The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Another young guy steals the show in Yankees camp02.28.11

Before the spring schedule started, it was Andrew Brackman who seemed to grab the attention in Yankees camp with his improved command and impressive bullpens. When the spring schedule started, it was Dellin Betances who stole the show with a three-strikeout inning in the second game. Today it was Manny Banuelos who generated some high praise from his teammates and manager, rolling through three big league hitters in a 1-2-3 inning.

“That’s what they want and I did it,” Banuelos said.

The curveball was a dominant pitch this afternoon — “That was breaking really, really good,” Banuelos said — and he used it for two strikeouts, but Banuelos also generated a ground out with his changeup, and his fastball was sitting at 93 mph.

It’s easy to see why the Yankees are excited about their Killer Bs, and it’s easy to understand why some on the outside the organization want to push those three to New York, but the Yankees aren’t going to rush. Just enjoy this for what it is: A small window into the future, and an early indication that the new Big Three just might live up to the hype.

“If they want to send me to Trenton, it’s OK, I just want to try to move up quickly,” Banuelos said. “… I just want to show all the things I can do. I want to show them I can do the work. I can do my job.”

Here’s Banuelos speaking after today’s game.

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And here are a few late-night links:

• Brian Cashman told Wally Matthews that the Yankees aren’t engaged in any trade talks. They specifically are not in talks for Francisco Liriano.

• Matt Eddy says the Yankees released Andy Sisco and then re-signed him, which sort of explains the conflicting reports about the big lefty. Sisco is certainly still in camp, and I guess that’s all that matters.

• Apparently Javier Vazquez’s fastball is at 88 mph for the Marlins. As the Yankees know, that’s actually not the worst-case scenario with him (hat tip to MLBTradeRumors).

• Speaking of former Yankees pitchers: Rule 5 pick Lance Pendleton threw a scoreless inning in an otherwise horribly pitched game for the Astros. It was Houston’s spring opener. George Kontos has not pitched in a game for the Padres, but he apparently made a solid impression in the early days of camp.

• If you want to delve into the mind of Phil Coke, here ya go. Fair warning, the mind of Phil Coke is a very random place to be.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 156 Comments →

Decisions to be named later01.26.11

When today’s guest post suggestion first popped into my email inbox, I remember immediately trying to come up with Brian Cashman’s most embarrassing prospect loss. Mike Lowell, maybe? That’s a bad one, but it also came more than a decade ago. Most recently, Ben’s right on the money: Cashman has traded away young players who became solid big leaguers, but no stars.

Giving away C.J. Henry for Bobby Abreu was a steal. So was landing Nick Swisher for a package built around Jeff Marquez. When the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez, the PTBNL was Joaquin Arias, who actually had quite a bit of prospect clout at the time. As Ed pointed out, Dioner Navarro and Brandon Claussen never developed into stars. I’ll add that neither did John-Ford Griffin, who was traded barely a year after being a first-round draft pick.

It’s hard to argue that Cashman has generally known which prospects to keep and which to trade, but to be fair, some of Cashman’s recent prospect dealing is still to be determined. Four trades that standout to me as to-be-judged-later:

July 26, 2008
Fighting to make the playoffs, Cashman made a deal with the Pirates to add outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte.
The cost: Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendrof, Jeff Karstens and Dan McCutchen

There’s no chance this trade will ever be a positive for the Yankees. They missed the playoffs in 2008, Nady was hurt in 2009 and Marte has been a disappointment (aside from the ’09 playoffs). This was a bad trade for the Yankees, the only question is how bad. It hinges on Ohlendorf to some extent — he’s proven to be a solid starter, might never step to the next level — but it mostly hinges on Tabata. Always highly touted, Tabata’s stock had taken a hit when the Yankees traded him, and he bounced back with the Pirates. Tabata hit .299/.346/.400 last season. For a Yankees team light on upper-level outfielders, he’d be a nice option in 2011.

