No retaliation necessary for the Yanks

Yankees fans want blood, and it’s understandable in every way. Last night the Red Sox got away with a few transgressions that, whether intentional or not, will rile up a fan base. It was inevitable, then, that at least one of the tabloids would call for retaliation. John Harper took the lead for the Daily News, betting that “fireworks are coming” during the final two games of the series. While that’s a natural reaction based on the emotions of the moment, it doesn’t really do the Yankees any good.

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. Jon Lester certainly didn’t mean to plunk Mark Teixeira in the knee on an 0-2 pitch, and then later hit Russell Martin in the leg with a 1-2 offering. There was just no reason. It was simply Lester’s inability to control the inside part of the plate against righties — a weakness that the Yankees never fully exploited during the game. While the image of Teixeira rolling on the ground and writhing in pain evokes angry feelings, it doesn’t make it any less of an accident.

The stronger point for retaliation comes in reaction to David Ortiz’s home run in the fifth. Hector Noesi, who pitched as well as the Yankees could have hoped in relief of the ineffective Freddy Garcia, delivered a 94 mph fastball on the inside part of the plate. Ortiz turned on it and sent it eight rows back into the right field stands. It wasn’t a moonshot, as Harper described it, but rather a line drive. Ortiz put a short, sweet swing on it and clearly hit it right on the fat part of the bat. The subsequent bat flip seemed more like a “hell yeah!” reaction than anything else.

Again, it’s understandable why there is a faction that favors retaliation. Ortiz showed up a rookie and then took his sweet time getting around the bases. Joe Girardi said that he didn’t care for it, but then said that it was more about protecting Noesi than legitimate offense at the flip itself. While the flip did sting — no one wants to see that when their team just went down 6-1 — I didn’t think it was too over the top. He took a good pitch, 94 mph inside, and got all of it. I can totally understand that, in his moment of elation, that he twirled around and flipped the bat. It’s not as though he blew a kiss at Noesi on his way home (though he did take a long time getting from third to home). It happens in the heat of battle.

(I’m actually more offended by Jon Papelbon’s scream after closing out the game. He was handed the cheapest of cheap save situations, a clean inning with a three-run lead, and he not only allowed a run to score, but faced the No. 4 hitter as the tying run. It’s a relief to get out of that, sure, but to scream in celebration? It’s kind of embarrassing.)

By this point I think I’ve made it clear that I would prefer the Yankees to avoid the retaliation beanball. That’s not only because I don’t think the infraction was too egregious, but also because there are more important matters at hand. While winning and retaliating aren’t necessarily at odds, the latter can make the former more difficult. A.J. Burnett takes the mound tonight, and he has enough trouble throwing strikes as it is. I have little doubt that he will throw at someone; that just seems to be the way A.J. rolls. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right move. I’m not sure how much beaning Ortiz will mean to the Yanks in an emotional sense. But I do know that putting him on base will make the No. 1 goal, winning, a little harder.

(Hell, if I’m Francona I’d consider moving Ortiz up to 3rd for the rest of the series. He’s hitting well enough to justify it, and it would make beaning him that much more difficult. Are they really going to put him on base, even if they’re empty with two outs, with Youkilis and Adrian coming up?)

There are times when retaliation for showboating is warranted. A rookie blowing a kiss after a home run? Sure, drill him in the ribs. A guy staring at the pitcher as he rounds the bases, or unnecessarily yapping at him? Go ahead. But in this case I just don’t see it. The emotions are certainly running high, because of the Yanks’ futility against the Sox this year. But a win, more than retaliation, will make things feel better. I think Russell Martin puts it well: “You never want to see it happen to you, but I guess it’s up to us to do it right back to him.”

The RAB Radio Show: June 8, 2011

It was a rough loss to the Sox last night, the sixth in seven games this season. That leads to some tense feelings this morning. Mike and I run down the frustrations as well as the bright spots. We also make time to talk about what happened and what remains in the draft.

