Despite Hank Steinbrenner’s demand that Joba be inserted into the rotation, that move will not happen any time soon. Not that we didn’t know that. His innings cap will keep him in a limited role until at least mid-June, and at latest until the All-Star break. From the GM himself:
“Joba’s staying in the bullpen right now,” The Yankee GM told Newsday in a telephone conversation this morning. “That’s where we’re at. [Putting him in the rotation is] not something that’s going to happen here early on, and [Hank] knows that. We’ve talked about it. I don’t know what set him off.”
I’m fairly certain that the recent performances from Hughes and IPK are what set him off. I can’t blame him one bit. During each of their last outings, I found myself tossing things across the room (pillows, thankfully), and screaming “throw strikes!!!!,” much to the chagrin of my neighbors. It’s frustrating. But it can certainly turn around.
I have faith that the kids will grow into their roles and perform well this season. It’s not like Hughes and IPK are guys with suspect control, and who are now being exploited in the majors. They’re two guys with good control (superb in Kennedy’s case) who just aren’t getting it done. They’re going to have to get back to the basics for a bit. And unfortunately, that could mean a few games where they get bombed. But I’d far rather see that than to see them racking up enormous pitch counts early in games.
Joba to the rotation is going to happen. All signs point to it. We just have to be patient. I know that’s a tall order on the Bronx, but it’s what’s required at this point. I’m very surprised more people didn’t learn that after last season.
When Jorge Posada returns to this catching duties — which, by most accounts, could be some time this week — opposing teams will and should run like the dickens off of him until he shows he can throw out baserunners. This could present something of a problem for the Yanks over the next few weeks. I hope the Yanks hold back on Jorge behind the plate until they are 100 percent sure he’s ready to go. · (15) ·
The Yanks won today, and as is often the case when the Yankees win, I’m happy not to nitpick the game.
I could write about how Jason Giambi is 3 for 3 with 2 HR and 4 RBI against Mike Timlin and 2 for 43 with no home runs and 2 RBIs against everyone else. But SG at RLYW did a better job writing about Giambi and his potential future in New York in this post.
I could opine about the silver lining in the timing of A-Rod‘s injury. His wife is due to give birth this week, and his quad strain can heal while he attends to Cynthia. But Kat O’Brien already wrote a whole story about A-Rod’s injury.
Instead, I’ll write about the words of wisdom that Hank Steinbrenner, quiet through the season’s first 20 games, threw our way this evening. Take it away, Michael S. Schmidt:
With the Yankees off to a 10-10 start, and with two of their young starters struggling, the Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said there was one thing in particular he would like to change: He wants Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees’ hard-throwing setup man, to move into the rotation.
“I want him as a starter and so does everyone else, including him, and that is what we are working toward and we need him there now,” Steinbrenner said Sunday by telephone. “There is no question about it, you don’t have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy. You just don’t do that. You have to be an idiot to do that.”
Here at RAB, we try to be a bit more diplomatic about it than Hank is, but the man’s got a point. He continued: “The mistake was already made last year switching him to the bullpen out of panic or whatever. I had no say in it last year and I wouldn’t have allowed it. That was done last year, so now we have to catch up. It has to be done on a schedule so we don’t rush him.”
Hank, for the record, also feels that Mike Mussina “just needs to learn how to pitch like Jamie Moyer.” And I agree; as I’ve said numerous times, Mussina simply cannot get hitters out by blowing them away with his 85-mph fastball. In fact, he’s gotten few swing-and-misses this year. Mussina instead must get by while command and guile. He has seemingly yet to embrace that.
But Mike Mussina aside, the good stuff here is really about Joba. Hank wants his hard-throwing power pitching throwing innings that count. He doesn’t want him throwing rather meaningless 8th innings in three-run games. Hank sees a rotation struggling with command, struggling with getting guys out, and he knows that a potential fix is waiting in the Yankee bullpen.
Right now, simply because of innings limits, the Yanks can’t rush Joba into the starting rotation. But the tide is turing; the Yankees will deploy Joba in the rotation sooner rather than later. And it seems to me that, as Hank professed his faith in Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, Mike Mussina is now on notice. Shape up; those footsteps you hear are from the 22-year-old fan-favorite will four Major League-caliber pitches under his belt.
Per PeteAbe comes word that the Yanks are shuffling the rotation slightly. With the day off, the Yanks are pushing Ian Kennedy back a day and moving Andy Pettitte in between Phil Hughes and Kennedy. This move is designed to give the bullpen a one-day breather, but hopefully, Hughes and Kennedy will straighten out their pitch-count issues sooner rather than later. And, yes, Mike Mussina is still in the rotation. · (24) ·
Triple-A Scranton (7-4 loss to Rochester)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 CS
Juan Miranda & Eric Duncan: both 1 for 3, 1 BB – Duncan scored a run, drove one in & K’ed
Cody Ransom: 2 for 3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 SB
rest of lineup: combined 0 for 15, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 1 HBP – Bernie Castro & Jason Lane each drove a run in
Steven White: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
Sean Henn: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
Chris Britton: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-3 GB/FB – first runs allowed this year
There’s not much to say about today’s game. If the Yanks’ bats don’t show up, they’re in danger of getting swept in Baltimore by the Orioles and will have a very long off-day tomorrow. If the Yankee starting pitching doesn’t show up, things could start to look even worse.