December 8, 2009
Uncertain about Austin Jackson’s ultimate upside, the Yankees worked a three-way trade to add Curtis Granderson as a short-term and long-term solution in center field.
The cost: Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke

Whether the trade was worth it will depend on whether Granderson keeps making the strides. Whether Cashman gave up the wrong prospects will almost certainly depend on Kennedy and Jackson. There’s no question the Yankees sold low on Kennedy, who was one year removed from a brutal showing in New York, and only a few months removed from surgery. Kennedy pitched well next season, and could help in their current situation. Did the Yankees give up too soon? Jackson was a Rookie of the Year candidate, but high strikeout total and relatively low power numbers were significant reasons the Yankees were willing to lose him. There’s was never any doubt Jackson would be a solid big leaguer, the question was — and is — whether he can take the next step to become a star.

December 22, 2009
Looking to add stability to the back of the rotation, the Yankees traded for Javier Vazquez, who was coming off a career year and had always — except his one previous year in New York — been a steady source of 200-plus innings.
The cost: Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino

Short-term, the trade didn’t work especially well for either team. Dunn and Boone Logan pretty much negated one anther, while both Cabrera and Vazquez were significant disappointments. The long-term impact of this trade will depend on Vizcaino, who was considered the Yankees top lower-level pitching prospect, ranked as high as No. 3 overall in the Yankees organization by Baseball America. There’s raw talent, but Vizcaino is young enough that there’s significant risk between now and his potential big league debut. His first year with the Braves was cut short by injury, though not before he had a dominant 14-start stretch in Low A.

July 30, 2010
Needing to upgrade the bench and add some outfield depth, the Yankees made a move for fourth outfielder Austin Kearns, who was hitting .272/.354/.419 at the time in Cleveland.
The cost: Zach McAllister

Kearns was a huge asset for a brief time with the Yankees — at a time when injury meant he was a key part of the lineup — but he ultimately finished with awful numbers in New York. To get him, the Yankees gave up a starting pitcher who was having the first truly bad season of his career. McAllister had been a highly touted pitcher, one of the high points even in the Yankees deep system, but he had a 5.09 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the time of the trade. Clearly McAllister isn’t missed right now — too many other pitchers have taken significant steps forward — but if McAllister bounces back, he could certainly be a player the Yankees regret losing.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 316 Comments →

The ones who got away: The starting pitcher market01.13.11

We keep hearing — and I keep writing — that this winter’s free agent market offered very little in terms of rotation options. But just how true is that statement?

The Yankees focused on Cliff Lee and hoped that Andy Pettitte would decide to pitch again, and now that Lee is gone and Pettitte is still uncertain, there are few alternatives available. Should the Yankees have been more aggressive early? Have they missed out on legitimate pieces because of their pursuit of Lee?

Using the handy free agent tracker over at MLBTradeRumors — I prefer that one to the MLB.com version — I’ve listed every starting pitcher who has signed this winter. I’d say the idea of a thin market is absolutely accurate. This list offers very few sure things, and although hindsight is never fair, it’s worth looking back to the month and a half before Lee signed — and those frantic days when Lee was making his decision — to try to find missed opportunities. The Dodgers were the most aggressive team in the beginning of the offseason, re-signing Ted Lilly before he hit the open market and locking up two more starters before the end of November.

Off the board quickly
As you might expect, most of the early moves were re-signings.
This period covers the start of spring training through the Winter Meetings.

Hiroki Kuroda
Dodgers: 1 year, $12 million
Kuroda will be 36 this season and he’s spent his entire three-year career with the Dodgers. He’s been good for them — losing record but a 3.60 ERA and a good strikeout-to-walk ratio — and it’s hard to say whether he would have been willing to leave, especially with the Dodgers making an early push.

Jon Garland
Dodgers: 1 year, $5 million (plus vesting option)
In retrospect, this is the kind of durable starting pitcher who might have helped the back of the Yankees rotation. Nothing flashy, but Garland is consistently good for 200 innings (of course, we said the same about Javier Vazquez). His career NL ERA is 3.74. His career AL ERA is 4.47.

