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Pitcher Perfect
2007-08-11 00:43
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

If this is a dream, don't wake me:

Phil Hughes 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K
Joba Chamberlain 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
Mariano Rivera 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Wow.

The turning point of the game came in the first inning. Hughes started each of his first four batters with balls, mostly fastballs that just missed outside. He got the first two to fly out, but Victor Martinez ripped a two-out double to right field and Ryan Garko battled to draw a seven-pitch walk on a questionable ball four on the inside corner. Jhonny Peralta then battled Hughes as well, taking to a 1-1 count, then fouling off three straight pitches. With two on and two out, the outcome of Peralta's at-bat looked like it might set the tone for the night with the Yankees having gone down in order to Fausto Carmona in the top of the first. Hughes, who had stuck mostly to his fastball to that point, mixing in a pair of curve balls, broke off an absolutely nasty slider that appeared to head right toward Peralta's belt before making a sharp right turn back over the plate for strike three. Alex Rodriguez led off the next inning with a second-pitch home run to dead center and that was that. The Yankees added one here and another there to run their tally to six, while the Indians lone score was a Josh Barfield solo homer off Hughes in the fifth.

I literally got chills watching Hughes carve up the Indians last night with well-located fastballs in the low-90s, off-the-table 12-to-6 curveballs in the low-70s, and the occasional low-80s slider or changeup. Hughes was throwing all four pitches for strikes and, much like in his aborted Mayday no-hitter in Texas, looked every bit like the ace he's projected to be. Chamberlain, who threw easy heat in the high-90s and that nasty corkscrewing slider that dives at the feet of lefthanders, looked to be nearly Hughes equal in relief of his fellow 21-year-old.

Unfortunately, the Yankees will have to pick their spots with Chamberlain, who is a young starter pushing his innings limit for the season. Right now it looks like they might try to get a couple innings from him every other day, which would keep him on a start/throw day schedule. However, both Chamberlain and Hughes should be members of the Opening Day rotation next spring. The mere thought quickens my pulse.

Returning to the present, the Tigers and Mariners both lost last night, putting the Yankees in a virtual tie with Seattle for the Wild Card lead (a game behind in the loss column) a game ahead of Detroit.

In other news, Joe Torre served his one-game suspension last night and Roger Clemens declined to appeal his five-gamer, which thus began last night. The thinking behind Clemens decision was surely that the start he'll miss now will come against the Orioles, the worst team the Yankees will face over the next 19 games. Chien-Ming Wang has been moved up a day to take Clemens' spot on Monday (he'll be on full rest due to Thursday's off day). The Tuesday start against the O's will then be taken by a spot starter, with Jeff Karstens and Ian Kennedy, who has dominated in three starts for triple-A Scranton, being the leading candidates.

Final note, the entire Indians team wore number 14 last night in honor of Larry Doby, who broke the American League's color line in 60 years ago, less than three months after Jackie Robinson did the same in the National League. I'm not sure why they chose August 10 (Doby's first game was July 5 in Chicago, his birthday was Dec. 13, and he died four years ago on June 18). Perhaps the date was chosen to use the high profile matchup with the Yankees to bring added attention to their recognition of a player whose been somewhat slighted by history.

Comments
2007-08-11 10:10:22
1.   Bob Timmermann
You are correct about Cleveland and the Larry Doby tribute.

From the team website:
"The actual anniversary of Doby's first game is July 5, but the Indians had a day game in Detroit that day and they wanted their tribute to get more exposure."

2007-08-11 10:10:44
2.   Nick from Washington Heights
Please let it be Kennedy on Tuesday! I haven't seen any reports that he was a leading candidate for the start. Is this speculation or did Cashman/Torre say something about him possibly pitching?
2007-08-11 10:12:20
3.   Mattpat11
I hope we see Kennedy.

I really don't see what everyone else seems to see in Jeff Karstens.

2007-08-11 10:30:35
4.   cult of basebaal
i think everyone, at least here, would rather see kennedy than any other choice at this point

not only do i think he's earned it, i think he's shown he's #3 behind phil and joba and head and shoulders above the rest of the yankees pitching prospects

but i really doubt it will be kennedy, since that would require a move with the 40 man, since it's full and he's not on it ...

of who we have already on the 40 man

clippard's hurt (according to the sidebar)

desalvo pitched last night so would be on short rest tuesday night ...

igawa is set to pitch tonite ... if he gets bumped or innings limited, i think you'll have your answer

otherwise, i'd say it's going to be karstens

2007-08-11 10:33:23
5.   cult of basebaal
oh, and chase wright is back down in AA and not striking anybody out (or pitching all that well overall), so even though he'd be on schedule for Tuesday, i don't see him getting the call
2007-08-11 10:35:58
6.   Count Zero
Re the 40 man: don't forget that Igawa was claimed off waivers by the Padres. In all likelihood, a trade would put the traded for player in that spot, but...
2007-08-11 10:36:14
7.   Mattpat11
4 Please don't threaten an Igawa outing. He'll be gone.

