains impressive with his relief appearances.

In case you missed the obvious: Johnny Damon is having an all-star year. Melky Cabrera has been up and down, with a solid hitting day on Saturday followed up by going 0 for 5 on Sunday.

Alberto Gonzalez is back and getting some time off the bench. Hopefully his hitting will improve with a little practice, but his defensive skills still make him a valuable asset. Shelley Duncan wasn't producing much results either offensively and defensively and will likely stay in Scranton for a while.

This weekend has been hectic with a lot of travel and very little sleep, but hopefully things will be back to normal on Monday. Let's see how long the third place Yanks can keep this win streak going for.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Joba Progress Continues

89 pitches (approximately 55 fastballs) in six full innings of work were logged by the Yankees top pitching star as he continues on his path toward becoming a full time starter. The word is that the next time out, there will be no pitch limit for Chamberlain. He apparently was throwing in the mid to high nineties even in the sixth inning. Things are looking good right now for Joba and the real test will come down the road at the end of the season, where it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy and productive.

Chamberlain struck out two and walked four, and needs to work on efficiency on the mound when he's starting. All three Yankee youngsters, Hughes, Kennedy, and Chamberlain have had a tendency to get worked deep into counts and have hefty pitch counts.

Jose Veras got the win and was the go-to guy in the set-up role. In a shocking move, Girardi used Farnsworth as a closer to hold down the one run lead in the ninth inning. I don't know if this means Joe still does have ultimate faith in the dicey Farnsworth, or that he just felt bad for not having played the guy in a while. Personally, I've got Veras penciled in as my set-up guy and Ramirez as my alternate closer when you need to give Rivera a night off.

Jose Molina, Robinson Cano and Wilson Betemit are batting .216, .217, and .218 respectively. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do catcher-wise next year, when Cervelli will hopefully be healthy again and Chad Moeller remains an option. Robinson Cano is trade bait in my mind. Perhaps some desperate team thinks he's got potential and can actually get him to listen to a pitching coach. Betemit is the caliber of a bench player on the Pittsburgh Pirates. I'd cut or DFA him as soon as possible and get Alberto Gonzalez back. Then again, if you read this blog on occasion, you already knew that.

Kudos to Derek Jeter for his timely home run that put the Yanks on top.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Hideki

In an unsurprising turn of events, the Yankees rebounded after a loss with a win, putting them one game over .500. The story of the day was Hideki Matsui's birthday grand slam home run. The big hit came at a good time because there weren't many other scoring opportunities. Who needs A-Rod when you've got Godzilla?

Andy Pettitte was at the top of his game, striking out six batters and only allowing one run in eight innings of work. Mariano Rivera pitched for the fifth time in six games and picked up another save.

Joe Girardi's use of Rivera is telling of how much he really trusts anyone else in the bullpen to throw when the Yanks have a lead.

There is talk that with the interleague games coming up that Girardi may do some roster shuffling to bring up a capable bench player. Look for Duncan to be finally sent down and someone like Alberto Gonzalez to be called up.

A win is a win and I'm glad to see the Bombers come out on top, but at this stage it's hard for me not to be cynical and expect a quick loss to keep them right at their .500 mark.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rasner's Honeymoon Officially Over

Darrel Rasner finally had an off day, and boy was it a ugly. 9 hits and 7 runs over 3.1 innings. Rasner just kept hanging balls over the plate and getting hit hard, putting the Yanks in too deep of a hole to climb out of.

Ross Ohlendorf didn't have much control in his 1.1 innings, but Hawkins, Farnsworth and Ramirez got the job done afterward.

The offense wasn't bad, but not good enough to overcome an 8-run deficit. Giambi went 2 for 4 and had a home run.

After the game, Derek Jeter summed up the team best by saying they are "consistently inconsistent".  Once again the team is sitting back at .500 and each day that goes by is one less day they have to make a climb back to the top.

