Two years ago today on DotF, Mighty Matt DeSalvo threw 100 pitches in seven one-run innings against Ottawa.
Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread.
Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Buffalo in 11 innings)
Kevin Russo, Austin Jackson & Doug Bernier: all 1 for 5 – Russo K’ed once, Bernier twice … Jackson doubled & was caught stealing … Ajax has three homers & two doubles in his last eight games, so the power’s coming
Ramiro Pena: 0 for 4, 1 BB
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 Bb, 1 K – hasn’t hit a homer since June 22nd … what’s up with that?
Juan Miranda: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Yurendell DeCaster: 0 for 2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP
Colin Curtis: 0 for 5, 2 K
Chris Stewart: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI – 11th inning grand slam FTW
Sergio Mitre: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 10-3 GB/FB – 60 of 100 pitches were strikes … another quality outing
Zach Kroenke: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4-5 GB/FB – 29 of 40 pitches were strikes (72.5%)
Anthony Claggett: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-1 GB/FB – 10 of 13 pitches were strikes (76.9%)
Can they play the Twins every day?
This is last series the Yankees will ever play in Minneapolis’s Metrodome, which will be replaced next year by the brand spankin’ new Target Field. How the people of Minnesota will ever bear an early season or late October game without a roof, I’ll never know. The Yanks are 74-64 all-time in the big garbage bag, so they’re guaranteed to walk away from the place with a winning record.
CC Sabathia didn’t face the Twins when they came to the Bronx for a four game set in mid-May, but the Yanks still swept the series thanks to a trio of walk-off wins. After an ugly outing last time out, Sabathia will look to right the ship tonight. He’ll be opposed by Scott Baker, the Twins incumbent ace who didn’t face the Yanks earlier this year. Baker’s overall numbers aren’t anything special, but his last six starts have been outstanding. They’ll have to earn this win tonight.
Here’s the starting nine:
Teixeira, 1B - I’m calling it, he hits one out tonight
And on the mound, big bad CC Sabathia.
Oh, and Angel Berroa was released today. Forgot all about him.
Per the Yankee beat writers on various blogs and Twitter, the Yanks have told Alfredo Aceves that he will start on Thursday in place of the injured Chien-Ming Wang. It will be Aceves’ first start of the season after he has appeared 21 times out of the bullpen. On the year, he is 5-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 40 innings. He has struck out 34 while walking just seven, and opponents are hitting just .208/.252/.354 off of him.
For now, Aceves’ start is a one-time event. The Yanks will not need the fifth starter again until well after the All Star Break, and the roster could look quite different by then. I had hoped to see Phil Hughes transition back into the rotation, but Aceves is more stretched out right now. He threw four innings with a low pitch count of 43 on Sunday and could probably go five or six innings if he again keeps that pitch total down. · (83) ·
In a rather dubious fashion, Kei Igawa tied a Scranton record yesterday, and in a few days, he’ll be the sole owner of the mark. PeteAbe with an assist from Chad Jennings, reports that Kei Igawa’s 26th win of his three-year stint at AAA Scranton ties the franchise record. He and Evan Thomas, a career minor leaguer with the Phillies organization, share this dubious distinction.
After the game, Igawa, stuck at AAA forever, kept his achievement in perspective. I can’t tell if he’s being somber or sarcastic. “As long as there is a record that I have chance of setting, it’s something the process to get through,” he said. “It’s a stepping stone, not a final goal of mine.”
Got that? Kei Igawa’s final goal is not to be the most winning Japanese pitcher in the history of the International League or Scranton’s most successful starter. I’m glad he cleared that up.
For his in-progress AAA career, Igawa is now 26-13 with a 3.56 ERA in 51 starts. He’s striking out over 7 per 9 innings and has a WHIP of 1.21. These decent minor league numbers though have not translated into Major League success. With the Yanks, he is 2-4 with a devilish 6.66 ERA in 16 games. Opponents have hit a stunning .302/.386/.549 off of the lefty. He was removed from the 40-man roster in 2008 and hasn’t seen Yankee pinstripes since a one-inning cameo last June. He is still under contract for the next two seasons.
