So the Yanks ended May on a strong note and begin June with a slew of roster moves, both rumored and confirmed. We’ll start with the confirmed.
Morgan Ensberg has been DFA’d to make way for none other than Scott Patterson. After the Yanks’ last few games, the team decided they’d had enough of the ineffective Ensberg and needed some bullpen relief. In 80 plate appearances, Ensberg hit .203/.263/.243, and his term on the Yanks is over.
Meanwhile, as Mark Feinsand notes, Patterson may be up for only a few days. The plan seems to be to move Dan Giese into the long relief role to shadow Joba Chamberlain‘s first few starts. The Yanks were going to opt for Jeff Karstens, but the oft-injured pitcher hurt his groin last night.
Finally, Jorge Posada will be back on the active roster on Wednesday it seems, and the Yanks plan to keep both Jose Molina and Chad Moeller around for a little while. The bench therefore is going to look a little weak for a few days with Molina, Moeller, Wilson Betemit and Shelley Duncan, increasingly looking overmatched in the Majors, filling out the final sports. The Yanks will have to do something soon to beef up that bench, and I don’t think replacing anyone with Alberto Gonzalez is the answer.
Darrell Rasner faces Nick Blackburn this afternoon in a 2 p.m. game. Let’s start June on a winning note.
Last year I represented the Yankees in John Sickel’s mock draft over at Minor League Ball, but this year I decided against it because it was just way too time consuming. Mock drafts are still fun however, so I kept track of who I would have taken in each of the Yanks’ spots. Here’s a little breakdown of my mock mock draft, as well as the picks that were actually made.
Round 1, Pick 28
Mike’s Pick: Robbie Ross, LHP, Lexington Christian Academy (Ky.)
Actual Pick: Zach Collier, OF, Chino Hills HS (Ca.)
Gerrit Cole was off the board, having gone to the Cubbies with the 19th pick. Collier has a ton of helium right now as a toolsy, Austin Jackson type player, and is a very good pick at 28. I went with Ross because, well, I felt he was the best player left on the board. He’s a power lefty with a very good slider and lots of polish. I was really hoping for Illinois prep RHP Jake Ordorizzi, but he went to the Padres at 23. (Ross eventually went to the Royals at #36, and I took him in the sandwich round of the UBBMD)
…and Derek’s too. After another bad start by Chien-Ming Wang — are we allowed to be officially worried after a month of subpar pitching? — the Yanks had to lean heavily on the bullpen, and the arms delivered. Meanwhile, shortly before midnight in New York, with Ross Ohlendorf pitching two good innings, Derek Jeter delivered a huge base hit in his sixth at bat, and Bobby Abreu delivered the go-ahead run. Mr. Automatic needed a whopping 10 pitches to seal the deal, and the Yanks end May on that good note, one huge game above .500. · (66) ·
Mike Ashmore sat down for an interview with Mark Melancon. Don’t miss it.
Triple-A Scranton (5-2 win over Rochester in 10 innings) you may have heard of the opposing pitcher
Brett Gardner & Ben Broussard: both 0 for 4 – Gardner K’ed … Broussard was hit by a pitch
Alberto Gonzalez, Jason LAne & Justin Christian: all 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K – Gonzalez drew walk & was caught stealing … Lane hit a 2-run, go ahead homer in the 10th & walked
Nick Green, Eric Duncan & Chris Stewart: all 2 for 4 – Green doubled, scored a run & K’ed … Duncan drove in a run … Stewart doubled
Jeff Karstens: 4 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 3-6 GB/FB – pulled after 4 IP and only 66 pitches … the thought was that he was coming up for long relief duty, but nope, Chad Jennings says he hurt his groin
Heath Phillips: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 6-4 GB/FB
David Robertson: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 2-0 GB/FB – 47 K in 34.2 IP
The Yanks came into May after a sub-par April. They were 14-15 to start the month and were facing questions about the team. Phil Hughes had gone down; A-Rod had gone down; Jorge Posada had gone down. Things were not looking good.
