I hate the Orioles. Not as much as I hate the Red Sox, but I definitely harbor no love for the O’s. Why expend any energy disliking a last place team? Because they’re always a nuisance to the Yanks. That, and they seemingly lay down for the Sox. It’s quite frustrating when the Yanks drop two of three to the birds, but the Sox steamroll them. That hasn’t been the case, at least in regards to the Yanks, since the first series of this year, but they’re pests nonetheless.
Jeremy Guthrie, taking the hill for the O’s tonight, has not been his old self this season. Well, maybe he has been his old self, which would be the problem. A 2002 draft pick of the Cleveland Indians, Guthrie spent four full seasons in the Indians system, disappointing most of the way. He did pitch well at AAA in 2006, but got lit up at the major league level, when he pitched mostly in relief.
Fed up with his lack of results, the Indians designated Guthrie for assignment in January of 2007 to make room for…Trotsky Nixon. The Orioles plucked him, and he’s been a staple in their rotation ever since. He stormed onto the scene in 2007, pitching 175.1 innings to a 3.70 ERA, and followed that up with 190.2 innings of 3.63 ERA ball. This year hasn’t been kind to him, though.
Guthrie has pitched 154 innings to date, and leads the league in two categories: home runs and earned runs allowed. Not exactly the most sterling distinctions. The home runs are the particular killer, though his strikeout has steadily decreased over the past three seasons, and sits at just 5.1 per nine innings this season. According to FanGraphs he’s lost about a half mile per hour on his fastball and slider this year. Tough to say if it’s a cause and effect situation, but Guthrie has been going to his fastball a bit less this season than in the past, while going to the changeup more (that’s been a three-year trend for him).
Fortunately for Guthrie, he missed the Yanks the past time around, but he did get the Sox twice. Neither of which was a good start. He’s faced the Yanks three times this season. The first, on Opening Day, he allowed three runs in six innings. He also put up that line on May 8, surrendering all three runs in the first inning, on A-Rod‘s return homer. His final start against the Yanks came just a few weeks later, and it was ug-ly: 7 IP, 5 ER, 2 K, 3 BB, 3 HR. Guthrie’s ERA after that game, 5.37, is just about where he sits now (5.26).
The Yanks well send Andy Pettitte, second half powerhouse, to the hill this evening. Other than a tough ending to his start against the Red Sox last week, Pettite has been nothing but stellar this August. He’ll look to cap the month with another notch in the win column. It’s a shame he doesn’t have two more of those, as he pitched superbly in two no-decisions against the Red Sox and Mariners. Pettitte has five no decisions since the start of June, and he’s allowed three runs or fewer in each of them. Times have been good for A.P.
Just a couple of notes before the game. Gritt Girtner is going to take BP tomorrow, and could hit Scranton for a mini rehab assignment on Thursday. Here’s to hoping for his speedy return. Also, Girardi mentioned that the Yanks will recall a few players when rosters expand tomorrow: “more than two pitchers” and “a couple” of position players, according to PeteAbe. That’ll be Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena on the position player end for sure. As for the pitchers, the two will be Melancon and Albaladejo. The “more than”? Anthony Claggett, Edwar Ramirez, and Mike Dunn are on the 40-man roster. The first two sound like the most likely options, but I’d love to see Dunn up in the Bronx.
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte
Over the weekend, I reported on a lawsuit filed against George Steinbrenner. Bob Gutkowski, formerly an executive at the MSG Network, has sued the Boss for damages up to around $43 million. He claims that George stole the YES Network idea from him and never delivered a promised job as head of the network or the compensation that would come with it.
Today, I secured a copy of the complaint for all of the RAB legal eagles to read. I haven’t had a chance to peruse it yet and probably won’t until later tonight. You can read it below in the Scribd embed or grab the PDF here. I’ll try to offer up some analysis over the next few days.
The Yankee Blog Universe is all a-buzz with news of a changed bag policy from Yankee Stadium. RAB’s own Leokitty first posted the news on Friday, and Ross and Andrew both picked it up over the weekend.
In a nutshell, the terrorists have finally lost as the Yankees will, for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001, allow fans to carry bags with them into the stadium. Similar to at an airport, bags must fit into this box, and the Yankees have amended their stadium rules:
Diaper bags, small backpacks, small purses and bags are permitted. However, in accordance with Major League Baseball security regulations, bags larger than 16 x 16 x 8 inches will not be allowed into the Stadium. Briefcases, large backpacks, large purses and bags, coolers and hard-sided bags and containers are also not permitted. All bags must be thoroughly inspected before they are permitted into the Stadium. Box templates shall be used at inspection points, and bags and their contents must fit without assistance, modification or adjustment. The Yankees reserve the right to inspect any bags, clothing or other articles prior to entry into Yankee Stadium and prohibit entry or require removal of any items the Yankees deem inappropriate or potentially injurious to Yankee Stadium, other patrons or field personnel.
