• June 30th vs. The Rangers

    Posted by on June 30th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    I watched most of this one – picking the game up around 8 pm – during the Baseball Prospectus gathering at Foley’s Pub tonight.

    The third biggest reaction from the crowd at the bar was when A-Rod hit his monster homer.

    The second biggest reaction from the crowd at the bar was when Jose Molina got his bell rung on a cross-up from Jose Veras.

    The biggest reaction from the crowd at the bar was when the T.V. showed the slow-motion replay of Molina taking one on the fly from Veras right to his huevos.

    And, that just about sums up the Yankees night today. What a waste. But, hey, it was Supercuts Visor Night! (I only know this because I saw a bunch of people on the train, heading back to New Jersey, sporting their brand new visors.)

    It was an interesting night at Foley’s…the Yankees lost a tough one, the Mets lost badly to the Cardinals…which hurt because the Mets just beat the Yankees and now were getting their tail kicked, easily, in St. Louis…and the Rays beat the Red Sox…and you’re not sure who to root for in that series…and all three games were going at the same time on three different T.V. sets…

    So, from a game watching perspective, it was somewhat painful. But, from a “hanging out” perspective…it was a great night.

    I got to meet some of the readers of this blog – including frequent WasWatching.com commenter “Raf.” I got to meet some good Yankees fans who don’t read this blog. (Hey, what’s up with that?) I got to see people like Alex Belth and Cliff Corcoran, from Bronx Banter, who I haven’t seen in a while. And, I got to meet, for the first time, some people – like Peter Abraham and Will Carroll – who I’ve traded e-mails with in the past…but who I had never meet in person before tonight. (Happy Birthday, again, Will!)

    You know, back in the day, during a Yankees game recap, when the Scooter heard that Pope Paul VI had just passed away, he said “Well, that kind of puts a damper on even a Yankee win.”

    Well, hanging at Foley’s tonight was fun enough for me to now say “Hey, that kind of takes the damper off even a Yankee loss!”

    My thanks to all who took some time to chat with me and share part of the evening…it was a pleasure. And, my apologies to anyone who I didn’t get a chance to say ‘good-bye’ to when I had to bolt – soon after the game ended – at 10:20. (My train was leaving Penn at 10:42 – which I just made – and that got me home just before midnight. The next train was leaving at 11:30 – which would have gotten me home at 12:42…and that’s a big difference.)

    Cross your fingers for Joba Chamberlain on Tuesday. With this loss today, and Sidney Ponson going on Wednesday…Joba may be our best chance at avoiding a sweep.

    How Tough Has The Yanks Road Been?

    Posted by on June 30th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    At this moment, the Yankees have 44 wins and 38 losses (on the season). That’s a winning percentage of .537 – which means the Yankees are on pace to win 87 games this season.

    However, we know that you cannot assume that the next 80 games are going to turn out like the last 82 games, right? After all, the future is unknown. But, we can look at the past and see what happened and how the Yankees got there, no? Well, actually, we know what happened – the Yanks went 44-38. So, maybe the question is: What does that mean?

    Looking at the MLB Relative Power Index that they keep at ESPN.com tells us that the Yankees SOS (Strength of Schedule) to date is .506 – which means the Yankees have not been playing, on the whole, strong teams or weak teams.

    And, looking at the Adjusted Standings that they keep at Baseball Prospectus tells us that the Yankees AEQR (which is their equivalent runs scored adjusted for strength of schedule) is 404 whereas their EQR (which is their equivalent runs scored) is 398. The fact that their AEQR is close to their EQR suggests that the Yankees have faced league average pitching, thereabouts, to date.

    Further, looking at the Adjusted Standings that they keep at Baseball Prospectus tells us that the Yankees AEQRA (which is their equivalent runs allowed adjusted for strength of schedule) is 365 whereas their EQRA (which is their equivalent runs allowed) is 364. The fact that their AEQRA is close to their EQRA suggests that the Yankees pitchers have faced league average batters, thereabouts, to date.

    If you tie all this together, to me, it says that the Yankees have been playing middle-of-the-pack teams (in terms of their opponents’ hitting, pitching, and winning percentage – all being league average) and, while doing this, New York has produced a record for themselves that is just a few ticks above average (meaning on pace for 87 wins – compared to 81 wins).

    And, it just amplifies what I said four days ago: The 2008 Yankees are lacking exceptional ability – since, if they had better ability, their record would be better…given who they’ve played so far.

    I know that’s hard to believe when you look at some of the names on their roster. But, the numbers do back up the notion that, on a grading scale of A, B, C, D and F, to date, the Yankees have earned a “C.”

    When you play medicore teams and you produce a medicore record, you’re a medicore team too.

    Baseball Prospectus Crew @ Foley’s Pub

    Posted by on June 30th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a fan of Foley’s Pub and Restaurant (at 18 W. 33rd Street in NYC).

