The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Archive for July, 2011

HOPE Week goes on the Today show07.29.11

Here’s the latest announcement from the Yankees about today’s HOPE Week event. Best one yet? Might be. Here’s the press release from the Yankees.

The New York Yankees are proud to continue HOPE Week 2011 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) on Friday by celebrating 21-year-old John Lahutsky.

In the company of Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, John will be reunited on the TODAY show with Andrei Sullivan, 19, who was his best friend from the Moscow orphanage they grew up in. John and Andrei have not seen each other in person since Andrei was adopted in 1997.

Neither of the young men know they are about to be reunited. John has been told he is going on the show solely to speak about his experiences in the orphanage, and Andrei (whose entire family has been flown in from Michigan) has been told that his hotel gave his family free tickets to see the TODAY show.

Following their initial reunion, John and Andrei will take an hour-long NBC Studio Tour before joining Yankees players Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner and Hector Noesi and Yankees coaches Kevin Long and Larry Rothschild in touring the Central Park Zoo followed by an outdoor lunch on the grounds. In the evening, they will be guests of the team for its 7:05 game vs. Baltimore at Yankee Stadium.

Please note that this reunion would not be possible without the support of Delta Air Lines, which has provided complimentary air transportation for the entire Sullivan family, including Andrei, his parents, Tom and Roslyn, his brother and sister, John and Sarah, and two teenage Russian orphans, Mikhail and Alexander, whom the family is hosting in their Michigan home this summer.

THE STORY OF JOHN LAHUTSKY

John Lahutsky, 21, was born prematurely at 6 months, weighing just two pounds. At 18 months, he was placed by his birth mother in the Russian orphanage system, which considered him an “incurable” due to his cerebral palsy.

His “Baby House” offered him no education or physical therapy. From the time he entered the facility until he was 5 years old, he was never taken outside the walls of the building.

Despite the horrendous treatment he received, he always looked after his best friend in the unit, Andrei, even teaching Andrei how to talk after picking up Russian from the few nurses that treated him with decency. Andrei was adopted in 1997, but John had to wait until 1999 before being adopted by Paula Lahutsky of Bethlehem Township, Penn., who read about him in a church newsletter.

John recently wrote a book, The Boy from Baby House 10, which details his experiences in the Russian orphanage system. His hope is that by telling his story, he can prevent the abuses he suffered from happening to others.

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Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 518 Comments →

Jeter documentary looks like a hit07.28.11

I can’t imagine Yankees fans being disappointed by the documentary that just premiered on HBO.

The access was outstanding, going behind the scenes to show Jeter in the training room, in the batting cage, eating lunch with friends, driving to the ballpark. Cameras were everywhere, giving a real sense of the personality of an intensely private individual.

There were several memorable moments — Jeter getting instruction from Gary Denbo jumps to mind, so does the birthday cake from Billy Connors, and the fact Minka Kelly didn’t know what a hit was when she started dating Jeter — but did come away with one lingering question.

Does Jeter’s personalized handshake with Ramiro Pena really end with Pena doing a weird little dance?

By the way, during the congratulations at the end, Gene Monahan left no doubt why he’s so incredibly popular in the Yankees clubhouse. There might not be a more genuine person on the planet.

If you couldn’t watch it tonight, try to watch it at some point. It’s an hour well spent.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 136 Comments →

Off day notes and links07.28.11

First, a reminder that the documentary Derek Jeter 3K is about to begin on HBO. It premiers at 9 p.m. ET, and I’m sure it will keep showing regularly for a month or so. If you have HBO, I’m sure you’ve already set those DVRs.

Second, just wanted to mention that Dave Robertson’s event last night at Foley’s Pub and Restaurant was a massive success. By the time I finished writing and got into Manhattan, I was fairly certain I was late. I got there just a little before 9 p.m. — Dave was supposed to serve drinks from 7 to 9 — and there was no sign of Robertson behind the bar.

I walked to the back, and there he was at a table signing autographs for a line that still snaked all through the back of the bar. His wife, Erin, said they showed up early and found a long line already extending outside the front door, so Dave decided to start signing early, and then it was hard to stop. He raised roughly $14,000 for High Socks For Hope.

