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GREEDO: You can tell that to Joba. He may only take your ship.
2008-07-26 05:50
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

There were a lot of questions heading into tonight's Sox-Yanks game, literally the 2,000th time these teams have faced each other. Could Joba hold his own against Josh Beckett in a hostile environment? Could the Yankees continue their recent timely hitting? Would the real Kyle Farnsworth reemerge at the worst possible time? Would the Yankees make a big trade ahead of the deadline? Is there any way in hell the new X-Files movie will possibly be any good?

Answers: Yes, not really but things worked out anyway, yes, yes, and not according to Manohla Dargis. The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 1-0, in a tense, emotional pitcher's duel; they also learned that team has acquired lefty reliever Damaso Marte and outfielder Xavier Nady from the Pirates in exchange for minor leaguers Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Phil Coke, and some other AA dude you've probably never heard of. More on that later.

As for the game itself, Josh Beckett was very good, scattering nine hits and a walk through seven innings and allowing one run – and that on a dinky little Giambi shift-beater to the left side in the third inning. Beckett's curveball was nearly untouchable, tight and well-spotted, and though the Yankees had plenty of hits, they only really threatened twice. But Joba Chamberlain was even better, in maybe his best (and certainly his biggest) start as a Yankee. He also went seven innings and struck out nine in an impressive shutout, and seemed to get stronger as he went along.

There was a great atmosphere at Fenway – in addition to all the usual Sox-Yanks hype, exacerbated by the suddenly tight race, the fans were thrilled to welcome back David Ortiz, who returned from a wrist injury tonight. He  didn't look quite like himself just  yet, and the Yankees exploited his injury, pitching him in relentlessly to put pressure on the  wrist.

The game was marked by a series of lousy calls – on balls and strikes, and also a few very close plays on the bases – some of which went the Yanks' way, others not. So everyone was already a little on edge by the seventh, which is when Kevin Youkilis – who's accumulated quite a history with Chamberlain in just one year – stepped into the box. Chamberlain went 2-0 on the Greek God of Walks before his third pitch sailed way up and in, and barely missed Youklis' helmet while the first baseman threw himself out of the way.

Youkilis, of course, brushed himself off and stepped back in the box in a totally businesslike--oh, wait, sorry, no. Youkilis threw a fit to the ump, not that I blame him, and the Sox gathered at the edge of their dugout as the atmosphere turned stormy and both benches were warned. Chamberlain went on to get the strikeout, and Youkilis stalked back to the dugout looking not entirely gruntled.

Chamberlain insisted calmly after the game that he had no desire whatsoever to hit Kevin Youkilis and put a man on base with a one-run lead. He wasn't exactly dripping remorse, though. I'm a little baffled by the Youklis-Chamberlain saga: I can't imagine that Chamberlain would throw at him on purpose – near his head no less – in a game this close, and seemingly unprovoked. On the other hand, I also can't imagine that Chamberlain's come that close to Youkilis' head THREE SEPARATE TIMES by accident, particularly given that I don't think I've ever seen him go that far up and in on anybody else even once.

In any case, Kyle Farnsworth came in for the eighth and promptly allowed a single to Jed Lowrie, then botched a possible play (or possible foul ball) on a Cocoa Crisp grounder, leaving two on and one out when Joe Girardi, in his infinite mercy, called in Mariano Rivera for the five-out, one-run, ultra-dramatic save.

A few years ago the Sox seemed to have Rivera's number, but he looked as dominant as ever and then some tonight, and quickly ended the eighth inning before facing the heart of the Sox lineup in the ninth. David Ortiz led off with a soft fly out; Youkilis, still so enraged after his previous at-bat that you could practically see steam coming out of his ears, hit a tough pitch into left for a single. (Part of me was almost hoping Mariano would buzz Youkilis up and in, just out of curiosity, because I think Youkilis might actually have lost his mind right there and then – like men-in-white-suits lost his mind). Lowell was punched out on a called strike three that looked to be well inside; he actually leapt into the air in disbelief, like an infuriated Daffy Duck, screaming at the ump until he was thrown out of the game. Rivera, unperturbed, went on to strike out J.D. Drew for the win.

The Sox were looking thoroughly incensed by the end there, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a little more excitement tomorrow or Sunday – although these games are so important that neither team can afford to do anything too stupid.

--

As for Nady and Marte, I'm not going to pretend to know if this is a good trade or not – I just don't have a good sense of what Tabata or Ohlendorf will ultimately become. But for what it's worth, Nady was absolutely beloved by the Mets fans I know, many of whom still haven't really gotten over that trade (which the Mets only made out of desperation, when reliever Duaner Sanchez was injured in a freakish cab accident just hours before the deadline). In fact I have friends who insist to this day that if Nady had still been around, the Mets would've never lost the 2006 NLCS. That's probably overstating the case, but still – the guy thrived in New York; if you believe in clutch, he was clutch; he's 29; and he's been a solid above-average major league outfielder for years now, which is a lot more than you can say for poor scraptastic little Brett Gardner. Whether it's more than you can say for Jose Tabata, well, we won't know that for years.

