They’re not saying BRUUUUUUU, they’re saying BOOOOOOO!!!

Categories : Game Threads
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Dang it. Need to tack on some runs, fellas.

Categories : Game Threads
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Last night’s game was frustrating to watch on the out of town scoreboard — constantly seeing men on base with none out. I can’t imagine what it was like to see it in person. They just have to put it behind them and concentrate on tonight, when they’ll have a chance to take the series from the Rays.

They’ll have to do it against Matt Garza, who is again having a fine season for the Rays. He’s doing it in a bit different fashion than last year, though. Both his walk and strikeout rates are up, but his strikeouts to a greater degree than walks. It’s actually helped him go a little deeper into games, as he averaged just over six innings per game last year and is up to six and a half (whatever the hell a half inning is) this year.

In terms of stuff, Garza seems in the same place he was last year. His two main pitches, fastball and slider, are right around the same speed. The difference, is that he’s throwing the fastball a bit less frequently, but not dramatically so. This has led him to throw his slider and curveball more, the curveball especially, going from 7 percent of his pitches last season to 11 this year. He’s also cooled it on the changeup, throwing it just 4.4 percent of the time this year, to 7.9 percent last year.

Garza has pitched twice against the Yanks this year. In his first appearance, on my birthday, he allowed just two runs over seven innings, striking out nine. Too bad A.J. Burnett had an even better game. The second appearance came on June 7, wherein Garza tossed 96 pitches through five innings, causing an early exit. He did allow only one run, though, but the relievers allowed three and that was enough for the Yanks. He’s coming off a nine-inning, 116-pitch, two-run, nine-strikeout performance against the Blue Jays.

The Yanks will counter with Joba Chamberlain, who has been brilliant over his last two starts, lasting 6.2 and 7 innings, and racking up a combined 14 strikeouts. The six walks are a bit concerning, but he’s also held opponents to three and two hits in that span, and allowed just one run in each game. Joba’s been unleashing the heat, and it’s paying off.

There’s no word on a roster move, probably because there will be none. CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler tweets that the Yanks have interest in recently-DFA Josh Anderson. He could fill in until Gardner returns. He’s certainly not going to light the world on fire, but he’s better than Terrence Long.

Lineup:

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Nick Swisher, RF
9. Melky Cabrera, CF

And on the mound, number sixty-two, Joba Chamberlain.

Categories : Game Threads
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Ben is out for the next week and a half, so to help carry the load we’ve contacted a few Yankees bloggers to help out with some guest articles. First up is Jay from Fack Youk. He takes an interesting look at the Mets and how they relate to another blue and orange New York team, the Knicks. No, this is not Yankees-related, but I think it’s a good read, as is Jay’s whole blog — his partner in crime, Matt, should hit us with something else next week.

If this isn’t your cup of tea, you can check out our trade deadline open thread and Mike’s post on what to do with Chien-Ming Wang.

The similarities go beyond just the blue and orange. Both teams are owned by father/son duos and have been plagued by recent failures despite having payrolls near or at the top of their respective sports. Each franchise has only two championships in their history and has made the playoffs exactly one out of the past eight seasons. They both have had their front offices’ dirty laundry aired in the New York tabloids in recent years.

Not that Jose Reyes ever asked a Mets intern if she was going to “get in the truck,” or Omar Minaya sexually harassed a fellow member of the front office, but there is a big distinction between having an unsuccessful franchise and having the details of why your organization is a disaster printed for the world to see. At the center of these two debacles are two executives who have/had close relationships with the owners of their teams but terrible ones with the media.

While serving as President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks, Isiah Thomas spoke with the placid monotone of someone who was heavily medicated, spouting off cliches and dropping wincers such as “To me, it’s win or die. And I literally mean death. I don’t mean walk away. I mean death. That’s how I approach it”. Omar, on the other hand has a penchant for mixing metaphors, inaccurate tensing (“He has lobby myself”) and verbal tics, you know what I’m saying?

Initially credited with making the Mets an attractive destination and recruiting players like Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner, Omar’s track record is tainted by severely overpaying for Luis Castillo, giving Moises Alou $15M for 414 plate appearances and locking up Oliver Perez, (who is currently humming along to the tune of a 7.42 ERA) for three years and $36M. The Johan Santana trade alone puts Minaya ahead of Thomas in terms of transactions that turned out favorably for their team, but the number of playoff appearances and dollars each team has spent speak for themselves.

Back on March 12th, 2007, with Knicks holding a record of 29-34 and sitting at 8th place in the Eastern Conference, James Dolan singed Isiah Thomas to a three year extension. Nine months earlier, Dolan had issued an ultimatum, saying the Knicks would have to make “evident progress” in order to Isiah to return as coach the following year.

