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At Least They Have Their Health . . . Sorta
2007-04-21 23:45
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

With Jeff Karstens making his first start of the season (and just the seventh of his major league career) after a stay on the disabled list due to elbow soreness, Hideki Matsui on the DL, Jorge Posada out with a bruised thumb, and Johnny Damon out with back and hamstring soreness, the Yankees were effectively playing yesterday's game with one hand tied behind their back, thus their eventual 7-5 loss was hardly a shock. Rather, the Yankees did well to score five runs against Josh Beckett, who came into the game having allowed just one run in each of his first three starts of the year. The bullpen contributed 3 2/3 scoreless innings--the highlight being Sean Henn's three-pitch strikeout of David Ortiz. And Damon, pinch-hitting for a still-hitless Wil Neives, Melky Cabrera, Derek Jeter, and Bobby Abreu each had good at-bats against a gas-throwing Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. Cabrera worked a one-out, four-pitch walk to give Jeter and Abreu a chance to tie game. Unfortunately, Jeter took the most hitable pitch of his six-pitch at-bat for a called strike, and Abreu flied out to the warning track in center to end the game, leaving Mr. Clutch, Alex Rodriguez (2 for 4 with a double and an RBI single) stranded in the on-deck circle.

This gives me a good occasion to update the Yankees' laundry list of injuries and resultant roster and lineup changes:

  • Chris Britton was optioned to Scranton to make room for Karstens, meaning Colter Bean remains on the roster, though he did not appear again yesterday. Kevin Thompson, who doubled and made a nice catch against the Monster in left yesterday, will likely go down when Hideki Matsui is activated tomorrow. Bean will then likely be optioned when Chien-Ming Wang is activated for the start on Tuesday, which Wang was cleared to make after throwing 55 pitches in the bullpen in Tampa yesterday.
  • As per the above, Damon did not start yesterday due to general back pain, which he says he first felt while playing on the turf in Minnesota, but had subsided during the recent homestand only to be aggravated on a catch he made in Friday night's game. According to Damon, he's been having problems with his legs all season, and the back pain and leg pain are often related for him. Damon did pinch-hit in the ninth yesterday, working Papelbon for seven pitches before ultimately grounding out, and is expected to start tonight. However, one wonders if, with Hideki Matsui coming off the DL tomorrow, the Yankees might keep Melky in the lineup in Damon's place for the two games they play on turf in Tampa.
  • Also per the above, Jorge Posada came out of Friday night's game after his left thumb was bruised by an Andy Pettitte pitch and did not play yesterday, though it turns out he was available if needed. He won't start tonight either, but will again be available as a pinch-hitter. His thumb is swollen, but x-rays were negative and it bothers him less to hit than to catch. Josh Phelps warmed up Scott Proctor and Luis Vizcaino in the bullpen on Friday night in order to serve as an emergency catcher if needed. Wil Nieves, meanwhile, failed to execute a sac bunt in yesterday's game, but reached on a Mike Lowell throwing error then came around to score. It was the first and still only time in Nieves's Yankee career that one of his plate appearances didn't result in an out.
  • Mike Mussina threw 30 pitches in the bullpen in Tampa yesterday and will throw again on Tuesday, hoping to reach 50 pitches. The Yankees hope he'll be ready to make a rehab start on Friday and, if all goes well, he could rejoin the rotation when the Yankees travel to Texas, likely starting the final game of that series on May 3. Bobby Murcer is expected to join the team in Texas as well.
  • An MRI on Carl Pavano's elbow revealed a mild strain on Thursday. He threw off flat ground yesterday and reported continued tightness in the elbow, but is expected to throw again on Monday. He's still traveling with the team.
  • Humberto Sanchez had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday. He is the third Yankee minor leaguer to undergo elbow ligament surgery since the end of last season, the others being Mark Melancon, who had Tommy John over the winter, and J. Brent Cox, who had a less severe ligament repair at the end of Spring Training. This could ultimately be good news for Sanchez, who's had elbow problems most of his professional career. The hope now is that those problems will be a thing of the past once he's fully recovered from this surgery. There's no guarantee of that, of course, and he'll likely spend all of 2008 building back his arm strength, but the Yankees have enough minor league pitching to be patient with his recovery.