Yes, the Yankees had a similar record last year at this time and yes, they still made the playoffs, but that was an exception. It's certainly possible, but the probability of that happening gets smaller and smaller every day.

Rasner's off day will get him more attention during his next outing, as people will start to wonder if his early success was a fluke and maybe Ian Kennedy should get another shot in a few weeks when he gets back. I think Darrel will straighten around quickly and it shouldn't be too big of a deal.

Ross Ohlendorf didn't look very good either, and I think I'm officially putting him in the "too inconsistent to be trusted" category. I think he still has potential but for now, he's a Farnsworth type of reliever who should only be used in low leverage situations.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wang, Rivera Back on Track

Chien Ming Wang once again looked like a reliable starter and Mariano Rivera returned to form. The good part about having an up and down season like the Yankees are going through is that almost every bad loss is quickly followed by a quality win.

Joe Girardi continues to dumbfound me, DHing Giambi and sitting Matsui so that he can play Wilson Betemit, who went 0 for 4 and had a fielding error. Joe's constant lineup shuffles are getting a bit tiresome at this point, especially when he sits a star for a defensive liability who can't hit.

Jose Veras finished out the 8th inning but had 2 walks on his way to getting 2 outs, which isn't particularly reassuring. Mariano Rivera gave up a hit but no runs and thankfully doesn't look like the last game bothered him too much.

Morgan Ensberg has been designated. I'm not sure if someone else will pick him up, he's a decent replacement player but not a guy you want starting every day.

The play of the day from last night's game had to be Jason Giambi's baserunning clinic. On a ball hit deep to right, Giambi tagged up at first and made it to second easily. If you haven't watched Giambi run full out, it's a spectacle to behold. If you watched the game you know exactly what I'm talking about, but if you didn't it's hard to explain other than to say it was hilarious. After the play the YES camera crew panned over to the stands where some of Jason's family was watching the game and even they were getting in on the fun, mimicking his running style.

On a serious note, that simple play showed that Jason had his head in the game and was willing to hustle a bit when needed, which is always a good thing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


That pretty much describes my sentiments on watching the Yankees this season. Every up seems to be quickly met with a down. The Pinstripers seem to be permanently locked right around the .500 position, with little hope to move either up or down by a significant degree.

Mike Mussina pitched an excellent game yesterday afternoon and ended up losing. Statheads might have noticed that he had the highest game score of any starting pitcher yesterday (as noted over at - but still was on the losing team.

Does anyone remember Chien Ming Wangs brilliant outing where the Yankees lost 1-0?

On the other side of the pitching coin you have all those starters who left the game before the 5th inning. Then the crazy bullpen antics of Farnsworth and Hawkins who, for a while there, seemed to be having a competition to see who could give up the most runs.

Mariano Rivera has been one of the most dominating closers in the league yet in 2 of the last 3 games, he's failed to hold onto a tie.

The offense goes from scoring 10 runs to scoring 0. Giambi goes from cold to hot while others just flirt with mediocrity. A-Rod has had some big hits, but isn't quite living up to his paycheck.

I don't have any great suggestions or answers for what I would do to turn this team around. They lack any consistency. Perhaps Joe Girardi could pick a lineup and stick with it rather than changing every day. Players come and go on a regular basis due to the injury bug and a little roster stability would probably help.

All in all, it's been a frustrating season. Every time you think the Bombers are turning things around, they sink right back to average.

So far I haven't seen too many young prospects looking ready to take the reigns for next year. I'll put Chamberlain, Geise and Gonzalez in as new (not necessarily young) guys who are ready to take over. Other than that, I don't see much fresh blood. I'm officially calling Kennedy and Hughes a bust. Duncan isn't going to get any better, and no one else looks ready to move up from the minors. A lot of people are calling for Gardner to come up to NY, but I'm not sure he's going to be anything more than a mediocre bench player. The list of old guys who are past their prime, ready to retire or be let go at the end of the season is too long to type here.

