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The Stopper Returns
2007-08-28 21:13
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Everything that went wrong for the Yankees in Detroit went right in the Bronx last night. Andy Pettitte came up big once again, and the Yankee offense kept picking up the runs they needed to make it count.

The Yanks got out ahead in the first thanks to some of Daisuke Matsuzaka's bonus baserunners. Johnny Damon got things started with a single and moved to second on a Derek Jeter groundout. Matsuzaka then walked Bobby Abreu and nailed Alex Rodriguez in the back with his next pitch to load the bases for Hideki Matsui. Matsui hit a double play grounder, but didn't hit it hard enough and, with Alex Rodriguez sliding hard, Julio Lugo's throw pulled Kevin Youkilis off first as Damon scored the first run of the game. Jorge Posada then twisted the knife a bit with an RBI double before Coco Crisp ran down a deep Robinson Cano drive to center to end the inning.

Then a curious thing happened. The Red Sox led off each of the next six innings against Andy Pettitte with a hit, but those were the only six hits they managed off Pettitte all night. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the first of those leadoff hits was an opposite field Manny Ramirez homer in the third, and the second was a Julio Lugo triple in the third, the latter of which was plated by a David Ortiz sac fly to tie the game.

Matsuzaka, meanwhile, settled down after that rocky first, allowing just a walk to Alex Rodriguez over the next three innings. In the fifth, however, Derek Jeter, who was in an 0-for-14 slump at that point, delivered a go-ahead solo homer to the Armitron sign in right center that made it 3-2 Yanks.

Andy Pettitte entered the seventh inning having thrown 103 pitches, Luis Vizcaino warming in the bullpen, and Joba Chamberlain stretching to pitch the eighth. Four pitches later the Red Sox had tied the game yet again on a front-row Jason Varitek homer to left, but for the fourth consecutive inning Pettitte retired the side in order after allowing a leadoff hit, and the Yankees retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh when Johnny Damon snuck a two-run home run around the base of the foul pole in right, plating a leadoff single by Andy Phillips.

With that, Joba and Mo took over. Chamberlain appeared to be overthrowing a bit at first, issuing a leadoff walk to Kevin Youkilis (Boston's seventh straight leadoff baserunner), but despite that walk and later a single by Mike Lowell, Chamberlain survived his first taste of "The Rivalry"TM pitching a scoreless inning and striking out two. Mo did the same without the baserunners to seal the 5-3 win.

It was a big night for the Yankees. Not only did they win a game that was crucial to the emotional state of the team, but the Wild Card-leading Mariners blew a 5-0 lead over the Angels to lose 10-6, so the Yankees are now just one game behind Seattle in the Wild Card race, and just two back in the loss column. (And, don't look now, but the Mariners are on a four-game losing streak.)

But that's not the big news. The big news is that despite my assumptions about Ian Kennedy's innings pitched limits (which were apparently picked up by Rob Neyer over on his ESPN.com blog), the Yankees are going to promote him to take Mike Mussina's start on Saturday after all. As that start falls on the first day of expanded rosters, the Yankees will not need Mussina to work out of the bullpen to justify his roster spot. Thus Moose will work on the side, but not out of the pen, with the hope of reclaiming his spot in the rotation next week. I'm still concerned about Kennedy's innings (he threw just 104 1/3 innings last year between USC and the New York-Penn League and has already thrown 146 1/3 innings across three minor league levels this year), but, given that the team that has implemented the Joba Rules is likely being mindful of such things, I'm delighted to see him get Saturday's start. Incidentally, here's a scouting report on Kennedy from Rich Lederer via a post of Alex's in the wake of last year's draft.

Here's the skinny on Kennedy, who will be the sixth man to make his major league debut by starting a game for the 2007 New York Yankees. Kennedy was the Yankees' top draft pick last year, taken ahead of Joba Chamberlain, both players coming via the compensation picks the Yankees received when Tom Gordon signed with the Phillies. Kennedy has often been referred to as a young Mike Mussina (which, lest you forget, is a very, very good thing) as he is a slender, 6-foot-tall righty who throws a low-90s fastball along with a very effective curve/slider/change repertoire, all of which he can throw for strikes. Just as Chamberlain fell to the Yankees in the draft due to concerns about his conditioning (which has obviously improved) and a forearm injury which put a damper on his senior year at Nebraska (which was last year, by the way, and may be why Joba has Rules and Kennedy does not), Kennedy fell to the Yankees at the 21st pick because of signability concerns linked to his being represented by Scott Boras. Both Chamberlain and Edwar Ramirez have raved about Kennedy to the press, and he's posted a 1.91 ERA along with a 10.03 K/9, 0.96 WHIP, and a 12-3 record in 26 games (25 starts) between single-, double-, and triple-A this year.

The best part about this move is that, if Kennedy has any sort of success at all, it increases the chances of the Yankees opening the 2008 season with Kennedy, Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes in the major league rotation behind Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte.

I was at last night's game and took a few more New Stadium construction photos for you all. I know it's been a while since I've posted any of these, so here are a few. You can click on these for a lager view.

 

 

 

Note the ramp in the above shot.

 

 

Here you can see the curve of the bowl looking from right field toward home.

 

 
 

 

The classic two-stadiums shot.

