The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Yankees pregame: Pineda not getting suspended (Updated)04.11.14

Michael PinedaMichael Pineda is still sticking to his dirt story to explain that shiny spot on the palm of his hand during Thursday night’s brilliant start against the Red Sox. The picture above is from the first inning. Joe Torre plans on speaking to the Yankees about it, though, since the speculation was that it was pine tar to improve his grip on the ball, a foreign substance that’s supposed to be a no-no.

Pineda said he put dirt on his hand because it was sweaty. But even if it were pine tar, Pineda doesn’t have to worry about some sort of suspension coming down.

Here’s MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre’s statement to the AP:

“The umpires did not observe an application of a foreign substance during the game and the issue was not raised by the Red Sox.  Given those circumstances, there are no plans to issue a suspension, but we intend to talk to the Yankees regarding what occurred.”

(Torre did talk to Brian Cashman and Cashman said it’s now “a resolved issue.”)

Joe Girardi said he’s focusing on managing tonight’s game. “As far as the other thing, I have not heard from Joe Torre, and I’m not worried about it,” he said.

Girardi said he did speak to Pineda, but not about this situation.

“I don’t talk to pitchers about that, like, ‘Do you use or don’t you use?’ ” Girardi said. “I mean, this is not a recreational drug. So I don’t talk to people about that.

“I’m aware. I’ve been on teams where I’ve seen it. I’m 99 percent sure that I know of guys on other teams that use it, and I just haven’t said anything. So will we talk to Michael? If we did, I wouldn’t tell you anyway.”

But if using pine tar just helps the grip but doesn’t have an impact on pitch movement, and some believe it doesn’t, should the rule be changed?

“The way we’re addressing rules now, I think we could address that and get some clarity on it,” Girardi said. “It would probably be helpful.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said the substance was gone from Pineda’s hand for the fifth inning.

“I’m sure every pitcher does it for purposes of getting a better grip or whatever, but last night was flat-out blatant,” Shane Victorino said.

On another topic, Girardi said he expects Mark Teixeira back by May 1, but Cashman wouldn’t commit to that timetable. Cashman said Brendan Ryan wouldn’t be back this month. Ryan has been doing some light baseball activities on the way back from his back problem.

“It’s improving,” Girardi said, “but he’s still a ways away from games.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 64 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Nova deserves old job back07.05.13

Ivan NovaThere’s no room at the moment for Ivan Nova, and yet doesn’t it seem like it’s time to make room again in the rotation? He has been excellent since he has been back from the minors, especially in this 3-2 win over the Orioles, his first career complete game. And it came with just three hits and one walk allowed, plus 11 strikeouts.

Nova would seem to have more of an upside than David Phelps, especially if the 26-year-old righty has indeed found his old consistency that abandoned him a year ago.

The Yankees could give him a start again with just nine games to go until the All-Star break. Eventually, though, they may have to make a decision. Plus, they have such a short bench with 13 pitchers here.

Joe Girardi said: “I’m not sure exactly how we’ll do it, but he’ll probably start again.”

Nova said he had everything working, including that mid-90s fastball, some changeups and again that great curveball.

“His curveball was about as good as I’ve seen a curveball from anyone,” Vernon Wells said.

Nova was told along the way by a couple of teammates that the Yankees were going to win this game, and he believed it, too.

“I never thought we were going to lose,” Nova said. “I was positive the whole night.”

It took Baltimore’s shaky closer to help shake out a couple of runs in the ninth. Jim Johnson blew his sixth save in 35 chances and dropped to 2-7. His ERA rose to 4.02. One of the two runs in the ninth was unearned thanks to Johnson’s error on Brett Gardner’s bunt. But David Adams helped as well, opening the ninth with a single. And Wells helped with his ground single to left to touch off the celebration.

The Yankees not only won their season-high-tying fifth straight despite struggling offensively again, but they snapped their five-game losing streak against the Orioles, improving to 4-6 against them.

“That team over there has had our number,” Wells said. “They’ve played well against us even in the games that we’ve won. … We were just able to come through late (tonight). But we need to win games like that. We haven’t done it enough. We were doing it early in the season. Hopefully we can get back to doing that.”