GONE.

2007-08-11 10:38:57
8.   cult of basebaal
6 i didn't, but all indication are that we're going to do the trade for a major leaguer (reliever) or not at all ... i made the assumption that igawa will either be in his spot, or it will be occupied by an ex-padre
2007-08-11 10:49:52
9.   Simone
I'm glad that ESPN mentioned the tribute to Larry Doby. Smart decision by the Indians to honor Doby during a series against the Yankees.
2007-08-11 10:57:33
10.   cult of basebaal
9 pity that mlb didn't seem to give two shits about larry doby, it would have been nice if they had bothered to use this year to honor both of the pioneers in breaking the color barrier in baseball, instead of essentially ignoring the sacrifice and contribution of doby ... another job well done Der Kommissar
2007-08-11 11:00:32
11.   Mattpat11
8 GONE

GONE.

2007-08-11 11:00:54
12.   RIYank
How about Igawa for Boomer, who then makes the spot start?
2007-08-11 11:03:06
13.   cult of basebaal
11 well, you can substitute that for OHM in you daily meditation if you'd like but i don't think it's going to get you anywhere ...
2007-08-11 11:07:25
14.   Flip Play
12 And then Boomer retires a Yankee. And he could wear #33 since Bruney's not here.

Fricken' awesome.

2007-08-11 11:11:10
15.   cult of basebaal
12 and then what? he retires? we DFA him? there isn't a spot for him in the rotation and i don't see how he could be counted on as a reliever, what with his myriad physical issues
2007-08-11 11:11:11
16.   Mattpat11
11 Deep down, I know we're going to set ridiculous standards for "equal value" and avoid trading him at all costs.

Just let me believe that we're going to do the right thing and be rid of him.

2007-08-11 11:11:54
17.   cult of basebaal
16 there we go, i knew you had another "equal value" in you, let it never be said that you don't give the crowd what we want ...
2007-08-11 11:13:57
18.   Nick from Washington Heights
I'm all for trading him, but what exactly is the harm in keeping him in the minors and seeing if he can develop into something useful. It really makes little sense to trade him just to get rid of him unless you think his presence is somehow damaging. Is it because he'd block the way of someone more promising. Otherwise, his yearly salary is no big deal for a team like the Yanks.
2007-08-11 11:19:52
19.   Mattpat11
17 Hey. The if the Yankee front office is going to keep lobbing me the meatballs, I might as well swing.
2007-08-11 11:22:02
20.   Mattpat11
18 I don't think he's any good, and I think as long as he's a part of the Yankees organization, the management is going to keep trying with him in hopes of saving face after a miserable signing.

See Pavano, Carl.

2007-08-11 11:23:24
21.   cult of basebaal
19 hack away, casey, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you ...
2007-08-11 11:48:50
22.   RIYank
I wasn't really serious about Boomer.
2007-08-11 11:52:34
23.   joe in boston
Great write up Cliff, yet again.

What a game. Those young arms look terrific. How happy are we with the resurgence of Hideki, Abreu, Cano and Melky, as well as a great night by Jeter. All we need now is a healthy Damon, and strong starters.

Quick funny story : After completing his first (shy) week of soccer camp, my 4 1/2 year old wanted a pack of baseball cards ... so of course I obliged. As we drove away from the convenience store, I hear those magic words from the back seat: "Daddy, I got a Yankee !" soon to be followed by:
"Who is this ?"

Of course it was Kei Igawa

Rats !

2007-08-11 11:56:20
24.   monkeypants
23 "All we need now is a healthy Damon..."

???

No, all we need now is a benched Damon and (if anything) a healthy Giambi.

2007-08-11 11:57:25
25.   joe in boston
24 Personally I don't think he's done.
2007-08-11 11:57:56
26.   joe in boston
I agree though, a healthy Giambi would be nice.
2007-08-11 12:02:27
27.   cult of basebaal
i'm fine with the PT sharing arrangement that we've got going ... keeps everybody fresh ... i don't think damon's done by a long shot ... but he's a lot better player when he's not dinged up ...
2007-08-11 12:03:32
28.   Cliff Corcoran
23 245 Uhm, did you guys read my cupcake review? Damon's been great over the past three weeks, hitting .371/.444/.532 and going 4 for 5 in steals. That's because he's getting regular days off, which is keeping him healthy. Torre's using Damon just right. In fact, the only thing on this team that needs to be fixed is the underside of the bullpen .
2007-08-11 12:03:48
29.   monkeypants
25 Who's "he"? Do you mean Damon? If so, then all a healthy Damon gets the team is a benched Melky, and I'm not sure that's a trade you make at this point in their careers--healthy Damon will outhit Melky, probably, but he still won't play CF defense nearly as well, and he can't throw worth a shit.