Here are a few bonus shots from the game.

 

 

 

Andy Pettitte pitching to Dustin Pedroia in the first inning.

 

 

 

Manny Ramirez hitting a very blurry home run to right field (note the ball streaking below Alex Rodriguez's glove).

 

 

 

Derek Jeter flying out to right.

 

 

 

Joba dealing to Youkilis in the eighth.

 

 

 

Mo dealing to Varitek in the ninth.

And finally, Johnny Damon's best friend:

 

 

 

 

All photographs by Cliff Corcoran
Comments (87)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-08-29 01:08:26
1.   dougj1
Your comments were interesting, but when you stated the Yanks may use Chamberlain, Hughes & Kennedy as starters next year, I disagree. Pencilling in 3 rookies, none of whom have much or any experience in the MLs, is pushing the envelope too much...This team needs another experienced starter to go with Wang & Petitte. What do you propose doing if by May , one of these 3 young pitchers can't cut it? There will be the same problem the team has had this year
2007-08-29 01:29:54
2.   Emma Span
As a side note, of the five pitchers who have already made their ML debuts by starting for the Yankees this year, only Phil Hughes has an ERA under 6. The good news for Kennedy is, between that and Mussina's last three starts, the bar's set pretty low.

1 Doug, perhaps you're forgetting that Curt Schilling and Jeff Weaver will be free agents this winter. Problem solved!

2007-08-29 03:43:49
3.   monkeypants
Cliff, play off roster qustion--Kennedy can be called up on June 1 when rosters expand to 40, but he would not be eligible for the post season. Now, that may not matter b/c of the aforementioned innings limit (i.e. this may be seen as simply a spot start or three). But to get him on the post season roster, should the need arise, they would have to call him up before Saturday, right?

If that is the case, would the team call him up at the expense of, say, Bruney or Britton or Edwar (likely candidates is all I'm saying), who could then simply be called back up in a few days? (The player would still have to spend the required 10 days in the minors, no?)

2007-08-29 04:26:41
4.   Fred Vincy
I believe even with a 9/1 call-up they could use Kennedy in the playoffs if there were an injury (see K-Rod, 2002). Cliff?

Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Chamberlain, Kennedy. When's the last time we had an all home grown rotation? I know it's not since I've been a Yankees fan (1974).

2007-08-29 05:02:11
5.   rbj
Great photos, Cliff. The ones with the pitched balls show just how amazing baseball is. Everything else is frozen, but the ball is still a blur -- you've got less than half a second to try and hit a ball that the pitcher doesn't want you to hit. Which makes what has happened to Moose all the sadder.
2007-08-29 05:17:49
6.   ChrisS
Jeebus, it seems that every sportswriter and their brother is of the opinion that Joba's usage rules are not only shortsighted, but goofy. One was recently wondering why the 35 year old Pettitte can throw 120 pitches, but the younger, stronger Joba couldn't work back to back days.

The media won't be happy until this kid throws every day and his arm falls off.

2007-08-29 05:17:59
7.   williamnyy23
3 For a player to be eligible for the postseason, Major League Baseball rules require him be on the team's active 25-man roster or on the disabled, bereavement, suspended or military lists before midnight on Aug. 31 of that season.

However, if one of the players eligible by the criteria above is injured, a team can replace him (batter for batter/pitcher for pitcher) with another player from the minors, provided that player was with the team as of Aug. 31.

2007-08-29 05:19:32
8.   williamnyy23
3 I forgot the main point...the Yankees can basically use the handy Ron Villone/Darrel Rasner/Carl Pavano injuries to smuggle Kennedy onto the post season roster.
2007-08-29 05:20:37
9.   Sliced Bread
Outstanding work, Cliff, for reals. Thanks for all that.

The Yanks have certainly had more exciting victories this season, but last night's feels like the biggest one of 2007.

Pettitte, Joba, Mo, Jeter, Damon.

The last guy is the one I'm happiest for this morning. With Matsui's knee ballooning, he's our left fielder, and lead off guy down the stretch. Thanks, Johnny. We'll need a couple more just like that.

Would have been a sweet bonus if he caught the Varischmuck home run, but I think he came closer to snagging it than 'Zilla woulda. He'll get the next one.

2007-08-29 05:27:33
10.   monkeypants
8 I'm not so sure it's that easy. I thought that the injury loophole was at the discretion of the commissioner; when the Angels pulled that fast one, didn't the injury occur very late in the season?

In other words, surely the Yanks cannot use Rasner's or Pavano's injury to justify funny business on the post-season roster. They might with Villone, but he is only on the 15 day DL (so he would be back in time anyway), and they have already replaced him with another player, so it would be a tough sell to justify.

Maybe if they discover an 'injury' to Mussina, they might be able to make the case to the league. Otherwise, I am doubtful that commissioner Bud would allow the Yankees to get away with it.

2007-08-29 05:29:52
11.   monkeypants
9 I'd like to see the team swallow hard and stick Giambi at 1B on days when Matsui DH's and Damon is in LF. I'm still not 100% sold on Damon starting (really, that HR was a wall scraper and a line hugger), and I am certainly not sold on him starting at the expense of Giambi.
2007-08-29 05:31:11
12.   williamnyy23
1 I think your concern is a little unfounded. Since 2003, the Yankees have pretty much entered every season with at least a couple of holes in their rotation because they depended on "veterans". Unless the Yankees can get a proven quailty starter, I'd rather go with three high quality rookies than innings eating dregs.

