Despite his early season struggles and his being overshadowed by Joba, Phil Hughes is still very much a part of the Yankees’ futures plans. As Brian Cashman tells Tyler Kepner over on the Bats blog, the Yanks still consider Hughes an untouchable. While Hughes won’t return to the Bronx until early August, the Yanks weren’t about to trade Phil for Johan Santana, and they won’t part with him to land C.C. Sabathia. So all you haters are just going to have to deal for a little longer. · (44) ·
Despite winning three of four games and seemingly turning things around a bit, Willie Randolph got the ax this morning. The Mets finally fired Willie and his two of his coaches. Perhaps the Yanks can find a spot for the man shouldering all too much of the blame for the Mets’ poor play this year. · (72) ·
Lost in all the talk about Chien-Ming Wang‘s injury yesterday was the outcome of Sunday’s game. In it, the Yankee offense erupted for 13 runs, and the Yanks’ team MVP Alex Rodriguez was right there in the thick of things.
On the day, A-Rod was 3 for 5 with a home run, three RBIs and a walk. That performance, his second three-hit game in two days, raised his season totals to .326/.411/.603. By the end of the week, A-Rod will have enough plate appearances to qualify for the AL leaderboards, and when he does, he’ll be in top five in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. His 12 home runs has him just outside the top 10.
Even more amazing are A-Rod’s numbers since coming off the DL. In 26 games, the Yanks are 17-9, and A-Rod — along with Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon — has led the way. Rodriguez is hitting .366/.470/.710 with 8 home runs — and a ninth that went over the fence but was incorrectly ruled in play — over 93 at bats. He’s even stolen five bases in six tries.
At this point, it’s hard to overstate Alex Rodriguez’s importance to the Yankees. Since coming back, he’s changed the dynamic of the lineup, and that quad injury was just as damning to the Yanks’ early goings as the struggles of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Meanwhile, with A-Rod hitting ahead of him, Jason Giambi is just as hot, hitting .364/.467/.701 since Alex’s return for the DL. What a powerhouse combination.
Yesterday, ESPN.com published an eTicket story by Tom Friend about A-Rod’s close friendship with Pete Rose. Baseball’s all-time hits leader has been coaching A-Rod both mentally and physically as he’s continued to mash the ball in New York City, and I can’t say I mind having Rose, one of the game’s best hitters ever, help A-Rod, one of the game’s best hitters and most tortured souls, keep his head in the game.
In the end, as A-Rod mashes, I keep coming back to October and November when we were ready to move on without Alex. Where would the Yankees be today if Alex Rodriguez had truly jumped the ship? The answer is not a pretty one.
Short Season Staten Island kicks off their season tomorrow, and you can see their roster here. Shot in the dark, I’ll say Nick Chigges gets the ball on Opening Day. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to seeing what Pat Venditte can do. The Rookie GCL Yanks start their season this Thursday, but their roster hasn’t been posted yet.
Triple-A Scranton (10-0 beatdown at the hands of Norfolk)
Brett Gardner & Eric Duncan: both 1 for 4, 1 K – Duncan doubled
Justin Christian & Nick Green: both 2 for 4 – Christian stole a base … Green doubled & K’ed
Cody Ransom & JD Closser: both 0 for 3, 1 BB – Ransom was caught stealing
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 2, 2 BB, 1 K
Juan Miranda: 0 for 4, 2 K- out since May 18th with a shoulder injury
Matt Carson: 0 for 4, 1 K
Jeff Karstens: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5-5 GB/FB – 55 of 85 pitches were strikes (64.7%) … could he be a candidate to fill Wang’s spot? Man I sure hope not…
Heath Phillips: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1 K
Steven White: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2 HB, 1E (pickoff) – 21 of 49 pitches were strikes (42.9%) … he’s allowed 71 baserunners & 35 earned runs in his last 30.1 IP … he’s been beyond terrible, not even worthy of the NOFX reference anymore
Scott Patterson: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – allowed all 3 inherited runners to score
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
So let’s leave our Wang problems alone for a few hours. There are only so many times in one day we can discuss Wang anyway. Instead, let’s turn our attention a few miles south and east of Yankee Stadium, and let’s visit the Yanks’ bumbling co-inhabitants of the New York City baseball universe.
Heading in the 2008 season, the New York Mets and their fans had high expectations. While they were coming off an epic last-season collapse that saw them lose the NL East to the Phillies on the final day of the season, their off-season acquisition of Johan Santana as well as the return of Pedro Martinez had the Shea Faithful feeling pretty good about the team’s chances in the final season in the House that Robert Moses Built.
But things haven’t worked out as planned. Sixty-eight games into the season, the Mets find themselves at a disappointing 33-35, 6.5 games behind the Phillies and treading water in the playoff hunt. While Santana has made a difference — without Johan, this team would be dead and buried — these numbers don’t even begin to tell the full story.
