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Yanks Mash, Relievers Cut
2008-03-24 19:07
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Phillies made four errors and J.D. Durbin gave up six runs in the fifth inning as the Yankees beat the Phillies 13-4.

Lineup:

S - Melky Cabrera (CF)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Bobby Abreu (RF)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L - Jason Giambi (DH)
S - Jorge Posada (C)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
R - Shelley Duncan (LF)
R - Morgan Ensberg (1B)

Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Billy Traber, Mariano Rivera, LaTroy Hawkins, Brian Bruney

Subs: Wilson Betemit (1B), Chris Woodward (PH/2B), Nick Green (PH/SS), Cody Ransom (3B), Chad Moeller (C), Jason lane (PH/RF), Brett Gardner (CF), Greg Porter (LF), Hideki Matsui (DH), Bernie Castro (PR/DH)

Opponent: Half of the Phillies' starters.

Big Hits: Robinson Cano (3 for 4) was a double shy of the cycle and drove in five runs, three on a home run to right that Pete Abe says flew "over everything." Jason Giambi (2 for 2) and Melky Cabrera (2 for 4) also homered. Derek Jeter (3 for 4) and Shelley Duncan (3 for 4) doubled.

Who Pitched Well: LaTroy Hawkins pitched a perfect eighth inning and still boasts a spring ERA of 0.00. Mariano Rivera struck out the side around his first walk of the spring. Brian Bruney also pitched around a walk in a scoreless four-batter ninth (more on Bruney below the fold).

Who Didn't: Phil Hughes struck out six in five innings, but also allowed three runs, two of them on a Pedro Feliz homer in the fourth. Hughes, who was targeted for 90 pitches, used up 86 of them in those five frames and seven of his nine outs on balls in play came on flies. That combination of inefficiency and fly-ball tendencies is what we were seeing from Hughes last year after he came off the DL, whereas earlier this spring he was back to being the dominant groundballing power pitcher he'd been in the minors. Billy Traber allowed a run on three singles in the sixth. It was the first earned run he'd allowed all spring, though he had allowed a pair of unearned runs (as has Hawkins) as well as a pair of inherited runners to score.

Ouchies: Andy Pettitte made 47 throws off flat ground, but still felt some discomfort in his back. He needs to get a bullpen in no later than Wednesday and start a minor league game on Friday in order to make his Game 2 start. Still, the Yankees expect him to start one of the first five games of the season at worst, which means the rotation should remain intact, though it's likely to be shuffled. Johnny Damon caught the flu and was sent home. He's supposed to play today.

Bullpen News: Dan Giese and Heath Phillips have been reassigned to minor league camp. With Traber on the 40-man roster and assumed to be the lefty on the eventual 25-man, that's not big news. The big news is that Chris Britton was optioned to Triple-A. Britton was given just five innings this spring, which ranked him 15th among the relievers in camp, and that doesn't even include Joba Chamberlain and Kei Igawa. Britton excelled in those innings, allowing just three hits and walking none while striking out three and allowing just one earned run (1.80 ERA), but once again he's gotten the shaft. There's clearly something we're not being told here. Nonetheless, with Traber in line to be the lefty (Sean Henn has made just three appearances all spring, though he's also pitched well), and Girardi determined to take a long man (fingers crossed for Darrell Rasner), there's just one spot left and still six men left in camp competing for it with just five exhibition games left. Here are your contenders in reverse running order:

Jose Veras: Likely the next cut, he's allowed six runs in six innings despite solid peripherals.

Jonathan Albaladejo: Has been mediocre and inconsistent. He has nine Ks in 8 1/3 innings, but a 4.32 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.

Scott Patterson: Has been the most dominant and reliable reliever in camp, but his lack of experience above Double-A will likely provide the Yankees with an excuse to farm him out for more seasoning.

Ross Ohlendorf: Ohlendorf and Edwar Ramirez lead the Yankees in appearances this spring. Ohlendorf was on the postseason roster last year, has a 2.35 ERA this spring, and has struck out 8 in 7 2/3 innings against just one walk. That's mighty fine. Then again, the two home runs he's allowed and his 1.57 WHIP (the latter the result of a high hit rate, which is a side effect of being an effective groundball pitcher) aren't, and there's something to be said for farming him out as he was just converted to relief in the minors last year.

Brian Bruney: Despite the confusion* over the issue, Bruney has an option year left, which removes a perceived edge some believed he had. Still, Bruney has pitched well, striking out eight in 6 1/3 homerless innings and posting a 2.84 ERA. Most importantly, he's walked just two, resulting in solid 1.26 WHIP.

Edwar Ramirez: After a rough start, he's put together a strong camp, leading all Yankee pitchers in strikeouts (12 in 7 1/3 innings) and reducing his WHIP to a very respectable 1.09. Most importantly, he's not allowed a single home run, which was his bugaboo in the majors last year.

Right now I'd say it's going to come down to those last three: Ohlendorf, Bruney, and Ramirez. I'd be happy with any one of them, particularly as they all have options and can be swapped out as necessary.