I am quite relieved by this long-delayed rule change. During the summer of 2001, I journeyed to 12 stadiums in 10 cities and carried a backpack with me to every single game. After the 9/11 attacks, stadiums stopped allowing bags into ballparks, but over the next few years, those stadiums outside of New York relaxed their standards.
A few years ago, fans could once again bring bags into Shea Stadium, but the Yankees were obstinate in their bag policies. My apartment was, at one point, home to tens of cheap clear plastic bags with the Yankee logo on them. Last year, the Yanks started allowing any plastic bag into the park, and now, bags — messengers bags, small backpacks — are back. The terrorists have definitely lost.
The indispensible Chad Jennings took a look at which Triple-A Scranton players have earned themselves a September callup this season. Since not all of them will actually get the call, he also mentions who he thinks will ultimately get some big league action. As an added bonus, he lists which players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason. Make sure you check it out, Chad’s stuff is always worth the read.
Oh, and check out my Sept. callup post if you missed it. Even if you didn’t, go ahead and give it another read. · (74) ·
While we still have a month left of regular season baseball and, hopefully, a few weeks of October play in the Bronx, nothing dominates the conversation quite like the Hot Stove League does. In his latest weekend roundup, John Perrotto drops in a bit about the Yankees and Johnny Damon:
The Yankees would prefer to re-sign Johnny Damon to a one-year contract for 2010 and allow outfield prospect Austin Jackson a second year to develop at Triple-A, meanwhile pursuing such big-name free-agent outfielders as Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in the offseason.
This is not, of course, the first time we’ve heard the rumblings about Damon and the Yanks. We looked at some early Damon rumors on the 18th and the potential costs of a deal on the 25th. One way or another, Damon and the Yankees will exchange ample conversations about 2010 once November rolls around.
What strikes me about Perrotto’s report are the two other pieces. The first part involves Austin Jackson. As a 22-year-old at AAA, Jackson’s numbers are far from terrible. He is hitting .294/.352/.401 and has stolen 22 out of 26 bases. That’s the good of it.
The bad of it is rather extensive. He has hit just four home runs all season; he has struck out 118; and his BABIP is an unsustainable .386. Plugging his numbers into the Minor League Equivalences tool gives us a line of .255/.301/.340. He makes Melky look like an All Star, and it is clear that Jackson needs a least part of another season at AAA.
Next up are the dueling Jason Bay/Matt Holliday rumors that Perrotto drops. For the most part this year, we’ve heard about varying degrees of interest the Yanks may have in these two players. Some sources say the Yankees will kick the tires on Bay — to force the Red Sox to pay more — and Holliday because he’d be a great fit for Yankee Stadium. Other sources say the Yankees are loath to dole out more multi-year contracts for aging outfielders and may not be in a position to do so financially after landing Mark Teixeira last winter.
Between Bay and Holliday, though, my choice would be Holliday. The current Cardinals outfielder is 21 months younger than Bay and has proven that he can hit outside of Coors Field this year. The idea of giving four or five years to either of these players though isn’t one I can readily embrace.
As the calendar marches on, we’ll hear a lot about Damon and the Yanks’ outfield plans for next year. They have a left field vacancy to consider and a center field spot that could use an upgrade. With Jackson potentially waiting in the wings but still some time away, the Yanks have some tough developmental choices to make this winter. How it plays out will be interesting indeed. It always is.
Addendum: Another reason the Yanks might be interested in retaining Damon.
Record Last Week: 4-2 (43 RS, 24 RA)
Season Record: 82-48 (739 RS, 613 RA), 6.0 games up
Opponents This Week: @ Baltimore (3 games), @ Toronto (4 games)
Top stories from last week:
- The Yanks looked flat coming off Monday’s off day, however they almost mounded a big late inning comeback until Joe Girardi decided to bunt it away. Andy Pettitte got the team back on track the next day, but three batters doomed AJ Burnett before Phil Coke put the game out of the reach on Thursday. It was the Yanks first series loss at home since that Nationals series way back when.
- The sub-.500 White Sox came to the rainy Bronx next, and Robbie Cano started the series off with a walk-off homer after CC Sabathia‘s sterling effort. Sergio Mitre (yes, Sergio Mitre) was the hero in Saturday’s win, then the bullpen did it’s thing in relief of Joba for the sweep on Sunday.
- Ian Kennedy’s comeback from an aneurysm continues to go well, but Jorge Posada‘s non-throwing hand got dinged up a little. Pitching prospect Dellin Betances went down with Tommy John surgery, but at least Damaso Marte has looked strong in his return from a bum shoulder. Oh, and Joba Rules were revised yet again.