Hiroki Kuroda felt good after his bullpen session and will be slotted back into the rotation if his hip flexor feels the same Saturday.

Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 3 with a walk and an RBI in his rehab game with Trenton against Reading. Besides Derek Jeter and Michael Pineda being scheduled for rehab work Saturday night with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against visiting Lehigh Valley, Alex Rodriguez is scheduled for a rehab game Saturday night with Single-A Tampa against the Brevard County Manatees at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 136 Comments →

Tuesday notes: Another opportunity for Nunez02.19.13

It’s going to be a while before Derek Jeter is ready to play in games, and that means playing time for someone else. Most notably, it means playing time for Eduardo Nunez.

“I can’t kill him,” Joe Girardi said. “I can’t play him nine innings every day, but he’s going to play a substantial amount.”

Nunez and Jeter went through shortstop drills together again today, and the Yankees plan to keep Nunez at short this spring, and there’s little doubt that the Yankees idea of letting Jeter DH against lefties in the regular season leaves a legitimate opportunity for Nunez to get big league playing time again.

“I want Jeter to be healthy again and play how he plays,” Nunez said. “But for now, it’s my opportunity to show I can play every day and show I can play defense. I can do different things than people think I can do. … I feel great right now. My confidence is (high). I know what I can do. I know what kind of player I can be, and that I can be right now.”

Girardi said the Yankees will look for consistency out of Nunez, and that should come as little surprise. Nunez has shown flashes of being a valuable big leaguer — most recently, he played well during his short time playing in Jeter’s place during the ALCS — but his defensive lapses are well documented.

“He has to earn it,” Girardi said. “We’ve got to toy with some different options, but we liked what he did at the end of last year. We know he provides a lot of excitement. Our plans are probably to keep him at short for the most part — we did talk about that — but he does have to earn it.”

Girardi said there’s a chance the Yankees could carry both Nunez and Jayson Nix, but it would leave the Yankees without a left-handed pinch hitter, which they’d like to have. Ultimately, Girardi repeated his familiar promise to carry the best players to make up the best team. Nunez will have a chance to put himself in that group.

“Jeter’s a Gold Glove,” Nunez said. “Cano’s a Gold Glove. (So are) Teixeira and A-Rod. You don’t see too many errors from these guys. When they come to me, I make an error, it’s a big thing. … It was a little bit in my mind, frustration for that, but I thank Jeter, thank A-Rod (and) thank Cano. They talked to me a lot and teach me how to fix that.”

• Here’s Girardi explaining the Phil Hughes injury: “It’s upper back, up here by his shoulder blades, so we’ll see how he is in a couple of days. The good thing is he was ahead of where he probably would normally be at this time, which helps. … You’re usually more concerned about the lower lingering. But until it’s gone, it’s going to linger. That’s like a Yogi-ism.”

• Despite being ahead of most of the other big league pitchers, Hughes was not in consideration to start Saturday’s spring opener even before the injury.

• Austin Romine said he’s more or less stopped thinking about his back. He doesn’t really notice it any more. Bascially a week into spring training and Romine’s had no problems so far. He’s very optimistic that he’s gotten past the problem.

• Haven’t heard much about Michael Pineda lately. He said today that his shoulder still feels good, but he’s not scheduled for another bullpen until Friday.

• David Phelps gets the opening start on Saturday, and although Girardi didn’t talk about it today, he’s always made it clear in the past that early spring outings don’t carry a lot of weight. I can’t imagine Phelps is going to feel that way. This is what he said earlier in camp: “I pushed myself a little more in the offseason so my arm is ready a little quicker during spring training because I’m trying to make an impression.”

• Speaking of making an impression, I didn’t see it, but there was some buzz today about Ichiro Suzuki’s behind-the-back catch during outfield drills. I asked Brett Gardner to describe it and Gardner started laughing. “That’s my fault,” he said. “I told him to do it.” Gardner said that Ichiro has a variety of behind-the-back catches that he’ll do every once in while when the team is shagging fly balls. Gardner wanted to see a few today, and Ichiro was up to the task. Girardi said he didn’t see Ichiro do it today, but “I’ve seen him do it before,” Girardi said.

