Archive for July, 2009
Pitching matchups for the White Sox series • 07.30.09
Tonight: LHP Andy Pettitte (8-6, 4.67) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (8-6, 4.24), 8:11, YES, MLB
Friday: RHP Sergio Mitre (1-0, 5.91) vs. LHP Clayton Richard (4-3, 4.65), 8:11, YES
Saturday: RHP A.J. Burnett (10-4, 3.53) vs. LHP John Danks (8-7, 3.89), 4:05, FOX
Sunday: LHP CC Sabathia (10-7, 3.83) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (11-4, 3.45), 1:05, YES
Greetings from Gate F-80 • 07.30.09
Good morning from the Gary Sheffield International Airport here in Tampa.
Sheff, as you may know, grew up in Tampa. He once told the beat writers that Tampa was such a tough town that he knew guys who would kill you for a ham sandwich. This, presumably, was before they put in all the chain restaurants. Now they would kill you for a table at the Cheesecake Factory and the factory chop salad.
Kudos to the people who run this airport. There is free wireless and I’m writing this from a desk just a few steps from the gate that includes plenty of power outlets. You would think such places would be standard in airports but they are not. Nearly every little cubicle is already in use at this early hour.
It was interesting seeing the reaction the Yankees had to George Steinbrenner last night. For Derek, Jorge, Andy and Mo, it was like old times. They have vivid memories of Steinbrenner being in the clubhouse all the time. But for the newcomers, seeing Steinbrenner was like spotting J.D. Salinger.
“It was pretty cool,” CC Sabathia said. “He was very friendly.”
Friendly? Hope Ed Whitson didn’t read that.
Some of the younger players, including Phil Hughes, met The Boss for the first time and were surprised to see him in a wheelchair. But Steinbrenner has a bad knee that he refuses to get operated on and has trouble walking. But he is doing better these days and there is a chance he will be in New York for the upcoming Boston series. Maybe he’ll gather some of his old New York City cronies.
But gone are the days when part of a beat writer’s job was staking out the hallway outside his office in Tampa in pursuit of an inflammatory quote. I still remember one spring training day a few years ago when Big Stein barked a comment out to Jim Baumbach of Newsday then ran over Sweeny Murti’s foot in his golf cart. We literally chased him down the hall shouting questions about A-Rod.
Now we give Steinbrenner his space, even the tabloids. Hal Steinbrenner runs the team and when the voice of ownership needs to be heard, he steps forward. That’s how it should be, I think. Let the old guy have his dignity.
As for the Yankees, they treated Steinbrenner to a 6-2 victory then flew off to Chicago. As they were in the air, the Dodgers were beaten and now the Yankees are tied for the best record in baseball at 62-39. It has been an impressive last month or so.
The Yankees left the Rays reeling and the stumblin’ Red Sox have dropped seven of their last 10. But the Yankees want to be the champions of October, not July.
“There is still a lot of work to do,” Joe Girardi said.
That there is, starting tonight at U.S. Cellular Field. Check back on the blog later on.
Today in The Journal News • 07.30.09
George Steinbrenner was on hand as Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees beat the Rays. That’s three great starts in a row for Joba.
Now that Cliff Lee is with the Phillies, the Yankees could fight with Boston for Roy Halladay. This notebook also has updates on Chien-Ming Wang, a potential roster move, Alfredo Aceves, CC Sabathia, Damaso Marte and Brett Tomko.
Wrapping it up from The Trop • 07.29.09
A few postgame updates for you:
• Derek Jeter on George Steinbrenner’s visit: “It’s always good to see him and to spent time around him. We had a chance to talk about a few things. His attitude will never change. … A few of us are used to him coming through the clubhouse quite often throughout the years. But some of these guys haven’t had a chance to spend time with him and I’m sure it was very special.”
Steinbrenner, Jeter said, is “very proud” of the team.
• The eight innings matched a career best by Joba Chamberlain. His performance since the break should put to rest the silly bullpen/rotation debate. He’s 23 and when he has himself together, he’s one of the best starting pitchers in the game. You want more innings from a guy like that, not fewer.
“That is probably the best I have seen Joba,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “You have to give him credit.”
• The Yankees (62-39) now lead Boston (58-42) by 3.5 games and Tampa (55-47) by 7.5 games.
• Mark Teixeira is now tied with Justin Morneau for the AL home run lead with 26. He hit 33 last year. His most were 43 in 2005.
• Nothing new to report on Chien-Ming Wang. The Yankees will only say that he had surgery and there is no timetable for his return. I reached out to his agents, who said basically the same thing. It really doesn’t matter much to the Yankees at this point when he could return. But the Yankees should show more respect to the people in Taiwan and be more forthcoming. They want to know how their guy is doing.
