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Posted by: James
I thought the following article on the MLB website was interesting, especially since Octavio hasn't even thrown a pitch in the Bronx yet.

Pitching for the Mets, Astros and A's during a seven-year big-league career, Dotel has enjoyed his time with the Yankees more than any other team, even though he hasn't appeared in a game.

"To be honest, even though I haven't done anything for the Yankees, I love being a part of this team," Dotel said. "The way that the front office, the trainers and the coaching staff treat their players, it's something that you really love to see. It's better than being with any other team I've been with. I'd love to stay here -- not for one more year, but for three or four years." ...

While Dotel has not contributed on the field, his attitude has been a breath of fresh air in the Yankees' clubhouse. Dotel, who always seems to have a smile on his face, has had an infectious impact on his teammates, something that hasn't escaped Cashman.

"I love him as a person," Cashman said. "I love what he was when he was healthy and I hope he can be that again for us."

"I'm glad they like my attitude in here, the way I am as a person," Dotel said. "From the first day I walked into the clubhouse in Spring Training, it's been great. I don't know how many years they want to keep me here, but as long as it is, I'll love it."

Never to early to campaign for a new contract, huh?

06/29: Vote Or Die

Posted by: James
No, seriously, Puffy will hurt you if you don't vote.

It saddens me to no end that the current starting catcher (Varitek) for the AL All-Star team is the guy who comes in second to last in OPS among qualified catcher. What's worse than that? The guy behind him (I-Rod) in the voting is third to last. Wow. Come on people, show the guy hitting .392/.458/.538 some love! And if not him, I can think of two other guys, at least, who deserve your vote.

If you haven't filled out your ballot, I strongly suggest you read this post by Cliff over at Bronx Banter. Mr. Corcoran outlines each position and all the major candidates and spells out who's the best of the bunch. Definitely worth the time.

Finally, if you can, go vote for Cano as your starting 2B. Fans across the country might (and probably will) stop voting for him now that he's hurt and due to a late surge, someone else could be announced as the starter. Let's make sure that doesn't happen.
Posted by: James
For all the fire he showed on the field and in the dugout, Lou Piniella comes off as a great guy in this Daily News article about his meeting with A-Rod.

According to Piniella, who happened to be at the Stadium Tuesday night to do promotional work as a guest in one of the suites, the meeting with A-Rod was entirely coincidental - although it quickly evolved into an intense hour-and-a-half mind-clearing session on hitting and self-confidence back at Rodriguez's Park Ave. condo.

"I was leaving the park myself when Cynthia came up to me and said Alex would really like to see me," Piniella said yesterday. "I've felt terrible for him, seeing what he's been going through. You have to remember, he was our 'baby' in Seattle. I watched him grow up in the big leagues. I've always felt very close to him and I'm very proud of all he's accomplished and if there was anything I could do to help him, I would."
...
"Basically, I just told him to trust himself. We talked about mechanics, staying confident, being positive. This was nothing new. He needed a friend to talk about hitting and I was glad to be there. That's all. I wouldn't want Donnie (Mattingly) to think I was interfering or anything."

At the mention of Mattingly, I had to remind Piniella that whenever "Donnie Baseball" would get into a slump he, too, would reach out to his first hitting mentor with the Yankees. "Yeah, I guess he did," Piniella said with laugh, "but I'm still employed by the Devil Rays and I don't want to get into any trouble here. I just care a lot about Alex and he wanted to talk."
...
'It's funny," said Piniella, "my wife and I went to a Broadway show (yesterday afternoon) and as we got out of the theater, I said to her: 'I wonder how Alex did today?' We got back to our hotel just as Giambi was drawing the walk in the 12th inning. I can't remember ever feeling better for anyone than I did when I saw Alex hit that ball out."

Take a look - it's a good read.
Posted by: Jason
Alex Rodriguez homers in extra innings to win the game for the Yankees.
I repeat: Alex Rodriguez homers in extra frames to salt the victory.....

To the boo-birds, media, etc.: There's a reason they called him "The Natural" when he was coming up through the Seattle organization...

Was that Glenn Close who rose to her feet about 20 rows back in the first deck today in the bottom 12th?
Posted by: James
ESPN is reporting that the NHL is looking at the possibility of having the New York Rangers play the New York Islanders in a regular season game at Yankee Stadium.

"A request has been made to use the stadium for an NHL game in the 2006-2007 season," Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone confirmed to Newsday. "The matter is under discussion."

"Everybody likes the idea," a source told Newsday. "But there are some obstacles. The question is whether the stadium will be usable at that time of year for that purpose."

One of the obstacles could be the plumbing and water pipes, which would require maintenance to create and maintain the ice surface.

That would certainly be an interesting piece of marketing. While the rest of the country might not care all that much, I'm sure NY would be buzzing about it.
Posted by: Jason
MLB.tv is up and running, pardon the late start but I will be liveblogging today's game from work. I am risking being caught red-handed, but fortune favors the bold!!!

We're now joining the game in the bottom 3rd, with the top of the Yankees order coming up:
Damon pops out to 3rd...
Cabrera grounds out to short...
Jetes grounds out to short after a good battle...end of 3rd still 0-0.

Top 4th:
Renteria doubles...
Chipper grounds to Jetes, Renteria to 3rd...
A. Jones doubles, 1-0 Braves.
McCann grounds to Jetes, Jones to 3rd...
Francoeur grounds weakly to Jetes...Braves 1-0

Bottom 4th:
(I realize with MLB TV that I miss the Avacor hair replacement adds on YES...)
Jason flies out to center....
Alex goes opposite field for a single...I think Smoltz thought he was facing Soriano with that pitch selection...
Bernie swinging sac bunt, Alex to 2nd
Andy lines to 2b Giles...Braves 1-0

Top 5th:
Laroche grounds to Cairo...
Betemit weakly to first....
Langerhans routine grounder to Cairo...Nice inning, Tiger. Braves 1-0

Bottom 5th:
Miguel pops out...
Speed Merchant Stinnett attempts a bunt!!...and K's looking...
John Damon: flies to center Braves 1-0

Top 6th:
Giles Ks..
Renteria weak grounder grabbed by Kelly...
Chipper singles...
A. Jones singles, Chipper to 3rd....
McCann in Chipper, Braves 2-0.
Francouer grounds to Jetes....
(MLB TV on the fritz, sorry about the delay)

Bot 6th:
Melky singles...
Jetes Ks...
Giambi 1B, Melky to 3rd
Alex back to Smoltz, Melky scores, Braves 2-1
Bernie flies out to right...it had a chance.

Top 7th:
Laroche lines to Alex...
Betemit to Jeter...
Wang easily disposes of Langerhans (and the side)...

Bottom 7th:
Andy triples... a budding Troy Glaus, Jr?
Cairo grounds out...Let's see what that bunt-attempting fool Kelly does
Jorge pinch hitting for Stinnett...
Renteria makes a great catch to rob Jorge...
John Damon walks...
Melky Ks, showing his youth with huge cuts at pitches in the dirt...Braves 2-1

Top 8:
Giles grounds to Cairo
Renteria grounds out off of Wang..no damage.
Chipper with a single...I guess he's been there forever for a reason.
A. Jones out by a leaping catch by Jetes, Braves 2-1

Bot 8:
Ken Ray replaces Smoltzie....
Jetes hits a bullet right at the RF...
Jason hits his 23rd....the game is tied 2-2...fantastic!!!!
Throw Ray a lifeline Bobby...Alex BB 4 pitches...
Bernie walks....
(Just got busted by our sys admin...I told him I would break his legs if he told anyone)
Chad Paronto replaces Ray...
Andy Ks...
Come on Miguel...you are an offensive machine!!!!
Cairo down, guns blazing, Yankees 2, Braves 2

What's that I hear? (MVP, MVP, MVP) I don't want to hear one word about JG's batting average...

Top 9:
El Presidente is on the mound...
McCann weakly grounds to MR...
Francoeur singles...
LaRoche K's looking..
Betemit grounds to Jetes...tied at 2...

Bottom 9:
George Ks..
John pops out...
Melky walks...come on Jetes...
Melky steals 2nd...
Jetes IBB...
Macay McBride replaces Paronto..
Giambi lines to Jones in CF. Tied 2-2

Top 10th:
Mariano Ks Langerhans
Giles BB...
YES!!!!! Giles caught stealing...
Renteria grounds to Cairo.... still tied 2-2

Bottom 10th: Ladies and Gentlemen, work is calling, I'll post a short recap after the game....GO YANKEES...

06/28: Meh

Posted by: James
I think that's the word that can describe the situation right now.

Before last night, the Yanks had won 5 of their last 6 and with a win today, will have won their third straight series. So why does everyone feel like the sky is falling? Well, I guess it's just awfully discouraging when the team ahead of you just keeps piling up wins. I can't imagine the players are liking the feeling either. Going into every game knowing a loss means losing a game in the standings can't be a good time.

Nevertheless, it isn't as if the Yankees are limping into the last week of the season. There is still a lot of time left and the Red Sox will inevitably cool off. Outside of Schilling, Wakefield and Lester (he's been a godsend for that team), they don't have consistent starting pitching and outside of Papelbon and Timlin, their bullpen is average, at best. They will come down and the Yankees will get hot. Heck, with Pedro and Glavine starting tonight and tomorrow (and skipping the Yanks series), the Mets have a great shot of taking that series. Combine that with a Yankees win today and the deficit gets cut to 2 games, hardly an insurmountable lead.

So Yanks fan, I get it; the team hasn't looked great the last few weeks. The big hitters aren't really doing their jobs. The bullpen is giving up runs when they're at a premium. 3 of the starters (1 HOFer, 1 All-Star and 1 soon-to-be All-Star) are on the DL. But don't hit the panic button yet - maybe soon - but not yet.
Posted by: Seamus
Jaret Wright defied the laws of his previous performances last night, as he made it through the 6th inning, giving up only a run on 5 hits, but the Yankees fell short as the offense was shut down by Horacio Ramirez and the Braves defeated the Yankees 5-2. The loss puts the Yankees 3.5 games behind the Red Sox, who defeated the Mets in Boston last night.

Ron Villone began the 7th inning by giving up a solo shot to Adam Laroche as he went on to give up two runs in an inning and a third. Kyle Farnsworth gave up three runs as he recorded only two outs in the 9th and walked into the Yankee dugout to a serenade of boos. The Yankee offense looked incompetent for the third straight game, as Melky Cabrera brought in the only two runs, one on a home run and the other on an infield hit that really should've been scored an error by Chipper Jones.

With the performance that Jaret Wright had last night, there was really no need for the Yankees to use six pitchers. He threw only 90 pitches and showed that he was good enough to at least go out and start the 7th (he threw his hardest fastball, 96 mph, in the 6th inning). I know this guy has a reputation for not being able to go long into games, but if he has the stuff - keep him out there. He kept them in a game that most pitchers would not have kept him in and yet the Yankees had two guys warming up in the pen before Wright even began the 6th inning.

