So what’s the more remarkable accomplishment here? Kyle Farnsworth hasn’t allowed a hit in 28 batters. Robinson Cano is hitting .522 since the All Star break. The Yankees are 3.5 games out of first for the first time since May 14.
What a run these last few days have been. Since the All Star break, the Yankees are 5-0, and they’re rapidly gaining ground in the AL East. They’ve outscored their opponents by a combined total of 33-11, and just four teams have better records than they do in the American League. Ain’t baseball grand?
Tonight, the story was Darrell Rasner. On a night when Al Aceves, throwing on a limited pitch count, pitched well enough in AAA, Rasner saved his rotation spot for a few more outings. While he didn’t draw the win — that honor was reserved for David Robertson — Rasner went 5.2 innings and kept the Yanks in the game. He gave up four hits and a few too many walks (4), but with the help of two double plays, he held the Twins to two runs. As the Yanks’ fifth starter, Rasner delivered, and with a win, we couldn’t really ask for anything more.
Once Rasner left, the bats — largely slowed for five innings by Kevin Slowey — took over. Bobby Abreu put the Yanks up for good with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. Robinson Cano delivered another pair of hits and two RBIs while Jeter drove in two and A-Rod picked up a few more hits. When the dust settled, the Yanks walked away with this one by the tune of 8-2. With a Tampa loss, all was right in Yankeeland.
While Rasner held his own to start the game, the bullpen once again threw lights out baseball. Four relievers combined for 3.1 innings of one-hit ball. Robertson, Jose Veras, Farnsworth and Dan Giese struck out five, walked one and slammed the door on the Twins. Since the break — a familiar phrase during this recent hot streak — the bullpen has thrown 16.2 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out 25. At some point the pen will falter, but Brian Cashman‘s plan is clearly working at the back-end of games. I hate to say it, but I no longer cower in fear when the starters are removed the Yanks’ ace corps of relievers take over.
The Yanks face the Twins tomorrow, and Mike — our good luck charm — will have the game thread. The Bombers are going for a sweep and a perfect home stand to start the second half. Mike Mussina will take the mound, and standing in the Yankees’ way will be Glen Perkins, a tough lefty.
But, hey, these are the Yankees. They’re just getting started, and we should all be glad they didn’t torpedo the team earlier this year when things were looking bleak. Baseball is a marathon; the second leg is only just under way.
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Richmond)
Cody Ransom: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – 3 straight games with a jack
Chris Stewart: 3 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 E (throwing)
Greg Porter: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
rest of lineup: combined 0 for 17, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HBP – Eric Duncan drew a walk & was hit by a pitch
Al Aceves: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K – 43 of 65 pitches were strikes (66.2%) … taken out after strugging through the 2nd and 3rd innings
Steven White: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 8-1 GB/FB – 17 of 34 pitches were strikes (50%)
JB Cox: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
Brian Bruney: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K – schedule to pitch tomorrow night as well
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
It’s hasn’t been pretty and it certainly hasn’t been textbook, but the Yanks have managed to trim a full three games off the division and Wildcard deficit since the All-Star Break. As the season hits the century mark in terms of games played, take solace in the fact that only five teams in the AL have a better winning percentage than the Yanks. By the end of the night that number could be down to just four.
The Twinkies managed to push a run across in the 9th inning last night, so this is another test for Joe’s yet to be unproven theory that if a team is being blown out and they score in the final innings, they’ll carry that momentum into the next game for a win. Tonight would be a great night to disprove that theory.
Kevin Slowey’s been pounded his last two starts, but that means diddly squat tonight. Yes, I just said diddly squat.
1. Damon, DH – so much for that 0-fer I was talking about yesterday
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Cano, 2B
7. Cabrera, CF
8. Moeller, C
9. Gardner, LF
And on the mound, Darrell “From Waiver Claim to Yankee Fame” Rasner.
Notes: Rasner is 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA when Moeller catches him, 2-5 with a 6.87 ERA when anyone else is behind the dish … Dan Giese has pitched one inning in the last 19 days … Triple-A reliever Steven White is missing … Melky Cabrera has a 70 OPS+ this month, his second highest monthly mark behind April (135)
Jeremy Olshan and Rebecca Rosenberg, two of the New York Post’s more reliable reporters, penned an interesting story on Yankee Stadium security that showed up in Alexander Hamilton’s former newspaper this morning. The Yankees, in light of the recent heat wave and sun advisories, have taken to confiscating sunscreen containers from fans claiming these bottles pose a terrorist threat to Yankee Stadium.
