Aceves not yet ready to rejoin the Yankees

Shortly before the game, work leaked out that Alfredo Aceves was alive and well and in the Yankee clubhouse. I had fleeting thoughts that he would be activated after a lengthy stint on the DL due to back problems, and we would be saved more appearances by Chad Gaudin (or Sergio Mitre). The Yankees, however, have different plans. As MLB.com’s Tim Britton reported, Brian Cashman is not quite ready to activate Aceves yet, and the team hopes to have him make at least one more rehab start and possibly two. “He’s a guy that’s just knocking out the rust,” Cashman said before the game. “The belief is he’d benefit and therefore we’d benefit from him getting a few more outings.”

So far, in 5 innings for AAA Scranton and AA Trenton, Aceves, who may still need surgery this winter, has looked sharp. He’s allowed a run on one hit while striking out six. Although Aceves may be ready to go, the Yankees are probably trying to stretch out his rehab to maintain some roster flexibility. By holding him back until September 1, the Yankees can activate Aceves without having to sacrifice Gaudin’s or Mitre’s spot on the Major League. Since Aceves’ back appears to be a ticking time bomb, keeping those two sacrificial lambs around gives the Yanks some depth during the pennant drive.

Roger Clemens under indictment perjury

Clemens testifies in front of Congress on February 13, 2008. The indictment stems from his testimony that day. Credit: AP Photo, Pablo Martinez

Update (5:25 p.m.): A federal grand jury has filed an indictment against former Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens facing a federal indictment for perjury in connection with his 2008 testiomy to the U.S. Senate. The 19-page indictment, unveiled today, charges the disgraced hurler with three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury. While the Department of Justice will not seek to arrest Clemens, the Rocket’s legal troubles are just beginning.

Michael S. Schmidt of The Times has more details on the incidents out of which the indictment arises:

Clemens’s allegedly false testimony came in a public hearing in which Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee, testifying under oath, directly contradicted each other about whether Clemens had used the banned substances.

“Americans have a right to expect that witnesses who testify under oath before Congress will tell the truth,” United States Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement announcing the indictment. “Our government can not function if witnesses are not held accountable for false statements made before Congress. Today the message is clear: if a witness makes a choice to ignore his or her obligation to testify honestly, there will be consequences.”

The congressional hearing at the heart of the indictment came just two months after McNamee first tied Clemens to the use of the substances in George J. Mitchell’s report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. After Mitchell released the report, Clemens claimed McNamee made up the allegations.

Clemens joins Barry Bonds as the two most prominent former players to face perjury charges in connection with statements concerning PED use. Bonds is scheduled to go to trial in March, and the two will appear together on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot.

The Feds, as Schmidt reports, investigated Clemens after Congressional leaders raised concerns over his testimony. Still, there are elements of a witch hunt here as Congress and the Justice Department have gone after only the two biggest names to be accused of drug use. If convicted, Clemens could face a sentence of 15-21 months, but my guess is that this case doesn’t get that far. Because Clemens allegedly never failed a drug test, the government’s evidence rests on the testimony of Brian McNamee, a former Clemens confidante who turned informant to avoid federal drug charges. McNamee claims to have old syringes that reportedly tested positive for both steroids and Clemens’ DNA.

The Rocket this afternoon issued a statement via Twitter denying the charges. “I never took HGH or Steroids,” he said. “And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court.”

Click through for an embedded copy of the indictment, courtesy of Maury Brown’s Biz of Baseball. The unnamed Strength Coach #1 is widely believed to be Brian McNamee. [Read more…]

Game 121: Three out of four is always nice

It’s a getaway day for the visiting team, which means we’ll play a matinee. I suppose this means lots of Gameday and radio followers. That’s always fun.

There’s not much to say before this one that we haven’t already said. Eduardo Nunez is with the team, replacing the injured Lance Berkman. A-Rod remains on the shelf, though the move to bring up Nunez, I would think, means he’ll be back and at DH in a day or so.

Lineup:

1. Brett Gardner, LF — seems he’s comfortable in this spot
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Robinson Cano, 2B
5. Nick Swisher, RF
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Curtis Granderson, CF
8. Austin Kearns, DH
9. Ramiro Pena, 3B

And on the mound, number sixty-five, Phil Hughes.

Eduardo Nunez is in New York

Chad Jennings hit us with a surprise this morning: Eduardo Nunez is in the clubhouse. That undoubtedly means he’ll be activated before the game. That brings into question the corresponding roster move. By all appearances Lance Berkman is headed to the disabled list. He hasn’t played since he hurt his ankle on Sunday, and his name is not listed on the lineup card as a bench player. Nunez gives the Yanks a bit more flexibility in the infield as A-Rod heals.