    So, when I heard that the BP Crew and guests were gathering there this evening at 8 pm, for one of their open “Pizza Feeds,” the notion of going back to Foley’s started to gnaw away at my brain. Responding to that, I’m going to try and get there this evening. (Barring anything popping up in the next four hours, I should be there. So, the odds of me making it now are better than 50-50.)

    Related, I thought I would share the info about the gathering here – in case anyone else was interested in going.

    I’ve never been to one of these BP events before…but, people I know who have gone in the past say that it’s fun. Plus, hey, it’s Foley’s!

    And, what’s not to like about that?

    Brett Gardner Called-Up?

    Posted by on June 30th, 2008 · Comments (16)

    Peter Abraham is reporting that Gardner has been called up to the big team. I recommended this move two days ago.

    Thank you, Yankees, for listening.

    Yanks Getting Kicked In The Jewels This Season?

    Posted by on June 29th, 2008 · Comments (25)

    Coming into this season, the general consensus of the experts was that Joba Chamberlain, Alan Horne, Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Jose Tabata were the top five prospects in the Yankees farm system. (Note: I’m just listing them in alpha-order here.)

    So, now that we’re half-way into 2008, what’s the current status of these five? Are they still on a good track? Or, have they regressed? Let’s look at each of them:

    Joba Chamberlain: He’s been as real a deal as a real deal can be…no issues here.

    Alan Horne: He’s missed about 8 starts this season due to injury. And, when he’s pitched the results have been so-so. Most recently, he’s complained of having a dead arm. When you’re 25-years old and pitching in Triple-A, and having a season like Horne is to date, you’re losing some of that luster off your prospect status star.

    Austin Jackson: He’s 21-years old and playing in Double-A where the average age of both position players and pitchers (this year) is 24.6 years old. So, he’s young for where he’s playing – but he’s holding his own in the process. Maybe he’s not a can’t-miss, superstar to be, type prospect? But, he’s still a very good propsect and maybe the Yankees best position-player prospect (in terms of age, overall game, and resume to date) in their system.

    Ian Kennedy: He flopped in the majors this season. And, he’s suffered a back-related injury for the second season in a row. Further, it seems that he’s slipped down in terms of what the big league staff thinks of him. It’s not a reach to say that Kennedy has taken a step backward, to date, in terms of his prospect status.

    Jose Tabata: At 19-years old, he’s young for playing in Double-A. Maybe it was a mistake for the Yankees to have him at that level this season? He’s struggled with the bat this year, to date, and his defensive game has lapses. Worse, he’s getting the rep of being someone with a bad attitude. Right now, the only thing he has going for him is his age – as there are more questions around his prospect status, today, than there are good things to say.

    So, in summary, it’s not all rainbows and cupcakes this season for the “crown jewels” of the Yankees farm system. Yes, Chamberlain is great. And, yes, Jackson appears to be on track. But, it’s not been a good season for Horne, Kennedy and Tabata.

    The Horne and Kennedy thing is most distressing – because, when you add that to the poor seasons (this year) of young Yankees pitchers Phil Hughes, Jeffrey Marquez, and Dellin Betances (who, all three, were also rated very high by the experts as being high-potential young hurlers), it makes you wonder if the Yankees reported stockpile of young arms (in their system) is really everything that it’s cracked up to be…no?

    June 2008 Survey Question #6

    Posted by on June 29th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    Please consider taking the following poll:

    {democracy:11}

    Thanks in advance. And, please feel free to add comments on your opinion in the comments section below.

    TSN’s Eichenberger: Yankees-Mets Rivalry Lives

    Posted by on June 29th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Bill Eichenberger, of The Sporting News, takes a look at the Yankees-Mets rivalry. Click here to read his feature. And, see if you can find the less than laconic (for a change) quotes about the rivalry from your Friendly Neighborhood Yankeeland Zealot in there too.

    June 29th @ The Mets

    Posted by on June 29th, 2008 · Comments (11)

    It kills me every time Oliver Perez pitches a good game against the Yankees. Why? I just have this fear of Hank Stein falling in love with him – based on what Perez does against the Yanks – and then signing him as a free agent this off-season.

    Don’t get me wrong…if the Yankees want to sign a young, left-handed, starting pitcher free agent in this, or any, off-season, I’m fine with that…as long as he’s good and of sound mind and body. Perez? He’s just a mess – unless he’s pitching against the Yankees. And, it would be a waste of money to sign him as a free agent.

    Speaking of pitching, Darrell Rasner was better today. Based on what we’re hearing now from Girardi on Ian Kennedy (that he’s not on a rehab assignment, that he was demoted to the minors, and he has to earn his way back to the majors) and what we’re hearing now from Cashman on Phil Hughes (that he should pitch again this season – but, don’t expect it to be in the majors), the Yankees are going to need Rasner to be decent…because there aren’t many other options on the roster.

