• August 31st vs. The Devil Rays

    Posted by on August 31st, 2007 · Comments (2)

    Young Andy Sonnanstine came into this game, for Tampa Bay, with an ERA of 6.38 is his career 16 big league starts. What does he do to the Yankees tonight? He throws 8 innings – facing just 3 batters over the minimum during that period.

    Sonnanstine didn’t just fall out of a tree. He was awesome in Double-A last year and did very well in A-ball the year before that one. His game is one based on great command and changing speeds. He’s got some talent and skills and is capable of shutting down a big league team, even at his young age, once in a while, like he did to the Yankees tonight.

    Young Phil Hughes, also full of talent and skills, came into this game, for New York, with an ERA of 5.35 is his career seven big league starts. What did he do for the Yankees tonight? He throws 4.3 innings – allowing 11 of the 24 batters that he faced in that time to reach base. In terms of “stuff,” Hughes was averaging 92 MPH on his fastball in the first 4 innings of this game. But, when Phil came out to pitch in the fifth inning, his fastball was closer to 90 MPH – and, in fact, his last fastball of the game was clocked at 88 MPH. Once he got near 90 pitches this evening, Hughes basically ran out of gas.

    On a night where Seattle lost again and where Boston lost a heart-breaker in Fenway, it would have been great to see Phil Hughes pitch more like Andy Sonnanstine did tonight, and vice versa, and have the Yankees win in a romp today – instead of having Tampa Bay take New York to school. Alas, it was not to be…and that’s a shame.

    Chamberlain Suspended

    Posted by on August 31st, 2007 · Comments (2)

    So, Bob Watson suspended Joba Chamberlain for two games and fined him an undisclosed amount of cash for “his inappropriate actions during the top of the ninth inning” in yesterday’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

    I had hoped not to see a suspension here – because Joba was tossed without the benefit of getting a warning first. But, no matter – Chamberlain was not going to pitch today or tomorrow, most likely. Therefore, there’s no impact to the team or player with this news.

    If I’m the Yankees, I would remind Watson of his ruling on this one the next time someone decides to buzz a Yankees batter in the box.

    Coming into the game tonight, A-Rod’s been hit with a pitch 8 times this season on a 0-0 count…including twice by Daisuke Matsuzaka. The next time someone takes a shot at Alex, they should get two games off as well now.

    Is NYC Yankeeland?

    Posted by on August 31st, 2007 · Comments (6)

    From the Times today –

    Normally, the Quinnipiac University polls focus on politics and public policy. Perhaps to mark the end of summer, the university’s latest poll — of 1,461 New York City residents, surveyed from Aug. 21 to 27 — included a smaller sample of 729 baseball fans who were asked about America’s pastime.

    The findings, released this morning: 51 percent of the fans polled said the Yankees were their favorite baseball team, compared with 35 percent for the Mets (and 3 percent for the Boston Red Sox).

    In a Subway Series, city baseball fans would back the Yankees over the Mets, by a margin of 52 percent to 44 percent. Not surprisingly, support for the Mets in such a hypothetical matchup was strongest among Queens residents (55 percent to 40 percent), and the Yankees found their strongest support in the Bronx (66 percent to 31 percent).

    The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points (compared with 3 percentage points in the general survey, which included questions about congestion pricing and other municipal matters).

    I’d like to see the results if they asked 7,290 baseball fans in NYC instead of just 729 baseball fans. I would expect to see the Mets number go up with a larger sample size.

    “It’s Not The Same Team”

    Posted by on August 31st, 2007 · Comments (4)

    Derek Jeter, back in October 2004, after the Yankees lost the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox:

    “It’s not the same team,” Jeter said. “We’ve had teams that have been good at [winning in the post-season], but this is not the same team.”

    Guess what? It’s again, now, not the same team – as it was in 2004.

    Since that time, Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano have joined the team. Melky Cabrera too. There’s also Andy Phillips and Shelley Duncan.

    Since that time, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte have returned. Oh, and, yes, some guys named Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy have joined the pitching staff as well.

    And, that’s not all the “new blood” – because you have to factor in guys like Luis Vizcaino and Wilson Betemit who have joined the team this year and guys like Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon who joined the team the year before in 2006.

    In the last two to three years, there’s been many new players added to the Yankees’ mix. Perhaps, someday, we’ll be talking about the Wang-Cano-Melky-Hughes-Joba “core” the way that people always talk about the Mo-Jeter-Posada-Pettitte-Bernie “core”? It may not be the same team – but, it may be a good team, nonetheless.

    Destiny Day

    Posted by on August 31st, 2007 · Comments (1)

    It’s a fun day in Yankeeland today.

    The Bronx Bombers just spanked the Boston Red Sox for three games. The Mets are melting down faster than Fudgie The Whale in a microwave. And, most importantly, it’s Destiny Day!

