No one wants to see the Yankees lose games, but we know they won’t win ‘em all. Last night’s one-run loss was a bit disheartening, mainly because a botched double play led to two Blue Jays runs where there should have been none, or one at most. The Yankees did come back from that, but could not muster another run after Lyle Overbay sent one into the Yanks bullpen. Things will be different tonight, though. Things will be different.
For starters, the Yankees will have a more reliable arm in the mound in the form of Joba Chamberlain. His last start wasn’t quite as good as his previous three, but he battled through five innings and left with a hefty lead that the Yanks would not come close to surrendering. They could use another quality start out of him, and as long as he’s not walking the farm he should be fine.
The Blue Jays will send Scott Richmond to the mound. After the Yankees crushed him last time out to the tune of five runs in 1.2 innings he continued pitching well, but was scratched for his start in the July series, which led to him hitting the 15-day DL. He’s had one start since coming back, a three-inning, six-run (three earned) debacle against the A’s. That, combined with the Yanks’ last outing against him, makes you think the Yanks will have a field day with Richmond tonight. But allow me to quote someone knowledgeable on the matter.
“You can’t predict baseball. You just can’t.” -John Sterling
And he’ll remind you of that at least a dozen times during the game tonight, if you can endure him.
In case anyone is interested, I’ll be at the game tonight with Ben, sitting with a decent sized group. We were forced into Section 235, LF bleachers. If anyone wants to get a beer at the Cold Beer stand by third base in the second deck, email me (it’s to the right). The BlackBerry is on.
And on the mound, number sixty-two, Joba Chamberlain.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve toasted Derek Jeter. I hosted an appreciation thread before going on vacation while Joe praised his defense and examined whether or not the Captain has been the team’s MVP.
Since then, Derek’s marvelous season has continued. He enters tonight’s action hitting .315/.384/.450 with 73 runs scored, 13 home runs, a 119 OPS+ and 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts. At age 35, when he should be slowing down, Derek is doing anything but that, and he is also flashing above average defense at short, a far improvement from his recent showings with the glove.
Over the last few months, we’ve touched upon the Derek Jeter question. He signed a lucrative 10-year $189-million contract back in February of 2001, and in a little over 13 months, he will be a 36-year-old free agent short stop.
Recently, Times scribe Jack Curry tackled the issue of Jeter’s contract status. He wrote:
As vital as Jeter has been to the organization since becoming the starter in 1996, the Yankees soon must decide how much he is worth to them. Jeter’s 10-year, $189 million contract expires after the 2010 season, but the Yankees have not formally approached him about an extension. “I haven’t even thought about it,” Jeter said…
If Jeter agreed to an extension with the Yankees, he would know what his future held beyond 2010. Knowing that he was signed after 2010 might give Jeter more security, but he did not seem worried about it. “It’s 2009,” Jeter said. “It’s not 2010.” Then Jeter paused before adding, “Or 2011.”
By mentioning 2011, Jeter was seemingly intimating that he just needs to know where he is playing before then. But it would be surprising if the Yankees let Jeter’s future remain unsettled during next season. The Yankees do not want Jeter, their team captain and a player who has helped them win four titles, to be a lame duck in 2010. It would be a chronic distraction.
Although Jeter said the Yankees had not discussed the future with him, the team has discussed Jeter’s status internally. The Yankees want to re-sign Jeter, 35, so he can collect his 3,000th hit with them and presumably retire as a Yankee. Jeter, who has 2,674 hits, cannot envision playing elsewhere.
According to Curry, the Yankees want to sign Jeter to a two-year deal. Considering, though, that Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera both received long-term deals when they were older than Jeter will be, the Yanks will probably have to give Derek at least a third year and probably more dollars than those two received.
Will a three-year, $45-million deal get the job done? Is it too much? With Jeter, the Yanks will be paying for what he has done and not necessarily what he will do. He is a big enough name, though, and a big enough draw that they can afford to do so. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see an extension in place this winter, well ahead of Jeter’s free agency.
