Thoughts following the doubleheader sweep


(Al Bello/Getty)

After going nearly a month without consecutive wins, the Yankees won two games in the span of about nine hours yesterday. They’ve also won four straight, six of seven, and nine of 13. If the Mariners had been something other than pitiful these last two nights, the division lead would be two or three games instead of just one. But hey, I’ll take the one-game lead. Better than being one back.

1. I don’t want to make too much of one game (one day, really), but man it would be such a huge lift if Ichiro Suzuki got hot and became a more consistent offensive threat these next few weeks. No one is asking him to go 4-for-4 with four steals every game — he’s more than welcome to do that, if he wants — but something more than the three or four hits a week he was providing would be nice. Prior to yesterday Ichiro had only been 6-for-9 in stolen base attempts with New York, so adding some more speed to the offense would be appreciated as well. He was awesome on Wednesday and I hope he builds on it going forward.

2. Ichiro started against the left-handed Ricky Romero last night because it appears that Joe Girardi has finally run out of patience with Andruw Jones. He’s been dreadful in the second half (.137/.250/.225 in 120 plate appearances), and that sure looked like his last pinch-hitting hurrah in Game One. When Girardi needed a right-hander off the bench with the go-ahead run on third and the left-handed Aaron Loup on the mound in Game Two, he went to Steve Pearce. If he’s not hitting, especially against lefties, there won’t be any reason to carry Andruw on the postseason roster should the Yankees qualify.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

3. Speaking of not making the potential postseason roster, what about Raul Ibanez? He’s only been slightly less useless than Jones since the All-Star break, putting up a .190/.287/.356 line in 143 plate appearances. Remember when Hideki Matsui fell into a slump and every single at-bat was a weak ground ball to second? That’s Ibanez now, everything is weakly hit to the right side. He could just be worn down from playing the field so much earlier in the year or he could just be completely done, but at some point soon the Yankees will have to pull the plug on the other half of their preseason DH platoon. There isn’t much season left and neither guy is getting it done.

4. It goes without saying that the biggest positive development from yesterday was Andy Pettitte. He wasn’t sharp, but he still managed to throw five shutout innings against a bad offense after spending the last twelve weeks or so recovering from a leg fracture. Pettitte will need every bit of his final two regular season starts to a) build his pitch count back up over 100, and b) shake the rust off, but it was definitely encouraging to see him come out and pitch well in his first start off the DL. With all due respect to David Phelps, who pitched well in the spot start last night as well as last time out against the Red Sox, getting Andy back in the rotation is huge. Tack on Ivan Nova replacing Freddy Garcia, and suddenly the starting staff looks a lot more formidable.

5. Thanks to Rafael Soriano‘s two-save effort yesterday, the Yankees are up to 50 total saves as a team this year. Soriano has 42, Mariano Rivera had five before he got hurt, and the trio of David Robertson, Boone Logan, and Derek Lowe have one each. It’s only the second time since 2005 that the Yankees have had more than 50 team saves in a single season, joining the 2009 squad (51). Obviously that means they’ll go on to win the World Series this year. Okay … in all seriousness, it’s a function of all the close games they’ve been playing. One hundred and fifteen of their 148 games have been decided by fewer than five runs, a whopping 77.7%. Last year it was 71%, the year before 68%, and the year before that 69%. Soriano has saved each of the team’s last six wins and ten of their last 12. He’s been absolutely huge for the Yankees this year, and yesterday’s performance was probably the highlight of his season to date.

Categories : Musings
  • Rich in NJ

    I agree, it is time to move on from Jones and Ibanez. Give Dickerson and Mesa an opportunity. Girardi needs to stop being so stubborn. Either or both could get hot and make an important contribution.

    • CountryClub

      I happen to agree with you. The guys he would have been replacing were hitting so bad, I didnt see what you could lose. At the very least he would provide better D and more speed on the bases. But at this point, Mesa isnt seeing the field. It would have happened already.

      I’m suprised that Dickerson has been benched. I didn’t think he was doing that badly when they were playing him earlier this month.