• Mark Teixeira’s last day in Yankees camp is March 2. Robinson Cano’s last day is March 3. After that, those two will join their World Baseball Classic teams to prepare for the tournament.

• Random conversation of the day was with new outfielder Thomas Neal. If a handshake is any indication of a man’s strength, Neal just might be a 40-homer guy. I’m not sure how he uses a cell phone without crushing it. Seriously, Neal said he got some interest from the Yankees pretty soon after being designated for assignment, but he took some time making his decision on where to sign. He decided the Yankees were the best fit, with the potential for a real opportunity.

• Matt Diaz tried to convince me to write a story about his son’s tee-ball team. Seriously. He thinks that group has a real shot this year.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 8 Comments →

Pineda: “My mechanics and my motion, everything is the same”02.14.13

Michael Pineda believes that eventually he will be everything he was supposed to be 12 months ago. He believes the fastball velocity will come back, the slider will be sharp, and he’ll be back in the big leagues to finally help the Yankees.

“One hundred percent,” Pineda said. “I saw the video when I threw my bullpen, and my mechanics and my motion, everything is the same.”

Still working his way back from last year’s shoulder surgery, Pineda has thrown one bullpen off a full mound. He said his throwing program has him scheduled to face hitters at some point in March. He could be throwing changeups off the mound as early as next week.

“He looks good,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate – and it’s not his fault – that he’s not further along so we can see him pitch in (spring training) games. He’s right where he’s supposed to be. He’s throwing off a mound. We’re happy about that. I think he looks good. It’s a long haul when you go through what he went through.”

Pineda said he talked to another pitcher — a low-level guys in the Mariners organization — who went through the same injury and same surgery.

“He said he come back stronger and the same pitcher,” Pineda said. “The only thing you need is work hard every day and focus on the things you have. That’s what I’m doing. Be in perfect shape and you’ll be great. I’m working all year here in Tampa, and I’ll be ready for this year.”

Pineda looks thinner than he did last spring. He said he reported to camp at 260 pounds, a full 20 pounds lighter than last spring. He said he recognizes now that he wasn’t in adequate shape last spring. Girardi said he doesn’t believe the weight caused the injury, but he takes Pineda’s improved conditioning as a good sign of his dedication to the rehab process.

“The strength is coming,” Girardi said. “He’s thrown off a full mound, I believe, one time. It’s too early (to know exactly how strong the shoulder will be), and you don’t want to put (expectations) like we want to see more. It’s a slow progression, but it’s a lot further than when we saw him when he left.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 83 Comments →

The good, the bad and the mixed reviews01.21.13

When I choose Pinch Hitter posts, I try to find both sides of an argument. I look for some guest posters with a pessimistic view, and I look for some who are firm optimists. When Daniel first emailed me to suggest today’s pinch hitter topic, his proposal was built around these two sentences:

I truly believe the only way the Yankees will compete this season and next with this austerity budget looming will be via trades for young impact players like Justin Upton. I have not seen Brian Cashman, in my opinion, make a feasible trade since 2008 and the Nick Swisher trade so my confidence is at an all time low.

I was expecting an indictment of Cashman’s trade history, not a conclusion of full confidence, and my guess is that Daniel wasn’t expecting that conclusion either.

It’s tricky business trying to make an absolute, black-and-white evaluation of any team’s trade, draft and free agent history. There are going to be highs and lows, and even those highs and lows — with a few exceptions — are going to come with mixed reviews. The Nick Swisher deal was an absolute win for the Yankees. The Pedro Feliciano signing was a clear loss. But those are in the minority.

The A.J. Burnett signing depends on how much weight you put into his 2009 World Series performance.

The Jesus Montero trade depends on how well Michael Pineda comes back from shoulder surgery.

The Javier Vazquez trade depends on the development of Dante Bichette Jr., and whether you believe the Yankees would have kept Melky Cabrera long enough to see him emerge (and whether you believe his emergence would have stained the clubhouse).

The Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy draft depends on how you feel about the Joba Rules and the Curtis Granderson trade, and the Curtis Granderson trade depends on how you feel about Granderson’s soon-to-be four years with the Yankees and whether the Yankees need a younger center fielder, and whether the Yankees need a younger center fielder might depend on the development of Slade Heathcott, who was only drafted as compensation because the Yankees were unable to sign Gerrit Cole in 2008, which was the same draft that yielded David Phelps, who might not have gotten a big league chance last season had Pineda not been injured and Burnett not been traded.