*There seems to be some confusion over whether or not Bruney has any options left. Yesterday, Chad Jennings blogged that Bruney does have an option left, but back on March 3, Jennings said he didn't. Looking back through the transaction listings, Bruney was optioned by the Diamondbacks in 2004, 2005, and 2006, and by the Yankees in both 2006 and 2007, which makes the matter even more confusing as players only have three option years. It seems Bruney slipped through a loophole in the Basic Agreement, which reads as follows:

If a Player is optionally assigned for a total of less than 20 days in one championship season, such optional assignment(s) shall not count as an optional assignment in connection with the limitation upon optional assignments provided for in Major League Rule 11(c). . . For purposes of couting days on option, the date of the optional assignment shall be counted and the date of recall shall not be counted, provided that the date of recall shall be counted if the recall takes place after the start of any Minor League game in which the Player was eligible to play.

Here are the length of Bruney's optional assignments:

2004: More than two months, total
2005: 14 days
2006: More than two months, total
2007: 17 days

Thus, despite being optioned in four separate years, Bruney has only used up two of his option years.

Comments
2008-03-24 22:23:12
1.   monkeypants
I posted about this on the last thread, but I am not sold on the need to carry a "long man" the way BPs are used these days. I'd rather farm Rasner (or whomever) and keep two of the Ohlendorf/Bruney/Ramirez/Britton foursome. But I could be wrong about this.
2008-03-24 23:26:40
2.   Shaun P
1 Well, if Pettitte has to go on the DL, Rasner probably slides into the open rotation slot, and 2 of those 3 go north (Britton being the exception).

I like the idea of a long reliever. Part of me wishes Joba was filling that role, though.

I'm not sure what's up with Britton. I had no idea he'd only pitched in 5 innings all spring. The only thought I have is a WAG: the Yanks want him to drop a few more pounds, and this is how they're trying to motivate him.

2008-03-24 23:41:52
3.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Rasner / Karstens been hit pretty hard this spring. Igawa hasn't but most of his on-TV appearance have been ugly to say the least.

I'm not quiet sure if they should do this. nor am i quiet sure if Traber won't go all Mike Myer's on us. it's a tough question to answer.

personally I rather go with Patterson Ohlendorf Rameriez.

as for Britton, I think the bigger issue is that his stuff simply dones't look like he'll get it done in the long term. his FB averaged 90-91 in 06 and was at 88-89 last year (albet small sample size) and it has been around that this spring too.

2008-03-25 00:00:21
4.   monkeypants
2 I like the idea of a long reliever too. But most starters only go 5 to 7 innings anyway. All teams employ a closer and one or two set-up guys--that covers the 9th and 7th-8th. Just how often does a long man do his thing and pitch 3 or 4 or 5 innings? The only time this ever happens if if teh starter gets shelled in the first couple of innings. even then, if you pull the starter after the third, you really only need a long man for a 2 or 3 innings before you are into your normal BP rotation. And if you use a long man for only two innings, he is really no different from any other middle reliever. In the old days the long man was also a "swing man" or "spot starter." But now with the 5 man rotation, there isn't really much need for that.

Anyway, I'm probably just splitting hairs. I doubt it matters much in the grand scheme of things, and the inevitable injuries to Pettitte and Mussina will shuffle the BP deck anyway.

2008-03-25 05:39:55
5.   ny2ca2dc
I was a little worried about Hughes after reading Cliff's excellent recap, but Pete Abe's perspective is a little more rosy, FWIW:

"The Yankees pounded the Phillies 13-4 and had six extra-base hits.

But the most important aspect of the game was how sharp Phil Hughes looked. He struck out six and really made only one mistake when Pedro Feliz homered.

"He had been a little bit off but I thought he was extremely sharp tonight," manager Joe Girardi said. "He had command of all his pitches. Everything was good.""

2008-03-25 05:52:48
6.   ChrisS
I'm less convinced of Edwar having what it takes to be successful. Last year he seemed to be the pitcher equivalent of Rob Deer (he of the Great Three Truths) - walk, homerun, or strikeout. And despite not giving up a HR yet this spring, if he leaves his fast ball in the zone, it gets hit hard. He gets few piddling grounders or weak cans of corn, it seems.
2008-03-25 06:27:05
7.   Yankee Fan In Boston
is it just me, or does the guy in this mugshot look like shelley duncan's twin?

http://tinyurl.com/ysmbvz

2008-03-25 06:35:47
8.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
watching the Red Sox - A's game on Japanese tv tonight. They cut it off in the tenth inning as they couldn't delay showing yet another moronic variety program...times like this I really miss the USA...

love Edvar but I fear he can't cut the mustard...

2008-03-25 06:50:08
9.   Bama Yankee
7 Good call.