Guards had advised patrons to apply sunscreen outside and then hand over the bottles. Inside the stadium, fans can get a one-ounce bottle of SPF 15 sunscreen for a whopping $5. With dermatologists calling out the Yankees and the Post noting the hypocrisy of the team in light of MLB’s Play Sun Smart anti-skin cancer initiative, the team has since caved to common sense and will now allow sunscreen into the stadium.
In light of the inherent absurdity of the situation — Sunscreen as a terrorist weapon? Really? — and the obvious commercial benefit that the Yankees enjoy by forcing their fans to buy sunscreen at a mark-up of nearly 100 percent, the Yankees come out of this dust-up looking pretty chintzy. They were confiscating sunblock at a time when people need the most and providing an inferior product at a higher price inside. While scientists made be debating the effectiveness of these sunblocks, we still the skin protection.
Never before had sunblock been an issue, and it just shouldn’t have happened at Yankee Stadium. We can take in water; we can take in sunblock. We’re baseball fans, not prisoners, and whichever official signed off on this decision should bear the brunt this bad publicity.
* * *
In a similar vein, today’s story reminded me of something that happened to me recently at Yankee Stadium. Last week at the Home Run Derby, I picked up a few clear plastic bags for my stuff. I always double-bag them at Yankee Stadium because the free bags they hand out are rather cheap and flimsy.
When I returned to the Stadium the next night for the All Star Game, the security guard looked at my bag — my supposedly clear plastic bags from the night before — and told me I had to take my stuff out of those bags and put it into clear plastic bags. These bags, sort of gray and not very transparent, weren’t clear enough for her. I told her, “These are your clear plastic bags I got here last night.” Her reply: “Oh. That’s not so good.”
I had a second bag with me that had some water in it. That bag was a perfectly transparent bag from the Fan Fest – the DHL All Star Fan Fest. The security guards made me take my stuff out of that bag and put it into some of the less clear plastic bags. Lesson: Plastic bags distributed by Yankee Stadium security are not clear enough for those very same security guards one night later.
Trust me: I understand that we live an age in which we have to be careful. I’ve lived in New York City my entire life, and I, like everyone else, has felt the emotional impact of a terrorist attack. But at some point, we have to draw the line between absurd security measures and practical responses to real threats.
It’s bad enough that the Yanks don’t allow fans to bring in tote bags or small backpacks, but when security guards start questioning the validity of the clear plastic bags, perhaps it’s time to start rethinking the security measures. When tubes of sunblock on overwhelmingly sunny days become security threats (or is that a business threat?), perhaps a level head should step in and assess the situation. Are the Yankees really this absurd?
Last night, Jarrod Washburn faced the Boston Red Sox. He didn’t beat them, but he kept them in check for 5.2 innings. Today, Washburn finds himself the subject of some Buster Olney-inspired trade rumors. The Seattle lefty, owed $13.6 million before the end of 2009, could be a good fit for the Yankees, and according to the ESPN scribe, a possible trade would involve Kei Igawa, a secondary prospect and large sums of money heading from New York to the northwest. While, according to the Seattle Times, the Yanks — and anyone with any baseball sense — would prefer A.J. Burnett, Washburn wouldn’t be a bad choice. He’s a lefty with success in Yankee Stadium and a 2.65 ERA over his last 51 innings. This is, of course, just a rumor, but it’s an intriguing one nonetheless. · (114) ·
Maybe a few more Yankees should think about signing with hot-shot talent agencies. A few hours after word got out that A-Rod had inked a deal with the powerful William Morris Agency, the Yanks’ third baseman kicked off a 12-run rout of the Twins with a two-run home run in the first.
Word of the deal first broke in the Wall Street Journal last night. Matthew Futterman’s article, available here only for WSJ subscribers, talks about A-Rod’s decision to sign up yet another management company:
The decision reflects the growing importance of Hollywood in athletes’ attempts to turn themselves into enduring brand names that can attract corporate sponsorships in addition to their big-ticket employment contracts. Major agencies, meanwhile, see star athletes as a growth niche. As TV ratings dwindle and movie box-office stagnates, sports-rights fees and the value of sports teams are growing. The marketing prowess of golfer Tiger Woods has become the envy of celebrity handlers…
For Mr. Rodriguez, the move marks the latest turn in his relationship with Scott Boras, one of baseball’s most successful and controversial agents. It was Mr. Boras’s decision to announce during last year’s World Series that Mr. Rodriguez would opt out of his contract with the Yankees. That move dented the future Hall of Famer’s reputation and forced him to pursue a new deal directly with Yankees brass.