    • Ted Nelson

      Girardi obviously feels that Jones and Ibanez are more likely to get hot than Mesa and Dickerson. He is most likely right about Jones/Mesa. Mesa makes little contact and hasn’t been much pitching above AA. Nunez is probably a better solution at DH than Mesa, not sure about OF. I thought Ibanez was done before the season and Dickerson has a lot more high level experience than Mesa, so I could see that one more.

      • Robinson Tilapia


  • Better off Eddard

    They should just try playing Ichiro everyday, even against LHP. I know everyone brings up his poor career numbers vs LHP but what other option is there? Andruw is the other option and right now Ichiro is better.

    So if Ichiro is in LF everyday and with Ibanez/Jones struggling, that opens a spot at DH. When Teixera returns they should rotate Alex and Chavy at 3rd and DH vs RHP and play Alex at 3rd and Nunez at DH vs LHP. Ibanez and Jones aren’t giving us anything right now.

    Soriano is the unsung hero of the season. Robertson has struggled and been hurt, Mariano’s gone, Joba just returned so it’s been Soriano who held the pen together. I hope he stays next year on the final year of his deal but he’ll probably want another multi year contract and want to close.

    • viridiana

      Soriano signing probably one of the Yanks’ 10 best free agent signings ever– and that’s if he never does anything beyond 2012.

      Not as good a signing as as Gossage, Reggie, Key, CC, El Duque and a few others but I would guess Yanks down there with Jays and Sox without Sori. Remember all the flak Randy Levine got for trumping Cashman on that move?

      • Mike P

        Just because it worked out doesn’t mean it wasn’t a terrible signing at the time. Who could have anticipated Mo’s freak accident, and Joba’s too for that matter?

        Process was terrible, result is good. That’s called luck – the Yankees are damn lucky with how that decision turned out. It remains a bad decision.

        • viridiana

          Fortifying one of the most critical positions on the team is not just luck– it’s smart and it’s good planning. And its’ taking advantage of the financial power you haveas baseball’s high revenue franchise. Closers are not fungible, as some seem to think. Getting a guy who had a 45 save season on his resume was not luck. Thank you, Randy.

          • Jim Is Bored

            Glad you provided proof to counter the Closers Are Fungible theory.

            Oh wait, you didn’t.

            • viridiana

              Yeah, let’s test it by using Eppley (or maybe Lowe)as closer. Of course we could try D-Rob.

              Oh wait, we did.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                The intent, at the time, wasn’t to fortify the closer position. Money (and multiple opt-outs) was thrown at an injury-prone closer in order to pitch the seventh inning by the team president and not the GM…..which he did not do well. “He could fill in for Mo if Mo goes down for an extended period for the first time ever” was probably thought of somewhere, but what he’s done this year was not why he was brought to New York.

                Still, though, thank you, Rafael Soriano.

                • Fin

                  If I recall, Soriano was brought in for 2 reasons, both of which I happend to agree with at the time. The Yankees staff on paper last year was horrendous. They had a bunch of retreds competing for spots behind a suspect Hughes and NOva with CC the only sure thing in the rotation. THe thought was they were going to have to rely heavily on their pen.

                  The other reason was that Mo was going to hit 40 and just about every reliever in history had fallen off a cliff at that age, so not only would they have a deep pen but insurance for Rivera.

                  So, while I dont love Levine I always thought with the Yankees financial advantage, bringing in Soriano was smart for them and it has proven to be just that.

        • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

          Hard to anticipate a 42-year old having a serious sports injury.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Once again, I’ll add in this for #6.

    6. Can ANYONE beat the Orioles in extra inning ballgames?

    • Rocky Road Redemption

      Didn’t we do it, like, once?

      • Jim Is Bored

        Twice. Back to back days.

        • Jim Is Bored

          Of course, this was back in April.

    • MannyGeee

      Or ever… can anyone beat Baltimore EVER…

      anoying little rat of a team needs to just go die, cant wait for Detroit to dismantle them in the 1 game playoff…

      Which by the way is BEST case scenario. They throw Verlander in the one game playoff, beat Baltimore and are forced to play with the Fisters and Sanchezes for game 1 and 2 of the ALDS. Forcing Detroit to NOT throw Verlander twice in a 5 game series would be pretty awesome… for us, not so much for them.

