Archive for September, 2009
Some good news to share with you • 09.29.09
Now that everything is finalized, here is some more news for you.
I’m thrilled to announce that The Journal News has hired Chad Jennings of the Times-Tribune in Scranton and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees Blog to cover the Yankees. Chad starts on Oct. 7.
Chad covered the Triple-A Yankees with distinction and his blog was a must-read for Yankee fans who wanted to be up to date on the organization’s prospects. Chad has a knack for blogging and is a fine writer and reporter.
As somebody who once covered the Double-A Yankees, I believe there is a lot of value in having a reporter who started in the minors and worked his way up. Chad is a young guy with a lot of ambition and knowledge of baseball and he’s the perfect choice to take over this blog.
I’m grateful to Mike Fisch, Henry Freeman, CynDee Royle, Susie Arth and everybody else at The Journal News for moving so swiftly to add Chad to the staff. This assures a seamless transition and continuous coverage on the blog. The LoHud Yankees Blog won’t be going anywhere.
Sam Borden will be covering the Yankees from now and throughout the playoffs with assistance from Chad once be comes on board. Josh Thomson will be in Tampa this weekend.
So please join me in welcoming Chad to this blog. Please treat him well once he arrives.
Chad, this circus is yours. I’m glad it’s in good hands.
Pondering the postseason roster • 09.29.09
It’s all but official that the Yankees will choose the division series that starts Oct. 7. That series has an extra day off between the first two games and that allows them to use Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes without concern. It also would allow them to use three starters instead of putting Game 4 in the hands of Joba Chamberlain.
That said, let’s take a look at how the postseason roster could be made up. This is based on what Joe Girardi has had to say along with informal discussions with assorted people in the organization.
LHP CC Sabathia
RHP A.J. Burnett
LHP Andy Pettitte
RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP Phil Hughes
LHP Phil Coke
RHP Alfredo Aceves
RHP Joba Chamberlain
In assuming he’s healthy
RHP David Robertson
Three choices for one spot
RHP Brian Bruney
RHP Chad Gaudin
LHP Damaso Marte
Breakdown: Robertson will get two appearances (at least) in the next five games to show he’s healthy. If he does that, he’s in. Girardi went on the record Monday saying he was impressed with Marte and liked having two left-handers in the bullpen. But if the Yankees face Detroit, the only lefty hitters the Tigers have are Curtis Granderson and Aubrey Huff. Why add an extra lefty in that case? Minnesota has Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel. Gaudin is attractive in a seven-game series because of his versatility. But in a short series, Chamberlain and Aceves can give multiple innings if needed. For the first round, it could come down to Bruney or Marte with Gaudin biding his time until the ALCS.
POSITION PLAYERS (15)
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B Alex Rodriguez
C Jorge Posada
LF Johnny Damon
CF Melky Cabrera
RF Nick Swisher
DH Hideki Matsui
OF Brett Gardner
C Jose Molina
In assuming he’s healthy
INF-OF Jerry Hairston
Four choices for three spots
C Francisco Cervelli
OF-3B Eric Hinske
INF Ramiro Pena
OF Freddy Guzman
Breakdown: I think Cervelli is in. Having a third catcher would allow them to use Posada as a DH and sit Matsui against a lefty if they choose. Or easily pinch run for Posada late in games. Hinske would be the “pop off the bench” guy in case that is needed. They traded for Guzman specifically for these five games. He will be strictly a pinch runner. With slow guys like Matsui and Posada in the lineup, they could need a second pinch runner. It also would give them the ability to start Gardner and still have speed on the bench. Pena is likely the odd man out unless Hairston can’t play.
Now keep in mind that in a seven-game series, the roster will change. Then you drop a position player (Guzman or Cervelli) and add a pitcher (Bruney, Gaudin or Marte).
Just for the record, the Yankees do not have to select which series they will take until an hour after the matchup has been decided. The postseason roster does not have to be finalized until the day of Game 1.
Today in The Journal News • 09.29.09
I was going to post the link to my story. Then I noticed that a big chunk of the story was missing on the version that was posted on LoHud.com. Plus if you use Safari, you can’t get to the second page anyway. So here is the original version.
Once again, I apologize for the web site’s problems.