The good news, then, is that it’s not A-Rod to the DL. While I don’t think that putting A-Rod on the shelf for two weeks would be the worst thing, a DL move itself would be troubling considering the circumstances. At first his calf injury was not serious and that no tests were scheduled. No tests scheduled, of course, means tests were scheduled. That revealed a Grade 1 strain, which is not serious. But if they placed him on the DL it would indicate that A-Rod’s injury is a bit more severe than they’ve let on.

Berkman’s DL trip will be retroactive to Monday, so he’ll be eligible to come off the DL just as rosters expand. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yanks give him the extra two days and activate him on the first.

With Pettitte out until Sept., a pitching problem

Andy Pettitte, 11-2 on the season with a 2.88 ERA in 18 starts, last pitched on July 18 after ten days of rest due to the All Star break. During that game against the Rays, Pettitte strained his groin, and although the team had hoped he would return within six weeks, the southpaw has been slow to heal. After a setback last week, the Yankees do not expect Pettitte to return until early September, and the Yanks have the makings of a pitching problem.

Pettitte and the Yanks unveiled the bad news about Andy’s groin last night. The lefty had gone for an MRI Tuesday night as he still felt pain in his legs, and the results were discouraging. The imaging scan revealed what the Yanks called a “small, persistent strain of the left groin, and Pettitte will rest for a week. Once he ramps up his rehab again, he’ll need to make two Minor League starts, and the Yankees do not see him returning until around September 10. “It’s going to end up, right now, at least seven weeks, and that’s longer than we anticipated,” Joe Girardi said to reporters.

Pettitte worries that he, at age 38, may not pitch again, but he seems to blame himself for the extended absence. He says he pushed too hard early on to get back into pitching shape. “To say I’m frustrated, that’s an understatement,” Pettitte said. “I’m trying to stay as positive as I can, but I want to pitch. I just want to get back and I want to pitch and I want to be healthy.”

The Yankees know that readying Pettitte for the playoffs is their primary concern, but getting there might become an issue. The club is locked in a battle with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East while the Red Sox just won’t die. Boston is sitting 5.5 games out of first — six on the loss side — with 12 games left against the Rays and Yankees. The Bombers have their work cut out for them, but do they have the pitching pieces they need?

After last night’s game, Dustin Moseley’s immediate role on the team is hazy at best. He threw what I would call an adequate five innings against the Detroit Tigers. I’m willing to forgive him the two home runs to Miguel Cabrera, but after a reasonably strong start, Moseley faded by the fifth. He threw a bunch of change-ups, sinkers and curveballs, but with only a four-mile-per-hour separation between the change and fastball. He hit 90 only a few times and topped it just once. His stuff is mediocre at best.

For Moseley, his biggest problem is that he doesn’t miss bats. Tigers’ hitters swung and missed at just eight of his 84 pitches last night, and despite a 3-2 record, he has an ERA of 4.76 and an unimpressive 19:14 K:BB ratio in 39.2 innings. He’s also allowed a whopping nine home runs and now has a FIP of 6.15. I know he pitched a gem against the Red Sox, but would anyone really trust him in a key spot right now?

And of course the Bombers still have their Phil Hughes problem. The youngster takes the mound this afternoon with 134.2 innings under his belt and a season limit believed to be around 175. As Larry Brooks of The Post notes, Pettitte’s injury is impinging on the Yanks’ plans for Hughes. The team doesn’t expect to pull Hughes from the rotation and certainly won’t do so with Pettitte out. But they could be risking a big jump in Phil’s innings if the Red Sox continue to put pressure on the AL East leaders and Pettitte’s injury lingers.

At this point in the season, the Yankees have few options. Shadowing Moseley at AAA, Ivan Nova gave up a run on five hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out seven but walked four, and with a 12-3 ERA with a 2.86 ERA, he could be in line for a few Bronx starts. His Minor League equivalences before last night show a FIP of 4.78 and an unimpressive 1.6 K:BB rate.

For now, then, the Yanks will move ahead with a hole in their rotation. They’re probably rely on the bullpen to get 12 outs if Phil Hughes is pitching in some blowouts, and they’re cross their fingers that Andy gets well soon and that his replacement can keep a lid on the runs. After all, as Brian Cashman said after last night’s win, “You can’t replace Andy Pettitte.”