Plus, I think the people objecting to this trade are shortsightedly overlooking all the great headline pun potential here. The Mets called him the X-Man, but that's just the beginning. The X-Games! The X-Files! Saint Francis Xavier! If you dudes had to come up with headlines all the time you'd appreciate what an underrated part of the game this is. There oughta be a stat!*

Meanwhile, as for Marte, it's true that the Yankees' bullpen was already a strength and not their most pressing need. But at the same time, have you ever heard any baseball fan say "My team's problem is that they just have too many good, reliable relievers"?

Anyway, I'll wait for analysis on this trade from Cliff and the BP crew and other people who know more about these players' likely futures than I do, but my first reaction is that this increases the chances that the last-ever game at Yankee Stadium will be in October, not mid-September. And even if that just comes while the Yanks are just knocked out in the first round by the Angels yet again... hell, I'll take it. 

--

*Puns Over Replacement Player?

Comments
2008-07-26 06:48:01
1.   kdw
LOVE the *
2008-07-26 06:48:32
2.   RIYank
Mo buzzing Youk:
There is a certain outrageous aesthetic to that idea. But when Youkalis does go men-in-white-suits, I'd like Mariano to be at least a hundred yards away, safely in the bullpen. Maybe warming up. So that means Youkalis would charge at Farnsworth. Yeah.

By the way, there is no truth to the rumor that Manny Ramirez commented post-game: "I don't know why everyone is so upset about Joba Chamberlain. Doesn't everybody want to hit Youkalis in the head?"

2008-07-26 06:53:28
3.   Alex Belth
Yeah, the Sox have their hands full with Manny today...
2008-07-26 07:09:12
4.   rbj
So who's disliked more, Youk or A.J. Peirzinidon'tknowhowtospellit?
2008-07-26 07:30:56
5.   Cliff Corcoran
I was actually impressed that Youkilis didn't wig out more than he did over that pitch from Joba. Maybe the Sox learned their lesson from the James Shields fight.

Also, Emma, I completely agree about the bad calls on balls and strikes, but what calls on the bases did you think were bogus?

Finally, due to a bit of miscommunication among the Banter crew, my trade analysis is actually the post previous to this one. To summarize my take in one word: "Meh."

2008-07-26 07:41:39
6.   ms october
0 very true about the mets' fans affininty to nady. one of my friends has been hoping for a nady return for over a year and is a bit put out the yanks got him this year over the mets.

3 yeah i guess the mris on both knees came back clean.
the plot thickens.
i don't really watch nesn, but occasionally flip to it to see the sox scores and the other night i flipped to it during the extra inning game with the mariners - and they actually have a show called manny being manny.

4 i am guessing aj is still the frontrunner but youk will pass him shortly.

i find myself in an unusual position of defending kyle. though i am still fairly uneasy when he comes up to pitch - i don't think last night's performance was quite as awful as it is made out to be - lowrie hit a failry soft liner to right that abreu would have caught if he was playing normal depth - and the crisp "hit" was a tough play for almost any pitcher (with the exception of mo - he can still swoop a hit like that up with such ease) that kyle probably should have let go foul but in that situation you want to try to get an out rather than risk it not getting foul.
now with that said - i am so happy mo came in and got the 5 outs needed and as you point out emma - seems to have reagined the upper hand on the sox

2008-07-26 07:48:28
7.   Raf
The trade is fine. The guys dealt were expendable. Presumably, Nady slots in for Abreu next year, and will split time between LF & RF this year. Marte takes over for Hawkins or Geise or Robertson. Even if Tabata develops into a star, he's a long way off. An OF can always be signed off the FA market or traded for.

4 AJ... Gotta be AJ, and it ain't even close.

2008-07-26 08:04:44
8.   nemecizer
For the record, I saw the new X-Files film yesterday afternoon. It is terrible. I literally fell asleep during the film halfway through.

Read the spoiler on themoviespoiler.com when it comes out, wait for cable, or just forget about it. But don't pay $10 to sit for 104 minutes through the film. Someone should be shot for making it.

2008-07-26 08:24:42
9.   3rd gen yankee fan
I have seen the future, and its name is JOBA.
2008-07-26 08:38:23
10.   Emma Span
5 I wouldn't say bogus really -- just a couple super-close plays at second, on Pedroia and later Melky. Both looked more or less like ties to me so those weren't the ump's fault, but just added to the general sense of weirdness.

