Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yanks Have Work Cut Out For Next Year

I want to describe today's game as heartbreaking, but the way this team has been playing lately, it's not surprising to see them falter yet again. Looking over the box scores for many of the recent games, I've narrowed down the Yankees needs for next year to two things - pitching and hitting. Yep, those are the two areas that need the most work.

In all seriousness, the team needs a major overhaul. Mussina pitched well this year, but he's going to be a year older. Pettitte has been spotty. Rasner and Giese were OK short term replacements, but not guys you want pitching on a regular basis as starters. Wang and Chamberlain should be stars if they can stay healthy and handle the load. So right now, I've got 2 starting pitchers penciled in - Chien Ming and Joba. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are both busts in my book, but could turn things around and end up starting.

Relief pitching has been a mixed bag. Other than Rivera, there are very few guys you can count on. Ramirez and Veras are the best we've got at the moment, and they are serviceable, but not quite as good as you'd like. Neither has truly emerged as the reliable set up man the Yanks need.

Offense is simply atrocious. A-Rod is relaxing, enjoying his mega contract and not producing much in the way of results. The Yankees are stuck with him, for better or worse, for a long time. Matsui and Damon are getting more and more injury prone every year and their defense leaves a bit to be desired. Robinson Cano is a waste of a roster spot, but the Yankee brass hasn't quite figured it out yet. The Bombers need to address the upcoming vacancy at first, ideally with someone like Posada, who's catching days are numbered. I doubt that will happen, in which case the Yanks will have to shell out a lot of cash for someone like Texiera.

The list goes on, and this offseason should be a busy one for Yankee brass. Ideally I'd love to see a lot of the fat get cut but despite all the talk from the Steinbrenner boys, I expect to see a lot of the same underachievers back again next year.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pavano Pitches Yanks to Win

Carl Pavano brought his ERA down to 3.27 with a three hit, one run performance Friday night. He might actually have some trade value for the last month of the season, especially if a team (unlike the Yankees)  has a legitimate shot at making the post-season. I can't imagine the Yankees would be able to get much for Carl, but even a draft pick is better than nothing.

The Yankees won tonight, but they really had to run through a large potion of the bullpen and had to use Rivera for more than one inning.

The offense was pretty lame, with only a few players offering contributions.

The Yankees announced the pricing schemes for the new stadium and the bottom line is that tickets are expensive. The New York Market will no doubt shell out the money regardless. Sometimes it amazes me how much money people are willing to spend to go to a game. I love watching a game in person, live, from time to time but lately the prices for just about any big-league sporting event is just ridiculous.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another Important Game Lost

Alex Rodriguez treated last nights game like it was an October playoff and did nothing offensively. Andy Pettitte was hit hard and the offense did little in return.

A few fellow bloggers and writers are saying that the next two games are must win, but I think yesterday's game was a must win as well. The Yanks needed (however improbable) a sweep of the Sox and they blew it in game one. Don't expect any last minute heroics from this heartless team

Mike and Mike in the morning touched on the team a bit and came to the conclusion that Texiera and Sabathia would be in Yankee pinstripes next year. From what I hear, that isn't all that likely, but the point is that just about all talk regarding the Yankees is focusing on next year, this one's long gone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Last Shot?

After a three game sweep of the Orioles, the Yankees climbed back up to 9.5 games out of first and five games behind Boston. When tonight's series with the Red Sox kicks off, the Yankees have an opportunity to close the gap in the wild card chase. It's a very long shot at best, but still a possibility.

In their last game, Darrel Rasner was roughed up and the bullpen had its work cut out for it. Thankfully the hitters provided a little offense and salvaged the day. Having guys like Matsui and Damon back in the lineup helps quite a bit, and other guys like Abreu have been stepping up as well.

Carl Pavano's return wasn't all that exciting. He certainly didn't look sharp but managed to last a few innings. There continues to be speculation about who will be pitching next time around and many are clamoring for Phil Hughes' return. There aren't any good answers at this point. The Yankees simply don't have enough healthy quality starters available.

Blogging at the end is a bit difficult. There's not a lot to say about recent games and the season that hasn't already been said before. It is what it is. The real excitement will kick back up in the offseason, where there should be some drastic changes in the makeup of the team, but for now, the frustration continues.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yanks Eek Out Win

The Yankees managed to maintain their composure and put together some late inning heroics to get a win against Baltimore last night, thanks to some awesome hitting by Bobby Abreu who went 5 for 5.

