While Hank is seemingly writing off the season, we’re trying to stay optimistic. We know the Yankees need to go on a tear, and each loss decreases the likelihood of them doing so. Was last night rock bottom? It didn’t feel like it, not to me at least. Maybe it did in the locker room. Maybe the only place this team can go is up.
If so, they’ve got the guy on the mound to do it. Moose looks for his 16th victory tonight, against a team he dominated on July 23. It was, in fact, probably his best performance of the year, and that’s saying something, considering how well he has pitched.
There’s not much left to say. Melky’s out of the lineup. He has three hits in 25 plate appearances this month, and they all came on Saturday against the Angels.
And on the mound, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.
Via Ed Price, Brian Cashman said that the perpetually under-appreciated Hideki Matsui will begin a minor league rehab assignment this Thursday in Tampa. If the Yanks can get 4 or 5 healthy weeks out of Matsui a the end of the year, man, that would be some kind of boost to the offense. · (11) ·
In the game thread last night, Mike noted that Joba expected to start a throwing program tomorrow. Since then, the Yanks’ valuable young arm has been overruled by his manager, and the Yanks now expect Joba to begin his throwing on Friday, a full 11 days after he was removed from the game against Texas.
With Joba on the mend, the Yanks will soon face something of a tough choice with regards to their rookie hurler: Should they bring back Joba this season?
On the one hand, the answer is an unequivocal yes. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks are throwing out their best team and giving the team a chance to win the playoffs. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks can bump one of their less than ideal starting pitchers back to the bullpen, AAA or elsewhere. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks could actually think about overcoming that ever-growing five-game Wild Card deficit. So bring him back.
But wait. It’s not quite that simple. Right now, three days before Joba is set to resume throwing and weeks before we can even think about his return to the rotation, the Yanks are facing a turning point. They’re a nearly insurmountable nine games out of first place and are, as I mentioned, five games out of the Wild Card with Minnesota between them and Boston and the Rangers nipping at their heels.
In four days — let alone two or three weeks — the Yanks will have a pretty good idea if October baseball is in the cards for them, and by then, if things are looking dire in the Bronx, if the odds are stacked against them, I’d have to advocate for holding Joba out of the games this year. If the Yanks are facing a Hail Mary situation, it would make more sense to ensure Joba’s health and strength for 2009 and beyond than it would to run him out there this year, risking injury for a playoff berth that is an increasing long shot.
As a Yankee fan, this line of argument is nearly anathema to everything I’ve come to know and love about this team since 1995 when I first got a taste of October baseball. For the better part of the last decade and a half, the Yanks have won at all costs, but with such a promising arm, the likes of which the Yanks haven’t seen in years, I believe that holding Joba back and maintaining his health for next year far outweighs the slim benefits the Yanks could enjoy in an unlikely 2008 playoff run.
In two and a half weeks, the fate of this season’s Yankees will become more clear. We’ll have to go through this debate again, but if the Yanks don’t improve and make up some ground, I’d be reluctant to see Joba pitch again this year.
With Ian Kennedy exiled back to AAA following his poor showing against the Angels on Friday, the Yankees are going to again turn the ball over to Darrell Rasner on Wednesday. So by the time the Yanks leave Minnesota, the Yanks will have tossed Dan Geise, Sidney Ponson and Rasner in three of their last four games against playoff-caliber teams. While fans may wish to blame Joe Girardi’s micromanaging, A-Rod’s seeming inability to hit in the clutch or Derek Jeter’s sub-par season for the Yanks’ struggles, it all comes down to pitching, and the Yanks’ pitching has, this season, utterly broken down. We’re eagerly awaiting Phil Hughes’ and Carl Pavano’s rehab starts later today, and that speaks volumes about the 2008 season. · (31) ·
The Yankees aren’t dead. Not in any mathematical sense of the word. They’re certainly dying, though, right before our eyes. It’s hard to stay optimistic after a fourth straight loss, one in which the team couldn’t manage a single run. This has been a maddeningly frustrating season on the offensive side.