The team had gone 23-59 under Larry Brown the year before, so they did improve, but the timing was curious. Dolan could have waited to see how the season turned out, but instead said “the improvement needs to be recognized now and not wait”. The team responded with a horrid 4-14 stretch and finished 7 games out of the playoffs. Thirteen months later, Thomas was “reassigned” and banned from having any contact with the team, effectively ending his tenure as Knicks GM and coach.

Immediately following the conclusion of the 2008 season, the second one in a row which concluded by the Mets getting nudged out of October on the last day of the season after holding a significant lead with less than three weeks to go, Jeff Wilpon offered Omar Minaya a three year contract extension. The timing again was questionable, as the GM had a full year left on his current deal, but Wilpon said “we think he deserves another chance to keep getting us to where we want to be”.

The Mets are currently in 4th place in the NL East and behind seven other teams in contention for the Wild Card, 5.5 games back. Unfortunately for Minaya, the on-the-field performance can be largely explained away by injuries, but the power structure of the Mets organization has come under fire as of late. First with the clumsy axing of Willie Randolph last year, but most recently the zany antics of Tony Bernazard and the ensuing unsuccessful attempted public sacrifice of beat writer Adam Rubin’s journalistic integrity, the team has become a punching bag for the New York Media. Rubin wondered aloud how he could continue his duties as a reporter covering theMets after the incident, but one has to question whether Omar can continue running them.

Even since they hired Donnie Walsh to head their basketball operations back in April of last year, the Knicks have had an air of credibility around them, even though their play on the floor was still sub-par. A well-respected veteran of the Pacers’ front office, Walsh is candid with the media and his Wikipedia page doesn’t require a separate section for “Controversy”. Could the Mets benefit from a similar move?

It’s quite unlikely that the Mets leapfrog seven teams (or three in the NL East) and sneak into the playoffs this year. Since Minaya’s new contract doesn’t even start until the end of this season and won’t end until 2012, keeping him around would be a prudent financial move. Rob Neyer doesn’t think that will play a role in the decision, though.

Has Omar passed the point of no return?

I personally don’t think so and don’t feel certain that his successor would necessarily bring a new direction to the franchise, other than the symbolic overture of axing Minaya. That said, public perception and fan placation is a big part of being a successful sports team in New York, and the Wilpon’s have to be prepared to deal with a lot of backlash if they stand by their man.

Categories : NYC Sports Media
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Chien-Ming Wang and his injured shoulderThe news came down late last night: Chien-Ming Wang, the Yankees incumbent ace, will undergo athroscopic surgery to repair a problem with the capsule of his right shoulder, ending his season. The procedure was to be performed by the famed Dr. James Andrews this morning, and is expected to keep Wang out well into the 2010 season. The Yankees will have gotten nothing out of Wang over the last sixteen months when the offseason starts, and if you want to be particularly harsh you can actually argue that they’ve gotten negative production considering how he pitched this season.

How the injury occurred doesn’t really matter. Wang might have altered his mechanics following his foot injury last year, or maybe it’s the result of the violent and unnatural act of pitching. Never exactly a pillar of health, this will be Wang’s second major shoulder surgery (he had his labrum and rotator cuff repaired back in 2001) and the second time it’s given him trouble as a big leaguer. You can expect there to be plenty of talk about what the Yankees can/should/would/will do to upgrade their rotation, but just as important is the decision the team will make regarding Wang’s future this offseason. They can do one of three things:

  1. Resign him either by offering a contract or going to arbitration
  2. Nontender
  3. Nontender and attempt to resign him to a minor league contract

Injured players can’t be traded, but they can be included in deals as a PTBNL. However, since PTBNLs have to be named within six months of the deal, Wang would have to be healthy by then, which is not going to be the case. So that option is out.

As a Super-Two, Wang is eligible for four years of arbitration, and still has two more ahead of him. After paying him $5M this year, the Yanks would have to offer Wang no less than $4M if they offered him a contract because the CBA doesn’t allow paycuts greater than 20%, and chances are he’d get a raise – albeit a small one – if the two sides actually went to arbitration. But then the Yankees will be not only be paying Wang not to pitch for them, they’ll also have to foot the bill for his rehab. And, of course, there’s zero guarantee the Wanger will ever be an effective pitcher again.

The alternative to resigning Wang is not tendering him a contract, which for all intents and purposes is the same as releasing him with no strings attached. There’s always a handful of players nontendered each season, mostly players who are underperforming and are due for considerable raises through arbitration. Here’s last year’s list of nontendered players, just for reference.

If the Yanks decide to nontender Wang, they can go in one of two directions. They can just cut bait altogether and let him walk, or they can attempt to resign him to a minor league contract to keep him in the organization, keep his salary down, and keep him off the active roster. Remember, Wang is out of options, and the Yanks won’t be able to just leave him in the minors indefinitely as he gets healthy. Once he’s ready to pitch in games, his 30-day rehab clock starts, then he has to be back in the bigs.