Jorge De La Rosa
Rockies: three years, $32 million
The Rockies had a deal to re-sign De La Rosa in place before the first of December. It was the crew at FoxSports that broke the news, and they noted that De La Rosa wanted to stay in Colorado. They also reported: “The Yankees also have checked in, as they do on most prominent free agents, but their priority is Lee.”

Jake Westbrook
Cardinals: two years, $16.5 million (plus mutual option)
The Cardinals traded for Westbrook last season, then they moved quickly to re-sign him this winter. Westbrook is a bit of an injury risk, he came back from Tommy John surgery last season and pitched well, especially after moving to the National League.

Erik Bedard
Mariners: one year, $1 million
This market has no shortage of Bedard-type starters. He’s made a total of 30 starts in the past three seasons, none of them coming in 2010. The Mariners are still hoping to get something out of him, and they moved quickly to re-sign him to a non-guaranteed deal.

Javier Vazquez
Marlins: one year, $7 million
No chance the Yankees were going to re-sign him. No chance Vazquez was going to try to come back. Best for everyone to move on, and that’s exactly what they did.

Aaron Harang
Padres: one year, $4 million (plus mutual option)
Harang is from San Diego. In the past three years, pitching in the NL Central, he’s gone 18-38 with a 4.71 ERA and a steadily increasing WHIP. If I’m the Yankees, I’d rather take my chances with Sergio Mitre, but that’s just me.

Within the Cliff Lee window
From the Winter Meetings through Lee’s signing with Philadelphia.
This seems to be when the Lee talks were at their peak.

Scott Olson
Pirates: one year, $500,000 with heavy incentives (plus club option)
Olson’s first big league season showed promise, but since then he’s been pretty bad while pitching for the Nationals and Marlins. Now it’s the Pirates who have signed him. From Florida to Washington to Pittsburgh. That says a lot.

Vicente Padilla
Dodgers: 1 year, $2 million
Early in his career, Padilla had some good years with the Phillies, but he’s since become a back-of-the-rotation starter capable of stringing together a few dominant outings. Injuries last season made him even more of a risk than usual, and the Dodgers might use him in the bullpen instead of the rotation.

Dustin Moseley
Padres: one year, $900,000
The Yankees offered Moseley a Major League deal, but he decided to shopping for a better offer and found on in San Diego, where he could land a spot in the Padres rotation. Moseley was a solid spot starter for the Yankees last season.

Kevin Correia
Pirates: two years, $8 million
News of the agreement broke on December 8. Hard to know what to expect rom Correia. He’s spent all of his career in the NL West, and his ERA has been a roller coaster the past four years, from 3.45 to 6.05 to 3.91 to 5.40.

Ryan Rowland-Smith
Astros: one year, $750,000
Last season, the young lefty won one game and had a 6.75 ERA with the Mariners. He was solid the three years before that, but he’s generally been more effective as a reliever than as a starter.

Rich Harden
Athletics: one year, $1.5 million (plus incentives)
Harden is coming off another injury plagued season that saw him pitching out of the bullpen in September. He might fall into a bullpen role again this season. When he did pitch last season, he carried a 5.58 ERA in Texas.

After Cliff Lee
Amazing how quiet the market has been since Lee came off the board.
Jeff Francis, Justin Duchscherer, Kevin Millwood and others are still out there.

Chien-Ming Wang
Nationals: one year, $1 million with heavy incentives
One day after Lee signed with the Phillies, Wang re-signed with the Nationals. You know the Wang story, so I’m not going to rehash it here. There were — and are — several Wang-type starters on the market.

Brandon Webb
Rangers: one year, $3 million (plus heavy incentives)
Webb has one big league start in the past two seasons. He was once among the best starting pitchers in the game, but reports this fall of a low-80s fastball in instructional league were not encouraging.

