Yankees give back, plus some notes and links • 12.17.10
Good work by the Yankees, who hosted their Bronx Winter Wonderland event this afternoon in the Great Hall of Yankee Stadium. The team gave toys to approximately 5,000 children from the Bronx community. The event also included food, plenty of Christmas decorations and caroling from the Bronx-based Renaissance EMS (Education through Music and Sports). Mattel donated 2,000 toys, and the Yankees spent $25,000 on additional toys for the kids.
Good stuff. And on to some notes and links for the day.
• Zack Greinke apparently wants out of Kansas City. FOX Sports reports that he’s asked the Royals to trade him, and the Royals have discussed trade possibilities with multiple teams. Today Greinke also changed agents, signing with Casey Close, who represents Derek Jeter.
• Chad Gaudin has landed with the Nationals, agreeing to a minor league deal.
• Apparently the trade between the Padres and Rays is back on. Jason Bartlett being traded to San Diego was reported during the Winter Meetings, but getting it finalized took a while.
• The top position player still on the market is Adrian Beltre, and the Angels have reportedly made a “significant” offer.
• Kerry Wood’s signing is official, and he acknowledged that his offseason was all about rejoining the Cubs. “It’s never been about the money,” Wood said. “It’s about being home and being here at Wrigley, which is home for me.”
Pregame notes: Adjusting on the fly • 09.26.10
In the early innings of yesterday’s game, Dustin Moseley was in the Yankees clubhouse, not an unusual place for the next day’s starting pitcher to be. He had no idea the Yankees coaching staff was looking for him, and he was initially caught a little off guard when they found him and told him to get his cleats on and get to the bullpen. If necessary, the Yankees were going to use him in long relief.
“I’m a realist. I see what’s going on,” Moseley said. “We just have to win some ball games. For the move they made, being a realist, I understand that. You’ve got to go with your guy. We’ve got to win and Phil’s been starting all year long and doing a great job.”
The decision was made yesterday, and Hughes was told last night. He’d thrown his regular bullpen and done his normal flat ground work. He was prepared to make today’s start, just didn’t know he was actually going to make it until a little less than 24 hours ago.
“We wouldn’t have prepared him for this if we didn’t think it was a possibility that he would pitch,” Joe Girardi said. “Usually if we give guys time off, we give them (full) time off.”
Girardi said there were two factors in today’s decision: One was the state of the bullpen, and the other was the state of the wild card.
“We’ve used pretty much every long guy that we’ve had in the last three or four days,” Girardi said. “I couldn’t envision Hughesy being the long guy and Dustin starting… We’ve been going at it hard here, and sometimes it’s hard when your starters don’t give you any distance. All of a sudden you’re using your bullpen a little bit different that day (and) when you do it four days in a row, things can get a little bit messed up.”
A win tonight — against the team that’s chasing them in the wild card — would cut the Yankees magic number to one with six games to play.
“That’s one of the factors that we look at, sure,” Girardi said. “My job is to make decisions with the information that I have. People are going to look at it the way they want to. We’ve been trying to win games, trying to win our division and trying to win home field advantage. We haven’t stopped doing that.”
• Girardi wouldn’t say whether this will be Hughes final appearance of the regular season. “We will see,” was his answer to the question. “My job is to manage his innings and we’ve been doing that all year long,” Girardi said. “It’s something we talk about on a fairly regular basis. I just felt that where we were today, today was the right day to start him.”
• For now, the Yankees rotation in Toronto will be A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. That does not seem to lineup Sabathia for a Game 1 start in the division series.
• I sit next to Mark Feinsand for nearly every home game. I’m positive CC Sabathia told Mark that he was starting on Friday, not Tuesday. Girardi, however, said he never told Sabathia that the rotation was going to change. “We told him he was on rotation as long as we need to keep it,” Girardi said.
• That said, don’t be surprised if the rotation changes again in the next 48 hours, especially if the Yankees clinch. “Then we’ll look at it and see what’s best for us,” Girardi said. “But the point is that we have to get in first. We have to win ball games and play better.”