My own estimate has Robertson drawing significantly more fans than Brian Cashman did this winter. Maybe he can bring that up in arbitration this offseason.

A few links on this off day…

• The buzz about Ubaldo Jimenez has died a bit in the past few days, and the rumor-of-the-hour has become Hiroki Kuroda. If the price for Jimenez is too high, Kuroda might be the best alternative. But he might not come cheap either.

• Speaking of Jimenez, Buster Olney says the asking price is still as high as three top-end prospects. I don’t blame the Rockies for looking for that much, but I’m not sure it’s a price I’d be willing to pay.

Graham Stoneburner is healthy and ready to return to the Trenton rotation tomorrow. Even in the prospect world, Stoneburner’s not quite a household name, but he’s one of the more intriguing pitchers in the system.

• Not sure there’s any reason to believe the Yankees are involved, but the Astros are reportedly moving closer to trading Hunter Pence. With Carlos Beltran off the market, Pence could be the biggest bat moved this year.

• In the days after his 31st birthday, The Hardball Times took a look at CC Sabathia’s place in history.

MLB.com was with the Yankees today for the HOPE Week lemonade stand.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 287 Comments →

Yankees “deeply saddened” by death of Hideki Irabu07.28.11

Earlier today, there were still some unknowns when news broke about the death of former Yankees starter Hideki Irabu. At this point, though, police have told the LA Times that they’re investigating the incident as “an apparent suicide and hanging.” Awful news, obviously, and the Yankees passed along their condolences this evening.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Hideki Irabu. Every player that wears the Pinstripes is forever a part of the Yankees family, and his death is felt throughout our organization. Our sympathies and support go out to his wife, Kyonsu, his two children, and all of his friends and loved ones.”

Here’s the latest from the Associated Press.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead, an apparent suicide in the wealthy suburb of Rancho Palos Verdes.

The 42-year-old Irabu was found at 4:25 p.m. PDT Wednesday, county sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Arriaga said.

“He was found dead by an apparent suicide,” Arriaga said.

Irabu lived in Rancho Palos Verdes but it was not immediately clear whether it was his home, the sergeant said.

Other details were not immediately released.

Los Angeles County coroner’s official Ed Winter said Irabu’s body was found by a friend and law enforcement was notified.

Winter said the coroner’s office was not releasing any circumstances of the death other than it was being investigated as a suicide.

The autopsy will be performed either Friday or Saturday, Winter said.

Former major league manager Bobby Valentine, now an ESPN broadcaster, managed Irabu in Japan in 1995. Valentine said he got the news Thursday when it came across on his mobile phone.

“I got a little sick to my stomach, actually,” he said.

Irabu was billed as the Japanese version of Nolan Ryan when he arrived in the United States in 1997. But after an impressive major league debut with the Yankees that summer, he never came close to fulfilling such lofty expectations.

Rather, he always wore the label that late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner stuck on him after Irabu failed to cover first base during an exhibition game: “Fat … toad.”

“He was a world-class pitcher. When Nolan Ryan saw him he said he had never seen anything like it,” Valentine said. “There were just some days when he was as good a pitcher as I had ever seen. A fabulous arm.”

Irabu finished 34-35 with a 5.15 ERA in three seasons with the Yankees, two years in Montreal and a final season in the Texas bullpen in 2002. He was a member of two Yankees teams that won the World Series, but his only postseason action was a single relief appearance in the 1999 AL championship series when Boston tagged him for 13 hits.

Still, Irabu left a lasting legacy. Several big stars, from Ichiro Suzuki to Hideki Matsui, followed Hideo Nomo and Irabu from Japan to the United States.

“He was one of the pioneers,” Valentine said. “There was a lot riding on his shoulders.”

The right-hander made a comeback in April 2009 in the independent Golden Baseball League, going 5-3 with a 3.58 ERA for the Long Beach Armada. He then returned to Japan and was introduced that August as a member of the Kochi Fighting Dogs, saying, “I have high expectations for myself.”

Irabu had his share of off-the-field trouble in recent years.

In August 2008, he was arrested in Japan for allegedly assaulting a bartender after drinking 20 mugs of beer. Police said he became angered after his credit card was rejected.

In May 2010, Irabu was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol in the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena.