The Yanks will try to take the rubber game of this interleague series this afternoon at 1 ET. The pitching matchup will be Chien-Ming Wang against John Smoltz. The Bombers have a tough set coming up againt the Mets this weekend and they have already fallen 3.5 behind the smoking hot Red Sox, so let's hope that the bats wake up a little and the Yankees can take two out of three from Atlanta.
Posted by: Seamus
Yet another Yankee has gone down, this time Robinson Cano, who pulled his hamstring running to second base Sunday night against the Marlins. Cano was placed on the 15-day DL today and Nick Green has been called back up to take his spot on the roster. Yesterday, he became the 9th and final starting position player for the Yankees to miss a game due to an injury. The Yankees were just 73 games into the season.

The All-Star game is July 11th so Cano will probably miss that one as well. Hopefully he'll be back for a tough series at home against the White Sox on July 14th.
Posted by: Jason
There should be an element of sadness and nostalgia when a long-successful thing is in decline. St. Jerome was in Jerusalem in 410 and when he heard that the Visigoths had sacked Rome, he wrote: "What is safe if Rome perishes?"

Atlanta's dominance did not endure as long nor stretch as far as Rome's, but 15 consecutive division titles is amazing. Atlanta: It's difficult to be a Yankees fan and not think back to the '96 WS and the 0-2 obstacle that the Bombers conquered to win 4 straight. Atlanta: The prototype granite pitching staff of Glavine/Maddux/Smoltz.

I could not help but feel a bit of pity for Bobby Cox and Atlanta (even Ted... CNN is out of his control, Jane is gone, now the Braves are in decline) last evening as they were dominated by a certain tall lefty who has been a concern this year for the Yankees universe. Could it be that Randy Johnson still has "it"? Let's review: 4 inconsequential hits. 95-96 fastball. 9 strikeouts. A slider that cut in and down like a serrated blade. This was Johnson's 4th fine start of his last 6.

The post K fist pump last night to end the inning? Ladies & gentlemen, RJ's still got "it."

Unfortunately, the Braves got 9th inning life from another aging Atlanta perennial: Chipper Jones turned a Proctor curve that was hanging like a ripe orange into a 2 run bomb. Our man (for better or worse) Torre brought in the finest closer ever, who crushed this flicker of hope.

The offense, you ask?

I can only imagine what went through Jason Giambi's mind in the hours after he discovered he had a tumor, until the tests returned indicating that it was not malignant. Add this potentially grave bad fortune to his then ongoing, self-created PED media storm. Last evening Jason Giambi had 2 HRs and 5 RBIs, creating 100% of the Yankees offense. He now has 22 HR's on the season and his line is: .271/.432/.624. Why his success given the huge obstacles?

"It is the perfection of man to find out his own imperfections." -St. Augustine
Posted by: Jason
...have been a fun activity of mine for years. Here goes:

For which outfielder would you accept a trade, mano-a-mano, for Phil Hughes?

My list:

Vernon Wells
Grady Sizemore
Carlos Beltran
Manny Ramirez
Posted by: Patrick
Tyler Kepner at The New York Times has a write-up on Phil Hughes:

Mark Newman, the Yankees' senior vice president who oversees the farm system, said Hughes would not pitch beyond a predetermined number of innings. As for a promotion, Newman said he expected Hughes to stay with Trenton all season.

The Yankees want Hughes to refine his off-speed pitches, learn to handle adversity and grow into his upper body. He is 6 feet 2 inches and 230 pounds but will probably fill out to 250.

"The next steps he makes are harder than the ones he's already made," Newman said. "Does he have a chance to make them gracefully and successfully? More than any pitcher we've had since Andy Pettitte. But I'm not going to say it's a done deal."

Maybe not. But Hughes is getting there, steadily and often spectacularly.

Via Alex.
Posted by: David
The game looked like it could have been rained out, but the game started about an hour late and it proved to be quite a pitching duel between the Marlins' Dontrelle Willis and the Yankees' Mike Mussina.

The Yankees took an early 1-0 lead with the benefit of two walks from Willis. With the bases loaded Johnny Damon delivered a sacrifice fly to put the Yankees up 1-0. The lead held until the sixth when Amezaga got on and stole second. Hanley Ramirez battled and was able to walk. Moose then induced a double play with Amezaga moving to third. The next batter was Miguel Cabrera. Moose got two strikes on him and tried to go up the ladder but the pitch wasn't high enough and Cabrera lined it to center to tie the score.

In the Yankees half of the seventh Johnny Damon deposited a Willis hanging breaking pitch in the right field uppper deck to give the Yankees the lead at 2-1. Mussina got through seven innings and was relieved by Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth. Jack Borchard led off with a single to left and was sacrificed over by Amezaga. Hanley Ramirez then lined a single to right but Bubba Crosby fielded the ball quickly on the first bounce and held the runner at third. Farnsworth got the next batter to strike out and then intentionally walked Cabrera to load the bases. Josh Willingham hit the ball well to left but it was toward the end of the bat and Cabrera was able to make the play to end the inning.

In the ninth, Mariano Rivera entered and as usual was perfect. He retired Jeremy Hermida on a grounder to second, got Cody Ross on a grounder to third and then Wes Helms flew out to Crosby to end the game.

For Mussina it was his ninth win of the season and his record stands at 9-3. After three or four bad outings, Moose seemed to turn it around today. Rivera gained his 16th save of the season and 395th of his career. Tonight's makeup game of yesterday's rainout will start at 8:00 pm. It was originally scheduled not to be televised but ESPN announced they will carry the game live in the New York and Florida markets. With the Red Sox rained out vs. the Phillies, the Yankees moved back to two games behind Boston in the AL East.

06/24: Farnsworth

Posted by: Jason
Is he a finesse pitcher trapped in a power pitcher's body?

Does he think he's Francisco Rodriguez?

On a night when he was throwing 97 to 100 consistently, he hangs off-speed pitches to the Marlins to the tune of 3 hits, 1 run??

Guidry should enforce a version of Gene Hackman's (in Hoosiers) rule on Farnsworth: You can not throw an off speed pitch until you've thrown 5 fastballs...
Posted by: David
The Yankees held on on Friday night with Mariano Rivera saving the game for Chien Ming-Wang as New York took the first game of the weekend interleague series vs. the Marlins at the Stadium.

The Yankees started off early by scoring three runs in the first which started with a Damon double and were further helped by three errors from the Marlins infield and probably a poor fielding play on a Posada grounder which went by the first basemen for a two run single. The Marlins came right back in the second and tied the game with back to back doubles from Hermida and Willingham and a two run homer from Miguel Olivo.

The Yankees erupted for three more runs later in the game by having Damon get on again and eventually scoring on an A-Rod single to put the Yankees ahead. Posada also added another RBI and the Yankees were safely ahead at 6-3.

Chien Ming-Wang gave one back when he allowed the first two batters in the inning to get singles and it put runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. The next batter hit into a double play and the runner from third scored to make it 6-4.

Kyle Farnsworth started the eighth and the first two batters got singles off of him also. He gave up another hit to cut the lead to 6-5 but was able to manage to get out of any further trouble. The Yankees could not add any insurance and it was up to Rivera to save the game with only a one run lead.

Rivera was up to the task and retired the side in order to preserve a Yankees victory. He recorded his 15th save of the season with the effort. Tomorrow is Old Timers Day and after the festivities the Yankees again play the Marlins in a 4pm start.
Posted by: James
All right, I've kept my mouth shut about Phil Hughes for a while now. I started to think I was jinxing the kid with these writeups so I didn't write anything for a while...and lo and behold, he's been on a tear. So, I continued to keep my mouth shut...until tonight. If you haven't noticed, here are his lines since I stopped writing (all at AA Trenton):

Date, W-L-Sv, IP, H, ER, BB, K
Thu Jun 8, Loss, 6.0, 5, 1, 1, 4
Tue Jun 13, Win, 7.0, 1, 0, 3, 8
Sun Jun 18, ---, 7.0, 6, 2, 1, 11

Yeah. He's on a tear and tonight, pitching against the Connecticut Defenders, here's his line:

Fri Jun 23, 8.0 IP, 1 hit, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 Ks.

More impressively, he took a no-hitter into the 8th (lost it on the first batter of the 8th) and had at least one K in every inning. That brings his totals in the last 4 starts to: 28.0 IP, 13H, 3ER, 7BB, 33Ks

Man. Not a bad early birthday present, huh? He turns 20 tomorrow. I had to write something on that. It's a little hard to stay calm since we haven't had a pitching prospect to follow in quite a while. I'm not discounting Wang - it's just that most fans, only the most ardent, weren't tracking his every start like we (or at least Mike A. and I) are. Hughes, along with Jose Tabata, was also chosen for the Futures Game, which is a pretty nice showcase of minor-league talent. Alumni of the game include Melky Cabrera, Dioneer Navarro, Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang.

Also, with Brett Gardner called up to AA and Eric Duncan sent back down there, we now have 5 blue-chippers (I'm including Clippard because I think his peripherals are still pretty good and J.B. Cox hat tip - Mike A.) at Trenton. (P-T-P-ers BABY! Sorry, couldn't resist the Vitale vibe.)
Posted by: Seamus
Newsday is reporting that Bob Boone, who is serving as the Washington Nationals' assistant general manager for player development (basically a big-time scout), was present at the Yankees' Double-A facility in Trenton for a game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Among the highlights of the article:

Bob Boone, the Nationals' assistant general manager for player development, is arguably the most trusted deputy of GM Jim Bowden. That he was sent to watch prospects in the Yankees' and Blue Jays' systems is a telling sign of Washington's interest.

The Yankees already have expressed interest in Alfonso Soriano, and they also could be looking at Jose Guillen to fill their need for a corner outfielder with some pop. The Nationals also could trade pitchers Livan Hernandez, Tony Armas Jr. and Ramon Ortiz.

Nats' GM Jim Bowden has been quoted as saying that he is intrigued by the Yankees' farm system but the article states that the Yankees have already told the Nationals that pitching prospect Phillip Hughes would not be available in any trade.

We all know about Soriano's ability as well as his availability but one guy whose name isn't shuffled around quite as much in the public concerning the Yankees is Jose Guillen. A trade for Guillen might seem more plausible than for Soriano considering the Yankees' resources (Bowden can say he likes our farm system, but how much are we willing to give up?), but I'm not sure that he is the type of guy I'd like to have on my team. Of course I said the same about Gary Sheffield before he came here and I turned out very pleased.

Of course Livan Hernandez and Ramon Ortiz are on the trading block. Forget rebuilding, if I was Brian Cashman and either of those guys were currently pitching for the Yankees I'd be trying to unload them too. Armas' numbers are better, but he's only gone 7 innings once this season and I'd be looking for more of an innings eater. If we have to give away talent to get someone like that we might as well just stick with what we have. Of course it's all just speculation, there hasn't been too much documented interest by the Yankees in any of these guys that I know of to this point.

06/22: Melky

Posted by: Patrick
Steve points to an interesting article on Melky at Star-Tribune.com:

Melky Cabrera began playing baseball at age 3, with a stick and a rock and a plea to anyone who visited the family's humble roadside home on Carretera Sanchez, in the village of Haina, not far from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

"Pitch it! Pitch it," he would say, holding out a rock. ...

10:15 a.m.: Cabrera wakes up in his New Jersey apartment...

The apartment is in the same complex as Robinson Cano's: his fellow Dominican and closest friend on the team. The distance from left field to second base is about as far as Cabrera gets from Cano on a typical day. They hang out together, drive to the park together, go eat Dominican food together.