Another scenario is that Kennedy sparkles and then the Yankees package him in a deal for a "vet" like Santana or Peavy.

2007-08-29 05:35:18
13.   williamnyy23
10 The Angels used Krod to replace Steve Green, who pitched 6 innings in 2001. He never pitched again in his career, by the way.

I'm sure Selig would no longer allow another similar dubious claim like that one, but all three of the pitchers mentioned in 8 pitched in the current season.

2007-08-29 05:36:19
14.   Sliced Bread
Props also to Jorge, who had a great game last night (even if Joba had to shake him off a couple times before he put Drew to bed).

Did you see how Posada had Mo work Varitek? First two pitches, waving his mitt on the outside corner, overemphasizing his target. Set him up good for the cutter inside for steeerike 3. Beautiful work.

Anybody who questions Posada's work with the pitchers (veterans and rookies alike) is holding him to a standard beyond reasonable. He's a fucking great catcher.

2007-08-29 05:41:10
15.   monkeypants
13 Good call--I forgot that the pitcher he replaced (Green) had been out of action so long. I am still suspicious that Bud wouldn't allow it, but at least their case would be much stronger than the Angels' was for sure.
2007-08-29 05:48:44
16.   williamnyy23
I wonder how much of the decision to shelf Mussina was Torre's? Brian Cashman has now definitively put his stamp on this team, so I have a feeling that the decision came from above. The recent promotion of Britton also implies Cashman's growing influence. Earlier on the road trip, Cashman asked Torre if he wanted bullpen reinforcements, but was rebuffed. Now, it seems as if he wasn't given a choice. Finally, the Joba Rules themselves are kind of an indictment on Torre's bullpen management.

I wonder what Torre really thinks about Cashman's influence. Also, I wonder if Cashman has already made up his mind that Torre will not be back. Both men seem to be on divergent philosophical paths, so a parting seems inevitable.

2007-08-29 05:54:08
17.   ric
9

varischmuck...clever... in a 3rd grade sort of way. that said, im pumped for tonight. sox havent faced rocket since... well... you know when.

2007-08-29 05:55:11
18.   Sliced Bread
16 I think you're projecting your wishes re: Torre in the last graph, but clearly the decision to shelf Moose was all Cashman.

No question Joe would keep running Moose out there.

I think it shows that Joe and Cashman are working together, checks and balances and all that.

2007-08-29 05:56:48
19.   Sliced Bread
17 thanks, ric!

was it the Aaron Boone game?

2007-08-29 06:15:56
20.   williamnyy23
I've been trying to place who Joba reminds me of the most. I had settled on Clemens, but after reading WW, have decided to place my sights higher...does anyone else see a little Babe Ruth in Joba?
2007-08-29 06:35:35
21.   Sliced Bread
I just hope Clemens reminds us of Clemens tonight.
2007-08-29 06:48:44
22.   buffalocharlie
Does anyone know if the squirrel made if down from the foul pole last night?

Watching RTN in Buffalo, they had a great shot of the Sammy Squirrel enjoying the game from the most precarious seat in Yankee Stadium!

2007-08-29 06:50:45
23.   rbj
20 I don't think the words "little" go together with "Babe Ruth."

Maybe the Yanks should let Joba hit too.

2007-08-29 06:55:39
24.   jedi
Can we dare imagine Ian Kennedy making us forget about Joba, like Joba made us feel about Hughes. Our farm is insane if Kennedy can do that.
2007-08-29 06:59:57
25.   monkeypants
22 Paraphrasing the anonymous (and probably apocryphal) fireman: have you ever seen the bones of a dead squirrel on the top of a foul poul before?

I assume he made it down once people cleared out and stopped scaring him every time he started to descend the pole.

2007-08-29 07:02:15
26.   monkeypants
25 Hmmm..'foul poul'?
2007-08-29 07:04:03
27.   Murray
[24.] No. Chamberlain is electrifying because he throws so hard. Kennedy throws 86-91 mph and moves the ball around. He's excellent and I hope he'll be a pleasure to watch, but from a substantive perspective, he's a different type of pitcher.
2007-08-29 07:05:06
28.   monkeypants
24 I've not forgotten about Hughes, but who's this Joba guy you're talking about?
2007-08-29 07:09:06
29.   Cliff Corcoran
I really think Joba's the best thing that could have happened to Phil Hughes, as he's taken the attention, and thus the pressure to live up to his Franchise tag, off as he has his growing pains.
2007-08-29 07:19:33
30.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
14 Is it beyond reasonable to expect your catcher to block balls in the dirt? To not call for a first pitch fastball to a guy who's renowned for sitting first pitch fastball (Polanco), especially when the pitcher's (Edwar) outstanding pitch is a change? To call for a change or slider from Phil Hughes every once in a while(Leiter for example doesn't even know that Phil has a pitch other than a curve or fastball, wonder why)

Given what Joba said last night re Nancy tracking his fastball on the outer half, it's not unrealistic to expect that the result of Jorge's pitchcalling in that spot would have been a 5-4 game, perhaps with runners on 2nd and 3rd if Drew managed to poke the pitch down the line. Lucky Joba had the balls to shake him off.

