Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Signing Off

This will be my last entry before leaving for the summer. I would like to end it with a not so brief overview of the Yankee's situation.

The Yankees have one purpose: the win a World Series. They have every advantage in the world. The core group of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi, and Mariano Rivera give the Yankees a huge competitive advantage at their positions. George Steinbrenner is willing to write the big checks, and Brian Cashman is willing to make the right decisions. The Yankees should not have big glaring weaknesses like they do now.

I've said this many times before and I will say it one more time. Baseball is a game of adjustments. Hitters adjust to pitchers. Pitchers adjust to hitters. But the management of a team also needs to make adjustments. A lot was made about how "Moneyball" doesn't work. Experts like Joe Morgan were making fun of stat-head geeks who thought that they could run baseball teams.

Well guess what: Moneyball teams are ruling the day. Boston is in first place. Oakland and Texas are tied for first place. Toronto has a 37-32 record. Although gone, Paul DePodesta's rebuilding process succeeded, as the Dodgers are in first place. These teams are doing the exact same thing that Bruce Sutter did when he messed with his grip and invented the split finger fastball. They are making adjustments to give themselves a competitive advantage.

Brian Cashman has begun to make similar adjustments. He's building a young farm system that has a lot of potential. But he doesn't have his saavy manager who is also willing to adjust like Theo has with Terry Francona or Billy has with Macha. He has Joe Torre, forever married to his proven veterans and rigid player roles. And because of that, the Yankees are playing with a competitive disadvantage. It is testament to the success of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and that they were able to succeed despite this disadvantage. But they won't last forever.

Money is a great thing. The Yankees have lots of it. But they misuse it. Guys like Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Kyle Farnsworth, or even Hideki Matsui are not smart choices to put money in to. The downside of free agency is that you often get players, especially pitchers, in the twilight of their careers. Look at Mike Mussina. He's been a very solid free agent signing, but he's not the ace he used to be.

Youth is a good thing. Youth brings with it good defense, prime-time offense, and cheap pricetags. With lots of cheap pricetags, the Yankees can afford to go after those big time free agent signings. Two years ago, Carlos Beltran was that big time free agent. He was 26 years old and available. For 16 million per year, the Yankees could have locked up Beltran through his age 34 season. That is right, the Yankees could have had 8 years of one of the best players in baseball in their prime. But too many years of too-big contracts got in the way, and the Yankees were forced to pass on Beltran.

Things are changing. By 2010, the Yankees will be fielding a lineup that contains guys like Jose Tabata, Austin Jackson, Bret Gardner, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera to go along with a pitching staff of Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, J.B. Cox, Mark Melacon, and Ian Kennedy. All of this youth will enable the Yankees to do what they do best: get the biggest friggin free agent out there. Because in 2010, Albert Pujols hits the market.

The Yankees should be the greatest team in baseball. We have no excuse. We should win the World Series. There is no substitute for victory.

Have a nice summer. Check back on Saturdays for updates. I return in mid-August.

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 19 @ Philadelphia L 4-2

This game demonstrated how badly we need a bat.

Posada, Giambi, and Arod all got their hits tonight. They all got in to scoring position. They all had a lot of trouble reaching home plate. Robinson Cano, Bubba Crosby, and the pitcher slot stranded a combined eleven men on base.

Robby Cano is not protection for the middle of the lineup. He's a good player, but not a great player. We need a guy to bash these guys in.

Melky Cabrera may need to hit the bench. He's 1 for his last 18, and struck out 3 times tonight. He looked foolish on one of the strikeouts. He's going to be a very good player, but he may just need a night off. Kevin Thompson or Kevin Reese provide more stick to the lineup than any of the Yankee options on the bench for now, but Cashman needs to pick up a real bat.

Randy Johnson seems to have recovered his form. He pitched much better than his decent 7 IP 3 ER 7 K 2 BB line. If Robby Cano makes that near-error play, then we might just have won this game.

We need a bat.
We need a bat.
We need a bat.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Pride. Power. Pinstripes

Quoting a poster on a Yankee message board:
yep, i agree 100% as another poster agreed you can't win everygame, this new bread of Yankee Fan dosent understand the concept of losing games and they live and die with every game, a member of this board once said to another member, cant remember who, "You have to remember the season is a marathon not a sprint" these new fans need to realize that you cant win every game, you have tough stretches and easy strectches nothing you can do about it

its sad to see these fans who are every game looking at the standings OMGZ boston is .5 in front OMGZ we're a game up LOL rofl where so bad omgz where amazing Yankees Yankees Yankees, LOLER CUP omgz Wang 20 games rofl, Wow Joe Manage your bullpen come on

These are the same fans that think if you dont like a player on the yankees for a fake fan or if you say something that is negative your fake to

its so hard to stand sometimes

I am a fan of the greatest franchise that professional sports has ever seen. The New York Yankees should be the greatest team in the sport, every year. We do not rebuild. We do not accept anything less than a World Series.

Mantle would not call 95 games and a playoff appearance a good season. He would call anything less than a World Series an utter failure. So do I. I'm sorry, I was not sobered by the 80s. I'm not happy just to have a good season. I grew up with Jeter, Rivera, Williams, Cone, Clemens, O'Neil, and Martinez. I was born a Yankee fan. My first memory? The 1995 playoffs. I watched Tino Martinez hit a grand slam against the San Diego Padres. I chanted "We want the Mets" as we beat the Seattle Mariners in 2000. I cried when Luis Gonzalez hit a little bloop single in 2001.

I am a Yankee fan. What do I want? I want to win 162 games. I want to sweep the World Series. I want to have the best lineup, defense, pitching, and coaching staff in the league. I want to score 1000 runs and lead the league in ERA. I want the rest of the league to stand in awe of the Yankees, trying to figure out how the hell someone can beat us. I want to win every World Series for the next fifteen years.

There is no substitute for victory. Let's go Yankees.

Worry About Arod

I know how much we are all trying to make of Alex Rodriguez's seemingly mental struggles. But I think we're just seeing a regression to what Alex Rodriguez actually is going to hit in a Yankee uniform.

Yankee Stadium kills right handed hitters. Absolutely kills them. Remember, Alex broke Yankee long-standing records for home runs by a right handed hitter last year.

Arod is batting .260/.370/.447 at Yankee Stadium and .306/.411/.573 away. His total line is .278/.382/.502.

Last year may have been an outlier. Arod batted .286/.375/.512 in 2004. He batted .280/.365/.492 at Yankee stadium and .293/.386/.534 away.

In 2005, Arod actually performed better at home. He batted .351/.448/.666 at home and .291/.395/.556 on the road.

His career numbers are .306/.385/.574 career. Average those road numbers for three years and you get .296/.397/.554. Almost identical to his career line.

Maybe it's not the media, fans, or boos that Arod can't handle. I say he can't handle death valley.

Yeah, Sorry

I said a week ago that I probably would not digress from baseball again on this blog. I'm sorry, but a political issue so important to me as come up, and the mainstream media is not saying a word.

The exclusionary rule is one of the most important pieces of jurisprudence in the history of the United States. Without it, there is no way for the accused to protect themselves against unlawful searches. Essentially, it is a key check on the government by the people of the United States.

With two new hyper-conservative judges, the assault on the exclusionary rule has begun. The 5-4 decision, led by Justice Scalia, threatens to destroy the landmark precedent set by Mapp vs Ohio.

If you value your civil liberties, write your representative and tell him/her not to appoint judges who wish to destroy your protection against an overzealous police force. These precedents take years to overturn. There is still time.

Back to baseball.

June 18 @ Washington L 3-2

I'm pissed off to no end right now.

The closer role is the most contrived piece of idiocy ever to hit baseball. It was created to prevent managers from being blamed by the media for overextending and causing injury to ace relievers. For some stupid reason, managers have fallen in love prescribing roles to their ace relievers.

What happened? Farnsworth, Proctor, Beam and Rivera were unavailable today. Torre designated Ron Villone as his closer. For some stupid reason, he decided that the 9th inning is so special that it has to either be handled by a starting pitcher or a closer.

Chien Ming Wang was very obviously tired. He was giving up hard hit balls in the 8th inning, and would have blown the game right there if not for Melky Cabrera. He was at his pitch count. But Torre allowed Wang to bat, when the Yankees painfully needed an insurance run, and start the 9th. Obviously tired, Wang got an out before allowing a hit and a blast, losing the game for the Yankees.

