A few links on a Saturday night • 11.27.10
Just a few links and notes from this chilly Saturday.
• Over at ESPN.com, Rob Neyer makes the case the Derek Jeter re-signing with the Yankees was never really a sure thing.
• Also at ESPN, Buster Olney looks at the alternatives for Jeter and finds it hard to believe any other team could actually top the Yankees current offer. As always, Olney has a lot of other good notes and such.
• Jonathan Albaladejo’s deal in Japan is complete. He’ll make $950,000 with the Yomiuri Giants. Had he pitched in the big leagues all of next season, he would have earned roughly $400,000.
• MLBTradeRumors looks at the free agency of George Sherrill. Just thinking out loud, but he could be another fit for the Yankees left-handed relief opening. His splits are good.
• Reading a little bit about Brian Anderson, I found this pretty funny: On the day the Royals announced Anderson’s decision to switch from outfielder to pitcher, their starting center fielder was Rick Ankiel, a starting pitcher turned outfielder.
• It’s not quite Nevada beating Boise State — congrats to Nevada’s own Marc Carig — but it’s always a good day when Mizzou beats up on Kansas.
Associated Press photo
This afternoon, Jon Lester threw seven shutout innings and got his sixth straight win. Since September 3, the Yankees have had a starting pitcher do that — throw seven innings of any kind and get the win — exactly once. It was CC Sabathia last Saturday.
At some point around the seventh or eighth inning, my friend Marc Carig and I realized we had seen this game before. It was then that Marc pointed out the fact the Yankees have had the lead only once during this four-game losing streak. Sabathia gave up that lead in the sixth inning on Thursday, and the Yankees haven’t been in front since.
“Part of it is we haven’t gotten a whole lot of distance out of our starters,” Joe Girardi said. “One was due to a rain delay and there’s not a whole lot you can do about that. We’ve gotten behind in games, which always changes the complexion of a game.”
As we’ve noted many times, the win statistic isn’t a good way to measure the whole of a pitcher, but the fact the Yankees rotation has won just two games in the past three weeks does begin to tell the story. Tonight, Ivan Nova was no match for Lester. That was the long and short of this one.
“It’s hard to play with an edge when you’re down by five or six runs,” Alex Rodriguez said. “…I think the bottom line is it starts with our starting pitching, and we have to have someone come out and step up and go six or seven innings, and the offense has to do our job.”
Here’s Girardi’s postgame.
• A fair point from Girardi about the frequency of ups and downs: “You can’t make too much of four games, because you take the previous five games and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. You go through those ups and downs and you don’t evaluate your club on a short-term period.”
• Rob Thomson on getting Austin Kearns thrown out at home in the sixth: “Sometimes you factor in the fact you’re not scoring a lot of runs or you’re not getting a lot of hits with runners in scoring position, but that wasn’t the case because we scored a bunch last night. I thought he was going to score so I sent him. It was a mistake.”
• Nova had kind of a typical start. He was very good when he was good, but when things started to fall apart, he unraveled. “He nipped Kalish, just nipped his jersey, and then he lost the strike zone,” Girardi said. “It was the first time he was in the stretch and he walked the next guy.”
• In that three-run third, Girardi had Dave Robertson getting loose, but a double play seemed to buy Nova some more time. “It looked like he was in trouble and it’s a situation where if I need Robby to close out the inning,” Girardi said. “He gets up and get loose quicker than a lot of the other guys. That’s why I was going to go to him.”
• The weird Joba Chamberlain pickoff throw: Home plate umpire Chris Guccione called for time, and it caught Chamberlain off guard. Obviously not thinking about the fact the runner was at second, Chamberlain turned to throw to first and sent the ball into the ground when he saw no one there. “I just kind of panicked, I guess,” he said.
• Speaking of balls in the dirt: Andrew Brackman was up and throwing in the bullpen in the ninth but didn’t actually get in the game. “My first pitch was 40 feet into the ground,” he said. “After that, everything was perfect.”
• Brackman said if people were shouting at him, he couldn’t hear them.
• Jonathan Albaladejo and Romulo Sanchez combined for 1.2 scoreless innings. Every other Yankees pitcher was, in some way, responsible for a run.
• Derek Jeter extended his season-high hitting streak to 14 games.
• Rodriguez has three home runs in his past five at-bats. He’s hit 48 career homers against Boston, the most among active players.