• Yankees relievers who have not been used at least one of the past two days: Mariano Rivera, Dave Robertson, Javier Vazquez and Andrew Brackman. Robertson and Brackman have each been up in the bullpen.
• Just a guess, but the Yankees seem to be saving Vazquez to start if/when they’re ready to realign the rotation for the playoffs.
Marco Scutaro 2B
J.D. Drew RF
Victor Martinez C
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jed Lowrie SS
Ryan Kalish CF
Bill Hall LF
Lars Anderson 1B
Associated Press photos of Hughes and Chad Gaudin
Who’s next in the Yankees bullpen? • 09.22.10
Joe Girardi has clearly found comfort in his late-inning relievers.
Since the all-star break, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and and Dave Robertson have earned Girardi trust. Mariano Rivera earned that trust a long time, and Kerry Wood has been as reliable as anyone on the staff since coming over at the trade deadline. Those are Girardi’s go-to guys, and they’ll remain his go-to guys in the playoffs.
But there is value in bullpen depth, and right now it’s hard to say who the Yankees sixth reliever would be in the playoffs, much less the seventh. Last year, Girardi used seven different relievers more than once in the ALCS. He used six different relievers more than once — and eight relievers overall — in the World Series. And that was with a schedule that let the Yankees use only three starters.
It could be that Girardi already has a good idea who he wants to carry in the postseason, but if he’s still trying to decide, there hasn’t been a lot of evidence in the past few weeks.
• Javier Vazquez, a big offseason addition who was looking like a reliable starter at the all-star break, pitched last night for the first time in 11 days.
• Sergio Mitre, who has a .205 opponents average as a reliever this season, has thrown six pitches since September 5.
• Dustin Moseley, who was a regular starter for more than a month, had a pretty good spot start last Sunday and hasn’t pitched since.
• Royce Ring, the team’s only option as a second lefty in the bullpen, hasn’t pitched since joining the team last week in Tampa Bay.
• Jonathan Albaladejo, who was positively dominant in Triple-A this season, has hardly gotten a look at any point this season. Ditto Romulo Sanchez.
• Chad Gaudin, who actually has become something of a go-to guy lately, went through all of June and July pitching only once when a game was within three runs. And that was in the 14th inning.
Associated Press photo of Chamberlain
Andy Pettitte doesn’t know when exactly he’ll throw his next bullpen. He doesn’t know when he’ll finally face hitters, and he’s not sure how well his arm will bounce back from today’s bullpen session. Taking an absolute guess, Pettitte said he could be back in two weeks at the earliest.
“That would be real quick,” he said.
Joe Girardi thought that guess was a good one.
“That sounds about right,” Girardi said. “As long as we don’t have any setbacks, that’s realistic.”
Assuming he feels good tomorrow, Pettitte’s next bullpen will come either Tuesday or Wednesday. It was obvious from Pettitte’s tone this morning that he feels much better than he did on Friday, and Girardi seemed similarly encouraged.
As for how long Pettitte rehabs, Girardi said he might not get fully stretched out in the minor leagues.
“It might be a situation where we’re not asking you to go 100 pitches your first start back with us,” Girardi said. “Give us 75 or 80, and we’ll see where we are. We’re probably going to have to build him up here a little bit. There might come a point where it’s hard to find games for him to pitch in except up here.”
Here’s Pettitte speaking before the game.
• Without Mark Teixeira in the lineup, Nick Swisher will make his first start of the year in the No. 3 spot.
• Lance Berkman just ran the bases a little bit. Assuming that went well and his ankle felt strong, he’ll begin a rehab assignment with Trenton tomorrow. “We’ll watch carefully to see if he’s favoring it or if he feels OK,” Girardi said. “And then how it feels tomorrow.”
• As long as he’s healthy, Berkman won’t need many minor league at-bats. “I don’t anticipate he’ll need a ton, but you just have to see how it goes,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said he’d have to check with Javier Vazquez to make sure he’s available tonight. Asked who his long man would be, Girardi’s first response was Chad Gaudin. At least, I assume that’s who he meant. “Chad’s available to do that,” Girardi said. Obviously, I was flattered.