Comments (58)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-04-22 03:08:53
1.   Jim Dean
I hope anyone who thinks you can "afford" to carry a truly terrible hitter has learned something by watching the last two games.

It shouldn't be a surprise when you lose four games in the standings (by three total runs) because you're starting Doug Mfvhidkjvhf. Just disgusting work by the general manager. And worse: The pain will continue for at least another month or three.

I'm going to be driven slowly insane - sorta like a kick scooter on the 714 mile journey to Bellevue.

Mfhridxkjbfghcvuj

2007-04-22 04:40:21
2.   The Mick 536
Game coudda been different if A-Rod wasn't stranded at third after leading off with a double.

Another baddie was the walk to Youk just before Papi's dinger (which wasn't all that impressive but it did wrap around the pole-Fenway Dinger's count the same). Joe looked a bit miffed when he did his between inning interview. Holding back a little ire, he said that the infield was playing back, inferring that the pitcher had to let the batter put the ball in play.

And where does Jim Dean live that is a 714 mile journey to Bellvue? Must be an institution closer to home. Vermont State Hospital isn't rated too highly and may not be hospitable to Yankee fans, but it is in a lovely location, much nicer than midtown Manhattan.

Too early to panic.

2007-04-22 05:18:08
3.   OldYanksFan
Backseat Driver with a cooler head:
Anyone who rips Torre for letting Thompson hit ahead of Josh Phelps is barking up the wrong tree. He had little choice. Thompson was in the DH spot. Nieves was coming up next. He cannot hit. Not at all. You have only a slightly lesser chance of getting a hit than he does. If the game went on past Thompson's at-bat, someone has to hit for him too... But the Yankees were out of catchers. Phelps was the emergency catcher, but if he batted for Thompson, the Yankees would have lost their DH, and no one of interest would have been left to hit for Nieves.

There's only so far one can go in blaming Torre for the Game 1 loss, though. He brought Mariano Rivera into the game in a difficult situation, Rivera didn't pitch well, and that's the end of the story.

2007-04-22 05:44:51
4.   OldYanksFan
Beating a Dead Horse Dept:
Jim... I agree that Stink is a lousy hitter, although he's hitting quite a bit more lousy then is normal level of lousy.

In terms of Stink, and being able to "afford" to carry a truly terrible hitter... Do you think that Matsui, Posada, Damon, Wang, Moose and Pavs enter into the equation? How about a corner OF'er who has about the same OPS and Minky?

Of 750-800 starting players, probably about 50 really stink and 150 are below average. All 150 of those guys are on major league teams. While I wish none were on the Yankees ($185m payroll and all) it's not that insane to find that it's happened.

And the Yankees are aware of this, as we do have Phelps on the team, and Giambi CAN play first in interleague and other situations.

We are:
1st in the AL in Hitting:
5th in the AL in Pitching, 1/2 of that from the BP
1st in Errors, and at or near the bottom in defense.

So looking around I, think Mink does stink, but the 'sink', or weak link, or our armour's chink, is a lot more then DougOut.

If we are are healthy the majority of the year, we will make the PS. If we continue to get dinged, we might not.

2007-04-22 05:47:57
5.   Jim Dean
Mfegoikvdxfl has 35 outs in 43 plate appearances.
2007-04-22 05:50:57
6.   C2Coke
When I start going down the road thinking the injuries are bad, I remember last year.

So did the Yanks finally find a specialty pitcher who can also pitch in regular relieve situations in Henn? Who knew the one would be from within the system?

I will finally be able to watch the game tonight. Excited to see how the Yanks can do against Matsuzaka.

2007-04-22 05:51:27
7.   C2Coke
5 He was actually on base for 8 times? really?
2007-04-22 05:55:35
8.   OldYanksFan
5 I agree. We ALL agree. DM stinks. He is 4% of our team. We need to either move on, or rename this blog 'Get the Stink Out'.
2007-04-22 06:03:37
9.   Jim Dean
7 I'm not sure what's going. On his BR page, it lists 35 outs in 43 PA (Under Special Batting - no, not an oxymoron).

