Sunday notes: No lineup until Opening Day • 03.27.11
Joe Girardi said he plans to announce most of his final roster decisions tomorrow. The Yankees might have to wait a day or two to determine Curtis Granderson’s status, and they might not immediately name a replacement for Pedro Feliciano, but Girardi said he expects to announce his backup catcher, utility infielder and reserve corner infielder.
He will not announce an Opening Day lineup.
“I’m still thinking about it,” Girardi said. “I haven’t turned my brain off to it by saying, okay, this is what I’m doing. I’m still thinking about it. We’ll still have one long conversation about it.”
Based on recent lineups, my best guess is that the Yankees are going to use the two-lineup approach: They’ll have Brett Gardner leadoff against right-handers and Derek Jeter leadoff against lefties. It’s a pretty solid plan, actually. Girardi said he probably won’t announce an Opening Day lineup until Opening Day itself.
Otherwise: Eduardo Nunez seems to be the favorite for the utility job, Gustavo Molina seems to be the favorite for the backup catcher position and Eric Chavez is all but official as the reserve corner infielder.
“We just haven’t announced it yet,” Girardi said. “I’ll talk to Cash one more time, but we’ll announce it probably tomorrow. Like he said, we’ve got to make sure people are healthy.”
• Pedro Feliciano had an MRI this morning. It showed some sort of muscle problem — Girardi wasn’t sure of the exact diagnosis — but the bottom line is this: “It’s pretty hard to think that he would start with us,” Girardi said. “I’m hoping it’ll be shorter (term), but you can never predict.”
• As possible replacements for Feliciano, Girardi once again mentioned Luis Ayala and Mark Prior, but neither of those two is on the 40-man roster, and today’s conversation certainly made it seem like the Yankees are leaning toward Steve Garrison. “He’s done a good job for us against left-handers, and he’s a viable option for us,” Girardi said. “We’ll probably see him throw one more time before we leave and then we’ll make a decision.”
• Here’s Girardi’s cryptic comment about why Romulo Sanchez was scratched from this road trip: “That got cancelled for reasons I can’t give to you at this point.” Someone mentioned a trade and Girardi gave a weird look that suggested a trade is in the works (or certainly some kind of move).
• Girardi on how quickly he knew Chavez could make the team: “Right when he got to camp, we saw the bat speed in Chavez. We said, ‘Wow, if he’s healthy, he can help us.’ Because, you’re not going to really forget how to hit, it’s just if you’re physically capable, and he looked great.”
• Pat Venditte faced two hitters today. He pitched right-handed to one and left-handed to the other. Turns out, the decision to bring in Venditte had a lot to do with the new pitching coach. “Larry (Rothschild) wanted to see it,” Girardi said. “The kid has done well in the minor leagues wherever he’s been.”
• Speaking of Venditte, those paying attention in the crowd seemed to enjoy it: “You heard a little ‘Ohhh’ when he switched,” Girardi said.
• A nice early version of HOPE Week today with the little girl who saved the even littler girl’s life. The families were hanging around the Yankees dugout throughout batting practice. It was pretty neat to see.
• The Yankees lost 7-6 today, but they had 13 hits, including three by Austin Krum and two by Mark Teixeira. Krum is, by most accounts, a pretty good fielder but he had a rough time today with two errors and a missed attempt at a diving catch. Austin Romine and Robinson Cano homered today.
• Garrison faced two big-time lefties today. He got Justin Morneau to pop up, but Jim Thome took him deep.
• Buddy Carlyle was knocked around a little bit in his start, but for the most part, the other guys brought up from minor league camp pitched well today. Wilkin Arias had a rough third of an inning — hit a batter and walked a guy — but Francisco Gil, Josh Schmidt, Andy Sisco, Eric Wordekemper and Venditte combined for 4.2 scoreless.