Bringing Wang back on a minor league pact allows the Yankees to keep him in the minors as long as needed since no 30-day clock would be in effect. It’s definitely the ideal situation for the team because they’ll get to keep him in the organization while keeping costs down and letting Wang work back at his own pace. But will CMW and his agent go for that? The Yankees are the only organization Wang has ever known, but if nontendered it’s still likely some team will step up and offer a big league contract (Dodgers?), which means he’ll accrue service time bringing him closer to free agency (he won’t accumulate any service time if on a minor league deal), not to mention earn a bigger paycheck. And don’t forget that after being taken to an arbitration hearing two years ago over $600,000, Wang and his camp might harbor some animosity towards the team. Agreeing to come back to the Bombers on a minor league deal is the exact opposite of an ideal situation for Wang. Actually, it’s just one step up from being unemployed.

Keep in mind that we don’t know the extent of the damage and won’t know until after the surgery is complete and word gets out. Things could have gone well or things could have gone badly, and that will affect the Yankees’ decision. As of now, my money is on a straight nontender, with the Yanks looking to bring Wanger back with a minor league contract. It’s crazy to think we may have seen the last of Chien-Ming Wang in pinstripes.

Note: If you want to talk about trades and the deadline, do so in today’s Trade Deadline Open Thread. Thanks.

Photo Credit: Simmons, NY Daily News

Categories : Pitching
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Lee to the Phils, Snell to the M’s, and hell, even Balentin to the Reds. We’ll be closing the comments to the first thread in a few, so make sure to get in your digs.

Categories : Open Thread
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We might as well start one of these. For those of you hoping the Yankees land Ian Snell … he’s just been traded to Seattle.

Use this thread to talk about the trade deadline today, and please keep the other threads clear of off topic comments. Thanks.

Update by Joe (1:18 p.m.): Via MLBTR, Joel Sherman reports that Brian Cashman hasn’t even asked to expand the 2009 payroll. I suspect that if the right deal came along, it wouldn’t take much convincing. Money quote: “This is pertinent because the Yankees do believe that the Red Sox have put Clay Buchholz into a trade offer for Halladay and that Boston just might get the ace righty.”

Halladay to Boston is a scary proposition, but far from the end of the world. The Yankees do have some pitching questions, and I presume that with the loss of Chien-Ming Wang, their No. 2 starter heading into the season, that the Steinbrenners will allow for a payroll exception if it means shoring up the rotation.

Update by Joe (2:21 p.m.): It’s unofficial as of the moment, but MLBTR is chronicling the Cliff Lee to Philly trade. Looks like Lee and Ben Francisco for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. That should keep them away from Halladay. Could Toronto turn to Boston?

Categories : Open Thread
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Jesus Montero has become a household name among Yankee fans who follow the minors. He’s 19 and utterly mashing at AA. On Sunday, he hit his fourth home run in his last nine games, and on the AA year, he is hitting .306/.363/.529.

The Trenton numbers, though, represent just half of Montero’s season. Looking at both his Tampa and Trenton numbers, the kid is an utter beast. He is hitting .332/.386/.558 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs. He is now one of the game’s best prospects — number three overall, according to a recent Baseball America update — and the Yanks’ clear number one prospect. He could be up in the Bronx by mid-2010 but will probably not arrive until 2011.

He wasn’t always this well-respected. A 2006 Baseball America column by John Manuel cast some doubt on Montero’s future. Wrote the prospect expert:

The Yankees reportedly gave another international player $2 million this year, but reports on Jesus Montero have not been good ever since the Yankees signed him for that amount in July. Montero has been dogged by rumors that he fudged his age or worse, and sources had indicated for weeks that his contract was under review by the commissioner’s office at the Yankees’ request.

Newman confirmed that the Yankees and Montero, a Venezuelan catcher with prodigious power potential, had “long, involved” negotiations. He would not comment on the value of Montero’s signing bonus, but said one source’s information–that Montero’s bonus had been restructured to $1.3 million–was not correct. His only on the record comment was that “there is no age issue” with Montero, who struggled in the Yankees’ fall mini-camp.

Those “not good” reports have since vanished into thin air. Everyone loves Jesus Montero, and he has emerged as one of the Yankees’ “untouchable” prospects. What the future holds for Montero no one really knows. It’s always amusing though to relive the past. Once upon a time, BA wasn’t sure about Jesus. Now, he’s one of the game’s most heralded young hitters. Funny how that works.

Categories : Minors
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In case my recent spate of posts hasn’t made it evident, I have quite the obsession with the trade deadline. It really covers all team building maneuvers, but the trade deadline is of especial fascination. Here are teams, two thirds of the way through a grueling 162-game season, deciding which of their players, veterans and prospects alike, are expendable. They have to make judgments about myriad details: what helps them now, what helps them in the future, what kind of value they should give up, and what kind of value they should get in return, just to name the obvious.

