Last week, Hank Steinbrenner raised some eyebrows when he told Newsday that the Yanks were “looking at” CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. While these admission is hardly a secret, that Steinbrenner was willing to name-drop Sabathia, a free agent-to-be, and Burnett, a player currently under contract to the Blue Jays for more than the next few months, raised a few concerns.
In particular, Jon Heyman expressed his surprise at the announcement. The Sports Illustrated scribe called the remarks “the clearest example of tampering in recent history.” While Heyman admits that MLB doesn’t really enforce tampering rules, just this statement of fact on Heyman’s part got me thinking about Steinbrenner.
Hank is relatively new to the baseball scene and the New York tabloids. He also has the Steinbrenner tendency to run his mouth off whenever he feels like it regardless of who is around and what he’s saying. Not only is Steinbrenner tampering with Burnett — the Blue Jays’ pitcher is even more likely to exercise his opt-out clause now — but Steinbrenner is weakening the Yankee hand.
Sure, everyone knows that the Yanks want a top-line starter for 2009. Sure, everyone knows that the Yankees will have the money to overwhelm Sabathia. But by dropping the names, Hank gives more power to the pitcher. Reign it in, Hank. It’s bad bargaining business to give the other side so much information well ahead of any potential negotiation.
We all know the Carl Pavano Story by now.
Coming off of a career year, an overrated pitcher attracts a lot of attention and signs a four-year, $39.95 million deal with the Yankees. Said pitcher makes 17 mediocre starts, hits the disabled list and can’t get healthy for the next two years. He’s in weird car crashes, hurts hits buttocks during Spring Training and has surgery. Said pitcher than starts Opening Day 2007, has one decent and one good start and then opts for reconstructive surgery.
By the time September 3, 2008 rolls around, said pitcher is on the verge of making his 23rd start for the Yankees. So far, Pavano has made $1.7 million per Yankee start, and the end of his contract is near. On Wednesday, Pavano faltered early, and with the Yanks up 6-3, Joe Girardi yanked that short leash with no outs in the fourth. Pavano’s line wasn’t terrible — 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K and 47 of 79 for strikes — but his post-game comments were truly hilarious.
“I feel like I cheated my team tonight,” he said. Well, better late than never, I guess.
In the end, it would matter little. Edwar Ramirez bailed out Pavano, and he combined with Phil Coke and Brian Bruney to throw four scoreless innings. By the time Jose Veras gave up a run in the ninth, the Yanks had an 8-3 lead and were able to coast to their third straight victory.
It would not be a game without controversy courtesy of one Mr. Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. In the ninth inning with the Yanks up 6-3 and Bobby Abreu on base for the third time, A-Rod blasted a home run clear over the left field foul pole. There was only one problem: Was it fair or foul?
So an A-Rod blast in the ninth inning of a three-run game became the very first home run call to be subjected to baseball’s new instant replay rule. After
an interminable delay that slowed down the game so that it went on well past midnight a wait of just over two minutes, the umpires gathered to announce that the ruling on the field was stand. While the umpires said that the replay may have clouded the issue, nothing they saw convinced them that the ball was not a home run.
And thus A-Rod passed Mike Schmidt for sole possession of 12th place on the all-time home run list, and the Yankees held on for another day, seven games behind Boston for that last playoff spot, ten behind Tampa and with just 23 left to play.
KLaw posted his Top 60 Prospects for the 2009 draft (sorry, subscription req’d). Strasburg is a true 1/1 talent, but there’s a considerable drop off after that. I love me some Kyle Gibson though, you’ll be hearing more of that name before the draft.
In more draft related news, sandwich pick Jeremy Bleich will make his professional debut for the Staten Island Yanks tomorrow. The game starts at 1pm.
Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Pawtucket) SWB leads the best-of-five series 1-0 … Ian Kennedy vs Devern Hansack tomorrow
Justin Christian: 2 for 3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP – he’s one helluva spark plug
Melky & Juan Miranda: both 1 for 4, 1 RBI - Miranda walked & K’ed twice
Shelley Duncan & Nick Green: both 0 for 5 – Shelley K’ed once, Green twice
Ben Broussard: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K
Eric Duncan & Chris Stewart: both 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B – E-Dunc drew a walk & swiped a bag … Stewart was hit by a pitch, homered & drove in 2
Chris Basak: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B
Chase Wright: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 8-1 GB/FB – 49 of 87 pitches were strikes (56.3%)
… picked a runner off first
Steven Jackson: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 19 of 25 pitches were strikes (64%)
Zack Kroenke: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-1 GB/FB
David Robertson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K – 20 of 39 pitches were strikes (51.3%)
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
We’ve always hated tossing around the phrase “must-win” when it comes to Yankee games. Too often, writers label a game a “must-win” only to see a team lose and then rebound. But today is different.
This afternoon, the Orioles, leading the Red Sox 4-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, gave up two in the seventh, two in the eighth and one in the ninth to lose the game. With that win, Boston is 7.5 games up on the Yankees with 23 left to play. If the Yanks — who have 24 games left — lose tonight, that eight-game deficit will be nigh impossible to cover. They have to win tonight to keep whatever faint glimmer of hope remains alive.
