So that’s it. Six months. 89 wins. Too many frustrating losses to count. Too many injuries to overcome.

When Jon Van Every, a 28-year-old non-prospect, lined a ball into right field to bring a merciful end to a meaningless game on a rainy Sunday night in September, the Yanks’ 2008 season came to an end. Off the field, the season was contentious. We’ve seen battles over the proper way to build a team and battles over the trades the team did and did not make. We’ve seen battles over the future of the team and battles over the past.

On the field, the season was a disappointment. While Phil Hughes left a sweet taste in our mouths this week in Toronto, between the two of them, Hughes and Ian Kennedy managed zero wins. A fluke injury to Chien-Ming Wang cost the Yankees a playoff berth, and a mid-August shelving of Joba Chamberlain pushed the Yanks towards irrelevancy. Jorge Posada went down on Opening Day and would never recovery. His replacements, as we’ll discover, weren’t up for the job — or any job really. Hideki Matsui‘s knee couldn’t withstand the pressure of a season, and while he’s heading for surgery, his health in 2009 is far from guaranteed.

Offensively, the team didn’t impress. Melky Cabrera had an All Star April and turned into a pumpkin on May 4. Between May 6 and August 13, the day he was finally sent back to AAA, Melky hit .225/.273/.279 over 322 plate appearances. Robinson Cano, picked to win the batting title by more than a few analysts this year, was nearly as bad. A late-season benching resulted in a final hot streak for Cano, and we were all left wondering what might have happened had the Yanks sat him down earlier in the season.

But for the downs, there were some ups. The Yanks’ bullpen solidified around a bunch of young power arms, and with more in the system, the days of running through relievers might be over. Joba Chamberlain outdueled Josh Beckett in Boston, and the future looks bright for that one.

The old man had his turn in the sun too. Mike Mussina, pitching in the twilight of his career, won 20 games for the first time ever and did so by winning his last three starts of the year. He pitched the last two with a sore right elbow, hurt when he took a line drive off of it early in the game in Toronto last week. It sounds like Mike may call it a career, and it’s been a great ride.

As 2008 draws to a close, the Yanks may be saying their good byes to a lot of long-term members of the team. We’ll know soon — perhaps today — if Brian Cashman is coming back. But we could be saying so long to Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte.

On a personal note, we’ve had over three million visitors since Spring Training, and we owe a huge thank you to everyone who comes here to read what we’re saying and just to chat about baseball every day. With the off-season upon us, we’re just getting started. The Yanks are bound to have an active off-season. They have holes to fill in their outfield; holes to fill in their infield; and holes to fill in their rotation. With money on hand and a new stadium rising in the Bronx, the team is going to be active on the free agent market, and we’ll be here reporting and analyzing everything that happens.

This has, for me, been quite a season. It’s been emotional as the Yanks closed out their stadium; it’s been fun as we’ve enjoyed baseball for baseball’s sake; and it’s been disappointing as the Yanks at the end of the year showed us what could have been had they played well. While the team will have to wait ’til next year, we just have to wait until Brian Cashman speaks. The fun of the season may be over, but who doesn’t love the Hot Stove League?

Categories : Game Stories
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I’m going to hold another live chat sometime this week, probably mid-day Monday or Tuesday. I’ll post a reminder with a definite time once I get it figured out. Here’s the two previous chats if you want to see what’s up.

HWB Waikiki (7-2 loss to Honolulu)
Austin Romine: 0 for 4, 1 K – started behind the plate & batted 7th … he reached base on a fielding error by the shortstop … threw two would-be base stealers out, but one got in safe
Jeremy Bleich: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 3-2 GB/FB – picked a runner off first … 23 of 51 pitches were strikes (45.1%) … yeah, so he was having trouble throwing strikes … must be the time difference or something

The Arizona Fall League starts on October 7th.

Categories : Down on the Farm
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So here we are folks, the last time we’ll get to see our beloved Bombers play until Spring Training starts in March. We’ll be around all winter of course, but baseball blogging just doesn’t have to same feel to it during the offseason. I’d much rather sit and bitch about pitching changes than trying to guess the next big signing, but eh, what can you do now.

Enjoy the last game.

1. Gardner, CF
2. Cano, 2B
3. Giambi, DH
4. Nady, LF
5. Pudge, C
6. Betemit, 3B
7. Ransom, SS
8. Melky, RF
9. Miranda, 1B

And on the mound in what I hope is that last time I ever see him in a Yankee uniform, Sidney Ponson.

Notes: If you didn’t listen to Moose’s postgame press conference, it certainly sounded like he was ready to hang’em up. What a career, we’re all lucky to have witnessed it.

Categories : Game Threads
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By in Game Stories. Tags: · Comments (35) ·

What a way for Moose to end his season. Congrats on that 20th victory.

