The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Dreaming of best-case scenarios12.18.10

There is no such thing as a can’t-miss, top-of-the-rotation starter on the free agent market. The closest thing — other than Andy Pettitte — might be Carl Pavano, and that’s a tough sell for the Yankees for many, many reasons. One thing the Yankees might try is a high-risk, high-reward, low-dollar signing. They’ve already added Mark Prior on a minor league deal, and one of these starters could have significant upside to go with a small price tag and a large injury risk.

9053576-largeJustin Duchscherer
Left hip impingement
Duchscherer has been an all-star starter and an all-star reliever, but a series of injuries have limited his career through seven DL stints. Most recently, a hip injury that wouldn’t quite go away required surgery in early June, limiting Duchscherer to five good starts with the A’s. He previously missed all of 2009 because of elbow surgery and depression, but in 2008 he had a 2.54 ERA in his first full season as a starter.

Jeff Francis
Shoulder inflammation
A shoulder injury began causing problems in 2008. It cost Francis all of 2009 and landed him on the disabled list twice in 2010. He’s had surgery, and last season he kept battling soreness. Francis was a pretty promising young pitcher with the Rockies in 2007, but he’s had an ERA above 5.00 his past two seasons. If he’s healthy, maybe he could bounce back. His best years haven’t been as good as the others on this list.

Noah Lowry
Shoulder, forearm and elbow issues
I wanted to mention Lowry because he technically fits on this list, but the guy hasn’t pitched in the big leagues or minor leagues since 2007. Various things have gone wrong, and he never quite made a comeback last year. He was a good young pitcher with the Giants, but that was a pretty long time ago, and it’s hard to consider him a viable option at this point, even as a long shot.

Brad Penny
Strained right lat
Penny made just nine starts last season before taking his familiar spot on the disabled list, where he also spent much of 2008. Those nine starts were good — he had a 3.23 ERA with the Cardinals — but his rehab didn’t go well enough for him to pitch beyond late May. Penny didn’t pitch well with Boston in 2009, but he finished that season in San Francisco and actually pitched very well for the Giants.

Ben Sheets
Torn elbow tendon
I decided to include Sheets because his name is on various free agent lists, but truth is, Sheets is not a legitimate option. He’s out at least the bulk of this season, probably all of it — maybe the rest of his career — after Tommy John surgery.

Brandon Webb
Shoulder soreness
For three straight years, Webb was among the top pitchers in all of baseball. He was the Diamondbacks Opening Day starter in 2009, and he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since. Webb tried to avoid surgery in 2009, but finally had a procedure in August of that year and coming back has been a struggle. Like Wang, Webb pitched this fall. If the Yankees want to dream big, the best-case scenario probably doesn’t get much better than Webb, who won the Cy Young in 2006 and finished second in 2007 and 2008. At his best, he was kind of a more dominant version of Wang.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 116 Comments →

Game 82: Yankees at Athletics07.05.10

YANKEES (50-31)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Colin Curtis RF

RHP Javier Vazquez (6-7, 5.11)
Vazquez vs. Athletics

Coco Crisp CF
Daric Barton 1B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Jack Cust DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Gabe Gross LF
Mark Ellis 2B
Cliff Pennington SS

RHP Ben Sheets (3-7, 4.98)
Sheets vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 10:05 p.m. ET / YES Network

UMPIRES: HP Hunter Wendelstedt, 1B Mike Winters, 2B Jerry Layne, 3B Brian Runge

WEATHER: It’s bright and sunny, but temperatures are in the low 60s with wind blowing in from left field. It’s not cold — not at all — but it’s a little more chilly than we were used to in New York.

CARSON’S BACK: Longtime Yankees minor leaguer Matt Carson was called up by the A’s before today’s game. He was hitting .301 with a .534 slugging percentage in Triple-A. He never got past Triple-A with the Yankees but he made his big league debut with Oakland last season. Great guy too. One of my favorites that I covered in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His only big league hit this season was a home run.

TURNING TWO: According to Elias, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano will be the second Yankees double play combo to start an all-star game. Willie Randolph and Bucky Dent did it in 1980 and 81.