Police said he was stopped after his car drifted outside of traffic lanes and he nearly collided with a parked car.

He posted $5,000 bail but it was not immediately clear whether he was criminally charged.

“I think that he was one of his own worst enemies,” Valentine said.

Irabu starred in Japan for nearly a decade before the San Diego Padres purchased his contract from the Chiba Lotte Marines. But Irabu declined to join the Padres, insisting he would only play for the Yankees.

The Yankees put together a package and traded for Irabu a few months later and signed him to a four-year, $12.8 million contract.

Irabu tuned up in the minors before making his big league debut at Yankee Stadium on July 10, 1997. The crowd was buzzing even before his first pitch, and fans on two continents watched him. T-shirts with “Typhoon Irabu” were on sale at the concession stands at Yankee Stadium and sushi was sold alongside the hot dogs and beers.

With current Yankees manager Joe Girardi as his catcher that night, Irabu retired the first six Detroit batters, striking out four of them and showing a 96 mph fastball. He fanned nine in 6 2-3 innings and got the win.

When he walked off the mound in the seventh inning, Yankees fans gave him a standing ovation. Some even bowed with both hands over their heads, and Irabu came out of the dugout for a curtain call.

That, however, was perhaps his finest moment in the majors.

“He was a work in progress. It just didn’t progress I guess the way he had planned or the way some people planned,” Valentine said.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 577 Comments →

If the Yankees could get them back07.28.11

A look back at the players the Yankees have traded away in the past two years, and how they might fit with the Yankees if they were still in the organization.

Chase Weems
Independent league, C
Released by the Reds in May

Strange to start with this one, but technically this was the Yankees only deadline deal in 2009. In the year the Yankees won the World Series, they traded for Eric Hinske in June but didn’t do any significant roster tweaking at the deadline. They purchased Chad Gaudin after the deadline.
With the Yankees then: Weems was a sixth-round pick in the draft that also brought Austin Romine. The Yankees had catching depth even then, and they shipped Weems to Cincinnati for Jerry Hairston Jr.
With the Yankees now: If Weems had stayed in the Yankees system, he might have met the same fate that he ultimately reached with the Reds. He was released in May and now plays for the Rockland Boulders.

Brian Bruney
White Sox, RHP
2.16 ERA, 1.50 WHIP

After seven saves with Triple-A Charlotte, Bruney earned a call-up and has stuck in the White Sox bullpen. He’s been more or less the guy the Yankees remember with pretty high walk and strikeout totals.
With the Yankees then: The Yankees tried Bruney as a setup man after his terrific 2008 season, but he didn’t stick in that role and by the 2009 playoffs, Bruney was an extra guy. He was traded to Washington for the rights to the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 draft — Jamie Hoffmann — who didn’t stick with the Yankees out of spring training.
With the Yankees now: Had he stuck with the Yankees, all of the early-season bullpen injuries might have opened a door for Bruney to get another chance in the big league bullpen, but Luis Ayala, Hector Noesi and Cory Wade have all emerged as better options.

Austin Jackson
Tigers, CF
.247/.317/.363

Struggling to live up to his rookie year, Jackson’s numbers are down across the board (except for home runs). He’s still a guy with a lot of speed, a lot of strikeouts and not a lot of power.
With the Yankees then: Jackson was coming off a tremendous Triple-A season and was considered the Yankees most advanced position prospect when they traded him as the center piece of the Curtis Granderson deal. The Yankees believed they were getting a better version of what Jackson might become, and that’s certainly played out this season.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, Jackson’s reverse splits would make him a bad fit as the Yankees right-handed outfielder off the bench. Given this year’s numbers, Jackson might be in Triple-A if he were still with the Yankees.

Ian Kennedy
Diamondbacks, RHP
12-3, 3.22 ERA, 127 K

The ace of the Diamondbacks rotation, Kennedy has improved on his good 2010 season to post legitimately impressive numbers this year. He’s not a huge strikeout pitcher, but he has more than three strikeouts for every walk, and opponents are hitting .232 against him.
With the Yankees then: Kennedy made just 12 big league starts spread across three seasons with the Yankees. He had surgery  to repair an aneurysm in 2009. Large chunks of the fan base seemed to have given up on him when Kennedy was traded in the Granderson deal.
With the Yankees now: Given the rotation situation this spring, Kennedy probably would have been a favorite to win a starting job out of spring training, and if he’d pitched like this, he certainly would have kept that job. It would have been more interesting to see what the Yankees would have done with Kennedy had they still had him in the system last year.

