Now that the trade rumor market has died down, Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal has taken to analyzing teams. Up today, our very own Yankees. Rosenthal says that the team might be in a similar position next year, as even money can’t cover up some of their shortcomings.
Still, even if the Yankees landed Sabathia and Teixeira, they would be stuck with the same questionable group of young starting pitchers and many of the same underperforming hitters.
Yet, in a paragraph earlier in the article, Rosenthal admits that landing Sabathia would give the Yanks one of the top rotations in the league, headed by the big guy, Chien Ming Wang, and Joba Chamberlain. If the Yankees are able to bring back Mussina and Pettitte, and I presume they’ll make every effort to do so, then how in the world would they have the same young pitching problems as this year? Instead of handing Hughes and Kennedy de facto rotation spots, each would have to earn it. And even then, we’ve already listed five guys. With Sabathia in tow, Phil Hughes could easily start 2009 in Scranton.
Remember, the Yankees spent heavily last offseason — $275 million for third baseman Alex Rodriguez, $52.4 million for catcher Jorge Posada, $45 million for closer Mariano Rivera, $16 million each for Pettitte and right fielder Bobby Abreu. Those were all players who had proven they could play in New York. And yet, here are the Yankees, on track to miss the postseason for the first time since 1993.
I’m sorry, this is just lazy. All of those players were on the team last year. There was no upgrade. If they add Sabathia and Teixeira — and no, I am not necessarily advocating signing both, though there are worse off-seasons in which to do it — they will be complete and total upgrades over what we currently have. Or would have next year otherwise.
He also talks about Yankees players in decline, pointing the finger directly at Derek Jeter. You know what? There’s a decent chance that he comes back with another stellar year next year. Who knows what’s wrong with him in 2008. In any case, it seems he’s overcome it, as he’s hitting .352/.392/.432 in August. If he puts up those numbers over the course of next season, not a single person will complain. Yes, things might get worse for the Captain. Players at his age tend to hit a downslope. But that’s far from a given.
Further on Jeter, Rosenthal speculates on a position change. The most irksome passage here is where Rosenthal says Jeter’s bat is inadequate for first base. Yes, he would represent a lower than league average bat at first. But you know what? The ’77 and ’78 Yanks won the World Series with Chris Chambliss playing first. Even adjusting for the time periods, I would think that Jeter could keep that pace (112 and 100 OPS+ figures, respectively for Chambliss). With the correct pieces elsewhere, including Jeter’s replacement at short, this shouldn’t be an enormous problem.
It’s sexy to beat up on the Yanks. No, they’re not perfect. Yes, they have some flaws which might not be worked out by Opening Day ’09. But they’re far from hopeless. With a few calculated upgrades this off-season, the Yanks could be in a much better position in 2009.
When we heard that Ross Ohlendorf had been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a cog in the Nady/Marte trade, I found myself a bit disappointed. Sure, he was a disappointment as a reliever in the majors, but he was finding some level of success as a starter at Scranton. With the Yankees pitching woes at the time, I thought that maybe he could pull a few spot starts later in the season. Alas, it was not meant to be. He’s with Pittsbugh now, starting for their AAA Indianapolis team. He’s tossed 41.2 innings since the trade, all as a starter, and has struck out 35 to just eight walks. His ERA sits at 3.24. This past Sunday, he pitched eight innings, allowing just one run while striking out six and walking one. He’d tossed eight innings of no-run ball on August 13.
The Princeton Packet, hometown newspaper of Ohlie’s alma mater, caught up with the alum to see how things are going in Hoosier country.
“I would prefer to start,” said Ohlendorf, who went back to finish his coursework and graduated from Princeton in 2005. “Before the draft, I think there was a little discussion about whether I should be a reliever. I relieved some in Cape Cod the year before. I certainly am looking forward to hopefully having the opportunity to be a starter.”
“I do feel like I’ve been getting used to starting again. I need to get back to using my change-up more. I was able to do that. Overall, I’m definitely happy with how it’s going. It could be going better, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.”
He also reminisces about his times with the Yanks, particularly about his above-6.00 ERA as a reliever in the majors.
“I felt I pitched well the majority of the time,” the 6-foot-4 right-hander said. “I had four to five really bad outings. I was able to see that as long as I pitched well, I could get guys out. At the same time, I was able to see things that got me into trouble and what I needed to work on to be able to do consistently better. It’s mainly throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes and locating my fastball and not overthrowing it.”
Checking his game log, that statement checks out. He allowed more than two runs in four appearances, getting hammered against the White Sox, Mets, Orioles, and finally again against the Mets, which was the final nail in his coffin. In his 25 appearances, he held the opponent scoreless 13 times, and allowed just one run six times, three of which were in appearances of more than one inning.
Here’s to hoping Ohlie enjoys a long and fruitful career as a starter for the Pirates. Or at least a better career than Bobby Bradley, Sean Burnett, John VanBenschoten, Brian Bullington, Brad Lincoln, etc., etc., etc.
According to the Associated Press, the Charleston River Dogs, the one of two Yankees minor league affiliates not named the Yankees, will extend their relationship with the parent team. And why not? They’ve set attendance records the past two years, and expect another one this year. With this commitment, though, one has to wonder whether they’ll soon become the Charleston Yankees. · (36) ·
In mid-July, McFarlane Toys, designers of the popular MLB figurines, announced that Melky Cabrera would be included in their 2009 set. The Yanks’ former center fielder was to be a part of a showcase of young players that will include Dustin Pedroia and Justin Upton. But a funny thing happened on the way to February: Melky Cabrera found himself bound for AAA Scranton after a terrible four months.