But 5 H + 4 BB = 9 times on base.

Call it the curious case of Doug Mfhivsfdgh.

4 I'm still waiting on Cashman to make the moves you guaranteed he would.

2007-04-22 06:08:22
10.   Jim Dean
8 35 outs = 11 innings and change. That's at least a full games of outs from their 1B.

Suffice it to say, they've already lost at least one game due solely to Doug Mfgehsfdkgj. It didn't have to be that way. You know, since 1B that can hit a little are the most abundant position players in the sport.

I'm going to be fixated on this for a little bit. Thanks.

2007-04-22 06:33:21
11.   vockins
Anyone still think it would be insane to trade Pavano for a BUC? I hope not.

I'm liking the Kevin Thompson time, though.

2007-04-22 06:47:02
12.   Alex Belth
I'm surprised that Beckett didn't try to knock Rodriguez off the plate. Pitchers are weird these days. You'd expect a good ol boy with a good fastball like Beckett to at least make Rodriguez a little uneasy. Go figure. Maybe Matsuzaka will tonight.

Did you catch what Schilling wrote about Rodriguez on his blog?

"Like everyone else, I knew Alex was on fire, well more than on fire but I am not sure what you'd call it. He's hotter than hot. Watching his last few games has been pretty impressive. He is just not missing ANY mistakes and in addition he's crushing some good pitches as well. I think there's a major difference between a hot hitter, and a hall of fame hot hitter. Hot hitters still have holes, the latter don't. I throw him three curve balls and get him to two strikes. I know he's not looking for that many but the pitch feels good at the time and we get to two strikes on a call and a chase, The AB ends on a deep FB to right center but at that moment he shows me how locked in he is. I threw him a pretty well located fastball down and away, and with his butt out he still centered it and drove it to deep RCF."

2007-04-22 06:59:25
13.   seamus
I'm not that upset about the lineup. I'm more frustrated that our injured list includes Moose, Wang, Pavano, Karstens (until yesterday), Posada, Damon, and Matsui. It is absolutely frustrating.
2007-04-22 07:03:16
14.   seamus
11 what BUC would we get for Pavano? That is my issue. From a GM perspective, we're simply not going to get good value.
2007-04-22 07:21:28
15.   C2Coke
I am definitely no fan of Schilling's but his blog is really way better than I ever imagined.

14 Fasano?

2007-04-22 07:28:22
16.   seamus
15 I was thinking about his blog last night. I think that it really is a good thing. Unfiltered, up front content. I hate his ego and his politics, but appreciate whatever is in there that drove him to do the blog (not that i ever read it).

I thought that we had Fasano?

2007-04-22 08:03:01
17.   yankz
12 I read that, and was very impressed with Schilling. Although, don't you read NoMaas? Beckett's middle name is "Plays the Game the Right Way."
2007-04-22 08:09:03
18.   SteveF
I was expecting Beckett to put one into ARod's ribs too, Alex.

I agreed with McCarver's assessment in the pregame that he needs to be pitched inside. But I suspect playing many, many games in that ballpark teaches one to pitch power hitting right handed hitters away instead and pitch to the big part of the ballpark. It isn't easy for even the best power hitters to hit one out to right center in Fenway.

Also, maybe teams just need to see for themselves that Rodriguez isn't pull happy like he's been the past few years. In the past you could pitch him away and get weak grounders to middle infielders or weak fly balls to left center, or even get him to strike out. Now...not so much.

As regards Matsuzaka, you can never tell what that guy is going to do. He throws tons of breaking balls, so those naturally (barring mistakes) end up outside. I suspect they'll keep everything away from him again and hope he can't hit it out of the big part of the ballpark through the relatively cold night air.

2007-04-22 08:21:58
19.   C2Coke
16 That's what I meant. To get a capable BUC from Pavano???
2007-04-22 09:31:29
20.   rsmith51
Is Phelps starting tonight?

Who can the Yanks get to replace Minky? Minky batting .260 weighs down the offense, but .130? I don't think I would mind seeing Torre fired this season, if there was somebody who would manage differently. Unfortunately, I don't think that Girardi or Mattingly are the answer.