Phil Coke
Tigers, LHP/spot starter
1-8, 4.57 ERA, lefties hitting .184

Most of Coke’s appearances have been as a starter this season, but his left-right splits are drastic, suggesting he’s better left in the lefty specialist role that he filled for the Yankees a few years ago.
With the Yankees then: Developed as a starter, Coke moved to the Double-A bullpen late in 2008 and rose very quickly to the big leagues. His prospect stock had pretty much evaporated as a minor league starter, but the Yankees got some value out of him as a lefty relievers and shipped him in as part of the Curtis Granderson deal.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, it’s hard to imagine Coke would have gotten another shot in the rotation, but Coke certainly could have helped in his familiar left-handed relief role. He’s given up one homer in 100 at-bats vs. left-handers this season.

Melky Cabrera
Royals, CF
.297/.333/.453

Approaching career-highs in hits, home runs, doubles and runs scored — he’s already set a career high in stolen bases —  Cabrera has basically been Robinson Cano with a little less power.
With the Yankees then: Cabrera was traded away in the 2009 Javier Vazquez deal, which left Brett Gardner with ample opportunity to win his everyday job in the Yankees lineup. Cabrera was basically viewed a good fourth outfielder, but a borderline everyday guy. 
With the Yankees now:
If he were still with the Yankees, Cabrera’s current production would give the team four legitimate outfielders to mix and match. His best fit would probably be in right field, letting Nick Swisher take the bulk of Jorge Posada’s DH at-bats.

Mike Dunn
Marlins, LHP
Lefties hitting .171/.306/.243

Second among Marlins relievers in innings and appearances, Dunn has become more than a lefty specialist. He’s faced more right-handers than left-handers, but still carries better numbers against lefties. He has a 3.47 ERA overall.
With the Yankees then: A converted outfielder, Dunn was another part of the Javier Vazquez deal. The Braves then shipped him to Florida in the Dan Uggla trade. Dunn was well regarded, but never a huge prospect.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, he’d be an easy choice as a second lefty in the bullpen, and might have pushed Boone Logan out of a job when Logan struggled earlier this season.

Arodys Vizcaino
Braves, RHP (Triple-A)
3.26 ERA at three levels

Called up from Double-A earlier this week, Vizcaino opened the year in High-A and was dominant through nine innings, which led to a move to Double-A where he had a 3.81 ERA before being moved up again to Triple-A.
With the Yankees then: Widely considered the Yankees best lower-level pitching prospect, he was the key prospect involved in the Vazquez trade. He immediately had a terrific first season in the Braves organization.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, Vizcaino would still be among their top pitching prospects, probably a notch below Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos (and he’d probably make that Double-A rotation even more of a must-see group). Baseball America ranked him as the 93rd overall prospect in baseball this winter.

Mitch Hilligoss
Rangers, INF (Double-A)
.271/.321/.385 at two levels

You’re forgiven if you don’t remember this name. He was shipped to Texas for Greg Golson and hasn’t climbed above Double-A in either the Yankees or Rangers organizations.
With the Yankees then:
A nice 2007 season in Charleston put Hilligoss temporarily on the prospect map, but utility types like Kevin Russo and Corban Joseph made him easily expendable for a player who’s been useful in a supporting role.
With the Yankees now: He’d probably be a utility infielder in Trenton, bouncing around as a part-time player. He’s just never replicated that ’07 season.

Zach McAllister
Indians, RHP
8-3, 3.11 ERA in Triple-A

McAllister was the player shipped to Cleveland for Austin Kearns, and he’s put together a very nice Triple-A season that’s earned him one spot start in the big leagues where he was teammates with — of all people — Austin Kearns.
With the Yankees then: McAllister really struggled in Triple-A last year, and given the surge of pitching talent all around him, he became expendable. Obviously, Kearns didn’t work out, but at the time there wasn’t much outrage at losing McAllister in the deal.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, McAllister would be right in that Phelps/Warren/Mitchell group of Triple-A starters begging for a call-up. This has been a significant rebound year for McAllister, and even in this pitching-rich organization, his numbers would be hard to overlook.