To that end, Carl Pavano will take the mound in search of his third straight win. Once he records the second out of the first inning, he will have thrown more innings this year than he has in the prior two years combined. Go Carl!
Pavano faces Edwin Jackson, and the Yanks do not hit him well. Jackson is 1-1 against the Yanks in four starts this year. He’s sporting a 2.59 ERA in 24.1 innings against the Bombers.
It’s hard to believe that the season could hinge on Carl Pavano.
A. Rodriguez 3B
I. Rodriguez C
We know the Yanks badly want CC Sabathia. We’ve heard they’re interested in fellow Brewer ace Ben Sheets as Plan B. Now, Ken Rosenthal reports rumblings we’ve heard for a while: A.J. Burnett, who holds an opt-out clause and can file for free agency, plans to draw significant interest from the both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Burnett is clearly the Yanks’ third choice, but blocking him from going to the Red Sox or at least increasing his demands would be a worthy cause. (Hat tip to the ever-reliable MLBTR.) · (53) ·
I know I mentioned this fun little toy yesterday when I wrote about the Yankees’ season ticket relocation efforts, but I wanted to plug it again. As part of their new stadium relocation package, the Yanks have put up a digital seat view tool of the new Yankee Stadium. With the tool — which you can access right here — you can select any section in the new stadium to check out the sightlines from the front, middle and back of that section. Take a look at the view from the sports bar or the bleachers. Take a look at the view from the $2500 seats and the $100 boxes behind the outfield wall. The daylight view is also pretty neat. · (7) ·
Over the past year and a half at RAB, one of the most frequent and hotly debated topics has been of whether the team should retain Brain Cashman as general manager. While Ben, Mike, and I have made our stances clear, we do acknowledge the arguments of the anti-Cashman crowd, of which there are many (arguments and members). There have been a number of poor moves made during Cashman’s tenure, and one might claim that the Yankees woes this season are the product of decisions he’s made over the past six or seven years.
According to a few reports this morning — we’ll look to Anthony Rieber of Newsday — the decision has been made, at least on the Yankees end. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner reportedly want Cashman to man the helm for a few more seasons. This, according to Rieber, is due to Cashman working well with Hal, seemingly the saner of the brothers. The more we read about the Brothers Stein, the more it seems that while Hank is the mouthpiece, Hal is the one pulling the strings.
Cashman has been mum on the situation, as he should be. He’s got plenty of time to weigh his options. While there may be no job more prestigious than Yankees GM, he might prefer the calmer atmosphere of Seattle. Who knows?
Since we always seem to have the “should Cashman stay” debate, let’s try something different today. If you were in Brian Cashman‘s shoes, would you take a three-year contract with a reasonable raise from the Yankees? Or would you seek different pastures?
No surprise here, but Joba Chamberlain will face an innings limit next year. This year, Chamberlain was supposed to reach 150 innings, but his August injury will leave him about 40-50 innings short. He’ll probably face the same cap next year. Meanwhile, don’t impersonate Major League pitchers. · (21) ·
Based on the numbers, things are not looking too good for the Yankees right now. Earlier today, Clay Davenport’s Playoff Odds Report had the Yanks making the playoffs less than one percent of the time while after tonight’s win, CoolStandings projects them to reach October 1.4 percent of the time. Those are rather overwhelming odds.
But as the Yanks showed tonight, they ain’t goin’ down without a fight. In a nutshell, Moose pitched well, Xavier Nady hit a bomb, A-Rod hit a meaningless home run to tie Mike Schmidt on the all-time list, and some guy out for a month returned to the mound. That’s right; Dan Giese is back. Let’s break it down.
For the Yankees, as we read earlier, pitching is key, and tonight’s pitchers came up big. Mike Mussina, trying for the third time for win number 17, threw 6+ innings tonight, giving up too many hits (10) but striking out eight to minimize the damage. He allowed just one walk and is still on pace to issue fewer walks than the number of games he starts. He has thrown just 24 bases on balls in his 29 starts.
The Yanks’ bats, behind a monstrous Xavier Nady shot off the far reaches of the Tropicana Dome roof, and three runs scored by A-Rod, gave Moose plenty of support. While on Monday in Detroit, they singled the Tigers to death, four of their nine hits off of Tampa on Tuesday went for extra bases. Finally, the Yankees are showing us what they can do on all sides of the ball. They played small ball to score their first run of the game and long ball to put the game out of reach. Where was this all season?
With Mussina’s win tonight, the Yanks will give him a fair shot at 20 on the season. If they keep Mussina on a strict five-day rest schedule, he’s due to make five more starts this year. All he has to do — easier said than done, I know — is win three of those. He’ll face Seattle, Tampa, Chicago, Toronto and Boston, and if he’s going to get to 20 wins this year, he’ll really have to earn it.
Meanwhile, Yankee fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief as the Yankees
eased Joba back into the bullpen trotted out Joba Chamberlain to pitch out of a seventh-inning jam. Chamberlain retired free-agent-to-be Rocco Baldelli on one pitch, and needed just 18 more — only half of them strikes — to make it through the eighth. He didn’t strike out anyone, and he gave up a walk and a hit in that 1.1 innings of work. But no matter; it’s good to see him back, and it’s good to see the Yanks win a crisp game after Monday’s near-nightmare.