Now, as Jim Baumbach reports, McFarlane Toys has scratched their plans to include Melky Cabrera in the next line of figurines. The company offers up no explicit reason for this change in plans, but I’m sure Melky’s demotion had everything to do with it. There’s nothing like kicking a man while he’s down, eh? · (16) ·
When I arrived home this afternoon, I found waiting for me in the mail the latest in a long line of Yankee Stadium tribute books. This new arrival — Remembering Yankee Stadium: An Oral and Narrative History of “The House That Ruth Built” — is by Harvey Frommer, a prolific baseball scribe who once wrote for Yankees Magazine.
The introduction to Frommer’s tome is penned by none other than the Voice of God himself. That’s right; Bob Sheppard, with a picture of the soon-to-be 98-year-old in his younger, dapper days, introduces the oral history of the building in which he has probably spent more time than anyone else alive. It is a fitting way for a book of this magnitude to begin.
While I’ll put together a more formal review of Frommer’s offering over the next few weeks, just seeing Bob’s name on the cover of the book and his image on the first few pages triggered a few Yankee Stadium-related thoughts. Mostly, I realized we have heard neither hide nor hair of Bob Sheppard since he announced that he wasn’t healthy enough to announce the All Star Game. Since then, nothing. No word on his recovery; no word on his potential return. No word on anything.
Right now, the Yankees have just 16 home games left at Yankee Stadium, and with the Yanks on the outside of the playoff picture looking in right now, there’s no guarantee that Yankee Stadium will see baseball in October this year. Meanwhile, Sheppard has been out for over 11 months now, and I have to wonder if Bob won’t make it for a single game of announcing duties during the final season of the Stadium.
If indeed Mr. Sheppard doesn’t make it back this year, the Yankees’ venerable announcer will have gone out unexpectedly last September when, one day, he was too sick to make it to work. He will have missed his opportunity to send off Yankee Stadium in grand fashion, and I’m sure he’s just as disappointed about it as any of the team’s fans are.
But I’m not quite yet ready to count Bob out yet. He may be out of the public eye right now; he may still be convalescing from what sounds like a very serious illness. But when all is said and done, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Bob Sheppard in his proper place when the evening of September 21st rolls around. The Baseball Gods hopefully wouldn’t have it any other way.
Chase Weems was promoted to Charleston. He didn’t play much for the GCL Yanks after Kyle Higashioka showed up, and I can’t imagine he’ll get much playing time with Montero & Romine on the team.
Victor Zambrano was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. Hah.
Triple-A Scranton (7-2 win over Buffalo) 16 of their 20 hits came off of one pitcher … yikes
Justin Christian & Matt Carson: 2 for 5, 1 R – Carson drove in a run & K’ed
Melky: 3 for 5 – on base 17 times in 8 games since being send down
Juan Miranda: 0 for 0 – left the game in the bottom of the first with dizziness says Chad Jennings
Shelley: 1 for 5, 1 R, 2 K – got struck out by an old friend
Ben Broussard: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 K
Nick Green: 4 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – seriously?
Eric Duncan: 2 for 4
Chris Stewart: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Bernie Castro: 1 for 4
IPK: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 5-4 GB/FB – 64 of 106 pitches were strikes (60.4%) … remember, he’s there working his two-seamer and curveball, which CJ says he’s doing
Steven Jackson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K – 12 of 22 pitches were strikes (54.5%) … 11 K in his last 7 IP
Phil Coke: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1-2 GB/FB – only 6 of 13 pitches were strikes (46.2%)
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB
A week from today, 25-man rosters will be eligible for expansion. Anyone on the 40-man roster can be called up and played just like they were on the 25-man. It’s one of the more exciting times of year for prospect nuts, who can get a chance to see some players who are close to seeing big league playing time.
The Yankees cannot afford such a luxury this year. They’ll call up players, for sure, likely after the minor league playoffs conclude. From these additions, however, the Yanks will be looking for production. They can’t afford to stroll out scrubs during the final month of the season, where they’ll hopefully be scratching their way to a 14th consecutive playoff berth. If you can’t help, there’s a seat for you on the bench, in other words.
The question is, who do you think will have the best chance of helping the team down the stretch? Can we get some useful relief innings out of Scott Patterson? Will Al Aceves make his way onto the 40-man? Can Phil Hughes right the ship in time for prime time?
Can we start using “to Joe Torre” a pitcher as a verb? Damaso Marte says he’s no longer hurting after a 42-pitch outing on Aug. 4 left him with a sore elbow. Marte, a disappointment so far in his short Yankee career but showing some signs of life lately, was overworked the night the Yanks lost Joba Chamberlain and hasn’t been effective since then. I hope Joe Girardi takes this as a lesson Joe Torre never learned about the arms of relievers. These pitchers can only handle so much stress before they break down. · (26) ·
Not much, says Newsday’s Jim Baumbach. The media these days really loves to doubt Pavano, but I’m not ready to hop on that bandwagon. Perhaps the oft-injured Carl can do some good for the Yankees over the next five weeks. He is, after all, pitching for a contract. · (67) ·