Yanks’ fifth starters walking a fine line

A's break the bank for Inoa
Restacking the pitching deck

As the saying goes, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So pardon me while I throw proverbial wisdom out the window.

Yesterday afternoon, the Yanks’ first fifth starter – one of the three they have in their rotation – took the mound against the Mets, and by a baseball fan’s standard accounting, he had himself a pretty decent outing. Darrell Rasner, coming off a few shaky starts, labored through five innings and left the game down 2-0 in the fifth. That’s a completely acceptable line from one of the many back-end starters on the Yanks, right?

Well, sure, if you don’t look too closely.

On the day, Rasner allowed eight hits and walked three in five innings. The Mets’ inability to get that one big hit kept him and the Yankees in the game longer than anyone would expect with those numbers. And therein lies the rub. While more than two base runners an inning won’t kill a pitcher against the relatively punchless Mets, Rasner won’t always be so lucky, and many of the better AL teams would light him up.

Every time Rasner heads out to the mound, the Yankees are walking a tightrope of inevitability, and in June, the wheels came off in a big way. On the month, Rasner was 1-5 with a 6.47 ERA in six starts. He allowed 58 baserunners in 32 innings for a WHIP of 1.81 and lost to such powerhouses as the Royals, Pirates and A’s.

But through thick and thin right now, the Yankees are stuck with Rasner. While the team would be okay relying on him as a fifth starter behind four other top-line pitchers, the reality is that the Yanks have three good starters and a gaping hole at the end. Here, we see the lasting impact of Chien-Ming Wang‘s and Phil Hughes‘ injuries. Here, we see how the Yanks are getting burned by Ian Kennedy’s ineffectiveness and the Yankees’ brass challenge to him to pitch his way back through the system. With these breaks, the Yanks are relying on a collection of fifth starters – Rasner, Sidney Ponson, Dan Giese – to fill two rotation spots for the time being.

On Friday, the Yanks saw Ponson go through the same high wire act. He pitched six scoreless innings but had put on nine baserunners in the game’s first four innings. I hate to rock the proverbial boat when the results belie the outcome, but the Yanks can’t expect to see themselves in close games if their back-end starters are allowing two or more opposing hitters to reach base each innings. That’s just playing with fire. Other than keeping their collective fingers crossed, the Yanks better come up with a solution and fast. They can easily overcome a 5.5 game deficit, but they can’t afford to watch more ground slip away.

And speaking of rocking the boat…

Today’s lineup was something of a mystery, and as Mike said to me this afternoon, is anyone surprised that the Yanks managed to score just one run?

The Yanks, facing a lefty tough on lefties, put up one of their worst lineups of the season. The outfield featured Justin Christian; the infield Wilson Betemit and Jose Molina. Missing were three of the team’s hottest hitters: Robinson Cano (10 for his last 22 with 2 HR), Bobby Abreu (11 for his last 23 but 0 for 10 against Perez) and Jason Giambi (8 for his last 23). Sitting this lefty triumvirate hurt the team. While I know Joe Girardi didn’t want to see his lefty bats flailing against a tough southpaw, perhaps that was a boat better left unrocked and a close game lost that could have been won.

A promotion but what demotion?

According to The Times and Democrat, a local paper from South Carolina, Brett Gardner has been called up to the Bronx. He will be in uniform for tonight’s Yankees-Rangers game. I don’t yet know what the corresponding roster move will be. We’ll have an update when we know.

A's break the bank for Inoa
Restacking the pitching deck
  • B

    Can we sign Freddy Garcia already please!!!

  • Kay Sturns

    on the lineup, to an extent I agree with you; perez is tough on lefties, but not every lefty he faced was cano, giambi, abreu

    but abreu is 0-10 against perez dating back to the bucs-phils games
    Cano is swinging a hot bat, but perez could have easily changed that.. perhaps with a lasting effect
    Giambi, you could argue, with molina technically his replacement. maybe rasner pitches better with molina, though. extenuating circumstances?

    Good read, though

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    Unless Johny Damon is headed to the DL I see no reason why anyone other than Justin Christian will be sent down.

    • dan

      Having Gardner and Christian seems redundant. I can’t see anyone else going down, barring injury.

      • monkeypants

        Send down Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller Moeller

        Why does this team continue to carry three catchers?

        • TurnTwo

          security blanket in case Jorge’s shoulder blows up… they’d rather keep Moeller and take the hit for having two offensively inept backup catchers on the bench at the MLB level than take a chance on Moeller getting claimed, and having to call up someone like Chris Stewart should Jorge miss significant time again.

          • monkeypants

            I do hope you realize the fallacy of this “plan.” Moeller would likely not get claimed if DFAd, and even if he were, Stewart would be an adequate replacement for him (ie, you can’t really go own from Moeller). And in any case, if Posada’s shoulder blows up and he misses a significant amount of time again this season, the question of which crappy back-ups are on the team will likely be irrelevant.