As Chien-Ming Wang has struggled and Phil Hughes has landed in the bullpen, the Yanks have struggled to find an adequate fifth starter. While I’m not too thrilled at the prospects of another Sergio Mitre start, the Yanks sound as though they are heading down that path. One pitcher — Ian Kennedy — never had his chance this year. Prior to coming down with an aneurysm, Kennedy was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four starts for AAA Scranton. He had a 25:7 K:BB ratio in 22.2 innings and would have had ample opportunity to earn that fifth starter role had injury not struck.
Today, we hear that Kennedy has thrown 25 pitches from a mound for the first time since April and will do so again on Friday. The 24-year-old wants to pitch in a Minor League game before the season ends on Sept. 7. Ticketed to winter ball, Kennedy unfortunately won’t make it back to the Bronx this year but should be in the picture come 2010. (Thanks to all who sent a tip about Kennedy to us. Keep on using that contact form.) · (35) ·
It’s no secret that the New Yankee Stadium is a bit … um … hitter friendly, and we’ve certainly seen more than a few balls barely carry over the right field fence for cheap homers. Well, it turns out that Mark Teixeira’s home run Sunday night against Boston – you know, the one that gave the team the lead in the 8th while simultaneous crushing the heart of the Nation – would have been a home run in exactly zero parks under normal conditions according to Hit Tracker. Apparently the ball hung up so long that it gained an extra 37 feet of distance due to wind, pushing it over the fence. Hey, Boston was playing with the same conditions, so they can’t complain.
Don’t think this is something isolated to the Bronx, because Jason Bay hit a dinger in Fenway last night that also would have been a homer in zero parks under normal conditions. The Monster definitely gives more than it takes away. · (113) ·
On June 30, the Yankees acquired Eric Hinske from the Pirates in exchange for two minor leaguers. The move came just days after Xavier Nady‘s attempt to rehab from a torn UCL was pronounced a failure, and that the outfielder would undergo his second Tommy John surgery. Hinske, who had signed a one-year deal with the Pirates over the off-season, wasn’t hitting the cover off the ball in Pittsburgh, but that didn’t concern the Yankees much. They wanted a bat with some pop off the bench, and Hinske provided just that.
At the Pocono Record, Justin Rodriguez has interviewed Hinske to talk about the Pirates, the Yanks, the AL East, and the perception of Hinske as a good luck charm. It’s a quick read that shows off Hinske’s loose personality, but there is one item of particular note. Apparently, the Yankees did pursue Hinske over the off-season, but he signed with the Pirates in late January.
Why would Hinske sign with the lowly Pirates over the powerhouse Yankees? He wanted regular playing time. This is something we constantly cite in explaining why it is difficult for the Yankees to assemble a deep bench. On a good team, Hinske is a bench player. At the time, the Yankees had Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, Xavier Nady, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez playing his four main positions (LF, RF, 3B, 1B). How much playing time would he realistically have gotten if those guys stayed healthy? Very little, which also raises the question of why the Yankees pursued him in the first place.
When Hinske didn’t get regular playing time in Pittsburgh, he asked General Manager Neal Huntington for an out. He granted just that, allowing Hinske to fill a similar role on a much better team. Not that he has a problem coming off the bench. “You can make a decision to be a miserable person or make a decision to help the team win,” he said in the interview. It sounds and looks like he’s fitting right in with the Yanks. While he’s not a big reason for the Yankees surge, he does provide valuable bench depth which allows Girardi to give his veterans a day off. You might not see that in the box score every day, but it’s fair to say that having Hinske as the first bat off the bench is a bit better option than, say, Gardner, who was their first option earlier.
Again, the interview is worth a read.
