The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Sunday night links: Prospects, lineups and the Captain03.13.11

The Yankees top three pitching prospects survived today’s first wave of cuts, just like they survived this winter’s search for proven big league starters. In a Q&A with Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger, general manager Brian Cashman said he’s confident his young pitching would be enough to trade for a short-term rotation upgrade, but he’s more focused on the long-term impact of keeping his best pitchers in the organization.

“I have enough chips,” Cashman said. “But if people want to demand certain bullets, those certain bullets I’m not going to shoot… There are untouchables here.”

Cashman didn’t name names, but clearly Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman have made strong impressions this spring. Brackman had some control issues today, but he’s clearly opened some eyes. The “Killer Bs” are widely considered the top pitching prospects in a pitching-rich system, and all three were kept in camp through this morning’s round of seven cuts, and the afternoon’s round of three more.

• More good stuff from Carig, who took a look at the remarkably small impact a lineup change is likely to have on the Yankees. The Yankees could make a change this season, but is it worth rocking the boat — and maybe pushing some of the wrong emotional buttons — for what could be such marginal improvement? Maybe, maybe not.

• Ben Shpigel of the Times stayed behind in Tampa yesterday and wrote a nice piece about Derek Jeter’s increasing comfort at the plate. “Early on, he told me, ‘I’ll probably take a lot of pitches during spring training until I get comfortable,’” Kevin Long said. “He’s not taking those pitches anymore.” Jeter swung at the first pitch he saw this afternoon and drove a fly ball to center field for an out.

Nice stuff from my old friend Donnie Collins about his immediate thoughts after seeing news about the earthquake in Japan. For Donnie and I, who spent a lot of time around Kei Igawa the past few years, it was impossible not to worry about Igawa on what had to be a terrible day for him. It was also great to hear that both Jonathan Albaladejo and Darrell Rasner were safe and largely unaffected.

• Supporting everything we’ve seen and heard in Yankees camp, Buster Olney talked to one evaluator who said Eric Chavez has looked good while “hitting the ball hard” this spring. He really does seem to be an ideal fit on the Yankees bench.

• The Royals put a pitcher on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Robert Fish.

• In former Yankees news: Despite the fact Russell Branyan is making a strong impression in Diamondbacks camp, Juan Miranda remains the favorite to be Arizona’s starting first baseman. With the Padres, Dustin Moseley is keeping himself in the rotation mix and has “all but guaranteed” a spot in the bullpen.

• It’s not a link, but here’s a leftover quote from today that I thought was funny. Russell Martin was asked about calling pitches for Mariano Rivera: “It’s cutter or sinker,” Martin said. “It’s pretty basic. Cutter on one side. If he doesn’t want that, it’s a cutter on the other side. And then it’s a sinker. If he shakes more than twice, I’m putting down the wrong signs.”

My high school won its first boys basketball state championship this weekend. I saw the team play when I went home for my friend’s wedding a few weeks ago. They went 10 players deep, substituted five at a time, and pressed the entire game until the game was no longer in doubt it was too cruel to keep up that frantic pace. They were fun to watch. Go Bulldogs!

Associated Press photo of Jeter meeting Dave Stevens from Easthaven, Conn., who was born without legs and participates in sports using a wheelchair

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Notes and links: Millwood, Sheffield, prospects and more02.17.11

Brian Cashman has said time and again that he’s open to adding more rotation options if the price is right, and Joel Sherman reported today that Kevin Millwood could be one of those options. Sherman says the Yankees are still interested in the veteran Millwood, who would be one more veteran in the back-of-the-rotation competition.

• In no uncertain terms, Brian Cashman told Mark Feinsand that Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos will not break camp with the big league club. Those two will go to Trenton.

Gary Sheffield has officially retired. “It’s time to say goodbye,” Sheffield said.

• Nick Swisher told Ken Davidoff that he switched agents because he and Joe Bick, “grew apart a little bit.”

• Former Yankees part-time DH Juan Miranda has more competition for the Diamondbacks first base job. Arizona has signed Russell Branyan, and the D-Backs are also considering pitcher Micah Owings for a little bit of first base time.

• The YES Network has been nominated for 46 New York Emmy awards. According to a press release, on-air talent Bob Lorenz, Paul O’Neill, John Flaherty, Marv Albert and Jim Spanarkel received individual nominations.

• The Blue Jays have wrapped up an extension with Jose Bautista. They’ve also signed Scott Podsednik to a minor league deal.

