The Mets have one last chance to advance to the National League Championship Series. Their surprising season has led them to a Game 5 division series matchup with Zack Greinke and the Dodgers, and a full 16 percent of their 25-man roster has a legitimate connection to the Yankees. Some are more important pieces than others, but the Yankees have played a part in putting these Mets together.
The everyday player
Leading into the 2010 season, the Yankees traded away three young players for Curtis Granderson. He fell flat at first, restructured his swing and hit 115 home runs with two All-Star appearances in his four years with the Yankees. He turned that stint into a four-year deal with the Mets, and was this season asked to move back into the leadoff role. He responded with the second-best on-base percentage of his career. He was a run-producer with the Yankees. He’s been a table-setter with the Mets.
“I think the fact that Kevin (Long) is here helps him a lot,” manager Terry Collins said. “They have such a great rapport. He was so happy when we hired Kevin, and I think Kevin keeps him calm. Kevin knows his swing better than anybody. I think if he gets out of whack, he can be fixed in a hurry. But you’re right, he’s had a tremendous year not only on the power front, but on getting on base.”
The role player
Last year, the Yankees tried an experiment of sorts. They took a chance on Kelly Johnson — mostly a second baseman in his career — could be a regular at third base, a position he’d started only 12 times in the big leagues. Johnson wound up losing time to Yangervis Solarte, played five different positions and didn’t provide nearly the left-handed bat the Yankees had expected. He was traded away at the trade deadline, and he signed this winter with the Braves to be a true utility man.
As the Mets started retooling this season, they went after Johnson, who’s bat had significantly improved in his return to the Braves. As a left-handed bench bat, Johnson has played six different positions with the Mets including every spot in the infield. He’s not necessarily a trusted shortstop, but he’s been there in a pinch. It was the Rays who first used Johnson as a utility man, the Yankees reinforced that idea, and now the Mets are taking advantage of it to help round out their bench.
The second-chance starter
When the Yankees signed Bartolo Colon in 2011, it seemed like the longest of long shots. He hadn’t pitched at all the year before and it had been five years since he last pitched a full season. The Yankees gave Colon a second chance and he completely resurrected his career (perhaps with some medical and chemical help). He’s now finishing off a two-year deal with the Mets, and after making 31 starts for the second day in a row, he’s been a go-to long man in their bullpen this postseason.
“Anytime you mention Bartolo Colon’s name, it’s the same,” Collins said. “He pounds the strike zone, keeps the ball down for the most part, fields his position, all the things you want done, holds runners. And as far as did we think about what we had in the bullpen, we didn’t know because he hadn’t done a lot of relieving in his career. We just said when we put him down there, we knew we had somebody that could come in. We used him in L.A. because we knew we were going to get a groundball and we got a groundball. It’s nice to know you’ve got a guy down there that you’re not concerned about base on balls. They got to swing the bat.”
The surprise setup man
A ninth-round pick in 2003, Tyler Clippard pitched his way into becoming a pretty decent rotation prospect with the Yankees. He made his big league debut in 2007, and although his first start was excellent — six innings, one run — he finished the year with a 6.33 ERA through six big league games. He had a 5.19 ERA in Triple-A and the Yankees seemed to give up on him, dumping him to the Nationals for Jonathan Albaladejo. It was a mistake. One thing the Yankees had never tried was putting Clippard in the bullpen, and it turns out Clippard is a pretty good reliever.
In his second year with the Nationals, Clippard became a key setup man. In his fourth year he was an all-star, and in his fifth year he was a closer. Oakland traded for him this winter, put him back in the ninth inning and wound up trading him to the Mets at the deadline. His strikeout rate has dipped a little with the Mets, but so has his walk rate and he had a 1.05 WHIP in his 32 games with them. The Yankees never tried Clippard in their bullpen, and now the Mets are benefiting from having him available in theirs.
Associated Press photos
As details of the Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval deals filtered through the internet yesterday, a friend sent this text message: “Remember when the Red Sox went (overboard) in the winter 2010? Traded for Adrian Gonzalez? Got (Carl) Crawford? Yankees responded with…”
The ellipsis was his own, essentially a stand-in for a question mark. His point was this: What exactly did the Yankees do the last time the Red Sox got incredibly aggressive during an offseason?
