Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Astros 12, Yankee 2
2007-03-28 21:03
by Cliff Corcoran

Darrell Rasner tried to give back the fifth starter's spot, but forgot that there's no one around to give it to . . . or is there?


L - Johnny Damon (CF)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Bobby Abreu (RF)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L - Jason Giambi (DH)
L - Hideki Matsui (LF)
S - Jorge Posada (C)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
L - Doug Mientkiewicz (1B)

Pitchers: Darrell Rasner, Ron Villone, Sean Henn, Brian Bruney, Kyle Farnsworth, Luis Vizcaino

Subs: Miguel Cairo (2B), Chris Basak (SS), Carlos Mendoza (3B), Eduardo Nuñez (3B), Wil Nieves (PR/C), Kevin Thompson (RF), Kevin Reese (CF), Josh Phelps (DH)

Opposition: The Astros B-squad.

Big Hits: Doubles by Derek Jeter (1 for 4) and Jason Giambi (1 for 3). Bobby Abreu was 2 for 3 and drove in Jeter in the bottom of the first.

Who Pitched Well?: Kyle Farnsworth and Luis Vizcaino each threw perfect innings, though Farnsworth had the only strikeout between them.

Who Didn't?: Brian Bruney allowed two runs on three hits in his lone inning of work, though he didn't walk anybody. The big story though was the disaster outings by Darrell Rasner and Ron Villone. Villone faced three men, registered just one strike and gave up a four-pitch walk, a single, and a two-run triple, the last to an A-ball shortstop named Tommy Manzella. Darrell Rasner, meanwhile, gave up a whopping seven runs on nine hits, five of them for extra-bases, and two walks in 4 2/3 innings (Villone was supposed to get that last third, but, fittingly, passed the buck to Sean Henn, who allowed Manzella to score before getting that final out of the fifth). Among the hits allowed by Rasner were three doubles, a triple, and a home run, though all came off the bats of men who will head West with the major league team.

Oopsies: Hideki Matsui flubbed a ball in left.

Ouchies: Andy Pettitte threw 31 pitches in the bullpen yesterday, getting up to full speed and mixing in all of his pitches. He'll throw a minor league game or a simulated game in Tampa today. Jeff Karstens will throw a bullpen today and says he doesn't feel any discomfort in his elbow. The big injury news, however, took place outside of camp. Peter Abraham reports that J.B. Cox, who missed spring training because he broke his pitching hand in a fight, had a ligament in his pitching elbow repaired by Dr. James Andrews earlier this week. He could return to action at the end of the season, but any hope of him serving as a late-season reinforcement in the pen is gone. Abraham also reports that 2006 draftee Mark Melancon, a right-handed reliever out of the University of Arizona, had full-blown Tommy John surgery this winter.

Battles: Given Rasner's poor outing, Jeff Karstens could still break camp with the team as the fifth starter if his bullpen work goes well. The team won't need a fifth starter until a week from Sunday and could give Karstens an inning or two out of the pen early next week as part of his rehab. Meanwhile, Ron Villone remains in play despite all evidence to the contrary. After the game, Joe Torre said that Villone looks exactly like he did a year ago at the end of spring: "If he wasn't here last year, then it would be tough to even consider him, but with what we know about him and know about his makeup and all that stuff, I think you still have to make a decision with that infumation being a part of it." Brian Bruney had a bad outing. Wil Nieves went 0 for 2 with a strikeout. Josh Phelps made out in his only at-bat.

Notes: Mike Mussina will pitch in a minor league game today. The Yankees have called up Steven Jackson and Chase Wright to pitch the major league games in place of Mussina and Pettitte today and tomorrow.

2007-03-28 22:16:11
1.   yankz
Pitching depth rules.
2007-03-28 22:39:43
2.   Zack
Damn Ron Villone and his belly full of guts. Its amazing, we joke about Torre's veteran obsession and flat out refusal to trust/ever use young, "unproven" guys, and then he comes out with things like his comments on Villone, and we all realize that such jokes are not jokes at all...
2007-03-28 22:58:41
3.   joejoejoe
"I think you still have to make a decision with that infumation being a part of it."

Is infumation a word that Torre invented for Villone getting smoked?

2007-03-28 23:04:28
4.   rabid stan
I wonder if Villone can join the group therapy Karsay, Quantrill and Sturtze started some time back. Those guys still meet, right?

On an unrelated note, Mike Celizic wrote a doozy of an article on Mariano Rivera yesterday:

The gist is Mo is cooked, has been a dubious contributor to the team (no rings in six years, Game 7 in 2001, 2004 ALCS), and Cash is going to brush him off, just like he did Bernie, after this season. Celizic seems to think (in spite of the title of the article) that this would be no great loss.