Yanks offense explodes again, down Tigers 9-5

The games are always more fun when the offense comes alive. Last night’s game wasn’t perfect, but every time the Tigers even tried to make it interesting the offense came back and put it further out of reach. Chad Gaudin, in what is probably his last appearance for the Yankees, tried to make things interesting, but Robertson bailed him out. After the dust settled and the bullpen was emptied, the Yanks had secured their second win of the series.

Biggest Hit: Don’t give Teixeira a pitch like that…

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

…He might just crush it. Jeremy Bonderman didn’t look so hot at the start of this one. His first pitch caught Brett Gardner on the calf, though that might have been retaliation for Gardner’s slide on Monday night, which put Carlos Guillen in a bodybag on the DL. Bonderman then got Jeter to strike out swinging, though the two called strikes were pretty borderline and Jeter took a poor swing at ball two. That brought up Teixeira, who took two pitches that looked out of the zone, though the first was called a strike. I dunno, maybe that angered him or something.

Or maybe Bonderman just threw a horrible pitch. It was a changeup that didn’t get down far enough. Tex clobbered it, sending it into the second deck for his 27th home run of the year. That’s not a bad total for a guy who is hitting far below his normal level on the season. Robinson Cano wasted little time in extending the lead, hitting an inside fastball over the right field wall for his second home run in as many games. Offense? Game on.

Honorable Mention: Pena triples

If Ramiro Pena triples, chances are it’s going to feature prominently in the recap. It helps that it was the second-largest WPA swing of the game, giving the chances a 13 percent better chance of winning the game. That came in the fourth, after the Tigers, on the power of two Miguel Cabrera home runs, had cut the lead to 3-2. Pena came up with Austin Kearns on first base and hit the ball with precision. It landed and rolled in a way that prevented both Ryan Raburn and Austin Jackson from fielding it before it rolled to the wall. Combine that with them rightfully playing Pena shallow and it was an easy triple and RBI.

The very next batter, Brett Gardner, did something similar, splitting the center and left fielders for a double of his own. This is one reason I like the Yankees offense so much: precision and power. They can manufacture runs and they cudgel a team. Either way they score more runs than any other team in the league.

That Miguel Cabrera

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Thankfully, neither of Miguel Cabrera’s home runs hurt the Yankees tonight. Which is perfect. Before the season I did a FanGraphs podcast with Dave Cameron where we exchanged predictions. He had Josh Hamilton as AL MVP, I had Miguel Cabrera. His pick was more of a reach at the time, and he’s probably winning. I just thought Cabrera was going to have a monster comeback year, creating an excellent story following his drunken antics at the end of last season.

After his 2 for 3, two-homer night Cabrera sits at .340/.433/.644, which trails Hamilton only in BA. He also now leads the AL in RBI with 98; A-Rod has 97. In many years a .340 BA with 30 HR and 98 RBI might start a Triple Crown watch, but Cabrera is seven homers behind Jose Bautista and is 16 points behind in BA. He could still take the triple crown of, I dunno, RBI, walks, and OBP. In any case, it’s always nice to watch a player like that at work when he’s not causing your team to lose.

Miscellany

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Gaudin again brought into question why he’s on this team. Aceves could be back tomorrow. Roster move? I’m not sure, only because of the depth issue.

Could Ivan Nova, who had another excellent game in AAA, take Moseley’s next turn in the rotation? They’d line up.

Another game, another homer for Curtis Granderson. That’s three now since the Kansas City series. That’s now 9 for 26 (.346) with three walks (.414 OBP), two doubles, and three homers (.769 SLG).

Two more walks gives Cano 44 on the season. He’s already five up on his previous career high, and in 160 fewer PA. That puts him on pace for 58 walks, which would be more than his last two seasons combined.

Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood: good deadline pickups.

Graph and box

A couple of dents, sure, but man is that line moving in the right direction.

More at FanGraphs. And here’s the box score.

Up Next

Getaway day, which only happens when the Yanks are home. Phil Hughes could use a good start after the Yanks emptied the bullpen. He’ll face Rick Porcello at 1 tomorrow afternoon.

Warren steals the show in action-packed night

Update: A trio of prospects are Staten Island-bound. Gary Sanchez, Cito Culver and, as expected, the recently-signed Rob Segedin have been promoted to Short Season Staten Island. Segedin blasted his first career home run earlier tonight. With these call-ups, the Staten Island roster just became much more interesting. Their season runs through the first weekend in September; catch ‘em while you can.

I’m away for a little mini-vacation, so you’re getting bullet points until I get back on Monday…