2007-08-29 07:25:17
31.   rsmith51
Has Joba thrown a 3-2 fastball yet? If I was the batter, I would expect a slider and if he threw it for a strike, tip your cap.

Like most pitchers, he will be much better pitching ahead in the count and throwing the slider for strikes. What was the deal with his first slider to Drew? How was that not a strike?

2007-08-29 07:25:24
32.   monkeypants
30 It's beyond reasonable to expect your catcher (or any player) to be perfect in every aspect of the game. It is also unreasonable to assume that every pitching mistake is the catcher's fault.

Jorge is a borderline HOF player (I would argue he's in, but I'm biased), and easily the second or third greatest catcher in Yankees history. he doesn't block balls well. You take the very, very good with the bad.

2007-08-29 07:26:36
33.   monkeypants
31 No idea--he threw at least four, possibly five strikes strikes to Drew. Unlike some pitchers on the staff, he did not melt down once he didn't get the call.
2007-08-29 07:33:02
34.   AbbyNormal821
22 Maybe this squirrel is a good luck charm? Kind of like the crows that showed up at Fenway last year were a bad luck charm (that was last year, right?)? Hey, I can wish, can't I?

I'll be at the game tonight too - my first ever Sox/Yanks experience and I'm totally psyched! I'll be sitting up in the right field nosebleeds, binoculars in hand (beer in the other!) ready to enjoy the whole thing. Here's to Clemens being Clemens and Beckett being Beckett, but last years Beckett like around the time of the 5 game sweep Beckett...DOH!

2007-08-29 07:39:56
35.   JeterChrist
Actually, pitch selection seems to be a problem regardless of who is catching. I think I read something on Espn's InsideEdge service that said that teams were getting Crisp and Varitek out consistently on Breaking Stuff, but that the Yankees were consistently throwing them fastballs and thus their success. Lowell was an example they used as well.

In Hughes' last start, I felt that on the Granderson HR and the Thames HR the pitch selection was awful. Granderson was late on every Hughes fastball and he threw him a breaking ball out over the plate. Thames had struggled all weekend with breaking stuff and Hughes was consistently throwing him fastballs. This isn't a knock on Posada either because Molina was catching at the time.

2007-08-29 07:42:39
36.   pistolpete
6 Evan Roberts & Russo are the single biggest proponents of the 'throw out the Joba rules' mentality, IMO. Just shut up already, PLEASE. I'd rather not make the playoffs this year than ruin a potential HOF starter.

And Russo's thing was that apart from the one Detroit game, Joba wasn't used in any real 'big' spot thus far.

Was last night big enough for you, dumbass?

And here's what I think happens with Kennedy - he starts on Saturday and unless he pitches a gem, Moose gets another shot after skipping this start. If Kennedy is decent enough, he becomes the Ramiro Mendoza of the staff. He gets a spot start here & there to gives guys a rest, and possibly the long man on days (see: Moose starting) where we're being blown out. As long as he doesn't get abused either, that is.

If Moose recovers & pitches like he should, why not a 6-man rotation to get us through the month?

2007-08-29 07:43:25
37.   Bama Yankee
22 & 25 Last year the Red Sox suffered from the "Curse of the Gimpy Crow". This year is it possible that the Yankees will benefit from the "Blessing of the Shifty Squirrel"? Who needs a rally monkey when you've got Short Porch Sammy patrolling the foul screen?
2007-08-29 07:44:12
38.   pistolpete
31 If Joba's able to target the outside corner with a fastball as he has in the past, I don't see why he wouldn't. Especially to the weaker hitters.
2007-08-29 07:45:53
39.   Bama Yankee
34 Abby, you beat me to it (I gotta hit refresh more often). Brilliant minds?
2007-08-29 07:46:03
40.   monkeypants
35 FWIW, WasWatching has posted paraphrasing an interview with Guidry, in which the coach blames Mussina for getting away from the "game plan" and throwing too many fastballs. Now, who is to blame for a veteran pitcher doing this (if this is the case), the catcher or the pitcher?
2007-08-29 07:52:18
41.   JeterChrist
40 Interesting. I'll have to check that one out. That's the type of stuff I'm usually really curious about, is it the pitcher that's wrong or the gameplan? And if the game plan is right, who is deviating from it and what are their results?
2007-08-29 07:55:53
42.   Hocakes
20
Facially, from certain angles, Joba resembles Ruth.
16
I think Cashman realizes that Torre is good at managing these players in particular. Jeter, Posada and Mo and are all loyal to Torre because they've played most of their careers with him as their manager and he lead them to four championships. I think that was part of the calculus in keeping him around after last year's post-season debacle. However, those players put winning above all else, and as they realize that Cashman's ways can help the team win, they'll be more open to a Cashman-installed manager. Each successful call-up is a nail in Torre's managerial coffin. I have to give Torre credit though for showing that the old dog can learn a few new tricks. It looked for a while like he was going to go down swinging, sticking to his old ways of not using youngsters and mismanaging the bullpen, lose as a result and be let go at the end of the year. But he seems to have realized, THINGS HAVE CHANGED(as Tom Wolfe would say); his handling of Joba, Mussina and Edwar (the second time around) shows me that he's willing to bend a little bit, if only to increase his chances of keeping his job.