Why the fuck did Torre not try to piece together the 9th inning? In the same situation, if a closer was available, Torre would have tried to piece together the 8th inning. But this hallowed closer role is so god damn important that Wang has to got out there because Matt Smith, Ron Villone, Jose Veras, Jaret Wright, and Mike Myers cannot piece together an inning.

God dammit. Why the hell do baseball personel never stop and think about their actions? How brainwashed do you have to be?

I'm going to go smash a rock or something.

More Callups

Jose Veras was exchanged today for Kevin Thompson. Lots of pitchers, probably all three of Rivera, Proctor, and Farnsworth, are unavailable. If Wang doesn't go 9, we''ll probably see some combination of Veras, Smith, and Villone trying to close it out. If Wang doesn't go 7, we're in trouble.

It seems on the eve of my absense that I will run out of things to write about. Small is gone. The bullpen is stocked with young talent that has tremendous upside. Hell, Octavio Dotel isn't even back yet! The future looks bright for the Yankees.

At the very least, we're showcasing potential trade bate for an outfielder.

2006 Free Agents

There has been a lot of talk about the Yankees signing Barry Zito in the offseason. Yeah, it's a long way away. A very long way. It's going to be a very interesting free agent market. Unlike last year, there is some serious talent up for grabs. The outfielders

Alfonso Soriano
Carlos Lee
Jim Edmonds
Ken Griffey Jr.
Trot Nixon
Gary Sheffield
Barry Bonds
Cliff Floyd
Frank Catalanotto
Torri Hunter
Jay Payton
Jermaine Dye
Moises Alou

This is in addition to half a dozen other replacement-caliber outfielders. This is great news for the Yankees. Lots of outfielders up for grabs means lower prices. The pitching market is going to be scary again however. The only real powerful names on the market are Mark Buerhle, Barry Zito, John Smoltz, Mike Mussina, and Jason Schmidt. Other intestering names include Pettite, Lidle, Mulder, Armas and Marquis. Still, pitchers are not going to come cheap.

Mussina, if he wins 18+ games with an ERA under 3.50, will probably be looking for a multi-year deal. Maybe 2 years with an option. If we resign him, we'll still need another pitcher. Smoltz will probably resign with the Braves. That leaves Zito, Buerhle, Schmidt, or an experiment. All three of the big names will probably command huge contracts, similar to the A.J. Burnett deal.

Zito is a strong name, but I would stay away from him. It is my opinion that left without the Athletics fantastic defense, Zito will struggle. He allows too many baserunners as is. Schmidt is having a typical contract year despite low strikeout totals, but his injury past scares me away from a long term deal. The remaining name is Mark Buerhle. I would have no trouble giving Mark Buerhle a 5 year 60 million dollar contract. He's been as durable as Zito and effective at the same time.

But that's just me rambling.

Back, For Now

I did not update yesterday because I spent the day doing some very hard but rewarding labor from dawn until dusk. This is just a precursor to the rest of my summer.

Why? I have a summer job. This summer job, running the Archery Range for a camp in Blairstown, keeps me far away in the woods six days a week for two months. I have done this for the past two summers, and both times it has been the time of my life.

I leave on Wednesday. I will be home on Saturdays. I will have little to no updates on the Yankees other than the newspaper. Regular updates will begin again on August 16th.

I hate to break up the momentum that this blog has gained. This week was our best week ever, averaging over 400 hits per day.

I would like to say that I intend to finish the spring strong, but sadly I have very little free time between now and Wednesday. Please check back on the weekends during the summer, and be ready for regular updates again in August. There is a very good chance that come that time, this blog will be moving to a mainstream website.

Friday, June 16, 2006

June 16 @ Washington W 7-5

Is it actually possible that Bernie Williams has found his second wind?

Bernie is now batting .286/.328/.438 on the season. But since May 1st, Bernie is hitting .296/.337/.475.

His defense still sucks, but Bernie is really showing that he might be able to hold down the DH spot for the rest of the season. Not only that, but Bernie traditionally has taken more walks in the past. Maybe he can regain his patience, which would make him a very productive player.

I hope that Farns is ok. He's been pitching pretty well lately. Pitching even better is Mariano, who looks better than ever out there. Proctor completed the bullpen trifecta tonight, as dominant as we all remember.

I won't be able to watch any of the game tomorrow. Chacon better give the Yankees some innings, because the bullpen is going to be thin without Farns.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 15th vs Cleveland L 8-4

Mussina had to have a bad start eventually, right?

Torre probably should have taken Mussina out against Hollingsworth in the 7th. His mistake was warming up Myers instead of Smith or Villone. Myers in that situation is great, if your pitching to a guy like Hafner or Sizemore. Cleveland isn't going to pinch hit for Hafner or Sizemore. They will put a righty out there for Hollingsworth.

But Smith and Villone are just blowout pitchers I guess. But when the game comes on the line, Torre feels that it's time for Aaron Small. Small actually managed to make his 8.20 ERA worse.

It's good to see Torre uses Myers more, but it's not good to see him uses him in situations like these.

Melky hit a home run! It's good to see him drive the ball. It's also good to see Alex Rodriguez not just drive the ball, but strap two rockets to it. That had to be the longest home run since Arod hit a similar one a little bit farther in the same spot last year.

Washington and Jaret Wright tomorrow. Maybe Wright will graduate to 6 or 7 innings with the free out. Lucky for Wright, he gets free outs out of the Catcher and Shortstop too. We get to see Soriano and Johnson again. Is it just me, or does Kevin Youkilis remind me of Nick Johnson before we traded him?

June 15th vs Cleveland L 8-4

Mussina had to have a bad start eventually, right?

Torre probably should have taken Mussina out against Hollingsworth in the 7th. His mistake was warming up Myers instead of Smith or Villone. Myers in that situation is great, if your pitching to a guy like Hafner or Sizemore. Cleveland isn't going to pinch hit for Hafner or Sizemore. They will put a righty out there for Hollingsworth.

But Smith and Villone are just blowout pitchers I guess. But when the game comes on the line, Torre feels that it's time for Aaron Small. Small actually managed to make his 8.20 ERA worse.

It's good to see Torre uses Myers more, but it's not good to see him uses him in situations like these.

Melky hit a home run! It's good to see him drive the ball. It's also good to see Alex Rodriguez not just drive the ball, but strap two rockets to it. That had to be the longest home run since Arod hit a similar one a little bit farther in the same spot last year.

Washington and Jaret Wright tomorrow. Maybe Wright will graduate to 6 or 7 innings with the free out. Lucky for Wright, he gets free outs out of the Catcher and Shortstop too. We get to see Soriano and Johnson again. Is it just me, or does Kevin Youkilis remind me of Nick Johnson before we traded him?

Oh, and I almost forgot. Torre is suspended tomorrow. It's like a holiday for me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

June 14 vs Cleveland W 6-1

It's nice to see Randy not only have a stellar start, but also show some fiery aggression.

Great game for the Yankees. Phillips showed that he won't slump forever. Damon broke an 0-13 with a home run. Arod took a little pressure off his back. Lots of hitters contributed. The bullpen was beautiful. All in all, a good day.

I love to see the Yankees show some emotion. I'm not one to buy into the whole "Clubhouse atmosphere" thing, but I love seeing the Yankees play with some attitude on the field. When we first got Randy Johnson, there was a lot of talk of "Will he hit some batters?". Tonight, he responded to an unintentional ball to Posada by knocking down a Cleveland batter. He got ejected, but made his point: don't mess with the Yankees.

Proctor looked great, didn't he? I've repeatedly said here that I don't think that Proctor is a bad pitcher, though I don't think that he is the pitcher he seemed like early in the year. He's got his ERA down to 3.77. That is about where he should stay.

Robbie Cano is certainly locked in. He is as streaky as they come. It seems that every month he hits .450 for two weeks and then hits .200 for awhile. He could really be something special if he could sustain some of his hot streaks a little longer. He doesn't strike out and he hits line drives - two of the three things that a batter has to do if he wants to hit .330 consistently (the other being walking a lot).

The Red Sox are losing to Minnesota right now. If that keeps up, we hold first place by a full game. Damn straight.

