• Sitting in for Bob

    While we’re all eagerly awaiting Bob Sheppard’s return to the booth, The Times got around to profiling Sheppard’s replacement last week. Jim Hall, the man filling in for the Voice of God, talks about the reception he receives, his efforts at mimicking Sheppard and his 40-year career as the backup Yankee public address announcer. I’m a sucker for stories like these. · (8) ·

The Interlocking NY

In ten days, it will be all be over. Eight-five years of memories along with countless photos will be all that remains of Yankee Stadium.

Over the next week and a half, we’ll hear more than we ever wanted to about the final days of the Stadium. We’ll see old Yankees return to say their final good byes. We’ll see fans making the exodus up the House that Ruth Built one more time. We’ll see countless pieces — such as Sweeney Murti’s excellent read of his Top 25 Yankee Stadium Moments — laud the stadium’s place in both baseball history and New York City lore.

Right now, though, before the ten-game homestand to end all homestands, the Yankees aren’t inspiring much confidence in their fan base. Yankee fans have given up on the season, and everyone and their uncles have suggestions on how to “fix” the Yankees. Before we get to that point in our discussions though, the Yankees have to wrap up what they started in 1923.

It’s not easy for a team of veterans who expected to make the playoffs to maintain to play in the face of disappointment. I’ve played enough sports in my life to know the drain of a long season and the weight of impossible expectations. I know what it’s like to watch another team win when that trophy was supposed to belong to you. I can only begin to guess what it’s like, after 146 games, to push through to the end when there’s nothing left for which to play.

But for the fans, for the history and for the stadium, the Yankees should and will find a way to bring some semblance of respect to the last 10 games at the stadium. They’re facing tough teams; two of their three opponents this week will probably play well past the end of September. But I have to believe the Yanks have one last hurrah in them. The ghosts of Yankee past that haunt the stadium will see to it that we won’t be disappointed as their prepare to tear down the Cathedral in the Bronx.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (28)

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Durham, walk-off style) SWB leads the best-of-five series 2-1 … all three games of the series have been decided on walk-off hits, as was the final game of the previous round for SWB … Phil Hughes vs Wade Davis in Game 4 tomorrow, pitching matchups in the minors don’t get any better
Justin Christian: 3 for 3, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 BB, 3 SB – what a stud
Bernie Castro: 0 for 2, 1 K
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 K
Shelley Duncan & Chris Basak: both 0 for 3, 1 K – Shelley drew a walk
Ben Broussard & Eric Duncan: both 0 for 4, 3 K – yikes
Matt Carson & Chris Stewart: both 1 for 4, 1 K – Stewart allowed a passed ball
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 7-7 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) – 71 of 105 pitches were strikes (67.6%)
David Robertson: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 14 of 26 pitches were strikes (53.8%)
Six-Finger Perez: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

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Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (146)

According to Bryan Hoch, Kevin Long and Robinson Cano are going to work together to retool Cano’s swing this off-season. The Yanks seem to feel that Cano’s moving parts are to blame for his sub-par season. However, I’m not quite convinced this is indeed the case.

On the season, Cano’s batting metrics are right in line with his previous seasons’ numbers. His line drive percentage is at 19.1, 2.2 percentage points higher than his 2007 number; his groundball percentage is 48.4, 3.8 percentage points lower than last year’s total. Meanwhile, Cano’s batting average on balls in play is sitting at .273, nearly .060 points lower than it was last year. These numbers seem to suggest that Cano is simply having one of the unluckiest seasons in recent memory.

So as the Yankees head into the off-season, looking to turn around one of the players most responsible for the team’s offensive malaise this year, I have to wonder if this is just a misguided effort or if the Yankees are seeing something in Cano’s swing and results that we’re not seeing reflected in the numbers.

To me, Cano’s steeply declining home run total is the biggest indication of a problem. He’s gone from a home run every 32.5 ABs to one every 41.6 ABs. If Cano were simply unlucky, his absolute power — his ability to hit the ball over the fence — shouldn’t decline as much as it has. For now, we’ll just have to wait ’til next year on this one, but this could just be case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Hat tip to Manimal for the article.