Finally, it's interesting that none of the decipherers of Yankee palace intrigue predicted that they would actually take Moose out of the Yankee rotation and install Kennedy. "Too bold a move for this organization", was the general gist of the commentary.( As far as I know, Pete Caldera is the only one who actually called it correctly). Well, it's time to throw out the old script guys, Cashman's in charge.

2007-08-29 08:12:42
43.   AbbyNormal821
39 Yep - brilliant! And yet, a little sick & twisted too! It's a thin line between genius and kookyosity!
2007-08-29 08:27:09
44.   Sliced Bread
42 The most recent moves also indicate that Cashman is learning.
He's not forcing Igawa, one of his most expensive blunders to date, into the equation. He kept banking on Pavano, and look where that got him. I suspect he learned from that mistake, and is less willing to fight for Igawa.

I have a lot of faith in Cashman, as I do in Torre.

Cash is getting deserved praise for bringing up the young guys this season, but let's face it, he hasn't had much choice.
Sure, he could have traded for over-priced, past-prime veterans as prescribed by the old script, but we know that was thrown out long ago.

I think one of Cash's best moves this upcoming off-season will be to stick with Joe. Pettitte, Jeter, Posada, and Mo all played a HUGE part in last night's victory, and will continue to be a huge part of the team next year. If Joe's OK with them, he's OK with me.

2007-08-29 08:33:03
45.   Sliced Bread
bottomline: while it appears that the ice Cashman is standing on is thicker than the ice beneath Joe's feet, I belive their fates are tied together, and if one goes, it won't be too long before the other is gone.
2007-08-29 08:35:29
46.   Chyll Will
39 ,43 You guys need to watch out for Short-Porch Sammy, cuz you're both nuts >;) (sez the pot to the kettle)
2007-08-29 08:37:05
47.   monkeypants
44 Cashman gets a lot of crap for signing Pavano, and deservedly so. But what penalty was there for him "banking" on Pavano this year? he pitched in two games then went away forever. He couldn't have been moved without eating most of his contract anyway, and Casman clearly suspected some injuries, since he signed a bunch of players and/or had young slop waiting in the minors.

If anything, signing Mussina and Igawa suggests that he did not keep banking on Pavano.

Now, Igawa as insurance was a mistake, no doubt, but that's is another issue.

2007-08-29 08:44:03
48.   markp
From what I see, almost every pitch is signaled from the bench. Nobody can blame a pitcher from getting away from the program unless the pitcher shakes off the catcher a lot.
One other thing about Posada catching-I think the league is aware of how often he sets up outside the strike zone on 2-2 pitches. Too many free swingers simple take the 2-2 pitch to get a full count. He seems to do it no matter who's pitching.
2007-08-29 08:48:54
49.   Chyll Will
47 Do you think that signing Igawa was a knee-jerk reaction to not winning Matsuzaka, or did the scouts who gave Cashman the scoop on Igawa clearly have it wrong? I trust that this wasn't a blind signing, ala George in his prime.

If the scouts had it wrong, then the Yanks really need to overhaul their PR scouting dept. If not, then how much scouting can you actually do; or what is scouting really worth when the pitcher is vulnerable to whatever's bothering him regardless?

2007-08-29 08:59:29
50.   monkeypants
49 Good questions, and all I can do is speculate. I don't think that the signing of Igawa was a knee jerk reaction per se--it's just that the Sox reset the market by signing Dice-K through such a huge posting fee and the Yankees came in third or fourth in posting fees, no?). If anything, the Yankees undervalued the relative market for Dice-K (though I think they correctly assessed his overall value), and in turn overvalued the market for Igawa.

As for scouting Igawa--I know Mike Plugh questioned it all along, and some nay-sayers have come out of the bushes. But could they really have expected his performance to be so bad? All the SABR types say that ML performance (especially hitting) can be predicted to some degree by translating MiL numbers; most seem to agree that the Japanese leagues are somewhere around AAA or AAAA. Igawa was a career 3.15 ERA pitcher with high K rates. Worse case scenario, I thought, he'd be an overpriced fourth or fifth starter.

I agree that PR scouting probably needs to be improved--Irabu, Igawa, and to some degree Matsui have not been the players they were expected to be.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-08-29 09:08:57
51.   Schteeve
That breaking ball Joba threw to J.D. last night to strike him out was ridiculous. I was jumping around the house. Watching Joba shake off the fastball twice, and then throw the slider, and watching Drew trying in vain not to swing, well hell, it gave me chills.
2007-08-29 09:12:06
52.   Zack
The feeling has been growing on me since last night that the Kennedy promotion is, perhaps, a strong sign that the Yanks will try to make a trade for Santana or Peavy or Sabathia in the offseason. I know that they are in win now mode this season and Kennedy is probably their best bet, but on the other hand, for one start, White could probably do as well (maybe).

But promoting Kennedy and hoping he excels has the benefit of showcasing him against ML hitters (well, the D-Rays) and showing the league that the Yanks aren't desperate for a starter. I know its a pure gut reaction, but I just get the sense, and this would be fine fine fine with me, that the Yanks might be packaging Kennedy, Horne, and someone(s) else for, say, Peavy. Which would rock...