• The Yankees seem excited about Ivan Nova’s potential. They liked what they saw last time, and think his breaking ball can be better. “I think we all remember what it’s like to start our first game, and the feelings you have and the emotions you have,” Girardi said. “We saw his curveball get better as the game went on. Could that be because he was too hyped up? Maybe. We think he can be better.”
• Looking ahead two weeks to the Andy Pettitte best-case scenario: The Yankees will be wrapping up a series in Texas and about to begin a series in Tampa Bay. Those would seem to be tough games for a 75-pitch starter who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues in two months. In two and a half weeks, the Yankees are in Baltimore. Would that make more sense? I don’t know. Maybe.
• Frank Thomas is having his number retired before today’s game. “Extremely selective hitter that was very productive,” Girardi said. “Dangerous. Dangerous. Dangerous. Batting champ. Drove in a ton of runs. He was a great player.”
Associated Press photos of Pettitte and Teixeira
It’s always hard to know how much to believe when a manager or general manager talks about trades or waiver claims or any sort of potential player move. For whatever it’s worth, though, Joe Girardi said this afternoon that he’s not expecting to add to his rotation options.
“I have not heard anything,” Girardi said. “I know Brian (Cashman) has stated this is what we’re going with, and that’s what I assume.”
Girardi said he’s made no decisions in the past 20 hours or so. He’s still planning to evaluation his rotation after the weekend, and at that point he might make changes. “Right now the rotation is what it is,” he said. Barring some sort of drastic change and significant surprise, Dustin Moseley will start Monday’s game at Yankee Stadium.
“These guys have done it,” Girardi said. “They’ve done it through the course of the season. Right now Andy is hurt, (but) we feel he’s making progress. You can’t always evaluate everything when you’re in a bit of a struggle. You have to evaluate in good times and in bad times, and we believe the arms are there to get this done. We just have to get it done.”
If the Yankees wanted to make a change, Girardi said Javier Vazquez is still 100 percent stretched out. One week in the bullpen has changed nothing with his pitch count. Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin could each go about 75 pitches, “but it would be 65 through 75 that you’d start to worry their stuff might drop off,” Girardi said.
If there are changes coming, Girardi either hasn’t settled upon them or isn’t ready to announce them. Either way, there’s little to do but wait and see.
• Alex Rodriguez is supposed to start hitting on Monday. Probably some swings in the cage and maybe some early batting practice on the field.
• Lance Berkman will try to run tomorrow. If that goes well, he could begin a rehab assignment on Monday.
• Speaking of rehabs on Monday, Alfredo Aceves will make another rehab appearance on Monday. The reports last night, Girardi said, weren’t good. “The numbers weren’t great,” he said. “He was up in the zone. He wasn’t sharp, they said.”
• Third base has become something of a platoon, with Eduardo Nunez starting against lefties and Ramiro Pena starting against righties. “We’ll continue to probably do that a little bit,” Girardi said.
• Andy Pettitte will throw another bullpen tomorrow. It should be around 30 pitches, at “a little bit” more intensity, Girardi said.
• Ivan Nova said he doesn’t know anything about reports of an MLB investigation into whether he injected B-12 last year in Trenton. “We’re unaware of any investigation,” Girardi said. “But we talked to him yesterday just to say you might be asked about it. I feel that his head will be in the right spot (tomorrow).”
Associated Press photos of Girardi and Rodriguez
Clearly a lack of zip on the fastball makes things worse, but Javier Vazquez said the same thing today that he said yesterday: It’s his location, not his velocity, that’s causing most of his problems. I don’t remember him sounding more frustrated.
“It’s my command right now,” he said. “Falling behind in the count. When that happens, you’re going to have bad games.”
The first Ichiro Suzuki home run was a 2-0 pitch. The Russell Branyon monster into the fourth deck was a 3-1 pitch. The second Ichiro home was a 1-0 changeup. When Vazquez allowed four straight batters to reach base in the third inning, the counts were 2-1, 1-1, 1-0 and 3-2 (after falling behind 3-1 on three straight balls).
