Via George King, the Yankees have signed Marcus Thames to a minor league contract. He’ll work out in Tampa at the minor league complex before being assigned to Triple-A Scranton. The Dodgers released Thames earlier this week after he’d hit just .197/.243/.333 with two homers in 70 plate appearances this year, plus he missed a bunch of time due to a calf strain. Welcome back, Marcus.
Thursday’s game was a good ol’ fashioned pitcher’s duel. CC Sabathia and Jamie Shields squared off in a 1-0 Yankees win last week, but this time the tables were turned and it was Tampa walking away with the one-run win.
A Bad Birthday Gift
Sabathia turned 31 years old on Thursday, but the offense didn’t back him with any runs. At 7.69 runs per game, only seven other AL pitchers have enjoyed more run support than the Yankees ace this year, so surrendering two runs in eight innings should have equaled a win. Evan Longoria took CC deep in the very first inning, the first homer he’s given up since the Cubs series in Wrigley. The second run came across because of a walk to Elliot Johnson and a triple by Sam Fuld. Sabathia’s earned a pretty long leash, but that just can’t happen. That run was the difference in the game, and a pair of AAAA scrubs manufactured it. It just shouldn’t happen.
All told, Sabathia threw a complete game loss, striking out eight in eight innings while walking four (one intentionally). Good to see the high strikeout ways are still very much in effect. CC did his part in this game.
Runners … But No Runs
Shields was on point all game, but it’s not like he was invincible. The Yankees had at least one baserunner in every inning but the third, though it wasn’t until the eighth inning that they started to make some noise. It took a
miracle Derek Jeter double and a Robinson Cano double to produce the team’s only run, and Nick Swisher just missed his pitch when he flew out to the end the inning. It was a fastball right down the middle and he hit it hard, just to the wrong part of the park. Shields’ pitching line (7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 6-7 GB/FB) isn’t as good as Sabathia’s (8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K 6-6GB/FB), but timing is everything and he spaced the runners out. Such is life.
There’s really not much more to say about a game like this, is there? Brett Gardner had a hit, Jeter a hit and a walk, Cano two hits and a walk, Jorge Posada a hit, Russell Martin a hit and a walk, and Eduardo Nunez a hit. Mark Texeira took another 0-for-4 and the duo of Chris Dickerson (0-for-2 with two strikeouts) and pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson (0-for-2 with a game-ending strikeout) did nothing offensively. No stolen bases, no errors, and the Yankees only had four at-bats with runners on second and/or third. Cano’s double was the only hit in those situations.
Sabathia saved the bullpen, so that’s always a plus. This was the 700th (!!!) consecutive game in which the Rays’ starting pitcher was younger than 30. That kinda blows my mind. Anyway, that’s about it for the notes. The Yankees split the series but could have easily won three of four or lost three of four. It was that kind of week.
WPA Graph, Box Score & Standings
Hooray for no more artificial surface. It’s back home for the beginning of the very cushy part of the schedule, beginning with a weekend series against the Athletics. Phil Hughes will make his first start in the Bronx since the 11th game of the season. Trevor Cahill goes for Oakland. If you want to head up to the game, RAB Tickets can get you there on the cheap.
Zoilo Almonte got a nice little write-up in Kevin Goldstein’s Minor League Update today. You don’t need a subscription to see this one, so check it out. Meanwhile, both Michael Recchia and Shane Brown have been promoted from Short Season Staten Island to Low-A Charleston. Kyle Higashioka was placed on the DL while Steve Evarts was banished to parts unknown. The transactions say Extended Spring Training, but that should have ended weeks ago, before the short season leagues start up.
Here’s a video of Jesus Montero‘s two-run single from yesterday. As you can see, it’s a single in name only. Stupid power the other way. Watch the side view halfway through the video, he just flicked his wrists.
High-A Tampa (5-1 win over Bradenton)
Rafael Soriano, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-1 GB/FB – he threw 16 pitches and is going to make at least two more rehab appearances … gave up a double and a single, then got a GIDP
Eric Chavez, 3B: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – first time playing the field … played six innings and didn’t have to field any grounders
Abe Almonte, CF: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
Emerson Landoni, 3B: 0 for 1 – took over for Chavez
Ronnier Mustelier, 2B & J.R. Murphy, C & Kelvin Castro, SS: all 0 for 3 – Mustelier walked, stole a base, whiffed, and committed a throwing error … Murphy struck out and left the game for an unknown reason in the seventh
Kyle Roller, 1B: 0 for 4, 1 K
Rob Segedin, RF: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB
Neil Medchill, LF: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K – second straight day with a homer, third in his last six games
Luke Murton, DH: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
Brett Marshall, RHP: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 4-2 GB/FB – one shy of his career high in strikeouts
Dan Burawa, RHP: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4-1 GB/FB
When Yankee fans return to the stadium tomorrow after nearly two weeks away, they will be greeted by a new set of sandwiches in the Great Hall. As The Post reported, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, the braintrust behind Mulberry St. hot spot Torrisi Italian Specialities will be opening a branch of their new sandwich shop Parm tomorrow in the Great Hall. The branch of the sandwich shop will sell the Torrisi and a new meatball parm offering. No word yet on the prices, but the turkey sandwich goes for $11 at the downtown restaurant.
One of the investment partners, Jeff Zalaznick, spoke about the challenges facing the team as they prepare to expand their business. Usually, they sell 200-300 sandwiches per day, but with over 40,000 fans per game heading to the Bronx, their volume will increase. “For a small restaurant group, we have a lot on our plates,” Zalaznick said to The Post. “We’re probably the first restaurant of our size to do something like this. It’s a totally new market, who we hope will have an equal appreciation for our sandwiches.” Having a Torrisi sandwich outlet in Yankee Stadium greatly improves what I believe are lackluster food options in the new stadium; these sandwiches should be quite good. The bricks-and-mortar version of Parm will open later this summer.