NO. 400: This will be the 400th start of Javier Vazquez’s career. He’s the seventh pitcher to reach the milestone as a Yankee, joining Mike Mussina, Catfish Hunter, Whitey Ford, Herb Pennock, Andy Pettitte and Red Ruffing. The Yankees will become the only team with two active players with 400 or more starts.

UPDATE, 10:12 p.m.: Back-to-back ground outs to start the game. Clearly this Gardner in the lead-off spot thing isn’t working.

UPDATE, 10:28 p.m.: The crowd here actually gave Swisher a nice applause when he doubled. They must still like him here in Oakland.

UPDATE, 10:30 p.m.: RBI triple from Curtis Granderson gives the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Granderson’s not as fast as Gardner, but it’s a lot of fun watching him run. Long strides. He really glides around the bases.

UPDATE, 10:31 p.m.: And Cervelli follows with an RBI single. This is all with two outs.

UPDATE, 11:10 p.m.: Kevin Kouzmanoff just snapped an 0-for-30 skid with an infield single. Thirty at-bats without a hit. Mark Teixeira opened the season 0-for-17 and it was the end of the world. Imagine if Kouzmanoff were playing in this market. Yikes!

UPDATE, 11:46 p.m.: Mark Teixeira went deep and the Yankees managed to score in more then inning. It’s a 3-1 Yankees lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. Vazquez has pitched well, but he’s also thrown quite a few pitches. He’s already at 92. Might not pitch beyond this inning.

UPDATE, 11:49 p.m.: Dustin Moseley getting loose. Two-run game? Looks like Moseley isn’t here to be a mop-up guy.

UPDATE, 11:50 p.m.: Nice play by Rodriguez for the second out of the sixth. If he can get through this inning without reaching 100 pitches, Vazquez might last into the seventh after all, but I’d still bet on seeing a reliever.

UPDATE, 12:05 a.m.: Never mind, Vazquez got out of that sixth inning quickly and already has two quick outs in the seventh, the second on a nice sliding catch by Granderson.

UPDATE, 12:06 a.m.: Sliding catch by Granderson. Diving catch by Curtis. That’s seven innings, one run for Vazquez.

UPDATE, 12:25 a.m.: Here’s Joba Chamberlain in the eighth.

UPDATE, 12:28 a.m.: Good inning from Chamberlain and now Rivera is getting loose in the bullpen. I’m sitting next to Mark Feinsand and it had just occurred to us that no one thought to ask Girardi if Rivera was available tonight. Apparently he is.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 562 Comments →

Game 14: Yankees at Athletics04.21.10

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Randy Winn RF
Brett Gardner LF

RHP Phil Hughes (1-0, 3.60)
Career vs. Athletics

Cliff Pennington SS
Daric Barton 1B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Eric Chavez DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Gabe Gross CF
Adam Rosales 2B
Eric Patterson LF

RHP Ben Sheets (1-0, 2.65)
Career vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 10:05 p.m./YES Network

UMPIRES: HP Tom Hallion, 1B Ron Kulpa, 2B Lance Barksdale, 3B Mike Muchlinski

WEATHER: The forecast says a 50 percent chance of rain at game time, but there aren’t many clouds in the sky. It’s a little chilly here, temperatures in the low 50s.

BRAND NEW EXPERIENCE: The current Oakland A’s have a total of four major league at-bats against Phil Hughes. Kurt Suzuki has half of them, and he’s 0-for-2. It’s hard to imagine Hughes faced many of these guys in the minor leagues either.

ALMOST AS NEW: It’s a similar story for the Yankees and Ben Sheets. The Yankees have a total of 24 at-bats — and only three hits — against Sheets. Tonight’s right fielder, Randy Winn, has one of those hits. Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter have the others.

PITCHING WINS: During their current five-game winning streak, the Yankees pitchers have allowed three runs or less in every game. They’ve allowed five runs or less in each of the past nine games. They are 8-0 when leading after six innings.

WALK IN THE PARK: The Yankees lead the Majors with 71 walks, they also lead with 1 walk per 7.25 plate appearances.

UPDATE, 9:44 p.m.: Travis Buck was scratched from the A’s lineup with a strained right oblique. He was replaced by Eric Patterson

UPDATE, 9:59 p.m.: A member of the Harlem Globetrotters just threw out a first pitch with his right hand while spinning a basketball with his left hand. He fired a bullet, too.