      • Jim Is Bored

        Detroit isn’t going to make the 1 game playoff.

      • Get Phelps Up

        I’d much rather see them lose the one game playoff by 1 run in extra innings.

      • jesse

        I have a feeling Detroit will be playing a one-game playoff, but not for the wild card.

      • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

        Very, very disrespectful.

    • gc

      Meh. I’ve stopped worrying about the Orioles, and refuse to waste any further energy doing so until I absolutely have to. We’ve got enough to worry about with the Yankees right now. Win games. Get into the playoffs. Period. All the rest is just noise.

  • gc

    Great job by Joe “Big Game Manager” Girardi. These were the two biggest games of the years and he managed the team to not one, but TWO big victories. He’s the greatest manager in the history of baseball. It can’t be disputed. The Yankees will definitely win today. Joe Big Game Manager Girardi never loses at home.


    • Travelbug83

      Can’t tell if trolling or serious…

      • gc

        Just having some fun with the ridiculous (and not nearly as entertaining as it used to be) hyperbolic nonsense of EddardWorld.

        • jjyank

          Haha I enjoyed this. Maybe that’s the way to approach EddardWorld, kind of like what’s happened with stuart a.

  • CountryClub

    You make an interesting point about the rotation. Obviously, CC, Kuroda & Andy are locks if they make it to a playoff series. For conversation sake, let’s assume that Nova and Hughes both pitch relatively well down the stretch.

    Who does Girardi give the 4th spot to? I think it should be Hughes. But I could see Girardi using the “he has experience pitching out of the pen” excuse to bump him.

    • Better off Eddard

      Hughes has been too good to put in the pen. Sub 4 ERA for the year. Nova only turned it around his last start. I think Phelps will serve that 6th-7th inning role and with Andy we’ll have 3 starters who can give us 7-9 innings and Phil who usually gives us 6-7. Phil also pitches very well at home and would probably start all of his games at home if he’s the #4 starter. The #4 starter can also be brought back in the pen after Game 4 in a seven game series.

      • CountryClub

        You don’t need to sell me on Hughes. He would be my choice. But will he be Girardi’s?

        • Rocky Road Redemption

          I honestly can’t see him doing that. If he does, unless Hughes really blows up these last few games, that is just unbelievably stupid.

    • gc

      Too early to say. They each have some starts left to either gain some momentum or lose it. If Hughes is pitching really well and Nova isn’t, I can’t see Girardi sticking Hughes in the bullpen. And honestly, I think Hughes already has more rope to work with even if both of them are pitching well.

      • CountryClub

        Right, but I said assume they both pitch well. Like I said, I would go with Hughes. But I’m not sure what the Yanks will do.

        • gc

          And I said I have a feeling Hughes has more rope to work with than Nova, even if both wind up pitching well down the stretch. Honestly, if it comes to that, I’ll be happy either way because it tells me both of these guys will have been pitching well at the end of the year.

          • CountryClub

            Fair enough. I missed the last sentence or your first post. Sorry about that.

  • TLVP

    Yesterday Derek Jeter got his 200rd hit for teh season and he’s now one of 6 players with 8 or more seasons. If he gets to 100 runs as well he’ll become only the third player ever with 8 seasons with both 100 runs and 200 hits… The others? Lou Gehrig and Ichiro

    If he get’s 100 runs this season it will be his 14th and move him into sole second place for MLB behind Hank Aaron at 15 and ahead of Lou Gehrig and A-Rod at 13.

    Not bad for being an overrated player no one would care for if he played for the Royals…

  • Rocky Road Redemption

    I wonder if the fact that there are more and more closer games each season is the indicator that the Yankees are/were slowly but steadily getting worse. Whatever happens, and we’re a WS threat if we make it into the playoffs, make no mistake, we absolutely have to find some way to get younger. I don’t know how,but we need to come up with something.

    • Better off Eddard

      Some of it is just bad luck and freak injuries. Gardner isn’t old and he’s out for the year so there’s our speed element. Alex gets hit by a pitch in the wrist, Andy gets hit by a line drive in the ankle, Mo gets hurt shagging fly balls. All of these injuries force a lesser player to take their spot. There aren’t many spots where we can get younger. RF, bench, where else?