With all of that baggage, May was a bit of a rocky month for the Yankees, and as recently as nine days ago, the Yanks were facing a very bad month. They were 20-25, and the season was on the precipice of slipping away. But the tide has seemingly turned, and the Yanks find themselves 7-2 over their last nine games.
So here we are on the last day of May, and the Yanks are looking to improve on their April record. They sit at 27-27 and, obviously, need a win tonight to move over .500 for the first time since the end of play on May 5.
The man on the mound is the one you want pitching in search of that win. Chien-Ming Wang, 6-2 with a 3.82 ERA, gets the ball today. He is winless since May 2 and could really use a solid start today. In his career on artificial turf, Wang is 7-3 with a 4.52 ERA. He’s allowed 90 hits in 75.2 innings, a product of his extreme ground ball tendencies. Opponents slug .059 higher off Wang on turf than on grass.
Game Notes: I hate Saturday evening games. They should be outlawed. What’s wrong with playing a regular afternoon game?…The Yanks will call up a long reliever on Tuesday to shadow Joba’s first few starts. As PeteAbe speculates, Jeff Karstens will probably get the call because he’s on the 40-man roster and is a better option than Kei Igawa.
Barring any setback, Jorge Posada will return to the Yankees either on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. In his rehab in extended spring training this afternoon, Posada made two throws to second and said he felt good, just like he knew that he would. With the Yanks on a current streak, getting back their All Star catcher will be an even bigger boost. · (7) ·
When the Dodgers moved out of Brooklyn in 1957 and the city tore down Ebbets Field on February 23, 1960, a borough last a piece of its heart. In the ensuing 48 years, historians and Brooklyn baseball fans have spilled a lot of ink bemoaning the end of the stadium and the Walter O’Malley decision to move west.
A few weeks ago, I finished reading Bob McGee’s The Greatest Ballpark Ever: Ebbets Field And The Story Of The Brooklyn Dodgers. As Brooklyn Dodger histories go, it’s an appropriate companion piece to Michael Shapiro’s The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers, and Their Final Pennant Race Together.
In one book — McGee’s — O’Malley is the clear villain in moving the Dodgers; in the other, O’Malley tried to keep the team in New York, but Robert Moses was the man responsible for pushing them out of town. O’Malley wanted to build a new stadium near the current Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn, but Moses didn’t want to use his Title I powers to build a baseball stadium. While McGee villianizes O’Malley and Shapiro gives him something of a pass, the truth is, of course, in the middle. Both men were responsible for the Dodgers’ flight to Los Angeles.
But for the sake of the Yankees, New York City stadium history is neither here nor there. McGee’s book though is relevant for another reason. When Ebbets Field was torn down, Brooklynites were visibly upset, but the team had just seen a long period of lagging attendance. They were playing in a ballpark that many — particularly the media — had deemed old and decrepit. It would have needed extensive renovations and space for parking, something not readily available in the Crown Heights/Prospect Heights parts of Brooklyn.
One of McGee’s main points is regret. Dodger fans regretted not saving the stadium; they regretted not supporting the team sooner; they regretted not doing anything about it. Fifty years after the Dodgers went west, Brooklynites — my older neighbors and my grandfather — will still speak with bitterness about the Dodgers and wistfulness about Ebbets Field.
Today, as we’re facing a Yankee Stadium whose days are numbered, I have to wonder if Yankee fans will one day in the not-so-distant future look back at the House that Ruth Built with the same sort of regrets. Sure, the Yankees are moving about 50 feet away and not 3000 miles, and sure, Yankee Stadium lost a lot of its history and charm during the renovations in the 1970s. But it’s still the iconic Yankee Stadium. It’s still seen its World Series, its Perfect Games, its parade of baseball legends.
Don’t get me wrong; the new stadium looks great from the outside and will be the standard of luxury inside. But I can’t help thinking that we don’t need this new stadium as badly as we think, and perhaps, when we all have time to dwell on what we’ve torn down and what we’ve lost, Yankee fans will come to regret not putting up more of a fight for their beloved old stadium too.
