Game 139: A must-win

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We’ve always hated tossing around the phrase “must-win” when it comes to Yankee games. Too often, writers label a game a “must-win” only to see a team lose and then rebound. But today is different.

This afternoon, the Orioles, leading the Red Sox 4-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, gave up two in the seventh, two in the eighth and one in the ninth to lose the game. With that win, Boston is 7.5 games up on the Yankees with 23 left to play. If the Yanks — who have 24 games left — lose tonight, that eight-game deficit will be nigh impossible to cover. They have to win tonight to keep whatever faint glimmer of hope remains alive.

To that end, Carl Pavano will take the mound in search of his third straight win. Once he records the second out of the first inning, he will have thrown more innings this year than he has in the prior two years combined. Go Carl!

Pavano faces Edwin Jackson, and the Yanks do not hit him well. Jackson is 1-1 against the Yanks in four starts this year. He’s sporting a 2.59 ERA in 24.1 innings against the Bombers.

It’s hard to believe that the season could hinge on Carl Pavano.

Damon CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
A. Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Nady LF
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
I. Rodriguez C

Pavano P

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Yanks’ offseason pitching plan, part three

    We know the Yanks badly want CC Sabathia. We’ve heard they’re interested in fellow Brewer ace Ben Sheets as Plan B. Now, Ken Rosenthal reports rumblings we’ve heard for a while: A.J. Burnett, who holds an opt-out clause and can file for free agency, plans to draw significant interest from the both the Red Sox and the Yankees. Burnett is clearly the Yanks’ third choice, but blocking him from going to the Red Sox or at least increasing his demands would be a worthy cause. (Hat tip to the ever-reliable MLBTR.) · (53) ·

  • A new toy for the new Stadium

    I know I mentioned this fun little toy yesterday when I wrote about the Yankees’ season ticket relocation efforts, but I wanted to plug it again. As part of their new stadium relocation package, the Yanks have put up a digital seat view tool of the new Yankee Stadium. With the tool — which you can access right here — you can select any section in the new stadium to check out the sightlines from the front, middle and back of that section. Take a look at the view from the sports bar or the bleachers. Take a look at the view from the $2500 seats and the $100 boxes behind the outfield wall. The daylight view is also pretty neat. · (7) ·

Over the past year and a half at RAB, one of the most frequent and hotly debated topics has been of whether the team should retain Brain Cashman as general manager. While Ben, Mike, and I have made our stances clear, we do acknowledge the arguments of the anti-Cashman crowd, of which there are many (arguments and members). There have been a number of poor moves made during Cashman’s tenure, and one might claim that the Yankees woes this season are the product of decisions he’s made over the past six or seven years.

According to a few reports this morning — we’ll look to Anthony Rieber of Newsday — the decision has been made, at least on the Yankees end. Hal and Hank Steinbrenner reportedly want Cashman to man the helm for a few more seasons. This, according to Rieber, is due to Cashman working well with Hal, seemingly the saner of the brothers. The more we read about the Brothers Stein, the more it seems that while Hank is the mouthpiece, Hal is the one pulling the strings.

Cashman has been mum on the situation, as he should be. He’s got plenty of time to weigh his options. While there may be no job more prestigious than Yankees GM, he might prefer the calmer atmosphere of Seattle. Who knows?

Since we always seem to have the “should Cashman stay” debate, let’s try something different today. If you were in Brian Cashman‘s shoes, would you take a three-year contract with a reasonable raise from the Yankees? Or would you seek different pastures?

Categories : Front Office
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Based on the numbers, things are not looking too good for the Yankees right now. Earlier today, Clay Davenport’s Playoff Odds Report had the Yanks making the playoffs less than one percent of the time while after tonight’s win, CoolStandings projects them to reach October 1.4 percent of the time. Those are rather overwhelming odds.

But as the Yanks showed tonight, they ain’t goin’ down without a fight. In a nutshell, Moose pitched well, Xavier Nady hit a bomb, A-Rod hit a meaningless home run to tie Mike Schmidt on the all-time list, and some guy out for a month returned to the mound. That’s right; Dan Giese is back. Let’s break it down.

For the Yankees, as we read earlier, pitching is key, and tonight’s pitchers came up big. Mike Mussina, trying for the third time for win number 17, threw 6+ innings tonight, giving up too many hits (10) but striking out eight to minimize the damage. He allowed just one walk and is still on pace to issue fewer walks than the number of games he starts. He has thrown just 24 bases on balls in his 29 starts.

The Yanks’ bats, behind a monstrous Xavier Nady shot off the far reaches of the Tropicana Dome roof, and three runs scored by A-Rod, gave Moose plenty of support. While on Monday in Detroit, they singled the Tigers to death, four of their nine hits off of Tampa on Tuesday went for extra bases. Finally, the Yankees are showing us what they can do on all sides of the ball. They played small ball to score their first run of the game and long ball to put the game out of reach. Where was this all season?

With Mussina’s win tonight, the Yanks will give him a fair shot at 20 on the season. If they keep Mussina on a strict five-day rest schedule, he’s due to make five more starts this year. All he has to do — easier said than done, I know — is win three of those. He’ll face Seattle, Tampa, Chicago, Toronto and Boston, and if he’s going to get to 20 wins this year, he’ll really have to earn it.

Meanwhile, Yankee fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief as the Yankees eased Joba back into the bullpen trotted out Joba Chamberlain to pitch out of a seventh-inning jam. Chamberlain retired free-agent-to-be Rocco Baldelli on one pitch, and needed just 18 more — only half of them strikes — to make it through the eighth. He didn’t strike out anyone, and he gave up a walk and a hit in that 1.1 innings of work. But no matter; it’s good to see him back, and it’s good to see the Yanks win a crisp game after Monday’s near-nightmare.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (47)

Triple-A Scranton‘s regular season is over. They take on the Pawtucket Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs starting tomorrow. Chase Wright faces Charlie Zink in Game 1, Ian Kennedy takes on Devern Hansack in Game 2.