“I feel better than I did at the beginning of the season,” Vazquez said. “I’m just not making good pitches, and I’m falling behind a lot.”
For now, the Yankees say Ivan Nova is joining the rotation to give all five starters an extended rest, but Thursday’s off day was going to do that anyway. Can’t help but wonder if Nova might also be coming up to limit Phil Hughes’ innings or to audition for Dustin Moseley’s role or to serve as an alternative to Vazquez.
The Yankees have said none of those things — and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think Moseley has done anything to lose his spot — but it’s easy to make that sort of speculation, especially after an outing like this.
“At times, (Vazquez’s) first couple of fastballs in an inning are slower than others,” Joe Girardi said. “It seems maybe it just takes him a little bit to get going. I’m sure part of it is just feeling like you’re going to make that pitch, and you have conviction in that pitch. But when he was winning games, he was throwing fastballs at those velocities the first pitch of an inning too. It’s just right now he’s a little off.”
• The championship belt went to Eduardo Nunez, but the start of the game was probably Chad Gaudin, who pitched two innings yesterday but was strong enough for three scoreless today. “It’s a gutsy performance by Chad,” Girardi said. “The big thing in these two days was he didn’t throw a lot of pitches yesterday, and he didn’t throw a lot of pitches today. He threw a lot of strikes. He was ahead in the count.”
• Good day for the bullpen as a whole, even with Mariano Rivera allowing a meaningless run in the ninth. Boone Logan had a scoreless inning, and Dave Robertson got the first two outs in the eight on strikeouts. Robertson hasn’t allowed a run in 19 straight appearances. “We, as a whole, are doing well,” Gaudin said. “We accept the responsibility and are accountable for what our spots are. That’s why we’ve been successful.”
• Girardi didn’t go into much detail about why he went to Rivera in the eighth or left him in for the ninth. “We talked about the situation and if we got in that certain situation, I was going to go to Mo,” he said. And that’s all he said about the decision.
• This was Rivera’s 25th save. He has reached that number in 14 straight years, passing Lee Smith for the most consecutive 25-save seasons since saves became an official stat in 1969. This was his first save of more than one inning this year.
• What changed about Alex Rodriguez’s status between pregame and postgame? “It was a discussion with (Brian Cashman),” Girardi said. “Alex was not here yet when I met with you (this morning). It was a discussion that Cash and I had. Cash talked to the doctors and trainers. We just all felt that it’s probably in the best interest to put him on the DL.”
• For now, there are no plans to call-up another third baseman. It’s Nunez and Ramiro Pena filling the hole. “Both of those guys have done a pretty good job filling in,” Girardi said.
• Mark Teixeira on realizing Rodriguez might be out longer than a few days: “When you take a few days off and it’s not better, then there’s something wrong there. Alex plays through a lot, so for him to not be able to play through this, we knew something was wrong.”
• Branyan became the first player to hit a home run into the upper deck at the current Yankee Stadium. He is also the only player to hit the glass of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field.
• The Yankees are 16-4 in games immediately following a shutout.
• Logan has retired 30 of the past 36 batters he faced. He has retired 23 of the past 25 lefties. This was his first win as a Yankee.
• Austin Kearns extended his hitting streak to 10 games, a season-high for him. This is his longest hitting streak since a 16-game streak in 2003.
• Casey Kotchman’s error in the eighth broke a streak of 274 errorless games at first base, an all-time major league record.
• Don’t forget you can always check out pictures in our online Yankees photo gallery, updated daily.
Associated Press photos of Vazquez, Nunez and Jeter
The back-up plan • 08.18.10
The MRI machine didn’t bring much good news for the Yankees on Tuesday.
Although Alex Rodriguez said it could have been worse, his test revealed a mild strain of his left calf. He wasn’t able to play last night, and as Brian reported last night, he’s expected to miss at least a few more games.
Although Andy Pettitte seemed to be working toward a rehab start, his MRI showed a strain of his left groin that will keep him out until September.