Mr. Boras, who has represented Mr. Rodriguez throughout his career, said he will continue to represent the slugger in any baseball-related negotiations. “I do Alex’s baseball work,” Mr. Boras said Monday. Now, with what is likely the final contract of his sports career complete, Mr. Rodriguez is turning to William Morris to burnish his image as an athlete with appeal beyond his sport.
Right now, while A-Rod is one of the highest paid players in any sport with a guaranteed contract of at least $275 million over the next ten years, he lags in endorsement deals. According to Bloomberg News, A-Rod earns just $6 million a year in endorsements, putting him 20th on a recent Sports Illustrated list of top-grossing athletes by endorsements.
The agency, with offices in New York, LA, Nashville and London, will look to expand the reach of the A-Rod image, and the Yanks’ slugger, destined for the Hall one day, will also see his earnings reach new heights. It’s just another day in As The A-Rod Turns.
In 2007, Jorge Posada acted as a savior to the Yankees. A career .271/.376/.473 hitter heading into his walk year, Georgie exploded, hitting .338/.426/.543, all career highs at the age of 35. That earned him a fat four-year, $52.4 million deal. This year, he’s proving to be a difference maker, just in a negative sort of way. Not that we can expect those numbers out of Posada every year. It’s just that his hot bat is sorely missed in this lineup. That Jose Molina, owner of a .240/.277/.340 career line, is replacing him in the lineup is no consolation.
To state the obvious, the Yankees have two choices here. They can either stand pat with Jose Molina and Chad Moeller handling the backstop duties, or they can go out and get someone. Neither is ideal. Molina and Moeller, while fine defensively, will only add to the Yankees bottom-of-the-order woes. This might indicate that the Yankees will explore the trade market. Considering their other needs, combined with the poor catcher’s market, they might not find that the best option, either.
Let’s look at some of MLB Trade Rumors’s list of available backstops:
- Gerald Laird. He’s been on the DL since June 20 with a hamstring injury. Before that, though, he was hitting well prior to that. The Rangers, just three back of the Yankees in the loss column, might not be sellers at this point. Considering the ineffectiveness of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, they might want to reinstall Laird as their starter upon his return.
- Bengie Molina. While not quite as bad as his brother, Bengie is having himself a craptastic season. Brian Sabean has said that he’s not looking to deal the eldest Molina.
- Gregg Zaun or Rod Barajas. I doubt Ricciardi would deal them in-division without the Yanks paying a premium. Which they shouldn’t. Maybe, if on the off-chance that they swing a Burnett deal, they try to get one of them as a throw-in. Other than that, I can’t see this happening.
- Miguel Olivo. Aside from a half-season in San Diego in 2005, he hasn’t been very impressive at all. A little pop, sure. You could do worse, I’m sure. But what’s the upgrade going to cost? I think that’s what we’re asking with all of these options.
- Yorvit Torrealba. Don’t know how he got his contract, though he doesn’t seem to deserve it. Hitting like crap in a hitter’s park. Pass, and then pass again.
- Paul LoDuca. Sorry. Just had to type it here for the laughs.
- Ronny Paulino. Unless Pittsburgh is giving him away, I don’t think the Yanks would/should give up much. He’s had some good years in the minors, and was tearing the place up upon his demotion this year. But he’s been on the shelf since June 17, so even bringing up his name might be moot.
- Josh Bard. Let’s talk about him.
You might remember Josh Bard from such trades as Cla Meredith and Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli. It was only fair, really, since Kevin Towers had gotten shafted when trading Mirabelli for Mark Loretta just a few months prior. Bard exploded upon reaching San Diego, hitting .338/.406/.537 over 263 plate appearances. He was good in 2007 as well, turning in a .285/.364/.404 line over 443 plate appearances. Even better, he hit .330/.386/.456 when away from the cavernous Petco Park.
He got off to a horrible start this year, one of Molinian proportions. After carrying a .200/.278/.262 line through May 21, he hit the DL with an ankle injury. He’s currently rehabbing in the minors, though it hasn’t gone all well. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and a homer on Sunday, but that’s been his only hit in 12 plate appearances for AAA Portland. Manager Bud Black says Bard should be activated this week.