• Today the Yankees faced Carl Pavano. Girardi said there was a time this winter when there really seemed to be a chance that Pavano would return to the Yankees. “It was a possibility that he was going to be with us,” Girardi said. “We talked about it. His name was thrown around. It never came to a fruition, but he’s resurrected his career. He’s pitched well for the Twins and he’s given them innings. When we’ve faced him in the playoffs, he’s pitched well. The guy knows how to pitch. The big thing is for Carl that he’s been healthy.”
Associated Press photos of Krum, Carlyle and Girardi with 12-year-old Julianne Ramirez
The pieces that don’t necessarily fit • 01.10.11
This free agent market doesn’t match the Yankees needs. We know that. It’s been discussed time after time, day after day, but this morning the good people at MLBTradeRumors listed the 11 players remaining from their initial list of the top 50 free agents. It paints a pretty convincing picture of just how little is out there. Here’s their list.
1. Rafael Soriano — Significant cost, in dollars and draft picks, for a setup man.
2. Carl Pavano — There was never a real chance of the Yankees bringing him back.
3. Jim Thome — Hasn’t played the field in three years. DH spot isn’t available.
4. Vladimir Guerrero — Another designated hitter, best kept out of the outfield at this point.
5. Manny Ramirez — Probably a better defensive option than Guerrero, but still questionable. Plus, Manny in pinstripes?
6. Andy Pettitte — This one’s not up to the Yankees. It’s all up to Pettitte.
7. Brian Fuentes — If he wants to close, he won’t come to the Yankees.
8. Kevin Millwood — Amazing how quickly the starting pitching market falls into the questionable zone. At least Millwood has been fairly durable.
9. Grant Balfour — Another setup man who would cost a draft pick.
10. Scott Podsednik — Left-handed, speed-oriented left fielder. The Yankees already have one of those.
11. Johnny Damon — Probably a better defensive option than some of the other guys who are primarily DHs. Might prefer an everyday role. A right-handed hitter would be a better fit.
The best of what’s left • 12.21.10
The remaining free agent market is rich in two areas: Designated hitters and relief pitchers. The Yankees have no need for a DH, but I could see them dipping into that relief market one more time before spring training. Here’s my 25-man roster using only remaining free agents. It’s a stretch to say the least.
Johnny Damon, CF
Edgar Renteria, SS
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jim Thome, DH
Vladimir Guerrero, RF
Manny Ramirez, LF
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Bengie Molina, C
Cristian Guzman, 2B
I’ve decided to punt on outfield defense. This is probably the worst defensive outfield ever assembled, so I’ll just hope that everything is hit to third base.
Scott Podsednik, OF
Derrek Lee, 1B
Jerry Hairston Jr., UT
Josh Bard, C
Is it bad that a left fielder is my defensive replacement in center?
Obviously I don’t want anything hit in the air, so I’ll roll the dice with Webb’s sinker in the No. 5 spot. Let’s face it, a lot of things are going to have to right for this team anyway. As for who gets the nod for the No. 1 spot in the rotation, I think I know my audience.
I figure I’ll need someone who can throw more than one inning at a time, so I’ll take shot on Penny in the bullpen. Added bonus: It might keep him healthy.
The “best” of the rest • 11.10.10
I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people asking about who the Yankees might turn to if they don’t sign Cliff Lee as their big offseason pitching acquisition and the short answer is “no one nearly as good.”
This free agent class isn’t particularly compelling overall and when you look at the starting pitchers available it’s particularly underwhelming. Good buddy Jeff Passan from Yahoo! Sports does an annual free agent tracker and if you peruse the top end of his listings you’ll see that the starting pitchers – save for Lee – are incredibly unappetizing.
I don’t necessarily agree with all of Jeff’s rankings but the gist this: After Lee, you’re talking about guys like Hiroki Kuroda, Jake Westbrook and – gulp – Carl Pavano.
The Yankees have been pretty tight-lipped about Lee and any contingency plans should the pursuit of him fall through, but lately you hear more rumblings that the Yankees would look internally to fill out their rotation should Lee opt to go elsewhere. In other words, a rotation like Sabathia, Hughes, Pettitte, Burnett and whoever wins the fifth spot in spring training (Ivan Nova?) would be a real possibility. If Pettitte chooses to retire, things get a little more dire.