            • TurnTwo

              well, its not my plan.

              i’m just the messenger. i heard the explanation for it on the radio, or read it someewhere.

              • steve (different one)

                Why does this team continue to carry three catchers?

                do you think MAYBE, just MAYBE the Yankees have more information about Posada’s shoulder than we do?

                or i guess the Yankees, despite playing with 2 catchers for the last, i don’t know, 100 years or so, have now decided they just like having 3 catchers around.

                the Yankees and Brian Cashman are simply SO stupid that they probably don’t even realize Moeller is still here.

                • TurnTwo

                  not possible. people who frequent yankees blogs and websites have just as much info as those in the front office, no?

                • steve (different one)

                  of course. just like Cashman probably had no idea who Robertson and Gardner were.

                  or MAYBE it just made sense to bring Christian up for the 5 lefties in a 7 games and to hold Robertson back until after the double header where they might need Ohlendorf to pitch multiple innings?

                  but wait, stuart told me the yankees NEVER give any young guys a shot.

                • monkeypants


                  You may indeed be correct, and Posada may indeed be hurt much worse than they are letting on. But even so, carrying a THIRD catcher is no solution to that problem. Since Posada returned to action on June 5, Moeller has appeared in only 6 games with 5 plate appearances. He is essentially done nothing while occupying a roster spot, and the Yankees are essentially playing a man short.

                  There is no reason not to DFA him. Only three outcomes could possibly follow: 1] He is not needed for the rest of the season, so what happens doesn’t matter. 2] He is needed because Posada’s should explodes, and he is recalled. 3] He is claimed on waivers and the Yankees are forced to promote Stewart or sign another trash heap catcher (Sal Fasano is available, I believe).

                  It would be one thing if he were being used regularly, but right now he is simply dead weight on the roster. He provides no usable insurance, and he is not valuable enough to keep.

                  It’s pretty tough to defend this exact roster construction.

  • Manimal


    Gardner is finally up! I’m so happy, maybe Melky’s .249 wasn’t cutting it. Or maybe they finally got rid of Moeller.

    • Steve

      Nah, Christian is the most likely demotion.

  • Adrian-Retire21

    Don’t forget Rasner needed 100 pitches in 5 innings.At least we get to see if Pettitte can play better against big AL lineps and if he won’t get lit up against the Red Sox.Who as we seen don’t need Ortiz to hit.

    Also we get to see if Mussina can keep it up and if Joba can pitch against AL teams.

  • dkidd

    how did robertson look today?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Nervous, but good considering. His second inning was much better the first.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

    I hate agents, it seems that Michael Inoa had a record setting deal in place with our beloved Yankees for $2.7-Million but Andy Katz became his agent and set the floor of any deal at $3.5-Million. The Inoa camp then backed out of the deal with the Yankees feeling that they can get more money, this, the Yankees felt, was a sign of disrespect. The Yankees then did not pursue Inoa on principle of having a deal reached then it being subsequently dropped when Katz came in. It sucks but I can’t get mad at Inoa, money talks man.

    [i]The Yankees initially were the leader for Inoa, reportedly agreeing to terms with Inoa’s Dominican buscon on a deal with a $2.7 million bonus. However, multiple sources have indicated that Katz was then brought into the deal and raised the signing bar to a minimum of $3.5 million. The Yankees reportedly dropped out at that point in principle over having had a deal struck and then taken away.[/i]


    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Don’t get too worked up over it. Agents constantly say the Yanks are interested in their guys just to drive up the price for everyone else. Ever notice how every single player in line for a big money deal is somehow connected to the Yanks, even if the move makes absolutely no sense from the Yanks perspective?

      I’m hopefully that one day Cash comes out and says “Fuck off Scott Boras, we never said we were interested in Player X.”

  • http://www.melancholykorean.com/ Melancholy Korean

    As the saying goes, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So pardon me while I throw proverbial wisdom out the window.

    You know, I never understood this one. If the Trojans had looked at the gift horse in the mouth…

    • Mike R.

      The best way to determine the age of a horse is by the length of his teeth. If the horse was free his age shouldn’t matter. Hence the birth of the phrase. You make a valid point about the Trojans though.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=594331910 Jamal G.

        First time I’ve heard the saying and I am confused to all hell.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        Wow, thanks Mike. I understood what the saying meant, but never knew where it came from. We’re a full-service site here, folks.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I still don’t blame Girardi for sitting Cano, Abreu and Giambi yesterday. People need rests and there has to be some rhyme or reason to resting them. And it seemed he figured their lack of success against Perez was good enough. He doesn’t have a one-game mentality

    It’s weird to see Jorge at first. Logical move but weird.

    • TurnTwo

      it may look weird, but get used to it… i think we’ll be seeing a little more of that this season, and in seasons to come.

    • MJ

      Sure, getting players some rest is good. But hasn’t the team been waiting for the real Robby Cano to stand up? Even against a tough lefty, don’t you have to play a hot hitter?