Buried at the bottom of this Jeff Passan column is something that really shouldn’t surprise us. Sources have told Passan that the Yankees have not asked Andy Pettitte to come out of retirement, and they don’t plan on asking him either. The 39-year-old lefty said he doesn’t believe he’ll ever pitch again last month, and it’s kinda ridiculous that a guy can’t announce his retirement without questions about a possible comeback these days. Either way, enjoy life after baseball, Andy. I hope the house in Texas has good air conditioning.
It’s CC Sabathia‘s birthday today, the big guy turns 31. Kinda hard to believe he’s still that young though, isn’t it? It feels like he’s been around forever, but hey, I ain’t complaining. Sabathia dominated the Rays a week or so ago, hopefully he has more in store on his b-day. Here’s the lineup…
CC Sabathia, SP
Tonight’s game can be seen on YES locally or MLB Network nationally. It starts a little after 7pm ET. Enjoy.
Believe it or not, the Yankees might not be aggressively seeking pitching in the next two weeks. We’ll see them connected with any starting pitcher that becomes available, and we’ll continue to find potential fits for the rotation, but the pitching situation isn’t quite as dire as we might have imagined when the season began. Both Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon continue to exceed expectations, A.J. Burnett isn’t going anywhere, and Phil Hughes showed signs of life in his last start. Beyond that, the Yankees have depth with Ivan Nova at AAA. Where, then, would a new pitching acquisition fit?
The perceived surplus shouldn’t stop the Yankees from hunting for a rotation upgrade. As we saw last year after the Cliff Lee trade fell through, the rotation’s identity can change dramatically between July and August. But with a lack of available options who represent true upgrades, there just might not be a move to make. Does this mean that the Yankees will stand pat at the deadline? Probably not. There are always upgrades they can make, even when it comes from an area of perceived strength.
Make no mistake: the Yankees offense is top-notch. They’re second in the AL in runs scored, and are .8 runs per game better than league average. But there are areas where they can upgrade. Three of their nine starters are below average with the bat, and for the next few weeks they’ll be without their second best offensive contributor this season. It does raise an interesting question: is upgrading the offense a worthy endeavor?
The Yankees could stand to upgrade at three positions: catcher, DH, and shortstop. Clearly they won’t make a move at short; if they won’t even move Derek Jeter down in the order, there’s no chance they’re replacing him. Not that they’d really have an opportunity to do so. The players who have hit better than him are either not available or not worth a trade. The Yanks are stuck there, but again, it’s not the worst position to be in, considering the realistic alternatives.
At DH they face a similar situation, though they could more easily replace Jorge Posada. He’s already been relegated to duty only against right-handed pitchers, but even with that he’s struggled lately. He had an excellent two-month run, hitting .303/.380/.447 in May and June, quelling the calls for his removal from the lineup. Yet he’s tanked again in May, which again raises the question of what he can produce going forward. There might be political ramifications of further reducing his playing time, but it’s less of an issue due to Jorge’s contract situation.
At catcher the Yanks have a conundrum. The pitching staff reportedly loves Russell Martin behind there, which makes it difficult for him to replace. Yet his performance has declined markedly: .185/.296/.275 since his two-homer game against Baltimore on April 23rd. That’s 233 PA of replacement level production. There’s little chance they’d remove Martin as starter, because of his rapport with the staff. But that doesn’t mean they have to continue starting him four out of every five days.
To the outside observer, there is a clear opportunity here to bring up the team’s top prospect, Jesus Montero. He could not only take over DH duties for Jorge, but he could also jump behind the plate and reduce Martin’s playing time to three out of every four days, rather than four out of five. The Yankees, however, have not displayed a willingness to consider Montero as an option this year. We can disagree all we want, but it appears to be the same situation as with Jeter in the leadoff spot: we can whine and complain, but that doesn’t change the reality of the situation. The Yankees might upgrade their offense, but I’m fairly certain it won’t be with Montero.
There isn’t any player on the market, or even remotely available, who could help with the catching situation. If the Yankees don’t use Montero, they’re stuck in that regard. That leaves DH as the only realistic spot where they can upgrade. It would be easier, and more cost-effective, for them to just stick with Posada and hope that his current slump ends the same way as his first one did. But that might not be in the cards. It’s hard to say what Jorge will do at this age — he turns 40, remember, next month. If the Yankees can upgrade anywhere, it’s here.
The problem, of course, is that an upgrade isn’t free. Teams don’t just give away players, and while we’ve seen such actions in the past, there don’t seem to be many teams that absolutely need to shed payroll right now. Those that do — and it appears to be just the Astros at this point — don’t have anything to offer the Yankees. That makes it more difficult to find an upgrade. At this point, given the team’s resources, its options on the market, and its needs, I can’t see any better move than bringing up Montero. Failing that, I’m not sure anyone — whether Carlos Beltran, Jason Kubel, or Josh Willingham — will be both worth the cost and represent a significant upgrade.
The Yankees stand to improve their 2011 team, and in the next few weeks I expect to see them connected to many players. On offense, though, the wise move is to wait things out. There are a few areas of weakness, but the market doesn’t bear completely logical fits. The Mets want a top prospect for Carlos Beltran, and none of the other options provide an instant, noticeable upgrade. Considering the what’s out there and what they have, Montero appears to be the only logical upgrade.