So lets flash back to the winter of 2010-11…
What the Red Sox did: Most notably, they traded young talent for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford to a seven-year deal. Those two additions were in place before the end of the Winter Meetings (kind of like the Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval deals this offseason). The Red Sox also signed Jason Varitek to one last contract, and they brought in Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler to add bullpen depth (in a relatively minor move at the time, they also signed Andrew Miller).
What others thought: At the time, the Red Sox seemed to have built a powerhouse. They seemed deep in the lineup, in the rotation and in the bullpen. Sports Illustrated picked them to win the World Series. Of course, we now know that the end result was a total mess, but at the time, it looked like the Red Sox were building a juggernaut and the Yankees would have to keep up.
What the Yankees did: It was actually a pretty busy winter for the Yankees. Trading Juan Miranda to the Diamondbacks was only the beginning! The biggest moves, though, weren’t necessarily additions and it’s hard to classify any of these moves as direct reactions to the Red Sox (except maybe one unexpected splash for a player who seemed completely off the radar until he was suddenly on the roster).
These were the Yankees major moves in the winter of 2010-11, the last time the Red Sox went on an offseason spending spree:
1. Re-sign Derek Jeter — This was essentially The Captain’s final contract. It was a three-year deal with an option for a fourth year (rather than exercise that option, Jeter technically signed a new deal for 2014, but it comes down to the same thing). Coming off a bad 2010, Jeter was given four more seasons. He gave the Yankees a solid 2011, a very good 2012, an injured 2013 and a disappointing but memorable 2014.
2. Re-sign Mariano Rivera — This was supposed to be Rivera’s final contract. He signed a two-year deal that would take him through his age-42 season (which seemed perfect for the game’s final No. 42), but after injuring his knee in 2012, Rivera decided to come back for a farewell season. Without the injury, the two-year deal signed in December of 2010 would have been a success. Rivera was as good as ever in 2011 and was off to a strong start in 2012.
3. Sign Russell Martin — This was the initial one-year deal, with the Yankees having Martin under team control for a second year because of arbitration eligibility. Martin had an OK season. He was an all-star and hit for power, but his batting average was down. The Yankees brought him back for one more season, his average dipped even more, and Martin left for Pittsburgh.
4. Sign Pedro Feliciano — This was a total mess. Coming off three straight seasons in which he led the league in games pitched, Feliciano landed a two-year deal with the Yankees, who needed left-handed help in the bullpen. Feliciano was, of course, injured by the time the Yankees broke camp and he never pitched a single inning for the team. Boone Logan, instead, emerged as the go-to lefty.
5. Sign Rafael Soriano — I remember this one quite well because I’m the one who happened to be on the phone with Brian Cashman when he finally seemed to lose his patience with all of the questions about possibly signing Soriano. “I will not lose our No. 1 draft pick,” Cashman told me. “I would have for Cliff Lee. I won’t lose our No. 1 draft pick for anyone else.” Within a few days, Cashman was overruled, a draft pick was gone, and Soriano was in the Yankees bullpen.
6. Sign Bartolo Colon/Freddy Garcia — Two separate signings based on the same idea. The Yankees knew they needed additional rotation depth, and they went looking for it in unlikely places. Colon hadn’t pitched in the big leagues in more than a year, and Garcia had been extremely limited in three of the previous four seasons. Of course, both wound up pitching well that year, with Colon in particular launching a stunning career resurgence.
7. Sign Eric Chavez — Once a star player in Oakland, Chavez had been hurt so often that there were questions about whether he could even handle a part-time role at this point. The Yankees took a shot and got a decent but predictably injury shortened year off the bench. It was the next year that Chavez returned to the Yankees and delivered a truly impressive bounce-back season.
8. Sign Andruw Jones — His second year with the Yankees was kind of a mess, which makes it easy to forget that Jones was actually really good in his first year. The Yankees didn’t finalize their deal with Jones until spring training — he had a locker before he officially had a spot on the roster — and he delivered a .286/.384/.540 slash line against lefties.
