Jason Giambi has a deep, dark secret. Deeper than his compulsion to sleep on the side of the bed nearest the door, and darker than his dream of growing up to be a heavy-metal musician.
The deepest, darkest secret harbored by the New York Yankees first baseman is that whenever he is in a prolonged hitting funk, he wears a gold lamé, tiger-stripe thong under his uniform. “I only put it on when I’m desperate to get out of a big slump,” he confides.
Over Giambi’s checkered career in the Bronx, he has left the “golden thong” in the lockers of slumping teammates Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Johnny Damon, Robin Ventura, and Robinson Cano. “All of them wore it and got hits,” he reports. “The thong works every time.”
So, yeah. Between Kyle Farnsworth’s peanut butter cookies and Jason Giambi’s underwear, I think I know more about the Yankees than I ever wanted to.
Meanwhile, says Giambi of his retirement: “After A-Rod retires, he wants to be a real estate mogul, the next Donald Trump. I could care less. As long as I can have a fast boat and a margarita machine and can light my hair on fire, I’ll be just fine.”
Jason Giambi, lighting his hair on fire. I have no words.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out. Chad Jennings says they’ll play two tomorrow. Homer Bailey-Dan Giese match-up in game one of the double-dip.
Double-A Trenton (7-2 win over Portland) they beat Justin Masterson during the regular season last year, then they beat him again during the postseason, and then again tonight. Awesome
Ramiro Pena: 2 for 4, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 K
Austin Jackson: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB – 0 for his last 11
Colin Curtis & Jose Tabata: both 0 for 3, 1 K – Curtis drove in a run with a sac fly … Tabata was hit by a pitch
Edwar Gonzalez: 1 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 K
Chris Malec: 3 for 4, 3 R, 1 2B
Kevin Russo: 2 for 3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Jason Jones: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 8-9 GB/FB
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K – he’s moved way faster than I ever imagined he would
We all know and love Krazy Kyle Farnsworth. He’s the one we love to hate, coming out of the bullpen to give us all heart attacks, and despite his successes this year, we all fear that he’s just one bad inning away from melting down completely.
But what does Krazy Kyle, the 100-mph flame thrower, do in his spare time? Why, he bakes, of course! In a piece that we inexplicably missed during the dog days of Spring Training, Mark Feinsand wrote a piece about the man behind the pitcher. It’s priceless:
Anyone who has seen Kyle Farnsworth unleash his 100 mph heater, daring the hitter to take his best shot, knows one thing about one of the game’s most aggressive pitchers: He is a competitor who puts everything he’s got into each pitch, sometimes at the expense of his command.
But the mound isn’t the only place where Farnsworth shows his competitive side. “We have a bake-off every year and the kids are the judges,” says Shayla Pert, his fiancée. “He always wins; I think he pays them.”
Farnsworth laughs upon hearing this, though Pert quickly clarifies, admitting to his superiority when it comes to their culinary skills. “He’s a great baker,” she says. “He’s Betty Crocker. He makes the best peanut butter cookies ever.”
Yes, folks, Kyle Farnsworth is a baker. I wish we could see him with his Betty Crocker apron on. That must be adorably terrifying.
The best part — OK, one of the best parts; it’s all pretty great — of Feinsand’s piece were the quotes from Farnsworth’s BFF Scott Proctor. “Farnsy’s a guy who doesn’t warm up to a lot of people,” Proctor says. “He’s very reserved and withdrawn at the ballpark, but once you get him away from that and get through that brick wall he puts up, he’s one of those guys you can count on at a time of need.”
As for Farnsworth himself, the article discusses his home life with his fiancée Shyla Pert and their children — Stone, the couple’s son, and two other children from her previous marriage. Feindsand wraps it up with a quote from Kyle: “The numbers haven’t been the way I think they should be, but I can look at myself in the mirror and know that I have given my all every single day.”
As much as I’ve been annoyed at Farnsworth, I certainly believe him, and anytime he wants to start doling out peanut butter cookies, I’ll take one.
Fresno State RHP Tanner Scheppers, a surefire first round pick in next month’s Rule 4 draft, suffered a stress fracture in his shoulder and will be out of action a minimum of 6 weeks. The injury cripples his draft stock, and this could now be a similar situation to what Mark Melancon went through in 2006. Given the overall lack of … quality players in this years draft, I couldn’t see waiting past the 4th or 5th round to snatch him and offer first round money. Do ya thing Opp. (h/t MLBTR) · (17) ·
The Yanks and Devil Rays are still slugging it out, and the three of us will all be out for the evening by the time this game wraps up. As the Yanks trail the Rays, though, we can talk briefly about Ian Kennedy’s return from the Minors.
