So here we are again, a few hours away from another game in which the Yanks could sneak above that .500 mark. It’s been quite the battle really. Since April 23, the Yankees have been no more than one game above .500, and it seems as though the team has been running in place, waiting that big blow.
For the first few weeks of the season, fans were content enough to compare 2008 to 2007. The Yanks started very slow and made a race of it in the AL East last year before walking away with the Wild Card. So why couldn’t they do the same thing this year?
Right now, the Yanks are 33-33, seven games out of first. They’re also five games behind Tampa Bay for the Wild Card. Last year, at this point, the Yanks were 34-32, 8.5 games behind the Red Sox and 4.5 games behind the Wild Card-leading Tigers.
So my question for you tonight as we once again await a 10 p.m. start is this: Are the Yankees in a better spot in 2008 than in 2007 or a worse spot?
I’m leaning toward better. The team has a lot more potential than the 2007 version did, and the Yanks are primed to see contributions from some of their young guns soon. Ian Kennedy will return and hopefully throw better; Phil Hughes should be back around August. Derek Jeter won’t be so anemic at the plate for the duration of the year, and Cano should get back on track.
But perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you see an aging team with bad contracts and a piecemeal bullpen. Perhaps you see an offense relying too much on Jason Giambi‘s hot bat and Johnny Damon‘s fast start. Perhaps you are low on Kennedy and Hughes. But that’s why we debate. So have fun; play nice.
Until the Yankees rolled into Oakland, Darrell Rasner had been dealing. In six starts covering 38.1 innings, the righty had allowed 36 hits and five walks while striking out 23 and pitching to a 2.38 ERA.
The wheels, however, came off in a big way last night. Rasner lasted just 3.2 innings, giving up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits. He walked one while striking out four, and his ERA jumped over a run to 3.64. The A’s basically went to town on Rasner.
Now, there are two ways to look at last night. One is to say that Rasner was bound to have a bad start. Following that outing, his 2008 totals aren’t that far off from his career line. But the way he reached that regression I find to be interesting.
Prior to last night, Rasner had thrown 386 out of 585 pitches — or 66 percent — for strikes. Of those, 63 percent were strikes with contact either on foul balls or balls put into play; nine percent were swinging strikes; and the remainder — 28 percent — were called strikes.
Last night, Rasner’s strike totals were actually in line with his season totals. While he threw just 62.4 percent of his pitches for strikes, 45 percent of those were called strikes while about 7.5 percent were swinging strikes. The contact strikes and balls in play made up the rest of those numbers.
So what do we learn here? Rasner got into trouble last night because he could not locate his pitches. During the endless third inning in which the A’s hit everything Rasner had to offer, his pitches, usually on the corner, were straying to the middle of the plate. I think the higher percentage of called strikes attests to that. Rasner couldn’t push the pitches far enough to the corners, and the A’s were hitting solid line drives off the righty.
With Ian Kennedy on the mend and the Yanks much higher on Kennedy than they are on Rasner, it will be interesting to see how Rasner adjusts over the next few weeks. If the Yanks opt to stick with a five-man rotation, he’ll draw the weak-hitting Padres on Tuesday and the Reds on Sunday. Beyond that, we’ll have a better idea of Rasner’s stuff and ability.
I wavered on posting this, but Tony’s a real good guy — talked shop with him during a Phil Hughes rehab start last season. What held me back was my contempt for the Star Ledger’s Dan Graziano. Never liked the guy’s writing. Judging by his answers in Tony’s interview, he’s not a bad guy. But we all have our personal tastes when it comes to baseball literature.
He and Tony shoot the breeze on the 2008 Yankees, Joba as a starter, and the relationship between bloggers and reporters. So head on over and give it a read. · (7) ·
Today marks Hideki Matsui’s 34th birthday (and my mom’s birthday too), and in honor of the Japanese star’s big day, Go Go Curry is offering up a birthday special, the always-entertaining and amusing Midtown Lunch blog reports. Customers stopping by their store on 38th St. between 7th and 8th Aves. will get a coupon for three free toppings. So if you’re still undecided on lunch today, why not, right? · (10) ·
In February, when word came down that the new Yankee Stadium was nearly half a billion dollars over budget, Yanks COO Lonn Trost seemed rather sanguine about the whole thing. “We’ll make it up some way,” Trost said.
Well, four months later, the Yanks are attempting to make public funds that “some way.” According to numerous reports, the Yankees, via New York’s elected officials, are petitioning the IRS for some rule changes that would make the team eligible for another $350 million in tax-exempt public bonds. The Associated Press reports:
New York City officials confirmed on Wednesday that the Yankees might be interested in seeking more public financing to build their new stadium, pending a regulation change by the Internal Revenue Service.