Nine fairly significant signings — even if one of them never actually got on the field — but it’s hard to label any one of them a direct reaction to the Red Sox maneuvering. Certainly re-signing Jeter and Rivera had nothing to do with Boston, signing Martin had more to do with internal concerns about Jorge Posada, the Soriano signing didn’t happen until more than a month after the Red Sox big additions, and the other deals were basically attempts at bargain hunting. Seems likely we’ll see more of the same this offseason as the Yankees seem poised to stick with their original plan rather than spend recklessly based on the Red Sox signing two players the Yankees were never really after in the first place.
Associated Press and USA Today photos
Eight men out • 11.03.11
Last winter, when Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter became free agents, there never any real doubt they’d end up back with the Yankees. This winter, there’s no guarantee that any of the Yankees free agents will be back. Several would be logical fits, but none is a slam dunk for the Yankees to re-sign.
Today is the first day free agents are allowed to negotiate with every team — not just their previous team — meaning it’s suddenly open season for these eight Yankees.
Signed as a minor league free agent late last winter, Ayala landed the last spot on the big league roster out of spring training, then stuck with the team all season. He was surprisingly effective, and for a short time — when Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain were hurt — he settled in as a key late-inning reliever. He may have pitched well enough to earn a big league deal, but should the Yankees be the team to give it to him? Most of their bullpen spots are accounted for as it is.
From superstar in Oakland to role player in New York, Chavez is still deciding whether he wants to keep playing. Injuries have taken their toll, and if he’s going to play again, it’s almost certainly going to be in a situation similar to this season. The Yankees have a place for a player like Chavez. Whether that player is Chavez himself may depend on whether Chavez decides to play again.
Maybe the biggest surprise of the season, Colon clearly faded in the second half, and that may be cause for enough concern that the Yankees won’t want to bring him back. It would be impossible to count on Colon to be effective through an entire season, but keeping him in a relief role might keep him fresh and effective. Certainly Colon opened some eyes, but what kind of deal would it take to bring him back, and has all of the lightning escaped the bottle?
The Yankees No. 5 starter out of spring training was their No. 3 starter in the playoffs. Garcia is what he is — he doesn’t throw hard and gets by on guts and savvy — but he’s proven he can be effective in this form. The Yankees have a large batch of young starters climbing through the system, and Garcia might be a perfect short-term commitment for back-of-the-rotation depth. He’s not the only fit, but he could be a good fit.
After a slow first half, Jones was exactly what the Yankees hoped for in the second half, and they’re once again going to have a spot for a right-handed outfielder who can be a platoon starter in the corners. Jones is in the same boat as Garcia and Chavez: He’s the type of player the Yankees will want for next season, but he’s not the only one who could fill that role.
At this point, I’m not sure anyone knows what Marte could provide. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since July of 2010, and he’s coming back from shoulder surgery that limited him to just a few minor league innings this year. The Yankees could use another left-handed reliever, and there’s a chance Marte would accept a minor league deal to prove himself in spring training. If not, it’s hard to see him coming back to the Yankees.
The Yankees didn’t have room for Mitre last spring, and they shipped him to Milwaukee for Chris Dickerson. When he came back to the Yankees mid-season — this year’s version of Chad Gaudin — Mitre lasted all of four outings before he was on the disabled list and lost for the season. Obviously the Yankees like Mitre, but his time might have come and gone with plenty of in-house options to fill a long-relief/spot-starter role.
Nothing new to be said. Even before his career-worst season, it was unclear whether the Yankees would have a place for Posada next season. They clearly no longer view Posada as a catcher, and they have need to give DH at-bats to Alex Rodriguez — not to mention Jesus Montero — and if Posada’s no longer a catcher, he’s limited to DH and a few backup appearances in the field. It’s not a comfortable situation for either side, but Posada’s time with the Yankees might have ended.
Moving forward: The rotation • 10.10.11
Brian Cashman calls it the “key the kingdom,” and the game treats it as such. Starting pitching is the highest commodity in baseball these days, and the Yankees have made it a priority ever since the winter of 2008 when they signed CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, essentially setting the stage for the 2009 World Series.
It was a priority again last season, and it will be a priority again this winter.
That priority starts with Sabathia. If he opts out, as he’s expected to do, the Yankees will lose their ace. The top starter on the free agent market is C.J. Wilson, who’s been awfully good these past two years in Texas, but that’s the extent of his rotation experience. Sabathia is a proven commodity, even with his so-so last two months of the regular season.
