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I can’t quite decide what exactly about this afternoon’s Yankee loss was so representative of the rest of the season.
Was it Robinson Cano‘s terrible play on a double-play ball in the sixth that opened the Toronto flood gates? Was it the sheer inability of the bullpen to hold a lead late at home? Was it Joe Giradi’s repeated bad decisions today? Was it Alex Rodriguez‘s ninth inning double play in a situation in which just about anything else would have been better?
While I know everyone wants to blame A-Rod, I’m less inclined to do so. Rather, Cano’s error and then pen’s failure to hold the lead were far more important to the game than anything else. If Cano fields that ball and makes a clean toss to Jeter, the Yanks turn two. But Cano tried to flip it and made a bad feed. The Blue Jays wouldn’t look back.
But Cano didn’t blow this on his own. He had plenty of pitching help. Brian Bruney allowed two of his three inherited runners to score, Damaso Marte couldn’t do the job again,and Edwar Ramirez allowed both of his inherited runners to score. All that added up to a five unanswered Blue Jay runs in the seventh and eighth and a 7-6 Blue Jay win at a time when the Yanks can’t afford to lose.
While we try to let this game fade into memory, we have to question Joe Giradi as well. He left Darrell Rasner, effective for seven innings, in for a seventh inning even after the first batter against him reach. He left Bruney in for a batter too long and removed Jason Giambi from a close game. The more things change…
During the Yanks’ game today we held the draft for the first ever RAB Fantasy Football League. It’s a ridiculously deep league, 20 teams total, but the draft flew by in a cool 2 hours. Most of the teams were present, I’d say at least a dozen or so. The later rounds were brutal, the definition of slim pickin’s. Cedric Benson and Shaun Alexander both got drafted, that’s how bad it was.
I had the 17th pick in the scissor style draft, so all the super-elite RB’s were long gone by time I picked. Anywho, here’s my squad, with draft round in parenthesis:
QB: Vince Young, TEN (7)
RB: Ryan Grant, GB (1)
RB: Brandon Jacobs, NYG (2)
WR: Calvin Johnson, DET (3)
WR: Kevin Walter, HOU (8)
WR/RB: Rashard Mendenhall, PIT (4)
TE: Todd Heap, BAL (5)
D/ST: San Diego (6)
K: Jason Hanson, DET (11)
BN: Kevin Faulk, RB, NE (9)
BN: Mike Pittman, RB, DEN (14)
BN: Antwaan Randle El, WR, WAS (10)
BN: Dennis Northcutt, WR, JAC (13)
BN: Joe Jurevicius, WR, CLE (15)
BN: Chad Pennington, QB (12)
Honestly, I’m pretty happy with my team. Grant, Jacobs & Mendenhall are about as good a RB trio as I could have hoped for in a league this deep, and I can’t really complain about having Faulk as my number 4. I’m banking on Calvin Johnson continuing to expand on his superfreakdom, and I’m hoping Walter’s breakout last year was legit. If not, then I’m kinda screwed.
I was all set to take Jeff Garcia as my QB, but someone grabbed him a few picks before me, so I had to settle for Young. Pennington’s insurance, if nothing else. Not great, not horrific either. Todd Heap is Todd Heap, but someone grabbed Dustin Keller before I could get him for the bench. Baltimore’s bye week isn’t until Week 10, so I have time to grab someone off waivers.
The Chargers’ D is arguably the best in the business even with the question marks surrounding Merriman, so I was comfortable grabbing them in the 6th round. They don’t have a buy week until Week 9, so I can grab someone’s scraps to fill-in that week. Jason Hanson’s a good kicker, so I figured what the heck.
Like I said, I’m happy. That is until injury strikes.
John Parrish vs Darrell Rasner.
That about sums it up. I’m hoping for about 10 runs from the lineup, 5 innings out of Rasner, then 4 more out of Aceves. Let’s get it done.
1. Damon, CF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B – ZOMG, BUT TEH LEFTIE!!11!1
6. Nady, LF
7. Matsui, DH
8. Cano, 2B
9. Pudge, C
And on the mound, Waiver Claim Rasner.