    • Hall and Nokes

      Not for nothing, but last year’s run differential (+210) was the team’s best since 1998.

      This year’s (+100) is not the worst in that same period.

    • Ted Nelson

      In terms of the last decade or so, it has to do with offense declining. The same relative difference in run scoring ability will decline in absolute terms as offense declines (or pitching or defense improves).

      Getting younger does nothing for you. The Astros are a very young team. Getting better is what you want to do. That could mean getting younger, it could not. A lot of their problems this year have been with players in their theoretical primes or younger: Gardner, Pineda, Tex, Nova, Granderson, Swisher, Martin, Nunez, Wade, Robertson to some extent…
      Mo, their 4th/5th OF, and their 6th or 7th starter are the only old guys who have really struggled. It’s relatively marginal compared to the impact of their prime and young guys struggling.

    • Ted Nelson

      In terms of the last decade or so, it has to do with offense declining. The same relative difference in run scoring ability will decline in absolute terms as offense declines (or pitching or defense improves).

      Getting younger does nothing for you. The Astros are a very young team. Getting better is what you want to do. That could mean getting younger, it could not. A lot of their problems this year have been with players in their theoretical primes or younger: Gardner, Pineda, Tex, Nova, Granderson, Swisher, Martin, Nunez, Wade, Robertson to some extent…
      Mo, their 4th/5th OF, and their 6th or 7th starter are the only old guys who have really struggled. It’s relatively marginal compared to the impact of their prime and young guys struggling.

    • viridiana

      Well, at least we’ve got some young pitching. When was the last time Yanks had three competent starters, all 26 or under. Conbsistency still an issue, of course, but all three have come up big in recent couple of weeks.

      • CountryClub

        Agreed. The Yanks are in the midst of a division chase with Nova, Hughes and Phelps all starting (and pitching well in) meaningful games.

  • viridiana

    Getting younger is important, especially with new budget constraints and rising prices for free agent talent. Getting younger does not mean overturning the whole roster but adding in selectively to provide speed, energy, upside, fastball velocity and financial flexibility. It is true that many injuries this year have been to younger players, but no reason to believe younger players are generally more injury-prone. Indeed, it’s known that recovery time is faster. Yanks simply have no choice but to begin integrating cost-controlled young talent on to roster next few years. How many $100 million plus free agents can you carry? Or even find?

    • mt

      Very well said.

      I used to be part of the “the objective is to get better and not just younger” camp but I truly believe that separate and apart from getting better (which is a crapshoot and also based on how how good competition is) getting younger has value. We are not Astros – where they can make 2 completely different choices: go old with cheap veterans or go with younger people or do both. Yankees already we know that older Jeter, Arod, TEX and CC will be there with their nagging inuries that are harder to come back from (absent the unlikeliness of any type of Red Sox salary dump trade and those last 3 voiding their no-trade). So it will be hard to get signiifcantly younger. What we can avoid is the following types of moves:

      1) signing older players to back up (Jones, Ibanez, Chavez) – doing so can be a piece of strategy but not the total strategy. Younger players may bring erratic performance but they bring things like speed and energy. For example, I saw Grandy last night trying to steal a base (taking leads and drawing throws) and thought how infrequently we have seen that this year – probably because he has been tired. There sometimes is no substitute for speed and energy.

      2) Phelps could have been developed more if we had not decided to sign the older Garcia in the off-season and make him fifth starter when Pineda got hurt. We need to try younger players sometimes before we think they are absolutely ready – some will struggle, some will surprise us.

      3) Why not at least try Montgomery in September – what’s the big downside?

      4) will help achieve the $189 million target.

      5) without steroids and other drugs is “prime” age now more the 24-28 time period and not 28-32 time period?

  • steve s

    Regarding thoughts about yesterday’s games, as great as Ichiro’s performance was yesterday Alex’s performance was as abysmal as I can remember for him or any Yankee having in a DH (0 for 7, 5 K’s, one double play). Wouldn’t be surprised if he got the day off today.

    • CountryClub

      He just had 2 days off.

