Remember the other day when Rays’ starter Matt Garza admitted to intentionally hitting Mark Teixeira as retaliation for Joba Chamberlain throwing over Evan Longoria’s head? Well, he’s been fined by the league, but not suspended. Garza’s next scheduled start is against the Red Sox on Tuesday, and if he shuts them down, I’ll call it even. I guess. · (26) ·
The Yankees didn’t acquire a back-end starter like we expected when today’s non-waiver trade deadline came and went, but it wasn’t because of lack of effort. They’ve been connected to Brian Bannister of the Royals and more notably Jarrod Washburn of the Mariners, who ended up in MoTown this morning. While Seattle ultimately received a fringy starter (Luke French) and an okay prospect (Mauricio Robles), they were asking for much more than that initially.
Via Twitter, Joel Sherman notes that the Mariners asked the Yankees for an “Austin Jackson-level player” for Washburn, while the Brewers were told it would take Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel, or Manny Parra, arguably their three best young players (non-Yovani Gallardo division). The Yanks balked at the Jackson price, submitted a list of players they were willing to give up, but never heard back from Seattle. I’m curious how deals like this evolve. I can understand asking for top prospects on the first pass, but how does a player end up with a third team for a package of nothing special while the two teams that were very interested end up empty handed? It’s just … odd. · (87) ·
Yep, that’s the word from Joel Sherman. He’s a righty and plays many positions. Could they turn Shelley around?
Just as some background on Hairston, he’s a 33-year-old utility man, mostly corner OFs, SS, and 3B. Had an excellent season in Cincinnati last year, but ended up overexposed this season and his numbers tumbled. He’d go along well with Ransom as a guy who can play multiple positions. · (214) ·
This is a guest post from Steve S. from The Yankee Universe. Many of you know him in the comments as The Artist.
With the recent revelation that may add David Ortiz’s name to the ever-growing list of PED abusers, we come back to a nagging and somewhat uncomfortable question for Yankee fans. What do we make of all this? Steroids are every baseball team’s version of the crazy aunt. Everybody has one, nobody likes to talk about the subject, and it’s just something we’re going to have to figure out how to deal with.
We as Yankee fans can’t throw around the ‘T’ word (taint) at the Red Sox without having it boomerang quickly back in our direction. Our beloved late 90′s-early 2000′s teams had their fair share of accused steroid users, including Jason Grimsley, Mike Stanton, Roger Clemens, David Justice and Mo only knows who else. Other recent Yankee teams featured Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi and other accused users, the most notable being none other than Alex Rodriguez. Even Mister Steroid himself, Jose Canseco collected a ring with the Yankees after being picked up off waives in late in 2000. So we as Yankee fans can’t exactly celebrate the demise of our main nemesis’ reputation(s) without realizing we are up to our knees in syringes ourselves.
As someone who grew up steeped in the history of New York baseball and the game’s sacred records, I was a fervent and outspoken critic of steroids in the game from early on and wanted to see the game cleaned up ASAP. I was recently deeply disappointed when the so-called “clean HR champ” A-Rod turned up dirty himself. I never sided with the camp that simply views baseball as entertainment, and views PED use like some Hollywood star getting plastic surgery. Sports is and should be more than that. Hollywood produces fantasy and nobody cares whether its a level playing field or not. If sports goes the way of entertainment, then it becomes the WWE. We might as well writes scripts detailing who will win the World Series at that point.
There’s also something more pervasive and troubling about accepting PED use. For far too many athletes, steroids would become a price of admission to the big leagues. The young, talented high school star athlete would quickly realize as he rose through the minors that he’d never make a team without getting on the juice. Players with certain skill sets would be forced to choose between giving up their dreams and using drugs to become more than they could ever be naturally, with their long term health as a casualty. That makes professional sports a dirty business, and one I couldn’t encourage my son (if I had one) to play with any hopes of succeeding to the bigs. I also could not in good conscience be an ardent fan of a game where players slowly kill themselves to entertain me. That’s a little too Ancient Rome for my tastes.
I don’t however, blame fans for cheering known steroid cheats. What these critics fail to realize is fans cheer the home run and the moment it creates in the context of a game. Fans rarely applaud the individual, they applaud the act itself. When fans in the 20s and 30s cheered Babe Ruth, they weren’t applauding his drinking, womanizing, or fast living. They were cheering number 3 on the field and the moment in time when the game was won. It’s interesting to note that Babe Ruth attempted to use an early version of steroids as his body aged, only to make himself horribly sick. So it’s clear that this isn’t unique to the modern athlete, players of any era would do whatever possible to get an edge. Be it real or imagined.
Despite my long standing opposition to steroids and my desire to clean up the game, its become clear in recent years that PED use was so pervasive that it created something of a even playing field. Pitchers on steroids were facing hitters on steroids, each pumping up their stats in the process. There have also been many examples of lesser players (David Segui/Jason Grimsley) who were fringe major leaguers despite being serial steroid abusers, so its clear that being a great player requires much more than a needle in the tush.
