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Foul Play
2008-03-08 15:19
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Rays beat the Yankees 4-1 at Legends Field this afternoon, but the big news was a home plate collision with two outs in the bottom of the ninth that sent Yankee catching prospect Francisco Cervelli to the hospital where x-rays revealed a fractured right forearm. The play came with the Rays leading 3-1 in the top of the ninth with two outs and minor league infielder Elliot Johnson on first base via a botched play that was absurdly ruled a single (see below). Willy Aybar doubled to left and Johnson attempted to make it home from first base. As the relay came in from Wilson Betemit via Jason Lane, Cervelli set up in front of the plate. The ball beat Johnson to the plate, so Johnson dropped his head and shoulder and plowed full speed into Cervelli, who was rolled over, but held onto the ball for the out. Cervelli was promptly removed from the game and now has his arm in a cast. This play comes on the heels of another Ray, Carl Crawford, plowing into Houston catcher Humberto Quintaro on Wednesday. Cervelli wasn't going to make the team, but he is a valuable prospect and could be be hindered by the lost development time. Joe Girardi is not pleased. The Rays and Yankees play twice more this spring (the first coming on Wednesday) and 18 times during the regular season, so we haven't heard the last of this.

Lineup:

L - Johnny Damon (LF)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Bobby Abreu (RF)
R - Alex Rodriguez (DH)
L - Jason Giambi (1B)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
R - Cody Ransom (3B)
R - Jose Molina (C)
S - Melky Cabrera (CF)

Pitchers: Mike Mussina, Chris Britton, Kyle Farnsworth, Jeff Karstens, Jonathan Albaladejo, Ross Ohlendorf

Subs: Shelley Duncan (1B), Bernie Castro (PR/2B), Wilson Betemit (SS), Nick Green (3B), Francisco Cervelli (C), Kyle Anson (C), Jose Tabata (RF), Justin Christian (CF), Jason Lane (LF), Juan Miranda (DH)

Opposition: The Rays' starters save for Dioner Navarro.

Big Hits: Johnny Damon (1 for 3) led off the game by shooting a double down the left field line off Matt Garza. That was the Yankees' only extra-base hit of the game. They had just five hits in total and no Yankee had more than one.

Who Pitched Well: Mike Mussina had a monster curveball working and struck out five in 2 2/3 innings while allowing just two hits and walking two. One of those hits just happened to be a wind-blown solo homer by Jonny Gomes. Regarding the walks, Moose was being squeezed by home plate ump Mark Carlson, which is one reason why he only threw 55 percent of his pitches for strikes. It was also the source of some classic grouchy body language on the mound, as you might imagine. Kyle Farnsworth pitched a perfect fifth inning. Chris Britton retired all four batters he faced, one via strikeout. Jon Albaladejo worked around a walk for a scoreless inning.

Who Didn't: Jeff Karstens wasn't awful, but he took the loss, allowing the tie-breaking run on three hits and a walk over two frames. Ross Ohledorf pitched in bad luck in the ninth (see the botched grounder ruled a hit in "Oopsies" and add in a passed ball by Kyle Anson that allowed a run to score), but also surrendered a solo homer to Hector Gimenez and a would-be RBI double to Willy Aybar that led to the play on which Cervelli was hurt.

Good Plays: The play that sent Cervelli to the hospital was a great block of the plate. Cervelli has certainly been living up to his defensive reputation thus far this spring. Credit is also due to Wilson Betemit for making a great relay throw from shortstop, and to Jason Lane for hitting the cutoff man. Shelley Duncan made a great leaping stab of a hard hopper over his head, but . . .

Oopsies: . . . he botched the transfer in his attempt to come down and start the 3-6-3 and only got the out at first. In the ninth, Duncan bit on a groundball to his right that was an easy play for the second baseman and in his scramble to cover the bag he both cut off Ohlendorf, who was covering, and dropped the throw. Amazingly, that was ruled a hit. Pressed into emergency duty after Cervelli's injury, Kyle Anson allowed a run to score on a passed ball during the only at-bat he caught in the game.

