Archive for July, 2010
Berkman expected in Tampa tonight • 07.31.10
Just talked to a Yankees official who said Lance Berkman “should be” in Tampa in time for tonight’s game against the Rays. Joe Girardi indicated last night that Austin Kearns will be here as well.
Still waiting on word of who’s being taken off the roster to make room. I believe the Yankees will have to open a 40-man spot as well. Trading Mark Melancon opened a spot for Berkman, but they need a spot for Kearns.
Unless Marcus Thames is DFAd, I’d have to guess Wilkin De La Rosa, Greg Golson and Reegie Corona are the top candidates.
As for the guys the Yankees traded for Berkman…
I’ve always been a Melancon believer, and I still am. It’s hard not to be after seeing him pitch so well in 2008 and 2009. Some guys get to the big leagues and it’s clear their stuff won’t play at this level. With Melancon, it wasn’t his stuff that was the problem. He looked just like a different pitcher, not nearly as aggressive as he was in Triple-A. Could be that he just needs to get used to facing big league hitters. They hit only .217 against him last year, but he walked 10 guys in 16.1 innings. That’s not the Melancon I saw in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In spring training, when most of the Triple-A roster is still in big league camp, the Yankees will bring some of the lowest-level guys to play for the Triple-A team. Those spring games have been my only first-hand experience with Paredes. I only remember that he had a big arm. He’s an interesting guy to have in the system — he’s shown he can hit and run a little bit, and that arm will play — but he was certainly not someone the Yankees were counting on.
Yankees make Berkman trade official • 07.31.10
Here’s the official announcement
The New York Yankees today acquired first baseman/designated hitter Lance Berkman and cash considerations from the Houston Astros in exchange for right-handed pitcher Mark Melancon and minor league infielder Jimmy Paredes.
Berkman, 34, batted .245 (73-for-298) with 39 runs, 16 doubles, 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 85 games with the Astros this season. He leads all Major Leaguers, averaging just 5.97 plate appearances per walk and ranks fifth overall in the Majors with 60 walks. The switch-hitter has batted .261 (61-for-234) with 13 doubles and 12 home runs as a left-handed batter in 2010, and .188 (12-for-64) with three doubles and one home run from the right side of the plate.
He has seen all his action at first base in 2010, committing just one error in 769 total chances and ranking third among all Major League first basemen with a .999 fielding percentage.
Originally selected by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, Berkman is a career .296 hitter with 375 doubles, 326 home runs, 1,090 RBI and a .410 on-base percentage in 1,592 games over parts of 12 seasons, all with the Astros (1999-2010). He departs the Astros ranking second in franchise history in home runs, third in runs scored (1,008), doubles and runs batted in, fourth in games played and fifth in at-bats (5,560) and hits (1,648).
Berkman is a five-time All-Star (2001-02, ’04, ’06 and ’08), finishing in the top seven in National League MVP voting in each of those seasons. He ranks fifth all time in career home runs by a switch-hitter (326) and is one of only seven switch-hitters in Baseball history to reach the 300 home run plateau. From 2000 to 2009, he hit at least 20 home runs in each of the 10 seasons, becoming the 11th player in Major League history to hit at least 20 home runs in each year of a decade, joining Carlos Lee and now-teammate Alex Rodriguez as the only players to accomplish the feat.
In limited action (12 games) as a designated hitter in his career, Berkman owns a .378 (17-for-45) batting average with two home runs. A native of Texas, he grew up in Austin and attended Rice University in Houston.
Melancon, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the ninth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He went 6-1 with six saves and a 3.67 ERA in 40 relief appearances with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. Melancon also appeared in two games with the Yankees in 2010, allowing four earned runs in 4.0 innings pitched (9.00 ERA) without recording a decision. In 15 career Major League relief appearances with the Yankees (2009-10), he has gone 0-1 with a 4.87 ERA (20.1IP, 11ER).
Paredes, 21, was batting .282 (114-for-404) in 99 games with Single-A Charleston this season, collecting 59 runs, 24 doubles, six triples, five home runs, 48 RBI and 36 stolen bases. He is tied for 13th among all Single-A players in stolen bases in 2010 and led the RiverDogs in hits, total bases (165) and stolen bases. Originally signed by Yankees as minor league free agent on July 2, 2006, Paredes was named by Baseball America as the 14th-best prospect in the New York-Penn League following the 2009 season.