At this point, there’s no real way to sugar coat the Yanks’ decision to sign Kei Igawa. They forked over $46 million for his services, and I doubt he’ll pitch another Big League inning before his contract ends following the 2011 season. While Peter Gammons once blamed Ron Guidry for tinkering with Igawa’s motion and alleged that the Red Sox would put in a waiver claim, that statement seemed more delusional than ever when Igawa passed through waivers last year.
Meanwhile, it is accepted knowledge that the Yanks decided to sign Igawa instead of taking a shot on Ted Lilly for four years and around $40 million. Lilly is third in the Majors in victories since then and 12th in strike outs. Ouch. This might just have been one of the worst Yankee decisions of the last five years.
But as we wait for the game to begin in a few hours, we will tip our caps to Kei Igawa. He now owns an American baseball record. It might be a dubious one, but it is a record indeed. The sad part is that he’ll probably have another two and a half seasons during which he can build on it.
The Yankees have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries this season, having lost their two primary setup men, number two starter, starting third baseman, backup third baseman, and top two catchers at various points this year. The Yankees aren’t alone though, because injuries around Major League Baseball increased 26% from 2006 to 2008 as Michael S. Schmidt, writing for The NY Times, shows. The number of injuries in 2009 is similar to those in 2008 midway through the season.
Jeff Zimmerman at Beyond the Box Score recently put together a database of players that went on the disabled list from between 2002 and 2008, which also shows that injuries have gone up over the last three seasons (see graph below). The Yankees are actually near the bottom of the league in the number of total trips to the disabled list and total days lost due to injury since ’02, but their average DL trip was among the longest in the league (thanks, Carl).
So why have the number of injuries gone up? Well no one knows for sure. “There are a lot of theories around about why it has gone up, and a lot of them make sense, but I am not convinced that it’s one thing,” said Stan Conte, the director of medical services and the head athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Anyone who thinks they have the one answer is lying or wrong.”
That doesn’t stop anyone from formulating theories however, but in all likelihood there”s more than one thing at work here. Coincidentally, or maybe not, amphetamines were added to Major League baseball’s banned substance list in the ’05-’06 offseason. It’s no secret that players have long relied on “greenies” to help then battle through the 162-game grind, and now that they’re unavailable players are finding out that they can’t play hurt as frequently any more.
Better medical technology may also be contributing to the increase in injuries. Torn hip labrums – which have shelved Alex Rodriguez, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado, Chase Utley and Alex Gordon within the last 12 months along – are not a new injury, they’ve just become easier to diagnose through technological advancements. Then you have the possibility of teams abusing the disabled list, or players not willing to play hurt because it could cost them a big payday down the road. There are plenty more potential reasons that I won’t even begin to try to touch on.
Peter Nash, director of underwriting for a syndicate of Lloyd’s of London, a firm that insures contracts for both teams and players says “We believe that injuries move in five-year increments: they go up for five years, then plateau, then go up for five years, and plateau, and over time, they are going higher and higher. As long as athletes are pushing themselves as hard as they can, the number will continue to go higher and higher.”
What do you think is the cause behind the increase in injuries? Is it PEDs? Better technology? Something else? A fluke?
Way back in RAB’s infancy, we were a bit miffed at restrictive policies during the seventh-inning stretch. Namely, that security guards and police officers would prevent people from entering the concourse during the daily rendition of God Bless America. In April we learned of a fan filing suit against the team. Today we learn the result.
Yes, it has taken a court settlement to determine that fans have the right to move about as Kate Smith’s voice blares over the PA. The settlement came down with the help of a federal judge in Manhattan. No longer will we worry about harassment when we just want to hit the head while there’s a slightly longer mid-inning break.
Of course, there were ways before to circumvent the policy. At the game last Wednesday, I started my walk to the bathroom as Andy Pettitte recorded the second out in the top of the seventh. Risky, of course, because the inning could have gone a bit longer. But in the end I relieved myself at the perfect time, returning to my seat just in time for Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
Hat tip Pinto.
As the years have worn on, Derek Jeter‘s defense has been the topic of many an argument among Yankee fans. Some see his strong throws from the outfield grass and willingness to sacrifice his body on foul balls as a sign that he knows how to field his position. Others die a little on the inside every time Michael Kay says that the ball goes “past a diving Jeter.” He is not, critics contend, a very good defender.