Per Ed Price, since Pettitte’s outing against Tampa Bay last week, the Yanks’ starters have been downright horrible. They’ve managed to throw just 15 innings over a span of four games while giving up 22 runs on 29 hits and 10 walks. That, Price tells us, is good for a 13.20 ERA. Somehow, the Yanks even managed to win one of those games.
So today, the Yanks will face off against Steve Trachsel, and I have to believe this could be one for Bombers. In Trachsel’s three starts this year, he’s thrown 14.1 innings, giving up a hit per inning and walking nine while striking out four. The Human Rain Delay has always managed to pitch fairly well against the Yanks though.
Offensively, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi and Chad Moeller are back in the lineup while Jorge Posada and Jose Molina find themselves back on the bench for the day. If the Blue Jays were wise enough to bench — and subsequently release — Frank Thomas, the Yankees should seriously consider benching Giambi. He’s not helping anyone right now.
What’s there to say about last night’s 6-0 shutout at the hands of the Orioles that Axl Rose hasn’t already said?
Ian Kennedy was, at the same time, getting squeezed and nibbling, but right now, he has to trust his stuff more. Like Phil Hughes had been doing before Friday, Kennedy is attacking hitters and is trying to finesse his way through his starts. Considering the type of pitcher he’s been before this year, that approach just flat-out will not work.
But at the same time, Joe Girardi has to keep the kid gloves on a bit. He went out to the mound in the third and let loose on Kennedy. IPK did not respond well to that at all, and a few batters later, he was gone from the game, replaced by a very effective Ross Ohlendorf who did not falter until his third inning of work.
The Yankees young guns are very good. Their Minor League track records are off the charts, and scouts across the board love their stuff and make-up. Right now, though, their approach just doesn’t seem to fly. Hughes and Kennedy are trying to paint corners when they shouldn’t be; they’re throwing breaking balls in fastball counts and their throwing fastballs in breaking ball counts. Somehow, the Yankees have to find a fix for this problem that doesn’t involve a trip for either of these two pitchers to AAA. It’s all about patience.
Meanwhile, the problems on the other side of the ball are worse. Tonight, the Orioles’ fourth starter shut out the Yankee offense. Brian Burres and Jim Johnson combined for nine innings of six-hit ball. The two combined threw just 129 pitches to a Yankee team that’s supposed to work the count and really push back-of-the-rotation starters. The Yanks have three regulars hitting below .200 and an otherwise anemic offense.
For all the trouble the pitchers have been through, if the offense won’t score any runs, the pitching doesn’t much matter. They need to score runs, but that goes without saying.
To tie everything together, overall tonight, I saw something I hadn’t seen from a Yankee manager in a while. Joe Girardi was impatient with his team. He was pissed at Kennedy for not putting the ball in the strike zone, and by the end of this frustrating night, he wasn’t too happy with his hitters either. Something’s going to give soon. Girardi has to be patient with his pitchers, and the offense has to come through for the Yanks to accomplish what they want and need to accomplish tonight.
Fat load of good Joba’s doing them pitching the 8th inning down 6-0, eh?
Triple-A Scranton (1-0 win over Rochester)
Brett Gardner & Nick Green: both 1 for 3 – Gardner K’ed once & was caught stealing
Bernie Castro: 2 for 4, 1 K
Greg Porter: 1 for 4, 1 2B
rest of lineup: combined 0 for 13, 1 R, 1 RBI, 5 K, 4 K – Cody Ransom drove in Chris Stewart with a bases loaded walk for the game’s only run
Dan Giese: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 8-3 GB/FB – remember when Cash said Alan Horne would only miss one start? funny how that works, huh?
Heath Phillips, Scott Strickland & Jose Veras combined 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K – each guy K’ed two apiece
Last night was one of those where I had to say “eff this” in the sixth and turn it off. There were plenty of better things I could have been doing (and did) than watch the Yanks get trounced by the Orioles.
I’m not sure why but I can’t stand losing to the Orioles. It irks me more to lose to the O’s than any other team other than the Sawks. I’m bothered even more by seeing them above the Yanks in the standings, even if it’s April, and even keeping in mind 2005.
A few notes from PeteAbe: Joba is en rote to Camden Yards. Not sure if he’ll pitch tonight unless absolutely necessary. PA also notes that Posada could be ready to catch tomorrow or Tuesday. That means there’s no chance he catches tomorrow, since there’s an off-day (!!) on Monday.
1. Johnny Damon, LF
2. Melky Cabrera, CF
3. Derek Jeter, SS
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B DH
5. Jorge Posada, 1B
6. Hideki Matsui, RF
7. Morgan Ensberg, 1B 3B
8. Robinson Cano, 2B — there’s a case to be made for starting the AG here
9. Chad Moeller, C Jose Molina, C
And on the mound, number thirty-one, Ian Patrick Kennedy
Update by Mike: Mass confusion about the lineup, it’s fixed now.