But a healthy Giambi ould represent a massive upgrade at DH or 1B.

2007-08-11 12:05:07
30.   monkeypants
28 Yes! If that usage pattern contnues, great.
2007-08-11 12:13:41
31.   JL25and3
18 "...what's the harm in keeping him in the minors and seeing if he can develop into something useful."

First, it seems like an utterly pointless exercise. He's 28 and he throws a lollipop fastball, high in the zone so batters can hit it even farther. He might be able to get away with that if he had another great pitch or two, but he doesn't; or if he had great control and could keep hitters off balance, but he doesn't.

15 HR in 62.3 IP
WHIP of 1.684
ERA+ of 64
Turned 28 a few weeks ago.
And, if I recall, a whole lot of people were saying last winter that he really wasn't very good.

He was sent down once before, with a Tampa tutorial (where they "reworked his delivery," right?) as well as regular MiL starts.

So, seriously, what's to develop?

As far as the harm done, I suppose it's not great. I don't usually let money enter the equation much, and this isn't very much money - but I'm convinced that he's simply not a major-league pitcher and isn't likely to become one, so I don't like paying him $4M a year to continue demonstrating that (not to mention the posting fee, which is a sunk irritant.)

But actually, now there's one very real way he's doing harm: he's taking up a roster spot that could be used to give Ian Kennedy a start.

2007-08-11 12:19:02
32.   Cliff Corcoran
29 Not true. Torre has said in no uncertain terms "Melky is our center fielder." His lineups reflect that. Melky's job is safe. Damon is a utility outfielder/DH/emergency 1B now.
2007-08-11 12:22:47
33.   seamus
31 The fact that they believe that his mechanics are fixable is promising. His issue is leaving pitches up in the zone. As for having other good pitches, I believe it is his curve that is his best pitch and is extremely effective. What he has issues with right now is control, which is potentially fixable. It isn't realistic to say that he can definitely succeed in MLB, but it isn't realistic to say that there isn't potential there.
2007-08-11 12:23:40
34.   seamus
32 Yeah, Damon's role is perfect for Damon right now. I do wonder if Damon agrees with that when it comes to the off season. Do you think he ends up being dealt?
2007-08-11 12:50:52
35.   Cliff Corcoran
33 I won't try to parse that last sentence, but Igawa's best pitch is a changeup with some sinking action. It does sort of look like a curve, but it's a change.
2007-08-11 13:13:44
36.   joe in boston
I wish Damon could return to his Sox-form. I agree though - he has looked much better and the little bit of rest suits him nicely.

I think they need his ability to work the count at the top of the order. He hacks at/looks at alot of pitches that has to help the rest of the order. Good point seamus 34 I wonder what Damon thinks? And why was he banged up/hurt basically from the start of the season ?

2007-08-11 13:33:07
37.   JL25and3
If I understand the Fox announcers correctly, Dustin Pedroia is a confident young man. He has great confidence. Brian Roberts was struck by his confidence. The slow start might have shaken the confidence of other young players, but Dustin Pedroia remained confident. That shows how confident he is.

Did I miss anything?

2007-08-11 13:40:58
38.   Mattpat11
37 Lets be honest. If you were 5'2 and prematurely balding, you either develop some kind of self confidence or huddle in the corner weeping.
2007-08-11 13:42:27
39.   JL25and3
Whoops, I just realized that I did forget something: there's a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Some young players may seem almost arrogant, but Pedroia's confident. That's not the same as arrogant, it's just the confidence that makes him confident.

Just once, I'd love to hear an announcer say, "Y'know, a young kid can come up, and people might think he looks arrogant when it's really just confidence. There's a fine line there, and this kid here - he's just an arrogant snot."

2007-08-11 13:44:24
40.   JL25and3
38 I beg to differ, sir; he's 5'9". Next thing you know, you'll be telling me that Chuck Knoblauch wasn't really 5'9".
2007-08-11 13:44:59
41.   Mattpat11
If he's 5'9", I'm 6'8".
2007-08-11 13:51:45
42.   Mattpat11
Little Tyke just made a spazzy diving catch.
2007-08-11 14:03:15
43.   matt nokes forever
Who are the miserable announcers for this Orioles-Shitheads game?
2007-08-11 14:59:07
44.   cult of basebaal
lineup is in:

Damon DH
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui LF
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF
Phillips 1B
Molina C

get well soon jorgie, get well soon ...

2007-08-11 15:20:17
45.   yankz
Via Pete: Karstens is on the "inside track" to start in place of Rocket, and Brower's family just had a baby. I wouldn't want to be the guy to tell him he's been DFAd.
2007-08-11 16:31:59
46.   3rd gen yankee fan
Robbie!
2007-08-11 16:33:57
47.   OldYanksFan
46 New thread up! But I agree!

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