Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2006-05-12 09:59
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Never mind last night's loss to the Red Sox. The Yankees have far more pressing issues that a one-game deficit in the standings on May 12. What the Yankees need right now is an outfield as Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui are both on the DL with injuries to their left wrists and Johnny Damon is literally banged up, his achy left shoulder and sprained right foot having been aggravated by another collision with the outfield wall last night.

Damon will continue to play through his pains, but a few days at DH would be advisable as the last thing the Yankees can afford right now is to have either of Damon's ouchies turn into a chronic injury that might effect his offense or availability. That means a Yankee outfield of Melky Cabrera, Bubba Crosby and Bernie Williams might become a common sight over the next couple of series. Gulp. One thing's for sure, with Matsui and Sheff on the DL and Kevin Reese having been called up to take Matsui's spot on the roster, those three along with Damon will see the bulk of the playing time in the outfield and at DH.

I'm tempted to say that the time has come for Torre to make Andy Phillips his primary DH, sitting him only to give Damon an occasional break from the field. Certainly a line-up with Phillips at DH, Damon in center, Melky in one corner and a Bernie/Bubba righty/lefty platoon in the other inspires more confidence than what we're more likely to see, which is Bernie at DH and an outfield of Bubba, Damon and Melky from left to right. But I think I've finally given up hoping that Phillips will get his shot. That said, the Yankees will face lefty starters tonight and tomorrow, so there's a ray of hope.

Barring Joe seeing the light on Andy, here's what the Yankee line-up will look like for the next week or two:

L - Johnny Damon (CF/DH)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Jason Giambi (1B)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
S - Jorge Posada (C)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
S - Bernie Williams (DH/RF)
L - Bubba Crosby (LF/CF)
S - Melky Cabrera (RF/LF)

You can kiss 1,000 runs goodbye.

As for Kevin Reese, he was the fourth outfielder I most favored coming out of spring training. As I've said before, I thought Melky needed a full season at triple-A and didn't want to see him rushed, though with the two injuries and Melky's hot start in Columbus it would have been impossible for the Yankees not to have promoted him by now. As for the difference between the two Kevins, there is something reckless and volatile about Kevin Thompson's playing style that I thought would lead to numerous mistakes coming off the bench. I could just see Thompson making the team because of his bat, but being used primarily on defense and as a pinch runner and running into outs and committing wacky errors. Reese, meanwhile, seemed like the ideal bench bat, a lefty with patience and more power than either Thompson or Cabrera and without the flashy speed that would tempt Torre to use him as anything other than a compliment to the right-handed Phillips and lefty-killing Bernie.

The problem is that Reese hasn't hit much at all thus far this year and his power has almost completely disappeared. In 109 triple-A at-bats this season, Reese has hit .257/.336/.376. This after seeing his line drop from .323/.370/.521 in a half-season in triple-A in 2004 to .276/.359/.450 in his first full-season with Columbus last year. Reese just turned 28 so he's not going to get better. He likely won't play either, though he does give Torre a fifth outfielder in case the Yankee skipper is inspired to pinch-hit Phillips for Crosby against a lefty in a big game situation.

Barring another injury or an abysmal performance from Cabrera, Reese will return to Columbus when Sheffield is activated. According to Will Carroll, the MRI Sheffield is scheduled to undergo next week is merely a diagnostic to allow the Yankees to gauge his healing process. The continued rumors about possible damage to his hamate bone appear to be unfounded as Will says Sheffield's injury is "just ligaments." Adding, "He'd be fine if he'd had the cortisone."

For those who missed it, Sheffield refused a cortisone shot in his wrist because of the lingering effects of the drug, overuse of which can make tendons and ligaments brittle. Sheffield had a three cortisone shots in the same wrist while with the Braves in 2002. Now nearing the end of his contract and his career, Sheffield has become unwilling to risk his future health for a few extra at-bats, though I wonder if he might be willing to change his tune now that his return has become so much more important to the team, or if the dire state of the Yankee outfield will prompt Sheffield to try to use that cortisone shot as leverage toward getting his $13 million option picked up for next season.