"He's like a brother to me," Melky says. "My mother and (Cano) are my inspiration." ...

... Everyone seems to love Melky's name. Whoever heard of a Melky? "I wanted to name him Dario, after his godfather," his mother says. Her daughter, Ladi, came up with Melky on the way home from the hospital.
Posted by: Jason
Tonight, the Yankees erased the sting of last weekend by winning this series against a dangerous Philly lineup. This victory had many attractive components: A solid start from Jaret Wright, fine efforts from Villone/Proctor/Kyle/El Presidente de Panama and offensive production with 2 outs. Some highlights:

Just a moment...I knew I recognized Phillies catcher Sal Fasano from somewhere: When I was in college, I went to a Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion tour date in 1994 and Fasano was the bass player, I'm sure of it.

Innings 1-4 featured strong starting pitching from both Wright and the rookie Hamels. As far as Hamels is concerned, you don't ever see Jason Giambi strike out 3 times. Wright's night was highlighted by his dispatch of Howard's first at bat with a 96 mph fastball.

Top 5: Jaret converted Miguel Cairo's triple into the first Yankees run with a deep sac fly. The second best event of the inning was Ken Singleton (YES) mentioning Jeter's .400 BA in night games to set up a Ray Charles lyric reference: "Night time is the right time." Working hard to set up a Ray Charles reference forces me to forgive Singleton's flaws as an analyst.

Top 7: Melky doubled, and then was moved to third by Cairo's sac bunt. He was out at home (FC) after Andy Phillips's infield ground ball. All was not lost, however: John Damon walked, and Jeter's single drove Phillips in from 2nd, 2-0 Yankees.

The 8th was the key frame: Alex walked and stole 2nd after Jorge K'd. Bernie lined out to the left fielder and then the Yankees did all their damage: Melky, Cairo and Damon all hit RBI singles with 2 outs, 5-0. Suddenly, a tight game was in the bag for the New Yorkers.

Again, this game unfolded as they are supposed to...a lead is nailed shut by the bullpen. Hopefully 10 games over .500 becomes 20 games over .500---in the next couple of weeks.

06/21: Liz Funk

Posted by: Patrick
Lee Sinins gave Steve a database of birth date data for all players that have ever played for the Yankees. He's made it available in a spreadsheet. Neat.

Steve notes in the comments that he noticed someone named Liz Funk played for the Yankees. Liz was apparently the nickname for Elias Calvin Funk. They sure had some fun nicknames back there. Liz?

The only Yankee born on my birthday (11/21) was Todd Erdos. Erg. You?
Posted by: Seamus
The Yankees were six outs away from being single-handedly beaten by Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, but the bats finally came through in some big spots as the Yankees defeated the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park by a score of 9-7. The Yankees kept pace with the Red Sox, who beat Washington, remaining two games behind. The Yankees also trail the White Sox by 5.5 games for the A.L. Wild Card spot.

The wheels started turning in the Phillies' favor in the first inning, when Pat Burrell was walked with two outs on a curveball by Mike Mussina that was obviously a strike. The next batter, Ryan Howard, destroyed the first pitch by Mussina for a three-run homer to give the Phillies the early lead. The Yankees chipped away with a one-run 2nd and a two-run 4th to tie the game at 3 before Howard launched another ball into the seats, this time a two-run shot in the bottom of the 4th to put Philly ahead 5-3. Jorge Posada homered to right in the 6th and A-Rod knocked in Johnny Damon with a base hit to tie the score at 5 in the 7th inning, only again to feel the wrath of Ryan Howard, who drove in all 7 Phillies' runs, this time via a two-run triple that put Philadelphia ahead 7-5. The Yankees would come back again in the 8th, highlighted by a two-run, go-ahead triple by Johnny Damon after an RBI single by Melky Cabrera. Damon was brought home by Derek Jeter to put the Yankees up for good, 9-7. Mariano Rivera pitched two perfect innings to record his 14th save, finally retiring Ryan Howard, getting him to ground out to second on the first pitch.

Mike Mussina gave up 5 runs in only five innings, but his performance really wasn't as bad as the box score would lead you to believe. Other than the two home runs to Howard, I thought he was okay. Mussina was pinch-hit for in the 6th inning with the Yanks down a run with a man in scoring position. The bullpen, while not flawless, was for the most part OK despite the two run triple to Howard allowed by Mike Myers. Kinda hard to say whether the pitching was good or bad overall. Seven runs is seven runs, but if it weren't for one guy, the Yankees could have very well shut the Phillies out.

Every Yankee starting position player recorded a hit, including Bernie Williams, who went 5-5 and raised his average to .294. He's just a 2-for-2 away from reaching the .300 plateau and I'm starting to feel more comfortable everyday with him in the lineup. If the Yankees do decide to go out and acquire an outfielder before the deadline it looks like Melky's going to be the odd man out as of now, but hey, in his defense there's still a month to go for the two to turn a complete 180.

The Yankees will try to take the rubber game of this series as Jaret Wright will take on rookie Cole Hamels tonight at 7:05 ET. Hamel is 1-2 with a 4.91 in five starts this season. Wright will try to bounce back from an ugly performance in Washington on Friday in which he failed to get out of the 6th inning. Hopefully the Yanks can escape Philly with two out of three before taking on the red hot Florida Marlins.
Posted by: Steve
Since it was brought up, I figured I'd throw this one out there

I think almost everyone agrees that the Yankees are going to need an additional arm.

I think there is only one name that hasnít been mentioned but has the potential to be the so called difference maker: John Smoltz.

I know there have been rumors about Tim Hudson but I think Smoltz is the guy we should be talking about. I qualify it because I believe he could be had on the cheap. He is making 11 million this year, and has an incentive that gives him $100K per start. The Braves have a 8 million dollar option on him next year, which is relatively cheap, but for a guy about to be forty and team that needs some rebuilding, they may be interested in moving him. Braves salary info.

I also realize that he may return to the Braves right after this year. But I doubt there is any guy out there who could give the Yankees exactly what they need and fit in perfectly. He is experienced with the postseason, big spots, and high pressure situations. He is an older guy with an expiring contract and from a team that is always looking to save money. Additionally Schurholtz has always been reasonable about making deals, and won't try and hold anybody over a barrel. I think with a package led by Duncan and some other high end low A ball guys may be enough to get Smoltz.

Now I havenít heard anything so I can really cite any sources, but more than Willis or Schmidt or any of the guys that have been thrown around, I think this man would be perfect. It would compliment the team perfectly, I think Chacon could move into the bullpen, which might be a good fit at this point and Wright could remain as a meaningless number 5.

» Read More

Posted by: James
The Yankees have gone 3-8 in their last 11 games due to a lovely confluence of some of their hitters slumping (Melky & A-Rod spring to mind), some shoddy defense (I'm looking at you Jorge & Cano) and some just plain bad luck. Of course, there has also been some (mostly) shoddy starting pitching. Even including the last two starts (and a great start by Wang against Cleveland), the numbers from the starters are not pretty: 5.40 ERA, 5.5 Ks, 3.0 BBs and 1.25 HRs per 9.

Still, the last two nights, while not wins, were positives. Both Wang & Johnson pitched very well and on most nights, they would have won. They just got unlucky. However, if we get consistent pitching like that, more often than not, this team will be getting the win. It's just too good not to.

A-Rod's getting hotter and it looks like Jeter and Giambi are as well. Between the three of them, they could carry this team for weeks at a time. It also looks like a great time to move Melky Cabrera from the 2-hole to lower in the line-up. When he's getting on base at a .370, he's an asset. When he's not (and he hasn't been in a little while), he's getting closer to Bubba Crosby territory. However, in the end, it will come down to what it always seems to comes down to: the kind of starting pitching the Yankees get. So far, they have gotten nothing from Shawn Chacon and if he wants to keep his starting role, he'd better start shaping up soon. Unfortunately, the Yankees have a lot of options in terms of starters right now. Man, I wish Rasner hadn't gotten hurt - it would have been a great time to give him a shot. Heck, if he can come back and rehab well (and Chacon continues pitching as he has), he'll still be one of the first in line. What happened to all the pitching depth we had at the beginning of the season!? Oh well...anyone want to throw out pitchers the Yanks could legitimately acquire that might help?
Posted by: Jason
An extremely frustrating evening for the Yankees universe as Philadelphia slinger Brett Myers (he of the rapidly ascending reputation and a 2006 ERA+ of 123!!) stymied the offense. I'm sure you were struck, as I was, by his moving mid-90s fastball coupled with a rude, disruptive curve. However, after giving credit where credit's due (to Myers), it felt like the Yankees stranded more men last night than the original Jamestown colony:

In the top 1st w/2 outs, Jeter's single, Giambi's base hit and Alex's walk loaded the bases, and Jorge stranded them all with a popup.

Top 4th, Jason launched an inside pitch into the second deck in right, his 19th. He also had two other hits and a walk: .274/.442/.617. Giambi's transition from "lingering question mark" to "offensive powerhouse" is complete. I, for one, could not be happier for this man. Again, I ask you to think back 18+ months to the apparently futile, sad final gasps of Giambi's career. To return from his self-imposed obstacles was a Herculean task.

Top 5: Alex K'd to end the inning after two base hits by Jetes and Giambi.
Top 6: Randy Johnson's sharp hit was improbably stabbed by Nunez, preventing the second run.
Top 7: After a John Damon infield hit, a Giambi walk and an Alex walk, Posada's well-placed infield hit brought the Yankees to within a run, 2-3.

Lest I forget, the aging southpaw was on his game for the 3rd time in his last 5 starts. (Detroit, Cleveland and last night). Perhaps he read "The Undefeated" and did not want to go out like Manuel, Hemingway's bullfighter. He gave up two key RBI hits to Burrell and Rowand, but the Yankees offense should have made these minor blemishes on an otherwise well-pitched evening. His velocity was again 95-96 mph with effective complementary pitches. If the Unit can return to form in the 2nd half, I don't need to explain the impact on this team's probability for success.

BTW, did anyone notice when YES displayed the Yankees offensive scoreboard late in the game that Bubba Crosby's 0-3, 2 Ks was identical to Randy Johnson?

06/19: Quick Notes

Posted by: James
Hey, I'm back...it's been a long time between posts as work has been exceptionally busy these past few weeks. This wasn't helped by a company outing to Citizen's Bank park last Thursday to see the Mets take on (and finish sweeping) the Phillies. I loved the break but you end up trying to fit in 5 days of work into 4. Anyway, for those of you who haven't had the chance to check out the stadium, I took a few pictures and they're hosted on my Flickr page. It's a beautiful park with just tons of standing room and surprisingly good sightlines from pretty much everywhere. Anyway, here are a couple of the things that have popped up on my radar lately.

When Obi-Wang is on, he's something to watch, isn't he? If he can develop a solid strikeout pitch, he would be Roy Halladay-lite. Seriously - they are very similar pitchers, if you look at their tendencies and how they get people out. Still, Wang is what he is and if he can keep pitching like that, I will take that every single time.