Categories : Analysis
Comments (45)

According to the ever-reliable George A. King III, the current Yankees are going to have the chance to purchase parts of the old Yankee Stadium. The list of what they want, if true, is a doozy:

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez would like their lockers; Andy Pettitte Andy Pettitte wants to use some of the outfield padding in his gym at home. Joba Chamberlain requested two seats, one with No. 6 and another with No. 2 on them. Mariano Rivera wants a seat, a pitching rubber and dirt from the mound. Mike Mussina wants the center field flagpole.

Yes, that’s right. Mike Mussina is planning on taking home the center field flagpole. He’s either pulling one over King or King’s trying to pull one over on us. You decide.

Meanwhile, that flagpole is actually rather historic. It’s topped with a baseball bat weathervane, and prior to the 1970s renovations, the flagpole was in play in very deep center field. If Moose really does want that flagpole, he has impeccable historical taste.

Let me toss out a question on an off-day: If you had the run of the stadium, what would you take from Yankee Stadium?

Categories : Yankee Stadium
Comments (46)

I just got through reading this column by Newsday’s Anthony Rieber. And I have to ask: who made you the expert on innings limits? He opens up with the typical anti-innings-limit rhetoric of “they didn’t do that in the good ol’ days.” Yeah, well, no one had found a pattern and conducted a study about the usage of young pitchers in the old days. That’s like saying we never used to have fuel economy standards in the old days, so why have them now?

Here’s Rieber using Jerry Manuel as the “voice of reason” in the innings limit debate, referring to Mike Pelfrey:

“Where we are in this pennant race, I can ill-afford to be concerned with that at this point. Unless I hear something from him or the pitching coach or the medical people or I see a tremendous dip in stuff or velocity, I won’t be concerned with this at that point.”

It’s not about what he’s feeling this year, though. It’s about what the pitcher will feel next year. And the year after. After all, these are young guys we expect to help the team for years to come.

For an example, take Dustin McGowan. In 2006, he threw 111.1 innings between the majors and minors. In 2007, when he started to break out, he tossed 191.2 IP between the majors and minors. That’s quite the jump there, and most would consider it unsafe. What happened in 2007? he tossed 111.1 innings before going down with a season-ending rotator cuff injury.

That’s not to say that anyone making a large innings jump will face arm problems. Evidence, however, suggests that a pitcher is at a greater risk of injury when they make a large jump — over 30, 35 innings per year.

Rieber goes on to say: “It’s arrogant to think that you can control things like injuries. You can’t.” Of course you can’t control injuries. Those who advocate innings limits don’t think they’re controlling anything. What they’re doing is avoiding exposure to a known risk. It’s like in Blackjack, when you’ve got 12 and the dealer is showing five or six. You don’t hit. There are decent odds that the dealer will bust. So you stand pat with your 12 and hope for the best. You don’t know what the dealer is holding, just like you don’t know what’s in store for the pitcher. But you play the odds as best you can, hoping it works out. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But you don’t want to expose yourself to undue risk.

Pelfrey is right around that 30-inning jump at this point. He pitched 152.2 IP last year, and is at 181.2 this year. I can understand the Mets not wanting to shut him down. I hope they realize, though, that they’re hitting on 12 when the dealer is showing five.

Categories : Pitching
Comments (36)

Over the past few days and weeks, I’ve seen the sentiment arise that the Yankees should tank the rest of the season. Phone it in. Lay down and let other teams walk all over you. For the most part — actually, for all the part — none of those suggesting this are or were professional athletes. So it makes a degree of sense. They have something else in mind, which I’ll get to in just a second.

My main question is, why would any fan want to see a player on their team lay down? Isn’t that the sign of an uncommitted athlete? It seems that this type of player could turn it on or turn it off whenever. According to many sports fans, including probably the majority of commenters at RAB, that’s not the type of player you want on your team. This came up yesterday in the Manny Ramirez thread. A number of people don’t want someone who can just turn it off if things aren’t going exactly his way. Yet tanking the rest of the season would indicate just that.

The reason a few fans want the team to lose in September is for reasons of a higher and possibly protected draft pick. The first mention of this I saw was at, where else, NoMaas. Let me start by saying that having a higher draft pick means little for the Yankees. If they sign a Type A free agent, and by all indications they will, they’ll lose that first rounder anyway. Yes, they’ll have a higher pick in the subsequent rounds, but the higher spot means less and less as you get deeper in the draft.

