Game 99: Bartday

Bartolo Colon pitched against the Athletics earlier this season, and I think we all remember what happened. It was his best performance of the year, a dominant complete game shutout in which the A’s got exactly two runners into scoring position and didn’t get a man to third base until there was one out in the ninth. Colon was pretty dang good against the Rays last time out, so hopefully he carries that over and dominates a weak lineup. Here’s the Yankees’ starting nine…

Derek Jeter, DH
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Russell Martin, C
Andruw Jones, LF
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Brandon Laird, 3B

Bartolo Colon, SP

The game starts a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Rally(ies) fall short as Yanks fall to A’s

Why Robbie why.

No one can say they didn’t have their chances. Eighteen baserunners in nine innings is a pretty good recipe for scoring runs, but not when you go 2-for-11 with men in scoring position. Oakland did not have a 1-2-3 inning all afternoon and the Yankees had the tying run on base in each of the last three innings. It was there for the taking.

  • The Yankees were so close to tying the game in that ninth inning; the tying run was on third with two outs and on second with one out, but Robinson Cano swung at a pitch out of the zone (surprise surprise) and grounded out harmlessly to end the game. He tried to call time before the pitch but it wasn’t granted, but that doesn’t mean he has to swing. It’s frustrating when he gives away at-bats like that, it really is what keeps him from being a true superstar.
  • Nick Swisher and Russell Martin reached base to lead off the eighth, but Eduardo Nunez couldn’t get the bunt down (which shouldn’t have been called in the first place, you can’t give away an out when you have six left) and flew out, then Jorge Posada grounded into a rally killing double play as the pinch-hitter for Brandon Laird. It’s too bad Jesus Montero‘s OPS in Triple-A isn’t good enough to get called up. The Yankees had their chances every inning but especially the last two, but nope. Not today.
  • Brett Gardner had a walk, Derek Jeter three hits, Curtis Granderson an 0-for-4, Mark Teixeira a single and a sac fly, Cano two hits, Swisher a long solo homer and two walks, Martin two hits, and Nunez two walks. Laird didn’t do anything except strike out with the bases loaded to end the fourth. He’s a rookie, it was his fourth big league plate appearance, it happens. Not going to hold it against him.
  • A.J. Burnett put 11 men on base in 5.2 IP, plus he loaded the bases after getting two quick outs in the fifth by walking Conor Jackson (.325 OBP) and Landon Powell (.278). Give up a two-run homer to Josh Willingham in the third? I can live with that, it sucks but shouldn’t be the end of the world. But walking bad hitters with two outs is pretty terrible. Same deal as last night, blame the heat if you want, but I won’t. How many years did Burnett spend in the humidity of Florida? He’s been there. He has to do better than give the other team a rally out of nothing.
  • Cory Wade allowed one of the runners he inherited from Burnett to score, but ultimately the difference in the game was Hideki Matsui‘s homerun off Boone Logan. Coming into the game, Matsui was hitting .213/.303/.285 (1 HR) against righties and .244/.299/.500 (6 HR) against lefties. Logan was holding righties to .200/.282/.200 (0 HR) but lefties had gotten him for .250/.324/.400 (2 HR). Joe Girardi knows that Matsui can crush lefties, but he went to Logan to get the platoon matchup anyway. Literally nothing says that was the move to make other than the silly left-on-left matchup. Don’t the Yankees have to call up J.C. Romero at some point just to see what they have before they make a deal for a LOOGY at the deadline? Logan’s not the answer.
  • YES put a graphic up on the screen during the third inning (after Willingham’s homer) that said the Yankees have a 5.67 ERA in the inning immediately after they score, so called “shutdown innings.” I don’t know what that number is now (it had to go up with Matsui’s homer after Swisher’s blast) and what the league average is, but I have to imagine the Yankees are nowhere near it. I thought maybe the shutdown inning thing was just confirmation bias earlier in the season, but now it’s pretty obvious that Yankees’ pitchers have done a terrible job in those situations.
  • Here’s the box score, here’s the WPA graph, here’s the standings. Just win series.

The rubber game will be played Sunday afternoon, when Bartolo Colon gives it a go against Gio Gonzalez. Bart’s already shut Oakland out once this year, hopefully he can do it again. If you want to catch the game, RAB Tickets can get you get there.

Saturday Night Open Thread

That one hit off the facing of the upper deck.

The Yankees lost today, waaa waaa waaa, but let’s forget about it and enjoy the night. Use this thread to talk about anything you want, but it’s a fine night to forget about baseball and instead chill with friends and fam.

DotF Note: Sorry folks, no DotF tonight. Instead, I leave you with links to the box scores/scoreboard to peruse at your leisure…

Triple-A Scranton
Double-A Trenton
High-A Tampa
Low-A Charleston
Short Season Staten Island
Rookie GCL Yankees

Yankees unlikely to trade for Mike Adams

Via Buster Olney, there’s a “big gap” between what the Padres are asking for Mike Adams and what the Yankees are willing to give up for him. A deal is unlikely to be made between the two clubs. We first heard about the Yankees’ interest in Adams at the end of last month, but San Diego appears to be asking for a top prospect in return for the game’s best setup man. Another reliever would be nice, but Rafael Soriano should be coming back soon enough*. The Yankees have bigger fish to fry.