A few days ago, the Red Sox cut ties with John Smoltz because he couldn’t get Major League hitters out. Over eight starts spanning 40 innings — just 5 IP per start — Smoltz had allowed 59 hits, 39 earned runs and eight home runs. While his proponents pointed to a decent 33/9 K/BB ratio, Smoltz had nothing, and the Red Sox knew it.
Last night, Sergio Mitre made his fifth start in Yankee pinstripes, and he is nearly Smoltzian in his efforts. In his five starts, Mitre is averaging 4.6 innings pitched per outing. He has allowed 38 hits in 23 innings. He has surrendered 4 home runs and has a K/BB rate of 15/6. That 1.91 WHIP is helping no one.
Staked to a lead he could not hold, Mitre got off to a decent start last night. He recorded six of his first nine outs via the K, but in the fourth, he couldn’t make his pitches. He threw an easy double play ball into center field for a costly error and needed 96 pitches to record 15 outs. His own error aside, it was an ugly outing.
In recapping the game last night, Joe wrote, “There’s no shame in having a seven-game win streak snapped with your fifth starter on the mound.” He also expressed his belief that Alfredo Aceves could wind up drawing the start on Saturday in Seattle against the Mariners instead of Mitre. I’d like to take that argument a bit futher: Sergio Mitre should not be the starting pitcher come Saturday.
Right now, Mitre is offering up the same nothing for the Yanks that Smoltz gave the Red Sox. The best I can say is that he hasn’t walked too many hitters. As a supposed sinkerball specialist, he’s given up too many home runs. As a pitcher, he has allowed far too many hits. He is fooling nobody, and while the Yanks have a 5.5-game lead and some leeway, they shouldn’t be trotting out a five-run handicap every five days.
During the post-game show, Joe Girardi seemed more than willing to commit to Mitre going forward. Joe’s reason? Outside of his own error, Mitre would have tossed a great game. That’s revisionist analysis if I ever I heard it. Mitre still give up the hard-hit balls later in the inning that plated the unearned runs. He still gave up a booming home run that led to the Yanks’ loss.
Right now, the Yankees have a few better options idling away in the bullpen. Aceves could get another shot. Phil Hughes is throwing one inning or less every few days out of the bullpen. Chad Gaudin hasn’t done anything since arriving in the Bronx, and even Russ Ortiz and the recently-DFA’d Josh Towers could be at least as good — or as bad — as Sergio Mitre.
We praised the Yanks for the strong bench and bullpen yesterday afternoon. As long as Sergio Mitre continues to pitch every five days and as long as better pitches sit in the pen, the same cannot be said of the back end of the Yankees’ rotation. It’s time to cut ties with Mitre. His presence gave the Yanks some depth, but the results just aren’t there.
Through the first three innings, Round 5 of the Sergio Mitre Experiment seemed to be going OK. He had allowed just a run, forgivably to Aaron Hill, on three hits and no walks. True, the Blue Jays offense is a bit weak, especially with Alex Rios out of the picture, but we’re also talking about the Yankees fifth starter. In any case, Mitre didn’t get the job done after that. His botched double play, despite the official scorer handing Cano the error, led to a three-run inning for the Jays. He didn’t help matters the next inning by leaving a pitch right over the plate for Lyle Overbay, giving the Blue Jays a 5-4 lead that would last the rest of the way.
After Sergio Mitre’s last start, I wondered whether the Yankees might flip Aceves and Mitre, allowing Ace to throw every five days while relegating Mitre to bullpen duty. It would make sense. In Mitre’s past two starts Ace has had to come in and hold down the fort. Last time it was two innings and one run allowed. This time it was four innings and no runs on just two hits. It might be nothing — just Girardi giving the rest of the bullpen a night off. That seems a bit odd, though, considering Aceves was unavailable just yesterday with back issues. The Yanks won’t say anything now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Aceves gets the start Saturday night in Seattle.