Double-A Trenton‘s regular season is over. They take on the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) in the first round of the playoffs starting tomorrow. Eric Hacker faces Kris Johnson in Game 1, while Jeff Marquez draws Clay Buchholz in Game 2. Mike Ashmore broke down the matchup, and also talked about the Trenton-Portland rivalry.

High-A Tampa‘s season is over, they did not qualify for the playoffs. You can find Florida State League playoff coverage here.

Low-A Charleston‘s season is over, they did not qualify for the playoffs. You can find South Atlantic League playoff coverage here.

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (38)

It’s simply not something we Yankees fans are used to. The Tampa Bay Rays, since the return of Scott Kazmir on May 4, have used the same five guys to start every single game. James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza, and Kazmir. They’ve only used seven starters all season. The Yankees have used 11 starters, 12 if you count the game Bruney started because of the potential rain delay.

Fun facts about the Rays starters. They’re all 26 or younger, the eldest statesman being James Shields. Save for Sonnanstine, they all have ERAs under 4.00. Each one of them is under team control through at least 2011, when Jackson becomes eligible for free agency. Kazmir has a 2012 team option, and Shields has one for ’12 and ’13. Sonnanstine and Garza didn’t even have a full year of service time heading into this year, though they could be Super Twos this winter — Garza almost certainly will be.

This, I think, is what the Yanks have been angling for. The difference, of course, is the sacrifice. The Rays have been terrible since entering the league. Prior to this season, their record for wins in a season was 70. That means lots of high draft picks, which they’ve used wisely. They didn’t have to take the signability or injury guy later in the first round. They were guaranteed premium talent. The Yankees are trying to do this without sacrificing the present. You have to admire that, though who knows if it will work.

So you can envy where the Rays are now. Kind of like you could envy where the Yankees were in 1995/1996. The difference is that the Rays lived with a decade of being the worst team in baseball. The Yankees had a few bad years in the 80s and early 90s, but only finished below .500 five times from 1982, the year after they had appeared in the World Series, through 1992, the last year to date they’ve finished below .500.

Your lineup:

1. Johnny Damon, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B (why does my spell checker continue to put a red line under “Rodriguez”?)
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Xavier Nady, LF
7. HIdeki Matsui, DH
8. Robinson Cano, 2B
9. Jose Molina, C

And on the mound, going for his seventeenth victory, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.

Notes: Caught this on the Star Ledger Yanks blog: The City of New York could lose out on $141 million if the Yanks fail to make the playoffs. C’mon, Bloomberg. Light a fire under this team’s ass.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (435)

Finally, a stadium with section numbers that run sequentially. It makes too much sense. (Click to enlarge.)

Over the weekend, as ESPN reported, the Yankees unveiled their season ticket prices for 2009 and the relocation plans for ticket holders not interested in forking over their left kidneys for comparable tickets. As the Yankees have repeatedly told the public, the vast majority of tickets in 2009 will be sold at the same price point as they were in 2008, but what the future holds is anyone’s guess.

The news first:

Prices for the best seats were announced in March, with the Yankees charging $500-$2,500 for tickets near home plate in the first nine rows, contained in 25 sections ringing home plate. In all, the Yankees have sold more than 3,500 of approximately 4,300 premium seats on the field, main and terrace levels, chief operating officer Lonn Trost said Friday. “Other than those 4,300 seats, which are going to subsidize everybody else, the prices are not” being raised significantly, Trost said. “And remember, 24,000-plus seats will have no price increase at all.”

The Yankees said Friday the remainder of the field-seats level seats cost from $75-$325 as part of season tickets, while main-level seats go for $45-$100. The highest deck is split into two areas, with terrace seats going for $40-$65 and grandstand selling for $20 and $25.

In a sign most of the best seats will be sold as season tickets, only the least expensive category of field seats and the two least expensive levels of main seats are being made available for partial plans. The Yankees are charging $5-$10 more per seat for partial plans than they are for season tickets. Individuals game prices haven’t been set.

So a lot of this information is nothing new. The Yanks long ago announced the new price points for the 2009 season tickets and their fancy premium seats. Now, we have season ticket pricing for other areas as well. Partial season packages will be available only on the Field and Main levels past first and third bases, on the Terrace level midway up the basepath and for the entire Grandstand and Bleacher levels. The seats right behind the outfield in front of the bleachers will basically cost $100 per ticket per game.

The people who end up getting the short end of the straw here are the fans sitting in what will become the premium seats. Those fans — including the ones sitting in what are now the primo sections in the Tier Boxes behind the plate — will either have to foot the bill for substantial price increases or enter the relocation lottery which doesn’t guarantee seats substantially similar to what those fans have now. That is, of course, the price to pay for moving across the street to the new digs.

While season-ticket and partial-plan holders are sure to feel rightfully upset by this move, I can only wonder what the future has in store for ticket prices. The Yankees are keeping 24,000 seats at the same price next year, but Lonn Trost has made no guarantees beyond 2009. I doubt the Yanks will be so altruistic come 2010. The best is yet to come.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (11)
  • Melky in the minors, for now

    The Sept. 1 roster expansion has come and gone, and for now, Melky Cabrera, once the Yankees’ starting center fielder, remains in the minors. Ed Price checked in with Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman on the state of Melky, and two Yankee officials are saying the same thing. “There’s not playing time for him right now so he might as well keep playing and improving,” Girardi said. In AAA, Melky is hitting .333 but with just two extra-base hits and a .778 OPS. At this point, the Yanks may have to address center field during the off-season as well. · (58) ·