We can’t ignore an entire era of baseball, or keep all the accused users out of the Hall of Fame. Comparing numbers across various eras is always fraught with pitfalls, the Steroid Era just adds another wrinkle. Does anyone think we’ll see a pitcher win 511 games again? Do we really believe anyone will ever break Roger Hornby’s 1924 season when he hit .423? And that’s just the modern era: Hugh Duffy is the all time leader, having hit .440 in 1894. How do we compare those players to today? In all honesty, we can’t. Considering everything, I would favor allowing the known steroid users into the Hall of Fame, but with a caveat. If PED’s enhance performance, than simply hold these guys to a higher standard. Forget the old 500 HRs/1500 RBIs/300 Wins standards, and come up with something more. I would also take into account other factors, such as Mark McGwire’s spotty health history and Roger Clemens’s mid-career decline. HOF voters should look at each player on a case by case basis, and frankly if it was me I’d need to be blown away. But I can’t pretend roughly 20 years of the games history either doesn’t exist, or should be completely ignored in posterity.
Orlando Cabrera was just shipped to the Twins for ex-Yankee draftee Tyler Ladendorf. Keep the discussion going here.
Update (1:11pm): In far more interesting news, Justin Duchscherer has been scratched from tonight’s rehab start.
Update by Joe (1:57 p.m.): Looks like Victor Martinez to the Red Sox. Will have more when we hear it.
Update by Joe (2:50 p.m.): Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone in the deal. No Buchholz or Bard. That doesn’t seem like a good haul for a switch-hitting catcher with another year left on his contract.
Via Chad Jennings, the Yanks have called up Shelley Duncan. No word on a corresponding move, but most likely either Jon Albaladejo or Mark Melancon will be optioned out. Calling up Shelley also requires a 40-man roster move, but they can easily slide Xavier Nady or Chien-Ming Wang to the 60-day DL. Scheduled to face three lefty starters the next three games, expect to see Shelley get himself a handful at bats. · (43) ·
Okay folks, today’s the day, the Trade Deadline.
Well, at least in name only. The July 31st deadline is nothing more than a formality, as teams can still make waiver trades through August. Just last year, the eventual World Champion Phillies acquired a key bench piece in August when they traded for Matt Stairs. There will surely be some movement today, but don’t think that just because the Yankees don’t make a move before 4pm that they won’t at all.
There were a few moves made yesterday, as the Pirates shipped lefties John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for prospects, the Dodgers acquired a much needed late-inning reliever in George Sherrill. The Yanks were apparently interested in the Royals’ Brian Bannister, but talks didn’t progress when they asked the Royals to assume part ($650k) of the money owed to him through the left of the year. Then there’s always Jarrod Washburn.
We’ll update this post throughout the day with major news, so make sure you keep checking in. Will Roy Halladay be traded? I’m not so sure. However, chances are the Red Sox are going to make a big splash. A Victor Martinez or Adrian Gonzalez kind of splash. That should stir up those perpetually on the ledge.
First Update by Joe (11:31 a.m.): And just after this thread goes up, we get word that Jarrod Washburn is headed to Detroit. That’s one down. Will Cashman strike with Bannister or Duchscherer?
RAB has exclusive footage of the meeting where Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik informed Washburn of the trade:
Lay of the land
At 9-14, the Yankees sat last in the AL East on April 30, 2007. Even then, it took a couple of A-Rod walk-offs to even keep them at that level. They recovered, but then fell back off, again finding themselves in the cellar, tied with the Devil Rays at 22-29. Meanhwile, Boston has the best record in baseball. By July 15 they’d hit some kind of stride, creeping into second place but still 8.5 games behind the first-place Red Sox.
At this point the offense was starting to come around. Johnny Damon had somewhat recovered from his putrid start, which included leg cramps and a reported desire to walk away from the game. Robinson Cano had bounced back after a slow April. Bobby Abreu returned to form after a May which was so bad that some wanted to trade him for Jermaine Dye, who was hitting equally poorly.
Then, of course, were Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, who were both tearing the cover off the ball. Melky Cabrera had heated up after a slow start. Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter were both hitting to their expectations. Only two real holes remained on the offense, and they were Jason Giambi, who was out with plantar fasciitis and a partial tear of his plantar fascia, and Doug Mientkiewicz, who after kind of turning it on was out as a result of a Mike Lowell elbow.
The rotation looked the best it had in years, though that’s not saying a lot. Chien-Ming Wang was having another standout year, Andy Pettitte was contributing quality innings for the first time since 2003, and even Mike Mussina had recovered after a shaky start (though we know how that story ended). Roger Clemens was in the rotation and pitching okay. The bullpen is what needed some serious help.
Things were just starting to get good. The Yanks had propped themselves up by mid-July, and after the All-Star Break they went on a tear.
There were plenty of Yankees rumors leading up to the deadline, mostly focusing on acquiring Eric Gagne. It seemed like they were close with the Rangers, but it just didn’t work out. The Red Sox jumped in and got him. That was the big name. There were other little ones.