Beyond Sabathia, the Yankees have Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes returning. They also have Hector Noesi and a series of young, minor league starters who could compete for spots.
Otherwise, the Yankees have to choose their targets and decide who rounds out the group.
Freddy Garcia opened some eyes this season, and he could be worth a return trip the Bronx. Bartolo Colon’s second half should raise some red flags, but he certainly gave the Yankees more than they could have expected. It’s probably safe to say Brian Gordon’s time has come and gone.
Is Wilson just the guy to bring some left-handed balance, and a reliable No. 2 behind Sabathia? Is someone like Edwin Jackson worth a middle-rotation spot? Is someone like Rich Harden worth the health risk? Is there a pitcher on the trade market who’s worth dangling Jesus Montero?
Moving forward means answering those questions, but first things first, it means resolving the Sabathia issue and giving the team a legitimate No. 1.
Associated Press photo
Is it possible for one of the best hitters in baseball to sneak under the radar?
Miguel Cabrera leads the Majors in batting average and on-base percentage. He ranks fourth in slugging, and his OPS is second only to Jose Bautista. But he’s a secondary focus on this Tigers team, where Justin Verlander gets so much attention that Cabrera seems like a piece of the supporting cast.
“If he plays another eight to 10 years, he could go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time,” Joe Girardi said. “If you get in situations, you don’t want to let him beat you.”
“It was a young man who, at a very young age, really knew how to hit and really knew how to play the game,” Girardi said. “I was impressed with his knowledge of the game and understanding how to play the game, and we had a very good relationship.”
At this point, you know all about the Yankees. You know Robinson Cano has been moved up to third in the lineup, you know Alex Rodriguez is coming off an injury and you know Curtis Granderson spent the year emerging as one of the game’s most dangerous hitters. You also know all about Verlander and CC Sabathia, a pitching matchup custom-made for Game 1. You know this is the division series, and the Yankees have the home-field advantage.
What’s we’ll find tonight is how the Yankees plan to approach the most dangerous hitter in the Tigers lineup, a guy who’s not getting the most buzz in Detroit, but who could make the biggest difference in this series if the Yankee choose to face him.
“That’s why we went out and got Victor Martinez,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “… We feel very comfortable with Victor behind Miguel right now. There’s no question about that. He’s a very professional hitter. He’s knocked in over 100 runs. There’s never a perfect lineup but we think we have the guy to hit behind him.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference.
• Leyland announced that Rick Porcello will be his Game 4 starter. That means they’re planning to use Verlander in Game 5. Girardi said he’s sticking with his decision to use Sabathia in Game 4 and Nova in Game 5.
• Girardi said all of his roster decisions were “pretty much as anticipated.” They wanted to keep their regular bullpen, and they felt comfortable with Jesus Montero as the backup catcher. A.J. Burnett is basically the long man, which seems to have lessened the need for Hector Noesi.
• Will Burnett be the fourth starter if the Yankees advance to the ALCS? “There’s a good possibility, yes,” Girardi said.
• Girardi expects to pinch hit Montero for Jorge Posada if the Tigers bring in a left-hander late in the game. In using Montero, the Yankees will eliminate their backup catcher, but Girardi will take that chance and lose his DH if something happens to Martin at that point.
• Austin Romine will stay with the big league club. So will Bartolo Colon. Ramiro Pena has already gone to Tampa to stay sharp, and lefty Raul Valdes will head down there on Sunday.
• Girardi didn’t rule out the idea of using Colon later in the postseason, but it doesn’t seem especially likely. “It’s possible. We’re going to have him continue to throw. He’s probably going ot stay with us though, but we’ll have him continue to throw and maybe the extra rest will help him.”
• Chris Dickerson became an important piece because the Yankees want to use him for late-inning defense in Detroit. “You look at the outfield in Detroit, how big it is, it’s nice to have Dickerson,” Girardi said.
• The seventh, eighth and ninth innings are obviously spoken for, but Girardi said he considers Phil Hughes to be a candidate for key spots in the sixth. “I’ll look at matchups,” Girardi said. “We’ve used Wade and Ayala and Boone in those situations. Not afraid to use Hughsey in those situations either.”