At this point in the season, I'm pretty down on the team. I don't see much reason to hope that things will straighten out and the team will make a run for the wild card. I don't see a whole lot of improvement coming for next year's roster. Eventually, I think the Yanks are going to have to cut some dead weight, give a few younger guys some major league playing time, and make quite a few offseason moves.

Some of the blame has to fall on Joe Girardi. I'll give him a pass for his first year and will  put him on the hot seat day one of next season. He's done too much roster shuffling, made some questionable calls about who to play when and hasn't done much to impress anyone or show that he's capable of filling Torre's shoes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rivera Gives Up Another

Mariano Rivera, who had been nothing short of dominating in the first part of the season, gave up another big run this afternoon, failing to maintain a tie game and eventually contributing to a loss. With every win coming with some difficulty, seeing the best reliever in the game let one get out of the park is disheartening. Once again Mo looked like he took it hard, but should bounce back.

Mike Mussina had one of his best outings, going eight innings and only giving up two runs with no walks. Moose was extremely economical and only threw eighty nine pitches on the day. I personally thought it was a tough call to not let him pitch the ninth, but with Rivera available, I think Girardi made the right call, despite the results.

The offense was cold for the most part, and it's frustrating watching this team have it's ups and downs. The Yankees were cheated out of a run by the first base umpire, who completely blew a call when Melky Cabrera bunted and clearly beat the throw to first. The first base umpire probably had a bad angle, but the replay showed Melky safe by a large margin. Derek Jeter later walked and Bobby Abreu grounded out to first for the final out, a hit which likely would have gotten a run in.

Girardi made an odd move of Pinch hitting Posada for Molina in the eighth inning. Jorge got a hit, and then quickly was replaced by Moeller as a pinch runner. I can understand the pinch hitting, but putting in the pinch runner was a mistake. The extra utility Moeller provides as a runner doesn't outweigh the fact that you'd have Posada's bat if you needed it later. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees last chance fell to...Chad Moeller. If Posada had  been left in he would have had a chance at winning the game for the Yankees.

Joba Settling In

Joba Chamberlain lasted 4.1 innings yesterday, throwing 78 pitches. He had 5 strikeouts and only 1 walk, and looked like he had much better control than in previous starts. Joe Girardi said later that Joba should be ready to throw 90-95 pitches in his next outing. The transition from bullpen to starter is nearly complete, and so far, Chamberlain looks like the real deal.

The pitching star of the day was Dan Giese who didn't allow a hit or a walk in 2.2 innings and picked up his first major league win. Congrats Dan! It's only been a couple of games, but Giese has looked good and hopefully can stick around for a while. Are you reading this Joe Girardi? See how well things go when you have a decent long reliever in the pen?

Kyle Farnsworth had a day off supposedly because of a tweaked bicep that was getting an extra days rest. That left the set up job for Jose Veras. I personally like Edwar Ramirez as the setup man, but Veras is a close #2. Jose gave up 1 hit and didn't allow any runs. Mariano Rivera was his usual self; three up, three down.

The Yankees offense continues to show it's stuff. Johnny Damon went 2 for 5, bringing his average up to .328. Damon had the day off from fielding as Girardi put him in the DH spot to keep his legs fresh. Jason Giambi hit another HR, and certainly can hit the ball deep. Wilson Betemit was brought in as a defensive replacement, which again makes me wonder if Joe has watched any of the tapes of Betemit's defense this year.

So Joba looked good, Giese looked better, the bullpen was sharp and the batters were hitting. What's not to like?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Another Clutch Walk-off Win

Johnny Damon was the big hero this Saturday afternoon. Final score 12-11 after a walk off ground rule double in the bottom of the ninth inning.

It was an up and down game from the beginning. Andy Pettitte gave up runs, the offense would score runs. Things looked particularly grim when Mariano Rivera gave up a home run in the ninth to put the Royals back on top.

Jose Veras had a decent 1.1 innings of relief, allowing only one hit.