Rays add Qualls in time for tonight’s game • 07.31.10
The Rays have officially completed a trade for reliever Chad Qualls, who will be in Tampa in time for tonight’s game against the Yankees.
Tampa is sending a player to be named to the Diamondbacks.
Should you stay or should you go now • 07.31.10
When Austin Kearns and Lance Berkman are added to the roster, one player move seems obvious: Juan Miranda being optioned is inevitable if only because carrying Miranda, Berkman, Marcus Thames and Mark Teixeira on the same roster would be beyond redundant.
The other spot seems to come down to either Thames or Colin Curtis.
As good as Curtis has been — and he’s clearly played well enough to stick around — I’m not sure he fits as well as Thames. Clearly Curtis is a far superior defensive player, and he and Kearns would make a good left-right bench combo, but Thames is too valuable against left-handed pitchers.
Berkman is hitting .188/.278/281 against lefties this season, and he has a career-long trend of hitting much worse against lefties than righties. Curtis Granderson’s struggles against lefties are notorious. Thames is hitting .315/.406/.426 against lefties. Doesn’t a DH platoon of Berkman and Thames make the most sense?
Vs RHP: Jeter, Swisher, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Cano, Posada, Granderson, Berkman, Gardner
Vs LHP: Jeter, Swisher, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Cano, Posada, Thames, Kearns, Gardner
Posada’s situation complicates this a little bit he’s going to need fairly regular starts at DH, but I think I’d rather keep the guy who has a regular role in the lineup than a guy who might be able to pinch hit and play defense once or twice a week. Curtis has played well enough to stay, I’m just not sure his role is more significant than Thames.
So far, a quiet morning • 07.31.10
Still nothing official from the Yankees regarding the Lance Berkman trade, but Mark Melancon says it’s his understanding that he’s now with the Astros.
There are roughly five hours to go until the trade deadline, and the morning has been fairly quiet except for a few mentions here and there that the Yankees are out on guys like Octavio Dotel and Ted Lilly.
If last night’s Austin Kearns trade taught us anything it’s this: The players the Yankees have been linked to don’t always matter. Brian Cashman brought up Kearns name to Joe Girardi early on Friday and had the deal done with in a few hours.
Phil Hughes pitched really well tonight. Except for one pitch in the sixth inning, he gave the Yankees everything they could have asked for in a game like this.
“I felt like my fastball was good,” he said. “My curveball was probably the best its been this year. It’s a positive note to build on going forward, but you can’t take away that pitch. You can’t take away that game.”
The one pitch was a 2-2 fastball to Matt Joyce. Hughes setup the pitch with back-to-back curveballs and thought he had “slowed him down enough” to get a fastball inside. He wasn’t upset with the location up and down — he didn’t want it too low to the lefty — but the fact it got out over the plate made the difference.
“It’s one of those games where whoever makes the bigger mistake is going to lose, and that was us,” he said.
The Rays pulled within a game in the American League East tonight, but the game was clearly a background event. It was hard look past all of the trade rumors swirling.
The Austin Kearns deal is official, and the Lance Berkman deal seems like a matter of time, with Joel Sherman reporting that Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes will go to Houston. I heard from Kevin Russo who said his being out of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup was a regular day off. As far as he knows, he hasn’t been traded.
Buster Olney says the Yankees aren’t stopping at two trades. He’s heard they’re working on a third, possibly for an infielder.
• Nick Swisher said he never wants to not go after a ball, only to find out he could have caught it if he’d tried. But even he admitted that after seeing a replay, he never had a remote chance of robbing Matt Joyce’s home run. “Unless I was having a Coke and a popcorn up there, I wasn’t going to catch that,” he said.
• For a while, it looked like Swisher’s first-pitch-swinging home run was going to make the difference. “Everybody wants to be the hero,” Swisher said. “But that game for us tonight was lost on one pitch. Hughesy threw an amazing game. No doubt. Just one pitch was the difference. You don’t want to look at it in a negative way because of everything else he did, but it was just one pitch. That’s it.”