As for A-Rod's slump, well, it looks like his fielding slump has been broken. His play on Pat Burrell in the bottom of the 8th saved the Yankees from being down even more going into the top of the 9th (a moot point in the end but nevertheless, important at the time). His bat is starting to come around as well and people will be booing him for some other reason before you know it ;)

It's a little odd to hear but you know Farnsworth is enigmatic when you can hear the frustration seeping out of both Susan Waldmyn and John Sterling when they were calling his inning. This guy is the goods - he just needs to get back on track. Of course, as every Yankee fan knows, Octavio Dotel is coming soon. Here's my take on that. Dotel could be the saviour for the pen but please, wait until he proves it first. Don't annoint him in advance and get those hopes up just yet. He's been a great reliever in the past (and I'm very high on him) but remember that he's coming off some serious arm injuries and we all need to remember that and temper our expectations. That being said, hopefully he will be fine because if he's his usual self, then he takes over Tom Gordon's place and Farnsworth becomes a better option than Scott Proctor. If you're looking at Proctor, you can split his season so far into two halves. In his first 17 appearances, 1.42 ERA , 7.1 Ks, 3.9 BBs and .36 HRs per 9. In his last 17 appearances, 6.64 ERA, 7.5 Ks, 3.5 BBs and 1.77 HRs per 9. Still, I give the man his due - he hasn't been completely Strutzed (i.e. overworked to the point of injury) yet and he's pitched well this month. if it all breaks right, Torre can then start using Proctor less and Villone more and both in lower-leverage situations.

Finally, not to beat this point any further but seriously, why is Bubba Crosby on this team? I'm not trying to be mean-spirited since Bubba seems like a nice guy. I'm being completely serious. Please, if you can, honestly tell me what he brings to the dish that Kevin Thompson cannot. If you have a clear argument FOR him, I would love to hear it. Otherwise, you just switched up a younger (you can actually use any of the following here; cheaper, faster, stronger, better) player for someone who probably shouldn't be in the majors (at least not being used in leveraged situations as he is with the Yanks). I ask since the Yankees pleasantly surprised me by DFA'ing Long, Erikson and Small in the pursuit of a younger, more efficent roster and I think that Bubba really should be (but probably won't be) next.
Posted by: Steve
Iíd like to thank Patrick and all the other guys for allowing me to share my thoughts on the site. I love the idea of a community of Yankee fans exchanging ideas and opinions.

I wanted to start off with something thatís been irking me the last six months. It follows with the recent additions the Yankees have made to the major league roster. What I mean is the contributions of Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano, and Melky Cabrera. I follow as much as I can about the Yankee farm system and how people evaluate it. In recent years, especially when the trade deadline approaches, the so called experts (from ESPN, to Baseball America, etc..) have ridiculed the Yankee farm system and declared that it is void of impact players. Now I used the three players listed above, especially the first two, to point out that these so called experts should be held accountable for the mistakes they have made, and maybe the current harsh criticism of Yankee prospects isnít that fair.

For three years I have heard about how the Angels and others have the greatest farm systems in the world. I havenít seen many young players demonstrate the abilities of a Robinson Cano or a Chien-Ming Wang. And now with Melky, the Yankees seem to have found a legitimate twenty one year old corner outfielder.

That leads to my second point which is directed to the outcry for the Yankees to build from within. I think most anybody would agree with that, but with everything moderation is the key. Even in the late 1990ís the team has been built with a balance of youth and veterans. The team is now poised to have the same sort of renaissance and yet none of the so called experts seem to want to believe it or acknowledge that its happening.
Posted by: Patrick
We have a new blogger here at YanksBlog.com. His name is Steve. Readers of Off the Facade may recognize him as commenter "Steve."

Good to have you, Steve.
Posted by: Patrick
AM New York has the story of Andy Phillips and his wife, Bethany's battle with a rare form of a cancer that was related to a lost pregnancy. Rough stuff. But:

Bethany still gets tired, and will for several months, but she's cancer-free, healthy and still able to have children.

As Bethany flew with Andy to New York last Tuesday for the first time this season, she broke down in tears on the plane and told her husband, "It finally feels like it's over and we're getting back to our normal life."

And as they walked around Manhattan one early afternoon, all she kept saying was, "This feels right. This feels normal."

Tears fill Phillips' eyes as he tells the story, but unlike that day in Toronto, these are tears of joy.

Good to hear. We wish them the best from this point forward.

Via Pride of the Yankees.
Posted by: Seamus
There were some positives in this game, but unfortunately none of them came after the top of the 5th inning. The Yankees lost 11-9 in Washington after building up a 7-run lead in the 5th inning, only to watch it all slip away. The bullpen was the culprit, allowing just 5 of the 11 runs, but two scored on a double off Matt Smith that were charged to Shawn Chacon. Chacon himself was a bit shaky as he failed to hit his spots and had to leave the game before finishing the 5th inning because his pitch count was too high.

The Yankees scored 7 runs in the 5th to take a 9-2 lead, highlighted by a two-run homer by Alex Rodriguez and a grand slam by Johnny Damon. A-Rod finally had a decent game, going 2-5 and breaking a 2-2 tie with a home run. Damon's salami was one of four hits in the game for him including two doubles. Derek Jeter (.337) had three hits as well as Robinson Cano (.332), who increased his hitting streak to 15 games.

It was all downhill from there though. Chacon was only able to record one out in the bottom of the 5th, and the bullpen collapsed from there as the Nationals scored 4 in the inning to make it 9-6. The Nationals scored another two in the 7th to make it 9-8, highlighed by a home run by Daryl Ward off off T.J. Beam. In the 8th, the Nationals tied it after Soriano walked and stole both second and third, drawing a throwing error by Jorge Posada which allowed him to score. Jose Guillen tripled two batters later to score a chugging Daryl Ward from first and was then brought in by a single by Ryan Zimmerman.

I know that it's baseball and you win some and you lose some, but games like this just can't happen. The Yanks had this one. All they had to do is NOT play the worst 5 innings of baseball they played all year in order to hang on and win this one. I guess this goes without saying, but the pen was just awful. I'll give T.J. Beam a pass because he did pitch exceptionally well in his first inning of Major League work, but it seemed like getting guys out was like solving a rubix cube for these guys all day. Also, I know that we were short in the pen today but you can't have Mo go in for two innings on back to back days, especially on a day game after a night game.

Hopefully the Yankees will put this one behind them and take the rubber game of this three-game set tomorrow as Chien-Ming Wang will take on Michael O'Connor at 1:05 E.T. this afternoon. O'Connor is just 3-4 but his E.R.A. (3.70) is actually lower than the 7-2 Wang's (4.12). Wang's coming off a very good start against Cleveland and hopefully he can give the bullpen a much needed rest after the first two games of this series.
Posted by: Patrick
From The Star-Ledger:

Despite rumors circulating yesterday the Yankees were in hot pursuit of Kansas City outfielder Reggie Sanders, a team official claimed there have not been detailed talks between the teams since the Royals changed GMs two weeks ago. The Yankees last month rejected an offer of Sanders for top pitching prospect Phil Hughes.

...

LOL. Well, you can't blame them for trying, I guess.

Via SG.
Posted by: Patrick
Slumping A-Rod says he's figured out slump:

All was not lost for Alex Rodriguez during his 1-for-5 game with three strikeouts Friday night. He says he and Yankees hitting coach Don Mattingly discovered a mechanical flaw causing Rodriguez's recent slump.

"We figured it out, and I am going to be working with Donnie a little bit. It's a relief to know what it is," the All-Star third baseman said after New York's 7-5 victory at the Washington Nationals.

Steve wonders, as do I, what kind of technical flaw with cause a player of A-Rod's caliber to hit this poorly. But, if he's really figured something out, all the better!

Via Steve.
Posted by: David
The Yankees had sixteen hits but like yesterday left men on base all game long. They were helped out in the eighth by walks from Nats reliever Gary Majewski including one to Derek Jeter with the bases loaded to tie the score at five.

Jaret Wright started and as been his case all year long he couldn't get through the sixth inning. He walked the first batter to start the inning and Lee Mazzili pulled him in favor of Scott Proctor. Mazzilli was managing as Joe Torre was serving his one game suspension for the the Randy Johnson ejection the other night vs. the Indians. Johnson has appealed his five game suspension.

Proctor was a victim of the hit and run and surrendered a bloop double down the right field line which scored Nick Johnson and extended the Nats lead to 5-3. Proctor settled down and pitched through the sixth and seventh without giving up any more runs.

Although the Yankees came back and won the story continues to be A-Rod and his utter ineptitude in clutch situations. He struck out three times tonight including the last one against Chad Cordero with the bases loaded in the eighth with the scored tied at five.

Alfonso Soriano hit a two run homer to center early in the game to give the Nats a lead at the time of 3-2. It was his twenty-fourth homer of the season. His offense looks good but his defense does not. He plays way to deep in left and although he has ten outfield assists, most of his throws are way off target.

After the Yankees tied the score in the eighth they put Kyle Farnsworth in the game and he got the first out on a comeback bouncer to the mound but left with back spasms. Rivera replaced him and was given all the time he needed to warm up. He retired both batters in the eighth to keep the score tied.

In the ninth, Bernie Williams led off with a homer off of Nats closer Chad Cordero and the Yankees added another run to extend the lead to 7-5. Rivera worked a perfect ninth to earn the win and move his record to 4-3 on the season. The series resumes tomorrow afternoon with Shawn Chacon going for the Yankees.
Posted by: James
Looking at the pitching matchups going into this series with the Nationals, it looks like it could be an interesting series.

The Yankees will be facing two pitchers who they have never seen before and it might be coincidental but it seems that the Yanks don't usually fare very well when that's the case. The first pitcher they face is Shawn Hill, a 25-year-old righty, who is making just his fourth start of the year (and he's done very well in his first three). He's also gotten some breaks too, i.e. his ERA is 1.80 while his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching - which I believe to be a better, while not perfect, indicator of how well a player is pitching) is 4.13. He has a good minors pedigree (another of my Harrisburg guys) of low walks with a serviceable amount of strikeouts. While the Ks have come down in the majors, he's still shown good command and looks to be a good pitcher. It'll be interesting to see whether he can hit his spots against a (usually) patient Yankees lineup.

Ramon Ortiz is more of a known quantity as he's pitched against the Yanks quite a few times in his tenure with the Angels and looking at the outings, he's done pretty well against them so far.. And don't let that 4.88 ERA fool you, his FIP is right there with Hill's at 4.19 and since hitting a high-point of 6.30 on May 12, he's put together a string of 6 straight solid starts (3.43 ERA, 7.3 Ks and 2.1 BBs per 9) and lowered that ERA to its current point.

Pitching last in the matchup is Michael O'Connor. Another Harrisburg guy with good minor league numbers, the lefty O'Connor has pitched very well for the Nationals since being brought up in late April. He's a good pitcher, posting a FIP of 4.06 while being able to get some Ks (6.27 per 9) when he needs to. He's still working on his control (4.18 per 9) and he's coming off his worst outing of the season so hopefully, the Yanks can work him around a little bit if he hasn't righted himself just yet.

Seriously, the three guys the Yanks go up against this series can pitch, and the dimensions of the stadium will only help them (there won't be a real homefield advantage though - I fully expect the crowd to be in line with what the Yanks see at Orioles games). Hopefully, the Yankees bats come to play for this series - we might need them. Course, some good pitching outings would be great as well.