If you can cut through the wall of noise which surrounds us during times of high trade activity, it can reveal a lot about an organization’s philosophy. The problem is that we never get the full signal. Even the reporters who cover this team and deliver our daily helping of rumors don’t know everything a team considers. They don’t know some deals that almost went down. We get some of that information, but like all information of this sort there are many smokescreens which disguise a team’s true intent.

Over the next couple of days I’d like to take a look at the Yankees from 2005 through 2007 (with a possible addendum of 2008 just before the deadline on Friday) to see where they stood, where their weaknesses lied, and what moves they made. It’s tough to go back and find all of the rumors, but we can look at what they needed and what they got. We start with 2005.

Lay of the land

The Yankees, you’ll remember, started off 2005 in poor fashion, posting an 11-19 record on May 6. Many comparisons were drawn to the 1965 Yankees, who fell off a cliff. They did recover, and by July 15 were 47-41, just two and a half back of the first-place Red Sox. As every year, they were clearly buyers, and the prime target was pitching.

Like 2009, the Yankees had basically every spot filled. They could have upgraded in the outfield over Bernie Williams and Tony Womack, but it’s tough to just sit a veteran like Bernie. Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui manned the corners, while Robinson Cano played a capable second base. They could have upgraded there, but were seemingly satisfied to let Cano grow into the role.

On the pitching end, the Yanks were in a bit of a bind. Randy Johnson was pitching well, but Mike Mussina was having an off-year. Jaret Wright and Kevin Brown were hurt — surprise surprise — as was Carl Pavano at that point, though the Yanks thought they’d be getting him back. Chien-Ming Wang surprised with some solid performances, but he hit the DL with a rotator cuff issue after his July 8 start. That left the Yankees with just Johnson and Wang, and though the bullpen was in need, they needed a starter far more.

Cashman’s moves

The prospect-depleted Yanks weren’t really in a position to make a big move in 2005. They had tried to acquire Randy Johnson at the trade deadline in 2004, but their system, headed by Cano, Wang, and Dioner Navarro, wasn’t impressing the Diamondbacks at the time. With Wang and Cano on the active roster, and with Navarro gone in the Johnson deal over the winter, the cupboard was pretty bare. Cashman then took the only viable strategy: throw shit at the wall and hope something sticks.

On July 1, Cashman signed Brian Boehringer. The next day he dished the underperforming Paul Quantrill for Darrell May and Tim Redding. Two weeks after that he received Al Leiter from the Florida Marlins. On July 29 he signed Hideo Nomo. His biggest move, if you could even consider it big at the time, was trading two minor league relievers, Eduardo Sierra and Ramon Ramirez, to the Rockies for Shawn Chacon. With no good, proven veterans available to the Yanks, this is all they could really do.

To shore up the bullpen, he signed Alan Embree, freshly released by the Red Sox. Again, not a big move, but it was something, anything to shore up the mess of a bullpen, which featured the likes of Tanyon Sturtze, who was terrible after May, Scott Proctor, Felix Rodriguez, Buddy Groom, Mike Stanton, and Wayne Franklin.

How it all turned out

Strangely, one of Cashman’s biggest moves came on January 21, when he signed Aaron Small to a minor league contract. That and the trade for Chacon saved the Yankees’ season. Not that Cashman could have relied on them. They were just some shit that happen to stick to the wall at the exact right time.

Small appeared in 15 games, started nine, and famously went 10-0. His 3.20 ERA was a testament to his ability to keep the ball in the park and keep men off base — his 8.4 hits per nine is far, far below what should be expected of a player with Small’s lowly K rate. Chacon started 12 games, pitching 79 innings and allowing just 25 runs. His walk rate and his strikeout rate sucked, but like Small he allowed a small number of hits for his peripherals.

The real deadline acquisition was on the offensive side, and that was Jason Giambi. On May 14 he was hitting .200/.382/.318, and most fans thought he was done. He had, after all, missed most of the 2004 season with a pituitary tumor which most assumed was steroids-related. Without the juice, Giambi was a goner. But from this low point, when his OPS dropped below .700, Giambi exploded, hitting .289/.455/.590 the rest of the way, combining with eventual-MVP Alex Rodriguez for one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the league.

It was the summer of luck for the Yankees. They got a few decent starts out of Leiter and Wright once he returned (before Wright fell off a cliff in his last three starts). Chacon and Small were the very definition of blind luck. They also got a run of good starts from Mussina, though he too fell off a cliff at season’s end. It’s hard to imagine any team being that lucky, considering the injuries the team suffered and the replacements they hired.

Tomorrow we’ll come back with 2006, a bit more stable of a season. Still, it’s easy to remember what the Yanks’ major needs were that July, too.

Categories : Days of Yore
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