Brad Penny
Tigers: one year, $3 million
The most recent big league starter to come off the board, Penny is one of those risk-reward starters who have been fairly prevalent in this free agent market. He pitched well but made only nine starts last season.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 134 Comments →

Fewer missing pieces than you might expect12.24.10

On the day Cliff Lee signed with Philadelphia, Brian Cashman said this:

“We have a championship caliber team. There are areas that could be improved upon. There are players in this marketplace currently that could assist there, but will we solve all the problems that we have right now? I don’t want to mislead people and say, ‘Yeah, we’ll take care of that right now this winter.’ It doesn’t have to happen in the winter time. We have up through the summer to get everything we need necessarily fixed.”

Those words didn’t carry much weight because the Yankees seemed to have too many holes to ignore. But then again, consider the 2010 Opening Day roster. Aside from Andy Pettitte, the changes from then to now haven’t been especially significant, and most should be considered addition by subtraction. The roster concerns seem to have more to do with performance than personnel.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballLineup
Derek Jeter SS
Still with the team. This time he’s coming off the worst season of his career, not a near MVP season.

Nick Johnson DH
Gone. He had 12 hits last year.

Mark Teixeira 1B
Still with the team. A model of consistency the previous six years, last season he slugged below .500 for the first time since he was a rookie.

Alex Rodriguez 3B
Still with the team. Had 125 RBI in a down year.

Robinson Cano 2B
Still with the team. Emerged as one of the game’s elite players.

Jorge Posada C
Still with the team. Nagging injuries took their toll last season. This time he’ll be the primary designated hitter.

Curtis Granderson CF
Still with the team. Made significant improvements down the stretch last season.

Nick Swisher RF
Still with the team. Finally had an all-star season and moved up from the No. 8 hole.

Brett Gardner LF
Still with the team. A complete unknown at this time last year.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballBench
Francisco Cervelli C
Still with the team. Likely to return to the exact same role as last season.

Ramiro Pena INF
Still with the team. Could return to the utility role. Could be replaced by Eduardo Nunez or an outside candidate.

Marcus Thames OF
Gone. Wasn’t with the Yankees at this time last year. Didn’t sign until just before spring training.

Randy Winn OF
Gone. Also wasn’t with the team at this time last year. Brian Cashman tried to buy low, but Winn made 16 starts before being designated for assignment.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballRotation
CC Sabathia LHP
Still with the team.
Still at the top of the rotation. Still a Cy Young candidate.

A.J. Burnett RHP
Still with the team. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine he could be any worse than he was last season.

Andy Pettitte LHP
Unknown. While he’s considering retirement, he’s also considered the rotation’s most significant missing piece. Injury limited him to 21 starts last season.

Javier Vazquez RHP
Gone. Last winter’s big rotation addition managed 26 largely forgettable starts.

Phil Hughes RHP
Still with the team. And this time he doesn’t have to fight for a spot in spring training.

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball

Bullpen
Mariano Rivera RHP
Still with the team. Same as always. Age would be a factor if he were anyone but Mo.

Joba Chamberlain RHP
Still with the team. Not fighting for a rotation spot this time.

Dave Robertson RHP
Still with the team. Had a 2.27 ERA and held opponents to a .207 batting average in the second half last season.

Damaso Marte LHP
Injured. Likely to miss all season. Essentially replaced by Pedro Feleciano.

Chan Ho Park RHP
Gone. Wasn’t with the team at this time last year. Allowed one more hit than Rivera, despite pitching fewer than half of the games.

Alfredo Aceves RHP
Gone. Non-tendered after missing almost all year with a back injury. Pitched in 10 games last season.

Sergio Mitre RHP
Still with the team.
Actually coming off a pretty solid season, in a much better spot than at this time last year.

Associated Press photos of Jeter, Cervelli, Sabathia and Rivera

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 74 Comments →

A year of trades for the Yankees12.23.10

One year and one day after last winter’s trade for a Javier Vazquez, a look back at the Yankees trades from December to December.

PH2009120703823December 7, 2009
RHP Brian Bruney to the Nationals for OF Jamie Hoffmann
Why? Because Bruney was due for an arbitration raise and the Yankees outfield depth was woefully low.
Good move? Didn’t really matter. Bruney probably would have been non-tendered anyway, and the Yankees at least got to take a look at a guy who’s now on the Dodgers 40-man roster. No harm done. Hoffmann was a Rule 5 pick who didn’t stick. Bruney was a reliever on his way out.