• Curtis Granderson has nine home runs in his past 22 games, and 13 home runs in his past 40 games. That’s after hitting 10 homers in his first 90 games this season.
• The Yankees have lost the home series against Boston for the third time in the past five years. They are 3-5 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium this year.
• Mark Teixeira was not hurt when he came out of the game. Just a double switch that left Lance Berkman in the lineup.
• A minor move that could come into play tomorrow and next weekend: The Red Sox have signed infielder Felix Lopez.
Associated Press photos of Nova, Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli being helped out of the Red Sox dugout by Victor Martinez.
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
Finding a job for three new guys • 09.01.10
Another reminder: Sam and I are video chatting right here at 1 p.m. Until then…
Three minor leaguers will be added to the Yankees roster before tonight’s game. All three seem likely to play fairly minor roles, but that’s what September call-ups are about, small tweaks that might help once in a while.
Who: The top reliever in the International League, he earned his call-up and then some. His Triple-A stats are seriously stunning: 63.1 IP, 38 H, 18 BB, 82 K, 1.42 ERA and a .170 opponents batting average. Triple-A right-handers are hitting .111 against him.
Why: How could any team pass up those numbers? Albaladejo seems to have reinvented himself since his past two years on the Yankees Opening Day roster. He’s more of a four-seam guy these days, and he’s pitched well in limited big league action this season.
Role: Limited. He’s not going to push Dave Robertson, Joba Chamberalin or Kerry Wood out of the eighth inning, but he’ll probably get a chance to pitch and could certainly beginning making an impression for next season. He’s not really seen as a long man any more, so the Yankees need to see this new one-inning-at-a-time version.
Who: Former first-round pick who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rangers. He can play defense at all three outfield spots, and he has plus speed despite only 17 stolen bases with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He hit .263 with 10 homers in Triple-A, and he got his first big league hit this season with the Yankees.
Why: In making my September call-up predictions, I somehow forgot the lesson of Freddy Guzman: There’s always room for a guy who can run. Even with Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez providing some speed off the bench, Golson could be this year’s Guzman.
Role: Running. It’s hard to imagine Golson getting regular playing time in the Yankees outfield — even against left-handed starters — but he can come off the bench to steal a bag, or he can play defense in the late innings to give one of the regulars a break. The Yankees found a spot for Guzman, even in the postseason.
Who: Veteran catcher signed at the end of spring training to backup and mentor Jesus Montero in Triple-A, and to serve as insurance in New York. Moeller has played in the big leagues every year since 2000, and he’s already spent some time with the Yankees this season.
Why: Moeller played only 28 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Montero was the team’s starter — and a postseason all-star — but Moeller was the guy with experience. That’s why he’s the guy who go the call-up. There was no need to put Montero on the 40-man sooner than necessary.
Role: Third catcher. Given Jorge Posada’s occasional injury problems and Francisco Cervelli’s slumping offense, a third option behind the plate makes obvious sense. Even when he was the second catcher earlier this season, Moeller hardly played. He’s probably here to play in the late innings if and when Cervelli is lifted for a pinch hitter.
Looking ahead to September • 08.26.10
Major league rosters expand in six days. In theory, the Yankees could call-up every player on the 40-man, but that would leave a bunch of guys sitting around with nothing to do. It generally makes more sense to let most of the guys stay sharp in the International League and Eastern League playoffs — Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Trenton are both in line to advance — then make a few more moves when those postseason runs are over.
That’s the way the Yankees have handled it in the past.
In 2007, the Yankees added four players on the 1st and a whopping 10 more later in the month. In 2008, two guys were added on the 1st, and the Yankees gradually added eight more. Last year, six call-ups on the 1st, seven more in the next two and a half weeks.
Considering the number of guys who are fairly close to coming off the disabled list, I’ll be surprised to see more than two or three true minor league call-ups on Wednesday. These are some of the guys to consider, some for an immediate call-up, most for an eventual promotion.
Major league disabled list
Lance Berkman, Alex Rodriguez, Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte, Andy Pettitte
Berkman is eligible to come off the DL on August 31st, but it makes more sense to wait a day. Rodriguez shouldn’t be far behind, and Aceves seems healthy enough to pitch as soon as the Yankees believe he’s physically ready to face big league hitters.
Pettitte and Marte will take just a little bit longer. If you’re curious, major leaguers are allowed to rehab during the minor league playoffs. The year Francisco Liriano nearly won the Rookie of the Year award in Minnesota, he came down to pitch three hitless innings the decisive game in the first round of the IL playoffs. I was covering the Phillies Triple-A team at the time. They never had a shot against him.