And on the Kennedy scouting report, I have heard it mentioned a bit that Kennedy has actually regained his 2005 velocity, which is more 90-92 rather than 88-90...

2007-08-29 09:13:46
53.   Schteeve
11 I totally agree, it makes me sick that Damon is stealing PAs from Giambi. Especially when you consider that the greatest value Johnny can provide the team these days is his speed, and as such would be a great late inning pinch runner who could give the team respectable defense in left.

But if you have a finite number of PAs and your choice for who to give the majority of them is Giambi or Damon...I think they are insane to give the lion's share to Damon.

2007-08-29 09:19:03
54.   Cliff Corcoran
53 Over his last 29 games, which dates back to Game 2 of the double header against the Devil Rays, Damon is hitting .345/.405/.531.

Giambi, meanwhile, has drawn just one walk in 42 PAs since coming off the DL.

2007-08-29 09:24:18
55.   Chyll Will
50 Best case on speculation, Cash could have walked away from the whole thing after Boston's bid was revealed, but got bad advice from scouts about Igawa and was pressed to overbid by market flux. It's hard to stand your ground when the waves are all crashing around you, and in a lot of peoples' minds, it seemed like a good deal based on what we knew and needed (Pavano burning out after two starts, etc.) Were it not for the early injuries to most of our starters, I think Igawa's problems would have been addressed much earlier and would have less impact on the win total now.

Getting Igawa on spec was a toss-up that I don't necessarily blame him for. Banking on him throughout his issues, yeah, that I had a hard time with, but at least he's not doing it anymore. I think the Yanks would probably be better from here on when they acquire these players, run them through the farm first before plugging them into spots on the 25-man.

2007-08-29 09:25:18
56.   williamnyy23
52 I'd have no problem trading Kennedy for Peavy or Santana. Even the biggest optimist would have to have doubts about the Yankees being able to develop not 1, not 2, but three top fligth starters. I guess there is Hudson/Mulder/Zito as a precedent, but there can't be many more cases of one team developing three frontline starters at the same time.
2007-08-29 09:37:08
57.   ChrisS
56 I was thinking the same thing, but not for Sabathia.

But you can bet your ass that the Twins or the Pads would want much more than just Kennedy. Probably Tabata, Kennedy, and Cabrera, plus for Santana.

That would be, of course, after they beg and plead for Joba.

2007-08-29 09:40:38
58.   tommyl
54 In addition, I think with Matsui banged up he can't play LF everyday, and Damon or Duncan has to play LF. So its really a choice between Giambi and Matsui on certain days.

Awful article by Chass in todays Times. Read it at your own peril.

2007-08-29 09:43:12
59.   Cliff Corcoran
56 There are very few cases of teams having three frontline starters at the same time. The Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz Braves are one (but Maddux was a free agent addition). Steven Goldman wrote about some others in the Braves chapter in this year's Baseball Prospectus annual. The most recent before the Braves were the late '60s Mets, with Seaver, Koosman, and John Matlack. In the case of both the Mets and the recent A's, it took many years of awful baseball to have the draft picks to produce a trio like that.
2007-08-29 09:46:28
60.   seamus
54 Thanks! Somehow it boggles the mind that folks don't realize that Damon has an OBP over 100 points higher than Giambi over the last month. It is a good choice to have to make though - whether or not to play Damon or Giambi.
2007-08-29 09:47:15
61.   David
52 I thought Johan Santana became a free agent at the end of this season, but maybe I'm a year off. Adding Santana to the Yanks pitching staff would make them heavy favorites to win the World Series. The same is true of Boston. There could be quite a bidding war once he's a free agent. I think Santana will be able to get over $20 million per year, maybe closer to $30m.
2007-08-29 09:53:32
62.   ChrisS
58
Paraphrasing Chass: "While many of the Red Sox roster moves have resulted in poor performances, a couple have worked in their favor, meanwhile several of the Yankees moves have resulted in poor performances, but some have worked in their favor. Obviously, the Red Sox know what they're doing and the Yankees don't."

I sure hope that not having Hanley Ramirez at short for the next 15 years was worth Beckett.

2007-08-29 09:56:11
63.   JL25and3
57 I'd take Sabathia, easily. He may not be the superstar stud that Santana and Peavy are, but he's a very good and extremely reliable low 1/high 2 pitcher. He makes all his starts, he's averaging 7 innings per start this year, and he's never had a bad year. His last two years he's really taken a big leap forward - ERA from 4 to 3.3ish, K/9 rates up, and K/BB up ridiculously - 6:1 this year.

I think he'd be a tremendous acquisition.

2007-08-29 10:00:29
64.   monkeypants
53 54 60 Is there not also the possibility of playing Giambi in the field some more? I love Andy Phillips, but he hasn't hit all that much lately, and Giambi (even minus walks) will certainly outperform him at first. It's one thing to start Phillips over Cairo, it's another to start him consistently over both Giambi and Duncan, with his primary back-up now apparently Betemit.
2007-08-29 10:04:34
65.   Chyll Will
58 ,62 Thanks for the warning; even the paraphrasing gave me a headache >;)
2007-08-29 10:05:39
66.   seamus
63 agreed.