Point is, it’s hard to put any of this in a vacuum and make a definitive statement. On a case-by-case basis, we can argue and deliberate and form opinions, but the collective moves of a front office rarely fit under a universal heading. There are positives and negatives, fodder for the pessimists and the optimists alike, and that’s why we can spend an entire winter — each and every winter — having the same basic debate over and over again.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 103 Comments →

Pinch hitting: Daniel Burch01.21.13

Up next in our Pinch Hitters series is Daniel Burch, who was born 27 years ago in Lebanon Hospital overlooking the old Yankee Stadium. Daniel has since moved to Atlanta and says that the Yankees are “easily the biggest thing that I miss from living in New York.” Daniel started his own blog, The Greedy Pinstripes, and calls himself a confessed “prospect hugger and anti austerity fan.”

Makes sense, then, that Daniel suggested a post about Brian Cashman’s trade history and whether Yankees fans should trust their general manager to make the necessary moves to keep the Yankees winning without a $200-million payroll.

This has been an off season to remember, or forget, depending on how you want to look at it.

For fans spoiled to grow up watching the Yankees during the dynasty years of the mid 90′s until as recently as 2009, we have all seen guys come through the system like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, and a plethora of others guys that I am unintentionally forgetting. We have also seen the Yankees go out and bid against themselves to get the biggest free agent prizes like Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Hideki Matsui, and probably 600 other free agents that George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have gotten into pinstripes. With a seemingly infinite budget — in free agency, on the international market and in the draft — the Yankees and Cashman have not been afraid to pull off big trades involving prospects for proven veteran pieces to make another World Series run. It was fun to watch until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and its harsher penalties for repeat luxury tax offenders.

The idea to get under the $189-million threshold to save some money and restart the penalties makes sense on paper, but does it make sense in the real world? I personally have my doubts, and my question has always been whether the fiscal savings by getting under the threshold would outweigh the fiscal hit the Yankees would take if we were mediocre on the field not only in 2014 but this season as well. Can the Yankees really compete in a deep and competitive American League East AND follow through with the austerity budget in what seems to be a rebuilding project? Sure, we can, but the only way that is going to happen is if we put our faith into Cashman’s alter ego: Ninja Cashman.

Let’s not beat around the bush: Our farm system, especially in the upper levels, is depleted and barren and not going to really help us in major spots in 2013 and beyond besides for maybe a David Adams, Corban Joseph, Adam Warren, or a Mark Montgomery. While those are nice pieces for depth or in a pinch, aside from Montgomery, none of these guys is a can’t-miss type that we will need to keep the payroll down and still compete. The only way we are going to get this done is if Ninja Cashman can pull off a trade or two that brings us a young and effective piece without creating too many other holes. But can we really bank on that? I am glad that you asked…

I took it upon myself to look at the past six seasons worth of trades, no matter how minor, and evaluate each one specifically to determine whether we should really put our faith into Ninja Cash or if we should expect to miss the playoffs the next two seasons. I am just going to hit the high spots because I do not think anyone puts much weight into trades like when we acquired Justin Maxwell from the Nationals in 2011 for some guy whose name I cannot pronounce and have to copy and paste his last name (Adam Olbrychowski) to make sure the spelling is correct. Let’s look and evaluate the trade history of Ninja Cash:

On July 23, 2012 the Yankees traded minor leaguers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar for Ichiro Suzuki. This trade worked out beautifully for the Yankees because we were never going to give either of the young guys a shot for the big club, and in 67 games Ichiro gave us a 0.8 WAR, wreaked havoc on the base paths, and was one of the few Yankees to not totally disappear when the calendar changed to October. Verdict: Good Trade