Podcast run time 19:01

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
  • Listen in your browser by left clicking the above link or using the embedded player below.
  • Subscribe in iTunes. If you want to rate us that would be great. If you leave a nice review I’ll buy you a beer at a meet-up.

Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

2011 Draft: Day Three Liveblog

Days One and Two of the draft were … interesting for the Yankees, I think that’s the best way to put it. They eschewed the consensus “big names,” instead opting to draft to the beat of their own drum and select what we fans perceive to be “lesser” players in pretty much all 30 rounds so far. That’s not to say the Yankees completely botched the draft, far from it, but it definitely hasn’t gone down as we expected so far. A recap of all the team’s picks can be found here, and you can listen along to the last 20 rounds this afternoon via MLB.com’s Draft Tracker. The actual liveblog is after the jump…

[Read more…]

Hughes on track to begin rehab assignment next week

Via George King, Phil Hughes is on track to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week after Tuesday’s bullpen session went well. Larry Rothschild explained that the right-hander will take today off before throwing 30 pitches tomorrow, and assuming he feels good on Friday, Hughes will make a rehab start on Monday (with a bullpen session in between). Great news, though I remain nothing more than cautious optimistic. Hard to be anything more than that give everything that’s gone on this year.

2011 Draft: Day Two Links

Through two days and 30 rounds, the Yankees have yet to select a middle infielder in this year’s amateur draft. In fact, they’ve taken just nine position players total, and only two are projected to stick at an up-the-middle position long-term. That’s unusual, but I’ll talk about that more in-depth in tomorrow’s grand recap. For now, we’ve still got the final 20 rounds to worry about. The draft resumes at noon ET and can be followed on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker. Audio of the conference call is available through that link.  Based on last year, today’s liveblog should last “only” five hours, which sounds great after yesterday’s ordeal. Here’s a collection of links regarding the last two days…

  • Here’s what Keith Law had to say about the Yankees’ haul in his AL Day Two recap (Insider req’d): “I always expect them to shoot more for upside than they do; they did go for some with New Hampshire prep righty Jordan Cote (3) and Virginia prep player Jake Cave (6), listed as an outfielder (he’d be a corner bat with doubles power) but also a prospect as a left-handed pitcher. Greg Bird (5) can hit but is fringy behind the plate. Right-hander Philip Wetherell (8) is probably a reliever in pro ball. Right-hander Zach Arneson (9) from Lewis & Clark State has two average pitches and probably also goes to the pen.”
  • My favorite pick of Day Two: 20th rounder Dan Camarena, a high school southpaw from California. He reportedly sits 88-91 with his fastball and backs it up with a very good changeup and a solid curveball. I’m not sure if he’ll add any velocity given his almost maxed out frame (6-foot-1, 205 lbs.), but Camarena is lauded for attacking hitters and being aggressive. High school kids with three legit pitches are fantastic picks in the double digit rounds, especially ones that could have gone as high as the third or fourth round.
  • Last month, KLaw mentioned 18th rounder Hayden Sharp as a pop-up guy (someone that burst onto the scene this spring), noting that he has run his fastball as high as 98 at times while often sitting 93-96. That’s huge velocity from anyone, but especially from a high school kid with room to fill out his 6-foot-6 frame.
  • Joe and I talked about the concept of drafting makeup guys and how their work ethic could help them improve weaknesses in their game (especially on defense) on yesterday’s podcast, and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer pretty much confirmed that yesterday. He told Jack Curry that “talented kids who are willing to work at defense will succeed.” First pick Dante Bichette Jr. fits that mold, but so do kids like Matt Duran (4th round) and Greg Bird (5th).
  • Speaking of Bird, he played the whole “it’s a win-win situation” card when asked by The Denver Post if he’s rather turn pro or follow through on his commitment to Arkansas. Third rounder Jordan Cote had the same reaction when speaking with The New Hampshire Union Leader. You’ll hear a lot of that, but it’s just agent speak. Kids will cost themselves a few bucks if they come off as overly anxious to sign.
  • As for Bichette, Oppenheimer told Curry he doesn’t “think we’ll have any trouble signing him. He wants to play.” He might be under contract in time for the rookie level Gulf Coast League season, which starts in less than two weeks. Chad Jennings recapped the Joe Girardi-Dante Bichette relationship last night, in case you missed it.