    What’s the latter all about? It means, as of today, the Yankees control their own post-season destiny – thanks to the Mariners’ loss yesterday.

    In the chase for the A.L. Wildcard, New York and Seattle now both have 59 losses. (Detroit is next with 62 losses.) From this point forward, all the Yankees need to do is lose one less game than the Mariners and Tigers and they will be in the post-season this October. Sure, it’s a little tricky because the M’s have 30 games left to play whereas the Yanks and Bengals have 28 games, each, left to play. However, I’m not going to sweat that two game gap now.

    The goal for the Yankees is simple: Just win your games and everything should be fine. It won’t matter what anyone else does – as long as you win your game.

    Now is the time for the Yankees to drop the Ed Norton/Tyler Durden routine that has been their modus operandi at times this season. New York cannot start to show up in a mild-mannered fashion for any of their remaining series. That team that lost 7 of 8 to the Rockies, Giants and O’s in June cannot show their head again now. The team that recently lost 8 of 13 from August 14th to August 27th cannot be allowed to return as well.

    Actually, if you look at those seven losses in June and the eight from August, there’s a theme there: Mike Mussina was charged with 5 of those 15 losses. So, maybe getting Moose out of the rotation will help the Yankees stay on an extended roll?

    Nonetheless, that’s looking backwards. The Yankees need to focus elsewhere – in that it’s time to win the game they play that day – and just keep doing that everyday. If that happens, there will be baseball in the Bronx come October.

    Did Joba Brushback Youkilis?

    Posted by on August 30th, 2007 · Comments (21)

    First, forget what Chamberlain, Torre, Francona and Youkilis all said after the game today. They each offered what you would expect them to say in a spot like this one.

    Next, consider some facts:

    Joba Chamberlain threw 12 pitches in the 8th inning today. Two of the twelve were shown by YES via the camera behind home plate – the 3rd pitch to Hinske and the 2nd pitch to Pedroia. So, we don’t know much about these two pitches – in terms of whether or not they were on target. But, we do know about the other ten pitches in the 8th inning from Joba.

    Chamberlain threw four pitches to Hinske – all seemed on target with Posada’s glove, with the exception of the aforementioned 3rd pitch (which we just don’t know about). If anything, the 2nd pitch to Hinske missed low, if at all.

    Chamberlain threw one pitch to Cora that appeared on target.

    Chamberlain threw three pitches to Pedroia – all seemed on target with Posada’s glove, with the exception of the aforementioned 2nd pitch (where we could not see it). If anything, the 1st pitch to Pedroia ran in on him, but not terribly in.

    Chamberlain threw four pitches to Crisp – all seemed on target with Posada’s glove. Maybe the 1st pitch, if anything, missed low of Posada’s target. But, the 2nd and 3rd pitches to Crisp hit Posada’s mitt exactly where he placed it.

    In a nutshell, Joba showed very good control with his pitches in the 8th inning.

    In the bottom of the 8th inning, with one out, after the Yankees took a 5-0 lead, Edwar Ramirez started to warm in the Yankees bullpen. By the end of the 8th inning, Ramirez was done warming and was standing there, ready, and tying his shoes.

    However, Chamberlain comes back out to pitch the 9th inning. Joba throws one pitch to Big Papi Ortiz, that appears on target and retires him. Next, he’s facing Youkilis.

    The first pitch had a bit of a low-and-away break to it. Probably a slider. The second pitch is on target with Posada’s glove – if anything, it breaks a bit inside.

    The next two pitches from Chamberlain to Youkilis are up around the batter’s head.

    Here’s what I find interesting here. In the 15 pitches before the two near Youkilis’ head, Chamberlain showed very good control. At the worst, he was missing low – when he missed, and it was rare that he missed. Also, why completely warm up Ramirez, with the score 5-0, over the course of the final two outs of the 8th, and then not bring him in to start the last inning?

    Seems odd, no? It just seems like there’s a disconnect here – between Ramirez getting warmed up and not coming right into the game and between Chamberlain’s ability to locate and the last two pitches to Youkilis.

    Of course, on the YES coverage, Ken Singleton made an interesting counter-point during the 9th – along the lines of “If they wanted to throw at Youkilis, then they would have just hit him and not thrown over his head, twice.”

    Then again, maybe the intent was to brushback and not to bean? Then, all this makes sense…warming up a pitcher in the pen and not bringing him in coupled with the sudden and strange loss of control by the pitcher left in the game…etc.

    In the end, while I cannot say for certain that Joba Chamberlain was throwing at Kevin Youkilis today, I would not shoot anyone down for suspecting that there was some intent behind those last two pitches that Joba threw in this game.

    For what it’s worth, in the last three games, Boston pitchers came inside to Yankees batters on several occasions. So, if someone from Red Sox Nation does want to bellyache about anything suspected with Joba’s or the Yankees intent here, they should take into account the dangers of throwing stones in glass houses, before they go nuts.