• Good outing for Joba Chamberlain, who said he did a better job staying up over the rubber and finishing out front with his delivery. “There’s a difference between going out and throwing and the times you go out and pitch,” Chamberlain said. “Tonight I made some pitches in that second inning to give us a chance to win the ballgame. I just went out and tried to locate my fastball and threw my slider pretty well. I would probably say it’s the best I’ve thrown (the slider) all year.”
• Everyone seemed to agree that Wade Davis found his curveball after the first inning, and that seemed to make all the difference.
• The Rays sold out every game this series, their first sellouts since Opening Day. “I didn’t hear as many cowbells,” Hughes said. “I guess the crowd was louder, and then after that homer, that place really got loud. That was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard it.” This is the first time the Rays have ever sold out three straight regular-season games.
• Girardi said Chamberlain threw so few pitches — only 24 — in his two innings that he could probably be used again tomorrow.
• One game is the closest the Rays have been to the Yankees since June 21, when they were a half game back.
• The Joyce home run was the first Hughes had allowed on the road this season.
• Alex Rodriguez has gone 34 at-bats without a home run since hitting No. 599.
Associated Press photos of Hughes, Berkman and Swisher
The Yankees passed along some of the comments from Austin Kearns after tonight’s Indians game in Cleveland. The line that stands out the most is his response to a question about what his role will be with the Yankees.
“I think when you get the opportunity to go there, you don’t really worry about that kind of thing,” he said. “Bigger and better things I’m worried about than playing time.”
Kearns said he didn’t find out he was traded until after the game. He wondered if something might be in the works when he was pulled for a pinch runner, but it was also a blowout so he thought he might be getting a little bit of a rest.
“I’ve only been traded once, but it’s kind of like, you don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “I didn’t know anything. Came out of the game and was just hanging out. After the game they brought me in there.”
In there — I assume he meant some sort of office — Kearns was told about the trade, that he was going to play for the team he was just playing against 24 hours earlier.
“You always enjoy playing teams like that,” he said. “Teams that are playoff caliber and World Series caliber teams.”
Yankees trade for Austin Kearns • 07.30.10
The Yankees have officially announced a trade for outfielder Austin Kearns. He was acquired for a player to be named later and will be here tomorrow.
“We can use him in a lot of different ways because he’s used to playing every day,” Joe Girardi said. “It just gives us more depth and more experience… It will give me a chance to rest our left-handed guys, where you don’t have to run the same guys out there every day and you can keep them healthy and strong, because we’re going to need them.”
How quickly did this come together? Girardi said Brian Cashman first mentioned Kearns name today, and it was done by tonight. Girardi said the Yankees will decide tonight and tomorrow who to send down when Kearns is activated.
As I wrote early this morning, the outfield wasn’t a spot where the Yankees absolutely had to add a player, but a guy like Kearns fits. The Yankees have seemed committed to playing Curtis Granderson every day, but this will give them a chance to occasionally sit Granderson against lefties. It should also end any thought of Marcus Thames playing the field.
Game 102: Yankees at Rays • 07.30.10
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Colin Curtis DH
Brett Gardner LF
RHP Phil Hughes (12-3, 4.04)
Hughes vs. Rays
John Jaso C
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Matt Joyce RF
Willy Aybar DH
B.J. Upton CF
Reid Brignac 2B
Jason Bartlett SS
RHP Wade Davis (8-9, 4.32)
Davis vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:10 p.m. / YES Network
UMPIRES: HP Tim Welke, 1B Scott Barry, 2B Bill Welke, 3B Mike DiMuro
BERKMAN ON THE WAY: The Lance Berkman trade is official according to Joel Sherman. Won’t be announced until tomorrow.
FIRST TIME: Phil Hughes has not faced Tampa Bay this season. The Rays have hit him in the past — team average of .333 against him — and Carlos Pena in particular has had success, going 2-for-3 with two home runs. That said, all of those numbers are based on pretty tiny sample sizes.
WAITING FOR NO. 600: Alex Rodriguez is 4-for-8 with two home runs in his career against Rays starter Wade Davis.
LEFT ON LEFT: According to Elias, Robinson Cano is the first Yankees left-handed hitter to have double digit home runs vs. LHP in back-to-back seasons since Reggie Jackson in 1979 and 80. Cano has 11 homers off lefties this year, tied with Albert Pujols for the most in the majors.