“The effort on the completion bonds will not affect the completion of the stadium,” the team president, Randy Levine, said in a statement. “We are working under the strong leadership of the city and state along with other projects to seek relief from the I.R.S. regulation.”
Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is working with the Yankees, said the project was not threatened. But, she said, the city is working to relieve a regulation that prohibits more public debt to be incurred for the stadium.
While the Yankees would not confirm just how much they’re seeking, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said the club would like another $400 million. So at this point, can we just put to bed any shred of the notion that the public isn’t on the hook for a vast portion of this stadium plan?
Over at Field of Schemes, Neil deMause speculates that this move could cost the city as much as $60 million in anticipated revenues. At a time when budgets are tight across New York, city officials should probably not be supporting the Yanks’ push for more tax-exempt funding beyond the $941 million the team has already received.
I’m tossing this up now because I’m going to bed and don’t feel like waiting for an 8-1 game to end. All I can say is that you should read DotF and that games like this happen. The Yanks played sloppily in the field; they didn’t hit when they had a chance to jump out to an early lead; and the pitching was terrible. I’d rather see games like this happen against a legitimately good pitcher such as Justin Duchscherer than, say, Luke Hochevar or the handful of other mediocre starters the Yanks couldn’t beat earlier this year. We’ve got the A’s again tonight; we’ll get ‘em then.
(On the off chance that the Yanks score eight runs in the last two innings, I take it all back. Except for the DotF recommendation.) · (35) ·
PeteAbe notes that Andrew Brackman had to have his appendix removed, and will miss three weeks. Well, if it was going to happen, it happened at a good time. Also, you’ve probably heard by now that JB Cox is on the DL, but now it looks like Chris Garcia has joined him, at least according to milb.com (h/t to A.D.). Garcia to the DL hasn’t been confirmed yet, so I’ll keep you updated. Doesn’t surprise me though, the boy just can’t stay healthy. They be droppin’ like flies…
Triple-A Scranton (9-2 win over Richmond)
Bernie Castro & Brett Gardner: both 2 for 4, 1 BB, 1 K – Castro doubled & scored 3 runs … Gardner tripled, drove in a run & scored 2 others
Alberto Gonzalez & Matt Carson: both 3 for 5, 1 R – The Former Attorney General drove in 3 & swiped a bag … Carson K’ed
Jason Lane & Eric Duncan: both 0 for 3 – Lane scored a run, stole a base, walked twice & committed a fielding error at first … Duncan walked, drove in a run & K’ed
Greg Porter: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Jeff Karstens: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 6-7 GB/FB – 44 of 68 pitches were strikes (64.7%)
David Robertson: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – 173-50 K/BB ratio in 127 career IP
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Mighty Matt: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4-2 GB/FB 1 E (pickoff) – sorry, old habits die hard
If the Yanks are going to get to that magical two-games-over-.500 mark tonight, they have their work cut out for ‘em.
Three weeks ago, Justin Duchscherer was a David Ortiz single away from throwing a perfect game against the Red Sox. This year, he’s throwing to a 2.32 ERA, and opponents are hitting just 212/.280/.285 against him. Darrell Rasner better bring his A game, and whoever’s due to pitch the ninth in a save situation better be on the ball too.
We’ve got another late start and another late finish. Enjoy.
The Cleveland Indians have been a hot topic of conversation these days. The team — expected to win the Central — is 30-35, three games worse than the mediocre Yankees. They’re 7.5 games out of first in the Central and facing the same deficit in the Wild Card race.
So of course talk will turn to C.C. Sabathia. The Indians are a long shot to sign Sabathia when the big lefty hits free agency this winter, and Mark Shapiro, the GM in Cleveland, will soon test the Sabathia market. The Yankees — long rumored to be the ultimate destination for Carsten Charles — are sure to be in on the talks, and the Cubs, Dodgers and Red Sox will probably do more than kick the tires on this one.
Earlier today, PeteAbe pondered the Sabathia situation, and he offered up his take:
They have the inventory (as Brian Cashman likes to call it) to make a deal. At this point, who is untouchable in their system?
Other than that, have at ‘em.
After his first four poor outings, Sabathia has been nothing short of dominant. In 73.1 innings, covering 10 starts, he has allowed 63 hits and 14 walks while striking out 73. His ERA over that span is a meager 2.09, and opponents are hitting .235/.278/.336.
So here’s my question as we await another 10 p.m. start tonight. What do you do with Sabathia? Who would you give up in a trade for this pitcher? If the Yanks acquire the lefty, they’ll probably attempt to hack out a contract extension at the trade deadline rather than in October, and Sabathia could be a difference-maker in the American League East.