Chad Moeller, Jesus Montero
It’s standard protocol to add a third catcher on September 1. The Yankees didn’t do it in 2007, but given Jorge Posada’a nagging injuries and Francisco Cervelli’s lagging offense, a third catcher would make sense. Question is, do they go with the veteran Moeller — a guy to catch after Cervelli is lifted for a late-inning pinch hitter — or do they go with the stud prospect Montero.
Two months ago, I would have said Moeller was the obvious choice, but Montero seems to have figured out Triple-A. He’s hitting .361 with nine home runs since the all-star break. I can’t speak to his abilities behind the plate — I’ve only seen him catch in spring training — but the decision might hinge on whether the Yankees trust him back there in a major league game in the middle of a pennant race.
Non-catcher position players
Juan Miranda, Kevin Russo, Colin Curtis, Greg Golson, Chad Huffman, Brandon Laird, Jorge Vazquez
The Yankees have two utility infielders and four legitimate outfielders. They don’t necessarily need one position or another, so additional position players would be all about depth and maybe adding a lefty-or-righty pinch hitter.
Miranda might be able to play an immediate role. On days when Berkman is in the lineup, the Yankees only left-handed pinch hitter is Ramiro Pena. It would be a small role to play, but Miranda doesn’t exactly have a lot to gain from a few more Triple-A at-bats. Curtis could also give them an extra left-handed bat, while adding some outfield depth and a pinch runner. Adding Vazquez or Laird would require a 40-man move, so those don’t seem likely, despite pretty good numbers.
Jonathan Albaladejo, Andrew Brackman, Hector Noesi, Romulo Sanchez, Royce Ring
The best bet of this bunch is Albaladejo, who has absolutely earned a call-up. Sanchez doesn’t have the same season numbers, but he’s also been dominant since moving into the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre bullpen. Brackman and Noesi are both on the 40-man and both have pitched well, but Brackman is still in Double-A and Noesi was just called up to Triple-A. They might be worth considering after the minor league playoffs, but probably not before.
Jason Hirsh and some younger non-40-man guys — David Phelps especially — have pitched well enough to be in the conversation, but I’m not sure there’s a spot for another long man, especially not with Aceves on his way back and the Yankees already carrying 13 pitchers. The only guy on this list not on the 40-man is Ring, who’s been terrific against left-handers and might make sense if Marte suffers another setback and moves to the 60-day.
Joe Girardi said yesterday that the Yankees have not started talking about who to bring up, so any sort of prediction is wild guesswork.
I’ll say that on September 1, four players will be added: Berkman, Miranda, Albaladejo and a catcher (I’ve gone back and forth in my head a hundred times about which one it will be). Soon after, Rodriguez and Aceves will come off the disabled list, then Marte and Pettitte. After the minor league playoffs, I’ll guess Russo, Curtis and Sanchez get the call.
Based past performance trying to guess September call-ups, I’ve probably guessed too many players for September 1 and not enough by the end of the month.
That’s an Associated Press photo of Miranda at the top. The headshots are Rodriguez, Miranda, Russo and Albaladejo.
Postgame notes: More rest, more problems • 07.21.10
The Yankees are committed to limiting Phil Hughes’ innings this season, but the two times he’s pitched on extended rest, he’s struggled.
Tonight was his first start in 11 days, and Hughes allowed six earned runs through five-plus innings. The only other time he allowed six earned this season was June 29, when he went 10 days between starts after the Yankees skipped his turn in the rotation to limit his workload.
“We have to manage his innings, and you have to look at him long term,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Maybe do something a little bit different between starts if you have to do it again. The bottom line is, he has a limitation, and we have to respect that. It’s difficult for any pitcher when you have a long layoff. It’s not just him.”
Hughes, as you might expect, said he didn’t feel any different, but it’s hard not to notice that he seemed to have turned a corner in his last start before the break, then took a step back tonight. “He didn’t have much command of his fastball and he got beat with his cutter, not having a whole lot of command of that as well,” Girardi said. Those were the same problems as in those late-June, early-July outings.
“I felt fine,” Hughes said. “Obviously with the all-star break and the day off being back in the rotation, it was kind of an extended break, but I really didn’t feel anything any different.”