December 8, 2010
RHP Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, LHP Phil Coke and CF Austin Jackson to the Tigers for CF Curtis Granderson
Why? Because the Yankees were worried about Jackson’s holes and didn’t have a spot for Kennedy. In Granderson, they seemed to be getting a proven player who basically represented Jackson’s best-case scenario.
Good move? Little too early to say. Jackson, Coke and Kennedy each had good years, but Jackson showed the holes that the Yankees expected — a ton of strikeouts, not much power — and Kennedy might have benefited from the change of scenery. If Granderson continues the strides he made in the second half of last season, he’ll be better than any of the three players the Yankees sacrificed to get him.

Rangers Yankees BaseballDecember 22, 2009
CF Melky Cabrera, LHP Mike Dunn and RHP Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for RHP Javier Vazquez and LHP Boone Logan
Why?
Because the Yankees needed consistency and durability at the back of the rotation, and those had been trademarks of Vazquez for 10 years.
Good move? No. Vazquez was a complete disappointment, but Cabrera wasn’t very good either, and Logan for Dunn was basically a wash. This seemed to be a big trade, but in the end, the left-handed relievers were the best pieces. Even Vizcaino took a step back, making only 17 starts because of a torn ligament. The Yankees got a compensation pick when Vazquez signed the Florida, so that helps make up for the loss of a very young prospect.

January 26, 2010
INF Mitch Hilligoss to the Rangers for OF Greg Golson
Why? Because the Yankees needed outfield depth much more than infield depth.
Good move? Sure. Hilligoss had a nice year — .296/.365/.370 between High-A and Double-A — but Golson played a role in New York, and he should be around to do the same next season whenever the Yankees need him. Hilligoss would still be no higher than fourth or fifth on the utility depth chart. Golson is probably at the top of the outfield call-up list.

March 9, 2010
RHP Edwar Ramirez to the Rangers for cash considerations
Why? Because Ramirez had been designated for assignment to make room for Chan Ho Park.
Good move? At least they got something for him. Ramirez actually didn’t do much more than Park. He was ultimately traded to the A’s, pitched 11 innings in the big leagues and he’s now floating through free agency, probably destined for a minor league deal somewhere.

ALCS Yankees Rangers BaseballJuly 30, 2010
RHP Zach McAllister to the Indians for OF Austin Kearns
Why? Because McAllister was quickly becoming overshadowed in Triple-A, Kearns was hitting pretty well in Cleveland and the Yankees needed a right-handed fourth outfielder.
Good move?
Looked good for a little while, but ultimately no. Through his first 17 games with the Yankees, Kearns hit .275/.373/.451 and was especially helpful during that August road trip through Texas and Kansas City, but he was dreadful in September. McAllister didn’t pitch any better for Triple-A Columbus than he had for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he was passed by a ton of talent coming through the Yankees system, but it wasn’t worth losing him for three good weeks from Kearns.

July 31, 2010
RHP Mark Melancon and INF Jimmy Paredes to the Astros for DH Lance Berkman
Why?
Because the Yankees needed to created a platoon at designated hitter, and Berkman gave them someone who could legitimately hit lefties. Melancon’s time and come and gone, and Paredes was an afterthought in the Yankees system.
Good move? Yes. Berkman got off to a slow start, but when he came off the disabled list he hit .299/.405/.388 through the month of September, and he was better than most of the Yankees hitters in the playoffs. I’m one of the few Melancon believer still out there, but he had his chances to prove himself in New York and never did. Unless Paredes significantly exceeds expectations, this will have been a worthwhile trade.

