On the surface, tonight’s utterly pathetic 11-inning loss to the Orioles doesn’t do much to buffer the Yanks’ case that Joba Chamberlain should be given a shot at the starting rotation. When the game turned into a extra innings death match, the Yanks had to turn to LaTroy Hawkins, and surprising no one, Hawkins promptly blew the game (with an assist from Derek Jeter).
In the morning, the papers are sure to have a field day with this one. For the second day in a row, a pitcher not named Joba Chamberlain came into and blew a close game in late innings. Not so coincidentally, that pitcher’s name on both days happened to be LaTroy Hawkins. Had Joba — the erstwhile seventh member of the bullpen — been in the pen, the argument goes, the Yanks wouldn’t have needed LaTroy. Never mind that Joba would have pitched much earlier in the game, and that Hawkins probably would have throwing in the 11th anyway. That requires too much conjecture.
But counterintuitively to the knee-jerk Joba reaction is the fact that this game is a prime example of why Joba Chamberlain should be starting. Right now, it’s clear that we just don’t know what to expect out of Ian Kennedy. He became the first Yankee rookie in decades to record zero wins over his first eight starts to begin a season, and a lat injury will, according to Joe Girardi‘s post-game show, send him to the disabled list.
The Yanks scored eight runs tonight, and by any stretch, that should be enough to win the game. Staked to a four-run lead, Kennedy couldn’t hold down the fort. Ross Ohlendorf, very effective for one inning and very terrible beyond that (notice a pattern?), didn’t hold his four run lead either.
So enter Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation. With Joba in the starting rotation taking Kennedy’s place — a nearly foregone conclusion considering the off-day on Thursday — the Yanks wouldn’t need a pitcher of Joba’s caliber for the back end of the game because that pitcher would ideally be giving them six or seven innings of baseball without allowing eight runs to score.
By the time Hawkins came in to predictably blow the game tonight, the point would have been moot. With better starting pitcher, the Yanks wouldn’t have been in the 11th inning scrambling for an arm.
Game Notes: I have to believe that Chris Britton, J.B. Cox and Mark Melancon will all soon be ahead of LaTroy Hawkins on the depth chart. If Britton isn’t, then someone on the Yanks should explain why. He’s no worse than Hawkins…Derek Jeter did not seem to be in this game tonight. He got picked off second with A-Rod up; he couldn’t get down a bunt; and that throw to the plate in the 11th ended up being costly as Aubrey Huff moved up to third base. Not the best stretch of games for Jeter in May this year. I wonder what’s up with him.
Triple-A Scranton (9-8 win over Pawtucket)
Brett Gardner & Jason Lane: both 1 for 3 – Gardner walked twice, swiped three bags, scored two runs & K’ed … Lane doubled, walked & scored 3 runs
Alberto Gonzalez: 0 for 5
Ben Broussard: 3 for 4, 3 R, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB – helluva first impression I’d say
Cody Ransom: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
Justin Christian: 1 or 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K – 29 RBI in 37 games this year after 48 RBI in 105 games last year
Bernie Castro: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 CS
Dan Giese: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HB, 2-5 GB/FB – he allowed only 6 earned runs in the 53.1 IP he threw this season prior to this game
David Robertson: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K – 18 of 34 pitches were strikes (52.9%) … he’s walked 10 batters in 13 IP with Scranton … he’s not ready for a call-up, so chill with that
Heath Phillips: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
JB Cox: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Billy Traber: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 3-1 GB/FB – retired 4 of the 5 LHB he faced
Scott Patterson: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
While the Yankees and the Orioles are slugging it out in Baltimore and Jorge Posada is going through rehab in Extended Spring Training, the AP reports that
pigs are flyingCarl Pavano has thrown 35 pitches off of a half-mound. And he did it without injuring himself. What are the odds that Pavano wins the game that clinches the AL East for the Yanks this year? · (18) ·
As we discussed earlier today, Kennedy could be pitching for his spot in the rotation tonight. Then again, with his horrible start to the season, he’s basically doing that every time out. He helped himself last time out, but as Ben noted, he still had his flaws.