• The Yankees plan to stick with this lineup throughout the series.
• Girardi’s reaction to news that Terry Francona is out as manager in Boston: “These jobs are precious, there’s no doubt about it. There’s expectations. A lot of times they’re extremely high expectations when you’re in certain towns. We understand that when we take the job. High expectations are better than no expectations. You do enjoy it and you enjoy your time when you’re there. Tito has done a great job there. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I know he’s done a great job.”
Austin Jackson CF
Magglio Ordonez RF
Delmon Young LF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Alex Avila C
Ryan Raburn 2B
Jhonny Peralta SS
Brandon Inge 3B
Associated Press photo
Postgame notes: Bartolo’s last stand? • 09.27.11
In a spring training clubhouse that had quite a few unknowns, Colon was perhaps the greatest wild card. For a while, he was the Yankees most unexpected surprise.
“In spring training he was phenomenal,” catcher Russell Martin said. “In his bullpens — he’s always been known as a strike thrower — but his command was unbelievable. He doesn’t have the best offspeed in the world, but when his sinker’s working really well, it doesn’t really matter.
“… He did a great job for us, especially early in the season when he really had control of the sinker. He was pretty much untouchable for a while there. As we went along, he kind of wasn’t as consistent as the year went along, but he still kept us in a lot of games. I definitely take my cap off to that guy. He did a great job for us this year.”
Joe Girardi wouldn’t commit to any sort of role for Colon in the postseason. He said he’s still considering Colon for a spot in the rotation, and it’s possible the Yankees will carry him in the bullpen. Girardi also acknowledged that Colon’s velocity was once again lower than the Yankees saw in the first half, and he hasn’t won a game since July 30. He’ll finish the season with a 4.00 ERA.
“Bart was great for us this year,” Girardi said. “He picked us up at a time where we were struggling and weren’t sure what we were going to do with our starters. Bart was big for us.”
That’s hard to argue. In the first half, when Phil Hughes was on the disabled list and Ivan Nova had yet to emerge as a reliable big league starter, Colon was the Yankees second-best starter. He gave the Yankees more than they could have expected. Question is whether he will give them any more.
• The first of two big blows against the Yankees came in the sixth inning, when Martin grounded into a triple play with the bases loaded. “I just hit it in the wrong spot,” Martin said. “It was the pitch I was looking for, I kind of had an idea he was going to start me with the changeup. It was really a good pitch to hit. It was changeup middle. I just got out in front and rolled over, and really just hit it in the wrong spot. He made a nice play, though.”
• The triple play was the third in Rays history. It was the first the Yankees hit into since 2000. They’ve hit into 25 in franchise history. “As soon as I hit it, I just put my head down,” Martin said. “I knew what was happening… I was trying to get down the line as fast as I could, and just not fast enough. It sucked.”
• The second big blow against the Yankees came in the seventh, when Rafael Soriano gave up the game-winning, three-run home run to Matt Joyce. “It was the walks that killed him tonight,” Girardi said. “If you’re going to have it happen, get it out of the way tonight. He’s been so good for us, I don’t make much of it. Robby comes in and throws well, Mo comes in and throws well, so we move on.”
• Girardi said he’ll try to get Boone Logan and Luis Ayala some work tomorrow night (which seemed to suggest Ayala has a spot on the postseason roster). “I feel good about our bullpen,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees still have not chosen a starter for tomorrow’s game. “I can’t start A.J., I can’t start Freddy, I can’t start Bart, I can’t start CC,” Girardi said. “We’re going to talk about it. That’s all we can do and well figure it out. I will have a starter by 7:10.”
• Girardi said he’s still planning to have his regulars — including Rodriguez — in the lineup tomorrow. He’s not sure how long they’ll play.
• Girardi on the Rays decision to intentionally walk Robinson Cano to face Rodriguez with two on in the third inning: “Robbie’s swinging a great bat. We’re just trying to make it as difficult on teams as possible. When you’re swinging that great, they’re going to do that.”
• Johnny Damon passed Lou Gehrig for 57th place on baseball’s all-time hits list with 2,722. He’s two shy of tying Roberto Alomar for 56th.