Mark Melancon
Astros, closer
3.17 ERA, 9 saves

Moved into the closer role after Brandon Lyon was hurt, Melancon has been a good piece of a bad team. Houston’s bullpen has a total of 13 saves, and Melancon has nine of them.
With the Yankees then: A highly touted relief prospect, Melancon made a total of 15 big league appearances with the Yankees, but his minor league success never carried over and he was shipped to Houston in last year’s Lance Berkman deal.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, this season might have been exactly the opportunity Melancon was waiting for. Given the early season uncertainty in the late innings, Melancon would surely have figured into the Yankees plans, or at least gotten a chance to win regular work in the seventh inning.

Jimmy Paredes
Astros, INF (Double-A)
.267/.296/.424 while playing second and third

The minor leaguer shipped to Houston in the Berkman deal has a spot on Houston’s 40-man roster, but he already has 82 strikeouts to go with his 10 Double-A homers.
With the Yankees then: Always a kind of under-the-radar, might-do-something prospect. He was pretty good the previous two years, and that boosted his stock enough to help the Yankees made a deal. Probably the biggest role he was ever going to play in this organization.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, Paredes would probably have spent the year playing second base in High-A. He’s a significant prospect in the Astros thin system, but he’d been pretty far off the radar if he were still with the Yankees.

Matt Cusick
Angels, 2B (Double-A)
.301/.414/.418

Traded to Cleveland as a player to be named later in the Kerry Wood deal, Cusick wound up released by the Indians only to sign with the Angels. He’s had a nice year for them. The other PTBNL in the Wood deal was a pitcher named Andrew Shive, and he’s been released without signing elsewhere. Basically, the Indians got nothing in that trade.
With the Yankees then:
Cusick is the guy the Yankees originally got when they shipped LaTroy Hawkins to Houston in 2008. He’d become a kind of organizational guy.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, he’d probably still be an organizational guy, trying to get at-bats anywhere from High-A to Triple-A.

Juan Miranda
Diamondbacks, 1B (Triple-A)
.213/.315/.402 in the big leagues

Miranda was the D-Backs regular first baseman when the season started, and he was pretty productive for a while, but after a horrible month of June and a rocky start to July, he was DFA and assigned to Triple-A.
With the Yankees then: This winter, Miranda was shipped to Arizona for minor-league pitcher Scott Allen. Miranda was out of options and have no obvious place on the big league roster.
With the Yankees now: If he were still with the Yankees, Miranda would be serving the familiar role as first base insurance. The Yankees wouldn’t have been able to carry him out of spring training and would have had to try to get him through waivers. He never had a role when he was with the Yankees before, and he wouldn’t have a role if he were with them now.

Adam Olbrychowski
Nationals, RHP (High-A)
4.68 ERA as reliever and spot starter

In a largely forgotten deal, Olbrychowski was shipped to the Nationals for Justin Maxwell just before the start of spring training.
With the Yankees then: He was a fifth-round pick in 2007, but Olbrychowski never really set himself apart in the Yankees system. He had a nice 2009 and a solid 2010, but he still remained fairly anonymous in this organization.
With the Yankees now: If he were still in the organization, he’d probably the same as before: A solid pitcher with solid numbers that are easy to overlook. He made a few Double-A appearances for the Yankees, but the Nationals haven’t pushed him beyond High-A.

Sergio Mitre
Yankees, RHP
4.46 between New York and Milwaukee

The last player the Yankees traded away is a guy who’s currently on their 40-man roster. Mitre was traded for Chris Dickerson this spring, then the Yankees claimed him when the Brewers put him on waivers this summer.
With the Yankees then: When the Yankees traded Mitre, there seemed to be no room for another long reliever/fifth starter. Bartolo Colon had emerged in spring training, and Mitre was shipped away to add some outfield depth, which has come in handy.
With the Yankees now: So hard to guess what would happen if some of these traded guys were back with the Yankees, but for Mitre, I’d have to say that he’d make roughly four appearances in some sort of middle-relief, long-relief role. I’d guess that fans would generally despise him until an injury ultimately sent him to the disabled list, opening the door for more regular appearances for Hector Noesi. But that’s just a guess. No way to know for sure.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 296 Comments →

Have the Yankees missed out?07.28.11

Baseball’s trade market came to life in the past 24 hours or so. Have the Yankees missed out on anything that would have been a natural, worthwhile fit?