Mussina was not on target, giving up 4 runs over 6 innings, but in the end it was enough. Damaso Marte actually managed to get two batters out without giving up a hit or a run. Rivera was sharp at the end, getting the final 4 outs with relative ease.

It's been pointed out that Pavano is starting today, and several bloggers have asked "why?' The only one benefitting from this is Carl Pavano, who gets a chance to showcase his talents for any team that might be interested in signing him via free agency next year. The Yankees would be better served by giving Phil Hughes some more experience on the mound in the majors.

It's an interesting perspective and one with a lot of merit. The reason I see for putting Pavano out there instead of Hughes, is to get Phil more time in the minors to really work through his injuries and work on his delivery a bit, taking time to make sure when you do come back, you're throwing the best pitches of your life. An early comeback with another rocky outing could shake a young pitcher's confidence.

Over on the LoHud blog, Pete Abraham had some scathing criticism of Robinson Cano, which I largely agree with. What really bothered me was the implied fact that several of Cano's teammates think he's dogging it at times and not putting forth a good effort. That's a recipe for disaster. Once your teammates lose faith in you, it's over. Unfortunately, Joe Girardi has shown zero capability of getting people motivated and it wouldn't surprise me to see this type of behavior continue.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Apocalypse Nears

That's right, Carl Pavano is scheduled to make a big league start.

The Yankees were absolutely shelled by the Toronto Blue Jays, giving up 14 runs. A few fans on other blogs have commented that this team isn't out of it until they're mathematically eliminated, but with all due respect, this team has been done for a while.

I'm a fan to the core, but I just can't see any hope that the Yankees have even the slightest chance of making the post season. The team had one good run this season, and the rest of the time every emotional win or small streak was quickly met with a string of losses.

At this point we're left speculating who will be back next year, what to do with guys like Giambi and Pudge (who could be offered arbitration) and what to do with young guys who haven't lived up like Kennedy and Cabrera.

Sidney Ponson absolutely blew up today and despite racking up a few wins, hasn't looked like a serious starter in many of his appearances for the Yanks this year. Billy Traber has proven to be equally unreliable despite delivering a few decent innings here and there.

It's an unusual position to be in recently, a Yankee fan facing a Yankee-less post season. Such a poor showing would make me think a big shake up would be in order for next year, but for some reason, I have a feeling many of the same faces will be back (both players and coaches).

At least for now we can have fun watching the return of Pavano.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yankees Close Gap to 9

The Bronx Bombers are on a two game win streak and have closed the lead in the AL East to only 9 games, thanks to a gutsy extra innings win yesterday and a blowout today.

Brett Gardner has actually showed a little mettle the last two days, getting some key hits and helping the team. Melky hasn't been missed much since getting sent down. Cody Ransom had a pinch hit 2 run homer in his only appearance.

Billy Traber gave up one run in two innings of work and Chris Britton gave up two runs in one inning. Britton just doesn't seem to quite be able to play at the level the Yanks need him to, but he's awful close and gets repeatedly called up. He is still leaps and bounds better than Damaso Marte, who has been awful in pinstripes.

It's hard to get excited about two wins when you are this far back and the up and down season makes me think that after a few wins we'll quickly fall back into another slump. Still, it's good to see a win. It's also good to see some of the guys just brought up doing well and getting some experience.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yankees Sinking to All New Lows

The New York Yankees are playing some of the worst baseball ever. Mariano Rivera is throwing wild pitches, young guys are getting picked off first, no one on the offense can get a hit with a runner in scoring position and Joe Girardi is helpless to do anything with the team.

Melky Cabrera was finally sent down to the minors and Richie Sexson was released. Cody Ransom and Brett Gardner were brought up to fill out the roster. This move signifies that the Bombers have officially given up on the season and are giving a few guys a chance to get some at bats at the major league level to see where they might fit into the team next year.

Rumors have been swirling that Cashman will be asked to come back next year which doesn't excite me. When it comes down to it, Cashman hasn't done much to really make this team work. He has had a major flop or two, but none of his moves have really made a big positive impact on the team.

Girardi will surely be back despite his abysmal performance this year, but hopefully next year he'll be on a short leash.

Melky is officially trade bait in my book. I've seen enough of Gardner to predict that he's not big league material, but perhaps he can show something that another team might find interesting. Ransom could turn into something good, but he's going to need to get some play time before we can say too much.