While it would be nice to go with Bard/Molina, rather than Molina/Moeller, there are still problems with this scenario. While John Perrotto reports that Bard will be on the block, the Yankees might not have what the Padres are after. The Padres have been interested in Kei Igawa in the past, but would that work one-for one? For what it’s worth, Bard has another year of arbitration eligibility.
Anyone else have any ideas? Anyone familiar enough with the Padres to have an idea of what they might be after? I honestly think that if we’re looking outside for help behind the plate, Bard is the one and only guy to consider.
While Monday’s news of the day was Jorge Posada and his injured shoulder, the other injured Yankee cog made a decision about his immediate future. According to the four-letter, Hideki Matsui will not undergo surgery yet and will attempt another rehab on his knee. More important, however, is this news that doctors have recommended that he go under the knife and that Brian Cashman is not optimistic that Matsui will rejoin the club any time soon. This will be the last rehab attempt before surgery, and I don’t expect to see Godzilla back in the Bronx this season. · (36) ·
Tonight in Kansas City, Jimmy Gobble took one for the team. He had the distinct pleasure of allowing all ten runs the Tigers scored in the eighth inning. He walked four and allowed seven hits en route to a singularly bad outing.
Every time Sidney Ponson takes the mound, I half expect that to happen, and one night, it will. It may not be his next start which happens to fall against — gulp — the Red Sox, but it will come. Tonight, Ponson managed to win yet another game for the Yanks. He went 5.2 innings and allowed his customary 11 base runners. Somehow, he has to keep up that 1.94 WHIP.
The Twins, however, managed to plate just three runs. Ponson got his double play when he needed it most and managed to escape serious harm throughout the evening. It’s a rather tense high-wire act, and as long as the Yanks can score 12 runs every five days, he’ll be fine. But one night, it’s going to all come crashing down in a Jimmy Gobble-like mess of base runners and runs. I’m not looking forward to that.
But Ponson pontifications aside, the Yanks just kept doing what they do best these days: They won at home for the eighth time in a row. Their last home loss came on July 4th when today’s starter Darrell Rasner took the L in a game against Boston.
Offensively, everyone except Jason Giambi hit. Robinson Cano continued his torrid July with two hits including his eighth home run of the year. He’s up to .260 and should see his OBP climb over .300 soon. Small victories, right? A-Rod and Derek both picked up a pair of hits and a home run apiece, and the new starting catcher Jose Molina went three for four.
After the team was through hitting, the bullpen took over once again, and I can’t say enough about the pen. Edwar Ramirez pitched out of a pickle and now hasn’t allowed a hit in over nine innings, and over his last nine games covering 11.1 innings, Ramirez has allowed one hit and two walks while striking out 16. That’s phenomenal. With his scoreless inning tonight, David Robertson has now gone 11 innings with seven hits, four walks and 14 strike outs. We’ve seen Brian Cashman‘s bullpen plan come together perfectly recently, and it couldn’t have come at a better.
For a night, the offense made us forget about Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. The bullpen made us overlook another two-base-runners-per-inning outing from Sidney Ponson. And the score made us yearn for a few more home games as Yankee Stadium continues to refuse to yield its magic to the ballpark slowing arising across the street. This, folks, is turning into a pennant race. Would we have it any other way?
The uninspiring Austin Jackson was named the Eastern League Offensive Player of the Week thanks to his .643 BA. Phil Coke was named EL Pitcher of the Week. Allowing 5 hits with 21 strikeouts in 14 IP will earn you that honor. Brian Baisley won NY-Penn League Offensive Player of the Week honors, but he’s the oldest position player in the league, roughly 6 years older than league average.
TPA posted their Midseason Top 10 Yankees’ Prospects. Hard to argue with that list, very well put together.
Remember, the number in parenthesis following a player’s name is the round he was selected in if he was an ’08 draftee.
Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Richmond)
Alberto Gonzalez & Nick Green: both 0 for 4, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Matt Carson: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – threw a runner out at come from CF … OPS’ing over .860 this year
Juan Miranda: 0 for 4, 2 K
Cody Ransom: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – 17 homers this year
Ben Broussard: 2 for 3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB
Chris Stewart: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Kei Igawa: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 7-10 GB/FB – 69 of 107 pitches were strikes (64.5%)
Chris Britton: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – 10 of 11 pitches were strikes (90.9%)
Billy Traber: 0.1 IP, zeroes
Steven Jackson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K