• Eric Hinske got his AL Championship ring from the Rays before the game. Remember when Girardi said before the break that he was going to play more? What happened to that?
Off to Chicago in the morning. Check back then.
Game 101: Yankees at Rays • 07.29.09
Pitching: RHP Joba Chamberlain (6-2, 3.86).
Pitching: RHP Matt Garza (7-7, 3.68).
TIME/TV: 7:10, YES, ESPN.
STATE OF THE STRIPES: The Yankees and Rays have split the first two games of the series. Now comes a matchup between two hard-throwing right-handers. The Yankees have won eight of their last nine series. Taking two of three from the Rays would be a good start to the road trip. The team leaves after the game for Chicago.
JOBAMANIA: Joba Chamberlain has allowed two runs in 13.2 innings since the All-Star break while striking out 14. He started against the Rays on June 7, allowing three runs on five hits over six innings. He has a 1.88 ERA against them in eight career appearances, seven of them coming in relief when he was the greatest baseball player there ever was.
ONE TO GO: Alex Rodriguez has gone 31 at-bats since his last home run. He needs one more to tie Harmon Killebrew for ninth place all-time with 573.
HOMER HAPPY: The Yankees have a Major League-most six players with at least 15 home runs: Cano, Damon, Matsui, Rodriguez, Swisher and Teixeira. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees became only the second team in Major League history to have six players collect 15 home runs before it had played 100 games, joining the 2005 Rangers, who had seven such players (Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano, Hank Blalock, Kevin Mench, David Dellucci, Michael Young and Richard Hidalgo).
JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY: With his 200th career homer on Monday, Johnny Damon is now one of 14 players all-time with at least 200 homers, 300 steals and 2,000 hits. The only other active player is Bobby Abreu. The list also includes Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg.
ON THE iPOD RIGHT NOW: Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead.
Much more later.
UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: Yankees obtained RHP Jason Hirsh from Colorado for a PTBNL. He was sent to AAA. He was 6-7, 6.66 in 20 games for AAA Colorado Springs. Scranton badly needed a starter as they were using their bullpen to take a turn once a week.
UPDATE, 5:38 p.m.: Don’t expect to see Damaso Marte any time soon, if at all. He was topping out at 88 last night and gave up two jacks.
With Chicago starting three LHPs in the next series, Joe Girardi hinted they could want a right-handed bat for the roster. Shelley Duncan?
UPDATE, 5:46 p.m.: Brett Tomko was released.
UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: A few other tidbits: No update on how Wang’s surgery went. Getting updated medical news from the Yankees is, as always, a challenge. … Alfredo Aceves threw 20 pitches off the bullpen mound and felt good. He’s not available tonight but could be tomorrow.
UPDATE, 7:09 p.m.: We’re underway at The Trop. I’ll get back later with some updates, got a bunch of newspaper work to do.
Enjoy the game.
UPDATE, 7:14 p.m.: Jeter’s first triple since May 13, 2008 at … Tropicana Field.
UPDATE, 7:27 p.m.: George Steinbrenner is at the game and was in the Yankees clubhouse during and after batting practice. He was in the manager’s office and according to team officials, nearly every player stopped in to say hello to him.
UPDATE, 7:56 p.m.: The Rays are playing Black Crowes tunes when A-Rod comes up. Pretty funny.
UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Joba has thrown 49 pitches (33 strikes) in four innings. 4 1 0 0 0 2.
UPDATE, 8:25 p.m.: Yankees have has eight base-runners in six innings against Garza but only two runs as they have left five men on base. But they lead 2-0.
UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Joba since the break: 18.2 innings, 6 hits, 2 earned runs, 8 walks, 17 strikeouts.
UPDATE, 8:47 p.m.: Robbie crushed that 1-2 pitch deep into the RF stands. 3-0 Yankees.
UPDATE, 9:52 p.m.: Sorry for the lack of updates, been writing the game story.
Joba has an 0.83 ERA since the break. Pretty amazing. Now Bruney has forced Mariano into a game he should have been watching. This is the kind of thing that could cost them a game over the weekend if Mo is not available. Bruney, at this point, simply can’t be trusted.
Back later with clubhouse reaction.
How does this all impact the Yankees? • 07.29.09
So the Mariners are now inexplicably buyers and as J.P. Ricciardi dithered, the Phillies pounced on Cliff Lee.
What does this mean for the Yankees?
• Now that the Indians are selling, Boston could make a move on Victor Martinez. I don’t see where they would prod the Yankees into doing anything.
• But if Boston decides it must have Roy Halladay, the Yankees will have to at least get in the mix somehow. I personally would do Joba and Jesus Montero for him, but that’s just me.