On April 4, 2012 Cashman traded George Kontos to the Giants for Chris Stewart. This trade never made much sense to me because, while I can agree that relievers are a dime a dozen and Kontos was not exactly young or a “can’t miss guy,” can you not say the same thing about backup, defensive-minded, no-bat catchers? And that’s especially relevant when the Yankees already had a capable backup in Francisco Cervelli. Kontos went on to have a pretty good season for the eventual World Series champions, while we were without guys like Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain. Stewart did nothing of note for the Yankees. Granted Stewart looks more and more like our starting catcher in 2013, which I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, so there is time to get some value out of this trade. Verdict: Bad Trade

On January 23, 2012 the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos from the Mariners. As much as this trade hurt because I have watched Montero come through the system and salivated at the idea of his power in Yankee Stadium, the trade made sense because Pineda was a power arm with five years left of team control and filled a need. Campos was also considered to be able to walk into camp and be listed in our Top 5 Prospects list right away. He had much more potential then Noesi ever thought of having. The trade is obviously incomplete as even after the 2013 season we will still have three years left of Pineda, and Campos is still only in Charleston. You have to wonder if Pineda will ever come back and be effective for the Yankees, and the only redeeming factor in this trade is the fact that Montero once again seems to be without a true position and did not exactly tear the cover off of the ball while Noesi got lit up in Safeco. Verdict: Fair Trade

On July 31, 2010 the Yankees acquired “Kid K” Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for two players to be named later — who turned out to be Matt Cusik and Andrew Shive — and cash. Kerry came over and absolutely dominated out of the Yankees pen with a 0.69 ERA in the second half while, to date neither, Shive nor Cusik has done anything for the tribe. Verdict: Good Trade

On December 22, 2009 the Yankees traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez. While in Atlanta, Cabrera was absolutely terrible, allowed to leave as a free agent, and eventually signed with Kansas City. Dunn has not done anything to lose sleep over, and Vizcaino is going to miss the 2013 season with Tommy John surgery. While Logan has been somewhat of the LOOGY we have been searching for the last five to ten seasons, Vazquez was absolutely terrible for the Yankees. It is a lot to give up just for essentially a LOOGY, but since we did not give up anything that has come back to bite us to date this trade gets my approval. Verdict: Good Trade

On December 8, 2009 the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Tigers hooked up in a three-team trade that saw The Yankees acquire Curtis Granderson from Detroit while giving up Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers and sending Ian Kennedy to Arizona with other lesser pieces moving back and forth. Granderson started out well for the Yankees and has compiled a 13.2 WAR since the trade. The pieces we gave up have compiled a 26.8 WAR in the same time period. Jackson has turned into one of the better leadoff men and center fielders in the American League, Coke has dominated us in the playoffs out of the pen, and Kennedy is one season removed from becoming a 20-game winner. Granderson has forgotten how to take routes in center field and has become an all-or-nothing kind of home run hitter that the Yankees were trying to get away from. Verdict: Bad Trade

Our final trade we are going to look at was on November 13, 2008 when the Yankees acquire Nick Swisher and reliever Kanekoa Texeira for Wilson Betemit, Jeffrey Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez. This was a classic buy low move after Swisher had the worst season of his career in Chicago and rebounded nicely in four seasons for the Yankees. We gave up nothing of note and got a fan favorite in return that the Yankees are scrambling and struggling to replace after leaving via free agency this season. Swisher has compiled a 15 WAR in his time in pinstripes where Betemit, Marquez, and Nunez combined have brought Chicago a 2 WAR. Verdict: Excellent Trade

I know that I have missed a few trades, but for the sake of space, I hit the high spots and went over the bigger of the trades. According to my tally, I have one excellent trade, three good trades, one fair trade, and two bad trades. Trades, much like the MLB draft, are a crap shoot because you never know what you are going to get, but on the bigger trades Ninja Cash seems to get the better end of the deal more often than not.

I am not the most patient Yankees fan, and I definitely hate settling for anyone less then Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton this offseason — hence the name Greedy Pinstripes. My faith in my General Manager and the team’s commitment to winning will never waiver. Ninja Cash has been fantastic at finding cheap value late in the offseason and in trades, and I have full confidence that he will again in 2013 and 2014 to keep this team in contention.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 81 Comments →

Pineda watch11.23.12

Who knows what Michael Pineda is? He had one half of a good season with the Mariners and now he’s coming off shoulder surgery.