• Colon is the first Yankees pitcher to go winless in 10 or more consecutive starts since Ian Kennedy from Sept. 7, 2007 to Aug. 8, 2008. So, obviously Colon will be in the Cy Young mix in the National League in three years.
• The last Yankees starter to go at least 10 starts without a win in a single season was Dvaid Cone in 2000. Cone with 15 straight.
• The Joyce home run was the first Soriano had allowed on the road this season.
• Martin has 18 homers in 417 at-bats this season. He had 12 homers in 836 at-bats from 2009 through 2010. Tonight he hit his first home run since going deep twice on August 25.
Associated Press photos
Game 161: Yankees at Rays • 09.27.11
Eduardo Nunez SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF
RHP Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.02)
Colon vs. Rays
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS
RHP Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90)
Hellickson vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:10., MY9
WEATHER: Still rainy outside. Still loving the dome.
UMPIRES: HP Chad Fairchild, 1B Joe West, 2B Sam Holbrook, 3B Paul Schrieber
BEYOND SPORTS UNITED: Today, more than 70 sports teams from across the United States and the world gathered at Beyond Sport United at Yankee Stadium. The unique event assembles influential figures from all major U.S. sports and their teams to address their role in triggering positive social change in the communities they serve.
GOING DEEP: The Yankees lead the Majors with 218 home runs. They’ve hit 96 on the road and 122 at home. The Yankees are one of only two teams to record 200 homers this season (Texas has 203) and they have reached the plateau for the 11th time in the past 12 years (all but 2008).
ON THIS DATE: On September 27, 1998, the yankees beat Tampa Bay on the season’s finale day to improve to 114-48, a .704 winning percentage. They were the first team since the 194 Indians to finish with a winning percentage higher than .700.
UPDATE, 7:38 p.m.: First Johnny Damon passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time hits list, then Ben Zobrist hit a 1-2 pitch for a two-run home run and a 2-0 Rays lead in the second inning.
UPDATE, 7:52 p.m.: Martin goes deep and it’s a 2-1 Rays lead in the third.
UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: Wow. Pitching around Cano to face Rodriguez with two on in the third inning.
UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: Granderson managed to tie the game, but he did it with a double-play ball to short. It’s 2-2 in the fifth as Joyce runs down a fly ball by Cano.
UPDATE, 8:56 p.m.: The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the sixth, but Martin just grounded into a triple play with the bases loaded. That’s a punch to the gut (or it would be if this game mattered to the Yankees).
UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: There goes that. Soriano walked two straight, then gave up a three-run homer to Matt Joyce, and it’s now a 5-3 Rays lead in the seventh.
The Yankees lost tonight, but the mood in the clubhouse was beyond loose. Things were normal for a while — quiet, like after most losses — then the rookies started getting to their lockers and finding costumes.
Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances are towering versions of Milli Vanilli. George Kontos is George Michael. Jesus Montero is MC Hammer. Brandon Laird is Slash, complete with a guitar and black vest. Austin Romine is Madonna, but he had such trouble figuring out the dress that he improvised parts of it. At one point he was tying something that didn’t seem like it was supposed to be tied.
The Yankees are sending an official photo later tonight.
The story that had people laughing even before the costumes came from Russell Martin, who actually went into detail about his ejection in the fifth inning. He’d just gone to the mound to calm down Phil Hughes, who was upset about some borderline pitches, and when he got to the plate, Martin started talking to home plate umpire Paul Schrieber. Here’s Martin’s version of conversation.
Martin: “Did you stretch before the game?”
Schrieber: “What?” (said while walking in front of Martin)
Martin: “Did you stretch before the game?”
Schrieber: (gave Martin a puzzled look)
Martin: “I feel like you’re kinda tight right now.”
“I didn’t say it in a way that was condescending,” Martin said. “I was trying to loosen things up a little bit because I felt like he wasn’t really having a good time, and so he threw me out. I didn’t say he sucked. I didn’t say he was the worst umpire in the league. I didn’t say any of that stuff. I just made a joke and he then threw me out, no warning, nothing. Gone.”
Someone suggested that perhaps Schrieber didn’t get the joke.