By Peter Abraham
NEW YORK — The cavernous home clubhouse at Yankee Stadium still smelled faintly of the champagne spilled in celebration the day before when Brian Bruney arrived early Monday afternoon.
The 27-year-old relief pitcher contributed significantly to the victory that clinched the American League East, entering the game at the start of the seventh inning and retiring all five batters he faced as the Yankees beat the Red Sox.
Bruney’s unshaven face still wore a smile a day later.
“The thing that was special for me was the crowd reaction,” said the 27-year-old right-hander, referring to the standing ovation the fans gave him when he left the mound in the eighth inning. “I’ve been through a lot all year, fighting a lot of injuries, mechanics and pitching like garbage. I would have loved to look up and give a thank you, but honestly I had tears in my eyes and I couldn’t do it. That’s been my best moment in baseball. It was an awesome feeling.
“New York fans aren’t like any other fans. They feel baseball and they feel it with you.”
Bruney did not pitch in Monday’s 8-2 victory against the Kansas City Royals. But there are five games remaining in the regular season for him to try and convince the team’s decision-makers that he belongs on the roster for the American League Division Series next week.
The primary set-up man when the season started, Bruney pitched well in the opening weeks before going on the disabled list on April 25 with a sore elbow.
After missing nearly a month, Bruney returned and pitched in only one game before going back on the disabled list. He admitted to misleading the team about how he felt, which drew the ire of manger Joe Girardi.
Bruney caused more problems on June 13 when — unprompted — he criticized Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, saying he had a “tired act.”
Rodriguez tried to confront Bruney during batting practice a day later, sparking a brief fray that CC Sabathia helped quell. Bruney was called into the manager’s office again, this time told to keep inflammatory opinions private.
Bruney has pitched in 35 games since with varying results, putting 53 runners on base over 27 2/3 innings and posting a 4.55 ERA. Bruney was so desperate to change his fortunes earlier this month that he changed his uniform number, dropping 38 to become only the second player in team history to wear 99.
The last was outfielder Charlie “King Kong” Keller, who wore 99 in the two games he played with the Yankees in 1952.
Keller did not make the postseason roster that year. Will Bruney? Girardi and coaches will meet with general manager Brian Cashman and members of his staff before the game on Tuesday to discuss the roster. Bruney’s status will be one of the prime subjects of debate.
The Yankees are planning to bring 10 pitchers to the best-of-five Division Series. With only three starters needed, Joba Chamberlain will work out of the bullpen. That figures to bump Bruney, Chad Gaudin or Damaso Marte off the roster.
Bruney believes he deserves a spot, saying his performance Sunday was a sign of what is to come.
“I’ve been feeling better. My mechanics, right now, I feel like myself when I go out there,” he said. “You can build off of that. I feel good right now and it’s the right time to feel good.”
Girardi was non-committal.
“He had such a good April for us and then he got hurt and it was a long road with his rehab and getting back and (he) had some setbacks,” the manager said. “We’re going to have a lot of tough decisions. But I believe that Brian Bruney has a ton of talent.”
Bruney’s fate could be determined based on how he pitches in the next few days. Though meaningless for the Yankees, Bruney can bolster his resume in those games.
“I think I’ll be there,” he said. “I hope they feel that way.”
Notes: Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera were the only regulars in the lineup. Cano had a grand slam and rookie Ramiro Pena the first home run of his career. … The Steinbrenner family invited the players and coaches to a reception at the Stadium’s steakhouse after the game on Tuesday. … Right-handed reliever Dave Robertson, whose status could impact Bruney, has been cleared to pitch after missing 24 days with a sore elbow. … A.J. Burnett will rejoin the team on Tuesday and is scheduled to face the Royals. He was excused from Monday’s game to be with his father Bill, who underwent triple-bypass surgery in Arkansas. “Everything went well,” Girardi said.
Win No. 101 memorable for Pena • 09.29.09
It was spring training in the Bronx for a night as the Yankees ran a “B” lineup out there and beat the hapless Royals 8-2.
Joe Girardi was smiling after the game as he recounted the first career home run for Ramiro Pena. The veterans in the dugout gave him the silent treatment at first before surrounding the rookie and slapping him on the back. The kid was awarded the championship belt afterward.
