In yesterday’s New York Sun — which might close its doors at month’s end — Steven Goldman penned a gloomy article on the near future of the Yankees. The main idea of his post is highlighted in the above headline. According to Goldman, the Yankees will not be good in 2009.
The main argument is age. He notes that only one player currently under contract, Robinson Cano, is under 30. That’s never a good thing, though they do have control of Xavier Nady for one more year before he reaches free agency. Then you have to look at the players who are under contract. A-Rod is still a monster. Jeter could have a rebound year, but even if he doesn’t, he’s still a solid shortstop while at the plate. Jorge Posada should be back and healthy, supplying above-average performance for a catcher. Chien-Ming Wang can come back and win us another 19 games. Johnny Damon has been great this year, and hopefully he can eke out one more good year before hitting free agency.
There are a few IFs in the above paragraph, of course. More IFs circle around the pitching staff. Moose and Pettitte get the double IF: IF they come back, and IF they continue giving you quality innings. IF Joba Chamberlain can stay healthy and in the rotation for most of the season (Goldman has a few words on that). Then you move on to free agency. IF they sign CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets. IF they’re able to fill the center field hole. IF…the lost goes on.
So I can understand where Goldman is coming from. In a boatload of IFs, a few are bound to fall overboard. However, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The Yankees will have to be shrewd this off-season. They can’t afford to be sentimental. We’ll go over this in more depth as the season comes to a close.
As you can imagine, we’re utterly thrilled with this news: Melky Cabrera will rejoin the Yankees today. Melky was exiled to AAA last month after 440 Major League plate appearances of .242/.296/.337 production. While in the minors, Melky hit .333/.409/.368 with just two extra-base hits. He also went 1 for 7 in the playoffs. So either Melky actually improved and may contribute with Bobby Abreu’s missing a few games or he’s just your consummate AAAA player. I know what I think, and I’m sure you all do too. · (28) ·
Is there a game out there more illustrative of the frustrations of the 2008 Yankee season that this one? Because this one really laid it all out there for us.
It started out so promising. The Yanks had two on in the first against Scott Kazmir, and while they didn’t have a hit, it seemed as though the one-time Mets farmhand didn’t have his best stuff. Of course, Kazmir settled down and Darrell Rasner, well, he pitched just like Rasner. In fact, to cap of a progression of bad starts, Rasner reached some valley. It may well have been the last start Rasner makes for the 2008 Yankees.
After getting out of the first, Rasner just ran out of everything. He made it through four outs and twelve batters today. He allowed six hits and two walks en route to a five-earned run effort. When Al Aceves took over, you could feel that collective “here we go again” sigh ripple its way across the Yankee Universe.
While Rasner couldn’t deliver, Aceves could. The Mexican Gangster threw five stellar innings. He allowed one run on five hits. And two walks while striking out four. Sixty one of his 97 pitches went for stikes. I would have liked to see Aceves take Sidney Ponson’s spot a few weeks ago, but now it seems as though he’ll inherit Darrell Rasner’s starts this month.
As the game progressed, the Yanks couldn’t put much of anything together. But in the ninth, an unlikely rally materialized. Cody Ransom – 3 for 3 on the evening – drove in the Yanks’ first run of the night. Derek Jeter blasted a three-run shot, and A-Rod went back-to-back with another monstrous home run. But 7-5 would remain the final score, and the Yanks would slip another half game in the Wild Card.
Rasner’s outing tonight highlights something that has impacted the Yanks all year. While some fans feel the Yanks just had bad pitching this year, Darrell Rasner had no business being in the rotation. Had Joba not gotten hurt, had Chien-Ming Wang not gotten hurt, had Phil Hughes remained healthy, we wouldn’t be watching Darrell Rasner fall to 5-10 with a 5.43 ERA on the season.
But for the Yanks, 2008 has been one long season of what-if’s. Tonight’s loss and the short Rasner outing is just one more of those games in a season filled with them.
Triple-A Scranton (3-1 loss to Pawtucket) best-of-five series is tied 1-1 … an old friend did them in this game
Justin Christian, Melky, Juan Miranda & Shelley Duncan (aka the 1-4 hitters): all 0 for 4 – Christian K’ed twice, Melky & Miranda once each, Shelley thrice
Ben Broussard: 1 for 4, 2 K
Nick Green: 0 for 2, 1 R, 1 BB
Eric Duncan: 1 for 2, 1 2B, 1 BB
The Chrises: both 0 for 3 – Stewart drove in a run with a groundout & K’ed … Basak K’ed twice
IPK: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 5-11 GB/FB – 56 of 94 pitches were strikes (59.6%) … pitched well enough to win, but it just wasn’t meant to be
Zack Kroenke: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Oneli Perez: 0.1 IP, zeroes
In the ninth inning of last night’s game, Bobby Abreu stole second and jammed his hand while sliding. The YES cameras showed the Yanks’ right fielder flexing his fingers, and today, he’s out of the lineup. The Yanks haven’t announced the extent of the injury, but they do plan to call up someone from AAA soon.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are playing a night game in Tampa prior to a flight to Seattle and a night game tomorrow night. Considering that Tampa doesn’t really draw many fans, day or night, to their games but can expect a crowd for the Yankees, MLB should have scheduled this one as a day game. But once again, the economic impact of the Yankees far outweighs any practical considerations. And, by the way, the Yanks can’t take a longer AL flight than the one they will board tonight shortly after the game.