Giambi Back

New lineup:

CF Damon
LF Cabrera
SS Jeter
DH Giambi
3b Rodriguez
C Posada
2b Cano
Williams RF
Phillips 1b

Probably the most powerful lineup we'll see until a trade occurs. I'm glad that Joe decided to move Arod to 5th. Might take a little pressure off him.

First Official New Yankees

From The New York Post Online:
Dellin Betances, the Yankees' eighth-round pick out of Brooklyn's Street Campus High School, visited the Stadium yesterday and stopped by the Yankee dugout. The 6-foot-8 right-hander with a 90-mph fastball is expected to sign and would join the Yankees' entry in the Gulf Coast League in Tampa.
Betances was expected to be a very difficult draft and follow sign, which was why is fell all the way to the 8th round. Getting Betances is a massive, overwhelming steal. Bigger than Austin Jackson last time around. Betances is a first round, highly-projectable, talent. He is the rare bigman who has solved his mechanical problems.

Five years down the line, Betances could be one hell of a major league pitcher. Outfielder D.J. Hollingsworth also signed.

Update: Got a full list of signees courtesy of nyyfans,

3rd Round - RHP Zach McAllister (Illinois Valley Central HS)
7th Round - RHP Tim Norton (U Conn)
11th Round - LF Seth Fortenberry (Baylor U)
14th Round - LF D.J Hollandsworth (UC Riverside)
23rd Round - LHP Brandon Thomson (CHANDLER-GILBERT)
24th Round - C Brian Baisley (SOUTH FLORIDA)
49th Round - OF Chase Odenreider (CREIGHTON UNIVERSITY)

UDFA - RHP Brady Martinez (Arizona ST)
UDFA - SS Jeff Beachum (Middle TN ST)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

June 13 vs Cleveland W 1-0

What a great game. In the days of home runs and offense, you have to love a good old fashion pitchers duel.

Wang showed us that the team still has at least two good starters. When Chacon, Wright, and Randy can't seem to get past the 6th inning, Wang was dealing all the way through. If the lead wasn't so narrow, Wang could easily of finished out that 8th inning. Some good bullpen managing by Torre got us through that inning. Credit to Mike Myers for doing his job against a tough Grady Sizemore.

Is Mariano pitching or what? He has been pitching a consistent 96 mph for a few weeks now. Papelbon may be having a season for the ages, but I'll take Mo.

Phil Hughes also pitched 7 IP 1 H 3 BB 8 SO 0 ER today. He's 19 years old and adjusting quickly to AA. Please, oh please Cashman, don't trade him. Justin Pope and J.B. Cox also combined for two scoreless innings. Octavio Dotel was not so hot in AAA though, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits in the single inning that he pitched. He gave up a single, home run, and a double before getting out of the inning.

We may actually have the favorite in the Johnson vs Johnson matchup tomorrow. I mean, our Johnson is in fact bigger than theirs.

They Don't Make Music Like This Anymore

I hardly ever digress from baseball on this blog - in fact this is the first and likely last time that I will - but I am going to do so tonight.

I just saw Dweezil Zappa play the music of his father Frank Zappa at the Beacon theatre in New York tonight. I have to say, it was one of the best concerts that I have ever been to. Frank Zappa was in my opinion the greatest musical mind of his century. His command of beautiful musical harmonies was perfect. Not only that, but he added humor and fun into his music to complete the trifecta.

They don't make music like he made anymore. I implore you, if you have never heard of Frank Zappa, go to your favorite source of music and check out the songs "Watermelon on Eastern Hay", "Sofa #1", and "Joe's Garage".

If I live long enough to see one more musician as good as Frank Zappa, I will be lucky.

Monday, June 12, 2006

My Plan

Yeah, I said that I would wait until tomorrow, but I am an insomniac. While I wait for the cold medicine to kick in, I will write my master plan. This is what I would do if a) I was Brian Cashman b) I had complete and total control of the Yankees c) I could play God and make any reasonable trade be completed.

Step 1. Fire Joe Torre. Replace him with Lou Pinella, Lee Mazzili, Larry Bowa, or whomever. Anyone but Joe. Its too bad but we missed Joe Girardi by a year.

Step 2. Have Bernie Williams retire. Schedule "Bernie Williams day" and thank him for everything that he has done for the organization.

Step 3. Trade Scott Proctor and Justin Pope to the Brewers for Geoff Jenkins. The Brewers need the pitching. Jenkins has a season and a half and over 10 million left on his contract. Out of contentions, the Brew Crew will want to get rid of him.

Step 4. Release Aaron Small.

Step 5. Activate Octavio Dotel and Darrel Rasner from the DL.

Step 6. Call up Carlos Pena

Step 7. Trade Mike Myers for... anybody. Add him in to the Jenkins trade if need be.

CF Damon
SS Jeter
DH Giambi
3b Rodriguez
C Posada
RF Jenkins / Thompson (Platoon)
1b Phillips / Pena (Platoon)
2b Cano
LF Cabrera

1b Phillips / Pena
C Stinnet
OF Thompson/Jenkins
OF Crosby
Util Cairo

(Anyone gets injured and Erubiel Durazo and Kevin Reese are call ups)

SP Mike Mussina
SP Randy Johnson (unless he somehow retires or goes on the DL, then Rasner can start)
SP Chien-Ming Wang
SP Shawn Chacon
SP Jaret Wright

(Anyone gets injured and Steve White comes up, or Rasner goes to the rotation)

RP Mariano Rivera
RP Octavio Dotel
RP Kyle Farnsworth
RP Ron Villone
RP Matt Smith
RP Darrell Rasner

(Anyone gets injured and T.J. Beam or Jose Veras come up)

I hold the firm believe that a good baseball roster is all about being flexible. Players can do lots of different things. One player that prevents doing this is Mike Myers. I am a big believer in the 5 man bench. A 4 man bench is great when you have Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield added to this lineup, but it is unacceptable in the lineup's present state. Bernie Williams also has the same effect. Myers has one really specific use, but Bernie has no use.

When Matsui returns, and possibly Pavano and Sheffield, this becomes a really special team.


I've talked a lot about outfielders who we could target for a deadline trade for an outfielder. I figured that I would take a brief moment and talk about the other end of the puzzle - who the hell we would actually trade for reinforcements.

The Yankees have very limited depth near the major leagues. We have one hell of a Single-A team in Charleston (Austin Jackson, Eddie Nunez, Jose Tabata, CJ Henry, Marcos Vechionacci, and Tim Battle in the same lineup), but little else beyond that. Our only legit prospects above that level include Tylar Clippard, Brett Gardner, Justin Pope, Eric Duncan, Phil Hughes, Steve White, T.J. Beam, J.B. Cox, Matt DeSalvo, Jeff Karstens and Josh Schmidt.

In addition, we have the following tradable guys at the major league level: Matt Smith, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Scott Proctor, Darrell Rasner, Ron Villone, Mike Myers, and Andy Phillips.

That is a pretty hefty list. We can probably narrow it down. Duncan, Karstens, DeSalvo, and Clippard aren't really performing well enough to have significant value in a trade. Hughes and Cox are probably considered untouchable by the organization. We'll also assume for now that Robby Cano and Melky Cabrera are off limits (although in my master plan, which I probably will get around to typing tomorrow, I would trade one or both of them). Pope, Gardner and Schmidt also probably wouldn't garner a whole lot of value, so they are also out.

That leaves us with the following trade bait: Beam, Smith, White, Rasner, Proctor, Villone, Myers, and Phillips. Who has value and who does not?

T.J. Beam is probably worth more to the organization than he would garner in a trade. No doubt he is going to be a very good reliever in the majors one day, but few teams would give away a quality major leaguer for T.J. Beam.

The three lefties could easily be peddled off to some club. Contending teams are always looking for good left handed relief pitching, and we happen to have three pitchers to fill what really is three available bullpen spots. And none of them are being paid a whole lot. Matt Smith, under control for six years, almost certainly has the most value out of this group.

Steve White probably has more value to the Yankees, barring a really hot first month at AAA, than he does in the trade market. He might even start for us sometime this summer. He absolutely should not be considered untouchable given the proximity (read: next year) of Hughes, Clippard, Karstens, and DeSalvo to AAA ball, but everyone always regrets trading away young starting pitching. The same probably goes for Darrell Rasner.