64 yeah, I think that using Phillips when Wang pitches is good, but perhaps Giambi every other day in the field. Mixing and matching is ok by me.

2007-08-29 10:14:05
67.   Schteeve
54 I suspect that after coming off such a long layoff and the fact that Giambi is often called off the bench in "we really need a home run" situations, Giambi's approach may not be back to his optimal levels.

I think he needs more opportunities before we can start saying that Johnny deserves his PAs.

I mean, Giambi and Damon both have a rather large body of work that we should look at when deciding who the best option is, not just the most recent 29 games or 42 PA.

2007-08-29 10:16:34
68.   Zack
57 Kennedy, Tabata, and Cabrera for Santana? Sold. I'd do that in a heartbeat. Probably do it for Peavy too...

63 Ditto. Its amazing that Sabathia gets consistently scoffed at, I guess maybe because of his lack of gaudy wins? Who knows, but he has been nothing but better than league average every year he has pitched, the last two quite far above, and hes just coming into his prime. I guess he gives up some hits, but he strikes out a lot and doesn't walk anyone-his BB #s have been on an almost continuous downward trend.

In fact, in some ways, people should be looking at Sabathia when they talk about Hughes. CC came up when he was 21 and didn't really put it all together until last season, yet managed to still be pretty good over that span.

I imagine he will require less than Peavey and certainly less than Santana, and a rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Sabathia, Joba, Hughes is not only very young, but a really nice mix of styles...

2007-08-29 10:19:12
69.   Zack
61 Santana is a free agent after next year, but I don't think the Twinkies will let it get to that. They will either wise up and offer him the city (if there is an owner who really could afford it, it is theirs), or they will look to trade him midseason most likely, maybe even this offseason. If that becomes the case, the Yanks HAVE to be players. There are only so many teams that can offer the right package in return PLUS meet the contract demands. Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, (The D-Rays could and should but won't), D-backs. That's probably about it. The Yanks don't want to see the Sox or Angels add Santana to their rotations...
2007-08-29 10:24:44
70.   Bama Yankee
56 & 59 The early 90's Braves had Smoltz, Glavine and Steve Avery (plus Pete Smith). The "Young Guns" as they were called all came on the scene at the same time and with the exception of Smith worked out okay for a three-year stretch. Of course, the decline of Avery has been blamed on his heavy workload at a young age. So, now that I think about it, maybe the "Young Guns" are not the best example for the Yankees to follow...
2007-08-29 10:38:48
71.   YankeeInMichigan
Wish I had checked this out yesterday. He are the AL's top starters by SNLVAR (not counting yesterday's games).

1.) Escobar 6.5
2.) Bedard 6.1
3.) Haren 5.9
3.) Santana 5.9
5.) Carmona 5.6
6.) Lackey 5.2
7.) Halladay 5.1
7.) Buehrle 5.1
9.) Sabathia 5.0
10.) Pettitte 4.9
10.) Dice-K 4.9
10.) Beckett 4.9
10.) Blanton 4.9
14.) Shields 4.8
15.) Guthrie 4.6
16.) Wang 4.4
16.) Wakefield 4.4
16.) Kazmir 4.4
19.) Verlander 4.3

Observations:
a) Boston's Top 2 are as good as the Yanks' #1.
b) Boston has the league's best Top 3, as their #3 is as good as the Yanks' #2.
c) LA and Cleveland have the best chance at dominating the playoffs with a 1-2 punch.
d) How on earth is Seattle leading the Wild Card race with a weak offense and no dominant starter?
e) Starting pitching was Detroit's strength last year, but it has entirely disappeared.

2007-08-29 10:42:30
72.   Zack
71 Its funny, Cleveland doesn't scare me at all (probably b/c the Yanks dominated them so) but even more so because Carmona just doesn't scream stopper yet. Obviously the Angels scare me as a Yankee fan, but Escobar an Lackey don't really scream stopper either, do they? Beckett and Dice-k do, however...
2007-08-29 10:43:24
73.   tommyl
62 But Beckett plays the game right. Seriously, its amazing to me that Hanley gets basically no media attention. He's quietly the best player in the national league! We hear a lot more about Reyes and how amazing he is, but Hanley is arguably better, younger and cheaper.
2007-08-29 10:46:34
74.   Sliced Bread
Miniscule sample size alert (roughly 50 innings per opponent): but over his career, Santana has surprisingly had greater success against the Yanks (2.66 ERA , 3-0 record) than he has against Boston (3.40 ERA, 4-4 record) and Anaheim (4.05 ERA, 2-3 record).
While our arch-rivals might fear him SLIGHTLY less, they may actually WANT him more (if that's possible).

One thing's for sure:
Minnesota is going to do better than the Seibu Lions did for Matsuzaka.

2007-08-29 10:48:19
75.   yankz
73 Once Hanley learns how to "excite" a crowd and be more "electric" he might be in Reyes' league.
2007-08-29 10:50:08
76.   yankz
74 Don't even joke about Santana in a hideous Sox jersey. Although, judging by this year's trading deadline, Minnesota would probably ask Cash for Joba, Hughes, and A-rod, but settle for Lugo and a AA prospect.
2007-08-29 10:51:02
77.   monkeypants
I'd be hesitant to trade Tabata, considering the organization has just about zero other potential impact position players in the pipeline. Santana is young and really, really great. But he's also 28 y.o., and it's so tough to predict how pitchers will age.
2007-08-29 10:55:32
78.   Sliced Bread
76 (hurl, puke, etc.) that's about what I'm thinkin.