    In any event, as go all things in the Yankees-Bosox rivalry, to be continued….I’m sure.

    SOTD: Fun With Sacrifice Bunts in Postseason

    Posted by on August 30th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Two Yankees with some post-season records that you don’t always hear about. Click here for more.

    August 30th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on August 30th, 2007 · Comments (26)

    Coming into this contest, Worm Killer Wang averages 3.49 Pitches thrown per Plate Appearance (P/PA) and Curt Schilling averages 3.62 P/PA. Both of those marks are excellent – compared to the rest of the league. Does this mean this game will be quick moving?

    Update, 8/30/07, 2:20 pm ET: It’s the bottom of the 4th, with one out, and Wang’s averaging 4.0 P/PA in the game compared to Schilling’s 3.14 P/PA. Seems like the Sox are making Wang work whereas the Yankees are jumping at Schilling early in the count.

    Update, 8/30/07, 2:42 pm ET: At this point in time, Robinson Cano is batting .407 lifetime against Schilling with 3 homers in 27 At Bats. I think he likes him.

    Update, 8/30/07, 2:54 pm ET: It’s 2:54 am, Friday morning, in Taiwan. Think anyone there knows that Worm Killer Wang is 9 outs away from a no-hitter?

    Update, 8/30/07, 4:14 pm ET: Sweep Fancy Moses! The Yankees are now 5 games back of Boston. Those two blown “Sean Henn” games from last week – August 20th and August 24th are indeed very haunting now. If the Yankees had won those two games, we’d be looking at 3 games back – with 28 games to go, including three at Fenway against the Sox. Now, that would have been something.

    As far as the whole Youkilis/Joba thing, well, I want to see the video on that one before I comment. However, if you saw it, and want to comment on it now, please feel free to…in the comment section here.

    Damon Oppenheimer – What If?

    Posted by on August 30th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    From Jon Heyman

    One of Cashman’s best decisions — way before the Joba Rules — was to give Tampa-based Damon Oppenheimer complete autonomy over the amateur draft, which resulted in an ’06 bonanza, as Chamberlain came 20 picks after USC product Kennedy arrived. Kennedy (12-3, with a 1.87 at three minor-league levels) has risen quickly through the minors and gets Saturday’s start vs. Tampa instead of used-up vet Mike Mussina, who’s always been seen as a template for Kennedy, a smallish right-hander with an average (88-93 mph) fastball, excellent breaking ball and wonderful poise and smarts. “And just like Mussina did at Stanford, he had a subpar junior year,” Cashman said, explaining why he fell to the Yankees at pick No. 21 of the first round.

    Oppenheimer focused on Kennedy’s whole career, not just the so-so junior year. And when he dropped, Cashman said, “Damon was there waiting for him, no hesitation.”

    The Chamberlain choice at No. 41 overall looks like an even bigger bargain, and Cashman recalls Oppenheimer counting down the picks in hope of landing the University of Nebraska phenom. After they tabbed Chamberlain, Yankees people read about their “high-risk, high-reward” selection but they only saw the “high-reward” part of the equation. When they noticed bloggers discussing his alleged “injury history,” they thought to themselves, “What injury history?” Chamberlain once suffered from knee pain, but Cashman called the injury rumors a “brushfire of inaccuracies.”

    Oppenheimer…hmmm…makes me wonder what would have happened if Bob Nightengale was right and Oppenheimer got the G.M. job back at the end of 2005…

    …in any event, it looks like it’s all still working out.

    Joba Rules To Be Changed?

    Posted by on August 30th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    George King thinks this will happen soon. It makes sense – pitch count is more important than innings pitched. Plus, if the Yankees make the ALDS, you know there’s a chance that Joba will be needed in back-to-back days. Better to get him used to it now.

    Chamberlain is a big boy. It’s been a full month since he’s been taxed with the workload of being a starting pitcher – and he’s been handled with kid gloves over that past month. He’s as fresh as fresh can get at this time of the year. Sure, he’s just a kid, but, there are just 29 games left to this season. There’s no reason why he can’t pitch in 19 of those 29 games if he’s only used for an inning per game and is throwing 14 pitches per inning. He’s a horse. This is not some 5′ 9″ 165-pound pitcher we’re talking about here.

    If there were 3 months left to the season, I would say “No, protect him from Torre. Keep the old rules.” But, now, it is time to take off the restrictions – at least a bit.

    The Race For The ’07 AL Wildcard Berth

    Posted by on August 30th, 2007 · Comments (14)

    Here are the remaining games for the Yankees, Mariners and Tigers this season:


    Seattle really does have a tough road ahead for themselves. What bothers me here is that the Yankees have 19 games to play against Toronto/Tampa/Baltimore (who would all love to knock the Yanks out) whereas the Tigers have 13 games to play against Texas/K.C./Chicago (who will be thinking about going home already next month).