As for Matsui, the latest from Will is that the injury appears to be to the arm bones (the ulna or radius or both) much like Derrek Lee's, which would mean it would be about 8-10 weeks until Matsui returns to action, though at this point that remains speculation.

In other injury news, weather permitting, Carl Pavano will make his second rehab start tonight. In his first rehab start on Sunday with single-A Tampa he threw five innings allowing three unearned runs on four hits (one homer) and a walk while striking out four. Will Carroll has reported that some in the organization want to activate Pavano as soon as possible on grounds that they don't want to waste any of the time Pavano's healthy enough to pitch. He's expected to make at least one more start in Trenton on Wednesday, the weather and his performance in those two outings will obviously have a lot to say about when the Yankees will be willing to plug him into the rotation.

* * *

By the way, I've used that headline before. Way back on August 13, 2003 when my old Big Red Blog was in its infancy. For yucks, here's the post that followed:

That's a lame M*A*S*H reference if you don't get it. Anyway, turns out Wells will miss his next start in favor of Sterling Hitchcock (ouch). No official word yet on his back, however. Meanwhile, Jason Giambi may need off-season knee surgery. The good news is that means more Nick the Stick at first. The bad new is Jason Giambi may need knee surgery. Ugh. I don't know about you, but I think it's very obvious that Bernie is far from 100% on his repaired knee. He's not getting to balls in the outfield and he's more station-to-station on the bases than before, unsure about taking that chance for the extra base. And thus begins Bernie's slow transformation into Paul Molitor (I hope . . . the alternative is not comforting).

The germs of many unfortunate events lurk in that one paragraph. Wells' back cost the Yankees that year's World Series, Giambi had the surgery, but that and other injuries and health problems combined to basically wipe out his 2004 season, Johnson was traded that winter, and as for Bernie, well, let's just say he's not reminding anybody of Paul Molitor these days.

2006-05-12 12:24:51
1.   Bob Timmermann
Help me, I need an !
2006-05-12 12:26:22
2.   Bob Timmermann
How about, help I've been italicized!
2006-05-12 12:40:31
3.   wsporter
".... a Yankee outfield of Melky Cabrera, Bubba Crosby and Bernie Williams might become a common sight over the next couple of series...." Stop it Cliff, you're scaring the children.
2006-05-12 12:46:50
4.   bp1
If only LH Bernie could match what RH Bernie can do. (sigh).

Matsui's statement is a thing of beauty. It should be stapled to bulletin boards across the minor leagues, colleges, and high schools. "My Team" and "My Teammates". He gets it. Too bad so many superstars (Bonds) don't get it.

I can't wait for "Matsui Returns" day.


2006-05-12 13:16:11
5.   C2Coke
4 You and me both, and surely countless Yankees fans and Japanese fans are waiting for Matsui to return. I was touched by Matsui's statement, too.

3 Cliff really scared me. I can kiss that 1000 runs goodbye, but with that combination are the Yanks sending other teams to reach that 1000 runs goal? I am horrified.

2006-05-12 13:19:01
6.   wsporter
Matsu said ""Due to this injury, I feel very sorry and, at the same time, very disappointed to have let my teammates down. I will do my best to fully recover and return to the field to help my team once again. I would like to thank Joe Torre from the bottom of my heart for having been considerate of my consecutive games played streak these past several years and for placing me in the lineup every day."

I don't know if he wrote it or if it was written for him but either way it's a nice job. I'd say I'll be glad to get him back but that seems way to freaking obvious.

2006-05-12 13:23:05
7.   Sliced Bread
N*I*C*E, Cliff.

