When April ended, a baseball lifetime ago, the three of us here at River Ave. Blues were eating our words a bit when it came to one Melky Cabrera. Long doubters of the long-term viability of the Yanks’ center fielder, we had just witnessed Melky put up a .299/.370/.494 line with five home runs and 12 RBI. Melky, it seemed, had finally emerged as a bona fide Major Leage hitter.
And then everything fell apart. On May 4, Melky hit his sixth home run of the season, and the two RBIs gave him 17 on the season. Since then, however, Melky’s season has been an utter abomination.
From May 6 onward, Melky managed 322 plate appearances. He hit .225/.273/.279 with 11 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs. He struck out 42 times, and many Yankee-watchers figured that his August benching and subsequent demotion came approximately a month too late. I, surprisingly, disagree, and as the teams have passed since Melky’s optioning to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I’m still trying to comes to terms with the Yanks’ decision.
By sending Melky Cabrera down to AAA, the Yanks are basically telling everyone — Melky, the 29 other clubs, the rest of the team — that they are giving up on him. Sure, Joe Girardi can tell us that Melky needs to “go work on some things,” and Cashman can proclaim Melky to be “a better player than this.” But that’s just lip service the Yanks are paying to the press and whatever remains of Melky’s self-esteem.
The truth remains that Melky Cabrera is a three-year Major League veteran and that in each of his three seasons, his offensive production has gotten progressively worse. Considering that he was never really an elite hitting prospects in the first place, it’s hard right now to envision him as a player with much long-term potential at the Major League level.
With this demotion, the Yanks have broadcast this belief and the reality of it all to any potential trading partner, and they’ve done so in a way that is designed to destroy Melky’s confidence. Is it any wonder, then, that as of Saturday night, Cabrera still hadn’t reported to AAA?
For the Yankees to turn Melky Cabrera into something worthwhile, they will have to package him in a trade this off-season. Once upon a time — two years ago — the Yanks could have built a trade around Melky Cabrera and, perhaps, another pitching prospect. But now, any team trading with the Yanks will view Melky as a throw-in and one that got demoted in the heat of a pennant race at that.
Make no mistake about it; Melky Cabrera did not deserve any more playing time as a starter in the Yankee outfielder. But any value he had to the team is long gone. What the Yanks plan to do to reclaim that value and rebuild Melky Cabrera is anyone’s guess.
Should probably get this up before first pitch, huh? Let’s get a little hot streak going.
1. Damon, DH
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Nady, LF
7. Cano, 2B
8. Molina, C
9. Walk-off hit machine, CF
And on the mound, the guy we all hope gets that elusive 20-win season this year, Mikey Moose.
Over the last few weeks, as the Yanks have slipped in the AL East and Wild Card standings, Yankee fans, looking for a scapegoat, have found their favorite target in Number 13. A-Rod, as everyone knows by now, isn’t hitting well with runners in scoring position this year, and for some reason, this is reason enough to blame an entire disappointing season on the $27-million-man’s shoulders. While we’ve always been on Alex’s side, David Pinto points out a trend: A-Rod’s strike out rates with runners on base are significantly higher than they are with bases empty. With no one on, A-Rod strikes out 15.4 percent of the time; with runners on, that number nearly doubles to 28.2 percent. As Pinto writes, “He’s not even giving the runners a chance to advance 1/4 of the time.” · (17) ·
The Kansas City Royals are no one’s definition of a good baseball team. They’re 55-68 and in last place, 14.5 games behind the AL Central-leading duo of Minnesota and Chicago. When the Royals come to the Bronx, then, the Yanks should be able to put them away.
On Saturday, the Yanks put them away, but they do so excruciatingly. It took 13 innings and a whole lotta futility before the Yanks won a game they needed to win to keep their slim October hopes alive. With Roy Halladay spoiling Paul Byrd’s Boston debut, the Yanks creeped to within six of the Wild Card-leading Red Sox.
For the Yanks, this had all the trappings of One of Those Days. Sidney Ponson gutted it out, again, through 6.1 innings. He held the Royals to two runs and allowed a respectable nine baserunners. But when he left, the Yanks were facing a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 deficit.