The Yankees are currently 10.5 games out of first and no one seems particularly concerned. Hank Steinbrenner is looking ahead to next year, most of the team is playing like they've given up, and a lot of my favorite bloggers are saying the same thing. This team is (and has been for a while now) done.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nine Games Out

The Yankees continued their losing ways yesterday afternoon with a struggling offense that couldn't do any better than two runs.  Darrel Rasner was serviceable and Robertson, Traber and Bruney were on target. Dan Giese had some discomfort in his arm and was taken out.

With Boston winning the Yankees fell six games back in the wild card chase. Thankfully this road trip is at an end and the Bombers will be coming home for a day off and then will resume play tomorrow.

At this point it would be nice to see some young guys get a promotion to the major league just to see what they can do. There isn't much hope for post-season play, so why not bring up a few prospects and get some big league scouting?

Tampa and Boston continue their winning ways. I predicted that Tampa would have a good season and have 85 wins or more but I'm still surprised every time I read the box scores. There is a team that is getting things done.  Boston seems to be plagued by the Manny turmoil and recurrent injuries to the pitching staff. I have expected them to overtake the Rays most of the season but little by little things seem to be unraveling a bit in Beantown. The Angels get my vote as the best team in the AL right now and I'm anticipating an Angels-Cubs series.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yanks Blow Lead, Win Anyway

Mike Mussina turned in another fine performance and Damaso Marte threw it away along with a little help from Mariano Rivera. Marte has just been abysmal. He had one decent outing all year for the Yankees when he struck out Ortiz in his first appearance. Ever since then he has been awful. Marte makes Farnsworth look like an ace.

Meanwhile Mariano Rivera has slowly come back down to earth after being virtually unhittable in the first half of the season. He's blown a few leads and lost a few tight games for the Yankees.  Mo is still the best closer in the game and the guy you want in there in a tight situation though.

Hank Steinbrenner spoke with the media, giving his take on the season. He basically admitted that this season is lost and blamed it on injuries. He had high expectations for next year and indicated getting a veteran starter is high on the priority list.

It's nothing all that insightful, most of the Yankee faithful have realized by now that this year's team isn't going anywhere and that the starting rotation needs help. The idea of both Hughes and Kennedy coming into the rotation at the beginning of the year turned out to be a colossal failure.

With Tampa's loss, the Yankees are 8 games out of first. Boston won in a wild one and remains 5 games ahead of the Yankees.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Girardi Gives Up On Season

I can't come up for a better reason to explain Joey's lineups. Down 8.5 games to Tampa and he puts Sexson and Christian in a lineup rather than Damon and Giambi. Why bother playing Pudge when you've got Molina?

Needless to say, the hapless Yankees lost again, getting shut out 4-0. Sidney Ponson was tolerable, giving up 4 runs in 7.2 innings, but the Yankees once again had no offense. I wonder how many times the Yankees have been shut out this year, and how many times they have been shut out in previous years? They seem to get blanked a lot recently.

Yesterday Ian Kennedy was sent down to the minors. A few players in the clubhouse including Andy Pettitte set him straight about his comments. I don't think we'll see any more of Ian in New York this year. Girardi made a quip that he wants Kennedy ready to play in September, but I don't see him coming back. The Bombers will definitely need some starting pitching next year, and I think Ian is officially available as trade bait in the offseason.

This season has certainly been a trying one. Is this what it feels like to be a Pirates fan?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Unbelievably Frustrating Loss, Again

Dan Giese brought his A game and looked like a champ for 6 innings. Veras gave up a few and then Ramirez blew it wide open. The book on Ramirez is that good hitters can take advantage of him and he needs to get his other pitches working. If not, he suffers from Farnsworthitis, giving up lots of big hits deep.

Oh well. A few bad calls by Girardi, a horrible outing by Ramirez and a wasted solid performance by Giese. Another feather in the Yankees caps this year. I certainly hope none of the players on today's losing team feel bad about their play. Girardi made it clear that being pleased with poor performances is OK.

Joe has made quite a in-game time decisions that I didn't like. The most important thing, however, is that he can't find a way to get the team to win. The team had one decent winning streak all season and too many losing streaks.

I think it's time to shift perspective on the season. This is not a championship team, for several reasons.

1. Too many injuries. Hughes, Wang, Chamberlain from the starting rotation. Numerous bats gone for short to long periods.