How does Celizic know Mo is cooked? He went to and discovered that Rivera's career first-half/second-half ERA split is 2.09/2.52 (!). This means his slender frame can't stand up to the rigors of pitching through the season.

More specifically, Celizic cites Mo's 2004, 2005 and 2006 ERA splits. In 2004 it was .99/3.24, which is almost completely accounted for by an increase in Opp. BA from .207 to .248 in the second half, corresponding with a rise in BABIP from .260 to .312, and three more doubles (7 on the year) and one more homer (3 on the year) than in the first half. Opponent's OBA split was a meaningless .286/.288. The 2005 and 2006 first-half/senond-half ERA splits he cites don't require any response, as they were 1.01/1.69 and 1.76/1.86, respectively.

Now Mo won't be around forever, but he doesn't by any means look like a pitcher on his last legs. We all worry about his health, but that's more about who he is than the problems he's actually had. We all worry about his use, but only because with Joe the potential for overuse is there with any of his Guys (see above); Mariano has shown nothing but the highest endurance one could expect from a reliever.

I'd do the rest of the article, but this isn't my blog.

2007-03-28 23:47:45
5.   Cliff Corcoran
3 Sorry, I've heard Joe mispronounce "information" a zillion times already this spring, I had to spell it phonetically at least once. See also: "infamation"

Once Michael Kay starts doing YES broadcasts with more regularity I just might write about the fift inning and Alex Rogrigess.

2007-03-29 00:25:33
6.   Rich
Phelps made the team; Phillips was reportedly waived.
2007-03-29 00:28:46
7.   joejoejoe
5 I was never sure as a kid whether it was Graig Nettles or Craig Nettles. I also thought Dr. J and Julius Erving were two different people. I guess what I'm saying is I was a dumb kid. As for Kay - it would be an interesting little project to pull old broadcasts of Yankee games and compare and contrast the announcers, the advertising, the style. As much as Rizzuto used to get criticized for talking about whatever restaurant he and Cora dined at the night before I'll bet Scooter still paid more attention to the game than any modern announcer.
2007-03-29 00:31:37
8.   joejoejoe
6 Star-Ledger: "Andy Phillips, who had been competing with Phelps to platoon at first base with Doug Mientkiewicz, yesterday was placed on outright waivers. The move (which was revealed by a major-league official who asked not to be identified because waivers are confidential) means that by tomorrow Phillips will be claimed by another team or sent to the minors by the Yankee."
2007-03-29 03:46:41
9.   Shaun P
4 Ah, "Hat Guy". I never heard of him before the wonderful guys got a hold of him. So his garbage doesn't surprise me. Nice analysis, BTW.

2 Ditto. If Villone has a 8.00+ ERA going in to May, I wonder if Torre will give him the Sturtze treatment, and keep using him, or the Stanton/Groom treatment and exile him.

8 I'll be shocked if anyone claims Phillips.

2007-03-29 04:05:44
10.   mikeplugh
I hope Andy catches on somewhere. He could maybe possibly could perhaps maybe stick somewhere are realize some of the potential we saw in him 2 years ago at AAA.

Good luck Andy. Welcome Josh "BP Coverboy" Phelps.

2007-03-29 04:20:28
11.   Jim Dean
9 I'll be shocked about Phillips too. He's a 29 yo 1B who's never hit MLB pitching.

Too bad about Cox. At least they have 17 RHRP pitchers - let's see if we can count them:

Sanchez (maybe)

Britton will certainly get his chance this year. After that Beam and maybe Bean. My sleeper for a late year impact is Whelan.

Still they got Bruney for nothing last year - any team could have had him. Relief pitchers really do grow on trees - the problem is shaking until a non-rotten one falls out.

2007-03-29 04:52:20
12.   monkeypants
10 Unfortunately, I think Andy had a very small window of opportunity--a year or two--and the Yankees wasted that by keeping him in the minors a year too long.
2007-03-29 06:15:55
13.   AbbyNormal821

4 Amen, brother! Not to worry. Besides, we should never trust a man who tries to pull off (quite poorly, I might add) an impersonation of Rex Harrison's Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady! ;-)

2007-03-29 06:34:57
14.   Sliced Bread
Sucks for Cox, but good thing it wasn't Tommy John surgery.

The "Wilkes Barre Citizen's Voice" (as opposed to the Emma Span-less "Village Voice") is reporting Cox underwent Mariano Rivera surgery, as in the same procedure Mo underwent when he was in the minor leagues.

WB Voice also reports Humberto Sanchez threw a bullpen session yesterday suggesting he could be back in the mix soon.

1 word.