The lineup gets a slightly different look tonight with Melky sitting. The kid needs a damn day off. He’s hitting .195/.241/.268 on the month, after a .299/.370/.494 April. It’s like he and Cano can’t hit at the same time. Robbie hit .151/.211/.236 in April, and has surged to .325/.369/.494 in May. Wait…I thought his low BABIP was just a low BABIP…
In Melky’s place is Johnny Damon, who I really don’t want to see playing center tonight. His play in left has been shaky at best of late. Abreu and Matsui will round out what is undoubtedly the worst defensive outfield in the game.
Betemit gets the start at first against a lefty. As if there weren’t enough signs of Morgan Ensberg’s impending release. The only question is of whether the Yanks will wait until May 31 to replace him with Jason Lane, or if the move will come sooner.
And on the mound, No. 31, Ian Patrick Kennedy
A tip o’ the old hat goes out Eric at Pending Pinstripes on this one: Dellin Betances is headed to the DL with a one of those fosh “upper body injuries.” The injury likely explains his bad outing yesterday, and if it has to do with his elbow it could explain all those walks he’s been issuing (if you’re a fan of K/BB ratios, check that shizz out, wowza). Who knows, maybe the kid’s just got pink eye.
In happier news, Chad Jennings notes that Alan Horne made another rehab appearance in Extended Spring Training today, striking out 7 in 3.2 innings of work. Horne said he felt great, and expects to make his next appearance for one of the affiliated squads. You take the good with the bad, I guess. · (5) ·
When the Yanks capped off their comeback win on Sunday against the Mariners, Mariano Rivera, as he has for so many games since 1997, was on the mound when the last out went up on the scoreboard. That day, Rivera completed his 20th inning of work this season without allowing a walk, and Tyler Kepner noted in a Bats blog post the greatness of Rivera. Mo, you see, gives pitching lessons to the Yanks, and he may very well be responsible for turning Edwar Ramirez into a useful cog in the bullpen. When Mo calls it quits in a few years, I hope the Yanks can convince him to stick around as a pitching coach. He’s got one valuable mind for the game. · (6) ·
Over at MetsBlog this afternoon, Matthew Cerrone jumped into the Brian Cashman fray. He pondered the idea of Cashman helming the Mets’ front office and wondered why current GM Omar Minaya isn’t shouldering more of the blame for the Mets’ failures.
Personally, I’m stunned that Minaya has received what amounts to a free pass in the New York media while Willie Randolph has become the whipping boy for the media. Omar Minaya put this team — this expensive, flawed team — together, and it stands to reason that the Mets’ struggles are as much his fault, if not more, than they are Willie’s.
Right now, that’s neither here nor there. The Mets’ problems are a Queens-based issue, and we’re concerned with the Bronx. But I did get a good chuckle out of the MetsBlog commenters who seem to hate Brian Cashman almost as much as some Yankee fans do. A sampling, if you will:
“No thanks. Omar Minaya blows this guy away.”
“I’d rather pick up Delgado’s option than hire Cashman to be GM.”
“Cashman is a bigger failure than Omar is.”
“Cashman’s team is one game under .500 while Omar’s is 3. Not a big enough difference to make me want Cashman. He’s a joke”
“He’s contributed nothing but one bad investment after another. This guy is a joke.”
“Cashman would be Horrible. Omar has done a pretty good job; it falls on the manager to get it done. Cashman has made mistake after mistake during his tenure. No more Yankee trash!”
So let’s review: Brian Cashman’s Yankees have won three World Series titles, were two outs away from a fourth, have made the playoffs every year during his tenure as GM and are the best team in baseball over that same period of time. Yet, somehow, because the Yanks haven’t won a ring, Cashman is “Yankee trash,” “a joke” and my personal favorite: “a bigger failure than Omar is.”
Now, I know that Yankee fans are divided on Brian Cashman’s effectiveness. Some see a series of bad moves and an inability to find starting pitching when starting pitching is at a premium. Others see a mixed record of good and bad moves as well as an increased focused recently on the farm system that has already begun to pay dividends.
