The Yanks got some good news yesterday, as Hideki Matsui’s knee showed signs of improvement after having it drained over the weekend. Joe Girardi even says that he might take BP sometime this week, which would indicate a better-than-expected forecast for the DH. He’s eligible to come off the DL on July 8, so you can count on him staying there until at least after the All-Star break. He’ll have to prove he can run on it first, and the Yanks figure to remain cautious in dealing with this. · (19) ·
While the Yanks’ offense looked absurdly uninspired last night, the Power of the ‘Stache was out in full force. Jason Giambi tripled for just the second time as a Yankee. The first came in the fifth inning of a 10-5 Yankee win over the Blue Jays on July 7, 2002, nearly six years ago to the day. I’ve always said that for Giambi to hit a triple, an outfielder would have to fall over, and that’s exactly what happened last night. The Big G sure flashed the wheels legging that one into third. Too bad the Yanks couldn’t plate that run. · (4) ·
Why am I writing the game wrap? Because I’m not the one who blew the game last night.
Tonight presented another clear case of why a pitcher’s win-loss record tells us very little. Mike Mussina pitched admirably — six innings, two runs, five hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts — yet was tagged with the loss. His record, now 10-6, seems good, but that doesn’t quite tell the story of Moose’s season. He’s provided more than anyone had expected, so much so that we say something to this effect nearly every time he takes the mound. Last year, we were imagining where we would have been without A-Rod. This year, we’re asking the same question of Moose.
The pull-your-hair-out Yankees offense played predictably tonight. One might think that the Yankees offense, even without Matsui, should school a pitcher with a 4.60 ERA and a 3:2 K/BB ratio. Anyone who watches the games, though, knows that this is like the story your great uncle Chaz tells you over and over again; it gets worse every single time. What’s worse is that this time they also failed to score against a bullpen ranked next to last in the AL in ERA, and dead last in walks. So it only makes sense that they issue none of either to the Yankees.
We did get to see Brett Gardner‘s blazing speed at work, including his first major league stolen base. Here’s to many more. He should be in the starting lineup tomorrow; Cashman has said that he wants Gardner getting regular playing time, so it appears either Damon will DH, or Melky will take a day off. It depends on whether Girardi wants to give Wilson Betemit some at bats. If it is Damon at DH, here’s to hoping that a lineup going Melky-Gardner-Damon can light up the basepaths.
This one should be easy to put behind us. While it’s frustrating to sit through such a grueling offensive experience, we have Joba tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll ever not get geeked up before his starts. Kevin Millwood, who isn’t having quite the year he imagined or the Rangers expected, is on the other side. Hey! We’ve seen him before! Maybe we can muster more than four freakin’ hits.
Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Buffalo, walk-off style) SWB scored 4 in the bottom of the 9th to get the win
Chris Basak: 0 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K – walk-off sac fly
Jason Lane: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
Juan Miranda: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 BB – 18 for his last 45 (.400)
Shelley: 0 for 4, 2 K - 7 for his last 40 (.175)
Cody Ransom: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K – led off the 9th with a walk, triggering the comeback
Eric Duncan: 3 for 4, 1 R
JD Closser: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI – hit a 3-R HR in the 9th to tie the game up
Nick Green: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB – scored the winning run after drawing a walk & going from first-to-third on a Greg Porter single
Dan McCutchen: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 6-7 GB/FB – 68 of 103 pitches were strikes (66.0%)
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K – 25 of 44 pitches were strikes (56.8%) … scheduled to start Friday
So we’re just a little excited about the debut of Brett Gardner. While no reasonable person thinks he’ll be the savior to the season, it’s always nice when a prospect, who is performing well, gets a promotion. And at the same time, he’s out there auditioning. We’re well aware of Melky’s poor May (.234/.270/.319) and poorer June (.212/.297/.263). Now he knows that his job is not guaranteed.
To make room for Gardner in the leadoff spot, Justin Christian was option to AAA, and Johnny Damon gets the night off. No word as I type this on the 40-man roster move, but one has to figure it’s either Wang or Hughes being moved to the 60-day DL. Update: Steward was designated. To jump off on a tangent:
Eventually, a number of players are going to have to be removed from the 60-day DL. Humberto Sanchez has started rehabbing in games, meaning he’s on a clock. Brian Bruney starts throwing in games this week or next, meaning he’ll have a limited time to be moved back to the active roster. With J.B. Cox a likely addition to the team later on this year, and with Scott Strickland pushing a promotion, they’ll have to find yet another 40-man spot. While Chad Moeller and Chris Stewart are likely casualties, the Yanks will need a few more spots. My short list:
With Moeller and Stewart, that’s eight guys the Yanks could cut and I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Anyone else you guys would consider? I thought about adding Jeff Marquez, but I’d clearly rather keep him, and with eight guys on the list figured it was enough.
Back to Gardner, here are some interesting numbers, courtesy of our own Mike A.:
- He’s been on base 26 times in his last 10 games — 11 hits and 15 walks — with 9 stolen bases.
- His .412 OBP is second in the International League, trailing only a 35-year-old Andy Tracy by .001.