    Before I forget…yeah, that homer from Wilson Betemit was impressive today. It had the look, sound, and distance of a Glenallen Hill juice-job circa 2000. No, I not suggesting anything about Betemit. I’m just saying that you cannot hit a ball any harder than that one.

    How about David Robertson? Well, based on what we saw today, I would say that his upside is Gregg Olson (the former Orioles closer) and his downside is Jason Anderson (a recent failed Yankees pitching prospect). Then again, he could just be somewhere in the middle too.

    One last thing before I get to the most important thing about this game…how about that hissy fit by Agador Reyes in the top of the seventh (when he was charged with a throwing error on a ball that Delgado should have caught and then Reyes threw his glove into the ground, in disgust)? Gosh, I hope that video gets played, over and over again, for the next 24-hours, on every sports highlight show between ESPN, FOX and you name it. The whole world needs to see how this guy is not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence with Derek Jeter – even when Jeter is having a poor season.

    Now, the big ticket: On the season, the Mets beat the Yankees four out of six times. And, one of those times that the Yankees won was a narrow 3-2 victory where they got lucky with a couple of somewhat gift runs. Yes, this same Mets team who was been playing .500 ball for the last calendar year (or longer?) pushed the Yankees around this season.

    When you boil down how the Yankees have played, on the whole, this season, should we be shocked that the Mets took four of six? Or, is that just another indication that this Yankees team has some issues that need to be addressed?

    Me? I’m saying no to the former and yes to the latter. How about you?

    Rags’ No-No…Revisited

    Posted by on June 29th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Daniel Brown, of the San Jose Mercury News, sat down with Dave Righetti – to review his no-hitter against the Red Sox…a quarter-century ago.

    Has it really been that long? If I close my eyes, I can remember the day like it was yesterday. The game was on SportsChannel. I had to work that night. At that time, I was working part-time at Macy*s (in the Staten Island Mall). Typically, back then, stores would be closed on a holiday like the Fourth of July. However, Macy*s decided to be radical, buck the trend that year, and have the store open. My shift started at six o’clock – which meant that I had to leave my house around 5:15 pm (to get there in time).

    Rags’ no-hitter ended a few minutes before five o’clock. So, it was a close call for me – I got to watch the whole game and then had to hustle up…getting changed for work quickly and then driving out to the Mall.

    Since it was fairly strange to have a store open, then, on the Fourth of July, there were almost zero customers there (that night). There was one Asian family walking about the store – and they spoke very little english. (Our guess, in the store, was that they were visiting the States and didn’t even know it was the Fourth of July.) That’s it. From six to nine-thirty (closing time), we saw no one else in the store sans that family.

    So, this provided a great chance for me and some of the other guys working there (who were also Yankees fans) to spend the evening regaling over Righetti’s achievement. We also staged a mini-game of ball in the aisle between men’s accessories and ladies’ handbags when that family wasn’t around and the floor managers (who were just as ‘thrilled’ to be there on a holiday as we were) looked the other way. (What we used for a bat and ball…I can’t remember…but I do recall that neither was very effective.)

    Click here to read Brown’s feature in the Mercury News. It’s a good one.

    What’s your memory of July 4, 1983? Feel free to post it in the comments section below.

    Go Right At Perez

    Posted by on June 29th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Here’s the BA/OBA/SLG line for LH-batters against the Mets Oliver Perez, this season, to date: .167/.298/.333. And, this is what it was last season: .206/.285/.340.

    In 14 career PA against Perez, Bobby Abreu is 0 for 10 with 4 walks. That’s a BA/OBA/SLG line of .000/.286/.000. Sounds like a good day, today, to sit Abreu and have Justin Christian play rightfield.

    June 28th @ The Mets

    Posted by on June 28th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    Sweet. Sum’game, huh?

    Nothing better than winning, 3-2, with Andy Pettitte pitching like an “ace” – especially coming back out after the long rain delay today – and besting the Mets’ ace, Johan Santana. Also, having Agador Reyes get picked-off second, in the bottom of the fifth, with two outs, and his team down by a run, with David Wright up at the plate, was just the icing on the cake.

    Although, I have to be honest, I was sweating the bottom of the 8th inning. Yanks up by just one, the Mets 2-3-4 hitters coming to the plate, and Kyle Farnsworth pitching. Man, General Joe has the guts of a burglar…either that, or, he really does think that Farnsworth is a capable pitcher…

    Part of me fears seeing Farnsworth coming through in these spots – as crazy as that sounds. I just have this feeling that, if Kyle keeps handling the eighth, the Yankees are going to continue to count on him for that spot. And, then, somewhere – maybe late in the season or in the post-season – it’s going to come back to haunt them…when Farnsworth blows a huge game.