Chad Gaudin bolstered his case for a postseason nod by pitching well again. It was his first win as a starter since June 28. The Yankees are undefeated in his seven starts, however.
A few other notes for you:
Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera will get the day off tomorrow. The rest of the A lineup will return. … Jerry Hairston Jr. took balls off a tee today and will take BP tomorrow. … The game lasted only two hours and 32 minutes, albeit after a delay of nearly two hours.
Back at it tomorrow. I can’t believe we had nearly 900 comments on a meaningless, rain-delayed game. No Yankee fans are more loyal and dedicated to this team than the readers of this blog.
Pitching: RHP Chad Gaudin (1-0, 3.71).
Pitching: RHP Luke Hochevar (7-11, 5.98).
TIME/TV: 7:05, YES.
STATE OF THE STRIPES: The Yankees have clinched all there is to clinch in the regular season. They are the division champs, they have the best record in the league wrapped up and they’ll have the best record in baseball.
SO WHAT IS AT STAKE? For the next seven days the Yankees will work on getting the postseason roster in order. Chad Gaudin, who pitches tonight, could make his way on as a long reliever, emergency starter. Brian Bruney helped himself a lot on Sunday but he needs to stay sharp. They’ll also have to figure out the bench.
RETURN OF ROBERTSON: RHP Dave Robertson has been cleared to pitch and you can expect to see him in the game at some point. He has been out since Sept. 5 with a sore elbow. He has 61 strikeouts in 41 innings and could play a big role in the postseason.
CASHING IN: Andy Pettitte banked an additional $750,000 when he went over the 190-inning mark. He needs 8.2 innings to get to 200 and another $750,000, which won’t be happening.
HIGH WATER: The Yankees are 44 games over .500. They have not been 45 games over since finishing 2002 with a 103-58 record.
ON THE iPOD RIGHT NOW: Night (live on Dec. 30, 1980) by Bruce Springsteen and the mighty E Street Band.
Back later with more.
UPDATE, 3:58 p.m.: The clubhouse still smells of champagne. … Phil Hughes rocking a porn star mustache these days.
UPDATE, 4:13 p.m.: They are going to wait until tomorrow to pitch Robertson.
UPDATE, 5:27 p.m.: The Yankees do not have to pick a division series until an opponent is decided. But every indication is they’ll choose the longer series that starts Oct. 7 to take advantage of the extra day off. … The team had a late report today and optional batting practice. … The staff will meet tomorrow to discuss the postseason roster. … The players and staff were invited to a celebration reception at NYY Steak tomorrow after the game by the Steinbrenner family. … A.J. Burnett is expected back tomorrow. His father’s surgery went well. … Now the bad news: It just started to rain in the Bronx.
UPDATE, 5:59 p.m.: This is a bad sign. They’re weighing down the tarp with planks of wood. That only happens when there is a storm is on the way. Meanwhile the skies in the south Bronx are darkening.
If you have tickets for tonight’s game, take your time heading out here. I’ll keep you posted right here.
UPDATE, 6:10 p.m.: It is pouring now in the Bronx. The wind also is picking up.
UPDATE, 7:06 p.m.: Lineup change. Damon out, Duncan in. It’s because of the weather.
UPDATE, 7:07 p.m.: The game is officially delayed. We’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE, 8:22 p.m.: Tarp is coming off. Looks like we will have some baseball this evening.
UPDATE, 8:25 p.m.: First pitch at 8:55 p.m. Beats a doubleheader.
UPDATE, 8:59 p.m.: The Yankees’ bench tonight might have a higher payroll than all but a handful of complete teams.
UPDATE, 9:01 p.m.: We’re underway in the Bronx. Props to the Bleacher Creatures for knowing who these guys are. It’s not often you hear the “Juan Miranda” chant.
If you’re expecting blow-by-blow updates … well, I can’t promise that. But we’ll keep you apprised of what is going on here.
UPDATE, 9:33 p.m.: Bored fans doing the wave in a scoreless game in the second inning. This is going to be a long night. My story is done with the exception of the score.