On the surface,the numbers aren’t that pretty. He gave up five earned runs on two home runs — his second and third allowed of the season — in just five innings of work. His ERA is holding steady on the season around 8.48. But despite these numbers, there’s still a lot to like from Kennedy’s start tonight.
First, we can look at his pitch count and breathe a sigh of relief. While ol’ quick-to-the-bullpen Girardi yanked Kennedy after just five innings, it wasn’t because he had thrown an astronomical amount of pitched. In fact, Kennedy threw just 78 pitches and 49 of them (or 63 percent) for strikes. Except for a brief spell in the fourth, he wasn’t shy about throwing the balls over the plate and attacking hitters. This is a big change for Kennedy.
Next — and I touched upon it briefly above — his entire approach to pitching was better. He was content throwing strikes and letting hitters put the ball in the play. He had seven ground ball outs and five air outs, and he did only allow five hits while keeping his walk total down. His approach was a heckuva lot better than watching Kei Igawa chuck waist-high fastballs at the opposing hitters. You can see what Kennedy has, and it shows promise.
I know a lot of Yankee fans don’t like Ian Kennedy’s stuff. They see him as some soft-tossing junk-ball pitcher whom the Yanks should use as trade bait, but that’s just not the case. Kennedy doesn’t have the electric stuff of a Joba Chamberlain, but he will succeed. As a first step back to the Majors today, his outing could have gone a whole lot better, but it could have been way worse. He showed a marked improvement from the way he was throwing in April, and no matter what, I’d rather see Kennedy up there than Igawa any day.
Well, that was a short exile. Just 11 days after his demotion, Ian Kennedy is back with the Yankees. We’ve all certainly debated the pluses and minuses of his demotion and his quick return for the last 11 days. Let’s see how he does now that crunch time is here.
While in the Minors, Kennedy made two starts, one shortened so that he could pitch today. In 8.1 innings with Scranton, he allowed two hits and no walks while striking out eight. Those numbers are a far cry from the 8.37 Big League ERA he currently sports. In 23.2 innings prior to his demotion, Kennedy had allowed 28 hits and had a 20:15 BB:K ratio. Opponents were hitting .298 against him.
Kennedy’s biggest problem in April was his pitch count. He kept running up the counts early on, averaging over 7 pitches per out. If he’s throwing strikes today and finishing off hitters, all will be well.
For the Rays, Jim Duquette’s biggest mistake takes the mound. Scott Kazmir — yes, another lefty — makes his third start of the season. He’s 1-1 on the year. During his first start back from the DL, he gave up four runs, three earned, in four innings to the Red Sox. Last week, he shut down the Angels over six innings, allowing three hits while striking out six. He has walked three batters in each of his two starts.
The Yanks are sticking their righties out there against Kazmir. Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui both have the day off, but why Morgan Ensberg is hitting above the very hot Cano is beyond me. Game time’s at 4:10 p.m. Starting the Mets’ series at .500 sure would be nice. The Amazin’s, by the way, have just dropped their third out of four to a bunch of softball girls. Hopefully, the Yanks can avoid a similar fate against a much better club than the Nats.
As expected the Yanks dispatched Kei Igawa to Scranton today to make way for Ian Kennedy on the Big League roster. I’ll be back in a bit with the game thread, but I have to wonder if this it for Kei in New York. Baring some catastrophic injury, is there anything that would put him next on the Yankees starting pitching depth charts? With Jeff Karstens working his way back from injury and various young arms on the rise, Kei shouldn’t see anymore New York innings. · (21) ·
When Mark Melancon and J.B. Cox were promoted earlier this week, my thoughts instantly turned to Joba. The Yanks now have a bunch of arms moving their ways through the minors, and it seems that Brian Cashman wants to see what he has in the system as an 8th inning option.
Today, Tyler Kepner put those thoughts into words, and while Brian Cashman claims these recent moves are just individual promotions spurred on by separate development plans, it’s hard not to think about Joba. Kepner writes:
For Chamberlain to transition to the rotation, the Yankees need to have a replacement for him in the bullpen, and Cox is now at Class AAA, with Melancon a level below. Brian Cashman dismissed the idea that there was any connection, and he seemed weary of the topic when I asked him if the plan was still to have Chamberlain be a starter this season.
“Yes, but I just don’t want to be talking about it anymore,” Cashman said. “We’ve answered that question a thousand times. All these guys have individual game plans, and one has nothing to do with another.”