Oh, and for those who haven't noticed, one of the few Yanks not slumping right now is Robbie Cano, who scored the Yankees only run with a solo shot last night and currently owns a 13 game hitting streak. He has put up a line of .453/.463/.660 to get his overall production for the year back into more acceptable territory. Take note that he hasn't walked once in those 13 games. Of course, if he continues to hit like this, it won't matter and if the Yanks keep winning series, neither will what any other team does.
Posted by: James
Todays' game against my namesakes can be recapped in one word: almost.

Joe Torre almost pulled Mike Mussina before the game changing home-run. He visited Moose on the mound and Mussina convinced him that he could get the third out. This has worked out well for Torre/Mussina several times in the past. Not this time as Hollandsworth deposited a 1-0 pitch into the black, becoming the 11th opposing player to hit there since Yankee Stadium was remodeled 30 years ago. In fact, it was the bottom of the Cleveland line-up that hit Mussina the hardest. For the game, Peralta, who came in 0-for-his-last-17, and Hollandsworth, hitless in his previous 19 at-bats, combined with Ronnie Beliard to go 9-for-14 with 7 RBI.

The heart of the Yankees order almost came through. With the bases loaded and no one out, Giambi grounds into a FC and one run scores. Then, after Miguel Cairo (pinch-runner for Giambi) stole second, Rodriguez and Posada both struck out, looking foolish on sliders that the rookie Fausto Carmona had set up by throwing straight gas (96-98 mph) for 4 or 5 straight pitches. That left the potential tying runs stranded and that would be the last offensive challenge the Yanks mustered. A-Rod is taking heat (as he should) but as always, he's accepting of it. He knows he's been a wreck at the plate recently and it's starting to look like the the slump (and maybe the boos, who knows) are starting to take a little bit of a toll.

"I don't have any answers," Rodriguez said. "I could have gotten a base hit that would have probably won it. So you can write the worst articles, say the worst things, and you're probably right right now. So go right ahead."

After the strikeout, Rodriguez didn't just tap his helmet on the dugout railing or take a few practice cuts while walking to the dugout this time. He's had 15 strikeouts in the past 11 games, but this time he was beyond frustrated. Rodriguez had problems putting his bat back in the wooden rack, so he proceeded to slam it in multiple times.

Rodriguez struck out on a high slider, a great pitch to hit, he said while shaking his head. But that wasn't the final out of the inning. Jorge Posada had the same opportunity with runners on second and third, this time with two outs. He struck out as well, giving the Yankees just one run in an inning where the bases were loaded with nobody out. But the fans didn't boo Posada.

"It's just what people expect from him," Johnny Damon said. "He's the highest-paid ballplayer. They expect him to do well all the time."

"We win and lose as a team," Derek Jeter added. "One person isn't going to be the reason why we lose. You can't put too much pressure on one particular person."

I don't know when it'll happen but A-Rod will pull out of this. I just hope that's soon. With the rest of the boppers out indefinitely (and Johnny Damon felt a twinge in his right hamstring but he said he would play tomorrow night), someone has to get hot and carry the Yanks through the summer months. It should be A-Rod.
Posted by: Patrick

Mike A. (In George We Trust) has a 4.5 game lead in first place with Mill in second. I'm (Patrick) in 4th, James (Curry Monsters) is in 7th and Seamus (Dog Pound) is in 9th.
Posted by: Jason
"A man can be destroyed but not defeated."
-Ernest Hemingway

Randy Johnson has always reminded me of a tragically flawed Hemingway character: Last night he was the epitome of Jack, the boxing protagonist of EH's "Fifty Grand." Jack, like RJ, is an aging combatant with waning (but not depleted) skills. In the story's final fight scene, Jack is performing better than expected against his opponent until he sadly disqualifies himself with a flagrant low blow. We are left to wonder: Why? Was the foul a futile rejection of time's inevitable handcuffs?

Sound familiar?

For 6+ innings, RJ was 90% the flamethrower of old. Retired 11 in a row. Good slider. Fastball at 95/96. Our man Jim Kaat (YES network) continually praised Johnson's location. The underperforming (vs. preseason expectations) Indians managed just a lone run in the 5th on two "seeing-eye" singles. In the top 7th, RJ's congenital mean streak returned as he buzzed Eduardo Perez inside. Did Posada's HBP necessitate the retaliation? No. Was this pitch an expression of frustration at the last 60 days? I believe it was. For the Yankees, the offense gave a revitalized RJ four more runs than he needed. The scoring was provided on HRs by John Damon and Andy Phillips and RBI hits by Robinson and Bernie.

What of Randy Johnson? I hope that Hemingway correctly describes what the Yankees universe can expect from the left-hander:

"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places."
Posted by: Seamus
Most of the Yankees' bats were still asleep, but that didn't matter at all last night, as Robinson Cano's solo shot in the bottom of the 6th was all the Yanks needed in their 1-0 victory over Cleveland. Through all the injuries this year and all the struggles the Yankees went through the past week, losing four in a row, the Yankees sit in a tie for first place with Boston with a 36-26 record.

Chien-Ming Wang was great, allowing only five hits and striking out three in 7 and 1/3 shutout innings to improve his record to 7-2. Mike Myers and Kyle Farnsworth each recorded an out in the 8th without allowing Aaron Boone to score from second. Mariano Rivera picked up his 13th save with a 1-2-3 9th and lowered his E.R.A. to 1.91. Wang pitched in front of some solid defense as Melky Cabrera made another great catch in the 1st, making a running catch and slamming into the left field wall on a fly ball by Travis Hafner. As mentioned, Cano's homer was pretty much all the offense the Yankees were able to muster, but it turned out to be all they needed. Bernie and Jeter also had two hits each.

Tonight's pitching matchup will feature Randy Johnson against Jason Johnson of the Indians. The Unit will actually be facing someone with an E.R.A. higher than his. Probably a telling tale of where the two teams stand at this point in the season, Randy Johnson's 5.63 E.R.A. equates to a 7-5 record, while Jason Johnson stands at 3-6 with his 5.70.
Posted by: Patrick
MLB.com reports that Derek Jeter is leading all AL players in all-star voting - with a comfortable lead of more than 345,000 votes over runner up Miguel Tejada. A-Rod has a huge lead at the hot corner while Cano has a much smaller lead over Mark Loretta. Johnny Damon is in the third outfield spot. Don't forget to vote.
Posted by: Patrick
From Ken Rosenthal:

If no agreement is reached and Mussina becomes a free agent, he will not simply sell himself to the highest bidder. He will want to play for a contender, remain in the American League and stay relatively close to his home in Montoursville, Pa.

His first two choices after the Yankees would be the Red Sox and Indians; his NL possibilities would be the Mets and Phillies. A return to the Orioles ó a non-contender for the foreseeable future &3151; is virtually out of the question.

Via Yahoo! Sports
Posted by: Patrick
Alex linked to a couple of cool articles that I wanted to highlight.

One about Bernie Williams:

Williams always speaks of Mattingly with reverence. Williams was a gawky rookie in 1991, and it was Mattingly, he said, who told teammates to go easy on him. Williams also learned an important lesson.

"He taught me a piece of advice that I take even to this day," Williams said Sunday. "He said to me: 'I don't really care what you do the night before or the week before ó when you come to the field, you come ready to play. Mentally ready to play. You've got to be all there. You can't worry about maybe I don't feel too good today, or I don't feel 100 percent. You've got to go like: dude, get it done.' "

Almost 2,000 times now, Williams has taken the field, with aches most fans never hear about. He estimates that players are in top shape only 25 percent of the time. The other days are a grind, Williams said, but it is important for young players to see veterans playing hurt.

"It has more of a positive influence than you would ever know," he said.

The other being a blog entry by Peter Abraham:

You kind of had to see this to believe it. But after the game today, Hideki Matsui went out on the field and did several running drills with his broken left wrist in a plastic cast. He then played catch with his translator, Roger Kahlon. Matsui threw a baseball to Roger, who caught it with a glove then rolled it back to Hideki.
Posted by: Jason
I implore you to rationally analyze why some of you are booing Alex Rodriguez:

Other weblogs linked from YB.com have done a fantastic job discrediting the assertion that Alex is "not clutch." Let's look at some past and future alternatives to the Yankees' current 3B:

Eric Duncan: In the most positive scenario, the first year ED will be ready for MLB is 2008. In the interim, there is a substantial probability that Alex will hit about 70 HR, more or less.

Aaron Boone: We all love that hoop-crazy guy for that swing, but .277/.338/.388 in 2006...

Drew Henson: 10/18, 78 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT career.

I'm not ignorant to the demands of playing in New York. Alex accepted a higher level of scrutiny along with the pinstripes. Please don't become enured to the fact that we have an extremely rare talent at third and that he is delivering as a Yankee: .303/.398/.562 in his first two seasons. He will put up numbers like that as far as the eye can see. Do not kill the golden goose for want of someone else's ephemeral idea of "clutch."

Here's my nomination for a definition of clutch: someone who is consistently among the league's finest in creating runs, VORP and wins above replacement and should be for the foreseeable future.
Posted by: David
Another game and it seems to be the same old story. The Yankees bullpen can not get the job done. Shawn Chacon just off the DL pitched OK but left after five innings. Matt Smith struck out the first batter he faced but then walked the next. With the Yankees leading 5-4, Scott Proctor was summoned and couldn't get the job done either. The A's eventually had runners on first and third with only one out and Proctor needed to induce a double play ball. He did just that, making a nice grab on a bouncer back to the mound. He couldn't get the ball out of his glove and he threw wildly to Cairo at second which lost any hope of an inning ending double play and the tying run scored.

Kyle Farnsworth was next and let two runners on in the seventh before striking out the last two batters to end the seventh inning. In the eighth with one out he left a pitch out over the plate and Dan Johnson went the opposite way over the wall in left to put the A's ahead for good at 6-5. Mariano Rivera was then summoned with the Yankees losing and worked the last 1 and 2/3 without allowing a runner to reach base.

The Yankees could do nothing the last two innings against Kiko Calero or Huston Street. Street saved all three games of the series and each one was a perfect inning save. The Yankees really need to get Octavio Dotel healthy ASAP. These other guys just can't get it done consistently.

The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first with the help of three Barry Zito walks. However, Chacon gave it back on the first homer to Dan Johnson and then an inside the park homer to Nick Swisher. The Swisher homer was the result of Cabrera and Damon almost colliding in left center and neither one was able to make the catch. The ball bounded away from Damon and Nick Swisher just slid under the tag at home. The A's extended the lead to 4-2 but then the Yankees were able to come back when with Damon on first, Jeter lined a double up the gap in left to score Damon. A few batters later Jorge Posada hit a two run homer to put the Yankees up 5-4.

The bridge to Rivera is just not there. He can't pitch two innings every time the Yankees are in a late inning save situation. Guys like Proctor and Farnsworth don't have the control to pitch in tight ballgames.

The situation is now even worse since the Boston Red Sox came back in the bottom of the ninth and beat the Texas Rangers. Yankee nemesis David Ortiz hit a two out, three run walk off homer to win the first game of a double dip. That win coupled with the Yankees loss extended the Bosox lead to 1 1/2 games. Pending completion of the twinbill the Yankees will either be out by 1 game or 2 games.