From the get-go, this has been one of those epic bumbling Mets seasons for which this team is famous. They’ve lost countless players to injuries; Carlos Delgado has been terrible; the pitching has been inconsistent; and Billy Wagner has seemingly forgotten how to close out games, blowing four of his last nine save opportunities and three of his last four late-inning appearances. The team also did a marvelous job putting Ryan Church’s career and life at risk by rushing him back from a concussion.
Off the field, things have been no better. Since the Mets rolled into Yankee Stadium in May, Willie Randolph’s job has been hanging by a thread. The Mets’ Front Office has continually declined to give Willie any long-term vote of confidence, but they refuse to flat-out fire him, perhaps recognizing that this team’s poor performance rests more on the shoulders of Omar Minaya than anyone else. It was Minaya, after all, who opted to go with an old team; it was Minaya who didn’t shore up the pitching beyond Johan Santana and a whole bunch of question marks; it was Minaya who milked the farm system dry for the likes of Delgado, Ambiorix Burgos and countless other moves.
Meanwhile, another day has passed with the axe still hanging over Willie’s head but not quite ready to fall. His coaches may be dismissed; his ability to lead this team may be questioned; but no one in the Mets organization is willing to pull the trigger. The fans have noticed too with prominent Mets bloggers calling it a perplexing embarrassment.
So as we Yankee fans leave our troubles behind for a few hours, let’s discuss the Mets. How would you fix the disaster in Queens? Would you fire Randolph? Fire Minaya? Hold a fire sale of usable parts? The Mets can’t really improve through trades this year; they have nothing left. So something must give. What do you do?
Baseball America’s Jim Callis took a question about Yanks’ sandwich rounder Jeremy Bleich in this week’s Ask BA. When asked if Bleich would have been considered a first rounder if not for the elbow strain, Callis replied “he could have been regarded as a consensus sandwich-rounder. He’s a lefty who knows how to pitch with an 88-91 mph fastball, a curveball and changeup, and his changeup grades as his best pitch. I wouldn’t call him a steal in the supplemental first round, but he wasn’t a reach either.” I’ll take it, but the real question is this: can he hold down Wang’s rotation spot? Pretty please? · (13) ·
Take a deep breath, and then read this from the Yankees:
Imaging studies revealed a mid-foot sprain of the Lisfranc ligament of the right foot and a partial tear of the peroneal longus tendon of the right foot.
Wang will be on crutches and wear a protective boot for a minimum of six weeks.
With a rehab period of three to four weeks, Wang won’t be back in a Major League game until late August at the earliest. Considering that Wang hurt his foot while rounding third base yesterday — just the second time ever the Yanks’ ace has ran the bases — this is just terrible, terrible luck for the Yankees.
But they can win without him. Let’s not lose sight of that fact.
What they do in the meantime however with regards to pitching will be speak volumes of the philosophy the Yankees are opting to pursue. Brian Cashman knows as well as anyone else that one of the greatest benefits of a strong farm system is being in a position to acquire Major League talent via a trade, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yanks make a move for some pitcher whether it’s C.C. Sabathia, Derek Lowe or someone completely off our radar.
Meanwhile, the timing of Joba’s move to the rotation could not have been better. Just know that the Yanks have the pieces to weather this storm. Have some faith.
New York’s Landmarks Preservation Committee denied an effort to save the House that Ruth Built a few years ago, but they may be willing to save a house that Babe Ruth may have slept in. The committee is investigating tales that Ruth may have spent some of his retirement at 114-07 175th Street in the St. Albans’ Addisleigh Park section of Queens. · (2) ·
So Chien-Ming Wang is down for what could be a while, a gigantic blow to the Yankees’ playoff aspirations. When discussing replacements, the first name to pop up is CC Sabathia and rightfully so. He’s young, durable, a Cy Young Award winner, a lefty, and a strikeout machine. The problem is that Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro is going to expect a hefty bounty for his hefty ace, again rightfully so. The initial reaction is one of desperation, the “give them whatever it takes” mentality, but Brian Cashman can’t operate like that for obvious reasons.
So what do the Yankees do? Do they mortgage the farm for CC? Do they go with a patchwork rotation until Ian Kennedy and/or Phil Hughes are back, and hope they pitch up to expectations? Do they hope a kid like Alan Horne or Dan McCutchen step up (neither has been particularly impressive in Triple-A)? Has Dan Giese shown enough to be trusted every 5th day? Whatever solution Cash goes with, he’ll be heavily scrutinized. It’s part of being the Yanks’ GM.
While CC is the most desirable option, the price might not be right. Bill Gates didn’t get rich by bending over backwards for IBM, and the Yankees won’t make the playoffs by overpaying for established players, no matter how great they are. Here’s a handful of players that could be had on the cheap, or at least cheaper than Carsten Charles. Fun starts after the jump.
I’ve got two spare Tier Reserve tickets for Tuesday’s game against the San Diego Padres. Game time is 7:05 p.m., and the tickets are $16 a pop. They’re in section four, and the seats are fantastic. You pay via Pay Pal; I’ll send you the PDF file. First come, first serve. E-mail me at the address at left.
Update: The tickets have been claimed. · (15) ·