Scott Proctor had a lot more value a month ago. Now he's just a cheap middle reliever. Some team would probably accept him in part of a package. If he starts pitching well again, his value will increase.

Andy Phillips might be considered very good trade bait. He has a ready replacement - Carlos Pena (who is hitting at a solid rate in AAA right now) - within the organization all ready. He has the upside of a very strong hitter and tremendous defender at 1b.

Tomorrow will be my master fantasy plan for the organization.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11 vs Oakland L 6-5

Sadly, I missed the entire game today. I was down at a graduation party in south Jersey. I'm not working on much here.

The in the park home run caused by Melky Cabrera turned out to be the difference in the game. Go figure. Melky won us a couple of games with his defense a few weeks ago. Symbolic of the current Yankee slump, his defense caused us to lose today.

All things considered, Chacon pitched pretty well. His defense just wasn't behind him.

Torre played Matt Smith in his first big spot all year. Thats a good sign, considering that the Yankees made the correct decision to DFA Erickson instead of sending Smith down. Smith may just stick for the rest of the season - unless he is traded for an outfielder.

This slump may just be a good thing for the Yankees. Something needed to be done to create a shakeup within the organization.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


The Yankee offense may need a few more bullets, and lots of names are floating around. Alfonso Soriano. Carlos Lee. Names which are out of reach for the Yankees without them destroying whatever minor league depth that Brian Cashman has built over the past few years.

But even a guy like Craig Wilson, inferior to either Soriano or Lee, could be pricey. The Pirates asked for Anthony Reyes, a top major league ready prospect of the Cardinals organization, for Wilson.

Carlos Lee gets a lot of press, but what of his teammate Geoff Jenkins? Unlike Lee, Jenkins is not having a good year. He is a 32 year-old career .297/.347/.501 hitter coming off a .292/.375/.513 season currently batting .250/.315/.401. His stock is low, and the Brewers may be willing to vacate his 7 million dollar salary for this season and 2006.

He's a strong left handed pull hitter who has hit 25 home runs in every year where he has played a full season in his career. He would be a huge upgrade in RF and could come relatively cheap. Plus, he would be more than a rental. Maybe Matt Smith will be dangled.

Some other teams are going to be conducting fire sales in the coming month. Minnesota. Kansas City. Washington. Chicago. Pittsburgh. Names like Lew Ford, Reggie Sanders, Jose Guillen. Names that the Yankees should stay away from. All three are having horrible seasons.

Personally, if I were Yankee GM I would offer Robinson Cano for David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek. I know that we lose Cano, but we get in return a replacement 2b for the year and an excellent young outfielder who is under contract through 2010. I'm not saying that Kansas City would take that deal, but it's worth a try.

June 10 vs Oakland L 5-2

The Yankees have hit six home runs in the past 3 games. 5 of those home runs have been solo home runs. The Yankees have failed terribly at the most basic skill in baseball: getting on base. The culprits? Miguel Cairo is 0-9. Arod isn't looking great. Melky is resigned to hit just little slap singles.

Kevin Thompson almost certainly will be sent down when Bubba Crosby comes off the DL. However, he has made the most out of not playing, batting .375/.545/.875. I wouldn't be surprised if Torre starts Bernie over him in RF tomorrow night.

Last night Joe failed to pinch hit for Miguel Cairo in a big spot. Today, he sent a pinch hitter up for him, but sent Bernie Williams instead of Andy Phillips. Bernie grounded out softly to the pitcher. Instead of sending down Kevin Thompson, wouldn't you prefer Bernie Williams be cut?

Moose pitched better than his line today. He was really getting squeezed by the umpire. If it wasn't for Frank Thomas, Moose would have thrown about 30 fewer pitches and 2 fewer runs.

Look, we can't win them all. Over the past couple of weeks, we had a lot of breaks go our way. Tonight, the breaks went toward Oakland. And we face Zito tomorrow. When all else fails, at least we still kill Zito.

Pinch Hitters

A poster at another website reminded me of an excellent point. With the way that Cairo was swinging the bat last night, why did Torre not pinch hit for him with Andy Phillips? They have Nick Green on the roster to back up the infield. That could have meant the difference in the game.

In fact, the Yankees, despite playing depleted lineups, have not been playing the matchups and pinch hitting this season. How many pinch hits have the Yankees used this season?

Bernie Williams - 6 (0 for 5 with 1 BB)
Jorge Posada - 5 (2 for 4 with 1 BB)
Miguel Cairo - 2 (o for 1 with a BB)
Andy Phillips - 1 (0 for 1)
Gary Sheffield - 1 (1 for 1)

I'm sorry, but that is a ridiculously low amount of pinch hitting. It is demonstrative of Torre's extreme trust for veterans like Miguel Cairo and Bernie Williams and his dislike for the young players who have ridden his bench throughout the year. I always remembered back in the championship days that Torre would pinch hit like crazy. Wade Boggs, Paul O'Neil, Tino, anybody. It just ain't happening anymore. Torre has lost his touch.

Friday, June 09, 2006

June 9 vs Oakland W 6-5

Hey, at least they made it exciting.

Cano hit a nice little triple tonight. He's now brought his slugging percentage up to a respectable .425, with an OBP over .340. Cano has always been and probably will always be a streaky player. Hopefully this streak last until the Yankees find some other offense.

Randy... I don't even know what to say anymore. I really thought that he had turned the corner after his last two starts.

Aaron Small pitched pretty well. He probably bought himself a few more weeks on the roster. Maybe he can build on this and become an average pitcher. Maybe.

I was most impressed tonight not neccessarily with the team on the field but with John Flaherty. He knows his stuff. YES should really consider putting him and Al Leiter in a game together. Hell, they probably should pay him to sit with Randy Johnson and work things out for him.

Miguel Cairo has struck out 15 times in 84 at bats. One of the few things that you can count on Cairo for is to make contact. Looks like he has lost that too.

The Big Picture

I just realised that while covering Torre over the past few months, I have not summed up my entire arguements to dispute Joe's overall style of managing. I've pointed out little things, individual moves, putting the wrong player in the starting lineup, or favoring a pitcher or two, but I would like to take a moment and show you guys the big picture.

After years of watching him, the one thing I can definatively say about Torre is he likes to make his job easier. He likes to set people into defined roles. Mariano Rivera is the closer. He only pitches in A, B, and C situations. Tom Gordon is the setup man. He only pitches in X, Y, and Z situations. Tanyon Sturtze is the 7th inning guy. He only pitches in M, N, and O situations. Conversely, when O situation comes up, Tanyon Sturtze must always be out there. Sturtze not pitching too well? Too bad, he's our 7th inning guy. Our pitchers have fallen in to the following roles:

Farns/Rivera - you know.
Villone - Blowout or 3 run deficit innings eater
Proctor - 6th or 7th inning when leading.
Myers - Twice a week for the big lefty in the 6th or 7th inning.
Matt Smith - Blowouts only, and only after Scott Erickson has blown up
Scott Erickson - Spots where we haven't lost the game and need a "proven veteran" to put the game out of reach.

This does not stop on the other side of the plate. Torre does not like to change his habits regarding players. Over the past few years, since we acquired Matsui, Sheffield, and Arod, Torre has been unwilling to platoon players. He also has been resistant to trying out young players to replace or split time with diminishing veterans. You guys witness that with my nightly complaints about Kevin Thompson sitting on the bench.

Young players have a difficult time breaking in under Torre. Look at Melky Cabrera. In his first week or so, while we still had Crosby and Sheffield, Torre was not trusting Cabrera the least. He was replacing him instead of Bernie Williams on defense in the later innings. He was hitting him behind Stinnett and Cairo. And he even said the quote that I have repeated many times on this blog, throwing Melky under the bus. Luckily, Melky proved himself with his glove and his bat, while injuries gave Torre no other choice. Melky won Torre over, and now he is here to stay.

In general, Torre loves his proven veterans, even if they are not-so-proven. Wayne Franklin. Alan Embree. Scott Erickson. Aaron Small. Tanyon Sturtze. Ruben Sierra. Bernie Williams. Terence Long. Do these names sound familiar?

Joe Torre assigned a role to each of these players. Despite how bad they hit, pitched, or fielded, Torre stuck with that role until injuries or free agency forced change.