2007-04-22 09:33:03
21.   rsmith51
I like them both, but Mattingly has learned from Torre and Girardi appears to be a micro-manager.

I would hire Larry Dierker if he answered my questions right. What would you do if ...

2007-04-22 09:36:00
22.   rsmith51
I like Torre, too, but sometimes change is good. I think this team will win 95 games regardless of who is managing. I just think a healthier bullpen and better use of the bench/team would go a long way to helping this team in the post-season.
2007-04-22 09:37:02
23.   Jim Dean
20 Why ever would Phelps start? There's a righty on the mound!?
2007-04-22 10:11:12
24.   Zack
Phelps won't start and Meyers will still pitch to Ortiz, even though we could use Henn to pitch to Ortiz AND others. I'm not saying Henn is THE answer, but Meyers isn't exactly the solution either. Joe used to be praised for riding the "hot hand," often times until their arms fall off, but as we all know, given the choice between a vet and a kid, even if the vet hasn't really done his job, he always goes for the vet.

Isn't Minky's extra outs due to double plays?

And I think we need to do a petition like they did for Womack...

2007-04-22 10:34:12
25.   Jeteupthemiddle
I'm not sure if anyone mentioned it, but Sanchez is actually the 4th Yankee minor leaguer to get Tommy John surgery.

Christian Garcia also went under the knife this year.

I believe that Jose Veras had bone chips removed from his elbow as well, but I am not positive of that.

2007-04-22 10:46:58
26.   Dimelo
I can't believe that people are actually talking about changing the manager, 16 games into the season nonetheless.

I guess I'll just keep drinking the Torre Kool Aid, or just keep drinking the same 420 tea that Torre drinks.

2007-04-22 10:53:22
27.   Zack
Well, to be fair, people started talking about changing the manager last season and just carried it over. But I don't think anyone wants him gone right this moment. But if his decision making continues to COST this team wins, well, what good is he anymore? Its not like he is needed to shield the team from George anymore, and he ain't really doing it with the media...

As I have said, this team could/should win 90-95 games WITHOUT a manager...

2007-04-22 10:56:52
28.   Jeteupthemiddle
24 You do realize that Torre did bring in Henn to pitch to Ortiz yesterday, right?
2007-04-22 10:57:16
29.   monkeypants
26 Dimelo, this is not a new coversation starting 16 games into the season--it's an ongoing discussion that traces back to last year, at least. I am not in the 'fire Torre' crowd, at least not in the immediate sense. But I do believe that, as with nearly all older coaches in any sport, behavior patterns become increasingly ingraind and scripted, and the negaitives start to outweight the positives. Much of the griping about Torre's use of the roster and BP was, I am afraid, predictable once Cashman handed him the roster that he has. Torre simply cannot be trusted around players like [aging] Bernie, Minky, Cairo, E. Wilson, Womack, Girardi, etc.
2007-04-22 11:40:20
30.   OldYanksFan
"[aging] Bernie, Minky, Cairo, E. Wilson, Womack, Girardi, etc."
These players were put on the team by Cashman et al. There are the cards that Torre was dealt. If you don't give these 'duds' some playing time, they will be even more useless as PH's and defensive subs. These guys are human beings. If the manager lets them know that they only play when someone on the team dies, you will get nothing from them.

I personally have tremendous faith in Cashman, and this last off-season, while we still have some holes, he avoided many money pits, made our team younger, and cut the payroll. Cashman fought HARD to keep Torre here. Torre was 90% out the door, and Cashman 'dragged' him back in.

BP management, green tea and warts considered, if Cashman wants Torre managing, then so do I. Why?

Every day we meet here to discuss the battle, and grieve over every battle lost.
Cashman and Torre however, know we are fighting a 162 game war. And they have fought and won before.

I have a community question, and maybe Cliff and Alex have some insight:

Does Torre work in a vacuum?
Does Cashman and the FO have any input into the daily decision making?
Are there meetings with the FO and/or coaches where decisions are made?
If so (Torre in a vacuum), I'd be very, very surprised.

I know Torre steers the boat, but I would think that there are other factors that effect the everyday decisions he makes?