The game started off all Yanks. Derek Jeter homered into the Yanks bullpen to open the game, and then Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira each singled, putting runners on first and second with none out and the Yankees already up 1-0. With rookie Mark Rzepczynski on the ropes, the Yankees couldn’t strike again. Alex Rodriguez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and Jorge Posada hit one to Jose Bautista in right to strand Swisher on third. They’d certainly need more than one with Mitre on the mound, but it was a good start.
Robinson Cano and Jerry Hairston went back-to-back to open up the fourth inning, which Melky Cabrera followed with a single. A batter later and Rzepczynski was out of the game, replaced by Shawn Camp, who disposed of Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher to end the inning. Camp allowed just two hits, erasing one with a double play, and kept the Yanks off the board. Then came Brandon League, who allowd a leadoff single and then struck out the side. Jesse Carlson and Jason Frasor closed it out, allowing no Yankees to reach base.
It’s strange that both starters were out of the game relatively early, but both bullpens held the opposition scoreless. Normally the Yankees game is to take pitches and wear down the stater, getting to the vulnerable bullpen early. They did exactly that, forcing Rzepczynski to throw 76 pitches through 3.1 innings. The second part of the plan just didn’t fall into place. Over the course of 162 games, that’s going to happen. There’s no shame in having a seven-game win streak snapped with your fifth starter on the mound.
Once again the Yankees will send out their four real starters for the final two in Toronto and the first two in Seattle. If they rattle off wins in those, I think everyone will forget about Sergio Mitre’s rotten start. Well, that is, until he starts again.
Jason Johnson was released. The poor guy just couldn’t stay healthy.
Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread.
Triple-A Scranton (6-1 win over Norfolk)
Kevin Russo & Juan Miranda: both 2 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K – Russo walked twice, scored twice & hit a solo jack … Miranda doubled twice, drew a walk & scored a run
Colin Curtis & Shelley Duncan: both 1 for 5 – Curtis stole a bag & scored a run … Shelley K’ed twice
Austin Jackson: 0 for 4, 1 RBI, 2 K
Cody Ransom, John Rodriguez & Yurendell DeCaster: all 0 for 3, 2 K – Ransom drew a walk & scored a run … DeCaster walked
Chris Stewart: 1 for 3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Anthony Claggett: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 5-9 GB/FB – 38 of 64 pitches were strikes (59.4%)
Mike Dunn: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1-4 GB/FB - 19 of 34 pitches were strikes (55.9%) … 43 walks in 64.1 IP (6.1 BB/9)
Kevin Whelan: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 13 of 16 pitches were strikes (81.3%)
Amaury Sanit: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 14 of 21 pitches were strikes (66.7%)
Jerry Hairston Jr. = True Yankee®©™
The Yanks complete their Sox on Jays sandwich this week with three more against the fourth place team in the AL East. The Blue Jays had a nice run early on, but they turned out to be more like the 2005 Orioles than real contenders. They’re now 53-57, while on this date in 2005 the O’ were 55-58. Strange stuff, eh?
For the second time in a week the Yankees get Jays lefty Mark Rzepczynski, whose name you should not make fun of. Remember, it’s Zep-CHIN-Ski. He pitched well through six last time out, striking out seven to one walk and three hits. But the Yankees struck in the seventh, as Nick Swisher tied the game with a homer, and Robbie Cano followed with a double. That chased Rzepczynski from the game, and the bullpen would go on to blow it, allowing the Yanks to bat around.
The Yanks will send the same man to the mound as well, Sergio Mitre, who could well be pitching for his next start. The Yankees acquired Chad Gaudin a few days ago, and he could be in line for a start if Mitre stumbles again. Then again, with Gaudin’s dominance of righties, perhaps he’s best left to a bullpen assignment. In any case, the Yanks are looking for more than the 4.1 innings Mitre gave them last time out. The bullpen is decently rested after long starts by Sabathia and Pettitte, but there’s no need to overstretch them. Chances are Gaudin gets into the game, even if Mitre does give them five solid (I can’t expect six at this point).
And on the mound, number forty-five, Sergio Mitre.