Maybe not, but I still don’t see how the Yankees can take Chamberlain out of the bullpen when he looks as dominant there as he did on Wednesday. Then again, maybe Cox and Melancon blaze their way to the majors, allowing Chamberlain to stretch out his arm as a starter in the minors for a few weeks. Chamberlain won’t throw 98 miles an hour as a starter in the Bronx, but perhaps he would still be overpowering.
Cashman is getting downright snippy about things. But really, there’s absolutely no way these moves aren’t part of some larger plan. It may not be about Chamberlain, per se, but it is about developing the Yanks’ minor league arms so that they are Major League-ready sooner rather than later.
As anyone who reads this site knows, we disagree with Kepner; it’s easy for the Yanks to move Joba into the rotation. Sure, he won’t throw 98 for 7 innings, but he’s always been a dominant starter. His peripherals — K/9 IP, BB/K, HR/9 IP — as a starter have been off the charts, and you just don’t waste those innings in the bullpen. This season, Chien-Ming Wang, the Yanks’ number one starter, has thrown 59 innings while Joba has hurled just over 17. The more innings of quality pitching, the better.
The Yankees can find 8th inning replacements for Joba. They can’t find a front-line starter quite as easily, and as Melancon, Cox and others work their way up, the plan for Joba will come into focus sooner rather than later. It’s just a matter of time.
Jim Baumbach tracked down one-time Yankee honcho Steve Swindal recently, and Swindal, now the head of a marine towing company in Florida, talked with the Newsday reporter. Swindal left the Yanks after a drunk driving incident and a subsequent divorce from George Steinbrenner’s daughter Jennifer. He says he still roots for the Yanks: “Honestly, I wish them the best. I’ll always be pulling for them, and I’d rather just leave it at that.” That’s a rueful quote if ever I heard one. · (11) ·
There? Doesn’t that feel good? The Yankees won, and they did so on a night when the second-place Red Sox lost. So despite their 20-21 record, they’re just three games — two in the ever-important loss column — in back of Boston. A win later this afternoon against Scott Kazmir could do wonders for the morale of Yankee fans.
Let’s do this one up, bullet-point style:
- Had someone told me in March that Mike Mussina would be 6-3 with a 3.99 ERA after nine starts, I would have wondered what that person was smoking. Had I been told that Mussina would share the AL lead in victories in mid-May, I would have just laughed in your face. But Mussina was masterful yet again tonight. He used a devastating fastball-curveball-change up combination to keep hitters off balance, and one at bat late in the game really showed me how Mussina has progressed this season.
At one point in the AB, Mussina dropped in a 64 MPH curve for a strike before coming back with an inside fastball that hit 85 on the YES gun. At that point, Al Leiter was gushing all over himself, saying how pitchers are great if they can get a 10-12 MPH separation between their fastballs and their breaking pitches. That Moose can get a 20 MPH separation and can throw these pitches for strikes leaves me rather optimistic that he can sustain this new-found effectiveness. Girardi is keeping him on a short leash in the late innings, and that’s a-ok with me.
- Over his last five starts, Mike Mussina is 5-0. He’s thrown 29.1 innings with a 2.76 ERA. He’s struck out 17 good for a respectable 5.25 per 9 IP, but he’s issued just 3 — three! — bases on balls. It will be nearly impossible for Mussina — or any pitcher — to sustain this Cliff Lee-ian pace, but as long as he’s stingy with the walks, Moose will find success.
- The Yankees offense isn’t exactly out of the woods yet. Despite their win tonight, the Yanks were just 7 for 31 off of Jamie Shields and the Tampa bullpen. The team is hitting just .194 this week against the Rays. Ouch.
- There is an offensive bright spot, however. Robinson Cano is now hitting .350 on the month, and his average now sets at .205, a whopping .050 higher than it was a little over a week ago. I’m really glad Robbie’s doing well; he’s one of my favorites on this team right now.
- On the other side of the spectrum — and you all had to know this one was coming — is our good friend Melky Cabrera. With his 0 for 4 performance tonight, Melky’s season average dips to .261. In May, he’s hitting .191 with a .224 OBP with a .319 SLG. Now that he’s hitting seventh in the order, the bottom three members of the Yankee lineup have been an offensive black hole lately, and I’m almost tempted to offer up a RAB poll: When will Robinson Cano’s batting average be higher than Melky Cabrera’s? That .056 gap isn’t as large as it seems.
All in all, it was nice to walk away from that game with a win. Shields was tough, but the Yankee pitchers were tougher. We’ll do it again at 4:10 p.m. when one of the prodigal sons returns.