MLB Network announced its broadcast schedule for spring training games. The Yankees pop up quite a bit.

Associated Press photos of A.J. Burnett and Francisco Cervelli. They really have nothing to do with this post, but they were available, so why not use them?

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 535 Comments →

A guest at the door and some Friday night links01.07.11

I doubt anyone missed this one, but just in case…

Last night, the New York Post showed up at Andy Pettitte’s house to get the story straight from the horse’s mouth. Turns out, Pettitte’s version of the story was the exact same version we’ve been hearing for two months.

“If I had something, y’all would know,” Pettitte told Brian Costello. “If I knew exactly what I was doing, y’all would know.”

Brian Cashman has been saying since November that Pettitte’s future is still up in the air. That situation hasn’t changed, and the Yankees are moving forward as if they won’t have Pettitte this year. It’s worth noting that two years ago, the Yankees didn’t sign Pettitte until January 26.

A few other notes and links from today.

A George Steinbrenner statue has been installed outside of Legends Field in Tampa. If you follow that link, is it just me, or does the guy on the left side of the picture actually look a little bit like The Boss?

• Former Yankees minor leaguer Jimmy Paredes, who went to Houston in the Lance Berkman deal, ranked as the Astros No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America. Granted, that’s a pretty terrible system, but Paredes did have a nice 2010 season and got himself on the 40-man roster. I’m still not sure he’d make the top 20 for the Yankees.

• Speaking of Baseball America, here’s a short piece on Juan Miranda’s opportunity with the Diamondbacks. “I think if he gets the opportunity, he can do some good things,” general manager Kevin Towers said.

• Remember when the Yankees were reportedly interested in trading for Jeff Keppinger? Turns out, Keppinger is having surgery on his foot and will likely miss the start of the season.

• Apparently Gary Sheffield is almost certain his career is finished, but he’s leaving the door open just a little bit. Sheffield told ESPN radio in Tampa that he’s “99.9 percent” sure he’s ready to retire.

Associated Press photo

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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
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
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
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 659 Comments →

A small move that made good sense11.18.10

Rays Yankees BaseballI’ve seen hundreds of at-bats by Juan Miranda. Literally hundreds of them. I’ve talked to scouts about his talent, I’ve talked to Miranda about his family and I’ve long believed he can be a viable hitter at the Major League level. I like Miranda as a player and as a person.

I know next to nothing about Scott Allen.

But I’m still convinced the Yankees made a good trade this afternoon.

It wasn’t a great trade and certainly not a big trade, but I think it was a good trade. Miranda no longer played a role in the Yankees system. When he signed, he seemed like a guy who might move quickly and eventually takeover for Jason Giambi at first base (I always thought Miranda’s glove was better than advertised). Then the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira and Miranda became an afterthought. Even when Nick Johnson was hurt this season, opening a spot for a left-handed hitting DH/1B, Miranda got only a small look.

Out of options next year, Miranda could not have returned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and I don’t believe he would have cleared waivers. His only spot on the Yankees would have been more or less exclusively as a designated hitter, and the Yankees don’t seem likely to carry one of those. His bench impact would have been limited by his lack of versatility.

ph_572676So, the Yankees did the smart thing and traded him out of the league to a team that needs a first baseman. In return, they got a 19-year-old kid who’s not a huge prospect – Miranda was never going to fetch that – but who seems to have some legitimate upside.

I talked to two people about Scott Allen today. The first, a scout in the Yankees organization, said he wasn’t the guy assigned to check on Allen, but he has heard good things about him. “Young with a chance,” he said.

The second was Mark Newman, who emailed this brief scouting report: “Projectable kid with FB up to 93. He has a good feel for spin and the change. Does miss bats and we think there may be some upside.”

Most likely, Newman said, Allen will open in the High-A Tampa rotation.

Obviously Allen’s not a sure thing, but his chances of playing a significant role in New York might actually be higher than Miranda’s.

Associated Press photo of Miranda.

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Cashman notes from Tuesday11.16.10

Yankees Wrapup BaseballBrian Cashman joked that he walked into a sword fight without a sword.

Standing in a room filled with media, Cashman didn’t want to talk about the details of today’s meetings, didn’t want to give his opinion on expanded playoffs and wouldn’t get into specifics about potential player moves. He talked quite a bit more about the search for a pitching coach, but wouldn’t say who or even how many will be interviewed.

The only juicy bit of information he provided was nothing but a tease.