The story of the day was Johnny Damon, who went 6 for 6 and got the game winning RBI. Damon also tacked on 4 RBIs for the day.

Jorge Posada was back and went 2 for 4, allowing one stolen base.

This was the second walk off win in three games for the Yankees. It's hard to make much of anything out of it, but I'm definitely glad they won. The last time they had an emotional walk-off win, they proceeded to lose the very next game. Now back at .500, let's hope the Yanks can stay in the black for a while.

The offense produced today, and had big hits when they needed it. The flip side is that the pitching staff blew quite a few leads. Pettitte couldn't hold on and even the invincible Mariano Rivera gave up one.

It was definitely an ugly win, but at least it's a win.

Nice hitting Johnny!

No Late Inning Heroics

The Yankees found themselves in a familiar position last night, down in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run at the plate, 2 outs. Unfortuntately, there were no last minute miracles to save the Yankees, who lost and once again fell under .500 for the season.

The unfortunate part is that Darrel Rasner's outing get's less attention and credit than it deserved. Ras pitched 8 solid innings, with 9 hits, 2 runs, 4 strikeouts and 0 walks. His 2.58 ERA is better than Mussina, Pettite, Wang, Hughes, and Kennedy.

Of all the new starters who have come into the rotation, Rasner is the one getting the best results. Where was all they hype about Rasner during the spring when YES network spent hours and hours covering Phil, Ian and Joba? At this point, it's pretty safe to say that just about everyone missed the boat on this kid.

I didn't have him pegged for a spot in the rotation either. I thought he should get the nod as long reliever and would fill in nicely behind the other kids if they had a rocky outing or could spot start when Pettitte's back acted up. Darrel has exceeded just about everyone's expectations. Let's hope he can continue to play at this level.

Edwar Ramirez finished up the 9th inning, and it was reassuring to me to see him settled back down again. He's our set-up man in my book.

The Yankee bats were quiet at the wrong times. There were 10 hits but only 1 run scored with 9 LOB. It wasn't necessarily a bad hitting night, but the team was unable to string together the offense to produce runs.

Someone needs to explain to me why Wilson Betemit is ever called in to pinch hit. Or play any other position for that matter.

Once again the Yankees were unable to keep their heads above water and over .500. It's hard to be overly critical, there wasn't any particular disaster to point out, but the end result wasn't good. Still, Rasner looked good and that's a sign of better days to come.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Giambi is Clutch

Bottom of the ninth inning, two outs, two strikes and two men on, Jason Giambi hits a game winning, three-run home run. After a horrible start to the season, Giambi has had one of the hottest bats lately, and came through today when the team needed him most. Molina was due up in the lineup, but Joe Girardi put Giambi in to pinch hit and it paid off. Michael Kay was quick to dub this game the biggest game of the year for the Yanks.

Chien Ming Wang got away with one. He had a horrible outing, giving up seven runs (six earned) and was looking like he was going to end up the losing pitcher. The Yankees relievers held fast, not giving up a run until Farnsworth came on in the ninth to give up three hits and a run. The Yankees offense had several chances, including a bases loaded situation in the eighth.

This was an important win for the Yankees, especially after blowing the bases loaded situation in the eighth. Hopefully this will provide a boost to clubhouse morale.

Kyle Farnsworth did get the win, despite his rocky ninth inning performance. Wang dodged the bullet of another loss. Hopefully Wang will get his groove back soon, but a win is a win.


Yankees Put On Pitching Clinic

It was a textbook game. Mussina pitched brilliantly for six innings and then the rest of the game ran perfectly scripted. Ohlendorf in the seventh, Farnsworth in the eighth and Rivera to close out the ninth. Only one earned run the entire night.

Johnny Damon had three hits and brought his average up over .300 while Matsui continues to produce.

Derek Jeter passed the Mick on the all time hits list and Mussina is tied for the leads in AL wins.

It doesn't get much better than that for Yankee fans. Great pitching, solid offense and good play calling by the manager. The Yanks moved out of last place and are 6.5 games behind Boston right now.