    Those six games that the Tigers get to play the White Sox could be the difference between New York or Detroit taking the Wildcard this season. We just saw how the White Sox laid down for the Red Sox. Think they’re going to be any more up for the Tigers? I doubt it.

    In the end, it appears that it’s going to be between the Yankees and Tigers – and a close race at that.

    Key To Sweeping Sox In The Bronx?

    Posted by on August 29th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    In his last 7 starts against the Yankees, over the last two seasons, Curt Schilling has averaged 6.6 IP per game with an ERA of 5.28.

    This tells me that the Yankees should score at least four runs tomorrow against Schilling. So, if the Yankees want a good shot at winning the game, and sweeping this current series, it makes sense for them to keep Boston to three runs or less in the day game on Thursday.

    Sounds so simple, right? Well, check this out:

    In his last 10 starts against the Red Sox, over the last three seasons, Worm Killer Wang has averaged 5.8 IP per game with an ERA of 4.79. This tells me that the Red Sox should score at least three runs tomorrow against Wang.

    Looks like this game on Thursday could come down to a battle of the bullpens over the last three innings of the game. If this turns out to be true, I hope Torre plans on using Joba Chamberlain for two innings in the game (assuming that Joba has a small pitch count in his first inning of work).

    August 29th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on August 29th, 2007 · Comments (7)

    I’m going to rubber stamp the start to this entry with the same opening that I used for the entry on last night’s game:

    Good game. The loss means nada to the Red Sox. Still, to a Yankees fan, at least this one, it’s always fun to beat Boston, in a close game, at the Stadium. Plus, it keeps the Yankees tragic number at ten (for another day). This really was a fun one to watch – I wouldn’t even mind seeing it make a re-run some time over the winter on YES.

    Yeah, it’s a ditto job – but, it fits because these last two games were mirror images of each other in terms of feel, excitement and impact.

    Did you know that, since 1957, the Red Sox have never pitched a game in Yankee (or Shea) Stadium against the Yankees where they threw eight innings in the contest and allowed 14+ hits and four runs or less? Well, until tonight, that is…so, maybe this game was a little bit different from the one of last night? (By the way, it, meaning H>=14 and R<=4, last happened in a nine inning game on August 22, 1989.)

    Clemens and Rivera earned their pay today. Kyle Farnsworth, well, yoooooou….not so much. Oh, well, at least we’re now duly reminded that you cannot trust Kyle…no matter how many games in a row he may pitch where it appears that he could be useful.

    Before I close, was anyone screaming “Bunt!” at their T.V. when Giambi was batting in the third, with Matsui on third, and two outs, and where Lowell was way off third – positioned at deep short (in a shift) and the right-handed throwing Beckett (falling towards first) on the mound?

    So, now, the Yankees are in a virtual tie for first in the Wildcard – with 29 games left to go. That’s great. But, I want to see it where New York is in first for the ‘card with the trailing team one game back in the loss column. At that time, I will be a giddy Yankees fan – and then some.

    SOTD: What Makes Joe Pick Up The Phone?

    Posted by on August 29th, 2007 · Comments (0)

    Food, in the form of stats, for thought. Or, as the Merovingian may say, some cause and effect debate to float your boat.

    Olney On The Yankees Youngsters

    Posted by on August 29th, 2007 · Comments (9)

    Buster Olney writes about the Yankees youngsters and how they helping the team at ESPN.com:

    The response to Chamberlain reflects his talents. “He’s got physical tools that come along once in a lifetime,” says bullpen coach Joe Kerrigan, who worked with a young Randy Johnson in Montreal. But Yankee fans also love Chamberlain because of what he represents. The 21-year-old right-hander is the most gifted product of GM Brian Cashman’s 24-month organizational reconstruction, the crown jewel of the club’s attempt to turn back the clock to the days when the farm system teemed with prospects suited to the inherent pressure of being Yankees. Where once there was Bernie and Jeter and Rivera and Posada and Pettitte, there is now Phil Hughes, another 21-year-old righty whose laid-back demeanor belies his electric stuff; Melky Cabrera, the underrated, understated 23-year-old center fielder who keeps up a steady stream of sandlot chatter during games; and Joba (pronounced JOB-ba), whose shoulders are as square as the southwestern notch of his home state, Nebraska.

    A river of youth flows through the Bronx.

    Cashman quickly rededicated the scouting and player development departments to doing what they’d done so well in the early ’90s: finding and fostering high-ceiling talent, particularly pitchers. Cashman wanted the team to stop making safe draft picks; he wanted it to take chances. After all, the Yankees had the money to cover their mistakes.