    In any event, now that this win is in the books, I really want to see the Yankees win on Sunday. Given the way that the Mets pushed the Yankees around in the Bronx this season, it only seems fair that the Yankees win all three games at Shea…as payback.

    “Revenge, it’s the best way of getting even.” – A. Bunker, circa 1970’s

    David Robertson With Yanks Now

    Posted by on June 28th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    WFAN is reporting that the Yankees have called up David Robertson. No word on who’s leaving the big league roster to make room for him.

    Could be Igawa? Then again, it could be Hawkins?

    WFAN also mentioned that Girardi said surgery could be an option for Godzilla. That would be a bummer.

    Time To Bench Melky?

    Posted by on June 28th, 2008 · Comments (11)

    Brett Gardner made Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet for June 27th. Here’s what they had to say about him:

    One of the IL’s steadiest performers all season, Gardner in the past month has become one of its very best. He’s batting .326/.446/.457 through 92 June at-bats, with 11 steals in 12 attempts, and on the season he now leads the league in on-base percentage (.417), stolen bases (30 in 38 tries), walks (57) and triples (10), while ranking third in runs scored (58). The quintessential leadoff man, Gardner has reached base in 71 of the 77 games in which he’s played this season.

    Since May 1st of this season, Melky Cabrera has put together the following BA/OBP/SLG line: .231/.294/.301 (in 206 PA).

    Would it be a crime – especially with Matsui out – to send down Justin Christian, call up Gardner to play CF, and then bench Cabrera?

    Melky could still play the role of fourth outfielder – and be an excellent defensive sub on the corners late in a game (as he throws better than Damon in left and has more range than Abreu in right).

    What are the Yankees afraid of here? That Gardner might not hit? Well, as long as his OBA is above .300, Brett would be more useful – with the bat – than Melky is now.

    Jon Garland

    Posted by on June 28th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are playing way over their head, to date. They have a W-L record of 48-32 compared to a Pythagorean W-L record of 41-39.

    Suppose that the Angels start to come back down to earth…and are then willing to deal pitcher Jon Garland (as he will be a free agent at the end of the season). Should the Yankees make a run at him? Would you trade Ian Kennedy for him? Someone else?

    Related, what about this winter, when Garland is a free agent? Should the Yankees look to sign him? He’s young – as he will be 29 next year. He’s extremely durable. And, he’s never been terrible. Could the Yankees use someone like this in their rotation next season?

    Yanks Farm Lacking Impact Player?

    Posted by on June 28th, 2008 · Comments (15)

    The second of two today from Ken Rosenthal:

    Rival scouts and executives are somewhat divided over the quality of the Yankees’ farm system, which ranked fifth in the 2008 Baseball America organization rankings.

    Critics, pointing to the stalled developments of pitchers such as Ian Kennedy and Jeff Marquez, say the Yankees overrate their prospects, something to which practically every organization could plead guilty.

    “I’ve seen a lot of guys who will play in the big leagues and pitch in the big leagues,” says one rival scout who is assigned to the Yankees’ system. “But I haven’t seen an impact player.”

    The Yankees, however, possess so many highly regarded young arms, some are bound to succeed. What’s more, they might need to deal only one top young player — say, right-hander Phil Hughes — if the Indians value quality over quantity in a Sabathia trade.

    Another area of depth for the Yankees is center field; Melky Cabrera, 23, is in the majors; Brett Gardner, 24, is at Class AAA; Austin Jackson, 21 at Class AA.

    Gardner an 80 runner on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, is a Juan Pierre/Brett Butler type, only he draws more walks than Pierre. Some scouts question whether he will hit, but at worst he should become a good extra outfielder.

    Jackson has perhaps the highest upside of any position player in the Yankees’ organization.

    Back in 2000, the Yankees reportedly had a wealth of up-and-coming pitching talent. And, as I shared yesterday, in 2002, the Yankees – according to Baseball America – had the fifth best farm system in all of baseball.

    So, from 2000 to 2002, the Yankees were supposedly teeming with prospects – more so than most teams in baseball. Well, it’s now 2008 – and how are all those prospects working out today?

    I don’t know about you; but, I’m really starting to get tired of hearing about how the Yankees future is so bright because of all the prospects in their system. It’s starting to look more and more like a bill of goods…being sold by Brian Cashman…when you consider that we were hearing these same things back in 2000-02.

    Want WasWatching Widget?

    Posted by on June 28th, 2008 · Comments Off

    Wow. Say that three times, fast.

    Just a quick note to share on this…If you’re into widgets, and wanted one for WasWatching, click here.

    Girardi, Or Bad Play, Helping Yanks Pen?

    Posted by on June 28th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    One of two today from Ken Rosenthal:

    Joe Torre’s biggest weakness as Yankees manager was that he overused his most trusted relievers. Bullpen management, by contrast, could prove to be one of Joe Girardi’s biggest strengths.