Ouchies: Alex Rodriguez singled and walked in his two trips as the DH. Jorge Posada did not play. Both are nursing sore right lat muscles. Hideki Matsui will see his first game action tomorrow as the DH, though Anthony Rieber asks, "Is it the best thing to have him take a 2 1/2 hour bus ride when he missed time last week with a stiff neck?"

More Cuts: The Yankees reassigned five pitchers to minor league camp: Steven White, Steven Jackson, Mark Melancon, Dan McCutchen, and Scott Strickland. Strickland came down with a sore elbow before games started and never saw action this spring. White and Jackson both got roughed up. McCutchen pitched a solid inning (one hit, one K), but he's pitched just seven games above A-ball and was never a contender to make the team. Melancon pitched one perfect inning, but is coming off a year lost to late-2006 Tommy John surgery. Both Melancon and McCutchen are arms to keep an eye on. White, however, is in danger of losing his spot on the 40-man roster.

Comments
2008-03-08 18:12:04
1.   tommyl
David Price is good. Scary, scary good. These Rays could be very good, very soon. With three top lefty aces, they could give the Yankees fits this and in many seasons to come.
2008-03-08 18:19:28
2.   monkeypants
I hate the "crash into the catcher play." I commented on this last summer on a game thread, and was skewered for my position. Fair enough. But I still say that there is no place in baseball for this type of play, and this spring training injury only confirms that for me.
2008-03-08 19:33:28
3.   Shaun P
2 I agree. It will be interesting to see what happens on Wednesday.

1 IIRC, BP projects the Rays to win 89 games. The talent is definitely there.

2008-03-08 19:35:09
4.   williamnyy23
2 I was right with you on that thread. There is no room for collisions at the plate in the game of baseball and the rulebook agrees. Why MLB doesn't start enforcing the rules is beyond me. Catchers shouldn't be allowed to block the plate without the ball and runners shouldn't be allowed to tackle fielders. Sadly, common sense has been abandoned on this type of play.

It was great to see Girardi immediately respond after the game. Torre would have been diplomatic afterwards, but you get the get the feeling Girardi wont forget this. Whether there is some retaliation, or Joe G. simply uses the play for motivation, I like the fire.

2008-03-08 19:54:20
5.   Knuckles
I am glad to see the new Joe handle this a little more proactively than the old one, but I hope both sides are mature enough to leave this in ST if need be. The Devil Rays (Rays, sorry) have almost as long a history of plunking guys as the Sux, so I hope this doesnn't carry too far into games that matter...HA!
2008-03-08 20:00:44
6.   tommyl
3 I think it was about 88 or so, yeah. But I think that didn't include Price. I know it was only one inning, but the kid was painting corners at 98-100mph with a sick changeup. That's not pretty good, that's bona fide ace. And the Rays already have one of those in Kazmir, and another not too far off. I could see them having the best front 3 in baseball very soon.
2008-03-08 20:06:35
7.   Cliff Corcoran
Cripes, I meant to mention Price. Scary good. This division is going to be brutal in the coming years. Yikes.
2008-03-08 20:16:14
8.   Just fair
Moose better lose his on mound antics or else his "getting squeezed" is only going to get worse. I can see him getting tossed one of these days. Any fans of Major League will know what I mean when I say I imagine Mussina explaining his big curveball today to Joba and Joba replying "You put snot on the ball?"
2008-03-08 20:42:52
9.   monkeypants
4 Sadly it will have to take a catastrophic injury to a star player, and maybe they will look into the rules.
2008-03-08 20:50:08
10.   weeping for brunnhilde
8 I know, but he never will. Mike is what he is. He's not come this far to swallow his (not so) inner grump.

That was some breaking ball, wasn't it?

Damn.

And for strikes.

2008-03-08 21:00:48
11.   Shaun P
6 Possible, yes, but the odds are that one of Kazmir/Shields/Price gets hurt, and misses some significant amount of time at some point. Of course, the Rays have so many other young pitchers (Niemmann, McGee, Townsend, etc.), it might not matter too much.