The Yankees have off tomorrow and then Cleveland comes to town on Tuesday night for the first of a three game series to conclude the homestand. Chien Ming-Wang will face off vs. Paul Byrd for the Tribe.
Posted by: Patrick
Alex has a sobering thought: have we seen the last of Sheff in the Yankee pinstripes? I agree with him - it would be a shame if it ended this way. For whatever shortcomings people talk about, personally, I like Sheff and I'm glad that we've had him.
Posted by: David
The Yankees couldn't get the big hit all night leaving the bases loaded in the sixth when Miguel Cairo struck out to end the inning. In the seventh the Yankees got two more runners aboard when the rains came and delayed the game for one hour and twenty-seven minutes. When play resumed Jason Giambi stepped to the plate and delivered a three run homer off of former Yankee Brad Halsey to make the score 6-4. With two outs Posada walked and Robinson Cano followed with a triple to right center scoring Posada and pulling the Yankees to within a run at 6-5. However, that was it as the Yankees didn't get another hit for the rest of the night. Kiko Calero worked a scoreless eighth and Huston Street saved the game in the ninth by retiring Jeter, Giambi and A-Rod in order.

Randy Johnson started for the Yanakees and only lasted four innings. He gave up three home runs and looked distracted by not getting the calls from the home plate umpire. He retired the side in order in the first inning which looked like a good sign since his first inning ERA was at 12.46 entering the action. In the second he left a fat pitch over the plate and Frank Thomas hit it over the wall in right center to put the A's up 1-0. The A's added another run the next inning to increase the lead to 2-0. The Yankees scratched back in the bottom of the third with an RBI single from A-Rod. However, the inning ended when Jeter was thrown out at third on the same play.

Danny Haren looked good for the A's but was over the 100 pitch mark when he left in the sixth. He was relieved by Chad Gaudin who ended the Yankees hope for a rally by striking out Cairo with the bases loaded.

Although A-Rod got two hits including an RBI single he was 1 for his last 15 AB's prior to the game and is starting to hear the boo birds again for not coming through in the clutch.

One positive from last night's game for Yankees fans was the pitching of Aaron Small who pitched three scoreless innings and looked the best he has looked all year. Farnsworth and Rivera pitched scoreless eight and ninth innings to finish for the Bombers.

The series resumes this afternoon with Mike Mussina going for this ninth win vs. Kirk Saarloos for the A's on a FOX game of the week.
Posted by: Patrick
This is interesting:

Pitching coach Ron Guidry has been working with Rivera on a changeup, a pitch that would complement his cutter in a way his two-seam and four-seam fastballs cannot. Everything that Rivera throws always hits in the 90s on the radar gun; a changeup would cruise in at hitters in the low-to-mid 80s. Certainly no hitter could see that one coming.

"It's not something that he's going to throw a lot," Guidry said, "but there's going to be some point in time when he decides to throw one to some hitter, and it will scare the hell out of them and it will send a message to somebody else." ...

... "We're working on it," Guidry said. "He hasn't used it. I keep telling him, 'You have to use it one time.' "

Kyle Farnsworth said Rivera pulled him aside about a month ago...

"He said I need to go out there and feel like no one can hit my fastball, and to go out there, be aggressive and just keep throwing it," Farnsworth said. "He said I need to have the attitude that they can't hit it, so there's no reason to throw any other pitch."

It might be pretty funny, the first time he throws it. I'd like to see how the hitter handles it.
Posted by: Patrick
Leyritz: I was taking 'greenies':

In an interview yesterday morning with radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony, Leyritz confessed to taking "greenies," or amphetamines.

"I can remember my first amphetamine," Leyritz said on the "Opie and Anthony Show," which airs on 92.3 FREE FM as well as XM Satellite Radio. "I was out all night drinking with Andy Hawkins and some of the guys on the team. I was a young player."

Via Steve.
Posted by: James
It's bad. Gary Sheffield will undergo surgery to repair his injured wrist on Tuesday, and Sheff isn't expected to return to the Yankees until September.

Matsui out until August (though I personally feel it will be Sept.) and Sheff out until September. "Right now, we're a little thin," Torre said. "We're going out every day and finding a way to win. We've been pretty fortunate lately."

If the Yankees go against their traditional thinking and use this time to give Kevin Thompson an extended shot as the starter and see what he brings to the table, this could prove interesting. However, using Bubba or Bernie as the primary right-fielder would be an excercise in futility. That being said, Craig Wilson, who for some reason keeps getting benched in Pittsburgh, is looking more and more enticing.
Posted by: James
Eric Duncan is (thankfully) being moved back down to AA Trenton from AAA Columbus. Duncan seemed overmatched at AAA from the beginning (honestly, he never should have started the year there) and injuries didn't help him on his quest to get on track. He's lost a lot of luster as a prospect so far this year and hopefully, he can finish up strong and reestablish himself (both at AA and the AFL).

Matt DeSalvo, another guy who was horrendous at AAA, is being sent down as well. I have no idea what happened to DeSalvo. He went from good to "wow, that's bad" in a matter of a couple of weeks.

On a positive note, Steven White was promoted to AAA Columbus after a solid showing in AA this year (68.3 IP, 52H 16ER, 28BB, 45Ks). It looks like he might be getting closer to some of the promise he showed in 2004. He might never be a star but it's always good to have some capable pitching in your system. He made his first start in AAA today and pitched very well, going 7 innings while giving up only 3 hits and one unearned run. T.J. Beam, who was promoted a couple days ago, also chipped in with a scoreless inning in relief.
Posted by: Jason
The issue of the potential return of Alfonso Soriano has weighed heavily on my mind since I first heard it mentioned on a media/radio report 10-12 days ago during the saga of that moderately above average pitcher who recently signed with Houston.***

My first reaction is to categorically dismiss the notion, then you travel to Baseball-Reference.com and notice .307/.360/.623. Salivate. However, someone with those kind of power numbers and 22 bombs should have an OBP higher than approx. 30 bps above the league average.

First and foremost: Would sufficient value be created for both teams to achieve a deal? I am not convinced of the value proposition for Washington...I've read gauzy claims of "clearing the decks" and "new management" without seeing any concrete advantages, save a Loria-esque pure salary dump.

Moving to the Yankees, It's clear that Melky has solidified his position as a regular corner outfielder. Does the value of the remaining outfield rotation surpass AS's value minus his price? Perhaps the promising Kevin Thompson should be given several at bats to determine his marginal value...if it's anything like Melky, then a Soriano trade is obviated.

The media reports ad nauseam that Soriano longs for New York...does this provide Cashman with additional leverage?

Your thoughts?

***Large, pungently sour grapes.
Posted by: Seamus
Who would've ever guessed that the pitcher who would end the Yankees' streak of games with at least 10 hits would be...David Pauley? If there was ever a night where I expected the Yankees to light up the scoreboard against the Red Sox like they did the night before, it would've been last night. Instead, we got a great pitchers duel as Chien-Ming Wang pitched seven solid innings and improved his record to 6-2 as the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 2-1 to take a 1.5 game lead in the division.

Boston struck first in the third with a solo shot by David Ortiz. Bernie Williams answered back in the 5th with his 3rd home run of the season to tie the score at 1. In the 7th, David Pauley was pulled with the bases loaded and two outs for Rudy Seanez, who promptly walked Jason Giambi to put the Yankees ahead 2-1. That would be all the Yanks needed as Melky Cabrera made an incredible catch, pulling a shot from Manny Ramirez in from over the wall, robbing him of a game-tying home run. Mariano Rivera closed the game out with an easy 1-2-3 9th for his 12th save of the season.

The Yankees will go for their 5th straight victory against the Red Sox tonight as they'll send Jaret Wright to the mound to face Curt Schilling. With the way Wright has pitched lately, do we actually have the edge in the pitching matchup tonight? Probably a stretch, but let's hope he holds it down again tonight and the Yankee hitters give Schilling the Josh Beckett treatment (no, not the '03 Marlins version please).
Posted by: James
Rather than being even a little bit gracious about the Yankees playing well despite the many injuries they've suffered, David Schoenfield of ESPN's Page 2 prefers to try cutting on the Yankees again, even when they're winning. Man, if you thought people would stop with the snark for a little bit while the Yankees win without some of the star players, you would be wrong. It's kind of funny really as he starts off with praise.

But it's time to come clean: We are embracing the 2006 New York Yankees, this gritty, gutty, never-say-die collection of castoffs, rookies, has-beens and stiffs.

What other team could survive this onslaught of injuries: Hideki Matsui's fractured wrist, Gary Sheffield's torn ligament in his wrist, Shawn Chacon's bruised shin, Johnny Damon's broken bone in his foot, Mariano Rivera's bad back, Tanyon Sturtze's blown-out shoulder, Carl Pavano's bruised butt cheek. And now, Jeter's bruised thumb.

So, in admiration and praise of this team's hustle, toughness and desire, here are 10 Reasons We Are Adopting The Yankees As Page 2's Official MLB Team To Root For In 2006:

Of course, then comes the multitude of snark before ending with a Go Yankees! Give me a break.
Posted by: James
Prospects are odd things; kids who have chosen sports as their career who can then bring even the most stedfast of fans to absolute giddiness with thoughts of their "projectability" (insert your own adjective here - motor/upside/baseball IQ/etc.). With the first 18 rounds of the MLB draft in the books (there are 50 rounds in total though some teams opt not to participate in all 50), I personally think that the Yanks did pretty well for themselves in selecting good value picks in a draft that had a dearth of position players. Of course, we won't know for sure until a couple years down the road but it's nice to know that some of the experts agree with me. Bryan Smith over at The Baseball Analysts did a list of his favorite value picks from each round and the Yanks did pretty well.

In that light, I want to spend today looking at my favorite value pick from each round...We'll start our way at the top, with the familiar Eddie Bane, and end with the Yankees fantastic middle round drafting, led by Damon Oppenheimer.

Round Seven: Jonah Nickerson, rhp, Detroit Tigers
Tim Norton (Yankees pick) was almost the guy here, but I wanted to give the Tigers some love.

Round Eight: Dellin Betances, rhp, New York Yankees
Round Nine: Mark Melancon, rhp, New York Yankees

I passed on Norton as my seventh round choice because I knew the Yankees had nailed the 8th and 9th rounds. Betances has been telling people its Yankees or bust for quite some time, a theory New York plans to test. If Betances doesn't sign right away, he may go to St. Petursburg JC, and could end up a prime draft-and-follow candidate. Melancon would have been a first rounder if not for injury, and while mildly serious, he's too good to last much longer.

Bonham also tipped me off on another awesome ninth round pick, Nate Boman by the Angels. Labrum victim, yes, but Boman was TheMan last year. These are the types of risks teams should be taking in these late rounds.
Posted by: James
In a move that stunned Yankees fans everywhere, Yankees management has kept Kevin Thompson on the roster and DFA'd Terrence Long! I checked the Gameday line-up and it looks like Nick Green has been called up as a reserve infielder while Jeter heals and rather than ship Thompson back down to AAA Columbus, they chose to designate Long for assignment. Of course, Long's been so bad that no one will claim the guy and he'll probably just head back down to Columbus and wait for his next shot, which hopefully, won't be with the Yankees.