In the bottom of the seventh, things started going their way. A-Rod, much maligned recently for his struggles with runners on base, reached on an error. While Jason Giambi walked, Xavier Nady hit into a double play. Cano then blasted an RBI triple and scored on a wild pitch. One hit, two runs, none of them earned. At this point in the season, I’ll take anything.
As the game dragged on past the eighth, ninth, tenth, the Yanks’ offensive woes mounted, but the pitching held up. In relief of Ponson, the Yanks’ bullpen threw 6.2 innings, allowing just one hit and three walks. Meanwhile, the Yanks hit into four double plays and left 13 runners on base against a last place team.
Finally, in the bottom of the 13th, Robinson Cano, a hero six innings earlier, started off the game-ending rally. With one out, Cano singled and advanced to second on an Ivan Rodriguez out. Brett Gardner, in for an exiled Melky Cabrera, singled to left — his third hit of the day and second walk-off of the season — and Cano scored.
It wasn’t pretty; it took too long; but it got the job done. With help on the way — Joba says he’s feeling good, Hideki’s rehabbing, Phil Hughes tosses for AAA and a potential MLB start later today — the Yanks may just have enough in them yet. That is, after all, why they play the games.
Triple-A Scranton (12-9 win over Lehigh Valley in 10 innings) 13 of the 21 combined runs were scored in the ast two-and-a-half innings … yikes
Bernie Castro, Ben Broussard & Chad Moeller: all 2 for 5 – Castro drew a walk, scored 3 runs & committed a fielding error … Broussard scored a pair of runs & K’ed … Moeller doubled, scored a run & K’ed thrice
Matt Carson: 2 for 6, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K – still playing CF because Melky hasn’t shown up yet
Juan Miranda: 1 for 6, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K
Shelley Duncan: 3 for 6, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 K – gave SWB the lead in the 10th with a 2-run homer off an old friend … he also chipped in a 2-run single later in the inning
Jason Lane: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Eric Duncan: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K, 2 E (both fielding) – first homer since July 20th
Chase Wright: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 12-3 GB/FB – 46 of 79 pitches were strikes (.582) … took a no-hitter into the 6th
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 8 of 11 pitches were strikes (72.7%) … worked back-to-back days for the first time as a pro
Phil Coke: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB
Scott Patterson: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K - came in to face one batter, and he struck him out on 3 pitches
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K – 18 of 33 pitches were strikes (54.5%) … blew the save in Heilmanian fashion
JB Cox: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0-2 GB/FB – did his best to give back the 7-spot they scored in the top of the 10th
Steven Jackson: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1-0 GB/FB - seems like he’s been the designated jam getter-outer of late
When last the Yankees missed the playoffs, Ace of Base issued their smash debut album, Danny Tartabull was the highest paid Yankee and Rudy Giuliani was six weeks away from winning the Mayorship of New York City. The year was 1993, and I was ten. Now, as columnists prepare to write their requiems for the Yankees playoff streak, John Rolfe at CNNSI.com took a look back at the year that was when last the Yankees made the playoffs. While we can’t count the Bombers out yet, Rolfe’s piece certainly highlights the questionable pop culture choices we all made during the early 1990s. (Hat tip to NJ.com.) · (10) ·
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How’s this for a little Saturday morning reading? According to Ken Rosenthal, Jason Giambi is playing himself toward a free agent bidding war. With Giambi’s putting up excellent on-base and power numbers this year, Rosenthal sees the Indians, Mariners, Blue Jays and A’s as potential suitors for Giambi.
There is, of course, a catch – a five-million-dollar catch. The Yanks hold a $22 million option on Giambi’s contract but have to pay him a $5 million buyout if they don’t exercise that option. If Giambi’s services are truly in demand, the Yanks will have to decide if they want to pay Giambi five million to play for a potential competitor. Right now, it’s tough to say if Rosenthal is just speculating on Giambi’s future or if he has a sense of what the Indians and others are thinking.