2. Lack of consistency. Cano and Giambi have played well in the middle of the season, but where were they at the beginning? Every position has had it's ups and downs. Mussina had some rocky outings before settling down. Relief pitching has really been a roll of the dice at times.

3. Lack of heart. Too many leads have been blown, too many games have been lost by one point, and too few come from behind wins point to a listless club.

4. Joe Girardi isn't a championship caliber manager. He's no Torre. Joe G has done little to get the team motivated, to effectively manage players, or make good calls in game. I know he'll get a pass this year, but next year, he's on the hotseat starting day one.

Kennedy OK With Abysmal Outing

Ian Kennedy had another horrible outing last night. After the game in the press conference, he said that he wasn't all that worried about the way he pitched. I guess that means he's now getting used to only lasting two full innings. That's great. A starter who lasts two innings and considers it a quality outing. Really, is anyone out there still convinced that there is any hope of Ike being a big league pitcher?

I'm sure some team somewhere will have a modicum of interest in him, so go ahead and trade him away Brian. The Yankees were trying to hold onto Hughes and Kennedy, thinking those two were the future of the franchise. The jury is still out on Hughes but I think we can now close the book on Kennedy.

Rasner and Bruney weren't all that spectacular either, and the loss puts the Yankees 6.5 games out of first. Playing .500 baseball, they aren't going to get any closer. Despite the offensive additions to the team, the Yankees still aren't going anywhere.

There hasn't been much reaction by Girardi to Kennedy's performance and words, we'll see if something pops up over the next day or two.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yankees Split Series With Mussina's Help

Mike Mussina continued to shine last night, propelling the Yankees to a victory over the Texas Rangers. Moose threw seven shutout innings against the highest scoring team in baseball, earning the Yankees a split over the four game series. With Tampa losing the Bombers are now 5.5 games out of first place and still have two other teams in front of them for the wild card spot.

It looks like Ike is back. Ian Kennedy will get the start tonight against the Angels and Giese will start tomorrow. Kennedy has been alright in the minor leagues so we'll have to see what happens when he faces big league hitters again. At the beginning of the season, I was very pro-Kennedy but after his performances early on, I lost faith. At the time he looked like he had no confidence in his stuff and was afraid of the hitters. Ian needs to throw strikes early and challenge hitters. If he starts painting the corners again, teams just sit back and watch him struggle as he gets worked deep into counts and his pitch count soars. I was hoping a prolonged stay in the minors would help his confidence a bit. Perhaps he'll have a chip on his shoulders when he returns to the big leagues tonight and will use that to motivate himself. Sure, and maybe Carl Pavano will be healthy again soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why Did We Trade This Guy?

Joba Chamberlain is on the DL with rotator cuff tendonitis. The Yankees are now in dire straits when it comes to starting pitching. Meanwhile, Jeff Karstens, recently traded to the Pirates, shut down one of the most potent offenses in baseball when he manhandled the Cubs a few nights ago and then proceeded to throw a two-hitter in his next outing.

Jeff spend most of the year on the DL after looking like a decent candidate to make the roster as a long reliever. Damaso Marte is quickly looking like another Kyle Farnsworth while Xavier Nady is an offensive stud so far. It was certainly a good deal for the Yankees, but sometimes you have to wonder if these guys don't quite realize what they've got down in the minor leagues. Why wasn't Giese on the radar in the spring? Karstens never got his fair shot due to injury, but you have to think the Yankee coaches and scouts just may have missed something.

I was too frustrated to do a blog recapping yesterday's disaster. I'm quickly falling back to the position that the Yankees aren't going to make the post season this year. They've got the talent, but not the consistency. Now with Wang and Chamberlain out, they're pretty much sunk.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Joba Leaves Early With Shoulder Problems

It was not a good night for the Yankees. As if losing to the Rangers 9-5 wasn't bad enough, Joba Chamberlain had to leave the game early with tightness and soreness in his shoulder. The Yankees rotation is shakey as is, barely coping with the loss of their ace Chien Ming Wang, but the loss of Joba could be fatal.

JC is returning to NY today for medical evaluation and at this time, there aren't many details. Pete Abraham is reporting that Dan Giese is going to replace Darrel Rasner in the rotation. Ian Kennedy might be coming back soon as well, especially if Joba has to miss a start.