    Girardi is spreading the workload among his relievers more evenly than Torre did — and the Yankees’ bullpen, even after losing Joba Chamberlain to the rotation, continues to perform well.
    Since May 29, the day after Chamberlain’s last relief appearance, Yankees relievers are 6-3 with a 3.25 ERA, nine saves in 10 opportunities and a .236 opponents’ batting average, according to STATS Inc. In 74 2/3 innings, they have struck out 76 and walked 29.

    At least part of the credit goes to Girardi, who makes use of all 12 of his pitchers — as opposed to Torre, who rarely trusted more than eight.

    Overall, the Yankees rank fourth in the American League in fewest baserunners allowed per nine innings. Girardi’s relievers are embracing their increased opportunities — and proving that they deserve the chance.

    Interesting points. But, what I think is helping here is that the Yankees, to date, have been involved in 24 “Blowouts” (meaning a game with a final score that was 5+ runs one way or the other). And, 11 of those 24 have been losses. It’s easier to use your bad pen men in those games – and spread around your bullpen load.

    By comparison, last season, the Yankees only had 19 “Blowout” losses on the entire season.

    June 27th @ The Mets – Game 2

    Posted by on June 27th, 2008 · Comments (1)

    Early in this contest, Sidney Ponson was on the mound for the Yankees – and in a jam – while Kei Igawa began to warm in the Yankees pen. Really, Sidney Ponson and Kei Igawa. At that point, who would have ever guessed that the Yankees would go on to win this game, 9-0, with Ponson allowing zero runs over the first six frames?

    In fact, Igawa would later get into the game, in the ninth, and contributed another three outs.

    Yes, the Yankees won a game this evening – getting seven scoreless innings from the combination of Sidney Ponson and Kei Igawa.

    O.K., I have to say it again: Really, Sidney Ponson and Kei Igawa.

    You don’t see that everyday.

    Seeing this almost makes it worth enduring that ugly first game today – also against the Mets. But, I stress almost. It’s not a perfect offset – but it’s pretty darn close. Prittay, prittay, close. (And, it’s always a treat to beat Slippery Pete the Mango Tree Sitter.)

    Well, at the least, this win makes it worth having to sit through two games of David Cone calling Ken Singleton “Singie” – way too many times – while also having to hear Cone use an exaggerated accentuation during his pronunciation of the word “life”…over and over again.

    …Look at the late LIE-fe on that pitch. That Yankees bench is starting to show some signs of LIE-fe…

    Oh, my stars and garters – I thought my ears were going to start to bleed after a while…and I actually like Cone in the booth too. David, please, stop doing that, O.K.?

    Back to Ponson, let’s not forget that he went 6 and 2/3 innings pitched in his first Yankees game the last time the Yankees picked him off the scrap heap – back in 2006. And, then, he was back to being a human batting-tee. So, while this effort probably earns him another start for the Yankees – assuming he doesn’t do something stupid, off the field, in the next four days – don’t start expecting him to be the wind beneath the Yankees wings.

    Tomorrow should be fun – a re-match of May 17th – Pettitte and Santana.

    Pettitte’s ERA over his last 3 starts is 0.43 (in 21 IP). Santana’s ERA over his last 3 starts is 2.25 (in 20 IP). It could end up being a battle of the bullpens. We’ll see…

    June 27th vs. The Mets – Game 1

    Posted by on June 27th, 2008 · Comments (16)

    I have to run and handle some personal things at 4 pm ET…but, until then…I thought I would do some live blogging for the game.

    2:20 pm ET: Well, that was quick. One-zip, Mets.

    2:38 pm ET: Nice hitting…er…bloops by A-Rod and the Big G. Now tied at one. Mets’ Mike Pelfrey’s fastball is showing up at 95 MPH – and on a two-seamer! – on the YES/my9 gun. I suppose they only use that “slow” YES/my9 gun for the Yankees pitchers…

    2:49 pm ET: Forty minutes for an inning and a half of baseball? Throw in at least one rain delay and these two teams will never make it to Queens in time for the night-cap…at this rate.

    2:56 pm ET: I’m sorry…but…runner on second, via a lead-off double (Cano), and no outs…you gotta get him in. Bad job by the Yankees 8-9-1 hitters there.

    3:10 pm ET: That look on Girardi’s face right after Beltran hit the two-run homer says it all.

    3:25 pm ET: Nice job by Conie with the Rickey Henderson stories. Love those. And, man, does Beltran play too deep. That’s two gift hits via him – A-Rod before and Posada now.

    3:30 pm ET: Another rocket…er, well placed squib…this time from Betemit. Yanks now lead, 4-3, after three. Hey, better lucky than good, right?

    3:50 pm ET: Bummer. Bases juiced. And, all left stranded. That could have been a spot to blow this one open. Is it just me, or, could Pelfrey give Giambi a run for his money on the playing with your tongue sticking out thing? Four-three, Yanks, end of four.