UPDATE, 7:14 p.m.: Six pitches into the game, the Yankees have a 2-0 lead. Derek Jeter lead off with a single, then Nick Swisher hit the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer, his 19th of the season.
UPDATE, 7:30 p.m.: Carlos Pena has hit Hughes in the past, but Hughes got the best of him in the first inning, getting a strikeout to strand Longoria at first. Still 2-0 Yankees.
UPDATE, 7:48 p.m.: Another big strikeout by Hughes to strand Upton at second.
UPDATE, 8:14 p.m.: So far so good for Hughes, who has a shutout through four innings. That 2-0 lead stands.
UPDATE, 8:27 p.m.: That’s Gardner’s fourth steal in six games, and his 30th of the season. It came after multiple pick-off attempts and on a pitch out. The guy is fast.
UPDATE, 8:53 p.m.: Robinson Cano gets the first Yankees hit since the first inning, but in the process, sends a chunk of the bat into the crowd. Looks like it hit someone directly in the head. Lots of medical attention.
UPDATE, 8:59 p.m.: Evan Longoria has a great at-bat song. Not so much because it’s a great song, just because it works really well for at-bat music. Cool rhythm. Loud guitars. And oddly enough, some well placed violin. I like it because it’s not instantly familiar, so Rays fans probably know it only as Longoria’s AB music.
UPDATE, 9:06 p.m.: Matt Joyce just clobbered a ball to right field for a three-run homer. It looked like a 2-2 cutter that Hughes left up. It’s now a 3-2 Rays lead.
UPDATE, 9:09 p.m.: Hughes gets strikeout to end the sixth just as Chamberlain is starting to get loose in the bullpen.
UPDATE, 9:17 p.m.: Joel Sherman says he’s hearing Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes are going to Houston. Sounds about right. Astros get a guy who seems to need a change of scenery, and a hit-or-miss young guy.
UPDATE, 9:29 p.m.: Now comes word the Yankees might be trading for Austin Kearns, who was just pulled for a pinch runner.
Pregame notes: Remembering The Boss • 07.30.10
George Steinbrenner built his reputation in New York, but he lived in Tampa. Before tonight’s game, the Rays will ask for a moment of silence to remember the Yankees owner.
“That’s a great gesture on their part,” Joe Girardi siad. “We would see him (in Tampa Bay). He would be in my office sometimes, either today or tomorrow or even Sunday. We know that he’s with us, but we’re not going to physically see him, and that’s different.”
Girardi said he’s hoping to see some of the Steinbrenners while he’s down here. Derek Jeter said he didn’t want to say one way or the other whether he would be meeting with the family.
“It’s weird whether you’re in New York or here,” he said “I don’t think it makes that much of a difference. He would pop in every once in a while when we played here. Not so much recently. It’s still weird. It’s not too long ago that he passed away.”
• Girardi said the decision to start Jorge Posada at catcher was an easy one. “I checked with him when he came in, he said he was ready to catch,” Girardi said.
• As for Colin Curtis at DH, Girardi said he likes the fact he can pinch hit for Curtis late in the game without losing one of his position players. That’s why he didn’t DH one of his other outfielders. “If they want to make a switch we can make a switch,” Girardi said. “I like the way he’s swinging the bat, too.”
• Could this be an indication that Juan Miranda is involved in the Lance Berkman trade talks? I guess so, but the Astros just got Brett Wallace from Toronto. Not sure why they would need another lefty swinging first baseman.
• Andy Pettitte is expected to be at the park for tonight’s game. “The great thing is he feels really good and he’s progressing,” Girardi said. “But we haven’t asked him to really push off a mound.” The Yankees will talk to Pettitte on Sunday about what’s next in his rehab process.
• Alfredo Aceves will throw one more bullpen tomorrow. Assuming he’s OK after that, he will face hitters next. The Yankees haven’t decided whether that will be a controlled environment (live batting practice) or uncontrolled (a rehab assignment).
John Jaso C
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Matt Joyce RF
Willy Aybar DH
B.J. Upton CF
Reid Brignac 2B
Jason Bartlett SS
Sorry for not having pictures. As you can probably imagine, things are pretty hectic right now.