    Chamberlain, for one, wasn’t always a high-ceiling talent. Three years ago, he was just a heavy kid who’d been a manager of his high school basketball team. But after a year at D2 Nebraska-Kearney, he transferred to Nebraska and learned how to throw a slider. By the winter of 2005-06, he was regarded as a rock-solid first-rounder, but in the weeks leading up to the draft his stock slipped, fueled by rumors that his diminished velocity was the result of hidden arm trouble, not fatigue. Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer wasn’t one of the doubters. Then again, the team’s first pick was 41st overall.

    On draft day, the conference call began, and in the war room, Yankees officials started to pull the placards of their highest-rated players off the board as they were picked by other teams. Deep into the first round, Chamberlain’s placard was still hanging, all by itself. “There’s no way he’ll get to us,” Oppenheimer said aloud. But as the draft moved into the “sandwich picks,” between the first and second rounds, Chamberlain still hadn’t been taken. “You don’t think this could happen, do you?” Oppenheimer asked another executive. And then it did. At No. 41, an ecstatic Oppenheimer submitted the name of Joba Chamberlain.

    But now the Yankees are entering the stretch riding a 2914 second-half surge to within striking distance of the wild card, and it looks as if Cashman’s youngsters might have saved the season. Cabrera, whose range and arm complement a .293 batting average, has supplanted Johnny Damon in center. Emerging from a hellish slump, 24-year-old second baseman Robinson Cano has hit .366 since the break. Shelley Duncan, a 27-year-old rookie first baseman, was promoted on July 20 and slammed four homers in his first 21 at-bats. Hughes, recovered from a strained hamstring, has lent stability to the rotation. And Chamberlain, called up amid much fanfare in early August, struck out 14 of the 28 batters he faced in his first 15 days in the majors.

    But their biggest contribution might be the energy they bring to the clubhouse. Cano and Cabrera often begin their workdays with power lunches and afternoon workouts alongside A-Rod and end them with victorious chest-bumps. Duncan, the son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, is gregarious and outgoing — the team mascot, Torre jokingly calls him — and he seems to share a running gag with everybody. Each day, for example, players fill out a ticket-request sign-up sheet, listing guests and the number of tickets they need; everyone leaves the comment line empty. That’s a vacuum Duncan has to fill, inventing new responses daily. Good friend. Went to high school together, he might write, or Met them at the museum.

    Chamberlain, meanwhile, is usually stone-faced in the bullpen. But early in one August game, TV cameras caught him trying to flip his cap onto his head and jiggling around until it settled in place. “It’s totally different than it was here five years ago, with these guys,” says one Yankee vet. “It’s fun.”

    Dan Quisenberry once said “I’ve seen the future, and it’s much like the present — only longer.” When it comes to Joba, Melky and the boys, let’s hope that Quiz was right.

    Ian Kennedy To Replace Mike Mussina In Rotation

    Posted by on August 29th, 2007 · Comments (14)

    From Peter Abraham

    That Mike Mussina would get removed from the rotation after a string of poor starts was no surprise. That a 22-year-old will be inserted into the heat of a pennant race was.

    Mussina is out and right-hander Ian Kennedy will start against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday.

    “This was very difficult for me,” said manager Joe Torre, who broke the news to Mussina before last night’s 5-3 victory against the Red Sox. “We’ve counted on this guy every year for as long as he’s been here.”

    Mussina left without speaking to reporters, his career at a crossroads after 247 victories over 17 seasons.

    But the Yankees had little choice. Mussina is 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA. The 38-year-old right-hander has lost his last three starts, allowing 19 earned runs and 25 hits in 9 2/3 innings.

    Never listen to Joe Torre.

    Speaking of listening, I heard Ron Guidry on X-M Radio (MLB Home Plate) this morning talking about Mussina. Gator said that Moose’s issue is about not following a game plan that he needs to follow to be successful. He said that Mike broke from the plan against the Angels and the Tigers.

    Gator mentioned the first batter of the Tigers’ game – Curtis Granderson. He said that Mussina was told that Granderson handles the fastball well and has problems with breaking pitches. But, Guidry said, when Moose had Granderson, 0-2, to start the game, he threw him a fastball instead of a curve and Granderson singled to center. And, that it just kept rolling, downhill, from there.

    Basically, Gator said that Mussina needs to realize that he’s a breaking ball pitcher and not a fastball pitcher…and that Moose needs to work from a game plan that plays into that model.

    Pretty telling stuff, if you ask me. Sounds like Mussina and the Yankees are not on the same page.

    At the least, I expect Ian Kennedy to throw whatever signal Posada flashes on Saturday.

    August 28th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on August 28th, 2007 · Comments (12)

    Good game. The loss means nada to the Red Sox. Still, to a Yankees fan, at least this one, it’s always fun to beat Boston, in a close game, at the Stadium. Plus, it keeps the Yankees tragic number at ten (for another day). This really was a fun one to watch – I wouldn’t even mind seeing it make a re-run some time over the winter on YES.

    Speaking of YES, sure, they played the squirrel sitting on the foul pole thing to death this evening. But, maybe that little guy can become the Yankees version of Charley Lupica?