• Apparently Jarrod Wasburn isn’t going anywhere. Seattle does know it has a -44 run differential, right? Or did the Mariners just decide they needed a shortstop?
OK, if you insist, you can have Kei Igawa • 07.29.09
Tick, tick, tick, the trade deadline is approaching.
Wouldn’t it be something if after all this the Jays decided not to trade Roy Halladay? Then the entire thing would start up again the second the World Series was over.
I don’t believe that will happen. The best deal is out there now and Toronto needs to get it done. I’ll stick with my original prediction of the Phillies.
I do think the Yankees will pick up a pitcher — starter or reliever — but will not part with the prospects to get Halladay. If Brian Cashman would not do that for Johan Santana, what has changed?
Jarrod Washburn is a two-month rental and a Type B free agent who will merit only a sandwich pick. Seattle can’t expect a huge haul for him. Maybe that is where the Yankees fish. Jon Garland? Anybody but Sidney Ponson. Please.
Just remember this about Cashman: Nobody saw the deal with Pittsburgh coming last year or the stealthy Mark Teixeira move in December. C-Money always has something up his sleeve.
One step changed everything for Wang • 07.29.09
Pitchers get their elbows fixed all the time. Tommy John surgery is like getting your oil changed these days. Get a new ligament, rehab a while and you’re just like new.
But shoulders offer no such guarantees. Any time a pitcher goes in for shoulder surgery, he doesn’t know whether he will be the same when he gets out. Just ask Mark Prior.
For Chien-Ming Wang, a series of events in Houston last June 15 led to one step that may have changed his entire life. For the Yankees, it could change how Brian Cashman approaches the coming trade deadline and building the team for next season.
Wang did not get a proper bunt down and ended up on first base with two outs in the sixth inning. A grounder to shortstop should have ended the inning, but Miguel Tejada tossed it away. Then Derek Jeter singled and Wang headed to the plate to score his first run in the majors.
The funny part? Wang actually took a nice secondary lead off second base and broke just when Jeter hit the ball. His teammates were laughing in the dugout, watching the pitcher run the bases. Then, about 10 feet from the plate, Wang started to limp. He had torn a tendon and ligament in his right foot.
Robinson Cano, one of Wang’s closest friends in baseball, had to help him to the dugout. Wang spent the next two months in a cast.
Nothing has been the same since. Wang pitched so poorly to start the season that the Yankees put him on the disabled list with what they said were weak hip muscles. He came back and pitched better, but was never really himself. Then, on July 4, he felt pain in his shoulder that never went away. Now today he’ll undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his capsule.
Did the foot injury change cause a subtle change in Wang’s mechanics that led to the shoulder injury? We’ll never know for sure, but that seems like a logical place to start.
For Wang, 2010 is his final season before free agency. But instead of coming off another 19-win season, he’ll be coming off an injury. Instead of a $12 million contract and financial security for his young family, he could be looking for a make-good deal with a new team.
For the Yankees, losing Wang means there is a hole to fill now and next season. The Yankees could sneak by with Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves this season. But what about 2010?
Cashman figured he had Wang, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain locked up as starters. If he had to replace anybody, it was Andy Pettitte.
Now there could be two spots to fill. Phil Hughes will get one. The other? It could be anybody.
If there is any justice, Wang will bounce back well and be somebody the Yankees can count on again. One step shouldn’t have so much impact.
Tyler Kepner has a good take on Wang over on Bats.
Today in The Journal News • 07.29.09
Wrapping it up from Tampa • 07.29.09
The Yankees are 11-11 in CC Sabathia’s starts. The big lefty is not happy about it, either.
“It is annoying. No matter whether I get the win or not, you want to go out and try to help the team any way you can and it’s pretty frustrating that I’ve been going out there and not helping us,” he said.
Some of it is CC’s fault. His ERA is a pedestrian 3.83. On a few occasions, he has lacked run support. Tonight it was poor defense. CC also admitted he’s been getting away with having poor control going back to the Minnesota game before the break. He’ll be working on that in the days ahead.
Meanwhile the Yankees caught a break when Jonathan Papelbon kicked away a lead in the ninth and Boston lost 9-8 to those not-so-plucky Oakland Athletics. The leads remains 2.5 games.
A little more on Chien-Ming Wang: He has a tear in the shoulder capsule ligament. I’ve been gathering information from doctors, his agent, Will Carroll and others and it sounds like this is the sort of shoulder injury that could keep Wang out deep into next season.
It has been a pretty brutal last 13 months for the guy. He was 46-15 over a span of two and half years and now his career is in jeopardy. This will be devastating news in Taiwan. Hopefully Wang can overcome this series of setbacks and return to form, be it with the Yankees or another team.
I spoke with him earlier and he was pretty down. Hard not to be in that situation.
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