Fan Confidence Poll: August 23rd, 2010

Record Last Week: 5-2 (46 RS, 26 RA)
Season Record: 77-47 (663 RS, 501 RA, 79-45 Pythag. record), one game up
Schedule This Week: @ Blue Jays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ White Sox (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Bombers bash Mariners in 10-0 drubbing

In early May, CC Sabathia had a win taken away from him when the umpires in Boston pulled the teams off the field with two strikes and two outs on Victor Martinez. Sabathia was just a strike away from an official game, and he would ensure today that early-season history would not repeat itself. Working quickly, Sabathia threw six shut-out innings before the rains held up the game for 57 minutes, and home runs by Austin Kearns and Robinson Cano gave the Yanks a 5-0 lead. When the rains let up, the Yanks tacked on five more, and the Mariners mounted nary a rally en route to a 10-0 Yanks’ victory.

CC goes six strong

CC delivers. Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

As the Yanks and Mariners prepared for the rubber match of a three-game set, the stars seemed to align for exactly the kind of game that unfolded on Sunday afternoon. CC Sabathia had dominated the Mariners all season and had dominated everyone at home. He obliged by turning in a vintage CC performance, going six innings on three hits and no walks while striking out eight. He threw 76 pitches, and the only thing that prevented him from going deeper into the game was the weather.

For CC, the win was his 17th on the season and his 10th at home. He’s undefeated in the Bronx with a 2.77 ERA and 81 strike outs in 91.1 innings. CC just loves pitching in the Bronx, and he dominated both Ichiro Suzuki and Russell Branyan on Sunday afternoon, two hitters who had destroyed the Yankees’ pitchers all weekend.

On Sunday, CC worked fast. The Yanks and Mariners played the first 4.5 innings in around an hour and a half, and CC didn’t allow a hit until the top of the 5th. He was going to get that win before the rain came, and the rain itself allowed the Yanks to rest CC. With his six innings, he’s now at 187.2 innings on the season, and with the Yanks up 5-0 on a weak-hitting team, the game was in the bag. The Yanks’ win expectancy was at 97 percent when the tarp came out, and the weather saved CC from a pair of unnecessary innings. Let’s save those bullets for October.

A phantom tag

Jorge tags Franklin Guttierez with an empty mitt. Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

In the fifth inning, with the rains falling, the Yankees and CC ran into a spot of trouble. The Yanks had a 1-0 lead on an Austin Kearns home run, and CC and the Yanks could see an official game in their sights. The Mariners, however, had a rally in mind. Franklin Guttierez doubled down the left field line, and after a Casey Kotchman fly out, Adam Moore lined a single into right field. Nick Swisher came up throwing.

The laser from Swisher beat Guttierez to the plate, and Jorge Posada caught the ball, blocked the plate and seemingly tagged out the runner. Sam Holbrook called the Mariners’ runner out at the plate, and the Yanks had their lead in tact. It was the closest the Mariners would come to scoring, and replays showed that the score should have, in fact, been 1-1.

The problem with the Posada tag was that he didn’t actually make it. Jorge had the ball in one hand and tagged Guttierez with the empty glove. It wasn’t the brightest of plays by Jorge; he had enough time to put the ball in his glove and nail Guttierez properly. But Holbrook didn’t position himself in front of the play, and the Yanks’ catcher sold the out.

After an IBB, Robbie goes yard

Robbie goes boom. Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

For some reason, opposing managers have decided that facing the Yanks’ clean-up hitter with the bases loaded is preferable to facing Mark Teixeira with two runners in scoring position. In the bottom of the fifth after a Derek Jeter walk and a Nick Swisher single followed by an Ichiro error put runners on second and third, Luke French and the Mariners intentionally walked Mark Teixeira.

That walk marked the fourth time this season Mark Teixeira has been intentionally put on first to load the bases. In two of the three previous times, Alex Rodriguez has followed with a grand slam. Today, with A-Rod on the DL, the onus fell on Robinson Cano, and he obliged. On the first pitch, Cano took a dead-red change-up 425 feet into the right field bleachers, and the Yanks had their 5-0 lead. Cano would add two more RBI later in the game for 86 on the season to go with his 25 home runs.