* Soriano will make another rehab appearance tomorrow, this time with Triple-A Scranton.

“It was a disaster. We failed.”

That quote comes from Brian Cashman and refers to Kei Igawa, the $46M poster boy of Yankees’ pitching busts. Bill Pennington of The New York Times published a lengthy feature on the now 32-year-old southpaw today, which goes into detail about his time with the Yankees. Igawa still lives in Manhattan and commutes daily to Scranton or Trenton or wherever he may be and is considered a “great clubhouse guy” by the organization and his teammates, but he struggled greatly with the transition to MLB and the United States. The Yankees tried to re-work his delivery, but it didn’t take. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Within the piece we learn that the Cashman had twice negotiated deals with Japanese clubs that would have let Igawa return home, but he refused both times despite being told (very explicitly) that he was not coming back to the majors. Cashman was also prepared to trade Igawa to the Padres after they claimed him off waivers in August 2007, but “ownership was not willing to let him go yet.” Give it a read, it gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation.

Game 98: Heat Wave

(Photo Credit: The New York Times)

It’s game number 98, and that also happens to be the temperature today. Actually, that’s probably a little light. That might be the temperature in the shade. I feel bad for the people in the stands today, especially those in the sections without shade. Here’s the lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, DH
Nick Swisher, RF
Russell Martin, C
Eduardo Nunez, 2B
Brandon Laird, 3B

A.J. Burnett, SP

The game starts at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

The trade market that wasn’t

It all keeps coming back to Cliff Lee. A year ago, the Yankees were on the precipice of acquiring Lee from the Mariners, a feat which would have given them one of the best rotations in baseball. They failed, and a short time later were bounced from the playoffs by a team led by Cliff Lee. Soon after, they saw Cliff Lee spurn the them for the Phillies in free agency. By my count, that’s three separate instances of Cliff Lee-induced pain. When Andy Pettitte retired a few months after Lee went to Philadelphia, Cashman pivoted. In a manner reminiscent of the Red Sox in 2009, the Yankees decided to build the rotation on the cheap, allowing Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and Ivan Nova to battle it out for the two remaining rotation slots (the other three being occupied by Sabathia, Burnett and Hughes). Once Hughes went down with an injury, Colon took his spot and performed admirably. Garcia has been fantastic too. Yet all along it’s seemed as if plan for the Yankees’ rotation was to run with these guys until a better option arose on the trade market. Freddy Garcia’s nice and all, but shouldn’t the Yankees go into battle in October with a serious complement to Sabathia? Yet here we stand a mere week or so away from the trade deadline and there seems to be no complement available? Where are the pitchers? Where are the targets? Where are the potential upgrades?

A few big names have arisen, to be sure. Ubaldo Jimenez was the target last week, but it doesn’t seem that Colorado is serious about trading him. Some have suggested that they were simply recognizing that the market was very weak and seeing if some team (like the Yankees) would be willing to panic and overpay for their lanky and affordable ace. In the absence of that a deal seems unlikely. James Shields has also been rumored to be available, but not to the Yankees. If Tampa decides to move the putative ace it won’t likely be an intra-divisional move. Hiroki Kuroda would be a potential option, one for whom I’ve long advocated, but his no-trade clause puts him in the driver’s seat and means that he’ll determine whether he gets traded and to where he gets traded. John Danks would be a nice upgrade, but there’s no indication that the White Sox are looking to move a starter and the teams don’t even match up particularly well for a trade anyway. Who’s left, Jason Marquis?

A year ago the Yankees came close to having a very good rotation and no Jesus Montero when they offered Seattle Montero for Lee. That deal fell through. A few months later, they came close to having a very good rotation and Jesus Montero when they tried to get Cliff Lee for nothing more than money. That deal fell through. The plus side is that the Yankees still have Montero, of course. Whether they really want him is another question. They don’t seem to have any interest in calling him up any time soon, and Cashman has gone out of his way to make it clear that Montero is available in trades. Yet there is no Cliff Lee on the market this year, no pitcher for whom Montero would be a suitable return. Right now the effort to swap Montero for a pitcher looks a day late and a buck short.

There is serious downside risk in relying on the trade market. Sometimes the targets don’t materialize and other times your assets don’t matchup with the best available targets. This shouldn’t be interpreted as a criticism of Cashman. No one that I’m aware of predicted that the Yankees would whiff on Lee twice, lose Pettitte to retirement, and then find themselves unable to upgrade the rotation via the trade market at all. It sounds like a worst-case scenario dreamt up on a Red Sox message board. Yet, as of July 23rd that’s exactly what’s happened. The best pitcher truly on the market seems to be Kuroda, a pitcher with a no-trade clause and a disinclination to leave Los Angeles.  It’s not the situation the Yankees hoped to be in at this point.

The old saying is that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. You can always hope that better opportunities arise later, but your risk goes up the further away you are from the acquisition target. This entire market could change very quickly, and that’s what makes the trade deadline so exciting. Yet, as of today it looks like the Yankees are dancing alone. The most realistic option at this point seems very unlikely, but I suppose there’s no harm in continuing to beat the drum once more, until the deadline passes. Help us, Hiroki. You’re our only hope!