- Two of the Yankees main rivals added significant pieces during the week, as the Red Sox hauled in Billy Wagner while the Angels imported Scott Kazmir. The Bombers didn’t just sit on their hands though, they screwed around with Boston by claiming a few of their players on waivers and expressing interest in Brad Penny for the fifth starter’s spot. Andy Pettitte even hinted that he’d like to return next year.
- George Steinbrenner is being sued over the idea for the YES Network. An old boss of mine used to say that if you’re not being sued, then no one’s noticing what you’re doing.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
Yesterday, when Joba left the game after throwing just three innings and 35 pitches, the Internet was abuzz with criticism of the Yankees plan. Andrew Fletcher of Scott Proctor’s Arm called the move “utterly moronic” on his Twitter feed. Ross of New Stadium Insider commented that “the Joba rules keep on getting lamer and lamer” on his. Plenty more fans chimed in with similar comments. Apparently the Yankees decision to limit the workload of their prized young pitcher isn’t going over well with the fan base.
Many of these same people criticized the Yankees when the plan was to spread out Joba’s starts over the remainder of the season. This brings to the fore an apt question: what, then, are they supposed to do? If the Yankees aren’t going to shorten Joba’s starts or spread them out, then what options do they have?
1) Pitch Joba as normal and shut him down when he reaches his prescribed workload
2) Pitch him normally without regard to prior workload
As to the former: if people are complaining about Joba now, the noise would be louder than ever if the Yanks shut down Joba. It would relegate either Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre to the fourth starter slot in the playoffs, should the Yankees need one. It would also be denying the team a useful pitcher. While it would probably be the best thing for the future development of Joba Chamberlain, it just doesn’t fit well into the way 2009 is unfolding.
As to the latter, I’ve made my feelings known on the matter. That said, if you believe that Joba should throw as many innings as possible this year, there’s no way we’re going to see eye to eye. May I suggest, though, that you go out tomorrow and add 50 pounds to your bench presses and 3 miles to your daily run. Then see how you feel the next day.
The whole point of the “Joba Rules” is to make sure they’re not adding too much weight to the bar. By keeping the incremental increase in his workload under control, the Yankees hope to prevent Joba from succumbing to the injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness we’ve seen afflict so many young pitchers in recent years. The Yankees have invested millions of dollars in this pitcher, and could see millions more in production from him in the future. If they can keep him healthy, that is.
One thing I noticed in this argument is that many people do not favor the way the Yankees are going about this. Said Fletcher on his Twitter feed: “Treating August games like spring training games is not doing it right.” To that I ask: What is doing it right? He suggests they do it in the minors. Unfortunately, that’s not much of an option right now. The minor league season ends rather soon, and as we’ve argued many times, Joba might not learn much by pitching down there. He has the stuff to destroy minor leaguers. At least he’s being challenged in the majors.
The Yankees are afforded some luxuries because of their lead and their current level of play. It seems like the Red Sox are winning every day, but the Yanks still maintain their lead in the East by a sizable margin — and that margin grows with each passing game, because the season creeps closer to an end. One of those luxuries of which they’re taking advantage is the ability to curb Joba’s innings while pitching him regularly in the majors. This might not be the same story if it was the Yankees who trailed the Red Sox by six games and led the Wild Card race by a small margin.
This is not a necessary endorsement of the specific manner in which the Yankees are handling Joba. Maybe having him throw normal starts that are spread out further is the better plan. Maybe letting him get to 160 like normal and then shutting him down is the best for his long-term potential. I don’t know which is best, and neither does anyone else out there. We should understand by this point that just letting pitchers go out there and throw is a poor strategy. There need to be limits to ensure that young pitchers don’t vastly exceed their previous workloads.
Please, if you don’t agree with a move that the Yankees make, criticize them for it. However, when you choose to do so, make sure you have some substance to your argument. Why are the Yankees doing this wrong? What should they be doing instead? This is what makes for good arguments and conversations. Instead, thanks to media like Twitter, we’re getting a lot of noisy complaining with no substance to speak of. That won’t fly. If you don’t agree with the Yankees handling of Joba, tell me why, and what might work better. That’s the kind of talk we appreciate around these parts.
One year ago today on DotF, Ian Kennedy pitched Triple-A Scranton to a division title.