Notes: Clay Buchholz Loves Laptops interviewed blogging HOFer Chad Jennings, make sure you check it out … Derek Jeter’s retirement plan includes being a lazy bum … during the game the RAB Fantasy Football League draft will be held, I’ll post my roster later today
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If the Yanks are to make an improbable run to October this year, if they are to overcome a six-game gap with just one month of the season left, they’re going to need contributions from three key players. Tonight, those players delivered.
We’ll start with Jason Giambi. The Giambino had, until recently it seems, been slumping badly. His offense since the All Star Break has disappeared, and as he heads into free agency, the Yanks are going to have to decide on his future. They need him to come through in big spots, and over the last few days, he has.
Giambi has now driven in three of the Yanks’ last four runs. He’s also delivered what would be game-winning RBIs in both of the last two contests. The Yanks need this lefty force in the middle of the lineup. Tonight, he came through.
Up next is the second baseman. This year has not been a banner year for Robinson Cano. An early-season slump put him in a big hole, and he still hasn’t really put together a sustained run as he did during the second half of 2007. Tonight, Cano picked up two hits, and while they were largely incidental to the game, those hits are good signs.
With the Yanks generating no offense from their catcher spot, they need Cano to have a hot September. It’s tough to overstate how much better the Yanks are when Cano hits as Cano can.
And finally, in the third spot is a pitcher. It is of course none other than Carl Pavano. We know his tortured Yankee history. We don’t know what Pavano can do for a month if healthy. Perhaps tonight, we glimpsed an omen of good things to come.
For six innings, Pavano kept the Jays’ hitters off balance. While he left a few pitches up, he allowed just three hits and one run on a walk and a strike out. The Jays put the ball in play, but nothing came of it. Somehow, on August 30, Carl Pavano is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA.
Who knows really if Pavano can keep this up? But with Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson running a high-wire act every time out, the Yanks need stability in the rotation. Maybe Pavano, pitching for his pride and a new contract, can, for a month, give the Yanks that. It’s the least he could do all things considered.
For one night, Pavano delivered, the Yanks scored just enough off of A.J. Burnett, and the bullpen held the game. For one night, the Yanks are still alive, hoping to stave off the inevitible.
Triple-A Scranton (9-3 loss to Rochester)
Justin Christian: 1 for 5, 1 R
Melky, Nick Green & Chad Moeller: all 0 for 3 – Melk drew a walk, scored a run & K’ed … Green drew a walk, drove in a run, scored another & missed a catch for an error … Moeller drove in a run
Juan Miranda: 2 for 3, 1 2B
Shelley: 0 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB
Ben Broussard & Chris Basak: both 0 for 4 – Broussard K’ed
Eric Duncan: 2 for 4, 1 K
Victor Zambrano: 4 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 6-4 GB/FB – 50 of 87 pitches were strikes (57.5%) … can’t get Kazmir anymore, gonna have to settle for Jamie Shields instead
Scott Patterson: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2-1 GB/FB – 23 of 40 pitches were strikes (57.5%)
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Steven Jackson: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K
Enjoy the game y’all.
1. Damon, CF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Nady, LF
7. Matsui, DH
8. Cano, 2B
9. Pudge, C
And on the mound, Carl “hey look, he didn’t miss a start” Pavano.
Wednesday was an ugly, ugly day in the Bronx. Ticking timebomb Sidney Ponson lasted just four and two-thirds, surrendering four runs on seven hits and four walks, en route to an eventual blowout. Yes, Sir Sidney has had his share of quality starts for the Yanks, and it’s tough to overlook his contribution to the team in August. However, we knew what we were getting when we brough this guy in for the Mets doubleheader back in June. He has the potential to take your team right out of the game. When you having him pitching in front of a Yanks offense which has had trouble scoring runs, you’re leaving yourself prone to disaster.
Many question whether Sid should start Monday’s makeup game in Detroit. After all, the team is clinging to a root as they dangle off the cliff of contention. Why let Sidney go out there and face another meltdown? Many fans have moved on, and don’t really care one way or another who starts. The game could very well mean nothing, so starting Ponson wouldn’t be the worst idea. However, if the Yanks somehow run off three wins against the Jays this weekend, they might be inclined to make a push. To do that, they might have to sub out Ponson.