But he’s only going to be 24 in January and the 6-foot-7 righty did come with a price tag of Jesus Montero. It would be nice if he turned out to be something sooner or later in the Yankees’ rotation and lived up to the potential he originally showed.

Pineda went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 2011, but he was just 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA after the All-Star break that year.  Then came the trade, the labrum tear and the operation May 1, forcing him to miss the entire season.

Here’s what we heard the other day about his comeback:

He came to town within the last two weeks for a routine follow-up with Dr. Chris Ahmad, the Yankees’ physician, and Dr. David Altchek, the Mets’ physician who operated on Pineda.  He threw at Yankee Stadium on flat ground, his program for about two months.

“He looked good,” Brian Cashman said. “He’s throwing on flat ground at 90 feet, so I don’t want to get  …

“All I can report is his arm was working very well, very healthy, very loose. He had zip on it. He’s in great physical shape in terms of body weight.

“He’s not going to be a choice in game action until probably sometime in May or June. Whether it’s majors or minors, who’s to say? We’ve got him to the side. … We certainly have high hopes for him, but in terms of planning and counting on him, it’s in everybody’s interest not to do that right now and just put together as deep and strong a staff as possible and be pleasantly surprised and appreciative if we can welcome him back to the fold at some point.

“But that’s all for another day. He’s got a lot more hurdles in the rehab process to clear.”

In other news, ESPN on Thursday had the Red Sox agreeing with Jonny Gomes on a deal for two years and $10 million, contingent on a physical. The outfielder hit .262 with 18 homers and 47 RBI for the A’s last season.

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 135 Comments →

Plenty of lingering questions following Pineda’s diagnosis04.26.12

Michael Pineda is not going to pitch this year, and it’s reasonable to wonder whether he’ll ever be an effective pitcher again. Elbow surgery has become routine. Shoulder surgery is still a giant risk.

Yesterday’s announcement raised plenty of long-term questions that can’t be answered here and now, but it also raised several short-term questions that can be addressed.

When was Pineda hurt?
Brian Cashman: “We believe this took place on that last singular pitch in the 15-pitch rehab outing.”

It’s hard to believe something like this could happen on one pitch, but Pineda went through two MRIs and multiple resistance tests before Saturday’s rehab start in Tampa. The MRIs came back clean, the resistance tests showed good arm strength, and Cashman said even Pineda’s bullpens had been sharp leading to Saturday’s extended spring training start.

“After the one inning where he walked off after 15 pitches and said he felt something in the end, that physical exam completely changed,” Cashman said.

Cashman acknowledges that “it’s real fair to speculate that there was something there, laying dormant,” but the Yankees are confident that Pineda’s labrum was not torn until Saturday.

Did the Mariners know something?
Brian Cashman: “We got a healthy player to the best of everyone’s knowledge.”

Cashman went out of his way yesterday to say that he does no believe the Mariners were hiding something, and Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has said the same thing.

“We had full access to his medicals, which were clean,” Cashman said. “We had the opportunity to do a full physical exam, which we did, which came out clean. Michael has never had a shoulder issue nor has he complained of one with the Mariners, nor has he ever had any tests on the shoulder with the Mariners. This is just an unfortunate circumstance that can happen.”

There has long been a theory that the Mariners made this trade strictly because they knew something the Yankees didn’t, but that theory can just as easily go the other way, that the Yankees would only trade a bat like Jesus Montero if they knew something the Mariners didn’t know. As Zduriencik told Andrew Marchand: “Before the trade, he was going to be our No. 2 starter.”

Did last year’s second half raise any red flags?
Brian Cashman: “There’s a little bit of a myth here.”

The myth Cashman’s refering to is the idea that Pineda’s second half was significantly worse than his first half last season. His ERA suggests that’s the case, but his strikeouts-per-nine and walks-per-nine stayed almost exactly the same (strikeouts-per-nine actually went up a little bit). As for velocity, that stayed relatively consistent as well except for his last start when he was pitching on 10-days rest and had gone through a kind of odd September as the Mariners tried to limit his workload.

“The bottom line, they were very similar, first half, second half,” Cashman said. “The important statistical categories that kind of measure how someone is pitching were fairly close, and his velocity in the first half and second half were fairly close. It wasn’t a radical change that’s been written about.”