    Speaking of reincarnations, can it be that Matsuzaka facing the Yankees, as a member of the Red Sox, might turn out the same as Contreras facing the Red Sox, as a member of the Yankees? Wouldn’t that be a kick?

    Big game for some of the character guys on the team today: Pettitte was full of fire – storming off the mound in the fifth, and, getting pissed in the dugout after allowing the homer in the seventh. Posada got the clutch hit in the first. Jeter homered. Phillips got a big hit to set up the Damon homer. Mo was nasty for the save. Melky had a sweet bunt. And, Damon, along with the hits, made some nice plays in left.

    Lastly, when I look at Joba Chamberlain, I see him being a starter next year, and doing very well – until he hits three homeruns in one game during an inter-league match-up. Then, the Yankees start playing him in the outfield during off days…and the long-balls keep coming…and eventually Joba becomes a full-time position player and goes on to hit 714 career homeruns…wait, am I confusing him with someone else?

    Seriously, as much fun as the “Jabba the Hutt” play on names thing is, it’s a tad insulting because the kid did once have a weight problem. Perhaps, playing on Icebox Chamberlain, we should start calling Joba “Toaster Chamberlain,” as that’s what he’s turning batters into with that heater he throws.

    O.K., that’s not awesome either. Anyone have some better suggestions?

    Cashman: Hughes’ Fastball Seems Slower

    Posted by on August 28th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From the Times

    As he watched Phil Hughes pitch Sunday from his home in Connecticut, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman noticed that Hughes was not throwing as hard as usual. His fastballs were averaging 88 to 91 miles an hour, Cashman said, when they should have been 91 to 93.

    “I don’t know why,” Cashman said. “It’s our job to continue to look and see if there’s anything mechanically. He could still be just building arm strength from being down for so long.

    “It’s starting to improve, though. His last two outings, he’s been popping a few more high-velocity fastballs. But he’s got more arm strength than he’s shown lately. He’s not coming at hitters with his full ability yet.”

    His fastballs were averaging 88 to 91 miles an hour, Cashman said, when they should have been 91 to 93.

    I dunno…back in April, it looked like Hughes was just touching 90 MPH then too. And, that’s the range that I saw four weeks ago as well.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Hughes add 3 MPH to the fastball that he has now…I’m just not sold that it’s going to ever happen.

    The Yankees Tragic Number

    Posted by on August 28th, 2007 · Comments (3)

    If you look at American League history, since 2002, and the current season win-pace of the Seattle Mariners, it’s not a reach to say that it’s going to take about 94 wins in 2007 to nail down the A.L. Wildcard race.

    The Yankees currently have 72 wins on the season – with 31 games left to play. To reach 94 wins this year, the Yankees will need to go 22-9 in their remaining games – which is a winning percentage of .710.

    Can the Yankees play .710-baseball in their last 31 games?

    It’s going to be a tall order, for sure. But, bottom line, based on this estimate, it says that the Yankees cannot afford to lose more than 10 times between now and the end of the season – and hope to win the Wildcard.

    Let the countdown begin. A win tonight means the clock sticks at ten. A loss tonight means one of those bottles of beer on the wall has happened to fall, and there will be only nine bottles of beer left on the wall.

    Personally, I think the Yankees will “use up” those remaining ten “allowed” losses by September 20th of this year. But, maybe they’ll show me something and things will be different.

    Been A Long Time

    Posted by on August 28th, 2007 · Comments (10)

    The Yankees allowed 16 runs in their game yesterday and New York only had 3 hits to their credit. When was the last time that the Yankees allowed 16+ runs in a game where they had 3 or less hits themselves?

    The answer: July 11, 1979.

    The Yankees, at close of business yesterday, find themselves 8 games out of first place. When was the last season where the Yankees were 8 games out (or more) at the close of business on August 27th?

    The answer: 1995. But, that was not a “full” season. The last “full” season where the Yankees were 8 games out (or more) at the close of business on August 27th was 1992.

    In a nutshell, we’re seeing things in Yankeeland this season that we haven’t seen in 15 to 30 years.

    Let’s hope that it’s another 15 to 30 years before we see them again.

    August 27th @ The Tigers

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (1)

    As I write this, the Yankees are losing this game 10-0, after six – and New York has only 3 hits in the contest to date. I think it’s safe to say that this one is going to end up in the “L” column.

    Back on August 20th, I wrote:

    The New York Yankees are currently 4 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East – with 38 games remaining on the 2007 schedule.

    The Yankees and Red Sox are scheduled to face each other on August 28th. Between now, and then, both New York and Boston have seven games to play this week – all on the road (for both teams).

    Look at it this way, at the best, the Yankees will be three games ahead of the Red Sox, when they meet on August 28th. And, at the worst, the Yankees will be eleven games out of first, when Boston comes to New York.