So the Yankees will have to continue with their back-up plans for a little longer. These are the alternatives.
Right now it’s Ramiro Pena’s job. He doesn’t hit much, but his glove is outstanding and he’s actually had a knack for producing when given the opportunity. The Yankees have been willing to stick with him all season, and I’m not sure there’s reason to believe they would change course because of an injury that’s only supposed to cost Rodriguez a few days. But there are some options.
Brandon Laird: One of the season’s breakout prospects, Laird jumped to Triple-A at the beginning of August. He was in big league camp this spring, and he needs to be added to the 40-man this winter to be protected him from the Rule 5.
Kevin Russo: Already on the 40-man. Left a good reputation in New York. Hitting .284 this month in Triple-A.
Eduardo Nunez: On the 40-man without good Triple-A numbers all year. He’s primarily a shortstop, but the Yankees have given him starts at third base to increase his versatility.
Jorge Vazquez: Has 13 home runs in 57 Triple-A games. He’s also walked just seven times and hasn’t played third base since July 5.
Greg Dobbs: Or any other major league third baseman who’s been designated for assignment. That includes guys like Craig Counsell, Edwin Encarnacion and Geoff Blum. Brian Cashman said he doesn’t expect to make a move — and in this case I believe him — but there are some options out there.
For now it’s Dustin Moseley’s spot, and he’s pitched pretty well despite that bad inning in Kansas City. He’s 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA as a spot starter. Last time he pitched at Yankee Stadium he beat the Red Sox and got a standing ovation. But the Yankees have plenty of alternatives who could get a shot between now and Pettitte’s return.
Ivan Nova: Having a terrific season as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s ace, Nova is 11-3 with a 2.93 ERA. He went 5-0 in July and has a 2.41 ERA in his past 10 starts. He’s on the exact same schedule as Moseley, and last time out he allowed one hit through seven innings. Pitched well in limited big league duty earlier this season.
Alfredo Aceves: Joe Girardi previously said the Yankees only wanted to get Aceves stretched out to around 40 pitches, but he also said the return of Aceves could be based on need. With a couple more rehab starts, they could get him stretched out as a starter.
Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre: The two long relievers in the Yankees bullpen could be moved into the rotation if necessary. Seems more likely that the Yankees would stick with Moseley, but Gaudin and Mitre have pitched pretty well in their bullpen roles and both were trusted with starts late last season.
David Phelps: With Jason Hirsh on the disabled list, Phelps is probably the second-best Triple-A starter right now, but it’s hard to imagine any minor leaguer getting the call ahead of Nova.
Joba: “We understood we had to get better” • 08.14.10
Late last night and into the early hours of this morning, the Yankees needed a run more than anything else. They never got one, and that was the difference in the game.
But the bullpen gave them every possible chance.
I’ve written it before, but it seems more and more true every day: The Yankees bullpen has really become a strength.
Mariano Rivera can put the go-ahead run at third base and retire three all-stars in a row. Dave Robertson can struggle out of the gate, battle through a tough at-bat and get a strikeout to close out a win. Chad Guadin, Kerry Wood, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain can combine for 3.2 hitless innings after more than two hours of rain.
“We just take pride,” Chamberlain said. “We understood we had to get better, and that was from top to bottom. Having Mo out there as our leader, it’s great. I think bringing Woody in, the fact he’s been there and he’s done that, it kind of gives us a different perspective of success and understanding how to do things and handle it the right way.”
It’s hard to say it was absolutely Wood who made the difference — Robertson had been awfully good before Wood showed up, Logan had been terrific since the all-star break — but it must be hard for him to believe that this team really needed relief help at the trade deadline. He’s seen these guys pitch very, very well.
“You start feeding off each other,” Wood said. “That’s when things kind of click and come together. I think we all know we’re throwing the ball pretty well right now. We just try to feed off each other and pick the next guy up when you go in. Just go out and put up zeroes. Just try to keep it as simple as we can.”