Good point about Marte's possible impact on the pen, Cliff. But like you say, Girardi's done well with that so far... fingers crossed, I guess.

6 I know, I'm a little hard on Kyle Farnsworth. The guy could throw 25 more hitless innings and do my taxes and save my dog from a burning building and I STILL wouldn't trust him.

(To pitch well, that is. I do trust him to know exactly what to do if Kevin Youkilis were to charge the mound 2 . http://tinyurl.com/32u23a).

2008-07-26 08:41:34
11.   Alex Belth
Do you guys think:

The Sox will come back to win this series?

A Yankee batter will get hit by a pitch?

There will be a on-field brawl?

2008-07-26 08:53:05
12.   horace-clarke-era
I've been thinking about the reflex line in trade analysis ... the 'we won't know for a few years' and I've begun to think it is wrongheaded.

In any deal of current starting players for prospects all you can do is CURRENTLY make a best-guess as to the prospects. BOTH teams do that. Because most prospects fail the team dealing them will usually be right to give up, but - as someone posted yesterday - that isn't the whole point, and it also misses variables. What if (again someone else's point) Tabata, to take the current example, finds a mentor in Pittsburgh. Finds peace of mind in a small market team's system. What if a good player is blocked on one team ... if he turns out studly (LaPorta in Cleveland, say) it doesn't make it wrong to have dealt him. He WAS blocked.

I think you evaluate on NOW and that means assessing whether Nady/Marte help the team as it exists this year and if either or both contribute in the next year or two. Nady by playing (most likely) Marte by bringing in 2 draft picks. (This is a BIG factor in this deal.) I must assume that the UYanks are expecting both Jorge and Matsui to go to surgery. Otherwise DH/LF remains nutty. I expect Damon and Nady to mostly split LF/DH, with (as someone noted) Nady spelling Abreu a bit in right. If Jorge is DHing it is truly weird.

Ohlendorf was pretty much blocked as a starter and not important as a 6th inning guy down the road, he functioned for us as what he was just used as: a trading block. Tabata may be very good in 3-4 years but - and this is my point - I won't hold off judging the deal for this year's team and next's because of it. In fact, it was thinking about Navarro that started me on this ... he would not have PLAYED for NY until Jorge got hurt this year! His development is a function of his going elsewhere.

Cash and Co made a decision, mostly endorsed here, to value PKH and IPK very highly, not to deal them for Santana. I think part of that was seeing them as ready NOW, not in 3 years.

One last thing: any discussion of Yankee trades has to factor the blunt reality that this team CAN buy free agents. They need to be smart about it and won't always be, but the growing talent stuff means a LOT more economically to Pittsburgh or KC or Oakland than to the Yankees. We all know this, or we wouldn't be mumbling about off-season and Sabathia and Teixeira or some major corner OF acquisition.

I'm nowhere near the fence. I like this deal a lot. And I promise not to recant if Nady hits .250 without pop.

11 Wakefield beans Giambi and he almost notices.

2008-07-26 08:58:17
13.   Yankee Fan In Boston
i look forward to seeing nady in this lineup. it would also imply that bobby is walking after the season is over. i'm not very familiar with nady, does anyone know if he has a phobia regarding outfield walls?

11 either team can win this series, which is why this is so great/torturous to watch.

i bet jeter gets buzzed by a pitch on sunday or by a reliever today.

if there is a brawl, i hope it is farnsworth vs. the sox... the outcome of which vegas is giving even odds.

2008-07-26 09:09:04
14.   Raf
11 I doubt that Wakefield will throw at someone with the knuckler. Today's game could go either way, but I don't have a lot of confidence in Ponson on Sunday.
2008-07-26 09:09:58
15.   ms october
10 oh i don't trust kyle either.
though if a brawl breaks out and he just happens to get entangled with youkilis - i also indeed trust him for that.

13 my guess is it is a reliver too - i would have guessed delcarmen - but not sure of his status now.

2008-07-26 09:19:17
16.   Emma Span
Guys, it looks like it's actually McCutchon and Karstens instead of Kontos and Coke.

http://tinyurl.com/5d3u9e

2008-07-26 09:21:57
17.   Emma Span
16 McCutchen, not McCutchon, sorry.

13 Nady is a real run-into-walls type, actually. Not a great outfielder but he certainly gives it his all.

2008-07-26 09:40:02
18.   Raf
16 Word? Then the trade looks to be that much better for the Yanks
2008-07-26 09:57:04
19.   Raf
Seems the Post is the only one reporting that; nothing listed on MLB or ESPN
2008-07-26 10:03:50
20.   Yankee Fan In Boston
17 thanks, emma. that sounds fine to me. in RF in yankee stadium, that's fine.
2008-07-26 10:30:16
21.   The Hawk
I registered just to give my compliments on this article. A fine read and the comments are good too!

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