Cashman isn’t the only one who feels this way. FanGraphs wrote the same thing immediately after the trade. There is this notion that the Yankees should have known they were getting damaged goods, but I’m just not sure the evidence is there.

Does this make the Montero trade a total bust?
Brian Cashman: “It’s certainly not a good situation.”

Oddly enough, in some ways, the current situation is exactly the reason the Yankees traded for Pineda in the first place. Pitchers get hurt, and young guys full of potential don’t always have sustained success at the big league level. The Yankees really believe that they can never have too much pitching, and they prefered a good young pitcher instead of a good young hitter. It just so happens that good young pitcher they acquired has a serious injury before throwing a single pitch for the team.

“There’s obviously always risk involving pitchers,” Cashman said. “But obviously this was a big move that I pursued this winter. You always know, you go in with eyes wide open if you pursue this with pitching. But to experience this on the front end, it’s extremely difficult.”

Knowing what they know now about Pineda’s shoulder, there’s no way the Yankees would make the same trade again. To judge it completely at this point would be short-sighted — the deal was always about much more than 2012 — but if the Yankees could take it back, they would. And that’s not a good sign.

“Hopefully the surgery will go as well as can be expected,” Cashman said. “And the rehab will go as well as could be expected, and we’ll get a player back that we hoped we would be getting. At the same time, you can’t deny that there’s a lot of risks associated with his circumstance now and the asset that we’ve acquired because of what has occurred. There’s no way of spinning this as anything other than a very unfortunate circumstance that will certainly affect us here in 2012 and may affect us going forward. But hopefully for the player’s sake as well as our franchise’s sake — certainly I was counting on this player — hopefully everything will go as well as you could possibly hope giving the unfortunate setting that we’re in.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 313 Comments →

Yankees pregame (with revised lineup)04.17.12

Brian Heyman here again tonight for Chad. Mark Teixeira has been scratched due to flu-like symptoms.

Here’s the revised lineup:

1. Derek Jeter DH

2. Nick Swisher 1B

3. Robinson Cano 2B

4. Alex Rodriguez 3B

5. Andruw Jones RF

6. Curtis Granderson CF

7. Eduardo Nunez SS

8. Brett Gardner LF

9. Chris Stewart C

On the subject of starting pitchers, Andy Pettitte is down for about 65 pitches Friday when he starts again for Single-A Tampa, this time at Daytona.

And Michael Pineda is down for another bullpen session within the next few days, according to Joe Girardi. The Yankees hope he can start pitching in games after that. …

The Yankees have just two quality starts out of 10 so far, none from tonight’s starter against the Twins, CC Sabathia.

“To me, command has probably been the biggest issue,” Girardi said, speaking about the five starters in general. “Not to where we’ve walked a lot of people, but where we’ve gotten too much of the plate.”

Sabathia allowed nine earned runs over 12 innings in his first two starts, both no-decisions. The lefty is usually better when the weather is warmer.

“CC is a guy who has a really good changeup,” Girardi said. “A changeup is a feeling pitch. Obviously the warmer it is, the better feeling you’re going to have in your fingers. Some guys just enjoy the weather more. CC is one of those guys that you look at him, he doesn’t mind if it’s 95 degrees and really, really hot. I always dislike those days, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.” …

Hiroki Kuroda, who will start tomorrow night, has one of the two quality starts, his last one in the home opener against the Angels when he tossed eight-plus shutout innings. He had faced the Angels with the Dodgers, but the Rays got him for six runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 in his first outing. Kuroda is still adjusting to life in the AL.

“The biggest challenge is to get to know the hitters,” Kuroda said through interpreter Kenji Nimura.

Russell Martin is familiar with him from their Dodger days.

“Russell really helps me out,” Kuroda said.

The AL has taken the bat out of Kuroda’s hands so far.

“I don’t miss it at all,” he said. …

This is the 61st anniversary of Bob Sheppard’s first major-league game here as the PA announcer. April 17, 1951, marked Mickey Mantle’s first game as well. Mantle went 1 for 4. Two years later on this date, Mantle sent up his 565-foot homer at Griffith Stadium in Washington.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 31 Comments →

Thursday notes: Cervelli still next in line behind the plate04.05.12

The day after the Yankees set their Opening Day roster, most of the questions seemed to center on guys who aren’t on the list. What’s next for Andy Pettitte? Is there a rehab plan for Michael Pineda? And, once again, why is Francisco Cervelli not on this team?