8 I wonder if that show features a little girl named Heidi... ;-)

2008-03-25 07:11:36
10.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
9 5 minutes with a Japanese "comedy" variety program and Heidi seems like Plato's Republic...but seriously, they cut off games here all the time. Balance of power way in favor of the networks and advertisers, and not the teams. Robert Whiting has written on this I think..
2008-03-25 07:19:06
11.   Yankee Fan In Boston
ummm... i expect Dead Horse to come galloping through here, but information from canseco's second opus has been leaked.

http://www.joelavin.com/canseco.html

interesting tidbit: canseco hates alex rodriguez because he suspects that alex was trying to sleep with his wife.

HA!

2008-03-25 07:25:04
12.   JeremyM
Canseco's book sounds as worthless as reported. Thanks for the link.
2008-03-25 07:32:53
13.   Schteeve
So Girardi and Pete Abe think Hughes looked awesome last night, but the numbers indicate inefficiency and fly-balliness.

How concerned should we be about Hughes at this point?

2008-03-25 07:50:54
14.   Just fair
Would someone smarter than me be able to figure out the avg. number of innings starting pitchers lasted last year. And then how many pitches were thrown in those innings. Since 100 pitches has become the Holy Grail of max. pitches, I have unfortunately started to pay more attention to it. Get ahead, throw strikes Phl et al. (not Leiter) Caught 2 innings of the sox game this morn, their 2-5 reminded me they hardly ever swing at pitches out of the zone.
2008-03-25 08:05:17
15.   ChrisS
"How concerned should we be about Hughes at this point?"

Concerned he won't have a Cy Young season, or concerned he won't turn into a decent pitcher?

I am unconcerned with Phil Hughes.

2008-03-25 08:14:12
16.   tommyl
13 Me, I'm in sheer panic mode.

Seriously, I think you should be prepared for Hughes to have a bit of an up and down season. Even Clemens in '85 was up and down. The kid is going to make mistakes and get hit, hard at times. One thing he's going to have to learn is how to be successful on nights he doesn't have his best stuff. That's going to take a bit of time. I suspect an overall decent season, with some flashes of brilliance a la the Texas no hit bid from last year.

2008-03-25 08:27:07
17.   Bagel Boy
15 Couldn't agree more. Let's give him three years then start analyzing.
2008-03-25 08:40:42
18.   Schteeve
16 I agree, I was kinda being tongue in cheek about it.

The way I see it, we don't need Phil or IPK, or Joba to be CY Young candidates. According to all the projections SG put up at RLYW yesterday, the Yankees project to have a very above average offense. I think the defense will be about average, maybe a tick below. So the pitching really only needs to be about league average and we'll win 92 games pretty easily, on paper.

2008-03-25 08:48:27
19.   williamnyy23
I think we are getting a little carried away when we start qualifying the type of outs that Hughes records. Even though he has a very good curve ball and is an all around pitcher, Hughes is still a power pitcher. It stands to reason, therefore, that he'll record his fair share of fly balls, especially if he feels comfortable using his fastball up in the zone. In any event, by most eye witness acounts, Hughes pitched well last night. You can't panic just because he isn't dominant every outing.
2008-03-25 08:56:36
20.   williamnyy23
By the way...brutal way for the A's to throw away a game. They get three straight hits off Papelbon after a leadoff walk, but only score once thanks to a bonehead running play by Emil Brown.
2008-03-25 09:37:39
21.   tommyl
20 Hughes and Kennedy for Street! ;).
2008-03-25 09:39:13
22.   tommyl
18 Also, remember who Hughes and Kennedy are replacing from last year. Basically, they are being put into the slots that were occupied by Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa and some hydra headed monster of Wright/Clippard/DeSalvo/Karstens/Rasner etc. I don't think Hughes will win a Cy Young this year, but I do think he'll outpitch that contingent.
2008-03-25 09:46:15
23.   JL25and3
19 Heck, there are quite a few flyball pitchers in the Hall of Fame. Right off the top of my head, there's Catfish Hunter, Robin Roberts, and Bert Blyleven.

Wait a sec...

2008-03-25 11:59:44
24.   dianagramr
23

The Yanks will give Hughes better run support than Blyleven got .... :-)

2008-03-25 12:17:56
25.   Bama Yankee
Those of you who are familar with the seating at the Stadium, which of these options are the best seats:

1. Main Reserved Section 11 (front row)
2. Main Box Section 266 (row F)
3. Main Box Section 229 (row E)

Options 1 & 2 are about the same price, different sides of the field (is one side better than the other for any reason).
Option 3 is a lot more expensive (40% more, just wondering if they are worth it)
I have read that front row seats can be obstructed due to people walking in front of you. Is that a major problem and would it apply to option 1 (Section 11)?

Thanks for any help.

2008-03-25 14:50:47
26.   Jeb
11 Does Canseco's wife look like a man, baby?

25 I think that the front row would be better. By the way, when are you going, Bama? I'm going for the first two games of the Reds series --- got my plane tickets, hotel and Yanks tickets.

Also, is there going to be a Bronx Banter outing at the Stadium this year? May I suggest the first two Reds games. haha. Also, does Bronx Banter sell T-shirts? I'd love to wear one to one of the games.

2008-03-25 15:33:06
27.   Raf
3 Regardless, Britton should get a shot until he proves he can't get it done

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