I'm sure this incident will start bringing out guys like Goose Gossage who will once again go on about how Joba belongs in the bullpen and a new wave of controversy will start up again. I stand by my position that if Joba can be a starter, he should start. The caveat is that if injury problems creep up repeatedly, it's time to consider a move to the bullpen. Chamberalin wouldn't be the first pitcher who couldn't handle the load and had to be moved to the pen for injury reasons. That being said, if he can get over this temporary setback and go back to pitching injury free as a starter, that's where he belongs.

Damaso Marte walked the bases loaded and then gave up a grand slam home run in the ninth inning, once again showing that the scouting reports regarding his inconsistency were on target. Clean-shaven Giambi went 3 for 4 and Xavier Nady went 2 for 4. The Yankees can hit some days, and they can pitch some other days. Someone needs to get everyone on the same page again for the winning to resume.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Farnsworth Still Haunting Yankees

The New York Yankees managed to get a split out of their series with one of the best teams in baseball, and so all in all it wasn't too bad of an outcome. Unfortunately, Kyle Farnsworth is still Kyle Farnsworth and even if he's playing for a different team, he can still hurt the Yankees.

While pitching only one inning for Detroit, Kyle managed to give up 3 runs on 3 hits and helped Tampa beat the Tigers and preventing the Yanks from moving up a game in the AL East.

The Yankees game was certainly a wild one. Edwar Ramirez gave up a grand slam home run to Mark Texiera, allowing 4 runs on 2 hits in a single inning, yet still was awarded the win. Darrel Rasner was pulled after 4 innings of work in favor of long reliever Dan Giese.  I think Ian Kennedy is going to be given another shot at the rotation soon. Sidney Ponson may have stayed his execution another start or so with his last performance, but the hitters seem to be catching up with Rasner on a consistent basis now.

Xavier Nady went 4 for 5 with a home run, Ivan Rodriguez went 2 for 3 and the new Yankee lineup looks like it can definitely put some runs on the board. Still, consistency is the key and the team needs to find a way to avoid those 1-0 losses that seem to pop up every so often.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mussina Back on Top

Mike Mussina returned to his winning ways, Brian Bruney returned to the big leauges, and Jose Molina did everything he could to show the Yanks that he's every bit as good with a bat as Pudge.

Moose gave up only 2 hits over 7.0 innings and allowed 2 runs (only 1 earned) and shut down a very, very good offense. Jose Veras was sharp in the 8th and Brian Bruney, returning from a foot injury, allowed only 1 hit but gave up no runs.

Four different Yankees hit home runs and Jose Molina went 3 for 3 with a homer and an RBI. If only Jose could hit like that day in and day out.

Tampa and Boston also play today so we'll have to wait and see how they do to know if the Yanks can close the gap at all.

We all know the Yankees are capable of playing at this level with their pitching and hitting, it's just a matter of them having the consistency to avoid falling back into another losing streak.

Ponson Sharp, Rivera the Weakest Link

Tampa and Boston both won but the Yankees slid back once again with a loss to the Angels. Surprisingly, Sidney Ponson pitched an excellent game, going 7.0 innings with only 2 hits and 0 runs, his best outing so far for the Yanks. When it came time to bring in Mariano Rivera in the 9th, the wheels came off. Mariano, who is normally a sure thing, walked a batter and gave up 2 hits, allowing the winning (and only) run to score.

That kind of a loss really hurts. A pitcher who normally struggles throws extremely well and the offense can't put a single run on the board in support. The Yankees had only 5 hits on the night and couldn't move runners or get them home.

It's been the same story all year long. The potential is there but the consistency isn't. The Yankees have had a few 1-0 losses and they feel absolutely demoralizing.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Angels Strut Their Stuff

The Los Angeles Angels showed that they are the team to beat in the American League. Boston's hopes appear to be fading with the trade of Manny Ramirez and despite how well the Rays are playing, does anyone really see them going to the World Series. No, the best team in the AL is in LA.

Both Andy Pettitte and Chris Britton were helpless to stop the Angel's bats, giving up a combined 12 runs and 18 hits. It was definitely a night those two would like to forget.

New acquisitions Rodriguez and Nady went 1 for 3 and 2 for 3 respectively. The rest of the offense wasn't bad and the Yanks managed to put 6 runs on the board (some of them were during garbage innings). Once pitching rights itself again, the team should be in good shape.

Baseball is a game of streaks and this year, more than ever, the Yankees look to be one of the streakiest.