• Girardi was stunned when he was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing a call at first base. This is the same crew that ejected him earlier this season in Toronto. “I was shocked when I was tossed, then I got a little hot,” Girardi said. “I’ve been tossed nine times as a Yankee. I’ll be the first to tell you (that) eight times I deserved it. Tonight I thought I didn’t deserve it.”
• I’m guessing by the time that picture was taken, Girardi was in the “deserved it” phase of his argument.
• Jonathan Albaladejo admitted he was a little tired by the end of his outing — he threw more than 30 pitches for only the second time this season — but that was a solid return. He might not be an eighth-inning candidate, but he’s tossed his name into the ring for regular middle relief work.
• What made Sean O’Sullivan so effective after that first inning? “All of a sudden his changeup got real good,” Girardi said. Jorge Posada said the exact same thing. “Even when he was falling behind int he count, he was throwing his changeup and throwing it for strikes,” Posada said.
• Stunning stat from the Yankees fine media staff: Posada has thrown out six runners this season. Four of them have been Bobby Abreu, who was thrown out twice tonight.
• Nick Swisher hit his ninth Yankee Stadium home run of the season. He hit eight at Yankee Stadium all of last season.
• Speaking of homers at Yankee Stadium, Hughes has allowed 13 home runs this year, every single one of them at home. He wasn’t too pleased with the Maicer Izturis homer that got just over the wall in right. “I didn’t feel like it was a horrible pitch,” Hughes said. “The way the short porch here is, it’s going to happen sometimes, and it’s going to happen on nights when nothing’s going right. I have to make better pitches earlier to stay out of those situations.”
• Hughes wasn’t hurt on that comebacker. “It was fine,” he said. “Just hit the outside of my calf. I didn’t really feel any pain or anything like that.”
• Mark Teixeira has now reached base in 36 straight games. That matches the longest such streak of his career.
• The Yankees fell to 3-4 against the Angels this season and need a win tomorrow to avoid losing the season series for the sixth time in the past seven years.
Associated Press photos of Hughes and Girardi
You might remember Jonathan Albaladejo’s spring training. It was beyond awful. Probably the worst spring of anyone in Yankees camp. He pitched five times, got eight outs, and allowed 10 earned runs on 16 hits.
“Nobody here has seen something like that,” Albaladejo said. “It was terrible.”
It was his two-seamer — the go-to pitch that originally got him to the big leagues — that was being knocked around, and when Albaladejo was sent down to the minor league complex, he decided he had to make a change. He couldn’t keep getting beat on the same pitch over and over again, so he started throwing his four-seamer. That’s the pitch that seems to have made all the difference.
It’s not so much velocity, Albaladejo said, it’s control. He can spot the pitch, and he’s been mixing it with his usual slider and an improving curveball. He started mixing the two-seamer again in the past month or so, and it’s been effective.
“That struggle in spring training probably helped me learn how to pitch, I guess it was to my advantage,” he said.
I find it hard to believe, but Albaladejo said he wasn’t getting antsy in Scranton. His numbers are overwhelming, but he kept waiting for an opportunity. “I just want to do my job in Triple-A,” he said. “And whenever they decide they need me, I’ll be ready.”
Here’s the guy they call Alby talking pregame. He very nearly cursed at one point, but he managed to censor himself.
• Sergio Mitre said he feels good after last night’s final rehab start with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was asked about filling Andy Pettitte’s spot on the team: “I’m trying to fill my own spot right now,” he said. “I’ve been out for a while. That’s going to be a tough loss for the next month. I’m not trying to fill anybody’s show, especially his. They’re pretty big.”
• How does losing Pettitte affect Phil Hughes and his pitch limit? “The way we treat Phil is going to be the way we treat Phil whether Andy is healthy or not,” Joe Girardi said.
• Albaladejo has been used primarily as a long-ish reliever when he’s been in New York. That might not be the case this time. “He gives us another option considered more of a one-inning guy,” Girardi said. “Maybe you push him a little bit beyond that, but as a closer down there, that’s basically what he’s been doing.”
• Another day, another question about Joba Chamberlain. “At times he doesn’t get out there as far as he needs to get out there (in his delivery),” Girardi said. “What happens is his fastball drifts and he doesn’t have the depth on his slider. So we need to make those mechanics more consistent.”
• There aren’t many specifics about Pettitte’s road back from this groin injury — he hasn’t met with Dr. Ahmad yet — but Girardi did give an idea of what makes this injury different from a pitcher, who has to worry about striding toward the plate over and over again. “The difficult thing with a groin strain for a pitcher is, not only does it have to heal, but then you have to build it back up,” Girardi said.