Baseball is all about making adjustments. Batters take a half step back when they are being pitched inside. Pitchers throw more curveballs when their fastball is getting hit. Managers need to do the same thing.

A manager's job is simple: give your players the best possible chance to win the game. Joe Torre can't hit for Andy Phillips. He can't throw for Scott Proctor. However, what he can do is put Andy Phillips and Scott Proctor on the field in the best possible situation. He can write the best player available's name into the lineup each night. He can call in the correct pitcher, instead of Scott Erickson or Aaron Small. He can give his team the best possible chance to win.

What could Torre do to make me shut up? First of all, he could play Bernie less. Put Kevin Thompson, who is superior with both the glove and bat to Bernie, in the game a few times every week. When Crosby returns, Torre could play Crosby against right handed pitchers and Bernie against left handed pitchers. Second, he needs to use Matt Smith more. Smith has shown everyone that he can be a good big league reliever. Giving him meaningful innings can only help the team. Third, be flexible with the bullpen. Use guys like Farnsworth, Proctor, Myers, Villone, Smith, and maybe even Rivera interchangible depending upon the situation. Play the matchups. Don't arbitrarily assign an inning where Farnsworth or Rivera or Myers or whomever automatically gets the ball. The 6th inning last night would have been an important spot for Farns or Rivera, as it was when the game was decided. But most managers do that these days, unfortunately.

That is my long rant for the day. Should be a good game tonight.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

June 8 vs Boston L 9-3

You can't win them all. Especially against the Red Sox.

It always seems that we win the first two games of a series but lose the 3rd in an embarassing manner, causing us to walk away with a bad feeling our mouths.

Curt Schilling was dealing tonight, but unlike other times when he was younger, his stuff wasn't good enough to pitch constantly in the strike zone. The Yankees fell down (4 baserunners in 8 innings) but when they managed to hit the ball, they hit it hard (3 home runs and a double). It's good to know that Schilling isn't Schilling anymore. He may actually need to get strike zone shy a little bit as he ages.

It's good to see Cano hit a home run. Cano can be a very valueable player if he can manage to hit for power.

Why is Scott Erickson on this team? We're carrying 12 pitchers right now, but we have two (Aaron Small and Scott Erickson) who are completely, 100% useless. Ramiro Mendoza is dealing in the minors right now.

I'm a little worried about Scott Proctor, but not for the typical reasons. Proctor may be regressing back to being an average relief pitcher. Thats OK. We don't need a bullpen of 7 all stars. But what is not OK that Torre will continue to use Proctor like he has a 1.69 ERA. When Dotel comes back, Proctor will likely (assuming we drop Small and Erickson) be the last righty in the bullpen. Hopefully Torre uses him that way.

Matt Smith looks golden out there. Maybe he could be given a larger role by Torre? Problem is, as I see it, that he is more likely to attain a larger role on another team. Trade bait maybe?

Oakland tomorrow. We're throwing our big arms out against them. Should turn out well.

Lineup Change

No Jeter.

CF Damon
LF Cabrera
1b Giambi
3b Rodriguez
DH Posada
2b Cano
SS Cairo
C Stinnett

Now, a lot of Yankee fans are mad at Torre for taking Phillips out of the lineup. I personally do not think that this is that bad of a move. Phillips is a good hitter but is not as good as Posada. The optimal move for Torre would probably be putting Phillips at 3b and giving Arod a day back in his old stomping grounds.

But the real bad move in this lineup for me is Bernie Williams. Bernie is fooling no body with his defense and his bat barely reached an .800 OPS even when he was hot.


I'm no expert on the Rule IV draft. I know my way around the Yankee farm system, but I didn't so much as glance at the catalog of players available to Brian Cashman over nthe past two days. Mt information is entirely second hand. If you want some expert advice, I should direct you to head over to In George We Trust, RLYW, or your favorite Yankee forum.

1. Ian Kennedy - Kennedy is by all accounts a good, safe pick. He's a 89-92 mph pitcher who hits his spots and uses his secondary pitches (including a very good curve) to get hitters out. He likes his strikeouts. He pitched three years for USC, in the toughest conference in college baseball. He should quickly move throughout the Yankee minor league system. It is really up to the Yankees where he begins. It wouldn't be shocking if they sent him right to Tampa.

2. Joba Chamberlain - The consensus is that Joba has top-10 stuff in the draft, but fell to our second pick due to injury concerns. Turns out, this would be a common theme in the draft. Joba doesn't have the pedigree that Kennedy does, but he has plenty of upside. Chamberlain is a little more raw than Kennedy, so he will most likely ee some short season action.

3. Zach McCallister - Zach is a hard throwing polished high school right hander. Fabian at RLYW calls him "a poor man's Phil Hughes". He throws hard with good control, but will need to work on another seconary pitch to complement his slider. He's young enough that he will have plenty of time to find some sort of off speed pitch. He will be the top pitcher for the reigning champion GCL Yankees.

4. Colin Curtis - Curtis is an outfielder from the University of Arizona. Of the top-10 picks, this is the easiest one to take apart. Curtis has been described as an average bat with average range in centerfield. He will be unlikely to have the range to hold down centerfield nor the bat to hold a corner position. He hits for moderate power, with moderate discipline, and with decent contact rates. Sounds to be like even if he pans out, he'll at best be a fourth outfielder. He'll enjoy the fine weather down in the Gulf Coast League.

5. George Kontos - There is not a whole lot of information on Kontos. He had two very poor (over 5 ERA) years for Northwestern University prior to 2006. I am having trouble finding his 2006 statistics, but he did finish 2nd in the Big Ten in strikeouts. Sounds like a project. He'll be the top pitcher for Staten Island most likely.

6. Mitchell Hillgross - He's a shortstop out of Purdue. He posted decent numbers with Purdue, including a .404 batting average in 2005. He might be moved from shortstop though, due to poor hands. Catcher remains a possibility, in which case his bat could be useful. If he ends up in the outfield, his bat will not be sufficient. He'll man the middle infield on Staten Island.

7. Tim Norton - He's a right handed pitcher with lots of strikeouts and good numbers (2.04 ERA), in medium division. He has good stuff and has had lots of success, but pitching in the Big East didn't turn a lot of eyes. He might just be a little underrated. He'll head to SI.

8. Dellin Betances - Huge right handed pitcher from the Bronx. He is one of the few projectable frames without reported mechanical problems. He throws hard pitches for strikes. He fell to the 8th round because of signability issues. Betances wants 1st round money, as he was considered top-25 talent heading into the draft. Good thing we have Big Stein to sign this future Big Unit. Betances will head to the GCL. Could be a steal ala Austin Jackson.

9. Mark Melacon - Melacon was one of the top relievers coming into the draft. But he's no uber-prospect. His numbers are OK, including a decent jump in strikeouts (52 K in 39 innings) in his final year in Arizona. He might be 3rd round talent, but slipped to 9th due to injury concerns (anyone sense a theme yet?).

There were really no notables after Melacon in the Yankee's draft. They picked up half the college righties in the country, and will add to their organizational strength (starting pitching) in the minor leagues. 3 or 4 may work out, and that would be considered a resounding success.

The Yankees are going to be spending a lot to sign these guys. Melacon, Betances (if he signs at all, word is he may be a draft and follow), Kennedy and Chamberlain are all going to take a big check. Day 2 of the draft was spent drafting decent college position players to fill out our short season teams, with no notable selections. One or two guys may jump out a year from now and be considered legit prospects, but for now they are just guys to catch the balls in play allowed by our new array of pitchers.

I like this draft by the Yankees, a lot. The Yankees are stacked with high risk high reward prospects at the lower minor leagues (Nunez, Henry, Tabata, Jackson, Vechionacci, etc). This draft class will bring some stability to the system, and some major league arms to the team in the relatively near future.

One Less Injury to Worry About

From MLB.com,

NEW YORK -- Johnny Damon wasn't the most willing patient, but he is a happy one.

After Wednesday's X-rays showed that there wasn't any more damage in the broken sesamoid bone under his big toe, Damon said that he hopes he doesn't have to return to the doctor again and that he'll be fine.

The center fielder said he's at about 90 percent and that he only needs to continue taping his toes and putting a pad under his shoe to feel fine. An occasional day off, such as the one caused by Wednesday's rainout, doesn't hurt either, he said.