2007-03-29 07:45:50
15.   Jim Dean
12 You bet they did. But that's the type of player the Yanks always seem to have trouble finding a use for. You know, why promote Reese or Thompson when THE Terrence Long is available! Why give a Steven White a chance when they could get THE Scott Erickson!

1 14 At the expense of a 1B? So that depth can pitch in October? Sure, the Yanks have pitchers that will get them through the season. But then they had that before the off-season (see top five on that list above + Veras and they had four starting pitchers). I know, I know, I'm arguing with those already drunk on the Cashman-flavored Kool-Aid.

2007-03-29 07:50:27
16.   rbj
4, 9 We will have to wait for to whale on Hat Guy for this column. It will be a hoot.
2007-03-29 08:21:21
17.   Sliced Bread
15 Who's on the kool-aid with respect to 1B? You haven't heard me railing against Doug Out since he was a rumor around here?

The 1B and BUC problems will be resolved somehow. Patience.

re: Veras - he was the dark horse I was rooting for until he got hurt.

2007-03-29 08:53:06
18.   baileywalk
If the Yanks are scared of both Karstens and Rasner now, who would be the first among the minor-leaguers to get a shot at that one start in April? I guess Ohlendrof and Clippard lead the list. It definitely won't be Hughes.

Anyone know if any of those guys' schedule serendipitiously coincides with when the Yanks need a starter?

2007-03-29 09:00:58
19.   Sliced Bread
18 'Dorf pitched yesterday (roughed up a bit before he settled down), but I don't think the Yanks are too scared of Karstens and Rasner at this point. They've proven enough that their recent hiccups should be forgiven and forgotten pretty quickly.
2007-03-29 09:08:56
20.   Jim Dean
17 Sorry but when you praise the pitching depth, you're also praising the lack of a 1B.

The two are related. An abundance of one should have meant the negation of the other.

And you're right. Sooner or later it will. Because the Yanks have nothing else to trade.

2007-03-29 09:12:08
21.   Bama Yankee
11 It's no secret that I am one of the last surviving members of the Andy Phillips Fan Club and therefore I am certainly biased toward my fellow Crimson Tide alum. Nevertheless, I realize that Phelps seems to be the logical choice this year and has earned his shot while Andy got his shot last year and did not produce.

But to say that Andy has "never hit MLB pitching" seems a bit harsh, IMO. Last year Andy hit .324/.342/.543 (with 4 homers and 3 triples) during May and June. Yes, his April and July numbers were terrible, but he did "hit MLB pitching" for a couple of months.

Not trying to start something with you Jim, recently others have made similar statements and it bothers me that some of the same poeple who are loving the "Sosa-like" numbers that Phelps has put up this spring forget about Andy's hot streak last summer. Both small samples to be sure, but certainly not dissimilar (unless you count the fact that the Phelps numbers occured during spring training).

Again, I realize that I see Andy Phillips through Crimson colored glasses but after all he has been trough during his time with the Yankees, I just wanted to mention something positive about him as his career in pinstipes could be ending.

2007-03-29 09:26:55
22.   Sliced Bread
21 Crimson colored glasses. Good stuff, Bama.

Damn, that brief run of success Andy enjoyed last season was exciting.
Remember that dive into the seats, too?
He did your alma mater proud in pinstripes.
I wish him the best, and that might not mean the Yanks for him.

2007-03-29 09:57:19
23.   Jim Dean
21 Fair enough. Unfortunately (for you and him) I just don't see another team claiming him.
2007-03-29 10:36:15
24.   YankeeInMichigan
What kind of pitcher is Darrel Rasner? His pattern of 3-good-starts-1-implosion (consistent through 2006, AFL and this Spring) suggests a finesse pitcher who doesn't have the velocity to compensate when his location isn't working. Kind of like Andy Pettitte before he started training with Clemens.
2007-03-29 11:29:20
25.   JL25and3
7 I'll bet Scooter still paid more attention to the game than any modern announcer.

Oh, I'll take that bet. I completely loved Scooter, and occasionally he'd display some remarkably subtle baseball insight - but I don't think I've ever heard an announcer who paid less attention to the game in front of him.

2007-03-29 11:29:39
26.   Bama Yankee
22 Thanks. Yeah, I remember that dive into the seats (although I did not get to see it because my MLB.TV crapped out on me right before it happened).

I am torn. While I would like to see Andy remain a Yankee (even at the AAA level), I would also like to see him get picked up by someone who could use him at the major league level. However, I agree with Jim and others that the latter is not likely.

2007-03-29 11:35:19
27.   YankeeInMichigan
7 I was also confused regarding Gregg/Craig Nettles. And I wondered why the Rangers' box scores never mentioned Rod Joe-Bear (and why the radio announcers never said anything about Rod Gilbert).

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