Dan Geise's nice outing on Tuesday was rewarded with being sent down yesterday to make room for Jorge Posada. Girardi likes to use up as many options on a player as he can. He did have a legitimate point in the pregame interview when he said "We wouldn't have been able to use Geise for another three days at least, so we sent him down" and went on to say that Dan could very well be back soon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Geise Outshines Joba

Joba Chamberlain used up the majority of his 65 pitch count in the first inning. He took a page out of the Ian Kennedy book and started trying to be cute, painting corners and dancing around the edges rather than throwing strikes. Joba will quickly learn that throwing like that won't get the job done in the big leagues as a starter. Chamberlain had 3 strikeouts but walked four batters. All of this happened in only 2.1 innings of work.

There is a real danger here that if the young star doesn't do better in his next couple outings that the impatient Yankees may stick him back in the bullpen, spoiling his chances to be an ace.

The recently called up Dan Giese did a decent job in the long reliever role, throwing 3.2 innings worth of quality ball, allowing 5 hits and 1 earned run.

Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez tried to make me look foolish for saying they would make good set-up men. Veras allowed 2 runs while only getting out 1 batter and Ramirez allowed 4 without getting anyone out. Thankfully Latroy Hawkins was there to save the day.

Chris Britton pitched a scoreless inning after the game was out of reach.

The Yankees left 10 on base. Damon, Jeter and Matsui hit well but everyone else pretty much stumbled at the plate. Things aren't looking good for the team right now as they sit 7 games behind. Even with guys like Posada coming back, I don't see a dramatic turnaround coming anytime soon.

With guys coming back off of the DL, the Yankees will need to clear room on the roster. I'm wondering if it's time to cut their losses with a few of the guys who only have a year remaining and just let them go. The Yankees like to keep the guys they are paying for, and continue to play them even when they struggle, but I think it's time to just let go.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blown Leads Prove Costly

Andy Pettite and the Yankees offense had an up and down night. The hitters would put a lead up and Andy would take it down. Pettitte worked through 7 complete innings and allowed 5 runs (4 earned). He had a lead several times but would end up getting hit and blowing it.

Kyle Farnsworth didn't fare much better. He came into the game in a tie game and proceded to give up 3 quick hits and 1 run. It's painful to watch Kyle pitch at times. He puts the ball right over the plate and it get hits deep. Repeatedly. Day in and day out. I really don't know what Girardi sees in this guy. Sure, he throws hard and can get that fastball cooking, but Farnsworth has the most hittable 97 mph fastball in all of baseball. The faster he throws it, the further into the stands it goes.

The good news is that Joba is going to get the start tonight in New York, and that should give fans something to watch.

The Yankees had some decent offense last night, although they left 10 runners on base. Giambi continues to hit solidly and is definitely out of the slump. Robbie Cano shows us that he can't hit and he can't field any more. Chad Moeller continues to hit just above .250 and will most likely stick with the team for a while even after Posada gets back, as he has proved to be a valuable backup.

In the press conference after the game, Girardi sounded ticked off and upset. Maybe it's about time for another behind closed doors meetings with the players. As a whole, this team is not playing up to it's potential. The biggest personnel decision has to be for the setup man. Farnsworth was never 8th inning material. He didn't all of a sudden change when Girardi took over the team. Joe and Cash need to realize what they've got, and find a better solution. Maybe they need to bring in someone from outside or maybe they need to re-evaluate their own talent (Edwar Ramirez anyone?) and make a change.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Rasner Struggles, No Run Support

Darrel Rasner didn't have his best outing to date, but was done in by Yankee hitting rather than Twins hitting. Hopefully this was just a temporary bump in the road for Darrel, and he;ll continue to shine in his next outings. While 8 hits and 2 walks is a little much, he did strike out five and made it through 5.1 innings. Earlier in the season, the frequent bouts of Mussina, Hughes and Kennedy getting pulled before getting through 5 IP took a heavy toll on the bullpen. In last nights game, Girardi was able to get by by using Patterson and Britton.