But I have a feeling he has his sights set on the NY stage.

My hope/guess is he won't get traded and will join the Yanks as a free agent in '09.

2007-08-29 10:57:12
79.   ChrisS
68 All I was suggesting was that every team and their AAA affiliate knows the Yankees have three ML-ready pitching prospects with high upsides, a talented, young CFer, and several more solid prospects at depth.

Cashman is going to hear some truly ridiculous trade demands in the offseason.

Sabathia just has never struck me as a true #1 guy. Maybe you guys are right, but I'm still hesitant to trade top prospects for him.

2007-08-29 10:59:37
80.   monkeypants
78 He'd be carzy to accept a contract extension even if he is traded. Unless he has a colossal injury or regression next year, he's going to be one of the big FA prizes in 2009. If Zito is "worth" 18 million, what will Santana fetch?
2007-08-29 11:00:31
81.   williamnyy23
68 I think Sabathia deserves a discount because of his large size. Also, at a peak ERA+ of 139, he is far from Johan's class (and to a lesser extent Peavy).

73 Hanley is by far the better hitter, but not the better SS. Reyes is a plus defender, but by all accounts, Hanley is an OF in the making.

2007-08-29 11:03:29
82.   Zack
79 The Yanks don't need a true #1 though. The hope is that Joba or Hughes or both becomes one. A true #2/borderline #1 how might come slightly cheaper is fine be me...

OF course, Peavy is the one I really want, but considering how the Padres trade with the Sox, they might just GIVE him to them.

77 Eh, I'd trade Tabata. Although I fully expect him to hit for more power now that the bone injury will be fixed and hes getting older, hes a long way off. I would expect Santana to at least have 6 more #1 seasons left in him. I'd sign up for that in a second...

2007-08-29 11:06:37
83.   buffalocharlie
71 d) How on earth is Seattle leading the Wild Card race with a weak offense and no dominant starter?

The Mariners offense:
6th in runs scored in the A.L.,
6th in OBP
2nd in BAvg
4th in total bases.

Also, they have stolen 70 bases while getting caught 23 times.

They have a balanced line-up that I feel is well suited for Safeco field and large outfield.

Player/OPS+
Ichiro Suzuki +128
Jose Guillen +123
Adrian Beltre +119
Raul Ibanez +117
Jose Vidro +112
Kenji Johjima +108
Y. Betancourt +95
Richie Sexson +89 (Ben Broussard +113)
Jose Lopez +77

To note, Sexson stands out like a rotten apple in that chart.

While the starters have been less than impressive, the 1/2 of Washburn and Hernandez has been above average, the bullpen has been terrific, sporting a 23-8 W-L record:

Pitcher/ERA+
JJ Putz +316
George Sherrill +229
Brandon Morrow +131
Sean Green +121 (5 wins)
Eric O'Flaherty +125 (7 wins)

And I will admit, I have never heard of Morrow, Green, O'Flaherty.

I would think the lack of starting pitching will hurt the Mariners, but they are a contender.

2007-08-29 11:09:06
84.   Zack
80 Come on, if the Yanks traded for him and offered him 24 Mill a year for 6 years, you don't think he would take it? Besides, no team will trade for Santana without knowing they can extend him I suspect...

81 Obviously Santana and Peavy are better pitchers than Sabathia as of now, I would never argue otherwise, but Sabathia seems to be regarded by many, even here, as second rate. I wouldn't call 6-7 250 fat per se. Heck, Joba is 6-2 230. What Sabathia is is a brick sh##house. Thats defensive lineman big.

2007-08-29 11:45:54
85.   monkeypants
84 OK, sure, if he was offered an extension for a zillion dollars. I meant that whatever team that would trade for him would have to overwhelm him with an offer, because he will make more by entering the FA market and getting teams to bid against each other.
2007-08-29 11:52:21
86.   Emma Span
58 et al, I believe the Padres have a club option on Peavy for '09 at the (these days) ridiculously low price of $8 million, so I can't imagine them trading him before next season. But I take the larger point. I'd trade Derek Jeter's firstborn son for Johan Santana.

48 I'm honestly not sure how good of a defensive catcher Posada is, but it's not true that most pitches are called from the bench. Guidry and co certainly help draw up the game plan, but for better or worse, it's Posada's pitch selection, unless as you say he gets shaken off.

It's an interesting question... Pettitte and Clemens and others have always praised his catching. Mike Mussina prefers to use somebody else, but he's notoriously finicky, and Randy Johnson didn't like throwing to him, but "finicky" is too kind a word for what he is. Posada and El Duque used to get into screaming matches all the time. But bottom line, he's caught a ton of tense postseason victories not to mention a perfect game, so I don't think he can be THAT bad.

2007-08-29 13:53:04
87.   Raf
73 ,75 It helps a lot that Reyes plays in a major media market. If Hanley were here, he'd be getting a lot of hype too, deserved or not.

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