Second, in order to protect their pick, they have to be the 15th worst team in baseball. Right now the Yankees are the 18th worst team in baseball. Cleveland, with 71 wins, is the 15th worst. While dropping three spots in the standings doesn’t seem out of the question, dropping six games over the last few weeks of the season seems a bit less likely. Plus, do you really want the distinction of finishing fourth in the AL East this year?

I think Andy Pettitte puts things into proper perspective:

If guys think we’re out of the playoffs, I would hope they’d play for some pride. We’re getting paid an awful lot of money to do a job. I would hope that would never come into account, no matter how far out we are.

Personally, I want to see them win a few more games of these final 16. What motivation would I have to turn on the TV if I know they’re just mailing it in? Play. Win. Finish 3rd. Please, please, finish 3rd.

Categories : Rants
Comments (79)

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 win in 13 innings, walk-off style) SWB leads the best-of-five series 2-0 thanks to their second straight walk-off win … one more win and they’ll be the first Yanks’ AAA affiliate to win the Governor’s Cup since the good ol’ Columbus Clippers in 1991 … Kei Igawa gets the ball in Game 3 tomorrow … Yanks pitchers set a franchise record with 17 K
Justin Christian, Juan Miranda & Matt Carson: all 0 for 5 – Miranda K’ed thrice, Carson twice
Bernie Castro: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB, 1 CS – walk-off single was their first hit since the 5th inning
Shelley Duncan, Ben Broussard & Chris Basak: all 0 for 4 – Shelley drew a walk & K’ed twice … Broussard drew a walk & K’ed thrice … Basak K’ed twice
Eric Duncan: 1 for 4, 3 K
Nick Green: 1 for 1 – left the game due to injury
Chris Stewart: 1 for 3, 1 R, 2 BB – picked a runner off second with a snap throw … scored the winning run after drawing a walk & being sacrificed into scoring position
Ian Kennedy: 5 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 1 HB, 3-3 GB/FB - 67 of 106 pitches were strikes (63.2%) … tip your cap to the kid, you don’t allow 11 baserunners in 5 innings & not give up a run without being able to a pitch when you have too … games like this are good for young pitchers, learning how to get by on days you don’t have your best stuff is a big part of pitching
Steven Jackson: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 24 of 36 pitches were strikes (66.7%) … that’s some solid relief work right there
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 2-2 GB/FB – 12 of 14 pitches were strikes (85.7%) … he recorded a K, GB & FB in his first inning of work in a grand total of 5 pitches … ladies and gentlemen, Mark Melancon
Scott Strickland: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 19 of 27 pitches were strikes (71.4%)
Oneli Perez: 1 IP, zeroes

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Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (41)

After starting out with three wins on the road this month, the Yanks have lost five of their last seven. This afternoon, the team managed to plate just two runs off Dustin Moseley and his 7.90 ERA. They couldn’t capitalize on a few ninth-inning base runners and played terrible defense en route to a 4-2 loss.

While we could blame Bobby Abreu’s poor fielding and Xavier Nady‘s bad throwing for this one, let’s look at Andy Pettitte. Following a July 26th win over Boston, Pettitte sat at 12-7 with a 3.76 ERA. Now, he’s 13-13 with a 4.52 ERA. It’s been a long downward spiral.

Over his last nine starts, Pettitte has thrown 54 innings. He’s given up 40 runs, 39 of them earned, on 74 hits on 18 walks and 44 strike outs. Pettitte is 1-6 with a 6.67 ERA and has many Yankee fans and team officials wondering if he should return next year. We know he wants to come back, but how would Pettitte fit into the Yanks’ plans? As long as the team doesn’t consider him more than a fourth or third starter at best, having a lefty in the rotation would help the team. He has to produce though, and right now, he just isn’t where he needs to be.

More optimistically, Joba Chamberlain finally made an appearance in a game today. He threw two innings and was utterly filthy. His fastball sat in the mid-90s and his breaking balls were nearly untouchable. He gave up a harmless double, struck out three Angels and zipped through two innings on just 17 pitches. While the fourth-place Yanks once again failed to show up for this game, we can breath a sign of relief as Joba looked awfully similar to the Joba we know and love.

Categories : Game Stories
Comments (155)