      The bright side is that at least Torre isn’t here anymore. I loved him but when I read this:


      I just shake my head. Why should Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier be forced to platoon? Andruw Jones is finished. Matt Kemp is that team’s best and only hitter in the outfield. Less AB’s for the young kid and more AB’s for the guy with holes in his swing the size of the Grand Canyon? Typical Joe Torre.

  • TurnTwo

    for brett gardner fans, its good to see him get the callup. he’s earned it.

    now you just gotta hope he can continue to do the little things to stay at the MLB level… but theres no doubt if he plays his game, he’s gonna help this team manufacture more runs.

    now if we could just get a little more serious about bringing in a real pitcher or two for the back end of the starting rotation, instead of waiting for Sir Sid’s shoe to drop along with Geise and Rasners’s, we might be back in business.

  • Mark B

    With Posada now looking like Giambi’s chief back-up and right-handed compliment, can we afford to DFA Moeller at all this year? I can only see this coming back to bite us if we do in a late-inning game against the Rays or Sox…..

  • steve (different one)

    yesterday’s lineup was wierd, but i can give Girardi credit for at least TRYING something new against Perez.

    Oliver Perez has absolutely shut down the Yankees 3 times in the last year.

    running the same old people out there wasn’t working.

    it may have been unorthodox, and it may have even been not so smart, but let’s give him some credit for thinking outside the box to try to figure out the puzzle that is Oliver “Randy Johnson” Perez.

    and hell, with Cano getting hot, maybe it made sense to sit him against the tough lefty just to keep his head in the right place? would an 0-4 with 3 K’s have set him back? maybe. considering Betemit hit one out, i don’t have too much of a problem with sitting Cano for 1 day.

    • Mark B

      Great point…..if he played the regular line-up and we only scored one run, Giarardi would be pillaged for not changing anything.

      It’s unfortunately “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” in that position……

    • LiveFromNewYork

      These were my thoughts. The best thing about Cano being hot is him thinking he’s hot. No need to have him thinking he’s gone cold because he can’t hit Perez and then going cold.

      People bitched about Torre that it was the same old same old every game (except demoting Arod during the playoffs…brilliant!) and liked Girardi coming in to change things up.

      Now they’re saying well I wanted change but I wanted things to be different in a way I could understand.

      I don’t think Girardi’s an idiot. I think he’s trying different things and it’s better than sleeping in the dugout all season and then demoting Arod and playing Sheffield at first during the playoffs. Did I mention midges?

    • Chris

      Another thing to consider is that Cano’s hot streak started after he was given a day off.

  • A.D.

    In reality yesterday was either good oliver perez or bad oliver perez, and they got good oliver, probably didn’t matter who was in the lineup, he turned it on.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    I still feel like Cash is in the wrong with his strategy here. Yes, the farm system was a wasteland and we had to rebuild it, and we’ve done that, and kudos. But to refuse to part with prospects, when we have a TON of them and most of them won’t pan out, for guys who are quality, quality players is overvaluing our prospects and costing us opportunities to get better.

    I’m not speaking of the Santana situation, because I think we can agree that the Twins weren’t interested in sending Santana to the AL East (which is why they didn’t bite on any of the combinations we actually did offer, all of which were superior to the Mets package). And perhaps the C.C. Sabathia scenario is the same thing; that the Indians want him out of the AL and therefore are only looking at the Brewers/Cubs/Dodgers offers… but everything I read says that the reason we’re not at the top of the list has less to do with the Indians not wanting to deal with us and more to do with Cashman not wanting to deal anybody, period. Yes, Cash is right in saying that over the past decade, we’ve signed and dealt for too many aging veterans that has cost us prospects and picks, but no, that doesn’t mean we should never consider a trade or signing again. And no matter whether we trade for CC or sign him (if he makes it to free agency), it’s going to cost us prospects as well as cash.

    Look, If you want to say you have unwavering faith in Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes’ potential to be dominant, 10-time allstars in the future, fine. I wholeheartedly agree with that. If you want to tell me that Ian Kennedy, Dellin Betances, Chris Garcia or Carmen Angelini should be untouchable and we can’t consider parting with any of them to get a guy like CC, I’m going to have a problem with that. As far as prospects go, selling on them too early or too late are both bad.

    And one more thing: Brian Cashman wasn’t the sole architect of those WS teams… Bob Watson and Stick Michaels were there first. And they did two things: 1) build the farm system up and then 2) trade away SOME of our prospects for valuable, core veterans, like Cone, Tino, O’Neill and the like. The pendulum of acquiring talent through free agency, the draft, and trades should never be swung all the way to one extreme.

    • mustang

      I could not agree with you strongly enough.
      I have not seen ANYONE here put it as well as this between the old and the new ways of doing things they should try and reach a middle point.
      WELL DONE.

    • mustang

      “The pendulum of acquiring talent through free agency, the draft, and trades should never be swung all the way to one extreme.”

      On the fucking money excuse the profanity.

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