Anybody have some real knowledge about this?

2007-04-22 11:45:42
31.   Jim Dean
29 That's what really pissed me off about the end of the off-season. With the roster Cashman gave him, we KNEW Minky would start the first month. After all, it's just repeating last year and the year before that. There was no question at all. So why put a guy like that on the roster? Either go out and get a legit 1B or give Torre no choice by only giving him a younger guy. But to try to play the middle ground is useless. We learned that with CF 2003-2005, and now we've seen it again at 1B 2005-2007.

See, my problems started and ended with Cashman. He's had ten years to get to know his manager and he still makes dumb, dumb decisions.

Torre is doing nothing different than he's always done. If given a choice he always chooses the vet first. The GM planned for this at 4th OF. But is it really so hard to generalize to 1B?

2007-04-22 11:46:59
32.   Zack
28 That was my whole point. Considering that it worked, it should make Meyers irrelevant, but I would put money on him coming in tonight instead of Henn
2007-04-22 12:15:34
33.   Mattpat11
20 I'd start Mattingly or Torre at first before I started the Stink.
2007-04-22 12:19:56
34.   monkeypants
30, 31 I agree with you both. But I also see both Cashman and Torre as 'guilty.' Torre is in fact playing the cards he was dealt by Cashman, but he playing them poorly (if used properly, the players listed had some utility; Bernie should have been a RH PH/DH, not the primary back-up OF at every position, for example.) Torre's current handling of Phelps/Minky is awful--no excuse can be made.

At the same time, Cashman is guilty as charged for not, as I like to call it, 'Torre-proofing' his roster. Cashman is in a tough spot with Torre, becuase he probably fears firing him (the Tea Bag Man is awfully popular, and even seems impervious to the Boss' increasingly infrequent ranting). But if that's the case, he needs to build a roster that either plays to Torre's strengths, or limits (or eliminates) his weaknesses. Easier said than done, but I guess that's why he gets the big bucks

Some problems were probably not realistically solveable. For example, I suspect that there was no real BUC option once Zaun chose to start for Toronto. OK, I'll give Cashman a pass on that one. But the current 1B situation is unforgiveable. All Cashman had to do was NOT sign Minky, and Torre would have been forced to deal with Phelps/Giambi/(maybe Phillips). Instead, Cashman decided to let a child play with a box of matches, and we get to watch as Torre burns at least 150 PAs on Stinky-Minky before the (hopeful) DFA.

2007-04-22 12:26:31
35.   Mattpat11
34 You sort of glossed over this, but I fear Andy Phillips would have started until the cows came home if he was on this team instead of the Stink.
2007-04-22 12:30:22
36.   Jim Dean
34 They've needed a legit backup for as long as Jorge's been the starter. It wasn't just this past off-season. A trade could be made anytime - not for Jorge 2.0 but for a youngster who can hit a little. And Lieberthal was available.

Cairo was also an extremely uninspired choice - one we haven't had to suffer through - yet. But we did suffer through 250 AB's of his last year and already one of him in LF. If he becomes a full-time player because of injury, my head will explode.

2007-04-22 12:35:20
37.   rbj
There are teams out there looking for a starting catcher, not a decent BUC. Every team has holes. Unless the Yanks are out by 15 at the ASB, I'm not going to panic. I just wish the Yanks would sign Roger already. Maybe he can show Carl how to get in shape and actually freaking pitch.
2007-04-22 12:36:48
38.   Mattpat11
37 I don't think Christ could make Carl Pavano worth our time.
2007-04-22 12:43:24
39.   randym77
I just saw Matt Smith in the Phillies game. You know, the kid we traded for Abreu and Lidle. I didn't realize he'd made the big club.

Someone asked me if he was a good pitcher. I said he pitched well for the Yanks, but had a tendency to walk too many.

Sure enough, he struck out the dangerous Josh Hamilton (AKA "Hobbs")...then walked Adam Dunn.