“I’ve got a small player move that I’m working on that might get done at some point this week,” he said. “But it’s small.”

In the course of nearly a half hour, though, Cashman did drop a few little notes of information. Nothing huge, just a few nuggets to keep in mind.

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• The starter-or-reliever questions are official finished for Joba Chamberlain. “Joba to the pen,” Cashman said. “We made that decision after spring training. We’re not looking to put it back. We told him in the spring, you’re a reliever now. That’s it.”

• Alfredo Aceves is healthy enough that he’s expected to pitch in Mexico this winter. “His rehab resolved,” Cashman said. “He was throwing bullpens (and) felt fine. We’re probably going to be talking about winter ball here at some point. He was trying to make it. He would have been a potential guy, believe it or not, to our surprise, if we got to the World Series.”

• Aceves never had surgery.

• Cashman is moving forward with the assumption that Damaso Marte will not pitch at all next season. “Whether (a lefty reliever) is available in this particular marketplace is what I don’t know,” Cashman said. “It’s certainly an area that I would like to have two lefties in the bullpen. I just don’t know if I’ll be successful or not.”

• That said, Cashman has no plans to dump Marte from the 40-man roster. He doesn’t think he’ll need that spot to protect anyone from the Rule 5. “You don’t just release a guy,” he said. “With our Rule 5 protection, I don’t feel like I have a roster crunch.”

• Cashman said he only way he could imagine a roster crunch would be if the Yankees made a trade in which they acquired multiple players, but he doesn’t expect that sort of trade to happen.

• Cashman said he has “zero” indication whether Andy Pettitte will be back next year. Pettitte told Cashman the same thing he’s said publicly: That if he had to make a decision right now, it would probably be retirement, but he’s not planning to make a decision right now.

• The Yankees consider Ivan Nova a legitimate rotation candidate for next year.

• Last year was the final year of Juan Miranda’s four-year contract, but he doesn’t have enough service time to become a free agent, so he’s still under the Yankees control. They don’t have to offer him arbitration, he will simply come into spring training as a 40-man player who’s out of options.

• Cashman listed Miranda, Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird as players who could play a bench role next season.

Associated Press photos

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Considering the postseason bench10.04.10

Joe Girardi left little doubt yesterday that he plans to carry Austin Kearns on the playoff roster. Kearns is a career .375 hitter against the members of the Twins pitching staff not named Matt Capps. He’s 0-for-10 against the Twins new closer, but Kearns has been pretty good against the rest of the Twins pitchers. Even if he weren’t, the Yankees don’t exactly a strong offensive alternative. Starting Kearns ahead of Brett Gardner might be a bit much at this point, but as a right-handed bat off the bench, he’s the best non-Thames option the Yankees have.

Beyond Kearns, we can confidently assume these 11 position players will also make the postseason roster: Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Lance Berkman and Marcus Thames.

That leaves room for two — three if the Yankees carry only 10 pitchers — to round out the bench. There seem to be three leading candidates, and a handful of secondary options.

ph_449172Greg Golson
Pros: Plus speed and arm… Can play all three outfield spots… Defensive upgrade as a late-inning substitution in right field; offensive upgrade as a pinch runner… Two starts in the final two weeks of the season, with at least one hit in each.
Cons: Career .260 hitter in Triple-A, career .200 hitter in the big leagues… Limited major league experience; has only two career big league RBI… Not considered as much of a base-stealing threat as Eduardo Nunez… Yankees already have five outfield options.

ph_456488Eduardo Nunez
Pros: Considered the Yankees top base-stealing threat off the bench… Comfortable at shortstop and could play second ot third… Hit .280 in limited big league action after an all-star season in Triple-A… Better offensive utility infielder than Ramiro Pena.
Cons: Roughly a month and a half of major league experience… Counting the big leagues, played six games at second and 26 at third this season. Before that, had just 20 career appearances away from shortstop… Eight at-bats since September 4… Not as good defensively as Ramiro Pena.

ph_455369Ramiro Pena
Pros: Been with the big league club all season… Arguably the Yankees best defensive infielder at three different positions… Despite poor offensive numbers, has shown a knack for big hits in big situations… Enough speed to help on the bases as a pinch runner… Most versatile bench option with some additional experience in the outfield if needed in a pinch.
Con: Two extra-base hits all season, even in the minors he was only a .255 hitter with no power… Eduardo Nunez could play the same utility role with more offensive upside… Yankees are unlikely to rest any of their infielders during the playoffs.

ph_453298Colin Curtis
Pros: Does a little bit of everything: Has some power, has some speed, plays quality defense at all three outfield spots… Hit pretty well during his brief window of consistent playing time.
Cons: Doesn’t do one thing especially well. Doesn’t have Greg Golson’s speed or Juan Miranda’s left-handed power… Yankees already have two lefty outfielders.