For the most part, those critics are right. Jeter has never been a particularly stand-out fielder. His range has generally been below-average, and he has been able to compensate for his weak fielding by flashing above-average arm strength and a top-notch offensive prowess. The Yanks are OK with putting him at short because he has a career offensive line of .316/.387/.458 and over 2600 hits.
As Derek crept past his 35th birthday 11 days ago, the debate over his place on the field continues. At some point, he’ll have to move off short to a less important defensive spot on the diamond. With third and first base held down for the better part of the next decade, what that spot will be is anyone’s guess.
Jeter, though, will have none of it. In the Sunday conversation with Post writer Steve Serby, Jeter unequivocally objected to switching positions:
Q: Can you envision yourself playing another position for the Yankees than shortstop?
A: Can I envision? No.
Q: What if they asked you?
A: You’re speaking in all hypotheticals.
Q: I know.
A: I can’t answer that question.
Q: Anyway, I was listening to radio, and they were talking about maybe . . .
A: I don’t listen to the radio, so . . . wherever you’re going with that question, I don’t even want to hear it.
Q: But your last day as a Yankee, whenever that will be, you want to be at shortstop.
A: You asked me, “Can I envision myself playing another position?’ My answer to that question is no, I can’t envision it,” so . . .
I could almost read Jeter’s patience evaporating before my eyes. For now, though, Jeter can stay at short. Per Fangraphs, Jeter is having a decent-for-him defensive season. He has a positive UZR, and while his range factor is still at the bottom of the bunch, he defensive metrics are far better than they were a few years ago. (For more on these advanced defensive stats, review the Fangraphs Glossary.)
There is, however, one question to ponder: Should Yankee fans expect to win with a 35-year-old short stop? A few months ago, David Pinto tackled just that question and produced the following graph. It shows the total percentage of all plate appearances by age and position. Click it to enlarge.
As Pinto pointed out in April, it’s been a while since a team won the World Series with a 35-year-old short stop. Larry Bowa was 34 in 1980 when the Phillies captured their title, and he’s the oldest short stop on a World Series winner in the last 54 years. You have to go all the way back to the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and 36-year-old Pee Wee Reese to find a short stop older than Jeter who captured a ring.
That isn’t to say the Yankees can’t do it. As long Jeter hits as he’s been doing and plays at least close-to-average defense, the Yanks have as good a short as ever. After all, their title hopes rest more with their pitchers than with the short stop. As Jeter protests moving positions, though, history is not on his side.
The Blue Jays started the 2009 season as hot as can be. On May 12 they were 23-12, a game up on the Red Sox in the AL East and 6.5 ahead of the Yankees. While some thought they were for real, it looked more to me like a 2005 Orioles job. Lo and behold, almost two months later they’re 43-41, seven back of the Red Sox and six back of the Yanks. They’re not out of it, but it would take an incredible run to charge back in this powerhouse AL East.
What does this mean for the Jays? Ken Rosenthal thinks it means they’re ready to take offers for ace Roy Halladay. It’s not the first time we’ve heard Halladay speculation, but with a year and a half left on his deal the Jays will never find a bigger haul for him than they will this month. General Manager J.P. Ricciardi has said that the team’s best chance to win next year is with Halladay in the rotation, and that’s true. But is it their best long-term option?
What further complicates the situation is that the Jays owe gobs of money to Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, who are both underperforming, through 2014. The Jays just have to hope they produce, because there is little or no chance of trading either without eating a significant portion of the contract. Moving Halladay, who rightly would be the highest-paid Jay next year, could improve the team not only with prospects, but with a bit of financial flexibility that they could use to make another deal in the off-season.
There are almost no bad scenarios for the Yankees here. Rosenthal’s list contains only three American League teams: the Yanks themselves, the Red Sox, and the White Sox. Obviously, the Yanks don’t want to see Halladay starting at Fenway any time soon, but almost any other scenario, including acquiring him themselves, looks just fine.
What about acquiring him? Rosenthal notes that Ricciardi would deal within the division, though we all know there’s a premium there. Any package would probably have to start with Phil Hughes, and then include one of the Yanks’ precious few bats, likely one of the catchers. Would Hughes, Romine, and a third prospect, probably of the top-10 variety, be enough to land Halladay? Would the Yankees be wise to make such a move?