- In the 80 games he’s appeared for the SWB Yanks — including games where he entered late with a pinch hitting appearance — he has failed to reach base in five games. One of those was an 0 for 1 game as a pinch hitter. Is that freakin’ insane or what?
So, clearly, if he doesn’t go 4 for 4 with three stolen bases and an inside the park job, his debut will be a complete failure.
1. Brett Gardner, LF — felt sooooo awesome to type that
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Jorge Posada, DH
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Melky Cabrera, CF
9. Jose Molina, C
And on the mount, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.
Posted by mobile phone: As we reported last night, the Yanks have called up Brett Gardner. They finally released the corresponding move as Justin Christian has been optioned back to AAA. Gardner is leading off tonight in left field, Joe will have more on the newest Yankee later on in the game thread. · (28) ·
Shawn Chacon throws his GM to the ground, and gets released without pay. Manny Ramirez pushes a club official to the ground, and it’s just Manny being Manny. I fully understand the difference in status between the two players, but that shouldn’t matter when you physically assault someone. What if you or I pushed someone at work to the ground like that? What a bunch of crap. · (109) ·
Maury Brown takes a look at the final All Star balloting update prior to the official announcement of the big game’s rosters. While Joe Mauer is maintaining a lead over Jason Varitek, Ian Kinsler has still not yet caught up with the undeserving Dustin Pedroia. Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon remain on the outside looking in while Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are on pace to be the only two Yankee starters at the Mid-Summer Classic. · (14) ·
Posted by mobile phone: The Yanks have flip-flopped Mike Mussina and Joba Chamberlain in the rotation. Following last Thursday’s rain-shortened outing, Mussina will throw tonight againts the Rangers and Saturday against the Red Sox. The Yanks’ emerging ace will get an extra day off and throw tomorrow and Sunday night on ESPN. I’m sad because I have tickets tonight and wanted to see Joba. But it’s hard to argue with an extra day off. Hopefully Moose won’t mind the short rest after a short outing. · (28) ·
As the saying goes, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So pardon me while I throw proverbial wisdom out the window.
Yesterday afternoon, the Yanks’ first fifth starter – one of the three they have in their rotation – took the mound against the Mets, and by a baseball fan’s standard accounting, he had himself a pretty decent outing. Darrell Rasner, coming off a few shaky starts, labored through five innings and left the game down 2-0 in the fifth. That’s a completely acceptable line from one of the many back-end starters on the Yanks, right?
Well, sure, if you don’t look too closely.
On the day, Rasner allowed eight hits and walked three in five innings. The Mets’ inability to get that one big hit kept him and the Yankees in the game longer than anyone would expect with those numbers. And therein lies the rub. While more than two base runners an inning won’t kill a pitcher against the relatively punchless Mets, Rasner won’t always be so lucky, and many of the better AL teams would light him up.
Every time Rasner heads out to the mound, the Yankees are walking a tightrope of inevitability, and in June, the wheels came off in a big way. On the month, Rasner was 1-5 with a 6.47 ERA in six starts. He allowed 58 baserunners in 32 innings for a WHIP of 1.81 and lost to such powerhouses as the Royals, Pirates and A’s.
But through thick and thin right now, the Yankees are stuck with Rasner. While the team would be okay relying on him as a fifth starter behind four other top-line pitchers, the reality is that the Yanks have three good starters and a gaping hole at the end. Here, we see the lasting impact of Chien-Ming Wang‘s and Phil Hughes‘ injuries. Here, we see how the Yanks are getting burned by Ian Kennedy’s ineffectiveness and the Yankees’ brass challenge to him to pitch his way back through the system. With these breaks, the Yanks are relying on a collection of fifth starters – Rasner, Sidney Ponson, Dan Giese – to fill two rotation spots for the time being.
On Friday, the Yanks saw Ponson go through the same high wire act. He pitched six scoreless innings but had put on nine baserunners in the game’s first four innings. I hate to rock the proverbial boat when the results belie the outcome, but the Yanks can’t expect to see themselves in close games if their back-end starters are allowing two or more opposing hitters to reach base each innings. That’s just playing with fire. Other than keeping their collective fingers crossed, the Yanks better come up with a solution and fast. They can easily overcome a 5.5 game deficit, but they can’t afford to watch more ground slip away.
And speaking of rocking the boat…
Today’s lineup was something of a mystery, and as Mike said to me this afternoon, is anyone surprised that the Yanks managed to score just one run?
The Yanks, facing a lefty tough on lefties, put up one of their worst lineups of the season. The outfield featured Justin Christian; the infield Wilson Betemit and Jose Molina. Missing were three of the team’s hottest hitters: Robinson Cano (10 for his last 22 with 2 HR), Bobby Abreu (11 for his last 23 but 0 for 10 against Perez) and Jason Giambi (8 for his last 23). Sitting this lefty triumvirate hurt the team. While I know Joe Girardi didn’t want to see his lefty bats flailing against a tough southpaw, perhaps that was a boat better left unrocked and a close game lost that could have been won.
A promotion but what demotion?
According to The Times and Democrat, a local paper from South Carolina, Brett Gardner has been called up to the Bronx. He will be in uniform for tonight’s Yankees-Rangers game. I don’t yet know what the corresponding roster move will be. We’ll have an update when we know.