Juan Miranda
First baseman
Pros: Powerful left-handed bat off the bench… Has three home runs in limited major league duty… Most of the Yankees bench options are right-handed.
Cons: Gives almost no defensive flexibility… Limited to a pinch hitter, and the Yankees aren’t likely to pinch hit very often.

ph_150224Chad Moeller
Pros: The Yankees did carry three catchers last postseason.
Cons: A.J. Burnett was also lined up to start Games 2 and 5 in each playoff series last year. That meant the potential for two games each series caught by the Yankees backup. That shouldn’t be the case this year.

Kevin Russo
Pros: Could play every position except pitcher and catcher… Consistent minor league hitter; gave the Yankees a surprising boost in left field earlier this season.
Cons: Limited shortstop experience… One major league at-bat since July 11… Clearly behind Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena in the infield pecking order.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 215 Comments →

Postgame notes: “It’s a lot better feeling in that clubhouse”09.27.10

Red Sox Yankees Baseball

My ride to the airport is picking me up in less than five hours, so I’m probably going to make this one pretty quick.

The magnitude of tonight’s game more or less speaks for itself. The Yankees made it clear they wanted and needed to win when they tabbed Phil Hughes to start on fewer than 24 hours notice. There was already panic from the fan base, but there was suddenly urgency from the team itself.

Hughes could hardly have been better. Alex Rodriguez hit perhaps his biggest home run of the year. The rest of the bullpen picked up Mariano Rivera. Eduardo Nunez stole third base to change the complexion of the ninth. Juan Miranda had the green light to swing away at a 3-1 pitch in the 10th, but watched the game-winning ball four sail inside.

“That’s a really big win for us,” Joe Girardi said. “We still want to win our division, we still want to get home-field advantage, and we’re fighting like crazy to do that. But it’s a lot better feeling in that clubhouse tonight than it has been lately, that’s for sure.”

Here’s Girardi’s postgame.

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Red Sox Yankees Baseball• Ever seen an MVP candidate serve as nothing more than translator for a September call-up? It happened tonight when Miranda was surrounded by reporters and asked Robinson Cano to help him out. Miranda will speak broken English to a small group, but a crowd makes a little more nervous. “Every player’s dream,” he said. “Just come in and get a chance in a big situation like that and do the job.”

• Girardi on why he stuck with Miranda: “We still had things we could have done. I could have put Berkman at first. I could have put Posada at first. Okajima can be tough on right-handers too, and Juan Miranda is a guy that can get a fly ball and we felt comfortable with him in that situation.”

• Nunez was running on his own. “I give guys the green light,” Girardi said. “I tell them, if they can get the bag, get the bag because it puts pressure on people.” Would Girardi have sent Nunez? Girardi kind of hesitated and said, “It just worked out well.” Fair enough.

• Rodriguez has four home runs in his past eight at-bats. He’s suddenly one away from another 30-homer season, something that seemed literally impossible earlier this year.

• To be perfectly honest, when Rodriguez drew the walk in the ninth, I was already working on a paragraph about his second home run of the game. I wanted to be ready if he hit a walk-off, and he’s been so hot I really believed he was going to do it.

• Cano is hitting .611 with 25 RBI with the bases loaded this season. His bases-loaded single tied the game after the Rodriguez walk in the ninth.

Red Sox Yankees Baseball• Rivera has now blown three of his past six save opportunities. He’s allowed a run in three straight appearances, the second time he’s done that this year. “I don’t think it’s anything I have to adjust,” he said. “It’s nothing that I have to do. I have to get them out, definitely, but it’s just making the pitches. It happens.”

• As for the four stolen bases against Rivera in the ninth, Girardi put it pretty simply: “They got some good jumps off Mo,” he said. Rivera on the stolen bases: “I got there and all of a sudden there are guys on base and guys running all over the place.”

• Rodriguez on Daisuke Matsuzaka: “I’ve never seen Matsuzaka throw the ball as well and sharp as he threw it tonight.”

• Hughes on leaving with a 1-0 deficit: “I figured I didn’t pitch well enough to win us this ball game. Matsuzaka was tremendous, but you kind of had a feeling we could push across a run. We just needed to get out of that jam that I put us in.”