"I went through that month and a half with it and hurting here and there, some days worse than others," Damon said. "Now we know what to really do to keep it from getting worse."

Although his toe isn't sustaining any more damage, it's not healing either, according to foot specialist Dr. Williams Hamilton, and Damon doesn't feel it will totally heal until season's end. The pain is manageable, and neither discomfort, nor any doctor's words, will stop him from jumping into walls.

"We took the X-ray, but the test I have every day is running out there on the field and pounding on it out there," he said. "It has been great. I know my body better than anyone. So when it feels like it's getting better to me, then I know it is."

Damon said that when the toe hurt more, he had trouble keeping his balance in the batter's box, but he didn't want to start making excuses. The pain hasn't slowed him of late, as he is hitting .368 with two homers in his past 10 games. He has three hits in six at-bats and three walks in this series.

"I thought it was a waste of time today," he said. "I can tell I'm getting better, and I don't want it to be a waste of time anymore."

Damon has had two lingering injuries in the past three years. In 2005, his shoulder bothered him badly for the second half of the season, sapping his power numbers. This year, the foot and toe injury has hampered both his power numbers and on base ability. However, during both years he was able to bat .300/.380/.480 when healthy. With Sheffield and Matsui out for the long haul, some very good batting numbers from Damon are going to be needed to carry this team through a long summer. Despite being injured, Damon has done so with a .301/.370/.456 line.

Maybe a healthy Damon has a little bit more stick in him? You cannot call him an "elite" centerfield with that line, but he certainly gives the Yankees a competitive advantage from thatr position.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 6 vs Boston W 2-1

Top of the 8th inning. 2 Outs. Manny at the plate. Farnsworth is cruising. He struck out Ortiz big time, making that giant ogre flail like a schoolgirl.

Then Manny lifts one to right field. I curse. Twice. I punch the couch. Not even looking at the play, all I hear is Michael Kay saying "And Cabrera makes the catch!"

I was about three inches away from slitting my wrist.

Good day for the Yankees. We now have a 1.5 game lead in the AL East. Personally, I could go for two more wins this week against the Sox so we can start padding that lead. I'd feel a lot better if Jeter could play though.

Lots of new Yankees this afternoon, and a series of great plays by rookies (Cabrera, Phillips) tonight. Oh, and a great pitching performance by a young pitcher. Who says our farm system is in bad shape?

Day 1 cont.

1. Ian Kennedy - RHP from USC
2. Joba Chamberlain - RHP from U Nebraska
3. Zach McAllister - RHP HS
4. Colin Curtis OF LHB Arizona State (has a nice backstory too. Cancer survivor)
5. George Kontos RHP Northwestern U
6. Mitchell Hillgross SS RHB Purdue
7. Tim Norton RHP UConn
8. Dellin Betances RHP HS (fell really far, could be a steal)
9. Mark Melacon RHP U Arizona
10. Casey Erickson RHP Springfield College (related to Scott?)
11. Jeffery Fortenberry LF LHB Baylor U
12. Nick Petreson RHP U Tampa
13. Dan McCutchen RHP U Oklahoma
14. Donald Hollingsworth OF LHB UC Riverside
15. Gabriel Medina RHP Emporia St. U
16. Paul Patterson RHP U Kentucky
17. Dave Robertson RHP U Alabama
18. Paul Howell LHP HS

Anyone else sense a trend?


Terence Long has been designated for assignment. Nick Green was called up in case the Yankees need another infielder during Jeter's injury.

Now just Bernie to get off the team.

Another pitcher

104th overall - a surprise.

Zachary McAllister. High School RHP. Well polished for a high-schooler. Nothing further yet.

I'm going out to play a few games of ultimate frisbee. Won't be back until the draft is over.

Looks like so far the Yankees are drafting lots and lots of starting pitching, but being very conservative with their picks. That is a good thing. We have lots of high-risk high-reward prospects in our system - Henry, Hughes, Marquez, Garcia, Tabata, Jackson, etc. It will be nice to have a bunch of sure bets in AA by next year.

A New Yankee

The Yankees used their 21st overall pick in the draft today to pick up Ian Kennedy. He is a right handed pitcher from USC. We drafted him out of his junior year. I'll have an update later, but I do
not have a lot more information. I have heard that Kennedy was a sure-fire first round pick a year ago, but didn't have the best 2006 even though his stuff is still good.

College pitchers generally take 1-2 years to make the majors. So you'll be hearing about this guy relatively soon.

We have another pick coming up in the round between the 1st and 2nd, but no 2nd round pick (Mike Myers).

Update! Scouting Report:

At his best, Kennedy pitches off his fastball despite a short frame and shows a knack for making the big pitch. Above-average fastball command has allowed him to dominate college hitters (as evidenced by a 158-38 strikeout-walk ratio in 2005) and in two summers with Team USA. Kennedy has regressed in 2006, however, becoming much more hittable (.254 average against versus .201 last year) and vulnerable to big innings. Scouts report Kennedy's fastball sits more frequently from 86-89 mph, rather than 89-92 as in the past. Even when he has his velocity Kennedy has missed his spots, leaving balls up in the zone, and his changeup--a plus pitch in the past--has taken a step back as well. His slurvy breaking ball needs to be tighter and find the strike zone more often. Complicating matters, agent Scott Boras represents Kennedy. Scouts can't agree where he merits being picked but share the belief it will take the right fit of a scout who has followed him since he starred with Rockies prospect Ian Stewart in high school, and an organization comfortable with his size and adviser.

41st overal pick Joba (the Hut) Chamberlain:

Joba (pronounced Jaw-buh) Chamberlain came into the year without much fanfare, as he spent 2004 pitching for Division II Nebraska-Kearney, then after a solid spring with Nebraska in 2005, he chose to pitch in the little-known, unsanctioned M.I.N.K. League over the summer. Chamberlain then came out throwing bullets in the early going, pitching consistently in the 91-94 range and touching 98, along with two breaking balls and the beginnings of a changeup. Despite missing two starts in mid-March due to what was called "biceps tendinitis," Chamberlain made starts in each of the season's last 10 weekends. Still, one executive told me that his club had high medical flags on Chamberlain, both due to the tendinitis and due to another, more serious arm problem

Not Kevin Brown Again

From The New York Times:

NO BROKEN BONES Scott Proctor was relieved to learn that X-rays of his right hand yesterday revealed no broken bones. Proctor punched a clubhouse door in Baltimore after Saturday's game, which he won after blowing a lead for Randy Johnson.

"They need to X-ray my head," Proctor said. "It was immature. It's been corrected and it won't happen again."

As if the Yankees don't have enough problems.

Monday, June 05, 2006

June 5th vs Boston W 13-5

Oh yes, the sweet smell of first place.

Nothing could stop the Yankees tonight. Mussina doesn't have his best stuff? No problem. We'll score 13 runs. Want to shift on Giambi? No problem, Cabrera will advance from 1st to home on a passed ball. Injured captain? Don't need him tonight.

It was good to see Rivera return in perfect form. Listening to the report on his injury after the show, I have to say that we lucked out. Rivera was in intense pain for two days, barely able to walk around. Rivera was afraid that he might not pitch again. My advice? Wear Velcro shoes.

Andy continues his assault on American League pitching. He started hitting for extra bases the day after I wrote "... and since Phillips seems to only want to hit singles". Guess I'm the good jinx.

We roasted the Red Sox bullpen for tomorrow. Maybe in a close game they will have to stretch Papelbon out and we'll bust his shell. I don't think that the Red Sox can reasonably expect Pauley to give them some serious innings.

Oh, and T.J. Beam pitched 2 scoreless innings in his first AAA appearance tonight. He struck out 4 while not allowing a baserunner.

It's a good day.

4 Games, .5 behind - Yankee Stadium

It's game time. I love watching the Yankees playing the Red Sox.

The Yankees and Red Sox couldn't be more different right now. The Red Sox are as healthy as can be. They have their entire opening day lineup in the field, and their pitching staff is only missing Wells and Timlin. Schilling and Wakefield are pitching OK, and the rest of the bunch are fluttering.

The Yankees limp in to Fenway, coming off an injury filled week but finally will see the calvary return to action in the form of Rivera, Giambi, Rodriguez, and Jeter. And despite their terrible luck over the past two weeks, the Yankees even get a break.

