Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2008-06-01 20:30
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Darrell Rasner had his worst start of the season (though he still lasted 5 1/3 innings and only allowed four runs), and the Yankee offense failed to pick their starter up as the Yanks dropped their first game to the Twins this season by a 5-1 score.

Three of the four runs Rasner had allowed in his four May starts for the Yankees were scored in the first inning, and yesterday he got into a jam right away as the Twins put men on second and third with one out in the first. Rasner got Justin Morneau to hit a comebacker that froze the runners for the second out, but Michael Cuddyer plating them both with a two-out single. Rasner got into another jam in the fourth when Jason Kubel worked a walk to load the bases with no outs. Rasner got two strikeouts and a fly out to get out of the inning, but the fly out came between the two Ks and plated the third Twins run. In the sixth, Morneau led off against Rasner with a booming shot into the right field gap. Melky Cabrera ran over to gather the ball, but in doing slipped on the warning track and fell on his tuchus. With Morneau speeding around the bases, Cabrera attempted to flip the ball to Bobby Abreu so that Abreu could throw it in, but Melky's overhand flip sailed over Abreu's head and rolled toward first base, allowing Morneau to come all the way around and score on what was ruled a triple and an E8. After getting Cuddyer to ground out for the first out, Rasner walked Kubel again and gave up a single to Delmon Young, but Scott Patterson, making his long-awaited major league debut, came in and stranded both runners, striking out Carlos Gomez to end the inning.

Morneau's trip around the bases and Patterson's debut at age 28 after a long career spent largely in the independent leagues were two of the incidents in this game that overshadowed the game itself, which was otherwise a rather dull loss for the Yankees. The only real threat the Yankees mounted came in the third when Johnny Damon doubled with one out and Derek Jeter and Abreu drew walks to load the bases for Alex Rodriguez, but Twins starter Nick Blackburn struck out Alex Rodriguez and got Hideki Matsui to ground out to escape the jam. The only Yankee run came on a Derek Jeter solo homer in the fifth that made the score 3-1. When Rasner left it was 4-1 Twins, and in the seventh Patterson gave up a run of his own on a walk and a Michael Cuddyer triple to set the final score.

In total, Patterson used 40 pitches, only 21 of which were strikes, to get four outs. Part of that is because of the seven batters he faced, four failed to put a ball in play (two walks, two strikeouts). Chris Britton followed Patterson and retired all four men he faced on 14 pitches, nine of which were strikes, on three groundouts and a flyout.

The big story of the game, however, was the fifth-inning comebacker off Bobby Abreu's bat that hit Blackburn in the face. Abreu was swinging on a 3-1 count and the ball hit Blackburn on the right side of his face as he completed his follow-through, making an awful sound like someone tearing open a head of lettuce. Abreu grabbed his head as he ran to first, shaking his hands and appeared on the verge of tears as Blackburn did a backflop onto the mound, arms and legs akimbo with his feet facing up hill toward the rubber. It seems, however, that Blackburn's dramatic fall was somewhat out of relief as he immediately popped up, spit out some blood and walked off the field with a trainer holding a towel under his bloodied nose. X-rays revealed no broken bones or lost teeth, meaning that bloody nose and a fat lip was the sum total of the damage done to Blackburn, who should make his next start. Abreu met with Blackburn after the game and both men are no doubt very pleased by the fact that Blackburn didn't suffer any major injuries. It turns out that nasty lettuce sound was caused in part by the fact that the ball hit Blackburn's glove before it hit his face.

A few upcoming transaction notes: Jorge Posada is expected to be activated for Thursday's game, the day-game conclusion to the Toronto series. When Posada returns to the roster, the Yankees intend to keep three catchers for a little while, that way they can ease Jorge back into action. That will put off what could prove to be a very difficult choice between Jose Molina and Chad Moeller as either player would have to be placed on waivers to be removed from the 25-man roster. That also means there won't be a position player called up to get the Yankees back down from 13 pitchers until Posada's activated. However, there will be another roster move between now and then as Dan Giese is expected to be called up as a long-relief backup for Joba Chamberlain's start on Tuesday, as Chamberlain will be limited to 70 pitches. Giese, a career-long reliever, has been dominant since being moved into the Scranton rotation early this year. He was pulled early from his start yesterday in anticipation of both his being called up and pitching in long relief on Tuesday. One imagines either Patterson or Britton will be optioned to make room for Giese. Finally, there's still no word on Jason Lane's status. It turns out the Yankees had something like 48 hours after May 31 to call Lane up (apparently even Lane wasn't sure of the details), so there's still a chance that they'll swap Shelley Duncan out for him before tonight's game. Stay tuned . . .

2008-06-02 04:52:49
1.   horace-clarke-era
Dull game is about right, it did feel like a sluggish afternoon tilt after an extra-innings night. I am probably wrong about this, but have a feeling that Yankees have a bad record in situations where tense night games are followed by early starts. Something about old-timers and getting legs back?