Good Lord, between finally playing Andy more and calling up (and now keeping) Kevin Thompson, will wonders never cease? Next on the agenda, losing Mr. Erickson for someone else (anyone else really) and then replacing Aaron Small with Darell Rasner (once he recovers from injury) while we wait for Chacon and Dotel to get healthy.
Posted by: James
Update: With the 21st pick, the Yankees take Fredrick Weiss (ahhh - wait, just a nightmare! whew!) USC RHP Ian Kennedy. Pretty good pitcher from what I've heard. For those interested, here's the breakdown from Baseball America, Team USA, USC and IGWT.

With the 41st pick, the Yankees picked up RHP Joba Chamberlain from U of Nebraska (Lincoln). He's a big kid (6'2", 230 lbs) who dropped a bit due to what's being billed as a "minor triceps injury". For what it's worth, a month ago Jim Callis had Chamberlain listed as the 9th best prospect (not just pitcher) in the draft. He fell down to 18 in the last draft tracker prior to today due to "to injury concerns and a shorter track record when compared to other top college arms." There are also some questions about his "conditioning"...and I'm assuming they don't mean what he uses on his hair. Here's a basic accomplishment list from U of Nebraska, a recent article on MLB.com and a breakdown from IGWT and if you look at the pictures, he definitely looks like a big guy.

With the 254th pick, the Yanks picked up Dellin Bettances so Mike A. over at IGWT should be plenty happy. He's very high on this very large (6'8", 215 lbs.) kid (DOB: 3/23/88) who, while very raw, apparently projects well. I'll leave the analysis to him when he gets a chance.

I hate to repeat some of the things that Patrick just mentioned but originally, this post was gonna go up a long time ago but with my laptop dying (hard drive shot to heck - just lost about 55 Gbs of data). Here's an ironic twist - the computer died the day before I was going to Best Buy to buy an external hard drive to back everything up. Oh, the irony...add to that a bunch of fire drills at work and I stand before you a broken and bitter man.

As an aside, TJ Beam, who I've been praising at length here, has been promoted to Colombus and did pretty well in his first appearance (2IP, 0H, 4K). I have no idea what happened to DeSalvo, who took the loss and saw his ERA bloat to 7.68. He pitched well last year and in spring and then this. At this point, you're hoping he's injured and that there's a reason for what he's doing. If not, ouch.

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06/06: MLB Draft

Posted by: Patrick
The MLB Draft is today. Some interesting names out there, including Preston Mattingly and Jeffrey Maier. Mike A. says he'll be covering it throughout the day.

Via Mike A..
Posted by: Jason
Well...we all knew that you can't throw fastballs by Giambi, but who knew you couldn't throw mid-high 90's fastballs by Andy Phillips?? (I know, he had HR's in the minors, but you don't face power pitchers in Yankee Stadium in the minors)

Last evening's game was another pleasant surprise all around, beginning with Melky's daredevil baserunning in the bottom of the first. After an errant throw by Varitek, an improper rotation of Boston infielders found Cabrera rounding third base with home uncovered!! Melky ran like he had stolen something, which he had: 1-0.

Top 2nd was a nervous 1/2 inning, as Mussina's apparently good pitches were put in play by the middle of the Red Sox order to take the lead, 2-1. This lead proved to be temporary for Boston...

Bottom 2nd was the critical stretch and essentially ended the game. Andy Phillips is growing into a role as a credible power threat. Regular YB.com readers know that I find Jason Giambi's 24 month climb out of his self-made hole to be inspirational. Last night's shot off the upper deck facade reminded me that 18 months ago, Jason's career was over for all intents and purposes. However, the ancient Romans believed that: Virtutis fortuna comes. (Good luck is the companion of courage)

The Yankees added 5 more runs in the wake of the decisive bottom 2nd on hits by Cano and Cabrera. Another fine outing for Mike Mussina, who continues to build his AL Cy Young case. (knock on wood) Also good to see Mariano throwing easily in the 9th.

Hey Tiger Wang: Keep that sinker down...
Posted by: David
Aaron Small just doesn't have it this year. Last year he was 10-0 and largely responsible for the Yankees winning the American League East. Yesterday afternoon in Baltimore he lasted only 2.2 innings and surrendered seven runs including home runs to Javy Lopez, Kevin Millar and Bradon Fahey. For a pitcher that doesn't throw hard, location is critical and Small has just left too many pitches in batter's happy zones this year.

He gave up single runs in the first and second which included the home run by Lopez but in the third, the O's struck for five runs highlighted by a three run dinger from Kevin Millar. Matt Smith relieved for one inning and was not scored upon. Scott Erickson followed and was touched for Javy Lopez' second round tripper of the day, this time a three run blast to put Baltimore ahead 10-0.

The Yankees struck back but couldn't get the really big hit to make it close. Kevin Thompson hit a three run double in the seventh to make it 10-4 but in the eighth the Yankees loaded the bases with no one out but did not score a run when Todd Williams induced Miguel Cairo to hit back to the mound and he snagged the ball with his bare hand and turned it into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play. The Orioles added one more run late and the game ended at 11-4.

Derek Jeter was hit on the right hand with a pitch and left the game. It was reported that X-Rays taken were negative and he has a bruised thumb. He is listed as day-to-day. All Yankees fans are hoping he will be available for the Red Sox series starting tonight at the stadium. It looks like a great pitching matchup on paper with Josh Beckett facing Mike Mussina in a nationally televised game to be seen on ESPN.
Posted by: Patrick
Hot

Mike Mussina
6 GS, 42.2 IP, 3-0, 2.53 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .196 BAA

Alex Rodriguez
28 G, 109 AB, 25 R, 36 H, 5 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 15 BB, 1 SB, .330 AVG, .416 OBA, .549 SLG, 1.031 OPS

Jorge Posada
20 G, 62 AB, 11 R, 20 H, 3 2B, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 12 BB, .323 AVG, .429 OBA, .565 SLG, .993 OPS

Mariano Rivera
14 G, 17.2 IP, 3-1, 7 SV, 1.53 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .242 BAA

Ron Villone
12 G, 12.2 IP, 0-1, 1.42 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, .167 BAA

Jaret Wright
5 GS, 27.2 IP, 3-1, 3.25 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .243 BAA

Melky Cabrera
19 G, 66 AB, 8 R, 21 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 8 BB, 2 SB, .318 AVG, .392 OBA, .394 SLG, .786 OPS

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Posted by: Seamus
I got a little nervous after the Orioles' two-run 8th inning, but the Yankees took the game in 10 innings to win for the 7th time in their last eight games. The win gives the Yankees a half game ahead of Boston, who lost 6-2 in Detroit, for first place in the A.L. East. Randy Johnson gave up three runs, but his performance was actually a gem, giving up only three hits while striking out eight in 7 and 1/3 innings.

The Yankees scored two in the 5th inning, courtesy of Derek Jeter who doubled in a run and Bernie Williams, whose sac fly put the Yankees up 4-3. The Yankees went up 5-3 in the 7th when Andy Phillips hit a long home run to left field. The Big Unit was relieved by Scott Proctor in the 8th, who gave up two runs on back to back doubles as the Orioles tied the score at 5 apiece. Proctor pitched a scoreless 9th and the Yankees went back ahead in the 10th on a solo shot to center by Johnny Damon. With both Mariano Rivera and Kyle Farnsworth unavailable for the game, the Yankees were short on staff in the bullpen, so the Yanks went to Chien-Ming Wang on his throw day in between starts to finish the Orioles off in the 10th and record the first save of his professional career.

A lot of people would've been pointing the finger at Scott Proctor had the Yankees blown this one, but the Yankees left 13 runners on base. Melky Cabrera left seven on himself, but we'll let this one slide considering today's subpar 1-6 performance only dropped the rookie's average to .304. Conversely, I guess you could also say the Yankees wouldn't have had the opportunity to blow all those scoring chances if the Orioles' defense wasn't so bad throughout the day. They recorded three errors, but there were also a lot of hits that should've been outs. Either way, the beauty of this game is that this one counts in the standings as much as a 15-0 blowout.

Aaron Small will look for his first win this afternoon and will be facing Rodrigo Lopez. Both starters have an E.R.A. well over 6, so we might be looking at a slugfest. Hopefully Small can give us some innings though since Rivera still won't be available for this one.
Posted by: David
With Sheffield back on the DL and his return very uncertain the Yankees are now missing their corner outfielders who have both produced 30 homers and over 100 RBI. Granted, Melky Cabrera has been a godsend but over the course of a 162 game schedule the Yankees will need to replace that pop in the lineup.

Michael Kay mentioned during the broadcast last night that the Washington Post was reporting that Stan Kasten (former Braves GM) who represents the new Nationals ownership wants to clean house and accumulate prospects for the future. This means that guys like Alfonso Soriano, Jose Guillen, Jose Vidro and Livan Hernandez will probably be dealt.

The name that pops out to me would be Soriano. He is not the defensive replacement we need, but you can't ignore that bat. He is close to twenty homers already and can do it all offensively. The other rumor is a three way trade with the Phillies and Marlins where the Yankees would end up with Pat Burrell and Willis would go the Phillies. The Marlins would get prospects from both trading partners.

I think the Yankees should pursue Torii Hunter from the Twins. He will be a free agent after the season and would be great in center with Damon moving to left. Damon already has stated he wouldn't mind playing left if the Yankees could snatch Hunter. The Yankees outfield defense is not good. Damon can go after the ball, but can't throw. Sheffield is a question mark and when he does come back is not good defensively. Cabrera has been great with the bat and threw out a runner last night to save a run for the Yankees. Bernie Williams has slowed down and everyone knows has no arm at all. Hunter is a great gold glove center fielder and also a force offensively.

As for pitching, Livan Hernandez has pitched on winning clubs with the Marlins and eats up innings. Remember the last few years the Yankees bullpen has died in the postseason from overwork during the long season.

The problem for the Yankees in any deal though is coming up with prospects. Phillip Hughes seems to be the top pitching prospect but is only at the double A level. As for hitters, we have Eric Duncan, Kevin Thompson, Kevin Reese and Mitch Jones to dangle in front of team. Would the Yankees give up Cabrera or Chien Ming-Wang to acquire someone who could get us to the postseason?
Posted by: David
Derek Jeter had put the Yankees ahead in the 7th - 4-3 with a clutch single up the middle and did it again in the top of the ninth when after Johnny Damon was called out trying to steal second, the umpire noticed the ball was dropped and changed the call to safe. DJ delivered a clutch single to right off of Orioles closer Chris Ray to give the Yankees the lead. Kyle Farnsworth pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth for the win. Kevin Millar led off the inning and grounded to short for the first out. Corey Patterson then fouled out to Andy Phillips at first and the last out was made by Javy Lopez who lined to Bernie Williams in right to end the game.

The Yankees fell behind early 2-0. The Orioles scored in the first on an RBI bloop single by Ramon Hernandez and added another run later. Andy Phillips got the Yankees to within a run by homering off O's starter Kris Benson. In the sixth, Jason Giambi crushed a Benson low inside pitch deep to right to give the Yankees a temporary lead at 3-2. However, the next inning Jaret Wright got the first two outs and Corey Patterson attempted to bunt. Wright fielded the ball cleanly but took his eye off his glove and dropped the ball and allowed Patterson to reach. He stole second even though the Yankees pitched out and then scored to tie the game on a single from Javy Lopez.