Carlos Beltran
The Mets right fielder is heading to San Francisco for the Giants’ top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.

Could the Yankees have gotten him? Wheeler was the sixth overall pick in 2009, and he was picked this winter as the 55th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He’s a tall, hard-throwing right-hander. The best Yankees comparison is probably Dellin Betances. The two have incredibly similar strikeout and walk totals, Betances was No. 43 on Baseball America’s list this winter, and although Betances is a level higher than Wheeler, he’s also two years older.
Would the Yankees have wanted him? Sure, Beltran made some sense for the Yankees. He would have upgraded the designated hitter position while giving the team four reliable outfielders.
Should the Yankees have gotten him? As always, that depends entirely on how highly you value prospects. The best-case scenario for Betances is awfully good, but he does come with some injury concerns — which certainly affect his trade value — and Andrew Brackman is proof that tall right-handers don’t always workout just because they have a nice year in Double-A. Even so, my gut reaction to a Beltran-for-Betances deal would be, no thank you.

Edwin Jackson
Traded twice in a span of a few hours, Jackson went to the Blue Jays in a deal that included highly touted prospect Zach Stewart and consistent reliever Jason Frasor, then he went to the Cardinals as the center piece for young center fielder Colby Rasmus.

Could the Yankees have gotten him? Stewart’s not having a great year in Double-A — he has a 4.20 ERA — but he’s still highly regarded, and Baseball America wrote that his stuff could translate as a closer if starting doesn’t work out. Rasmus is still just 24 years old, and although his speed and power combination haven’t translated to elite big league numbers this season, he’s still a high-ceiling player. For the Yankees, acquiring Jackson might not have required Jesus Montero, but it would have taken something significant.
Would the Yankees have wanted him? It’s a starting pitcher. Of course the Yankees would have wanted him. The Yankees have made it clear the past few years that pitching depth is a priority, but this season, it’s hard to say whether Jackson would have been a legitimate upgrade over the pieces in place.
Should the Yankees have gotten him? If there’s one game to play, and the Yankees could start any one of Garcia, Colon, Hughes, Burnett or Nova, would they be convinced Jackson would be a better option? I’m not so sure. Unless the Yankees can clearly upgrade what they have, I’m not sure it would be worth the cost of an elite young player.

Colby Rasmus
To upgrade their pitching staff, the Cardinals dealt from a position of strength and gave up their talented young center fielder for a package of Blue Jays pitchers.

Could the Yankees have gotten him? Technically, yes. The Yankees have pitching, and they could have given some of it to the Cardinals for their center fielder. Problem is, the Cardinals clearly were not in the market for prospects. The Yankees could have traded for Rasmus, but it would have required taking apart their big league roster, not losing pieces of the minor league system.
Would the Yankees have wanted him? Rasmus has a ton of talent, which is why most analysis of this trade considers it a coup for the Blue Jays. Hard not to like a guy who’s 24 with this sort of talent, even though the Yankees don’t have an obvious need for a center fielder.
Should the Yankees have gotten him? Not at the cost of their Major League pitching. Based strictly on this year’s numbers, Rasmus wouldn’t have been a huge upgrade over Jorge Posada at DH, and obviously the Yankees have significantly greater needs than a center fielder. A lot of talent, just not a good match for what the Yankees need and are willing to give.

Kosuke Fukudome
The Cubs outfielder went to the Indians for minor leagues Carlton Smith and Abner Abreu.

Could the Yankees have gotten him: Absolutely. Smith and Abreu aren’t significant prospects, and the Yankees could have made this trade by giving up names most fans have never heard.
Would the Yankees have wanted him?
Probably not. If Fukudome were a right-handed hitter, maybe, but Fukudome is a lefty and the Yankees don’t have a real need from that side of the plate. Chris Dickerson has a total of 24 at-bats as it is.
Should the Yankees have gotten him? No reason to. It wouldn’t have cost much, but wouldn’t have helped much either.