2007-04-22 12:51:20
40.   monkeypants
39 Lotsa pitchers walk Dunn.
2007-04-22 12:55:20
41.   randym77
40 Dunn gets a lot of walks, but he's really struggling right now. Striking out something like 50% of the time.
2007-04-22 13:04:17
42.   yankz
Check out "The Pronk Shift."

http://tinyurl.com/298j8u

2007-04-22 13:06:43
43.   monkeypants
36 Organizational blindspot, no doubt about it. Most frustrating is repeatedly signing the worst imaginable offensive BUC year after year, and justifying it because 'he's only a back-up so all we need is defense.' Ridiculous--the BUC should get the most starts of any player on the bench, unless a team is running a serious platoon. If anything, sign a BUC who can hit a little but plays bad defense. And I mean hits a little..anything...but not the clowns we've had the last few years.

Moreover, as you have pointed again and again, the need for a legit BUC or, preferrably, successor increases with each year Jorge is on the wrong side of 30.

I am willing to give Cashman a partial pass, however, operating on the assumption that he has only been in total power for the last two off-seasons.

2007-04-22 13:16:14
44.   monkeypants
41 Lotsa Ks, on pace for about 240 (his career high is around 195); but also an OPS+ of 132 and OBP of 370+. Sounds like the same old Adam Dunn.
2007-04-22 13:39:36
45.   thelarmis
and i believe the big guy is something like 3-for-3 in stolen bases, fwiw...
2007-04-22 13:41:07
46.   Max Nomad
42 He did that for Ortiz last year, too, and Ortiz beat it.

39 They put him on the big club as soon as they got him last year. He's decent enough.

2007-04-22 14:32:47
47.   jkay
20 One of the reasons Minky was signed is because he a A-Rod's buddy. Maybe having Minky around has helped A-Rod to get off to a hot start. The Minky A-Rod combo is batting 286/353/723. If they dump Minky, does A-rod revert to his moody past?
2007-04-22 14:43:27
48.   randym77
Dunn usually has about 33% Ks, not 50%. He had a hot start, but ever since he hurt his back about a week ago, he hasn't been the same.

He doesn't get caught stealing often. I think he was 7 for 7 last year. He knows he's slow, and doesn't go unless he's sure he can make it.

And the Reds announced the Ken Griffey Jr. has diverticulitis. I'm not sure what that is, but it doesn't sound good.

2007-04-22 14:50:54
49.   monkeypants
47 Well, if that means reverting to his 2005 MVP season, I'm all for it. Maybe Cashman should have signed a real 1B, so that his stats combined with even a 'moody' A-Rod (like, last-year's OPS+ of 140) might look even more impressive by the end of the year than the A-Minky combo stats.

The scary thing-A-Rod is on pace for 180 HRs (or whatever), and his stats combined with Minky's are actually not THAT impressive (1070 OPS = one very, very good hitter).

2007-04-22 14:53:55
50.   monkeypants
48 I was never a huge Griffey fan, but it is kinda sad watching his body basically disintegrate for nearly the past decade. His days in Seattle seem like to careers ago.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-04-22 14:53:57
51.   seamus
48 never heard of that and reading one site it sounds like something that is very treatable. On a quick glance, it looks like he should be back in a real short tiemframe.
2007-04-22 15:05:37
52.   Jim Dean
Mhfhriouhdkbeasifud
2007-04-22 15:08:40
53.   seamus
52 breathe in.

breathe out...

beathe in...

2007-04-22 15:20:41
54.   Max Nomad
48 diverticulitis = infected farts
2007-04-22 16:28:23
55.   Max Nomad
Come ooooon, Proxy Baby. Show me the game! Screw you, ESPN! I'm gonna watch!
2007-04-22 16:56:15
56.   Chyll Will
54 Close...
http://tinyurl.com/56yzz
2007-04-22 16:59:49
57.   randym77
50 Apparently it's a chronic thing. He's had it for at least six months. It flares up sometimes. This time, it was so bad he had trouble moving.

There was an article a couple of months ago. At ESPN, I think. It was about Bonds and Griffey, and how they talked about 'roids one day. Bonds decided to cheat, Griffey decided not to.

He was kind of a jerk when he was younger, and he's still kind of prickly, but if that story is true, I have to respect him.

2007-04-22 17:01:34
58.   Cliff Corcoran
New game thread post above.

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