The Yankees went ahead in the seventh on the aforementioned RBI single from Jeter and the second run scoring on a wild pitch. Ron Villone pitched out of trouble in the seventh and Scott Erickson relieved him in the eighth and gave up an RBI double to Luis Matos to make the score 5-4 and put runners on second and third with only one out. Torre summoned Farnsworth and with the bases loaded he got the hard ground ball to third, but Cairo playing in place of flu riden A-Rod bobbled the ball and could not turn the double play. Farnsworth then intentionally walked Tejada to load the bases but then retired the next batter to end the inning.

06/02: Quick Strikes

Posted by: James
With Mariano, it's amusing that early on, there was a lot of clamor about how he was rusty and underused. Well, things have changed, huh? After the other night's masterful 3 inning beat down of the Tigers, his ERA is down to 2.30 thanks to a pretty good May (17.6 IP, 16 H, 3 BB, 11 Ks). His K/BB is back to its usual lofty heights (3.60:1) although his K rate (5.93 per 9) remains well below his career average (8.05 per 9 and 9.19 last year) and his BAA (.252) and WHIP (1.13) remain higher than his career rates (.218 BAA/1.05 WHIP). Hopefully, Mariano continues his climb back to his usual form. One thing to note is that Mariano's now on pace for 84 innnings, which would be his most ever, outside of his breakout 1996 season.

Speaking of overuse, the current posterboy would of course be Scott Proctor's who's on pace on 104 IP while Ron Villone, who has been a starter in his career is only on pace for 64. Proctor has been solid but Villone has been very good in his opportunities as well and I'd much rather see someone who has pitched 104 innings as recently as 2004 get the increased workload. As for Proctor, while the Yankees were smart to try to stretch out his arm last year (combined 87 innings between the majors and AAA), I'm very wary of seeing another pitcher get Karsay-ed (or Quantrill-ized or Flashed or whatever). As for Farnsworth, he's on pace for 73 IP which seems to be about right even though he has pitched 8 out of the last 10 days (and 7 out of the last 9 games).

Still, it's not the Yankees offense that has let down the staff (they have actually averaged more runs per game AFTER Matsui went down), so let's see some blowouts and deeper outings by the starters so we can get these guys some rest!

Finally, I'm a little disheartened to see Rasner being used as an arm out of the bullpen. While I'm happy he gets a shot, I'd much rather see him starting in Small's stead. It makes no sense to bring up the guy who's been a starter for his entire career (93 of his 95 appearances have been starts) to come up and pitch in relief. If that's what you wanted, you could have very easily brought up Jose Veras, the Beaner or even Ramiro Mendoza. I mean, if Rasner is just a stop-gap until the organization can call up Matt Smith again, it was a silly move to take Rasner out of his established spot and have him miss a start. We'll have to see what they were thinking. Who knows? They could surprise me and actually give Rasner the next spot start.
Posted by: James
A loss isn't the worst thing in the world and going into the series, taking 3 of 4 from the team with the best record in baseball is surely something all Yankees fans would have signed up for.

That being said, the way the game was lost last night still leaves a bad taste. When you go up against a young, fireballing ace and can go up 5-0 on a team by the end of the third inning, your pitchers have got to find a way to go 6 innings without giving up 6 runs. It isn't too much to ask but Wang couldn't hold the lead, coming apart in the 4th and 5th and something's definitely up there. Orel Hersheiser pointed out that Wang doesn't pitch with the same form when coming out of the stretch (he loses the strike zone, gets behind hitters and then has to groove fastballs down the middle) and the numbers bear that out. With runners on, he's falling apart (.358/.402/.468/.870) and for those who were wondering, yes, the same thing applied last year as well (.287/.338/.414/.752) though certainly not to the same extent. However, he just looks shell shocked right now.

Terrence Long should not be on a major league roster. His first three at-bats were cheap outfield flies (each time, something productive would have scored another run) and when he came up for the fourth time, when an outfield fly meant another run, what did he do? Facing a pitcher who was losing the plate, he fouled out to third. Ouch. In total, Long left nine (9!) runners on base last night.

Of course, if Farnsworth holds the lead, that's a moot point. Or is it vice-versa? If Long brings home some of those runs, does Farnsworth lose the game? Depends on who you're looking to throw under the bus, I guess. Most people seem to be picking Farnsworth. Not me - yes, I agree he pitched a bad game (with his stuff, I'm amazed he walks as many as he does) and he's had a bad month but I don't recall hearing all this negativity towards Farnsworth when he had a 2.89 ERA after the first month or when he K'd David Ortiz. Already, after his first 24 innings in pinstripes, we have guys calling him a bum. Give me a break. He's not old, he's not hurt and he Ks people with authority. His walk rate is at the highest point in his career. Does anyone out there really believe that it will stay up there? I mean, come on, he's not Mo with pinpoint control but those walks will drop while those Ks will remain the same. That's the combination for a very good power reliever and the same guys who are calling for his head now will be hemming and hawing when he starts doing his job better.

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Posted by: Jason
#1 in the American League in runs scored.
Winners of their last 3 series, including 2 against good teams.
10 games over .500, 0.5 games out of 1st place.

The injury situation is obviously important, but I sense an unjustifiable disturbance in the Yankees universe. We had great expectations of the intact lineup in spring training. Granted, it is worrisome to see injuries mount.

I understand and concede that it's still early in the season. But read the first 3 lines of this post: The current arrangement (even given Terrence Long) is getting the job done. Don't make the ideal (i.e., memories of the 1,000 run juggernaut that crushed Oakland on opening day) the enemy of the good enough.

Taking 3/4 vs. the Tigers and 2/3 vs. Boston is good enough.
Posted by: James
Greg House perhaps? I prefer Cuddy (or Cameron) myself but that's another story - what matters is that we get this team some doctors!

The health woes of the Yankees continue to climb and Peter Abraham has the goods over at The LoHud Yankees Blog.

Gary Sheffield has been diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left wrist and a dislocating (not dislocated) tendon. His wrist has been immobilized and he will be treated with therapy.
Mariano Rivera had a back spasm putting on one of his cleats today and may not be available tonight.
Bubba Crosby isn't making much progress and may not be back in the majors until around June 10.

Update: More from Pete.

Brian Cashman said the doctors have recommended that Gary Sheffield try therapy for a period of time. If that doesn't work, surgery would be required. There is no question that Sheffield will be out much longer than two weeks even if the therapy works. Such surgery, if done now, would not be season-ending. Cashman described the latest injury as "additional" to the original problem in his wrist.

Man, this team is snake-bit right now. Forget the Columbus shuttle - they should reroute that shuttle to carry these guys to the hospital.

Speaking of Columbus, there really aren't any more outfielders at AAA who can be thought of as potential contributers to the big ball club. Remember, Richard Hidalgo was let go a couple days ago so Kevin Reese is the best down there right now. Heck, there really isn't anyone at AA Trenton either (unless you count Bronson Sardinha, who I don't). The next "legit" guy is Brett Gardner and he's slumping a little bit in A Tampa. It looks like we might be seeing Terrence Long for far longer than any of us orginally expected and other clubs won't exactly be forthcoming since they know the Yankees are in something of a bind. The pitching staff becomes even more important now and it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
Posted by: James
Steve Lombardi points out that Kevin Thompson is on his way to Detroit to be activated for tonight's game. I'd write more about it but that post by Steve (as is to be expected) succinctly covers most of the important pieces.

The only part of the post that disappoints me a little is about Andy Phillips losing playing-time. I mean, it's not like he gets much as is but with Thompson up, Bernie (who has really helped the Yanks since Hideki went down and very quietly hit .301/.353/.409 in May) will take up any DH at-bats he might have otherwise seen. It's unfortunate as after a slow start, Andy has started to come around, hitting .306 in limited time in May. With more time, I'm sure that you'd start seeing flashes of the power he displayed in the minors as well. Still, Phillips is probably the best option for the backup first baseman as Carlos Pena has cooled off quite a bit in AAA (.248/.371/.414/.785 with only a 30% XBH rate).

As as aside, there was a lot of talk the last time he (Thompson) was passed over (in 2005 for Melky) that he got more than a little upset about not being considered for the promotion. Hopefully, KT doesn't get too excited trying to prove himself and plays well enough to displace Terrence Long as the backup outfielder. Thompson, as has been noted both here and eslewhere before, has quite a bit more to offer (i.e. a decent bat and great speed - 188/51 SB/CS in his minor league career).

Also, check out those splits on Bernie, especially the difference when he hits righty versus lefty and how he does against the starter and relievers. Talk about night and day.
Posted by: Jason
Please pardon this late entry, as your correspondent has been traveling (work related) for the last 48...

Mussina: Great... (Are we allowed to discuss Cy Youngs yet? (knock on wood)).
Giambi: Great. As I read a Detroit News recap of this game, the writer discussed how the Tigers could use a left-handed power bat like Giambi. I hope redemption feels better than expected, Jason.
Alex: Great.
Andy Phillips: Great on both ends, including an apparently stellar defensive play on a bunt last evening.

By and large, improved defense by the Yankees was a huge factor in last night's success.

Hopefully, the Tigers go into full old-school "run manufacturing" mode tonight and Jim Leyland displays the bunt sign to every hitter for the first time through the lineup.

Overall, this series has been a pleasant surprise, don't you think?
Posted by: Patrick
Don't forget to head over to MLB.com and vote. Jeter is leading all AL players in votes (has he ever done that before?!). A-Rod and Cano are also leading at their positions with a number of Yankees being in contention. Every vote counts!
Posted by: James
Phil Hughes is making a start right now for the Trenton Thunder. You can follow along by refreshing the current box score or if you can, the play by play is being streamed (free) over at MiLB.com.

He's just given up two runs in the second...which might be too much. Trenton doesn't exactly boast a very robust lineup. Of course, right after I write that they go ahead and score three runs (though they were probably the softest three runs I've ever heard).

Another 2 runs given up by Hughes with 2 outs. Still, I've counted at least 3 hits so far that the Portland announcing team (who are REALLY excitable) have categorized as bloops over the infield. Also, even these Portland (Red Sox AA club) guys are complimenting Hughes' stuff - even better results will start coming soon, I'm sure...but today is just not his day as he ends up giving up 8 hits and 6 ER (2BB, 6K)in 5 IP. Ouch. This outing takes his ERA which had been at 4 all the way up to 5. Hopefully, the other guy who had lowered his AA ERA to 4 (T-Clip) can come through with a better performance in a couple of days.
Posted by: James
Classic moment. If you didn't get a chance to see what Mussina did at the end of the game last night, head on over to MLB.com and click on "Mussina's gem". Joe Torre's started to come out of the dugout (for the second trip to the mound of the inning) and Mussina sees him. He starts hollering at Joe to get his attention before he can come out on the field and yells "Stay There!". At this point, the look on Torre's face is classic. His facial expression goes from "What?" to "All right, all right, jeez, stop yelling!" very quickly. Great stuff.

Of course, Moose can get away with that, especially since the night before the game, Mussina had asked Torre what he needed. Torre said he needed eight. Mike gave him 9. Way to come through Moose.