It's official. Joba Chamberlain and Jason Giambi are on the 25-man roster. To make room for Giambi the Yankees have done what I never though they'd do: designate Miguel Cairo for assignment. It was an obvious decision. With Wilson Betemit on hand, Cairo was worse than redundant, he was obsolete. Now he's gone and Shelley Duncan's good right-handed at-bats remain. Maybe Duncan's baseball bloodlines were enough to outweigh Cairo's veteran experience. Whatever the reason, the Yankees have maximized their bench, resulting in a nearly unassailable group of hitters that looks like this:
Lefties: Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi
Righties: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Andy Phillips, Shelley Duncan, Jose Molina
Switch: Jorge Posada, Melky Cabrera, Wilson Betemit
(Jose Molina would be the "nearly" part.)
As for the bullpen, well . . . rather than option Jeff Karstens to make room for Chamberlian, as was rumored, the Yankees sent down Brian Bruney. I'm not going to rush to Bruney's defense (he had 30 walks against just 32 Ks in 42 2/3 innings on the season and an 8.68 ERA since July 1), but any pen that includes Karstens, Jim Brower, and Kyle Farnsworth is far from fixed.
Giambi isn't in the lineup tonight against Josh Towers, but Shelley Duncan is. He'll DH while Damon plays left and Matsui gets a day off. The Yanks got to Towers good when they last faced him in mid-July (curiously, Matsui hit one of three Yankee home runs off Towers in that game). More recently, Towers has allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings in each of his last two games. Roger Clemens, meanwhile, is coming off one of the worst starts of his Hall of Fame career. Clemens held the Jays to one run over six innings when he last faced them, also in mid-July. Here's hoping we see more of that tonight, along with Chamberlain's major league debut, idealy to protect a lead in the eighth. If the Yankees win tonight, they'll take the series from the Jays and thus have accomplished their mission for the cupcake part of their scedule.