The team will benefit from about the best pitching matchups they could ask for against the Sox. They are:

Tonight - Mussina vs Beckett
Tomorrow - Wang vs Pauley
Wednesday - Wright vs Schilling
Thursday - Unit vs Wakefield

This will be the fourth time the team has seen Wakefield in a month, which can't be a bad thing against a knuckleballer. Johnson is looking good lately, as is Wright. I would put Mussina up Johan Santana right now with confidence, and we sure as hell should hit the hell out of a AA pitcher. Not to mention that we are at home with a semi-rested bullpen.

I would not be happy with a split.

Albert Pujols

From Rotoworld.com:

Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg classified Albert Pujols' strained right oblique as "moderate to severe" on Sunday.
He added that the injury was closer to severe than moderate and that Pujols was experiencing pain and limited mobility. "Now, we just go through the steps of getting him better," Weinberg said. "The first thing he has to do is normal things: coughing, sneezing and opening the door. Then we can get more aggressive with the rehab and we can get more aggressive with some baseball activity." All of this doesn't sound too encouraging, and our guess is that Pujols will miss closer to six weeks than two. He's scheduled for an MRI tomorrow.

Pujols was having a season for the ages. In 53 games, he managed 25 home runs, 65 RBIs, 44 walks, 52 runs scored, and a .307/.442/.751 batting line. Projected over 162 games, Pujols would have finished with 76 home runs, 195 RBIs, 156 runs scored, and 132 walks. In a post-steroid era, his 2006 might have been considered the greatest season since WWII by a position player.

It looks like now that his march to glory will be delayed by a few weeks on the disabled list. It's too bad. Pujols, barring injury, is already penciled in at Cooperstown. The question will be: will he be mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Williams and Gehrig or Jackson, Fox, and Musial?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 4th @ Baltimore L 11-4

You can't win them all.

We're 11 for our last 15 and 5-2 on this road trip. Things happen.

Kevin Thompson and Matt Smith are forcing their place on the 25 man roster. They both deserve it. Erickson and Small are forcing their place off any major league roster. Neither deserve their spots. Thompson should replace Long, Mendoza replaces Erickson, and Smith replaces Small.

Smith couldn't go much distance today because he had pitched a lot recently in Columbus, but he is capable of 2-3 innings if needed on a night like tonight. Thompson is 2-5 with 2 walks, 1 2b, and 3 RBI in his first two games.

After a terrible May, due to the foot injury, Damon is hitting again. He's batting over .400 in 4 games in June, with some extra base hits. Good for him.

Word on the radio is that both Jeter and Giambi are expected to play tomorrow. This lineup can look respectable again. Personally, I would experiment with keeping Jeter 3rd.

Aaron Small

When a pitcher's curveball is hanging, he makes an adjustment. He either slightly alters the way he throws the ball or he stops throwing it. Otherwise, he gets hit, and hard. When his fastball is running outside, he moves his foot across the rubber an inch or two. Or he doesn't throw as hard. Or he throws a few more changeups or sliders. If a team is running on that pitcher, he throws over a few more times.

When a batter is being pitched inside hard, he may take half a step back into the batters box. When he's being thrown a lot of changeups, he may take an extra half second before swinging.

Making adjustments is part of the game. This does not stop off the field. The Yankees front office never fails to surprise me in their ability to stubbornly stick with poor players.

It should have been pretty obvious. Aaron Small, a 33 year old pitcher posting an average ERA in AA ball. He was called up as a desperation move, and by some ungodly streak he managed to go 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA. The Yankees resigned him based on this performance, as they should have.

What they should not have done is expect Aaron Small to be a good pitcher. They took a flyer on him, but very quickly Small showed that he was going to revert back to the Aaron Small of old.

But they kept putting him out there. Injuries forced him in to the rotation, even though they had better options in the minors (Mendoza, Wilson, Rasner). When he faltered, the Yankees continued to put him out there.

Well today Aaron Small has finally hit rock bottom. His ERA is over 9. He has not had a single successful outing all year. He is finished. Nothing other than the immediately release or trade of Aaron Small will be the proper move. He is useless. Get him off this team.

This is not an isolated incident. Just look at Bernie. They kept putting him out in CF last year despite the clear and obvious malus to the team that he was causing.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

June 3rd @ Baltimore W 6-5

No Hideki. No Gary. No Jason. No Alex. No Mo. No Kyle. No Ron. No problem.

Could we really be going any better right now? We've won 9 of 11 with a new injury every day during that streak.

Andy Phillips is now slugging .459, above the league average.

Kevin Thompson looks like he belonged. Jeter refused to go down quietly. Damon whizzed a killer line drive over the fence. Boston is losing (down 3-1 in the 4th vs Detroit). At least for now, we're in 1st place.

But most importantly, the Unit looked great out there. The home run hurt, but there were only two other hits off Johnson in 7.1 innings. Proctor let a run in, but didn't look completely lost. Wang sealed the deal.

Not much more to write. Got to run. Let's make it a sweep tomorrow.


Hideki Matsui goes out with a wrist injury. All right, we still have Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, and Gary Sheffield.
Gary Sheffield goes out. All right, we still have Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez.
Alex Rodriguez gets sick. All right, we still have Jason Giambi.
Jason Giambi gets sick too. Wtf!?

CF Damon
LF Melky
SS Jeter
C Posada
DH Bernie
1b Phillips
2b Cano
3b Cairo
RF Thompson

Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2 @ Baltimore W 6-5

The way that the Yankees luck has been going lately, I half expected Melky Cabrera to get hit by lightning in the 7th.

Jaret Wright walked the right rope all game, with a lot of his outs going to the warning track. To his credit, he didn't break down. Kelly Stinnet didn't help by letting every ball below his knees get behind him.

Scott Erickson in the 8th? To be fair, Torre really didn't have much choice. Villone had thrown a lot of pitches (though being a long man, he probably could have gotten out of that inning) and both Mo and Proctor were unavailable. The blame rests moreso on Brian Cashman's shoulders. Scott Erickson should not be on this roster.

Jeter looked like he belonged at #3 tonight. To be honest, I'd be happy if they kept him there. He's slugging over .500 and killing with RISP. Melky is good enough to stay up in the order. Its kind of a waste to bat him 7th or 8th, since he gets on base so well. Won't happen, but I can drema can't I?

Melky showed off his arm once again tonight. 6 Outfield Assists in three weeks? Damn.

We just won a game without Mariano Rivera, Scott Proctor, Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, and Jaret Wright starting.

Unstoppable Andy

I'm writing a lot today. Stuck inside on a rainy day.
On May 16th I wrote:

One big thing that people will miss in the drama of tonight is the performance of Andy Phillips. He went 2-5 with two doubles. With some big bats hurting, Andy Phillips could supply some much needed offense out there if he finds his stroke. Remember, he is the guy who consistently hit .300/.380/.570 at AAA.

Since then (as of the 5th inning of tonight's game), Andy Phillips has gone 15 for 31 (.483 BA) with four doubles and one home run (.709 Slg%) and 2 walks and only four strikeouts (he struck out 11 times

Andy Phillips took a long time to adjust to the majors. Hell, I advocated dropping him for Pena. not too long ago. Looks like I might have been wrong.

Hideki Matsui is a career .295/.369/.482 hitter. Phillips may just be able to hit .270/.350/.460.

Black Cloud of the Baseball Gods

Alex Rodriguez is out tonight with some general sickness.

Could it get any stranger?

Tale of Two Pitching Staffs

As a team, the Yankees have posted a very solid 4.15 ERA this season, second best in the American League. The Yankees have been playing with 12 pitcher all season. 6 have pitched very well, and 6 have pitched poorly.

Pitching well have been Mussina (2.42 ERA), Rivera (2.30 ERA), Proctor, (3.47 ERA), Villone (1.66), Jaret Wright (4.30 ERA) and Myers (.87 ERA). These guys have combined for a 215 innings and given up just 66 runs for a 2.76 ERA.

Chien-Ming Wang (4.86 ERA), is in between.

Pitching poorly have been Randy Johnson (5.37 ERA), Shawn Chacon (5.21 ERA), Kyle Farnsworth (5.18 ERA), Aaron Small (7.78 ERA) and the duo of Tanyon Sturtze and Scott Erickson (7.59 ERA, 4.70 ERA). These guys have given up 107 earned runs in 169 innings, to combine for a 5.69 ERA.