My early game thought was that Rasner was being squeezed by a kid ump. Rasner's game is control and command of the edges of the strike zone. If he's forced to get too much of the plate to get a call he'll walk people or get hit. The YES boys suggested at least three-four calls he thought he should have had in the first inning or two, and I think they are right. (As hard as agreeing with william!) He certainly didn't implode or fall apart, but it suggests he needs an ump with a good strike zone ... all pitchers need that to some degree, but guys who work the edges for a living as opposed to heat need it more.

I see we are going with three catchers after all for a bit and I still don't get it all that much ... seems to ONLY apply to an injury risk to the back-up or pinch hitting and if Jorge can't cover those on a rest day he really is in delicate shape. Still, there is no blazing talent being kept down for the two back up C's so ... no biggie?

2008-06-02 06:46:22
2.   Bob B
One third of the season gone and were a .500 team. Unfortunately, this is not going to be like the 2005 season where a .500 Cardinals team won their division and shockingly won the World Series. The Rays don't show any signs of wilting and the RedSox are still the defending champions. No way we get in even with the WC. So if you agree with me, do we get rid of Matsui, Giambi and Damon now or wait a while? Mats would definitely draw some serious attention right now. I still think we should put Posada at First Base (getting rid of Giambi and Duncan) and not overusing the right shoulder. Let Molina catch for the rest of this season and look for a new catcher and a new outfield next year through free agency and these trades. Even without them, it couldn't be any worse to watch than what we're watching now.
2008-06-02 07:00:02
3.   ny2ca2dc
2 I'm all for dumping the vets if the team collapses, but that decision is probably nearer the trade deadline. Because right now this team looks like a contender (if far, far, far, far from a shoo in), in that Joba and JoPo are coming, don't forget. Replacing Kennedy's 9 ERA with Joba's 4.5 or better, and sub-replacement catchers with JoPo is huge.

I just hope Britton isn't sent down for Giese. He really did a good job last night, as he pretty much always has. I'd be fine with Veras or Patterson or Ohlie getting a trip around the merry go round.

Speaking of the trade deadline, does anyone think there's any chance at all Latroy is NOT dealt? I'm not as down on him as some, he's a mediocre reliever - but the Yanks have lots of those who also have options. So he might fetch something. Unless you think he'll fetch a draft pick as a Type-B FA.

2008-06-02 07:05:23
4.   Knuckles
June 2, 2007
Yanks were 23-30 (.434), 13.5 games back of the Sox (.685), and in 4th place, one game ahead of Tampa.
They finished the season at .580, 2 games back of the Sox.

June 2, 2005
Yanks at 27-26, 4th place, 5 games back of the Sox.
They finished the season at 95-67, tied with the Sox

June 2, 2008
Yanks a .500, 6.5 games back of Tampa. 4th place. 2nd place in the AL West and Central are at .518 and .526.

You wanna give up on the season...why exactly?

2008-06-02 07:07:59
5.   williamnyy23
1 Why do you mention about how much you hate agreeing with me in almost every post you write. It doesn't bother me, but I am just curious.

2 3 You can't dump this early, but for what I have seen, the only thing that would make me think this team has a chance at the playoffs is the fact that they are the Yankees. If they were wearing any of the other 29 major league uniforms, I'd consider them a much longer shot than my fandom allows me.

Either way, I would not trade Matsui. He has another year at a reasonable price and still seems very productive. With Abreu and Giambi likely out the door, you can't replace every bat next season, and Matsui is definitely one that I'd like to keep.

2008-06-02 07:18:59
6.   Chyll Will
1 I agree with you about the ump; I recognized it early on, and seeing that he not only squeezed Blackburn the same way, but in later innings became inconsistent, he might have had a stronger effect on the overall game than acknowledged. That's no excuse, mind you, but nobody likes to see a game called that way.

I thought Patterson's performance was better than average, all things considered, but I worry that the hitters in this league will figure out his funky delivery pretty soon and start hitting him hard. Seems like there's a wide disparity between AAA and the bigs this year (maybe it's just Scranton) and his margin for adjustment will have to be very wide regardless. Hopefully, if he needs to, he can bridge that and be as effective as he has been in Scranton.

2008-06-02 07:32:42
7.   horace-clarke-era
william, sorry (really!) it is schtick, a tease, after we had so many run-ins over Roger in the off-season. No more than that, honestly. I think I've also noted a number of times when I think you are right-on.

Having said that ... I'm with 4 "Why, exactly?" is .. exactly right. WAY too early to even think about dumping. I'm more interested in rumors out of Denver we're after a reliever from Colorado (Fuentes). I want to get BETTER and I think we are about to.