Jonny Gomes
The Reds shipped their right-handed outfielder to Washington for a pair of minor leaguers, first baseman Bill Rhinehart and lefty Christopher Manno.

Could the Yankees have gotten him? The Yankees have a few largely unknown lefties in High-A and Low-A (Jose Quintana, Kramer Sneed, etc). Rhinehart is younger and has better numbers than Jorge Vazquez, but both are power-hitting first basemen who are a little old in the world of prospects. Maybe not a perfect comparison, but it would have been a start. Certainly the Yankees could have gotten it done.
Would the Yankees have wanted him? He’s not much of a defensive player, and his overall numbers aren’t pretty, but Gomes is hitting .333/.439/.537 against left-handed pitching. If the Yankees are looking for an upgrade over Andruw Jones, this might have been it.
Should the Yankees have gotten him? Jones’ slash line against lefties (.263/.344/.513) is better than he gets credit for it being, but his production also seems to have come in spurts. Fans seem more disappointed in Jones than the Yankees are, so the need for an upgrade probably looks different in the front office than in the bleachers.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 480 Comments →

Cashman: “I’m going to be hard-pressed to find anything better”07.28.11

I’m not at the HOPE Week event today, but Brian Cashman is, and he told reporters that he doesn’t expect to make a move before Sunday’s trade deadline.

“I’m going to be hard-pressed to find anything better than getting Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes off the disabled list,” Cashman said. “I can’t imagine I’m going to run into anything, but you’ve still got to go through the motions.”

Obviously this could be nonsense, but that’s the way it goes with a general manager on the record at the trade deadline. Given the current team and the current marketplace, I wouldn’t be stunned to see the Yankees hold off on making a move. It’s not all that difficult to get a piece after the deadline, and I’m not sure the Yankees can say with absolute certainty what they need. There are some obvious parts of the roster that could be upgraded, but there are also a lot of in-house pieces that could provide those upgrades.

It’s the Yankees, so it’s hard to be shocked one way or the other.

“I go into the marketplace with a team that’s a championship-caliber team as it sits,” Cashman said. “It’s hard to upgrade on that.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 217 Comments →

HOPE Weeks sets up shop on Staten Island07.28.11

It’s an off day for the Yankees, but HOPE Week continues this morning on Staten Island where a lemonade stand is about to to get the Yankees treatment. Here’s the announcement from the Yankees. This one should be pretty incredible, and not only because there are supposed to be Sports Illustrated swimsuit models in attendance.

The New York Yankees are proud to continue HOPE Week 2011 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) on Thursday by celebrating Megan Ajello.

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and Yankees players Robinson Cano, A.J. Burnett, David Robertson, Andruw Jones, Boone Logan, and Eduardo Nunez, along with coaches Mick Kelleher and Rob Thomson, as well as advance scout/head video coordinator Charlie Wonsowicz will visit Megan at her Staten Island home to help her raise money for the Special Olympics.

Brian Cashman along with Yankee Stadium carpenters will surprise Megan at her Staten Island home prior to her sixth-annual street-side charity lemonade sale with a custom-built lemonade stand. Yankees players, coaches and special guests will join her Staten Island community in helping Megan raise money throughout the day.

Food, karaoke and music will fill the street, and a dunk tank will be brought in for neighbors to dunk Yankees players for charity.

THE STORY OF MEGAN AJELLO

Megan Ajello, 17, is her neighborhood’s fiercest volunteer and community activist, donating presents from her Sweet 16 to Marine Toys for Tots and fighting for handicapped-accessibility for her local playground.

Her biggest battle, however, is against cerebral palsy and scoliosis, which have necessitated six major surgeries, including a spinal fusion. Since 2006 she has hosted a charity lemonade stand outside her home, which has grown from a gathering of neighbors raising a few hundred dollars to a must-attend event for people from as far away as upstate New York, which raised $4,000 last summer.

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Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 253 Comments →

Expecting the unexpected07.28.11

The trade deadline is on Sunday, and as we keep inching closer, I keep thinking of three names: Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns.

Were we hearing about those three at this time last year?