• A lot of credit also to Dave Robertson for getting out of that jam. Robertson getting out of the seventh, “was a big turning point for us,” Hughes said.

• Hughes might not have said it, but all of the Yankees seemed to know and appreciate how very good he was tonight. In a huge playoff type start, he gave the Yankees their longest outing since his previous start, and did it after finding out late last night that he was starting. “It’s not like the four days in between you’re zeroed in on your next start,” he said. “I had plenty of time to mentally prepare for it.”

• Hughes hasn’t been told whether he’ll pitch again this season.

• We’ll give the last word to Rodriguez, who seemed to think back to Greg Golson’s throw in Tampa when talking about Miranda’s walk tonight in the Bronx. “Whoever would have through in February that Golson and Juan Miranda down the stretch would help us win two big playoff-atmosphere-type games,” he said.

• I didn’t do a very good job of making this quick. See you all in Toronto.

Associated Press photos of Miranda’s mob, Teixeira with Rodriguez and Hughes coming out of the game.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 67 Comments →

Looking ahead to September08.26.10

Rays Yankees Baseball

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.

ph_121347Major 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. 

ph_501835Non-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.

My guess
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.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 119 Comments →

Postgame notes: The complete set07.21.10

Angels Yankees BaseballThis was not Javier Vazquez’s finest hour, but it was a win, and for the second time this season, Vazquez is better than a .500 pitcher. He’s 8-7, and it only seems fair that his offense had to pick him up for once.

“We’re happy to score for him because he’s had some games when he’s pitched outstanding and we haven’t scored for him,” Derek Jeter said. “And then people wonder why he hasn’t gotten so many wins.”

Vazquez has left games trailing 3-1, 2-0, 1-0 and 3-0. He lost all four of those games. He’s also left games leading 2-0 and 1-0 and got the win in only one of those. This time he pitched very well for four innings, but once he had a huge lead, the game seemed to get away from him.

“When you have that type of lead and you get into some longer counts, the one thing you’re trying to stay away from is walking people,” Joe Girardi said. “And that’s when you can get away from what you do in a sense and become a one- or two-pitch pitcher instead of a four-pitch pitcher.”

In the end, the Yankees bullpen — and home runs from Juan Miranda and Colin Curtis — let Vazquez escape with his first career win against the Angels. It made him the third active pitcher with a win against all 30 current major league teams. Barry Zito and Jamie Moyer are the others.

Here’s Girardi’s postgame audio.

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• Until today, Brett Gardner had never been ejected from a game in his life. “I’d rather not talk about it,” he said. “It’s over and done with.” Girardi didn’t say much more, but he said the decision to toss Gardner left him “scratching my head.”

• Much has been made of the Yankees need for supporting players at the trade deadline, but Miranda, Curtis and Francisco Cervelli came up pretty big today. “These kids can hit,” Girardi said. “Their playing time is not as consistent as it is necessarily in Triple-A, but we believe that these kids can impact the baseball.”

Angels Yankees Baseball• Girardi had to go to his bullpen for four innings, but he said he’s not worried about tomorrow. “We’ll have plenty of arms,” he said.

• Speaking of the bullpen, Girardi was pretty happy with Joba Chamberlain. “He did what he had to do,” he said. Both Chamberlain and Dave Robertson allowed base runners but ultimately pitched out of a bases-loaded jam to preserve a one-run lead. Chamberlain later allowed a run in the eighth.

• Girardi seems to like Curtis, who is 4-for-8 with six RBI as a pinch hitter. “Not having a lot of at-bats and seeing a lot of pitches over the last two weeks, it’s an amazing at-bat,” Girardi said. “The one thing he has shown, not only can he get hits in pinch-hit situations, but he can put long at-bats on people. And that’s what he’s done. When you make a mistake, he puts a good swing on it.”

• Gardner on Curtis: “I was up there trying to get a guy in from third. He went up there and hit a three-run homer.”

• Curtis got his first home run ball from the fan who caught it. The price was two autographed baseballs, one from Jeter and one from Rodriguez. “I remember when I hit my first home run I didn’t get the ball, so I’m happy he got it,” Jeter said.

• This was Robinson Cano’s third career game with two intentional walks. It hadn’t happened since 2007.

• Mark Teixeira has now reached base in 37 straight games, Nick Swisher has scored in seven straight and the Yankees have hit a home run in eight straight.

Associated Press photos

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

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