I don’t believe the Yanks will be tempted to exercise their option, and Rosenthal agrees. But the Yanks are going to face a tough decision on Jason no matter how this season plays out. He’s old; he’s not in the best of health. But he can still launch the ball, and his batting eye remains among the game’s best. What to do, what to do.
This afternoon, when the Yankees play the Royals in an afternoon affair at the Stadium, the Yankees will be in a distant third place in both the AL East and the Wild Card. They’re 10.5 games behind Tampa Bay, closer to last place than to first. Boston finds itself with a seven-game lead over the Yanks as well.
So from here on out, we’re just going to sit back and enjoy baseball for it is: our favorite sport played during the dog days of summer. It’s time to remember what’s great about the game and why we all love watching and spending so much time thinking, writing and talking baseball.
In the end, the Yankees may yet make the playoffs. Perhaps this team can overcome the odds and make an improbably late-season run toward October. Perhaps they can send off Yankee Stadium with a run for the ages. But if even if they don’t — even if, by New York standards, the Yanks fail this year — we’ll still be there, watching the game, loving (or hating) the players and remember why baseball is our National Pastime.
The Yanks face Zack Greinke and the Royals today at 1:05 p.m. Enjoy it.
A. Rodriguez 3B
I. Rodriguez C
At the stroke of midnight last night teams forfeited their rights to negotiate with unsigned picks, which is a fancy way of saying the kid is going to/back to college. A lot of young men received a life changing amount of money in exchange for agreeing to play a game for a living, and I envy every single on of them.
As expected the Yankees didn’t sign their top pick, SoCal high schooler Gerrit Cole, who instead choose to attend to UCLA. Apparently it wasn’t so much the money that was a problem, rather Cole and his family just really wanted him to go to college. So be it, it’s his right to choose. The Yanks also didn’t come to terms with their second round pick, RHP Scott Bittle out of Ole Miss. He had some shoulder issues, but refused to cut a deal. I hate too see kids turn down ridiculously large amounts of money like this, for their sake it hope it works out for them.
Sandwich rounder and ex-Stanford ace Jeremy Bleich agreed to a $700,000 signing bonus, which is actually below slot by about $160,000. He did miss time with the elbow strain this spring, but he came back to pitch well in the NCAA postseason. That said, he is a Boras client, and those guys never sign for below slot. That’s a good indication that the elbow might still be an issue.
On to the good news. The Yanks cut a deal with 27th round pick Garrison Lassiter yesterday, forking over $675,000 to sign the talented prep shortstop. Lassiter might have the highest ceiling of any player the Yanks drafted thanks to his picturesque swing and electric bat speed, but just about every aspect of his game needs to be refined. He’s an extremely high ceiling player, but also a very low probability guy.
The Yanks will receive compensation picks for their failure to sign Cole and Bittle, officially dubbed picks #28A and 75A in next year’s draft. Since the Nationals were unable to agree to terms with their top pick, Missouri RHP Aaron Crow, they will receive pick #9A as compensation. The Mariners haven’t signed their top pick, Georgia closer Josh Fields, yet, but because he is a senior with no college eligibility remaining the deadline does not apply to him, and he is free to sign at any point until next year’s draft. He will certainly do that at some point. So what all this means is that pick #28A will essentially be the 30th overall pick. We won’t know the actual spot of the 75A pick until the length of the sandwich round is settled via free agency this winter. It could get pushed back as far as #90-100 overall. The compensation picks are protected, and can not be lost as the result of signing Type-A free agents.
When it was all said and done, the Yanks inked 26 of their first 30 selections, at least five of which received over-slot bonuses. The highest bonus paid was the $850,000 given to 6th rounder Brett Marshall, and this marks the first time since 2002 that the Yankees did not hand out a seven-figure bonus. Overall, it’s a rather mediocre draft class, and a lot is hinging on the status of Bleich’s elbow. You can see all of the Yankees picks here, while BA’s Draft Blog has you covered on all fronts.
Damon Oppenheimer & Co. have had finer moments.