Over the past few games it seems like Yankees fans have gone from this:
I can’t say the collective frustration is undeserved. The Yanks have gotten nothing from their starting pitching over the past two games, and what they got from the offense last night wasn’t enough. Not only was it not enough to win the game, but it wasn’t enough given how many opportunities they gave themselves. It’s been quite an ugly series made even uglier because of the way they played heading into it.
Tonight they face Brad Penny, the Red Sox No. 5 starter and subject of various lopsided trade rumors. The Yankees have faced Penny just once in his career, and that was all the way back in 2000, during his rookie campaign. The Yanks got him for three runs in five innings, forcing him to throw 118 pitches in the process. Nowadays would you ever see a manager leave a rookie pitcher out there for 118 pitches? Anyway, the only current Yanks who faced him were Jeter and Posada, the latter of whom is not playing tonight.
As mentioned, Penny has surfaced in a number of trade rumors as he’s considered a “surplus” starter, since the Sox have John Smoltz and Clay Buchholz waiting to go. There is little chance, though, that it’s nearly as good a trade as the last one Penny was involved in. That occurred in 2004, when Paul DePodesta shipped Juan Encarnacion, Guerillmo Mota, and Paul LoDuca to the Marlins for Penny, Hee Seop Choi, and Bill Murphy. The fans in LA, who had for some reason grown to love LoDuca, hated DePo for making the move, but it was one that undoubtedly benefited the Dodgers. LoDuca was 32 at the time and sported a .795 OPS. In no full season since 2001 had LoDuca put up those numbers, so DePo traded him at the height of his value, and he was right. LoDuca did put up a .783 OPS in 2006 with the Mets, but was generally below average after the trade.
The other two pieces, Mota and Encarnacion, were never really good. Encarnacion struggled to produce league-aveage numbers while playing right field, which is akin to playing with a 10-pound weight around your neck. Mota was another guy DePo traded at the height of his value. After posting a Mo-like 204 ERA+ in 105 innings in 2003, Mota was once again mowing down the competition in 2004. DePo traded him, drew ire, but was vindicated in the end, as Mota has pretty much stunk since. Penny, meanwhile, became a solid cog in the Dodgers rotation, peaking with 208 innings of 3.03 ERA ball in 2007. Yet despite this smart trade, DePo was run out of town by the likes of Bill Plaschke, who favored Ned Colletti, a man who signed Juan Pierre for $50 million, among other obvious blunders.
CC is the Yanks last hope until the Sox head to the Stadium on August 6. In 48.1 career innings against the Red Sox, Sabathia holds a 3.91 ERA, striking out 35 and walking just 8 in that span. The Yanks will need him at the top of his game tonight. I don’t want to fathom what will happen if he’s not.
And on the mound, number fifty-two, CC Sabathia.