You can see all of the Yankees’ selections right here. Probably should have mentioned that earlier.

Update: After running through Baseball America’s list of the top 200 draft prospects, the following players are still available …

  • Jake Reed, RHP, California HS (ranked 128th overall)
  • Dante Flores, 2B, California HS (148th)
  • Chris Mariscal, SS, California HS (168th)
  • Michael Cederoth, RHP, California HS (169th)
  • Pat Connaughton, RHP, Massachusetts HS (170th)
  • Ricky Jacquez, RHP, Texas HS (189th)

I wrote about Jacquez earlier this spring, and I’m a definite fan. He’s probably going to end up going to school though.

Update Part Deux: Here’s a great article on Cote from The Concord Monitor. It says he’s already asked the Yankees for more than slot money, which isn’t surprising. Slot for the 118th overall pick is somewhere around $250,000.

Yanks can’t climb out of Garcia’s early hole

Yes Freddy, it says HOME RUN.

This game was pretty much over in the first inning. Freddy Garcia came out of his pre-game warm-ups with nothing, and I mean even less than usual. When he’s not commanding his slop to the corners, he’s a batting practice pitcher, and the Red Sox treated him as such in the series opener Tuesday night. I’m still a little pooped from the marathon draft liveblog, so let’s recap with bullet points…

  • Star of the Game: Hector Noesi. Dude tossed a quality start in relief, allowing just a pair of runs (on a David Ortiz homer) in six innings, and needing just 71 pitches to do so. Another great job by Noesi, who’s been nothing but impressive since coming up (the second time). Give Luis Ayala props for getting out of Garcia’s second inning mess and throwing a scoreless third inning as well.
  • Honorable Mention: Jorge Posada. How about that? He didn’t even start the game, he came off the bench to replace Mark Teixeira after he had to leave the game with a bone bruise on his knee due to a Jon Lester fastball. Jorge went 3-for-3 with a walk, including his first two hits of the year off a left-handed pitcher. Go figure.
  • Blown Chances: After Garcia put the Yankees in a three-run hole before they came to bat, Lester tried to give it all right back. He really did. Nick Swisher had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom half (one run was already in), but he grounded out to third on a nice play by Kevin Youkilis. The Yankees also left a pair of men on base in the fourth, a man on second in the fifth, and of course two men in the bottom of the ninth.
  • Alex Rodriguez‘s 0-for-5 was particularly ugly, especially his game ending swing, as was Andruw Jones‘ 0-for-4. Otherwise they got two hits from Derek Jeter (one should have been an error), two hits from Swisher (including a two run double), a hit from Russell Martin, a hit from Robinson Cano, and walks out of Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner. The Yankees did have a dozen baserunners in nine innings, so they certainly had their chances.
  • Garcia’s utterly ineffective 1.2 IP were the fewest by a non-injured Yankees’ starter since the Orioles smacked Phil Hughes around in May of 2009. I guess they were due for a true stinker. Here’s the box score, here’s the WPA graph. Go get ’em tomorrow.

Game two of the series is on tap for Wednesday night, when A.J. Burnett gets the ball against Tim Wakefield. Perhaps the Yankees will decide to beat their division rivals this time.

Teixiera leaves game with right knee contusion

Update (10:44pm): Joe Girardi said after the game that Teixeira has a bone bruise and he’ll likely need a few days, though he doesn’t think the disabled list will be necessary.

Update (8:23pm): X-rays were negative, and Tex has a right knee contusion. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow. And exhale.

Original Post (7:29pm): Mark Teixeira left tonight’s game after being hit by a pitch in the right knee tonight. He was in obvious pain and had to be helped off the field. Jorge Posada took his place on the bases and at first base. Stay tuned for updates…