    (O.K., gotta take a call at 4 pm. I’ll try and check in again once I’m done.)

    4:27 pm ET: Just got off a phone call and peeked at the T.V. It’s now 6-4 Mets in the top of the 6th. Edwar Ramírez is pitching. Wha’ happened? Dare I ask?

    4:38 pm ET: Just saw, via SNY.tv’s STATS At The Park, what happened in the top of the 5th. Glad I missed that mess.

    4:44 pm ET: Delgado, of all people, hits a slam. It’s now 11-4 Mets in the 6th. I’m done. Going to the gym. It’s a better use of my time right now. See ya later tonight.

    6:25 pm ET: For the record, when Delgado homered off Hawkins in the 8th, to make the score 15-5, Mets, a couple of Mets fans in the gym (who were watching the game on one of the T.V.’s there) made a noise implying that they just made happy time in their gym shorts. I guess it’s a great day, so far, in the land of the Mets. Then again, why shouldn’t it be after a game like this one?

    Man, it’s been a long time since the Yankees let one man destroy them in their own park – the way that Carlos Delgado did this afternoon. Ouch.

    Hope Yanks Don’t Follow G-Men’s Lead Block

    Posted by on June 27th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    At lunch-time today, I caught some of Mike Francesa on YES (around 12:30 pm). He was going on and on about the football Giants decision to sell personal seat licenses. I have to confess…before hearing Francesa…I had no idea that the Giants had made this call.

    To the point Francesa made today: It’s insane to ask some 65-year old fan who has been going to Giants games since 1961 and who has managed to secure six field level season seats at the 45-yard line (as a result of his fan tenure) to now fork over $120,000 just for the right to buy these seats in the future. Basically, you’re just forcing this guy out.

    I just hope that the government in New York stays on the Yankees case about not selling personal seat licenses. If not, the new Stadium will truly be stocked – but not with blue collar or middle-class fans. And, that just doesn’t seem right.

    Yanks Fooling Themselves With Prospects?

    Posted by on June 27th, 2008 · Comments (24)

    Via Ken Davidoff:

    The Mets may be more likely to make the playoffs this year, thanks to their strong starting rotation and weak competition – and the Yankees’ weak starting rotation and strong competition. But over the next five seasons and beyond, the Yankees are much better positioned than their Flushing counterparts because of their considerably deeper farm system.

    “We’ve been very aggressive in the amateur market, as we said we would be,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said yesterday. “We’ve been more aggressive on the amateur side and less aggressive on the free-agent side. It’s common sense.”

    When Cashman was set to bolt the Yankees after the 2005 season, he put forth, in writing, his recommendations for the organization. Part of that recommended business model was to ignore Selig’s mandate and go after the best amateur talent available.

    George Steinbrenner asked Cashman to come back and promised to allow those recommendations to become reality. Now, when you combine the Yankees’ 2006-08 drafts (assuming everyone signs) with the trades of Gary Sheffield and Johnson in the 2006-07 offseason and the acumen of amateur scouting vice president Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ inventory ranks among the elite in baseball.

    This is always nice to hear. But, you also have to take it for what it’s worth. Reading this, I decided to go back to Baseball America’s 2002 Prospect Handbook, to see which teams were ranked as having the best prospect “blend” (in terms of quality and quality) in their farm system. Here’s how Baseball America ranked the top five minor league systems in 2002:

    1. Chicago Cubs
    2. Seattle Mariners
    3. Houston Astros
    4. San Diego Padres
    5. New York Yankees

    (more…)

    Subway Series Pulse Check On Yanks & Mets

    Posted by on June 26th, 2008 · Comments (8)

    Today, Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog and I sat down with SNY’s Chris Cotter to discuss both Yankees and Mets fans perspectives on their favorite teams at this point in the season – as we head into another chapter of the Subway Series. Here’s the video:

    A Pinstriped Stream Of Consciousness

    Posted by on June 26th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    Just some random thoughts…O.K., yeah, it’s more of a rant…about the upcoming Subway Series with the Mets…and what’s ahead for the Yankees this season.

    Raise your hand if you’re thrilled about the notion of Squire Dan Giese and Sir Sidney Ponson starting for the Yankees in the double-header scheduled against the Mets on Friday.

    I’m not seeing many hands.

    Oh, well, I guess it could be worse. If Andy Hawkins and Hideki Irabu were not officially retired, maybe the Yankees would have reached out to them to start these games?

    Yes, I know, as Yankees fans, outwardly, we’re supposed to look at these games against the Mets and say “Inter-league? Big deal. It’s played. Means nothing. These games are no more important than any other game, etc.” However, on the inside, as a Yankees fan, many of us do have some “Big Stein” in us that says “Don’t lose to the Mets!”

    I mean, really, what Yankees fan wants to watch the Mets Jose Reyes do his little happy dance over the next three days at the expense of the Girardi Boys?