Truth is, the Yankees are usually pretty good at playing things close to the vest. Talking to a team source last week, I asked how often the Yankees are connected to a player who they’re not remotely going after, and he laughed at me. Happens all the time, he said, but the Yankees can’t deny every false report because then every “no comment” would be the same as a confirmation.

So here we sit, days from the deadline, knowing a lot while also knowing absolutely nothing. Where the Yankees might improve seems as valid a place to start as anything.

Starting pitcher
Never would have said this in spring training, but the Yankees rotation depth is actually pretty good right now. What’s uncertain is whether they have a go-to No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia, and whether they trust their veterans to hold up for another two-plus months. Good depth in late-July could certianly turn into a shortage by mid-September, and having a bunch of No. 3 starters doesn’t mean much when it’s Game 2 of the ALCS and the Yankees need a win. The Yankees don’t have to acquire a starter, but it’s never a bad idea. It wasn’t so long ago that Brian Gordon was in the rotation.

Relief pitcher
Some reports indicate that the Yankees are actually more focused on relievers than starters, but that might very well depend on who you talk to at any given moment. It might also be because an impact reliever is easier to add than an impact starter. Rafael Soriano’s return certainly eases the need here — and Luis Ayala, Cory Wade and Hector Noesi have emerged as legitimate middle-inning options — but the Yankees remarkable spring training bullpen has been picked apart by injuries. One thing to remember: Wood wasn’t exactly a high-profile addition last season, and he became a huge boost down the stretch.

Designated hitter
Russell Martin is making a case for the Gold Glove, all three Yankees outfielders have become productive hitters, Alex Rodriguez is expected back next month, and Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter aren’t going anywhere. If the Yankees are going to upgrade their everyday lineup, the most obvious spot is designated hitter, which obviously leaves the field wide open. Any legitimate bat on the market could help, which unfortunately means no rumor is too outlandish.

Bench players
The bench is always fair game depending on the price and the player. How much is it worth to upgrade the fourth outfielder when none of the Yankees starters really need a platoon partner? Is an infield upgrade worthwhile now that Eric Chavez is back and Eduardo Nunez is about to become a true utility man? Francisco Cervelli doesn’t hit much, but he and Sabathia seem to be on the same page. Is that roster spot worth changing? The answers will vary from person to person, and inevitably depend on the price and the player.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 372 Comments →

Haitian refugees experience HOPE Week07.27.11

The latest Yankees announcement for the third day of HOPE Week was kind of lost in the shuffle because the team played a day game this afternoon, but here are the details from the Yankees.

The New York Yankees are proud to continue HOPE Week 2011 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) on Wednesday by celebrating the Haitian refugees, aged 7 to 13, taken in by Ss. Joachim and Anne’s School in Queens, N.Y. following the country’s devastating January 2010 earthquake.

The Yankees will host the Haitian refugees for Wednesday’s 1:05 p.m. Yankees game, after which Yankees players CC Sabathia, Jorge Posada, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, along with Yankees coaches Mike Harkey and Tony Pena will join them for a Gray Line New York double-decker bus tour of Manhattan leaving directly from Yankee Stadium.

Stops will include the United Nations, where representatives of the body will greet the children, followed by the Empire State Building, where the children will participate in a ceremonial lighting of the building followed by a photo opportunity with the Yankees from the observation deck. The children and Yankees will then reboard the bus to visit Times Square.

The final stop will be at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Archbishop Timothy Dolan will give a tour of the building and have dessert with the children in his private residence.

THE STORY OF THE HAITIAN REFUGEES OF SS. JOACHIM AND ANNE’S SCHOOL

For 15 child refugees who endured the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, it was the loving arms of Ss. Joachim and Anne’s School in Queens Village, N.Y., that took them in.

The children, now aged 7 to 13, arrived in New York with nothing, having lost loved ones and been witness to unspeakable horrors. All have taken to their new home and cherish their opportunity at an education. One child walks 45 minutes each way to school and another, who lost both of his parents, dreams of becoming president of his homeland so he can rebuild his nation. Even the school’s parochial vicar, Rev. Jean-Moise Delva, 34, was not spared tragedy as his Haitian elementary school collapsed, killing the parish priest who was his mentor.

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Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 237 Comments →

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