In an attempt to find someone, anyone who could pitch a scoreless inning, Cashman took a few shots in the dark. First was Runelvys Hernandez, though that experiment ended on July 7. He picked up Scott Williamson, who hadn’t pitched well since 2004. That was it on the bullpen front, though. Neither worked out, obviously.
There were a couple moves of note, though. Sick of watching Wil Nieves, the Yankees dished Jeff Kennard for Jose Molina. Then, in a surprise move which left the bullpen even weaker and spelled the end of Torre-favorite Miguel Cairo, Cashman traded Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit.
That was it. Nothing major, just a few moves to the team going forward. This was a bit strange, because the Yankees were looking for relief help and so many relievers changed teams before the deadline. In addition to Gagne, Scott Linebrink, Dan Wheeler, Ron Mahay, Octavio Dotel, and Wil Ledezma all found new homes. The Yanks had someone better than all them, though.
How it all worked out
In early August, the Yankees decided to do something a bit unorthodox. They announced they’d take a look at first-year pro Joba Chamberlain as a reliever. The idea was that someone with Joba’s electric stuff could make a difference in the bullpen. They were right, and Joba served as the bridge to Mo over the last two months of the season. It was better than any deadline acquisition they could have made.
(Especially Gagne, who famously tanked.)
Yet even with a mostly quiet deadline, the Yankees picked up steam. Phil Hughes came back after tearing his hamstring amid a no-hitter and then rolling his ankle during rehab, pitching serviceably the rest of the way. The offense started hitting — including Jason Giambi, who came back in early August.
Despite their torrid start, the Red Sox cooled off, and found their lead as little as 1.5 games on September 23, with seven games left. They’d end up winning it, but the Yanks took the wild card with relative ease, The Yanks had almost come all the way back, by doing almost nothing.
The pickings were seemingly slim in 2007. The Yanks definitely could have used Mark Teixeira, but there was no way they could match the Braves’ package without giving up Phil Hughes, and in 2007 that was off the table (partly because he was untouchable, partly because hew as injured at the deadline). Even then, that was one helluva trade, and I’m not sure the Yanks could have matched it anyway.
It was all going so well, and they would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddling midges.
In the three years we’ve examined, the Yankees have made one big move, the 2006 trade for Bobby Abreu. Other than that they’ve gone with a series of lesser moves in hopes of shoring up a few weaknesses. I expect much of the same this year. Maybe they get a pitcher today, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The Yanks look good now, their flaws no greater than those of other teams.
The good news: the good Andy Pettitte showed up last night. The bad news: the offense didn’t. Blame the umpire if you will — the Yanks did strike out looking seven times — but it was an all around poor offensive effort. It’s tough to win games when you only score two runs, and the Yankees weren’t an exception tonight. They tied the game up late, but lost in the bottom of the ninth, 3-2.
Pettitte did his part. He allowed just five baserunners over 6.1 innings. He threw strikes all night, 71 percent, which again was partly owed to the unnecessarily large strike zone. It resulted in eight strikeouts and two runs, one of which was unearned amid an inning full of defensive mistakes. While the walk-off put the nail in the coffin, that one inning did in the Yanks.
The seventh started off oddly, with Pettitte slipping while in pursuit of a Jim Thome tapper. What should have been an easy out netted the Sox a baserunner. Pettitte recovered with a strikeout, but then A.J. Pierzynski smacked one A-Rod‘s way, and it hit off his glove for a single. That was it for Pettitte.
Phil Hughes almost brought the inning to an end by inducing a ground ball right to A-Rod. He tossed to Cano, who could have gotten Carlos Quentin if not for Pierzynski’s slide, which caused him to throw off-line. Teixeira couldn’t corral it in time and Thome scored the go-ahead run. WIth Gavin Floyd rolling, things looked a bit dark for the Yanks.
The top of the ninth did little to lend optimism. Both A-Rod and Matsui struck out swinging to start the inning. That left Nick Swisher, 0 for 3 at that point with three strikeouts himself. But on an 0-1 count, Matt Thonton put one in Swisher’s wheelhouse, and it left the park, tying the game.
The bottom half wouldn’t be so kind. After getting Jermaine Dye to pop up to Jorge Posada, Phil Hughes gave up two straight singles, a bouncing ball towards no one in particular to Jim Thome, and a legit shot to Paul Konerko. Girardi called on Phil Coke, who got A.J. Pierznyski to fly out, but gave up a game-winning single on an up the middle line drive to Dewayne Wise.
It’s always tough to lose these games, but they happen here and there. Could Girardi have gone to Mo in the ninth? I think it’d have been a better decision than pitching him with a four-run lead on Wednesday night. Again, with the winning run in scoring position — as in, if he scores the game is over — you want your best guy on the mound so you have a chance to fight another inning. Managers never do that, so I’ve come to grips with it, but it still irks me every time. Especially, again, when said closer pitched with a four-run lead the night before.
As the Yanks have proven, the bats can come alive after a dead night, and that’s what they’ll hope for tomorrow. It’s Sergio Mitre vs. Clayton Richard. Splitting the four-game set with Chicago would be nice at this point, so a win tomorrow could go a long way.