Things look reasonably optimistic. Aaron Small, Scott Erickson, and Tanyon Sturtze shouldn't pitch these many innings for the rest of the season. Johnson is better than 5.37, and Chacon had only one bad start (due to injury) in the past half dozen. Farnsworth - we hope - will be better than 5.18. Villone may regress, but Octavio Dotel will enter the picture too. Mussina is sure to be a little bit worse, but Jaret Wright seems to be better than he looks.

Brian Cashman was on M&MD today basically saying "We're not worried". Looking back at this picture, I think I believe him. Darrel Rasner, Octavio Dotel, and maybe Matt Smith could all improve the situation further.

Now we just need to score enough runs.

Moose Leads

Jose Contreras had his first bad outing in about a year, giving up six runs. As a result, his ERA raised nearly 3/4 of a run per 9 to 2.53. What does this mean?

It means that Mike Mussina officially has the lowest ERA in the American League at 2.42. Only Brandon Webb's 2.01 is better league-wide.

Also pitching well are Barry Zito and Mark Buerhle. Interestingly, all four of the top AL pitchers are in their contract years.

Free Agent Relievers

During the dynasty run, the Yankees could count on solid work out of the bullpen from Mendoza, Stanton, Nelson, and of course Mariano. The setup corps for Mariano was solid, if unspectacular.

Stanton, Nelson, and Mendoza moved on, while the Yankees looked to replace them with high priced free agent relievers who quickly became high priced free agent flops. Names like Steve Karsay and Felix Heredia flopped while old favorites like Randy Choate and Sterling Hitchcock floundered. The Yankees would even unsuccessfully attempt to bring back all three of Stanton, Nelson, and Mendoza at different times.

The result? Lots of guys on the DL, lots of blown games, and fewer wins for the Yankees. Brian Cashman finally succeeded in bringing in a good high-priced setup man in Tom Gordon, but he moved on for greener pastures this offseason.

The solution? Cashman went on a blitz of the free agent market. He signed Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers and Octavio Dotel to big (at least for relievers) deals.

It's way too early (in his 3 year deal) to call the Farns a bust yet, but he certainly isn't giving anyone reason to be confident in him. Mike Myers likes to walk the first left handed batter he faces every game - which is a big problem when you only face one batter per game. Octavio Dotel hopefully will contribute in the future, but he is on his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Is it a surprise that the two best relievers in the Yankee bullpen have come not from big money deals but small ones? Ron Villone was acquired from Florida for a fringe prospect and Scott Proctor came to the Yankees in the ancient Robin Ventura trade. Both have been solid in setting up Mariano - but Joe Torre has decided that they should be handed less important roles than Mike Myers and Kyle Farnsworth.

The Yankees have the bullets to fight through these injuries. Joe Torre's job is to put the bullet into the revolver. However, Torre continues to exercise his worst option in games, and Brian Cashman doesn't make it any better (*cough* Erickson). The Yankees have plenty of options, and now they just need to use them. But right now, the gun is being reloaded with blanks.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

June 1st @ Detroit L 7-6

Credit Joe Torre with another loss.

He couldn't handle his bullpen worse tonight. After Wang left in the 5th, Torre correctly went to Rasner. However, he left Rasner in for only five outs, forcing the rest of the guys to stretch themselves out.

Myers then failed to make yet another out against a left handed batter. Proctor was forced to pitch seven outs, and then Torre makes another huge mistake. With just a one run lead in the 9th, Torre brings Kyle Farnsworth in.

Tell me Torre, how could you possibly think that Kyle Farnsworth is your best pitcher? How could you possibly believe that Farnsworth's 4.50 ERA (now 5.18) was not something that could lose the game for the Yankees? Ron Villone or Scott Proctor (instead of putting him in earlier) would have been better options. But I guess Villone, who hasn't allowed a run since May 14th, was a better option.

Joe Torre is an idiot. His handling of the bullpen is going to cost the Yankees wins directly and indirectly by burning out his relievers. He needs to trust his entire bullpen, not just 2 or 3 guys.

Terence Long needs to go. He went 0-5 and left 9 men on base tonight. He's now batting .182. Get rid of him Cashman. Start Thompson.

Unit = Glavine?

An excellent article writting on MLB.com:

Peterson enjoys a good analogy the way George Hamilton enjoys a tan. So when Glavine's golf game threatened to surpass his pitching in the first half of last season, Peterson questioned the two-time Cy Young Award winner and five-time 20-game winner in a way that hit home.

Glavine had won 268 games as a two-pitch pitcher and a monument to stubbornness. He threw his fastball and his changeup, and he seldom pitched inside.

"It got me where I was," Glavine said now. "Why change?"

A number of harsh answers were presented to him: his 4.94 ERA, opponents' .325 batting average against him and his 6-7 record.

Peterson presented a remedy, too.

"You wouldn't play a round of golf with two clubs, would you?" the coach asked. "Not when you can have 14."

"My stubbornness already was going away," Glavine said.

So he implemented Peterson's advice -- pitch inside more, throw more breaking balls. At age 39, the old dog learned new tricks.

From the day in August 2004 when Glavine lost two teeth in a taxi accident near LaGuardia Airport until the 2005 All-Star break, he had a 9-11 record. His ERA in that span was 5.20, the fifth-highest among Major League pitchers with at least 150 innings.

Since Glavine changed his approach and relearned to "trust my stuff," he has a 15-9 record, and his 2.37 ERA is the second-lowest in the big leagues.

"That," Steve Trachsel said, "is a 180."

En route to a 300.

Sound like the Big Unit?

Sheffield to the DL again

Rushing Gary Sheffield back was a very bad decision by the Yankees. Now it looks like he may need surgery. Sheffield could miss 6 weeks.

I cannot see the Yankees not making a trade. Hopefully Melky Cabrera and Phil Hughes do not end up as casualties. Personally, I wouldn't mind trading Robinson Cano, but that is me.

This is a time for a 5 man bench. The Yankees started the season with a bench made of Cairo, Phillips, Stinnet, and Bubba. That setup was not great, but when Jorge Posada is your #7 hitter, you don't worry much about your bench. There were not a whole lot of pinch hitting opportunities that would require an offensive substitution by Joe Torre. The extra pitcher would be needed.

Things have changed. The Yankees are now playing guys like Andy Phillips, Terence Long, Miguel Cairo, Melky Cabrera, (soon) Bubba Crosby, Kevin Thompson, and Kelly Stinnet frequently. This means a lot more work for Joe Torre with his bench.

Currently, the starting lineup looks something like this:

CF Damon
SS Jeter
1b Giambi
3b Rodriguez
C Posada
2b Cano
DH Bernie
LF Cabrera
RF Long

Bench: Phillips, Cairo, Stinnet, Thompson.
Bullpen: Mo, Farns, Proctor, Villone, Myers, Rasner, Erickson

Some things immediately pop out to you. First off, we do not have a single left hander off the bench when starting Long. Second, we don't have any real power threats (with Phillips resigned to hit only singles) available to pinch hit. Third, we have only one outfielder coming off the bench in Thompson (while Bernie is DH).

My suggestion? Drop Phillips (I'm sure that some team would take him) and call up Carlos Pena. Pena will have a little bit more power than Phillips, but more importantly hits from the right side. Drop Scott Erickson and replace him with Bubba when the time comes. This now gives some power and adds a left hander off the bench. Pena could even platoon at DH with Bernie.

Walking Infirmary

Derek Jeter - 1 Game
Bernie Williams - 1 Game
Jason Giambi - 2 Games
Johnny Damon - 4 Games
Jorge Posada - 6 Games
Bubba Crosby - 12 Games
Hideki Matsui - 19 Games
Gary Sheffield - 21 Games

Carl Pavano - ~10 starts
Shawn Chacon - 3 Starts (including the one he is about to miss)

Kyle Farnsworth - 2 games

66 games from position players mised and 13 starts from pitchers missed. Despite all of that, it's June 1st and the Yankees are in 1st place. On July 1st of last year we were still at .500. I like our chances this year.

Following Matsui's injury, I wrote:

"It's time to buckle down. These next two weeks are going to define the season for the Yankees."

Well, the Yanks have gone 11-7 since then, playing only one easy series along the way.

I like our chances. Champions fight through adversity.