“I think he got it,” Martin said. “I think he just didn’t like it.”
Here’s Martin telling the story. It’s honestly hilarious.
• Obviously Girardi didn’t go to his top relievers tonight. He said that’s because he wants to use all of his top guys tomorrow night. Using them tomorrow gives them a chance to stay fresh, but it still gives them two days off before the division series opener.
• The plan is still to have Phil Hughes pitch again on Wednesday. “We need to get him back out there,” Girardi said. “He hasn’t pitched in two weeks, so I wasn’t sure what I’d get today. It’s important that he comes out feeling okay tomorrow and that his back is okay.”
• Girardi was talking to the media in his office when the crowd at the Trop went nuts. They’d just seen the Red Sox lose on the big video board in right field, meaning the wild card race is tied. “I actually saw one of their players look at the scoreboard when there was a loud cheer today,” Girardi said. “That probably wouldn’t happen on a normal day. They should be excited.”
• On tomorrow’s game: “We’re playing to win,” Girardi said. “I’ve got Bartolo and a loaded bullpen tomorrow, so we’re playing to win games. But I also have to pick the time to use my relievers, because if we get into some long games on Friday and Saturday, I’ve got to make sure they can go multiple innings. If you start throwing them a lot and you wear them down a little, shame on me. My responsibility is to this club.”
• Girardi wasn’t worried about Austin Romine getting back behind the plate after catching 14 innings last night. “He’s young,” Girardi said. “I don’t worry about that.”
• Girardi also said using Romine wasn’t necessarily an indication that he’s planning to carry Romine on the postseason roster. Girardi also wanted to save Montero for a pinch hitting opportunity, because he knows Montero might be asked to pinch hit in the playoffs.
• Jorge Posada was involved in two double plays that ended with plays at the plate. “He made a good double play on the bullet, then the other double play on the stolen base attempt by Johnny,” Girardi said. “He did OK over there.”
• Hector Noesi has allowed five runs on nine hits and three walked in 4.2 innings as a starter. He has a 6.84 ERA in 16 road appearances this season. His ERA is 2.59 in 14 appearances at home.
• Robinson Cano now has 81 extra-base hits, tied with Roger Maris for the third-most by a Yankees left-handed hitter since 1950. Don Mattingly had 86 in both 1985 and 1986.
• Cano has 14 home runs in 8 career games at Tropicana Field. That’s his most at any visiting ballpark. In his past nine games at the Trop, Cano is hitting .417 with three homers and 10 RBI.
Associated Press photos
Pregame notes: Explaining a wild card tie • 09.26.11
Not directly connected to the Yankees, but people have asked about this scenario and Major League Baseball just sent a press release explaining what would happen if there were a three-way tie for the American League wild card.
If the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finish in a three-way tie for the Wild Card, then two games will be played in the first two days after the regular season. The games will be played according to designations based on the head-to-head three-way records among the tied clubs:
• The Rays went 12-6 against the Red Sox and 4-4 against the Angels. Combined: 16-10 (.615).
• The Red Sox went 6-12 against the Rays and 6-2 against the Angels. Combined: 12-14 (.462).
• The Angels went 4-4 against the Rays and 2-6 against the Red Sox. Combined: 6-10 (.375).
The designations dictate that:
• Club A would host Club B on Thursday, September 29th.
• Club C would play at the winner of the A vs. B game on Friday, September 30th.
Because the Rays held the best head-to-head record among the three tied clubs, the Rays received the first choice of designation and the Red Sox had the second choice. If such a scenario arises:
• The Rays have chosen to be Club C, playing a road game on Friday, September 30th.
• The Red Sox have chosen to be Club A, hosting the first tiebreaker game on Thursday, September 29th.
• The Angels, as Club B, would play the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Thursday.
• The winner of the Thursday’s Angels-Red Sox game would host the Rays on Friday, September 30th.
• The winner of Friday’s game would be the American League Wild Card.
In the National League, the potential two-way National League Wild Card tie between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals would be broken with a tiebreaker game on Thursday, September 29th at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Head-to-head record determines home-field advantage in a two-way tie, and the Cardinals earned a 5-1 advantage over the Braves in the season series.