    Oh, there’s plenty of potential for ugly, in Yankeeland, on Friday with Ponson and Giese on the mound. At least Saturday’s game should be good – Pettitte versus Santana. Sunday? Rasner and Perez? That’s anyone’s guess. Both of these pitchers are capable of having a shut-down type effort or imploding, big-time.

    Part of me says “Be happy with a split against the Mets.” But, then again, the Mets are still somewhat licking their own wounds. So, should the Yankees feel good about allowing them to take two of these games?

    Anyway, let’s look at the bigger picture. Since May 20th, the Yankees are 22-12…a nice solid ten games over .500. However – and, yes, you knew there was going to be a however – the Yankees have also gone 9-0 against the Mariners, Astros, and Padres since May 20th. So, basically, outside of playing some really bad teams, the Yankees have been playing about .500 ball since May 20th.

    What about before May 20th? Well, in their first 27 games of this season, the Yankees went 14-13. And, in their next 17 games, they went 6-11. That’s not impressive. Need I go on?

    Here’s the deal: Offensively and defensively (meaning pitching) the Yankees have been around the middle of the pack, to date, in the American League. They’ve scored 366 runs and they’ve allowed 344 runs. And, this why they’re a near-.500 ballclub.

    It’s all about run differential. If you’re a hitting team, you need to score more than you allow to win games. If you’re a pitching team, you need to allow less runs than you score to win. Right now, the Yankees are not a hitting or a pitching team. They’re a hit as well as you pitch team – scoring about as much as they allow. Hence, the near-.500 record.

    In the second half of this season, the Yankees need to pick a plan of attack and improve the team so that they can follow the plan.

    This means they need to improve the last two slots of their starting rotation – and become a pitching team. Or, they need to start getting some offense from Jeter, Cano, Cabrera and Abreu and become a monster hitting team.

    Now, it seems, lately, like Jeter, Cano and Abreu are starting to hit. So, do the Yankees sit tight, keep serving the Cashman Kool-Aid, and wait for their team hitting to arrive and make up for the shortages in their starting rotation? That could work – but, what if Cano and Abreu are not truly coming around? And, what if Damon and Matsui’s injuries become serious? And, what if Giambi breaks down? Then, all of a sudden, it’s Posada, A-Rod, and Jeter being asked to carry the load. Is that enough?

    The safer bet would be to add least one solid starting pitcher to follow Pettitte, Chamberlain and Mussina – and fill in the fifth slot with guys like Rasner, Kennedy, Hughes…and…even…gulp…Pavano…nah, not Pavano…let’s say Karstens…and hope that you get Wang back in September.

    If you’re able to throw Pettitte, Chamberlain, Mussina and “Joe Solid Starter” in a row, you’re likely to start winning some series…and putting together some four and five game winning streaks. And, if that happens, then the Yankees can have a nice second half of 2008.

    O.K., there. I’ve gotten all that off my chest. Whew. That feels better.

    Is Damon Yanks Ignitor?

    Posted by on June 26th, 2008 · Comments (0)

    Adam Schein and Chris Carlin, yesterday on SNY’s Loud Mouths, discuss the question. Here’s the video:

    Well, I’ve been saying this for a while now: When Johnny Damon swings the bat well, the Yankees win.

    Let’s just hope that his current situation with an ailing foot doesn’t turn into something major.

    Tomorrow’s Yanks, Today

    Posted by on June 26th, 2008 · Comments (7)

    Some interesting stats via the Trenton Times:

    Since 2003, only 29 of the 250 players (8.6 percent) drafted by the Yankees have even reached [Double-A] Trenton.

    Just six of those 29 — Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, T.J. Beam, Jeff Karstens and Tyler Clippard — have made it to the big leagues.

    More ominous is that only 10 percent of players who sign minor league contracts will play in a major league game.

    The rest, unfortunately, largely help keep the machine greased and are forced to take a backseat to some of those 10 percent.

    Makes you wonder if this current Trenton Thunder team is special – since so many players on it seem destined to make the big leagues, and soon. J.B. Cox, David Robertson, Mark Melancon, Alfredo Aceves, Daniel McCutchen, Austin Jackson, and Jose Tabata have all played for Trenton this season – and most Yankees fans think they all will be starring in the Bronx someday too.

    Maybe the 2008 Trenton Thunder will be like the 1992 Greensboro Hornets – in terms of being a nice minor league snapshot of the players who will be leading the Yankees in the future?

    Andy Phillips Returns To New York

    Posted by on June 26th, 2008 · Comments (5)

    But, it’s not with the Yankees. Via MLB.com -

    The [Mets] claimed former Yankee Andy Phillips off waivers from the Reds on Wednesday. Phillips will join the Mets on Friday for their two-site doubleheader against the Yankees.