7 Drafting at or near the top for a decade plus ought to result in a heck of a run of talent. The Rays are lucky they (finally) got it right; the Pirates and the Royals certainly did not, though things in KC seem to be turning around.

The AL East in 2010 could be like the NL West of 2008 - four potential juggernauts and one team that at least has some very good pitching. I'm not sure which will be the odd team out; I could see if being any of them. Probably Baltimore.

2008-03-08 21:33:10
12.   Mattpat11
1 I actually think the hideously overrated Blue Jays need to be careful this year. If they keep buying their own hype and think they're some kind of contender, they may suffer a letdown when they inevitably become a non factor in early August. And I think Tampa can really embarrass them and take over third.
2008-03-08 21:50:10
13.   Cliff Corcoran
12 The Blue Jays do stand to lose ground, but they have good young pitching, and that can make up for a lot of other blunders in team building.

11 I think you overrate the teams in the NL West. A good division, but four juggernauts? Hardly.

2008-03-08 23:57:42
14.   Yu-Hsing Chen
13 the NL west's core going foward (particularly LA / AZ / COL) look to be frightening good though. SF is going to pull a Pirates / Phillies and finish last for a decade + or something.

The Jays' health risk factor is actually pretty bad... just about EVERYONE of their position player is a pretty seriously health risk outside of Rios and Hill. and going with 3 young pitcher plus Burnett (who has a "reputation" for health) and Halladay (who always seem to manage to miss some games via silly accidents) isn't a good recepie for success.

2008-03-09 07:56:55
15.   Shaun P
13 You're right Cliff, "juggernauts" is too much. What I was trying to say is that all 4 non-Giants teams look about equal, and all have the chance to be quite good (~90 wins). So, it should be a close, competitive race. I could see any one of the four winning it.
2008-03-09 08:06:57
16.   ms october
2 et al - part of the problem with the home plate collision is the size of players now. when eric hinske jacked jorge up it could have lead to far more than a concussion. even carl crawford - "a fast guy" is no small man.

I think we saw last year and maybe even the year before that assuming the Yanks would sweep the Devil Rays or easily take 3 of 4 is folly - granted, and I didn't pull up the schedule, but it seemed like the Yanks played al lot of games agaianst Tampa during their crap fests. But going forward, it is going to be very tough to rack up overwhelming series wins consistently. The Yanks are going to have to do better against the NL and the other AL divisions to make up for a more competitive East.

2008-03-09 08:12:01
17.   OldYanksFan
I don't understand it. At every other base, and every other type of play, baseball is very 'gentlemanly like' it that players can't interfere with one another. Can you imagine someone going into 2nd or 3rd the way these fullbacks go into the catcher?

It needs to be outlawed. Catchers should not have to deal with it. When I was a kid, most players went in with their arms across their chest. Now they go in shoulder first. It's bad. MLB needs to wake up. This ain't hockey.

2008-03-09 08:36:34
18.   Jeb
Maybe the Yankees will at least have some extra motivation when they play the Rays. That play yesterday was absolute horseshit coming in a Spring Training game.
2008-03-09 09:40:08
19.   rbj
I don't mind collisions if the catcher is blocking the plate -- if the game meant anything. ST is not the time and one collision with a catcher is not going to make or break you getting on the ML roster.

Plunk the first Devil Ray on Wednesday, and leave it in ST.

re: AL East, I foresee the Orioles spending a lot of time in the basement. They better start picking our curtains.

2008-03-09 09:48:13
20.   OldYanksFan
Anybody hear M&MD with Sweeney, trying to convince him that Joba NEEDS to be in the BP full time? I thought these guys were supposed to know something about baseball.
2008-03-09 10:14:21
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
Isn't there supposed to be a game on right now?

I turn on YES and there's some world series game from the seventies.

Raining in Florida?

Anyone know?

2008-03-09 10:18:33
22.   ms october
21 the lohud commenters said they game is not on yes - supposedly the next one is tuesday.

BUT it is not "some world series game from the seventies" - it is reggie's 3 homer game. :}

my friend called and told me to put it on - though i have explained at least 30 times i don't get yes in boston.