July 31, 2010
INF Matt Cusick and RHP Andrew Shive to the Indians for RHP Kerry Wood
Why? Because the Yankees had a chance to solidify the bullpen without losing any key pieces of the farm system.
Good move? You bet. No offense to Cusick and Shive, but they were pretty far off the prospect radar in the Yankees system. Wood, meanwhile, seemed to magically bring the bullpen together to make it one of the Yankees absolute strengths down the stretch. If the Yankees had continued their playoff run, the Wood trade would have been considered one of the great turning points of the season.

November 18, 2010
1B Juan Miranda to the Diamondbacks for RHP Scottie Allen
Why?
Because Miranda is out of options and had no spot on the big league roster.
Good move? Sure. It’s too early to know whether Allen will turn into anything of value — he’s not even 20 years old yet — but Miranda was completely expendable. With Jorge Posada ready to get most of the DH at-bats and Mark Teixeira entrenched at first base, Miranda had no place in the organization and it was best for everyone involved to send him elsewhere and get something in return.

Associated Press photos of Bruney, Cabrera and Kearns

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 297 Comments →

Quiet days and long nights12.21.10

One year ago, December 21 began as fairly routine offseason day. It had been a week since the Roy Halladay trade to the Phillies, and believe it or not, it was somewhat blogworthy news that Jason Marquis had signed with the Nationals. The Yankees were known to be looking for back-of-the-rotation help, and Marquis seemed to be an extremely remote possibility.

It was a day like any other, but by the end of it, there was chaos.

I’m sure you remember it well: It started with vague reports that the Yankees were working on a trade for a starter. Problem was, no one seemed to know the name of the pitcher or even the name of the other team. There was wild speculation until at last Javier Vazquez’s name emerged.

What I remember about that night is that I had moved to New York a little more than a month earlier, and I’d left a lot of friends behind. When all was quiet into the late afternoon, I decided to make a late trip to Scranton to see everyone.

The timing, as you can imagine, could not have been worse.

The lesson, as you can guess, was rather simple: Even on the quiet days, there’s always a chance the Yankees are ready to make some noise.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 240 Comments →

Report: Javier Vazquez signs with Florida11.28.10

After his disappointing return to New York, Javier Vazquez has found his way back to the National League.

Vazquez has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Florida Marlins. The Yankees will get a compensation draft pick.

No need to rehash Vazquez’s entire 2010 season. The beginning was bad, and the end was worse, but there was one stretch — just before the all-star break — when it seemed Vazquez was going to be exactly what the Yankees envisioned. He was winning games and giving the Yankees consistent starts.

Obviously the Marlins are hoping for that sort of performance. Vazquez is far from a sure thing, but a one-year deal minimizes the risk and the Marlins will take their chances on a bounce-back season. Most reports indicate Vazquez was specifically looking for a one-year contract, wanting to evaluate his career year-by-year at this point.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 115 Comments →

Yankees offer arbitration to only Javy Vazquez11.23.10

Yankees Rangers BaseballBrian Cashman has said the Yankees will offer arbitration to only one of their Type A-B free agents.

Javier Vazquez will be offered arbitration. No one else.

The plan would be extraordinarily risky, but Ken Rosenthal reported this afternoon that the Yankees have already been assured that Vazquez will turn down the offer. If he were to accept, Vazquez would be in for a hefty payday on a one-year deal. If he declines, Vazquez will land the Yankees a compensation draft pick. He’s a Type B free agent, and already the Nationals and Marlins seem to be showing interest.

The Yankees elected not to offer arbitration to any of their other compensation-eligible free agents: Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Lance Berkman or Kerry Wood.

There was initially a report that Wood would be offered, but the Yankees already refused an option in his contract, and arbitration would have amounted to roughly the same thing. There was never much reason to expect an arbitration offer for either Berkman or Pettitte.

As for Jeter and Rivera: A one-year deal does not seem to be a bad scenario for the Yankees, but those would be for substantial money, and it seems the Yankees aren’t willing to risk that sort of payment, even on a one-year deal.

UPDATE, 6:57 p.m.: For the record, the Yankees also declined to offer arbitration to Austin Kearns, Nick Johnson, Chad Moeller and Marcus Thames.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 225 Comments →

Not such a good fit10.31.10

If there’s going to be a list of the year’s best Yankees costumes, there has to be a list of the worst.