    But his stay may be short-lived. The Mets have identified him as “an inventory” player, and their plans for him, according to a person familiar with the club’s thinking, may not include many games after the return of Ryan Church. And Church’s assignment to the disabled list might end before Phillips puts his legs and arms into a Mets uniform.

    Andy Phillips just may be one of the nicest guys in baseball. And, he knows the drill of playing in New York. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if he sticks with the Mets and provides some of the clubhouse chemistry that they are reportedly lacking? On a smaller scale, how about if Phillips plays tomorrow and does something against Dan Giese and/or Sidney Ponson and wins a game for the Mets (against the Yanks)?

    I’d be happy for Phillips if he does well for the Mets. But, if it costs the Yankees some wins, that would be a bummer.

    Please, Let’s Pass On This Retread

    Posted by on June 26th, 2008 · Comments (20)

    Via the Houston Chronicle with a hat tip to Baseball Think Factory

    Already upset about being demoted from the starting rotation to the bullpen, Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon was suspended indefinitely Wednesday night after a heated exchange with general manager Ed Wade turned violent an hour before the Astros played the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park.

    Chacon, who realizes he might not play again this season, admitted he lost his cool and threw Wade to the ground after Wade insisted he go to manager Cecil Cooper’s office. The argument took place in the team’s dining room, which Chacon refused to leave when asked to report to Cooper.

    Shawn Chacon once pitched for the Yankees – like Sidney Ponson. Chacon has now worn out his welcome with his current team, in Texas – like Sidney Ponson did (also in Texas). They Yankees recently re-acquired Ponson…in fact, he’s starting for them against the Mets tomorrow. Will the Yankees now do the same with Chacon…and have him return to New York?

    Gosh, I hope not. But, then again, you could have knocked me over with a feather when the Yanks announced that Ponson was coming back…

    June 25th @ The Pirates

    Posted by on June 25th, 2008 · Comments (13)

    Joba Chamberlain has now started 5 games for the Yankees and New York has won four of them.

    Let’s look at Joba’s last three starts – including this game:

    June 13th: 6.0 Innings, 10 Base-runners, 1 Earned Run
    June 19th: 5.6 Innings, 7 Base-runners, 1 Earned Run
    June 25th: 6.6 Innings, 7 Base-runners, 0 Earned Runs

    This is just a guess…but…I think you have to go back to Dave Righetti in 1981 to find the last time when a Yankees pitcher, as young as Joba is now, has put together three starts in a row like these.

    Very impressive.

    The Yankees have now won 8 of their last 11 games. Three of those eight wins have come in starts by Chamberlain.

    He’s starting to look like an ace to me.

    Hank: Willow Always A Yankee & Would Be Welcomed Back

    Posted by on June 25th, 2008 · Comments (3)

    Via the Post – with a hat tip to MetsBlog:

    Willie Randolph won’t have to look far if he wants another job in baseball – he just needs to call Hank Steinbrenner.

    “There’s certainly some stuff I can think of for one of the greatest infielders I’ve ever seen,” Steinbrenner told The Post yesterday.

    Steinbrenner would love seeing Randolph work with the Yankees’ young infielders. But Steinbrenner mentioned that the job of manager in the foreseeable future isn’t an option for Randolph – The Baby Boss is happy with Joe Girardi.

    Steinbrenner made it clear that he considers Randolph a Yankee and holds no ill-will toward him for leaving the organization to manage the Mets , who fired him last week.

    “If he had left to take over the Red Sox maybe I would have had a problem with that,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s a Yankee. He’ll always be a Yankee. Even the Mets never completely accepted him because they thought he was a Yankee.”

    Steinbrenner said he didn’t want to comment on the manner in which Randolph was fired because he’s not “one of those talk-radio types” who spews on subjects he knows little about.

    Still, Steinbrenner couldn’t resist one jab at the Mets.

    “They probably could have handled it a little differently than 3 o’clock in the morning,” Steinbrenner said, referring to the timing of the press release announcing Randolph’s firing.

    “But the bottom line is he’s a Yankee and he’ll always be a Yankee,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s always welcomed with our organization. He knows that.”

    Back in 1993, Randolph was the Yankees assistant G.M. – working with General Manager Gene Michael – evaluating major and minor league talent on a full-time basis. I would not mind seeing Willie come back, in that capacity again, with the Yankees.

    Yes, I know that Tino Martinez has a role with the Yankees now that’s close to this job description. But, why not have two guys as assistants? Never hurts to have some different opinions.

    SNY WheelHouse: The Return Of Pavano

    Posted by on June 25th, 2008 · Comments (4)

    Brandon Tierney and Scott Ferrall, yesterday on SNY’s WheelHouse, prior to the Yankees game last night, discuss the possible return of Carl Pavano. Here’s the video:

    Hey, if The Toxic Avenger can make its way back to the stage, how could anyone possibly hope to stop Carl Pavano’s return?

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