Yet, for all his flaws, real or otherwise, Brian Cashman has been an effective GM. The Yanks have reached October, and their losing in the playoffs has less to do with his ability to put a team together and more to do with the Amazing Disappearing Yankee Offense in October. For all the guff Cashman takes, the Mets could do a lot worse to have him as their GM, and if the fans can’t see otherwise, I’m more than happy to see Cashman stick around the Bronx. And, hey, while we don’t all agree on Brian Cashman, at least we can all agree that Mets fans are just a little bit nuts.
As you all know by now, signability is a major factor in MLB’s first-year player draft, so much so that it’s informally referred to as “the sixth tool.” While big names like Andrew Miller and Rick Porcello receive the bulk of the attention as players who fell because of their price tags, more often than not it’s the lesser-known players, the second or third round guys who feel they’re worth first or second round money, who end up being the real signability steals of the draft.
The Yanks have worked this angle to perfection in recent years, digging deep in their Swiss bank accounts to bring players such as Austin Jackson, Dellin Betances and Carmen Angelini into the system. All three were solid sandwich or early-second round talents in their respective drafts, but their lofty bonus demands and college commitments scared teams away. The Yanks took each player later than their talent warranted (Jackson and Betances in the 8th round, Angelini in the 10th), and paid out bonuses typically given to players selected in the late first round. All three are now among the most promising prospects in the system.
While this year’s draft class is lacking in overall quality compared to that of the last three or four years, there is still plenty of talent to go around. Here are two guys who fit the Jackson-Betances-Angelini mold — top talents with top bonus demands. It’s not a matter of if the Yanks will pay the money needed to sign these kids, it’s just a matter of how fast the ink can dry on the signing bonus check. Fun starts after the jump.
The next stop on the Joba train comes on Wednesday. The soon to be starter will aim to throw 50 to 55 pitches in relief against the Orioles, hopefully with a bit more economy than Saturday, where he threw 40 pitches (22 strikes) over two innings of work. After that, though, the Yanks might run into an issue: You can’t count throwing more pitches than that out of the bullpen, even if Mussina is the starter.
This would create an interesting scenario for the starting rotation. Namely, who do you axe in favor of Chamberlain? If he’s going to start a game, it’s best not to screw around. After throwing 55 pitches on Wednesday, he should be on tap to pitch Monday (five days’ rest), and certainly no later than Tuesday. With the off day on Thursday, the Yanks will have some juggling to do.
Kennedy is going tonight, and Pettitte is going tomorrow. That much is set. Clearly, a lot rides on Kennedy’s outing. He’d be the clear choice for removal from the rotation. If that were the case, you’d probably see Mussina go Friday, Wang go Saturday, Rasner Sunday, and Joba Monday, possibly with Kennedy shadowing him. The alternative there is to swap Kennedy for Karstens and have the latter shadow Joba.
If Kennedy pitches well tonight, though, it makes little sense to remove him from the rotation. Girardi has not ruled out a six-man pitching rotation, so pushing everyone back a day is an option. That would allow Joba some more time in between starts, and also help keep his innings in check for the rest of the season. The only drawback, of course, is that you’ll get fewer appearances from Wang. That’s an issue that certainly needs to be addressed.
The only issue I have with a six-man rotation is the bullpen. Are the Yankees prepared to only have six guys coming out of the pen? Recent history says they are not. As with many other potential moves, this could spell the end of Morgan Ensberg — and of Jason Lane, if the team decides to use Ensberg’s roster spot for a reliever rather than another position player.
Clearly, though, this is a good problem to have. As they say, you can never get enough good starting pitching.
Yankee fans are very possessive of Derek Jeter. He is, after all, the team captain, and he is the proud owner of four World Series rings. On the other hand, though, are fans of other teams who can’t stand Jeter and all the accolades Yankee lovers toss his way. Over the weekend, Joe Posnanski coined a new word that sums up why non-Yankee fans don’t like Jeter. The word is Jeterate. Check out Posnanski’s piece; and don’t take it too seriously. The Bobby Abreu acronym is a good one too. · (5) ·