Categories : Game Stories
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It’s raining in Boston again, but the weather should let up in time to allow the Yanks and Red Sox to play a meaningless double header. In Game 1, Mike Mussina is going for his 20th win of the year. He faces Daisuke Matsuzaka.

After today, the only baseball left is post-season play. It’s hard to believe the season is almost over. Didn’t Spring Training just end?

Gardner CF
Damon LF
Abreu RF
A.Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Nady DH
Cano 2B
Ransom SS
Molina C

Mussina P

Categories : Game Threads
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Assessing Joe Girardi

By in Analysis. Tags: · Comments (24) ·

Ed Price, Yankee beat writer for the troubled Star Ledger, has been one of the more reliable reporters this year. He’s consistently offered up what I feel are fair assessments of the team through thick and thin. If The Star-Ledger goes under, as has been rumored around the New York media circuit recently, I hope Price lands himself a good gig with another paper.

Today, Price tackles a topic bound to come up over the off-season: Joe Girarid’s effectiveness in his first season as Yankee manager. The piece is both a fair and blunt assessment of Girardi’s shortcomings this season. Compiling some info from anonymous clubhouse sources, Price writes:

Girardi’s shortcomings this season have been a lack of communication with players and some of his coaches, an inability, at times, to create a productive atmosphere, a lack of a deft touch with the media (no small issue in New York) and an occasional disregard for players’ egos…

The media skills of Girardi — who has worked as a television analyst — became a topic again last week when Girardi, at Mariano Rivera‘s request, tried to hide Rivera’s shoulder issue. In the aftermath, Girardi wound up apologizing for his handling of injury news over the course of the season.

The same tension that often comes across in Girardi’s interview sessions also affects the players. He has been described as “tight” from about an hour before the game through its duration, and players feed off that.

So as the team dug itself a deficit in the standings, the players found it hard to relax.

Price also notes that Girardi relied too heavily on Bobby Meachem and Mike Harkey, coaches of his from the Marlins, and did not do a great job with talent evaluation, including decisions regarding Morgan Ensberg and the center field role.

In the end, we’ll all have a lot to say about Joe Girardi this year. He has his flaws; he has his strengths. The real test will, of course, come next year when we find out if Joe learned anything from his first year in New York.

Categories : Analysis
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HWB Waikiki
(Honolulu leads 8-0 in the 3rd)
Andrew Brackman: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3-1 GB/FB – the reliever allowed a pair of inherited runners to score

Eh, so it wasn’t as great as we all hoped, but who gives a crap. It’s his first ever start in an affiliated game and it’s winter ball. He’s there for one reason – to do some learnin’. As I said last winter, it’s probably going to take this kid years before he figures out some comfortable, consistent mechanics.

Unfortunately Gameday didn’t have pitch type or velocity, but you could see he was missing high (as you’d expect a 6’10″ pitcher to do) and putting too many balls in the dirt (seven total, most likely with the spike curve). Catcher Buster Posey was charged with two passed balls, likely on curves. All-in-all, of the 45 strikes he threw (71 pitches total), 10 were called strikes and 35 were swinging. That’s a function of both his electric stuff and the A-ball level competition.

Supposedly you’ll be able to listen and/or watch HWB games here this winter (h/t Eric), but the video feed was off-air all night, and radio broadcast was Hawaii-San Jose St. Hopefully that starts working properly in the near future.

No other Yankees’ farmhands were in the starting lineup. I’ll update this post with the final score and any additional stats tonight if I’m still awake, otherwise it’ll wait until tomorrow.

The Arizona Fall League season starts on October 7th.

Update (1:00pm): Honolulu won 8-4, no other Yanks’ prospects got into the game.

Categories : Down on the Farm
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Rookie Hazing Photos

By in Whimsy. · Comments (24) ·

This year’s theme: The Village People. The cast: Brett Gardner as the construction worker, Juan Miranda as the cop, Al Aceves as the indian, Frankie Cervelli as the biker, Humberto Sanchez as the sailor, and David Robertson as the cowboy. Phil Coke was spared because there weren’t enough costumes to go around.

Given the way they played all year, it’s no surprise the team vets mailed this one in too. Yawn.

Categories : Whimsy
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  • Yanks, Sox to play two tomorrow

    The Yankees and the Red Sox are going to end their season in style. While today’s game was rained out, the teams will play a double header tomorrow to close out the year. Sidney Ponson will probably pitch one game while Mike Mussina will go for win number 20 on the final day of the year. In the meantime, feel free to make this another open thread. FOX is showing the Brewers and Cubs if you’re in New York or the Phillies and Nationals elsewhere. At least, somewhere, teams are fighting it out in a pennant race. · (25) ·