      • steve s

        True but he sure looked spent both at bat and chasing that foul pop at the end of Game 2 yesterday.

        • Marcy

          Maybe Nix @ 3rd until Laffey leaves the game? Derek DH’s and Nunez @ short?
          I don’t know — it’s A-Rod and you know Joe likes…

  • Marcy

    Joe finally gave McGehee got a chance and of course didn’t get a hit but he had been out so long…
    How Joe played Pearce over McGehee is still mind-boggling. Isn’t he, “Mr. look at the back of his baseball card?”
    Andruw Jones is really interesting, at least if he weren’t playing for the Yankees he would be. His career arc is so…bizarre. I never want to hear about him being brought in to hit lefties again…in fact, unless things drastically change I never want to hear his name in the lineup again. With Raul – I don’t know if he was “over used” due to injury or what but he did get some big hits early on – now he just seems to rollover everything that comes his way.
    The Hughes/Nova debate is also a good 1. It’s true Phil knows how to pitch out of the bullpen and could solidify things out there but he has been really good (aside from a couple of clinkers) and I wouldn’t feel comfortable with Nova coming out of the bullpen – unless the wheels were falling off. But that’s today and we still have time…
    I heard Larry Bowa say something that has stuck with me – in the 3 years he had Kuroda he was a .500 pitcher and while he looks good for the Yanks – he’ll still be a .500 pitcher. I like Bowa and think he’s a good baseball guy so that too is something to think about.
    Honestly, as well as Soriano has done in Mo’s stead he’s no lock in the post-season, Kuroda is no lock in the post-season, and right now CC isn’t…let’s say he’s struggling.
    I’ll go back to a Jeter-ism – it’s all about the team that gets hot at the right time of year. Ichiro will need some time off, Derek will need time off, Alex – well, he’s got his own amount of time off schedule.
    I always wonder about strings pulled by the front office.
    BTW, anymore info on Billy Connors? And there was going to be another guy going — can’t remember who

  • …..

    You bring up a good point about post-season rosters. It’s a bit premature, but worth debating about.

    11 likely pitchers:

    Secondary group
    Rapada (2nd lefty)
    Nova (depends on the series/opponent I guess)
    Phelps (multiple uses)

    Not Likely but worth debating about

    Position Player 14 spots

    Most likely
    Teixiera (we hope)

    Secondary group

    Third group

    Even with Jeters proclamations that he is fine there is no doubt the Yanks need to carry Nunez at this point. Nix is a good bet also, just for the fact of his versatility. In fact, Nix is perhaps one of the Yanks better assets if they make it to the series and have to play NL style. He’s just a good part to have along for the ride and so interchangeable. I’m stuck on those last two. Anyone have any suggestions? Since DH hasn’t technically been filled yet(or is Chavez and Nunez your DH’s in the series?) you would think one spot goes to either Jones or Ibanez. Perhaps both still? Does Dickerson or Pearce or McGee take one spot? They could add another arm like Wade, but I don’t think they need it. I feel like I am missing someone?

    • Marcy

      I guess 1 spot will be decided by whether Gardner will be around. The other? They need Nunez and his speed – and they need Chavez.
      I guess, if they have Gardner then it’s Gardner and Chavez. If no Gardner then they need Nunez for speed but the outfield D would be so much better w/Gardner.

      • …..

        Fair enough. I’ve already accounted for Nunez and Chavez. I do not think Gardner will have any role in the post-season. Nunez and Gardner provide the same type of game on the bases and at least Nunez can play without limit, plus bat. I think what I am trying to figure out is if Jones and Ibanez both are added, if at all. The more I think about it, I think they give a spot to Ibanez and for a few reasons (although I thought Chavez could cover LF PH duties and DH). It’s that 25 spot which is either Jones, another pitcher or one of McGee, Pearce, Dickerson, unless I am forgetting someone. I guess this is premature considering there is 1.5 weeks of baseball left and anything can happen.

        • …..