There’s no doubt that acquiring Halladay would leave the Yankees with the best rotation in baseball. In the short term, they’d be as well off as any other team, probably better off. In the long term they’d be giving up prospects, sure, but prospects can bust. It looks like Phil Hughes is finding his way, and it would probably suck to face him four or five times a year. But it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as facing Halladay that many times.
Chances are, Halladay stays put. Teams are more reluctant to part with prospects than ever, especially because of their economic value. The Blue Jays will request a ransom for Halladay, and rightly so, but other teams might not be so keen to part with young, cheap, controllable players to acquire an expensive one whose contract runs only through 2010. If there’s a deal to be made, though, I expect the Yanks will at least kick the tires.
“Yer blind, ump. Yer blind, ump. You must be out of your mind, ump,” goes part of the refrain from the opening number to the Broadway musical Damn Yankees. Don’t we know it.
On Monday afternoon, in the first inning of the final game of the Yanks-Blue Jays set, Derek Jeter tried to steal third with no outs in the bottom of the first. While we can argue — and have — the baseball smarts behind the decision to steal, Jeter was seemingly safe at third. The throw from Toronto catcher Rod Barajas arrived at the base before Derek did, but the Yanks’ short stop snuck his hand around the incoming tag from Scott Rolen. Replays clearly showed he was safe.
Marty Foster did not agree. He called Jeter out, and the normally placid captain erupted at the explanation. As Jeter said after the game, “I was told I was out because the ball beat me, and he didn’t have to tag me. I was unaware they had changed the rules.”
According to Jeter, Foster, the third base umpire, actually said to him, “He didn’t have to [tag you]. The ball beat you.” Joe Girardi got himself ejected arguing the call and tempered his critique. “I didn’t care for the explanation,” Girardi said. “Just leave it at that. There has to be more to it.”
Of course there has to be more to it than that. It’s the rulebook. A player not forced out has to be tagged out. He isn’t out if the ball gets there first; he’s out if he’s tagged with the glove holding the ball or just the ball before safely reaching the base. That is not what happened today.
After the game, the press wanted to speak with Mr. Foster, but he pulled a cowardly move and didn’t show up. Instead, he asked John Hirschbeck, the crew chief and representative umpire to the press, to talk to the reporters. Hirschbeck was lukewarm in his support of Foster. He called Jeter “the classiest person I’ve been around” and noted that Derek doesn’t argue unless he feels wronged. “It would make his actions seem appropriate if that’s what he was told,” Hirschbeck said of Jeter’s reaction to Foster.
In the end, Hirschbeck said he’d chat with Foster about the call later and weakly called the whole thing a learning experience. “Marty asked me to handle things today,” he said. “We hopefully learn from our experiences. It’s the only way we get better at what we do.”
Hirschbeck and Foster will have their talk, and then Major League Baseball will probably discipline Foster behind closed doors. We’ll never know what happens, and the Yanks won’t get a chance to play out a game they could have won had the right call been made. In an age of instant replay, in an age of DVR, that’s just not an acceptable solution.
Umpires have long been under attack from technology. While traditionalists like to promote the “human error” aspect of a baseball game, the truth is that we root for our team to win fair and square. We don’t want to see the histrionics of the umpires, and we don’t want their perception of a play — the nostalgic idea that the ball arrived first so the player is out — to cloud what really happens when we know that what really happened isn’t what the umpire called.
Baseball has options. They could institute a form of limited replay review. Contrary to what the naysayers naysay, review doesn’t slow down the game any longer than Joe Girardi’s on-field protestations do, and reviews of plays such as the one at third today don’t impact the sacred integrity of the game — which, by the way, is sacred only because the technology didn’t exist when the first ump took the field.
While I see the merits in Beyond the Boxscore’s call to use pitch f/x to call the games, I don’t want to see the human element completely removed from the field of play. There is something to be said for having people and not computerized cameras call the game. Still, what happened on Monday and the subsequent explanations are not acceptable. Foster should have to face the press, and no team should have to put up with the explanation he gave Derek Jeter at third base today.