So my pick finally rolled around in the United Baseball Bloggers Mock Draft, and with it I took none other than Gerrit Cole. No brainer, he was the best player left on the board by a considerable margin (using Keith Law’s latest rankings, the next best player was ranked 12 spots behind Cole). Kids with electric fastballs and good breaking balls don’t last until pick #28, and the makeup stuff doesn’t concern me at all (I wish someone would quantify these makeup concerns, no one has said what he’s done to make people question his makeup, they just say he’s got issues).
You can see all the picks here; Phuture Phils took Tanner Scheppers, the wildcard of the draft class. We were planning on doing the sandwich round, and in discussions to the do the second round as well, but some have been frustrated by the pace, so we might not get that far. I’ll keep you updated if we do.
In other mock draft news, John Sickels’ mock draft is being held today. I represented the Yanks last year, but I’m not doing it again this year. Too much work and too time consuming. I’ll breakdown the Yanks’ picks later today or tomorrow, and I’ll also post who I would have taken at each spot (it’s easier when you don’t have to sit in front of the computer and wait for each stinkin’ pick). Can’t get me enough draft talk. · (21) ·
While the three guys behind him in the order spent Friday night hitting, Derek Jeter in the leadoff spot took the evening off from that pastime. He went 0 for 5 to drop his average down to a very un-Jeterian .272, and I have to wonder if Derek rushed back too quickly from his May 20th HBP. While Jeter says the Daniel Cabrera beanball isn’t impacting his hitting, the numbers tell a different story. Since coming back the next day, the Yankee Captain is 3 for 34. That’s an .088 average if you’re keeping score at home, and he’s slugging just .118 over that span. That’s not looking so great. · (9) ·
Alright, Yankee fans, roll call time. Raise your hand if, in Spring Training, you predicted that Mike Mussina and his eight wins would be leading the Yankees. Put your hand down, you in the back.
As hard as it is to believe, Mike Mussina, 39, is the Yankees’ winningest pitcher. He’s confounding the analysts; he’s beating Father Time; and he’s certainly proving me wrong. By mixing speeds and hitting spots, Mussina is getting the job done.
Tonight, disaster nearly befell early on. Spotted to a 1-0 lead, Mussina came oh so close to falling apart when a Shelley Duncan error — his third of the season in limited duty at first base — lead to a big Minnesota inning. After the first, the Twins had scored four runs, two earned, and Mussina had thrown 36 pitches. Now, usually at this point, I’d write off Mussina, and in a text message to Mike and Joe, I did.
But Mussina, as is his wont this year, proved me wrong. Over the next five innings, Mussina would need just 73 pitches to keep the Twins from scoring again, and his line — 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K — is downright great. The final five innings looks even better: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Color me impressed.
(As an aside, it seemed to me on the highlight reel that a lot of the Twins’ base hits in the first were aided by the turf. On grass, some of those balls are outs, no?)
Meanwhile, the Yanks, who left their baserunning shoes at home today, let the bats do the work. Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez and the AL’s leading hitter Hideki Matsui went a combined 9 for 12 and were on base 11 teams. Jose Molina and Melky Cabrera contributed hits as well, and the Yanks were able to plate six runs en route to a victory.
Of course, Kyle Farnsworth looked a bit dicey, and of course, the media is going to harp on this for approximately forever. But Joba’s starting, and the eighth inning is a work in progress.
So the Yankees find themselves with one game left in May, and I feel like this game can set the tenor for the next month. The Yanks are now at .500, and to end the month at one game over would be a huge boost. Meanwhile, Chien-Ming Wang, winless since May 2, could use that very same boost. I’m always wary of watching Wang pitch on turf; his career numbers on turf are not too comforting, and his ERA on turf is 0.90 higher than it is on grass.
But that’s a worry for later. Right now, the Yanks can sleep comfortably with their seventh win in nine games under their belts.