Statement from Alex Rodriguez:

"I regret the injury I caused my teammate Hideki Matsui. I should have caught him before he got hurt. A true super hero makes that play. Additionally, last night I should have caught the Bernie ball, made the Jeter throw, as well as the Cairo catch/tag. You can't blame me for Sheffield's injury, but I could be fairly criticized for not healing him. It is also my responsibility to block the low pressure system that's threatening to bring rain to the northeast U.S this weekend. If the weather sucks, boo me."

2006-05-12 13:30:30
8.   Shaun P
I don't know which comment made me laugh more, MFD's 3 or Sliced's 7 - nice work, guys.

Cliff, its all just speculation at this point, but what is your take on a possible trade for some OF help? Just curious . . .

Last question - what's the weather like in the Bronx, any chance the Yanks even play tonight?

2006-05-12 13:36:07
9.   Count Zero
2006-05-12 13:37:55
10.   Howie
Andy is playing 1B tonight, so hopefully he becomes part of a platoon with Bubba.
2006-05-12 13:43:28
11.   jkay
Weather is fine, the sun is out.
2006-05-12 13:45:41
12.   Cliff Corcoran
8 It's humid and sunny in NJ. I was IM-ing Alex earlier and he said it's London weather, it'll be on and off all night. I don't think the game is in doubt, though.

As for trades, I have no problem with the Yanks making a trade as long as they don't give up any chips. This team needs a DH, so whomever they acquire will still play after both Sheff and Matsui return. Reggie Sanders was someone we discussed back during the Royals series, I'm sure he could be had. I don't think the Abreu rumor is legit, especially given Rowand's injury, but hustle or no, but his production is tremendous and it would be a huge coup to get him. I'd like to see them avoid the Twins, Huff isn't an outfielder and isn't the hitter we all once thought he was. Cameron and Soriano are similar players in that they're all or nothing hitters with speed, I wouldn't give up too much for either. Kearns' is unproven and 26, wouldn't give up too much for him either.

2006-05-12 13:49:59
13.   Andre
sux that the game will not be on extra innings tonight, although it's probably for the best anyway. After the past two games and the crap I've gotten from sox fans today, I need a break.
2006-05-12 13:52:03
14.   C2Coke
3, 7 It's nice to have those laughs, Thanks.
2006-05-12 13:52:09
15.   Jen
12 Sure, Reggie Sanders could be had. He's hurt right now (hamstring). Hasn't played in almost a week.
2006-05-12 13:55:13
16.   Shaun P
13 Not even the Oakland feed? Sigh.

We ought to start a petition to get Extra Innings to carry the feed to every game (unless its a National game on ESPN/FOX/etc), both home and away feeds. Its a crime that they don't already do this. I'd pay more money - not too much more, but more - if they did this. Who's with me?

11 12 Thanks guys.

10 I hope Andy goes 5 for 5 and hits for the cycle. Anything that gets him in that lineup on a daily basis - well, anything except an injury to Giambi.

2006-05-12 13:56:58
17.   Shaun P
15 Slightly off topic - Jen, that's a great pic of the Scooter and Yogi you have up at your blog.

And happy birthday Yogi!

2006-05-12 14:28:26
18.   standuptriple
Ah, one of the many perks of living in the Bay Area. Sorry guys, but I'll be watching it all. It won't be in HighDef though.
2006-05-13 07:48:00
19.   TomP
I'm probably just under-caffeinated this morning, but how does Carl Pavano end up with only four unearned runs when he gave up a homer? Isn't the batter's run always an earned run in that case, even if errors accounted for the baserunners?
2006-05-13 09:06:40
20.   wsporter
19 TomP, dude what 4 runs, what homer? Are you asking about Trenton's 4-1 win last night for Trenton against Bowie? No homers were hit. Pavano was charged with 3 hits and an earned run over 6 innings. He struck out 6. He left after 63 pitches reporting biceps tightness. Well, at least his ass feels better.

As to the unearned run issue on a homer: if for example it's hit with 2 out after an error that should have retired the side but resulted in the inning being prolonged it seems that it may be scored as an unearned run depending on some other intervening events. Rule 10.18 on Official Scoring seems to cover it.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.