    Well, with a loss in this game, the Yankees will be eight games out of first place when they face the Red Sox tomorrow. In just one week’s time, the Yankees have fallen another four games back of Boston – making this upcoming series no pressure whatsoever for the Bosox. Even if the Yankees sweep, at the worst, Boston will be five games up with 28 games left to play. That’s no problem for the Sox.

    On the flip side, if the Red Sox take 2 of 3 from the Yankees now, that will give them a nine game lead with 28 games to play…so, if that happens, you might as well stick a fork in New York, because they appear to be done in the A.L. East.

    The Yankees have played themselves into a corner where their only hope for October baseball now comes in the form of the Wildcard. One of five teams will take the ‘card between the Angels, Mariners, Yankees, Indians or Tigers. No one else has a shot at it. And, I suppose that you can say it’s three teams – since someone from the M’s/Angels will win the west and someone from the Tigers/Tribe will win the central.

    Since it usually comes down to pitching, I’m going to say that Angels win the west and the Indians win the central – leaving the Yankees, Tigers and Mariners to fight over the Wildcard.

    Detroit and Seattle are pretty close to each other, in terms of overall team pitching effectiveness. Some people would say that New York is slightly better than the two of them in this department. But, the Yankees are working with a three-man rotation now. It’s going to be tight for New York.

    It’s up to Pettitte, Wang and Clemens from here out. Combined, they’re probably going to get 18 starts over the rest of the season. And, the trio will most likely have to go something like 13-5 over those games to get the Yankees were they need to be (for the Wildcard).

    Therefore, this is what I’m calling at this point: As soon as Pettitte, Wang and Clemens lose 5 more games this year, combined, you can then forget about the Yankees’ 2007 season – as it will be over at that point.

    Mike Mussina In Motown

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Mike Mussina’s night is now in the books. Today, he pitched 3 innings, facing 19 batters and threw 72 pitches. Moose walked one, struck out none, allowed 9 hits and 6 runs. Sure, there were some seeing-eye hits in there – but, there were some loud outs in there as well. What was most telling was Mussina’s “stuff” in terms of speed and location. I saw fastballs from Moose tonight that hit 81 and 84 MPH on the YES gun. And, I saw Mussina miss Posada’s target more than a few times as well.

    I guess that Joe Torre saw this too – as he took Mike out of the game after 72 pitches, even with the seeing-eye hits having plated some of the runs.

    At this stage, Mike Mussina has become to the 2007 New York Yankees what Luis Tiant was to the 1980 Yankees. Moose is an imported star who has reached the end of his effective days. If you told me, at this point, that Mussina would not win another 10 games in the major leagues, I wouldn’t fight you, with tooth and nail, to make you say “Take it back.”

    Bobby Abreu Playing The Outfield

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    Before the 1993 season, Bill James, in writing about Danny Tartabull playing the outfield, wrote that he “played the outfield with the aplomb of a pregnant camel in a forest fire.”

    I think Bobby Abreu takes it to another level in the field. Bobby Abreu plays the outfield like a pregnant camel trying to walk across a frozen lake.

    Who did Abreu pay-off in 2005 to win a Gold Glove? That must have some pretty penny.

    The Magic Number

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    The Yankees Magic Number is now 31. According to RIOT Baseball Races, this “is the minimum number of games that this team must win in order to remain in contention for a playoff spot. (This could be either first place in the division or the wild card berth.)”

    So, if the Yankees win 31 of their last 32 games, they’re in the play-offs! (Yeah, I’m saying this all in jest.)

    And, OK, sure, yes, there’s the “combo” factor – losses by Seattle (or maybe the Angels) count against that number as well, to drive it down.

    So, maybe the real numbers to watch are 24 and 30? The former is the Red Sox’ magic number and the latter is the Mariners’ Wildcard magic number. Once those two hit zero, it won’t matter what the Yankees do next.

    There’s a chance that Boston could clinch the A.L. East when the Yankees are in Fenway Park on September 14-16. How painful would that be? It will be worse than Opening Day 2005 at Fenway, at least to me. Then again, as the Yankees watch that, if it happens, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    Magglio Ordonez & Alex Rodriguez

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Phil Allard notes that A-Rod and Mags are now tied in RCAA, to date, this season.

    I just noticed that Magglio Ordonez has 24 “Go-Ahead Hits” (all hits where the team went from tied or behind to ahead, may have benefitted from errors) to date this year where Alex Rodriguez has 25 “Go-Ahead Hits” to date.

    Pretty close, huh?

    However, Ordonez has an OPS of .851 “with 2 outs & RISP” this season, so far. And, Rodriguez has a mark of 1.274 in the same spot. Also, Alex’s “Late & Close” OPS is 1.079 compared to Magglio’s .793 OPS in the same situation.

    And, if you’re a fan of WPA, A-Rod has Mags there too: 5.69 to 5.09.