Cano on Sunday went 2 for 2 with runners on scoring position, and although clutch hitting is an overrated way to analyze the game, his hitting in these situations has vastly improved this year. Last year, he batted just .207/.242/.332 with runners in scoring position. This year, in 158 plate appearances before Sunday, Cano was batting .302/.405/.512 with runners in scoring position. He walked eight times in all of 2009 with runners on second or third; he’s already taken a base on balls 24 times in those situations this year. He’s becoming more patient and is driving the ball with authority. With A-Rod out, he’s a fine clean-up hitter.

Odds and Ends

Yeah, baby. Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Lance Berkman may have been the big name pick-up for the Yanks at the trade deadline, but Austin Kearns has been the impact player. His home run in the fourth was his second for the Bombers, and he’s now 14 for 41 in his short stint in the Bronx. He’s the type of player who should be on the Yanks’ bench to start the season, and the Yanks would do well to keep him around next year.

Joba Chamberlain pitched 1.1 scoreless innings to close out the game. His ERA is now 4.80, and although his FIP stands at 3.10, his regression has been a welcome addition to the bullpen. Perhaps anointing him the eighth inning guy wasn’t the proper approach in the first place. Joba’s still very young and could still be a very valuable member of the Yanks’ pitching staff in the future. He’s thrown 12 innings over his last 11 outings, allowing just a run in the process, and he’s been more economical with his pitches as well.

The Yankees are now hitting .419 with the bases loaded this year, and Cano’s grand slam was the team’s 10th of the season, tying a franchise record. This is the first time in team history three players have had at least two grand slams each. Those players are A-Rod, Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano.

Both Tampa Bay and Boston won this afternoon so the Yanks’ AL East lead remains at 1 over the Rays and 6.5 over the Red Sox. By winning though, the Yanks tick another day off the calendar as a playoff spot draws ever nearer.

Graphs and Numbers

The end of the game was but a formality. Boxes: ESPN, FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees are fleeing the country. They’re heading up to Toronto for a three-game set against the Blue Jays. Ivan Nova (0-0, will make his first Major League start. Toronto will counter with Brandon Morrow (9-6, 4.45). The game starts at 7:07 p.m.

Suttle’s hot hitting continues in a pair of wins

John Nalbone has quotes from Mark Newman about the promotions of Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.

  • Double-A Trenton lost. Dan Brewer had a pair of hits including a solo jack, but Corban Joseph and Austin Romine combined for 11 hitless at-bats. Damon Sublett singled twice and walked while Matt Cusick had a triple and homer among his three knocks. Andrew Brackman allowed one run and struck out a pair in five innings while J.B. Cox allowed a three of runs in just under two innings.
  • High-A Tampa won the first game of their doubleheader. Bradley Suttle‘s hot streak continued with a solo jack though Melky Mesa did nothing productive behind him. Craig Heyer tossed seven innings of one run ball in a complete game effort.
  • High-A Tampa won the second game as well. Suttle did it again, this time with a double and two walks. Melky Mesa atoned for game one with a homer. Nothing exciting on the mound.
  • Low-A Charleston lost. Slade Heathcott was hitless in four at-bats and J.R. Murphy had the night off, so it was a rather boring night offensively. Kelvin Castro doubled. Yippee. Shane Greene, just up from Staten Island amidst the promotion madness, allowed just one run and struck out seven in six innings.
  • Both Triple-A Scranton and Short Season Staten Island had their games canceled because of the weather. Neither game will be made up.
  • The Rookie GCL Yanks were off.

Regular old DotF returns tomorrow.

Open Thread: End of a successful homestand

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

I wasn’t around to see most of it, but the Yankees went 5-2 on the homestand, and in the end that’s all that matters. The next 16 games are going to be pretty important, because that’s basically the last “easy” stretch of the season for the Yanks before they run the gauntlet in September.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game features the Twins and the lowly Angels (Baker vs. Weaver), which is pretty much the only thing going on tonight. Joe Mauer’s hitting .467/.549/.707 in his last 22 games. He’s good at this baseballing thing. Talk about whatever you want, so enjoy.

Sabathia makes Yankee history

By holding the Mariners scoreless for six innings before the rains came this afternoon, Yankee ace CC Sabathia quietly set a franchise record. With his 16th consecutive start of at least six innings and no more than three earned runs, CC broke a tie with Ron Guidry for the longest such streak in franchise history.