“I think he’s one of the best 60 catchers in the game, without a doubt,” Brian Cashman said. “I just think that right now, we have maybe three of the best 60 catchers in the game. That’s good for us, but obviously that’s not good for him because one of them is out of options and he’s not that guy.”

Chris Stewart took an overnight flight from California and joined the team this morning. He’s actually somewhat familiar with some of the pitching staff, having previously caught Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. As for Cervelli, he’s been shipped to Lehigh Valley for the Triple-A team’s opening series against the IronPigs.

He’s no longer the Yankees backup, but he’s still second in line for the starting job. Joe Girardi said today that Cervelli would become the starter if Russell Martin got hurt. He’s in Triple-A strictly because that’s the only way the Yankees could make it work while increasing their catching depth with Stewart.

“I think (Cervelli) would play the majority of the games is Russell got hurt,” Girardi said.

Essentially, the Yankees backup plan went from Cervelli/Craig Tatum to Cervelli/Stewart. They see that as an upgrade worth losing a pretty good young relief pitcher. Who they’re carrying as a backup on Opening Day isn’t a huge issue — it is for Cervelli, obviously, but the Yankees seem happy with either option — so this is really about a Plan B should Martin get hurt.

“If we had a problem and all of a sudden we’re vulnerable, and I went out of my way to look for someone to fix it, it’s going to cost,” Cashman said. “At that position it’s going to cost. Now, I don’t feel as vulnerable.”

• Michael Pineda made 25 throws today and experience no problems, but the Yankees are still uncertain about what comes next for him. “What he had was mild, at least by the MRI,” Cashman said. “It was hopefully nothing but a bump in the road. At the same time, you’ve got to wait until he’s back doing what he’s supposed to be doing, so I give that with a little bit of a caveat.”

• Andy Pettitte is not with the team. He’s back in Tampa preparing for his first minor league start, which will probably come on Monday. “I would anticipate that he’ll be on a regular schedule now,” Joe Girardi said. “Throw a side in couple of days, make a start and just continue to build up.”

• It’s too early to know which of Pettitte and Pineda will be ready first. “I can’t really tell you on that until Pineda starts throwing,” Girardi said. “We have to talk about when we think he’s going to pick up a baseball and start playing catch, when do we feel he’ll be on a mound, when do we feel he’s going to be in a game? We haven’t gotten to that, yet. He’s built up, though. That’s the difference. Depending on how long he sits out, we’ll have a difference of when he could be back.”

• Girardi’s made it clear that he plans to play Eduardo Nunez against left-handers, using that as an opportunity to DH either Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter. That likely means Brett Gardner will get a lot of days off against lefties while Andruw Jones plays left field. As for Nunez, the Yankees seem to really believe he’ll be productive this season, and they’re planning to start him Saturday against David Price. “I’m not waiting a month this year (to put him in the lineup),” Girardi said.

• Girardi on David Phelps making the team: “I think it’s important that he really soaks in tomorrow. I tell the players, ‘Just take a second and realize where you’re at, what you’ve worked so hard for your whole life and dreamt about.’ It’s a pretty neat feeling the first time your name is called and you go out there.”

• CC Sabathia had a slight head cold for his final spring start in Miami, but he said that’s gone. “I feel fine now,” he said. “That’s still no excuse for why I didn’t pitch good (last time). It’s just one of those nights.”

• Sabathia was occasionally disappointed by his fastball command this spring. “It was pretty good in my bullpen (after the last start),” he said. “I was excited about that. I throw everything off my fastball — my changeup, my cutter, everything. I need to have that to be able to pitch well.”

• Cashman on Alfredo Aceves being named the Red Sox closer: “When he’s healthy he’s not afraid of anything and he’s capable of everything.”

• Random clubhouse note: Eric Chavez has moved into the locker that Jorge Posada was always assigned here at the Trop. Chavez is now in the row of veterans that includes Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones and Mark Teixeira.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 171 Comments →

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