Classic mismatch tonight: Darrell Rasner vs. Scott Kazmir. Gotta win tonight though. Keep the ball rolling.
Notes: Rasner is 5-9 with a 5.08 ERA. He last won on July 12 and since then, has made eight appearances — seven starts — spanning 41 innings. He’s sporting a 15:18 BB:K ratio and has allowed seven home runs. During this stretch, opponents are hitting .276/.344/.436 against him.
Yanks’ sandwich pick Jeremy Bleich – the highest drafted player they actually signed this year – made his professional debut with the Short Season Staten Island Yanks this afternoon. Held to a strict pitch count, the ex-Stanford southpaw tossed 3 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 runs in the process. He struck out four, and posted a 1-4 GB/FB ratio
Bleich struck out the first batter he faced, then hit the second batter with a pitch before serving up a 2-run jack to the third. He gave up a double to the next batter, but then settled down and retired the next 7 batters 8 batters in order before exiting the game. The Baby Bombers rallied for three runs, so Bleich is off the hook for the loss. He’s obviously a bust, right? · (34) ·
As the final game at Yankee Stadium draws nearer, some of us wonder, what about Bob? Will the legendary Yankees PA announcer, who has had the gig since 1951, be healthy enough to lend his voice one more time? He sure hopes so, as he tells Jim Baumbach of Newsday.
“The doctor is questioning my stamina,” Sheppard said. Then he repeated the word stamina while slowly and carefully annunciating all three syllables. “Sta-min-a.”
“In other words, can I leave my home in Baldwin at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and get home at midnight and not suffer any relapse?”
One alternative Sheppard suggested would be to have current PA announcer Jim Hall sit in standby. Says Sheppard: “And if I begin to get too tired, he would be my relief speaker, like a relief pitcher.”
While we all wish Sheppard to be the man to call the final game, his health certainly is a concern. He relates that his doctor wishes him to climb the 15 steps in his house 15 times a day, which would help build his stamina. However, he is not ready for such activity at this point.
Have we already heard the last of Bob Sheppard’s voice live at the Stadium? Perhaps. That would be quite sad. I suppose the Yanks will continue to use his recording for Derek Jeter‘s introduction until No. 2 retires, though.
Last week, Hank Steinbrenner raised some eyebrows when he told Newsday that the Yanks were “looking at” CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. While these admission is hardly a secret, that Steinbrenner was willing to name-drop Sabathia, a free agent-to-be, and Burnett, a player currently under contract to the Blue Jays for more than the next few months, raised a few concerns.
In particular, Jon Heyman expressed his surprise at the announcement. The Sports Illustrated scribe called the remarks “the clearest example of tampering in recent history.” While Heyman admits that MLB doesn’t really enforce tampering rules, just this statement of fact on Heyman’s part got me thinking about Steinbrenner.
Hank is relatively new to the baseball scene and the New York tabloids. He also has the Steinbrenner tendency to run his mouth off whenever he feels like it regardless of who is around and what he’s saying. Not only is Steinbrenner tampering with Burnett — the Blue Jays’ pitcher is even more likely to exercise his opt-out clause now — but Steinbrenner is weakening the Yankee hand.
Sure, everyone knows that the Yanks want a top-line starter for 2009. Sure, everyone knows that the Yankees will have the money to overwhelm Sabathia. But by dropping the names, Hank gives more power to the pitcher. Reign it in, Hank. It’s bad bargaining business to give the other side so much information well ahead of any potential negotiation.
We all know the Carl Pavano Story by now.
Coming off of a career year, an overrated pitcher attracts a lot of attention and signs a four-year, $39.95 million deal with the Yankees. Said pitcher makes 17 mediocre starts, hits the disabled list and can’t get healthy for the next two years. He’s in weird car crashes, hurts hits buttocks during Spring Training and has surgery. Said pitcher than starts Opening Day 2007, has one decent and one good start and then opts for reconstructive surgery.
By the time September 3, 2008 rolls around, said pitcher is on the verge of making his 23rd start for the Yankees. So far, Pavano has made $1.7 million per Yankee start, and the end of his contract is near. On Wednesday, Pavano faltered early, and with the Yanks up 6-3, Joe Girardi yanked that short leash with no outs in the fourth. Pavano’s line wasn’t terrible — 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K and 47 of 79 for strikes — but his post-game comments were truly hilarious.
“I feel like I cheated my team tonight,” he said. Well, better late than never, I guess.
In the end, it would matter little. Edwar Ramirez bailed out Pavano, and he combined with Phil Coke and Brian Bruney to throw four scoreless innings. By the time Jose Veras gave up a run in the ninth, the Yanks had an 8-3 lead and were able to coast to their third straight victory.
It would not be a game without controversy courtesy of one Mr. Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. In the ninth inning with the Yanks up 6-3 and Bobby Abreu on base for the third time, A-Rod blasted a home run clear over the left field foul pole. There was only one problem: Was it fair or foul?
So an A-Rod blast in the ninth inning of a three-run game became the very first home run call to be subjected to baseball’s new instant replay rule. After
an interminable delay that slowed down the game so that it went on well past midnight a wait of just over two minutes, the umpires gathered to announce that the ruling on the field was stand. While the umpires said that the replay may have clouded the issue, nothing they saw convinced them that the ball was not a home run.
And thus A-Rod passed Mike Schmidt for sole possession of 12th place on the all-time home run list, and the Yankees held on for another day, seven games behind Boston for that last playoff spot, ten behind Tampa and with just 23 left to play.