Of course, there’s also the trade market (and no, I’m not including Zack Greinke in this discussion – there’s been zero indication he would want to come to the Yankees) but you’d have to think the Yankees wouldn’t be able to get any kind of impact name in a deal.
Short story long? If the Yankees want a big stud for their pitching staff, they better get Lee. Because the alternative – whoever it is – is pretty darn unappealing.
* That’s an AP photo of Carl Pavano’s mustache.
ALDS Game 2: Yankees at Twins • 10.07.10
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada C
Lance Berkman DH
Brett Gardner LF
LHP Andy Pettitte (11-3, 3.28)
Pettitte vs. Twins
Denard Span CF
Orlando Hudson 2B
Joe Mauer C
Delmon Young RF
Jim Thome DH
Michael Cuddyer 1B
Jason Kubel RF
Danny Valencia 3B
J.J. Hardy SS
RHP Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75)
Pavano vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 6:07 p.m. / TBS
UMPIRES: HP Hunter Wendelstedt, 1B Greg Gibson, 2B Brian O’Nora, 3B Gary Darling, LF Chris Guccione, RF Jerry Crawford
WEATHER: Temperatures in the low 70s and upper 60s through most of the game.
GOOD AND BAD: For the Yankees, there is good news and bad news about pitching Andy Pettitte tonight. In his career, Pettitte has held Jim Thome to a .214 average with no home runs. He’s held J.J. Hardy to one hit in 15 at-bats. On the other hand, Delmon Young has hit Pettitte to the tune of a .579 batting average and .737 slugging percentage in 19 at-bats. Michael Cuddyer has hit .389 with a home run and two doubles off Pettitte.
FAMILIAR FACE: Counting tonight, Carl Pavano’s past four playoff outings have been against the Yankees. He pitched out of the Marlins bullpen in Game 2 of the 2003 World Series, started Game 4 of the 2003 World Series and he lost the decisive Game 3 of last year’s Division Series. Between the 2003 World Series and 2009 Division Series, he spent four years with the Yankees but never once pitched for them in the playoffs.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Last night was the third straight Yankees postseason game vs. the Twins in which the Yankees hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later.
IT’S THE RUNS THAT MATTER: Mark Teixeira has scored a run in six consecutive playoff games, tied for the fifth-longest streak in franchise history behind Babe Ruth (9), Elston Howard (8), Reggie Jackson (7) and Lou Gehrig (7). Last night he hit his second postseason go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later, becoming the fourth Yankee with more than one such homer (Bernie Williams had three, Mickey Mantle and Alfonso Soriano each had two). That’s all according to Elias.
ALREADY ON TOP: Pettitte is already baseball’s all-time leader with 18 career postseason victories.
UPDATE, 6:23 p.m.: Andy Pettitte was clearly trying to get Derek Jeter killed, but Jeter made the nice turn at the bag to get a double play here in the first inning. Pettitte pumped his fist then quickly turned to look at the Captain. Ummm, my bad.
UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Could have been worse. Pettitte had the bases loaded with one out and got out of it with only one run scoring. It’s a 1-0 Twins lead. The Yankees are going to have to come from behind again.
UPDATE, 7:06 p.m.: The Yankees are finally hitting the ball hard off Carl Pavano. Three hits and a sac fly in the fourth inning have tied the game at 1 and put runners at the corners for Nick Swisher.
UPDATE, 7:18 p.m.: Home run by Lance Berkman, who had just one homer for the Yankees in the regular season. Amazing how quiet this place got when the ball landed in the bullpens. They called it 423 feet. He got a lot of it.
UPDATE, 7:55 p.m.: Orlando Hudson’s home run has tied the game at 2, but I think the Yankees would have signed up for six innings and two runs out of Pettitte. He gave them what they needed, now the offense need another run.
UPDATE, 8:25 p.m.: Had a chance to break the game open, but the Yankees will have to settle for two runs in that seventh inning. Also, I’d say Lance Berkman finally has his defining moment as a Yankee.