2008-03-09 10:26:20
23.   weeping for brunnhilde
22 :)
2008-03-09 10:31:43
24.   RZG
21 It's a Yankee away game. I think YES only televises home games during the Spring
2008-03-09 10:34:20
25.   murphy
watching the game on mlb.tv. is it just me or had melky put on a good bit of weight?
2008-03-09 11:05:17
26.   Zack
Been watching it on mlb.tv too, not the preium, which means that the feed is virtually impossible to watch b/c its so grainy, blurry, and choppy.

But Hughes has absolutely cruised through his three innings, totally dominant. Hitting every spot perfectly (Molina hasn't had to move his glove) and from what I can make out of the curve with the feed, its biting down hard. He must be mixing in some changes b/c a few guys are going from way ahead to way behind or vice versa. There's no gun on FSN North, and it is just a ST start, but Hughes is getting a good mix of GBs, weak flyballs, and K's....

2008-03-09 11:14:33
27.   Zack
Hughes has clearly tired in his 4th inning and is missing his locations a lot more...
2008-03-09 12:10:41
28.   RIYank
Hughes walked two in the fourth, but they let him finish the inning and he got out of the jam.

Molina had a 3-run double.

2008-03-09 13:02:25
29.   51cq24
20 they're idiots. last week or the week before they were talking about how stupid the dodgers were for thinking pedro could only ever be a reliever. but i was thinking the other day about whether joba could be a closer like gossage. if he could be an 8th and 9th inning guy (and sometimes 7th), then maybe that actually would be more valuable than starting. i know no one will risk it, but i'm sure people can handle pitching 2 innings on back to back days.

david price looked incredible, but i believe he only threw 2 offspeed pitches, one for a strike and one for a ball. i'd like to see more of those before saying he's a definite ace.

2008-03-09 13:59:52
30.   tommyl
29 The report on Price is that he has 4 pitches and excellent command of all 4. Fast gun or not, the kid was hitting 100mph with command and he made all three hitters he faced look utterly foolish.

If Kazmir and Shields can also stay healthy the Rays are a threatening team this year. The AL East is going to be a bear of a division in about a year. Man, what I wouldn't give to be in the NL Central, sigh.

2008-03-09 15:13:06
31.   Mattpat11
29 The less viable starters we have, the more likely the team is to go out and acquire mediocre starters for alot of money.

And few things bother me more than when we acquire someone whose ceiling is fourth starter. Because often they don't reach that ceiling.

2008-03-09 16:25:35
32.   monkeypants
29 This talk of Joba as a closer or whatever blows my mind. OK, that's an exaggeration. But still, as great as Gossage was, he was also a failed starter. As great as Mariano has been, he is still a failed starter. The most innings Gossage threw in a season? 224, when he started 29 games. The next most? 141, 134, 133, and 102. I'd rather have 200 innings of good starting pitching

This too is an exaggeration; yes, if they knew Joba would be a HOF reliever, maybe then you groom him for the job. But in general, they really should try Joba out as a starter first, and relegate him to the BP only if starting doesn't work out. And you're right, they would never use him like they used Gossage. So forget those 130 inning seasons: you're looking at 60 innings of Joba-as-closer once they get enamored with him in the pen.

2008-03-09 18:32:34
33.   51cq24
32 i agree that he would pitch more often as a starter. i also agree that many relievers are failed starters. and i want him to be a starter. but 1) if it's easier to be a reliever than even a really good starter would be a better reliever and 2) right now it might be more valuable to have a really good setup man/closer than a really good starter because that's 2 jobs and roster spots.
2008-03-09 18:33:46
34.   51cq24
33 either insert "a starter" between than and even or make than then
2008-03-09 20:13:14
35.   OldYanksFan
HA! I knew steroids were GOOD for baseball.
http://polijamblog.polijam.com/?p=823
2008-03-10 00:03:49
36.   weeping for brunnhilde
26 Hey, Zack, thanks so much for the synopsis!

How fucking exciting!

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