    If the 2007 A.L. MVP was being named today, and it was between these two players, I think you have to give the edge to A-Rod (because of what he’s done in those “special” spots within a game).

    Of course, how these two play in their team’s next (and last) 32 games will probably have a say in the matter as well.

    SOTD: Josh Beckett & Phil Hughes – Out Of The Gate

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (2)

    Interesting numbers. Click here to see the stats.

    Torre: Kennedy Is Not Coming In September

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (4)

    From Newsday

    Teams can expand their active rosters Sept. 1. Torre said he and general manager Brian Cashman have talked in general terms about who they will bring up. Torre expects an infielder, a catcher and a couple of pitchers to be on that list, just don’t expect a certain righthander.

    “[Ian] Kennedy won’t be one of them, I don’t think,” Torre said.

    One certainty is first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who has been on the disabled list since fracturing his wrist June 2.

    Torre expects an infielder, a catcher and a couple of pitchers to be on that list.

    My guesses: Alberto Gonzalez or Andy Cannizaro, Wil Nieves, Chris Britton, Kei Igawa, and Jeff Karstens.

    Nothing to get really excited about there.

    Tommy John For Brackman

    Posted by on August 27th, 2007 · Comments (8)

    From the Post

    Andrew Brackman, the Yankees’ first-round pick in the June draft, has decided his right elbow will be better served by undergoing Tommy John surgery, according to agent Scott Boras.

    Brackman, who signed a four-year deal worth $4.5 million that includes a $3.3 million signing bonus and could escalate to $13.8 million if incentives are met, has chosen Dr. James Andrews to do the procedure, which normally takes 12 to 18 months to come back from.

    The Yankees knew of the 6-foot-10 Brackman’s elbow problems long before taking him with the final pick in the first round. A recent visit to Andrews’ office confirmed a problem and Brackman decided to have the surgery, which, according to Boras, has a 97-percent success rate.

    Christian Garcia, Humberto Sanchez, J. Brent Cox, Mark Melancon and now Andrew Brackman. The Yankees are putting together an all-prospect “Who’s who” of Tommy John jobs.

    August 26th @ The Tigers

    Posted by on August 26th, 2007 · Comments (19)

    That Marcus Thames’ homer in the third was off an 88-MPH fastball, down the middle, from Phil Hughes. How is Phil Hughes serving up an 88-MPH fastball to the third batter in the third inning? Should he not have more life on his fastball than that – so early in the contest?

    David Justice, in the YES post-game, was right. When Hughes hits the corners with his fastball, he’s tough. But, when he gets too much of the plate with it, Hughes’ fastball is very hittable to major league batters. John Flaherty said this back on August 4th as well – that Phil’s 89-91 MPH fastball was very hittable in a spot where it’s expected.

    It will be interesting to see if this will always be the case with Phil Hughes.

    Less than two weeks ago, the Yankees were just 4 games back of Boston in the A.L. East. Since that time, New York has gone 5-7 while the Red Sox have gone 9-4. The gap between the two teams is now 7 games in the loss column.

    It’s probably safe at this point for the Boston Red Sox to put that 2007 A.L. East Crown Champagne on ice.

    To date, this season, the Yankees have gone 3-0 against the Pirates, 5-1 against the Rangers, 6-0 against the Indians, and 3-0 against the Diamondbacks. That’s a total of 17-1 against the Pirates, Rangers, Indians and Diamondbacks. This means New York has gone 55-57 against everyone else (not named the Pirates, Rangers, Indians or Diamondbacks). Heck, maybe the 2007 Yankees are just not that good?

    August 25th @ The Tigers

    Posted by on August 26th, 2007 · Comments (6)

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good when the Yankees win. I’ll take a Yankees win over a Yankees loss, any time, any day, any season – no matter what the standings, situation, etc.

    And, it’s beyond good – nearing awesome – to see Worm Killer Wang on top of his game. When he’s on, he’s an absolute pleasure to watch on the mound – like in the case of this game.

    Also, while I respect a pitcher who uses the inside corner of the plate and who is willing to make batters move in the box once in while, I thought that the Tigers’ Jeremy Bonderman came up and in to Yankees batters too many times in this game. Below the belt is fine – a pitcher should make a batter move his feet once in a while. However, Bonderman was coming up and in every time – above the belt and too close to heads. So, it was great to see the Yankees tag Bonderman for seven runs in less than six innings – as payback of sorts for his brushbacks.

    Good to see, awesome to see, great to see…yet, because of where the recent losses to the Angels and the loss in the game before this one (to the Tigers) have put the Yankees in the chase for a post-season berth, it’s hard to get overly excited about this game – at least to me. It just feels like a win – but, one that’s too little too late.

    Maybe some more wins in the next five games or so will change the way I feel about all this? And, I wonder if any other Yankees fans will the same way today?

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