Jeez. How fast do we go from 'Tampa Who, those jokes?' to 'The Mighty Rays show no signs of folding.' Wow. On June 2nd??? Nor is it just 'these are the Yankees, only reason to hope' ... like no one remembers various rushes and foldos in the Central recently? Like, last year maybe?

This is the summer game. We are 3 weeks from summer! Yes, this is a different season, no pushovers to beat up on in the AL East (the Jays pitching is REALLY good) but that applies to Tampa and Boston too! We are under a blanket for the WC with everyone but the Rays and Sox. Do people honestly think it is impossible to make up 5-6 games in 100 games? Wow. Might not happen, and a lot nicer to be the 5-6 in FRONT but ... patience, grasshoppers, patience!

2008-06-02 07:41:30
8.   Raf
One imagines either Patterson or Britton will be optioned to make room for Giese

Given the way he's been handled, I see no reason Britton will stick around.

2008-06-02 07:53:40
9.   tommyl
0 8 Or they could DFA Hawkins, which I think would be the correct move. At least with the DFA of Ensberg the team has shown a willingness this year to dump vets if they aren't peforming. If its between Britton and Patterson, I hope Britton gets to stay. He's been good in the majors over more than a season. I'm not sure what else they want him to do.
2008-06-02 07:54:07
10.   Shaun P
If I'm counting right, the Yanks only have 39 guys on the 40-man, so they just need room on the 25-man roster for Giese. Between Giese and Posada, I expect Britton and Veras go down to SWB. The only question is which one goes when.

When the Yanks decide who to keep between Molina and Moeller, who comes up? If they wait long enough, they could bring Veras or Britton back. If not, could we see White, or even JB Cox?

7 Yes, no reason to throw in the towel on June 2. Lots can happen in 4 months.

2008-06-02 08:02:56
11.   Schteeve
dumping this early in the season is ridiculous. Blather on all you want about how Tampa look like they are for real and the Sox are the defending champions, but the fact is that the Yankees are only 6.5 back with two thirds of the season to go.

They have A-Rod, Giambi and Matsui all capable of driving the offense. Joba should be a meaningful improvement for one of the starters, the pen has been decent. I'm actually optimistic that this team is going to make a run.

Further, trading Giambi is not going to happen. Unless the Yankees eat a bunch of cash, and I don't see the upside to doing that unless they are gonna get real value in return.

2008-06-02 08:48:34
12.   OldYanksFan
Wow Bob... where to start...

"So if you agree with me, do we get rid of Matsui, Giambi and Damon now"
Giambi LEADS out team in OPS and HRs and is 2nd in RBI and OBP. You want to PAY another team to take one of our best players?
Neither AJax or Tabata are ready for 2009.
We rushed up Melky, Phil and IPK. That doesn't make it a good idea or philosophy. Gardner may be ready, but there's a better then even chance he is basically Juan Pierre. He may be a piece, but he is not an impact guy. We don't know what JD and Mats will have left for next year, but they are both having fine years (.894 and .837 OPS) so far. We NEED an OF for 2009. And as has been asked already.... WHY ARE YOU GIVING UP, especially with Cleveland and Detroit way behind us?

"I still think we should put Posada at First Base"
Are you looking for someone who might be worse on defense then Giambi? Aside from the fact that Posada WANTS to catch, that's where his value is. A .850 OPS guy behind the play is VERY valuable. At 1st base, not so much.

"it couldn't be any worse to watch than what we're watching now"
I gotta disagree with that. I think we can certainly expect this team to play better then .500 ball and compete, but not if we dump our older talent.

VERY little has gone well so far. IPK and Phil have vastly disappointed. Andy has had a bad month, and Wang too. On O, about half the team is underperforming.

It is not a stretch to think MOST of these guys will have a much better 2nd half, Cano and Jeter especially. While Phil and IPK are not saviors, we know they are better then what we have seen.

And lets not forget we still have a magic wallet. We have tons of money to spend if we can find someone to put us over the top. There are almost always salary dumps in July and August.

It has been a disappointing year, and the odds may be 50/50 that we don't make the PS. But the season is FAR from over.

As Willaim says in 5 , remember....
These are the YANKEES!

2008-06-02 13:08:48
13.   Bob B
OldYankfan...........No one could be worse than Giambi at First base and his OPs, RBI's and OBS just caught up to Melky for crying out loud (who had been leading in those categories while A-rod was out. All due respect, Melky is a nice, average player. Nothing more. As to Posada, Posada was an infielder converted to a catcher, He'll definitely field the position better than Giambi on day one and he's getting old for a catcher and the shoulder should be protected. Beside IPK and Hughes being basically worthless for the first third of the year, you had to think Pettite was going to disappoint because of his age and Wanger is only as good as his bet pitch. The sinker ball has been hit and miss. One game it's there, the next, it's gone. you say 50-50 for post season, I say 15% chance of getting in and only if Cashman spends a lot of money and they get lucky to boot. I say get rid of whatever you don't want for next year and start from there.

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