• Girardi wants to use Phil Hughes out of the bullpen tonight and Wednesday to get Hughes readjusted to life as a reliever. Hughes could obviously go multiple innings, and he said he wouldn’t be hesitant to pitch back-to-back days. As for the transition to pitching one inning at a time: “It’s easy,” he said. “Just let it go.”
• Girardi on the role Hughes might play in the bullpen: “He can be a multiple-inning guy for us, it could be a one-inning guy. We’ve seen him have a lot of success out of there. And that’s why we think it’s important to get him in there a couple of times.”
• The Yankees are no closer to deciding a Game 3 starter in the playoffs, and Girardi insists it’s not necessarily between Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett. “Bartolo is starting again and I’m gonna look at that, too,” Girardi said.
• Aside from Hughes, Girardi made it sound like he has no plans of using any of his go-to pitchers on Wednesday. He wants them to have two full days off before the playoffs begin on Friday.
• Francisco Cervelli tried to throw and go through catching drills today, and his concussion symptoms returned. Sounds like he’s as close to completely ruled out as he could be (if he weren’t there already).
• Hector Noesi is good for 70-80 pitches, which is a little more than his previous spot start.
• In the past, managers have occasionally let a player manage the last game of the season. Girardi said he might do that on Wednesday. “Depends if the game means anything,” Girardi said.
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Ben Zobrist 2B
Johnny Damon DH
Matt Joyce RF
Casey Kotchman 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS
Associated Press photos
I’m leaving for the airport in four hours, so I’m going to try to make this quick.
After 14 innings that left the Yankees oh-so-close to a doubleheader sweep, the biggest postgame news involved a player who had nothing to do with either of today’s games.
Joe Girardi announced that Phil Hughes will be moved immediately to the bullpen, and the plan is to leave him there into the postseason.
That’s what we’re going to load at during the playoffs,” Girardi said. “That’s how we’re going to look at him.”
Hughes was informed of the decision in between today’s games. He admitted being disappointed, but also recognized that, because he hasn’t pitched since September 12, the Yankees couldn’t be completely confident that he could be counted on as a starter.
“I did it to myself,” he said. “I had the back issue coming off a good start in Seattle, so therefore I didn’t have an opportunity to pitch. They had to make a decision… I’ve done it before. Just go down there and look to help out any way I can.”
Here’s Hughes talking very briefly about the move to the pen.
• One of the looming questions throughout tonight’s game was why veterans Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones were never given a chance to pinch hit in key situations. “To me it’s not the right thing to do,” Girardi said. “Their bodies were shutdown since 4 o’clock.” Girardi said he was worried someone might pull something trying to get ready in a hurry, and it wasn’t worth the risk.
• The Yankees rotation against Tampa Bay:
Monday: Hector Noesi
Tuesday: Bartolo Colon
• Girardi when asked who he’s considering to start Wednesday: “It might be a bullpen day.”
• Girardi was ejected for arguing with first-base umpire Tim McClelland in the 13th inning. McClelland had clearly blown a call at first base, and Nick Swisher — playing first at the time — had gotten into a short argument. “I thought he went at Swish, and I didn’t think that was right,” Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli had another concussion test today and was cleared to travel with the team to Tampa. Girardi said he might catch a bullpen this week.
• Austin Romine was hit in the head by a back swing, but he said he’s fine. “I got smacked around a couple of time,” he said. “My head’s fine. I’ve been hit before.”
• Romine on his tag at the plate when Pedroia tried to fly over him: “I’ve never seen anybody try to jump over me before.”
• Girardi on Ivan Nova: “I was pleased with the way he threw the ball tonight.” He really didn’t get into much more detail than that. Neither did Nova, to tell the truth.
• The Yankees fell to 4-11 in extra-inning games this season.
• Forgot to mention after the first game that Brandon Laird was getting a lot of credit for his work at first base in Game 1. “He saved me a couple runs, for sure,” A.J. Burnett said.
• First time through the order against John Lackey, the Yankees went 4-for-7 with two doubles a walk and a strikeout. The went 1-for-13 with two walks and three strikeouts against Lackey the rest of the game. They had just two hits over their final 45 batters.
• At five hours and 11 minutes, this was the Yankees longest game since September 10, 2010 against Texas.
Associated Press photos