          “LF PH duties and DH” actually meant LH PH duties and DH

  • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    I’m not sure this is the place for this, but musings kind of seem like a morning “open thread,” and I’m probably going to bring it up in the game thread tonight anyway to get more reaction to see if I’m in the wrong. When I was watching MLBN last night to keep updated with the O’s/M’s game they where showing Highlights of the Dodgers Nationals game, a game that was ultimately decided by one run in favor of the Dodgers. One of the runs the Dodgers scored was on a play where the third baseman tagged a runner coming at third before Kemp crossed home plate. The Dodgers were awarded the run after the Umpires got together and realized that none of them were paying any attention to when Kemp crossed home, however if the MLB would allow instant replay on scoring plays there was a perfect angle from home plate up the third base line that clearly showed the out made with Kemp still about 10 feet from the plate. I’m sorry but that is down right inexcusable to allow that run to score when everybody but the 4 umpires knew that it shouldn’t.

    • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      For the record, the tagged runner was the third out in the inning.

      • rek4gehrig

        Yeah I saw that. Reminded me of the Tex “out at first” play. So obvious and yet not so obvious. I guess this was worse cos the umps actually discussed it and got it wrong (again)!!!

        • Marcy

          Maybe this was a different play but didn’t the run score because he crossed home plate before the tag-out?

          • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

            That’s what the umps said after they got together, and that is the rule. If he had crossed the plate before the tag out, the run should count. The problem was he didn’t cross the plate before the tag out (he was probably two or three strides away from the right handed batters box.) and there was a clear replay that showed it. This would be one of those instances in football where upon first look at the replay the ref see’s a foot clearly out of bounds.

            • Marcy

              Oh, sorry I didn’t see the replay – just heard them. Didn’t Harold & Co. say they got it right?
              I guess Harold always says the umps got it right.

              Smoltz is kind of like Steve Young when it comes to speaking truth to power and he may have said something about it – honestly, I wasn’t as locked in as I should have been.

              • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

                Harold and Smoltz also agree that the Orioles’ success rests solely on the fact that they have “IT.”

                • Austin Aunelowitzky (formerly Paul VuvuZuvella)

                  They shouldn’t brag about their IT. They should be quietly humble about IT. Shhhhhhhh IT.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  I know that, when we mention “it” as it relates to the Red Sox, we’re usually talking chlamydia. What does it mean for the Orioles, though?

  • FLYER7

    My guess Dickerson and either MacGhee or Pierce depending on Tex’s health. I could see Ibanez but NO WAY Jones…

    • …..

      I’m guessing you’re responding to the question I posted above. I definitely see the logic in that, but I also wonder if by having Ichiro/Swisher/Granderson and likely Ibanez, they could use Chavez at 1st in a pinch as well as Swisher and have Ibanez in RF or LF depending on the venue. It’s an tough decision this year actually. There aren’t 26-27 that deserve or really should go. More like 23-24 so that last spot or two comes down to who is the most useful. Plus the Yanks have a really odd roster this year where a lot of players can play a lot of different positions. Probably a good thing, but it’s a little odd trying to sort it out.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I can’t get behind anything you say until you tell us how you pronounce your screenname.

        • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

          I think it’s Morse code?

  • OMG! Bagels!

    Since May we’ve been saying Baltimore is just a mirage. When will they poof? They did not get that memo.

    I’ve always loved watching Ichiro play. My understanding always was that he had a no-trade clause and he specifically said he never wanted to be a Yankee. I don’t know where I read it but I read a story a few times that said there are few ballplayers who wouldn’t want to be in pinstripes. Ichiro was one and Tim Lincecum was another. Can’t remember the rest. Probably Cliff Lee.

    I know his golden years are behind him, but I would love to see him catch fire at the end and be part of the Yankee success.

  • Cuso

    Jones is dead to rights. He has absolutely zero value. A case could be made that Ibanez may still have value if you can rest him some for the next two weeks. He played way too much LF this year. Jones only started playing more frequently after the AS break and Jones has been pretty awful all year (except literally for 3 days in Boston and THATS IT).

    If they can actually use Ibanez as a DH only against righties, I think he may still have value.

  • OMG! Bagels!

    I looked at the standings for the first time in a few weeks. Weird to see all those E’s. And Pittsburgh not at the bottom of the heap.

    And Baltimore fighting the Yankees for first in the AL East.

    Odd year.