White Sox Yankees BaseballNick Johnson
as Johnny Damon
The Yankees tried to bring Damon back, but Damon turned them down. Ultimately, the Yankees settled for Johnson, trusting that his uncanny knack for getting on base would fit well ahead of their powerful three and four hitters. It made sense – even in an awful partial season he had a .388 OBP – but Johnson does one other thing uncannily well: He gets hurt. Ultimately, he was absolutely no help.

Chan Ho Park
as Alfredo Aceves
Aceves is a hybrid reliever, the kind who can fit into a crucial late-inning spot when needed, or can give multiple innings of dependable relief, seeting the stage for a potential comeback. The Yankees never had that kind of reliever this season. They thought they found a similar guy in Park, who they picked of the scrap heap at the beginning of spring training. After 27 appearances and 22 earned run, Park was sent packing.

Javier Vazquez
as Javier Vazquez
The Yankees were counting on one thing about Vazquez: Consistency. This time around, they weren’t asking him to lead a rotation, or even to pitch in the top half of the rotation. He was supposed to be a stabilizing force at the back end, something he had proven capable of doing time and time again in his career. Nothing flashy, just reliable starts every fifth day. Vazquez couldn’t do it, and the Yankees were once again left searching for spot starters.

Mark Melancon
as Dave Robertson
I realize there’s very little evidence that this is true, but I honestly believe Melancon is going to be a good Major League pitcher. I saw too many good things from him in Triple-A to believe he’s always going to struggle this much at this level. But the fact is, he never took that next step – the one Robertson made last year – in New York. I think it will happen in Houston, but it never happened here.

Associated Press photo of Johnson with Derek Jeter

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Burnett: “It would be silly for Hughesy not to start”10.05.10

photo

The Yankees have arrived at Target Field. The workout just started here in Minnesota, and our own Sam Borden is playing the part of photographer. The clubhouse was open to the media for a little more than half an hour before the players took the field.

In that time, most of the focus was on what’s not going to happen in the Division Series. Javier Vazquez is not going to be on the roster, and A.J. Burnett is not lined up to make a start. Burnett will be in the bullpen while CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes fill the rotation.

“Those three have been our horses all year,” Burnett said. “It would be silly for Hughesy not to start.”

As you might expect, both Burnett and Vazquez said they were disappointed but not surprised. Burnett obviously could still play a role this postseason, especially beyond this series. We’ve seen in the past that some managers, when they’ve made decisions like this one, have lost the player. Some players feel slighted, not taken care of.

“Joe’s the best manager I ever played for,” Burnett said. “He’s done more for me this year probably than any manager has ever done. He cares about me as a person and as a player. I’ll be down in that pen and be ready to get one out or two outs or whatever I’ve got to do for him.”

• There might be more, but I saw three non-roster players still with the team here in Minneapolis: Vazquez, Chad Gaudin and Chad Moeller.

• Vazquez on being left off the roster: “It’s nobody’s fault. It’s my fault.” Vazquez said he was only told that he won’t be on the Division Series roster. He’s still holding out some hope that he might eventually be active for a series.

• Hughes said he threw a bullpen on Sunday and he’ll throw another either tomorrow or Thursday. “I feel like that inning in Fenway helped,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be ready when the time comes.”

• The bubble players found out whether they made the roster on Saturday. Vazquez said Girardi called to give him the news.

• Brian Cashman is here. Butch Wynegar is also still here. Last I knew, he was fully expecting to go home after the Boston series.

• Girardi is addressing the media after the workout, so we should have more notes whenever the Yankees finish taking batting practice.

• Just to kind of set the scene right now: Alex Rodriguez just finished taking ground balls at third. Ramiro Pena was working on turning double plays at second, now he’s taking balls at third base. Curtis Granderson is in center and Brett Gardner is in left, both taking turns fielding bouncing balls in the outfield grass and throwing to a cutoff man behind second.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 140 Comments →

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