What stings worse is that we got another quality performance from Sidney Ponson, and couldn’t plate a single run in his support. Not many of us like Ponson, but he’s been solid his last three times out. He forced the Twins to put the ball on the ground 19 times, with just two making outs through the air. Other than a mistake to Adam Everett, he did what he was supposed to. Didn’t matter, though. Might as well have been Kennedy pitching.
I wonder what Girardi was thinking before the game, when he was filling out his lineup card. He definitely wasn’t asking himself, “What lineup would give my team the best chance of winning tonight?” because any lineup that features Justin Christian (or Melky Cabrera) and Richie Sexson over Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi is not your best. But Girardi has to play the righties against lefties, even though that hasn’t worked too well all season. You’d think after 118 games of this shit, he’d get it. But no. Giambi still sits.
(Never mind that Giambi’s numbers against lefties nearly mirror his numbers against righties this year…and last year…and he was still really good against lefties in 05 and 06. And 03. And, really, every other year of Jason Giambi’s career.)
So the team drops yet another game, losing ground pretty much everywhere. Except on the White Sox, who lost to the Red Sox, who gained ground on the Yankees. Radical.
Don’t worry, though. They’ll just start the tear tomorrow.
Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off day, but tragedy has struck the team. I’m sure they’d much rather be playing today.
Double-A Trenton had a scheduled off day, as did the rest of the Eastern League.
High-A Tampa (3-1 loss to Sarasota)
Luis Nunez: 0 for 4, 1 BB
Eduardo Nunez & Seth Fortenberry: 1 for 4 – Nunez doubled & K’ed … Fortenberry scored a run & K’ed twice
Kevin Smith: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 BB
Josh Kreuzer: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Jose Gil, Tommy Baldridge (33) & Chris Kunda: all 0 for 3 – Gil K’ed … Baldridge drew a walk & K’ed … Kunda K’ed twice
Tim Battle: 1 for 4, 1 K – for all intents and purposes, he’s been their best hitter this year … seriously
Ivan Nova: 6 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 8-4 GB/FB – giving up too many hits … 152 in 139.2 IP this year
Mike Dunn: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Cody Miley, the soon-to-be-18 yr old son of Triple-A Scranton manager Dave Miley, was killed Monday morning in a Tampa-area car wreck. Dave will obviously be away from the team for the foreseeable future. Our deepest condolences go out to the Miley family. · (6) ·
Jason Giambi is sitting against a lefty again. Oh, and so is Johnny Damon. Sure Giambi’s OPSing 1.375 on the road trip, Damon’s hitting .406 in the last 7 games, and lefties are hitting .338 off Glen Perkins, but hey, let’s sit them anyway. Not like the team is in a Wildcard chase or anything.
Damaso Marte is likely to be unavailable tonight after throwing 29 pitches yesterday thanks to that inexplicable second inning of work. Unfortunately Minnesota’s 3-4-5 hitters tonight happen to be Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel (the same combo manager Ron Gardenhire has been using for about a month-and-a-half), all lefthanded batters. So when push comes to shove in the late innings tonight, get ready for some Edwar Ramirez change-up action, or even … gasp … Billy Traber. Heck, even if Marte is available, he’s going to be gassed.
So remind me again, what was so bad about Joe Torre running mediocre middle relievers like Scott Proctor and Tanyon Sturtze into the ground? Hey, I wonder if that whole fiasco about IPK’s comments would have been so ridiculously blown out of proportion if Torre was around to work his media magic …
1. Christian, LF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Nady, DH
6. Cano, 2B
7. Sexson, 1B
8. Pudge, C
9. Melky, CF
And on the mound, Sidney “will pitch for food” Ponson.
Notes: Pudge has actually turned Sid Ponson into a pretty decent starter, squeezing a 2.03 ERA & .519 OPS against out of him in their two starts together (SSS, yes I know) … Joba’s going to start his throwing program on Wednesday … Hideki Matsui is close to beginning a rehab assignment …
(forgive me, I’m just frustrated that the manager continues to not put the team in the best position to win during one of the more critical stretches of the season)