UPDATE, 6:06 p.m.: Angels lineup
Erick Aybar SS
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Maicer Izturis 3B
Jeff Mathis C
RHP Sean O’Sullivan (0-0, 1.29)
Scranton Times-Tribune picture of Albaladejo.
Sergio Mitre will make a rehab start tonight for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. According to general manager Brian Cashman, Mitre will throw 75 pitches. He’ll be working on short rest — he just pitched Thursday — but this should help him get a little more stretched out.
Cashman said Andy Pettitte’s injury has not changed the way he’s approaching the trade deadline.
“That’s what Mitre is here for,” Cashman said. “He’d be in most teams’ rotations.”
Before Mitre is activated, the Yankees will call-up someone from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Cashman said he hasn’t talked to Joe Girardi to solidify who that will be, but Cashman said it will not be Ivan Nova.
Nova was scheduled to be tonight’s Triple-A starter, but he will either work in relief for the night or be bumped back to start on another day. He will not come to New York to serve as a temporary long man.
Jonathan Albaladejo — who won the International League’s Pitcher of the Week award for a second straight week — seems to be the top option, but that’s strictly my opinion.
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.
Looking for a surprise • 03.23.10
Aside from the 25 players who seem to be favorites for the Opening Day roster, there are still 14 others in big league camp with the Yankees. Could any of these play their way onto the roster?
Two straight seasons on the opening day roster, but that trend will probably come to an end this spring. He’s really struggled with a sinker that hasn’t sunk. On the roster? On his way to Scranton to get things worked out. He was pitching very well at the end of last season.
Might be on waivers, but he’s still in camp. Pitched well for the Yankees last season, but he seems to have been passed by Sergio Mitre. On the roster? It obviously doesn’t look good.
He’s on the 40-man and he’s had a nice spring — .300/.364/.550 with plus speed and defense — but he has yet to prove himself as a consistent hitter in the minor leagues. On the roster? More likely in Scranton trying to prove himself with the bat.
Joe Girardi seems to view a second lefty as a luxury, not a necessity. Logan has an option remaining, so he can be sent to Triple-A. That’s probably not good news for him. He has pitched well, though. On the roster? Not if the Yankees plan to keep the four remaining fifth-starter candidates.
One rocky outing, but otherwise he’s been solid this spring. The Chan Ho Park signing probably crowded out any chances he had of breaking camp with the big league club. On the roster? Not now. Check back in June.
Remember when the Yankees signed Nick Johnson? That was the day Miranda was bumped out of the big league mix. He’s insurance at this point. On the roster? Not as long as Johnson is healthy.
In camp to help handle the extra pitchers but has almost no chance of breaking camp with the team. Needs a chance to play regularly at Triple-A, but obviously Jesus Montero stands in the way. On the roster? A simple, no.
Veteran depth behind the plate, Rivera is around as insurance. He’s clearly behind Francisco Cervelli, and his .125 spring average probably hasn’t helped. On the roster? Not unless someone gets hurt.
Another pitcher who has done well this spring but seems crowded out of the bullpen. Even if the Yankees were to carry a second left, Logan might be the better bet. On the roster? Probably battling Logan for a call-up from Scranton.
He’s a polished hitter, and he’s proven that this spring, but his limited experience at shortstop and in the outfield leaves him as a tough fit for the Yankees. On the roster? Probably not on Opening Day, but keep an eye on his Scranton numbers.
I’ll be perfectly honest: I was surprised Sanit even got a big league invite, but the Yankees clearly saw some things and he’s proven worth the spot with a terrific spring. He won’t break camp with New York, but if he keeps this up he could push for a call-up. On the roster? No, but made a more compelling case than expected.
Minor league veteran was signed to a minor league deal this winter. He’s been solid this spring, but he’s pretty far down on the depth chart. On the roster? It’s a bit difficult to even find a spot for him in Scranton.
Not at all flashy, but the guy knows how to hit and he’s shown it time and again this spring. Being left-handed takes his slim chances and makes them almost nil. On the roster? No. But he might have opened some eyes.
One of the more interesting minor league free agent signings, Winfree is still just 24 and has shown good power. The Yankees say he’s competing for a bench role, but it’s hard to see that happening with Thames in the mix. On the roster? Might be the only guy who could give Thames a challenge, but it still seems unlikely. Mid-season replacement? Very possible.