Gator’s streak came during his 1978 Cy Young Award winning season, and as Sabathia piles up the traditional counting stats, his Cy candidacy will grow stronger. I’m not sure I’d give it to him, but just being in the discussion is enough to make me happy.

Game 124: CC at home for the series win

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

No one has taken to pitching at the new Yankee Stadium quite like CC Sabathia. In his two seasons in pinstripes, the Big Man is 16-2 in the Bronx with a 2.92 ERA. In 12 starts this year, he’s 9-0 in the Bronx, and he hasn’t lost a game at home since he faced the Mariners on July 2, 2009. As the Yanks close out a home stand and try to win the series against the Mariners, Sabathia will get the ball.

It’s tough to overstate Sabathia’s importance to the Yanks this year. As Javier Vazquez and AJ Burnett have struggled to find anything approaching an effective consistency, Sabathia has been the stalwart in the rotation. He’s 16-5 with a 3.12 ERA. Although his K rate is down to 7.1 per 9 IP, he doesn’t allow many long balls, and he gives the Yanks length, averaging seven innings per state.

This year, Sabathia has dominated the Mariners. He’s 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings against Seattle. The team has hit just .208/.250/.245 against him, and Sabathia will try to use his lefty-lefty advantage to neutralize Ichiro Suzuki and Russell Branyan today. Branyan, who has owned the Yanks this year, is just 1 for 10 against CC with no home runs and six strike outs.

Opposing Sabathia will Luke French. The 24-year-old lefty is making his sixth start of the year. In eight appearances, he is 2-3 with a 4.02 ERA. He doesn’t strike anyone out — just 3.8 per 9 IP — but has allowed only two home runs in 40.1 innings this year. In his one appearance against the Yanks, he allowed a run in three innings of mop-up work on July 9. The lone scored on a Mark Teixeira home run.

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames DH
Jorge Posada C
Austin Kearns LF
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez 3B

Carsten Charles Sabathia P

Weather permitting, the game starts at 1:05 p.m. and will be on the YES Network.

Update (3:18 p.m.): The Yankees have announced that the game will resume at approximately 3:30 p.m. No word yet on who will take the mound for the Yanks in the top of the 7th. CC Sabathia and the Bombers are leading the Mariners 5-0 after 5.5 innings.

Austin Kearns in 2011?

Will we see this in 2011? (AP Photo/Wagner)

I know I’m getting ahead of myself this year, but should the Yankees try to resign Austin Kearns in the offseason?  Assuming  they are sold on Brett Gardner and will not be signing Carl Crawford, I think Kearns might have a role for this team beyond 2010.

Kearns has had a solid year after signing for 1 year/$750k with the Indians in the offseason, but has he done enough to either make significantly more money and get signed to be a full time player?  On point #1, I’d say the answer is no.  I don’t see him getting a multi-year deal in the offseason for very much money.  On point #2, I can see him getting a chance to start full time, but likely on a bottom feeding team.  Maybe he’d rather do that than sign on as a 4th outfielder, but if he’s willing to become a part time player next year at the age of 31, I think he’s a great fit for the Yankees.

Kearns would become a great 4th OF for this team, filling the role many had hoped of Randy Winn.  He can play the corners well defensively, and could probably still handle in CF in a pinch(though Mo forbid it ever got to that).  He also shows no drastic splits vs. lefties or righties, which can be viewed as both a positive and a negative for a bench player.  The negative is that he doesn’t provide any great skills(like Marcus Thames vs. LHP) but I think the positive that he isn’t completely inept against either RHP or LHP outweighs the lack of a great skill.  And anyway, if Kearns was great against either hand while being adequate against the other he would certainly be a starter elsewhere.

I have no idea what Kearns has in mind for 2011 and at this point maybe he doesn’t either. He’s played in almost 1000 games without ever reaching the playoffs.  Maybe a deep run this season and he realizes he’d rather get 300 AB’s for a contender than 600 for a bottom feeder.  Maybe he knows that next huge contract isn’t coming and is content with the $20+ million he’s made so far (assuming he hasn’t gone Antoine Walker or Mark Brunell on us).  It truly comes down to Kearns’ desires, but I would love to see him back in the pinstripes in 2011.