Game 1 (5-3 loss to Pawtucket in 7 innings) makeup of yesterday’s rain out
Kevin Russo & Frankie Cervelli: both 2 for 3 – Russo drove in a run & walked
Ramiro Pena: 0 for 4 – played CF
Austin Jackson: 1 for 4
Shelley Dncan & Yurendell DeCaster: both 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – Shelley K’ed & threw a runner out at home from RF
Juan Miranda & Reegie Corona: both 0 for 3 – Corona K’ed
Cody Ransom: 0 for 2, 1 R, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 E (fielding)
Ivan Nova: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 6-4 GB/FB – 46 of 74 pitches were strikes (62.2%)
Amaury Sanit: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 4-1 GB/FB – 23 of 35 pitches were strikes (65.7%)
Anthony Claggett: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 3-0 GB/FB – 7 of 11 pitches were strikes
It’s amazing that there are still people talking about the White Sox as possible contenders in the AL Central, isn’t it? Remember when Mark Buerhle was Mr. Perfect and Alex Rios was going to solve the centerfield problem and Jake Peavy gave them four dominant starters? Yeah, those were the days. Anyway, now that the Yanks have swept those frauds out of the town, I want to point two stat lines out to you.
That first set of numbers is Alex Rodriguez‘s career batting line. His career line is basically equal to what Miguel Cabrera is doing this year. Think about that for a second.
The second set of slash stats? That’s A-Rod‘s batting line since June 24th, which is the day Brian Cashman visited the team in Atlanta. That 22 point difference in SLG … you know what that is? It’s one stupid double every 47 at-bats. I’ll take the 41 point boost in OBP over those missing 22 SLG points every day in the week. So please, let’s stop all this nonsense about A-Rod not being the same hitter he was before the hip surgery. He’s got 100 OPS points on MVP candidate teammate Mark Teixeira since that fateful day in Atlanta. The guy is a machine.
* * *
So anyways, use this as your open thread. The Braves and Phillies are the ESPN Sunday Night game, and you’ve also got Jay Cutler returning to Denver on NBC. Anything goes, but be cool to each other.
Welcome to the Year of Joba. The Yankees have a good, young pitcher on an innings limit, and as the team hasn’t seen one of those since innings limits became all the rage, every start — nay, every pitch — brings it with intense scrutiny and fan overreaction.
Today, the Yanks’ plan for Joba resembled something out of the Spring Training manual. With a few weeks left in the regular season and 30 innings remaining for Joba, the Yanks will keep their youngster on normal rest but control his innings. Today, he was set for 3 innings or 50 pitches, whichever came first. With Joba and his 17.3 pitches per inning, you never know.
Well, with the anemic White Sox offense on tap, Joba made it through three innings well before he reached 50 pitches. In fact, Joba needed an economical 35 pitches to record nine outs. He threw 23 of them for strikes and gave way to Al Aceves and the bullpen as the Yanks’ bats led the way to a weekend sweep against the reeling White Sox.
There was but one problem with Joba’s 35 pitches: They weren’t that good. The game started off with a Scott Podsednik triple, and he scored on a Gordon Beckham ground out. While the Yanks tied the game in the first on a Derek Jeter double and a Mark Teixeira sacrifice fly — the first of Mark’s four RBIs on the day — the White Sox grabbed the lead in the third on back-to-back-to-back singles with a stolen base in there for good measure. Joba ended strong with a strike out of A.J. Pierzynski, but he would head to the showers with a so-so line: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.
For Joba, the problem seemed to be one of velocity. While he was throwing more strikes, he averaged below 92 with his fastball and peaked at around 94.4. His changeup, slider and curve were all working nicely, but I still wonder, as I have many times this season, where Joba’s 97 mph fastball went. He threw it last year regularly as a starter but only occasionally this year.
Anyway, with Joba out, the Yankees’ bullpen and bats went to town. Johnny Damon gave the team a lead with a two-run shot in the third. That blast was his 24th of the season, and Damon is now tied for his career high in home runs. The Yanks’ left fielder later left the game with cramps in both of his calves and is day-to-day.
For the next four innings, the game was a tense affair. Al Aceves, coming off of a few rough August outings, held the White Sox to just two hits and no runs in three masterful innings of work. He struck out one and grabbed his ninth win of the season. In the 7th, Aceves gave way to Damaso Marte who retired Jim Thome on four pitches. With a few righties up, Joe Girardi went to David Robertson. The Yanks’ K specialist nailed the second out of the inning and had Mark Kotsay down to his final strike, but a pair of singles prolonged the inning.
Out went Robertson, in came Phil Hughes, and there went the White Sox’s chances. Hughes retired Jayson Nix on a fly ball to Eric Hinske, and the Yanks’ bats took over. Melky and Jerry Hairston, Jr. each contributed RBIs on a double and sac fly, respectively, and then Mark Teixeira put this one out of reach with a towering blast into right field. It was his 32nd home run of the season, and as he touched the plate, his RBI total reached 101. He leads the AL in that category.
With an 8-2 lead in their pockets, the Yanks let Hughes pitch a 1-2-3 8th, and while Phil Coke gave up a two-out home run to Jermaine Dye in the 9th, it mattered for little. There would be no 9th inning comeback, and the Yanks would head down to Baltimore with their 82nd win. As the Blue Jays lost to Boston, the magic number drops only by one game to 27, and October is inching ever closer.