UPDATE, 10:25 p.m.: Mark Teixeira narrowly avoids being speared by a broken bat, and Robinson Cano backs him up to make the play. That obviously happens all the time.

UPDATE, 10:59 p.m.: Hughes looks terrific. I have no other analysis, he just looks really good against this lineup.

UPDATE, 11:07 p.m.: It’s really tough to keep getting through this Yankees lineup inning after inning. Back-to-back triples have rocked Ben Sheets and given the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

UPDATE, 11:18 p.m.: This is the kind of thing I saw Hughes do time and again in the minor leagues. He gets aggressive and you just feel like no one can tough him.

UPDATE, 11:22 p.m.: Why Brett Gardner is not standing on third base right now is a complete mystery to me. Granted, he can still score from second on just about any base hit, but I was surprised to see him so far off the bag on that fly ball to deep right.

UPDATE, 11:37 p.m.: For what it’s worth, Ben Sheets has looked pretty good himself. But Hughes has been absolutely dominant.

UPDATE, 11:51 p.m.: I believe they ruled that a hit for Gardner. There was no announcement in the press box, which usually means no error. It’s still 2-0 Yankees after six.

UPDATE, 12:01 a.m.: I remember one ball being hit hard against Hughes, that fourth inning fly out to center field. Otherwise, the A’s haven’t come close.

UPDATE, 12:09 a.m.: That’s how Hughes lost the no-hitter! Are you kidding me! Better than the way he lost the no-hitter in Texas, but jeez.

UPDATE, 12:12 a.m.: Hughes just got his 10th strikeout, a career high.

UPDATE, 12:19 a.m.: Very nice ovation for Hughes as he came off the field here in the eighth. He tipped his cap ever so slightly to the crowd, which was greeting him with more than a few “Huggghhesss” chants. Here’s Chamberlain with runners at first and second and one out.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 1,318 Comments →

Pregame notes: Chamberlain in the eighth04.21.10

Yankees Red Sox Baseball

Until today, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had never said anything definitive about the eighth-inning role in his bullpen. A front runner, though, had clearly emerged.

No Yankees reliever had been used as often or for as many innings Joba Chamberlain, and this afternoon Girardi made it clear that Chamberlain will be his go-to setup reliever ahead of Mariano Rivera.

“I think he’s done what most of us expected him to do,” Girardi said. “I think he’s enjoying himself and what he’s doing. It’s nice when guys have roles and you can turn to them and when the phone rings, they know it’s them.”

Chamberlain has pitched in seven of the Yankees 13 games. He’s been especially good in his past four outings, allowing two hits, one walk and striking out seven. When he learned he wouldn’t be the Yankees fifth starter, Chamberlain’s thoughts immediately turned to the eighth inning.

“That’s the first thing that came into my mind,” he said. “Knowing I’ve been in that situation before, but also knowing that I still have a lot to prove. Knowing it’s not going to be just handed to me.”

Here’s Girardi.

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And here’s Chamberlain.

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Yankees Athletics Baseball

• How’s this for a stat Girardi knew off the top of his head this afternoon? Yesterday, Robinson Cano had five at-bats and saw 31 pitches. “That’s not something you probably would have said 2 or 3 years ago,” Girardi said.

• Girardi said he came into this series planning to give Nick Swisher today’s game off. “Just a day off for Swish and keeping everyone involved,” Girardi said.

• Dave Robertson is back with the team after missing yesterday’s game to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Alabama.

• Chamberlain is available tonight.

• What does Girardi want to see from Phil Hughes: “Not trying to do anything more than he did the last time,” Girardi said.

• As for a scouting report on Ben Sheets: “He’s basically fastball, curveball,” Girardi said. “At times he’s up in the zone. You have to make sure you don’t chase up there. A lot of times, that fastball looks very good when it’s above the belt.”

• Girardi said he “might” start Gardner against a left-handed starter again tomorrow.

UPDATE, 8:34 p.m.: Oakland’s lineup.

Cliff Pennington SS
Daric Barton 1B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Eric Chavez DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Gabe Gross CF
Adam Rosales 2B
Travis Buck LF

RHP Ben Sheets (1-0, 2.65)

Those are both Associated Press photos. The second is of Robinson Cano breaking up a double play last night. The first is of Chamberlain earlier this season.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 99 Comments →

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