Associated Press photo of Wood
Pregame notes: Nothing out of the ordinary • 07.28.10
Jorge Posada said this afternoon that his left knee has been bothering him since 2006. He has a cyst behind his knee, and late in the season, it starts to get stiff from time to time.
“It just comes and goes,” Posada said. “There’s not a specific that I do. I have to just keep treating it for now.”
Asked when he last felt it, Posada said simply. “It’s been there.” It happened to bark a little more than usual yesterday, and so he took the night off. Tonight he’s back in the lineup at designated hitter, and there seems to be a solid chance he’ll be able to catch tomorrow.
“I thought we had a pretty good rotation going there,” Joe Girardi said. “He was pretty much catching three out of the five guys, and then DHing on the other days. I’d like to get back to that. I just think of this as something we’ll have to deal with for a couple of days and then it’ll settle down to where it’s more manageable.”
• Seventy-one hours before Saturday’s trade deadline, Joe Girardi said his day-to-day interactions with general manager Brian Cashman have not changed. “It’s pretty normal for me to talk to him a couple of times a day anyway,” Girardi said. “I’m not really talking to him any more now than I normally would. I’m sure if something heated up, it might become more.”
• Alfredo Aceves said he felt good today, and the Yankees are prepared for him to throw another bullpen on Friday. “When we get through Friday we’ll see where we’re at,” Girardi said. “If Friday goes good, we could be looking at pushing this along a little bit more than just bullpens.”
• Rain is possible tonight in Cleveland, though Girardi said he was told it’s more likely to come between now and first pitch. Sergio Mitre is available out of the bullpen, as is Chad Gaudin, to pitch multiple innings if there’s a delay.
• Of course, the last time A.J. Burnett started, his outing was cut short by rain. “I liked what I saw,” Girardi said. “He got a lot of ground ball outs. He was ahead in the count. His curveball was good. His fastball had good location. Just needs to come out and do it again.”
• One more answer from Girardi about how he plans to use Joba Chamberlain: “Do I have a theory set in stone? No I don’t. I’ll look things over and make a decision.”
• Damaso Marte is scheduled to play catch again, but he’s not ready for a bullpen session.
• Girardi said he expects to DH Alex Rodriguez before the end of this road trip, but he doesn’t expect him to need a full day off.
• Someone asked Girardi if he pays attention to trade rumors. “I get my rumors from Brian,” he said. Pretty solid source.
UPDATE, 6:08 p.m.: Here’s the Cleveland lineup. By the way, the tarp is coming back on the field. Based on the clouds that just rolled in, we’re all going to die. Mark Feinsand just said it looks like Independence Day, and he’s right.
UPDATE, 6:22 p.m.: For the second time in a week, the Yankees are facing a team that has suddenly traded its starting third baseman just before game time. The Indians just sent Jhonny Peralta to the Tigers.
UPDATE, 6:33 p.m.: Here’s the new Indians lineup.
Trevor Crowe CF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Carlos Santana C
Travis Hafner DH
Austin Kearns LF
Matt LaPorta 1B
Andy Marte 3B
Jason Donald 2B
Associated Press photos of Posada and the Yankees dugout, with Chamberlain and — I believe — Robertson sitting at the top.
Do the Yankees need a reliever? • 06.17.10
Wondering outloud is rarely a good idea in the morning, but here we go…
Boone Logan gave the Yankees all they could have asked for last night. He faced a Phillies lineup that spent the first three-plus innings teeing off on A.J. Burnett, and Logan held them hitless through two and two-thirds. He walked one, struck out three and at the very least gave the Yankees a chance to come back.
But I can’t help wondering if Logan might be on his way back to Triple-A.
No one has told me that a move is coming, but 33 pitches means Logan won’t be available for at least a day. After tonight’s game, the Mets will come to the Bronx with only one significant left-handed threat (Ike Davis). Chad Gaudin was also burned out last night — three hitless innings — so it might make sense to swap Logan for a long man.
Romulo Sanchez hasn’t pitched for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since Monday, and both Mark Melancon and Jonathan Albaladejo would be available if the Yankees wanted a guy for an inning or two.
Just a thought.