Scott Patterson had some difficulty and needed 40 pitches to get through 1.1 innings, and gave up a hit, a couple of walks and a single earned run. Chris Britton looked good throwing a hitless 1.1 innings. Poor Britton has been bounced back and forth so many times this season, has gotten warmed up in the bullpen and not called into games and finally got another legitimate chance to pitch again last night. He has shown a lot of patience and an ability to keep cool under the distracting situations. I'd certainly go to him in a heartbeat over LaTroy Hawkins.

Patterson turned a few heads in spring training but Girardi didn't think he was ready. He didn't exactly dominate down in the minor leagues and I think Joe had a better eye about this guy than myself and a few other Yankee bloggers who wanted him on the roster. I don't think keeping him in NY is a bad idea, but he still needs time to develop and won't be an overnight reliever sensation.

Morgan Ensberg has been DFA and likely won't be seen in NY again. Wilson Betemit was back in the lineup to continue his competition with Robinson Cano to see who can be the worst Yankee hitter.

The Yankees might be calling up RHP Dan Giese to fill in the long reliever roll. I can't believe I just typed that. The 2008 Yankees have a long reliever? Can't be. Seriously though folks, here's another thought and question. When Ian Kennedy comes of the DL, what do the Yankees do with him? Send him down to AAA to finish out the season and get more experience, or keep him on the roster as a long reliever?

I've been thinking about that for a while now, that Kennedy could have some utility in the long reliever roll. My guess is that he'd probably struggle just as much there as in the rotation, but possibly not. It would be  a pleasant surprise if he turned into a guy that could give you 2, 3 or even 4 solid innings in relief (but couldn't make a start to save his life). Unlikely, but a possibility.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Back Above .500

It took extra innings, but the Yankees toughed out an exciting win last night. The winning pitcher? Ross Ohlendorf. Joe Girardi brought Ross to pitch the 10th and 11th innings and the struggling reliever walked 2, gave up 2 hits, and struck out 4 all the while allowing no runs. Granted Joe didn't have a lot of other options, but it looks like he's still got faith in the young pitcher.

Notably absent in both Friday and Saturday's games was LaTroy Hawkins, who looks to be in the doghouse and won't be called on in close spots. Kyle Farnsworth, on the other hand, has been brought in two nights in a row. The YES announcers commented on how Torre never used to use Kyle two days in a row and were hesitant as to how he'd perform. On Friday he gave up a quick run to close a 2-run lead to a 1-run lead. Last night he quickly got all three batters out.

Veras and Ramirez both continue to look good and are the heart of the Yankees middle relief right now. I'd take either of them over Farnsworth in the set-up role, but Girardi has been a longtime Farnsworth fan and that doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon.

Neither of the starters looked particularly sharp, but both Wang and Mussina managed to get through the bulk of the innings with the score close, and sometimes, that's all you can ask.

Bobby Abreu has been the offensive star the last two games, going 2 for 5 and then 3 for 4.

There has been a bit of sloppy play lately, and errors and bad plays that could be scored as errors are starting to creep into the mix more and more. Alex Rodriguez got picked off of second base after stealing it, and a similar thing happened to Derek Jeter a few days back. Last night's game had an errant throw by Jeter that cost the team a run and the night before Shelley Duncan had an error.

Shelley Duncan is a fun guy to watch. He brings a great deal of enthusiasm to the game and is good for bench morale. Unfortunately, he really hasn't improved his game much over the last year. He's hitting .161 and is playing average defense at best. He really hasn't turned out to be much of an improvement defensively over the lumbering Giambi and hasn't come close to the offensive production, despite the fact that Giambi was in a huge slump.

I like Shelly and would like to see him stick around, but he's got work to do. He might last a bit longer than Ensberg, but he's going to have to start bringing something more to the table if he wants to be successful in the big leagues.