UPDATE, 9:44 p.m.: Here is the audio from Girardi’s pre-game press conference. He talked about the celebration, the postseason roster and a few other topics:
UPDATE, 10:29 p.m.: The excitement is building here as the Yankees and Royals are tied 2-2 in the sixth inning. In the latest evidence that right field was meant for the Staten Island Little League team, Ramiro Pena jacked one out.
This would be the same Ramiro Pena who had five home runs in 1,518 previous at-bats as professional baseball player.
Here’s my question: If the Yankees win in a walk-off, who administers the pie?
UPDATE, 10:28 p.m.: Shelley Duncan with the RBI single. Yankees lead 3-2. The only thing better would have been had he jacked one out to see who he injured with the forearm smashes.
UPDATE, 10:46 p.m.: That was a “put me on the postseason roster” performance by Chad Gaudin. His line: 6.2 4 2 2 2 5.
UPDATE, 11:00 p.m.: Ramiro Pena is an RBI machine. Yankees lead 4-2.
UPDATE, 11:10 p.m.: Cano with a grand slam. That’ll help the RISP average. Yankees lead 8-2.
Looking back at some predictions • 09.28.09
Back on April 2 on his blog I predicted that Phil Hughes would throw 80 innings in the majors and be an important piece. He’s at 84.1 innings.
Of course, none of us thought he would be a reliever.
I also questioned the merits of Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Jonathan Albaladejo. But then so did anybody with common sense. The prediction that Brett Gardner would steal 40 bases was thrown off by his stint on the DL. But he has swiped 24.
My “Steven Jackson will emerge in the bullpen” call was really off. Yikes.
My season predictions were a mixed bag. I had four division winners right. But it does not appear the Indians will win the Central. No sir. My thought that Trey Hillman would be AL Manager of the Year was clouded by my heavy use of crack at the time apparently. Matsuzaka for Cy Young? Brilliant.
I had the Yankees for 98 wins. That counts as a W. Picking the Cubs to win the NL? Big L. The Mets as the wild card? Huge L.
I also had the Yankees winning the World Series. We shall see what comes of that.
Tigers and Twins the compelling series • 09.28.09
As the Yankees fulfill their professional obligations by playing the Kansas City Royals in a meaningless series, the Detroit Tigers will be hosting the Minnesota Twins in a four-game series that will likely decide who the Yankees face the American League Division Series.
The Tigers (83-72) lead the Twins (81-74) by two games with seven to play. The winner gets to come to Yankee Stadium and face CC Sabathia in Game 1 of the postseason on Oct. 7 or 8.
The Twins have won nine of the 14 meetings between the teams so far. For Joe Mauer (.371/.444/.602) it’s also a chance to wrap up the MVP, if he hasn’t already.
The pitching matchups:
Tonight: RHP Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.18) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.14)
Tuesday: Brian Duensing (5-1, 3.33) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (19-7, 3.41)
Wednesday: RHP Carl Pavano (13-11, 4.86) vs. RHP Eddie Bonine (0-1, 4.60)
Thursday: RHP Scott Baker (14-9, 4.48) vs. LHP Nate Robertson (2-2, 5.56)
Gadzooks! It’s the American Idle pitching in a big game. The notorious Carl Pavano is 4-3, 3.84 in 10 starts for the Twins. The Idle has four more wins this season than in the entire four seasons he spent swindling the Yankees.
Do you have a preference? Vote in the poll over to the right.
I’d say that you should want the Twins. The Tigers can throw some formidable pitching at you and crafty old Jim Leyland beat the Yankees back in 2006. The Yankees were 7-0 against the Twins this season and 5-1 against the Tigers.
Pitching matchups for the Royals series • 09.28.09
Tonight: RHP Luke Hochevar (7-11, 5.98) vs. RHP Chad Gaudin (1-0, 3.71), 7:05, YES.
Tuesday: RHP Anthony Lerew (0-1, 3.86) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (12-9, 4.19), 7:05, YES.
Wednesday: RHP Robinson Tejeda (4-2, 3.41) vs. RHP Joba Chamberlain (9-6, 4.72), 7:05, YES.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Joe Girardi gives everybody the day off today. He could throw out this lineup:
One of the regulars DH
Now you know why they called all those guys up. It’s for the Hangover Special lineup.