Lined up perfectly is none other than Phil Hughes. He hasn’t seen a major league mound since April, after going down with a rib injury that seemingly took far too long to heal. After a few quality starts in the minors, Hughes hit a hiccup for two starts in August. Chad Jennings talked to Chad Moeller regarding his start from last Friday:
He said Hughes’ curveball was missing by too much, he couldn’t throw his offspeed stuff for strikes, and he wasn’t commanding his fastball within the strikezone. Too many bad strikes over the middle of the plate, not enough on the edges. That’s what it looked like to me, but it’s always nice to get some sort of confirmation from within the clubhouse.
Hughes had all of the Bison hitters, included Victor Martinez, looking foolish against his 75 MPH curveball. Delivered with a 15+ MPH difference from his fastball and some serious drop, Hughes used this as his out pitch with two strikes. It is very similar in speed and movement to the curve that Clayton Kershaw throws over in LA. His fastball, which stayed consistant at around 92, has good movement. As advertised Hughes had great command, striking out 7 while only walking 1.
The best news is the curveball. If Hughes is going to succeed at the major league level, he’s going to need the curve. He’ll probably need the change and the slider, too, but having just a 92 mph fastball won’t cut it.
So do you bring up Hughes for Monday? It’s a no-cost move; rosters expand that day, so you don’t have to DFA or option someone. The other side of the coin is that it might be in the team’s best long-term interest to have him continue pitching in the AAA playoffs, and only bring him up afterward, and at that point only to increase his innings totals. At this point, given his two stinkers prior to this, I think one more start in the minors wouldn’t hurt. If the Yanks sweep and Boston gets swept this weekend, maybe we can revisit this conversation Sunday night.
Fact: Since 2005, when Brian Cashman supposedly “took control” of the Yankees, the team has gotten, record-wise, progressively worse.
Fact: The Yankees are witnessing a lot of money coming off the books in about two months. Jason Giambi‘s contract, minus an option, will be up. Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte will be free agents. Bobby Abreu will no longer be a ward of the Yankees. The list goes on, but the savings are quite alluring.
So where is this leading? Why, to a discussion, albeit a brief one, on Brian Cashman of course.
With this confluence of circumstances all arriving at the same time on September’s doorstep, the anti-Cashman voices will continue to make their cases. I’ll admit it; right now, these folks have some compelling arguments. The Yankees aren’t very good this year; they’re going to miss the playoffs for the first time since the first years of the Clinton Administration; and the kids — as Melky, Phil and Ian have shown — weren’t really all right.
There are, of course, other reasons for the Yanks’ disappointing season. They’ve been hamstrung by injuries. No one expected Phil Hughes to throw just 22 innings and then come down with an injury. Chien-Ming Wang‘s Lisfranc disaster has resulted in more Sidney Ponson outings than I ever hoped to see. Jorge Posada‘s shoulder problem has been more disastrous than anyone expected, and Hideki Matsui‘s aching knee cost the Yankees these years as well. Now with Joba — nearly the Yankee ace in July — has been MIA for a few weeks, that the Yanks are even as close as they are is a minor miracle.
So as the Yanks head into a stretch drive and a postseason with lots of alluring free agents and lots of money coming off the books, questions abound about the team. Do they keep following the youth movement? Probably. But, as Jayson Stark reported this week, the Yanks plan a full court press on Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and, if they don’t land Sabathia, Ben Sheets. They’re going to spend the money they have available to them.
When all is said and done, it comes back to Cashman. Is his autonomy on the wane? Should he even still be around? I’ve long said yes, and I’ll hold to that position. But the masses are growing restless, and the Yankees will again heading into November have the weight of the world on their shoulders as they look to rebuild and retool for a brand new stadium.
Spare us the pain and suffering. According to an MLB.com Press Release, everyone you wouldn’t want to see, with the exception of Dane Cook, in an MLB commercial will soon be on TV to remind us that “There’s only one October.” If there’s any consolation in the Yanks’ disappointed play this year, it will be avoiding these commercials if our team doesn’t make the playoffs. · (12) ·