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.
Fast Company, the publishers behind a rather successful business magazine, explores baseball’s not-so-hidden secret this month. In a rather lengthy — but compelling — piece, Chuck Salter explores everything there is to know about pitching guru and surgeon-to-the-stars Dr. James Andrews. It’s a very interesting look into the way baseball teams are prepping their pitchers for the 162-game marathon and dealing with the inevitable injuries. · (3) ·
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
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.
Last game of a 10-day road trip, hopefully the boys can head into the final series ever at Yankee Stadium on a nice little two game winning streak.
1. Damon, CF – why not just play Gardner in CF the rest of the year?
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Nady, LF
7. Matsui, DH
8. Cano, 2B
9. Molina, C
And on the mound, Mikey Moose Andy Pettitte.
You could argue that Ramirez should return to the Dodgers for 2009 and beyond, given his success in 119 at bats (.403/.500/.748). But we have to face the facts that most players go for the money. That means, for me, that there’s a pretty good chance Ramirez will end up in pinstripes next year. Especially given that there’s going to be extra pressure in New York to win in 2009.
I like Ramirez in New York for two reasons. First, he’s an elite player – one of the game’s best five hitters and future Hall of Famer. Bottom line is that he produces. Bundle Ramirez with Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui, and you have the game’s best line-up.
Second, Ramirez in New York would be great drama. It would take the Boston – New York rivalry to a whole new level, and I wouldn’t miss a game.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard analysts suggest that the Yanks pursue Manny Ramirez this off-season. In fact, we wrote about the very same idea in early August, and while Peter Gammons doesn’t believe Manny will be Bronx-bound, this story just won’t go away.
Now, while Pags has been known to be wrong — Kei Igawa, anyone? — his ideas actually make a lot of sense. First, the Yankees will have oodles of money to throw around next year, and while Manny isn’t a spring chicken, it’s nigh impossible to find a better hitter than he will be on the free agent market. He’ll also command fewer years than Mark Teixeira, the only other comparable offensive player.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have to keep the outfield warm when and if Austin Jackson is ready to play. They have Johnny Damon or perhaps Melky — who has yet to play since being recalled last week — for center. They have Xavier Nady for one of the corner slots. And if it’s a choice between overpaying Bobby Abreu or Manny Ramirez for three or four years, Manny is the far superior choice, differences in age notwithstanding.
In the end, this is probably nothing more than idle musings from idle minds attempting to quote-unquote fix the Yankees. But if Manny Ramirez didn’t carry the baggage of being the Manny Ramirez, he would be an obvious target for the Yankees this off-season whether we like to admit it or not.
Since returning from the disabled list on Sept. 2, eight days ago, Joba Chamberlain has graced a whopping two games with his appearance, and it’s now been four days since his two-out, 22-pitch effort against the Mariners. Meanwhile, Joba is sitting pretty on 91 innings this season with but two and a half weeks left to play. The Yankees need to get him innings, and last night was as good a time as any to bring him in. Why not have him throw two or three innings in a 6-1 game? Why not stretch him out a little from the bullpen?
I understand that the Yanks are proceeding cautiously with Joba. I understand they don’t want to risk further injury, a reaggravation or anything of the sort. But Joba is a great starter and should be throwing more innings. He shouldn’t just become the de facto 8th inning guy because that’s what Joe Girardi has written down in his black binder. If Joba’s injured worse than the Yanks are letting on, they should say so. If not, let him pitch. Give him his innings. He needs it. · (31) ·
You can never have enough pitching. It’s the cliche that rings true every time you hear it. So if Andy Pettitte wants to come back, the Yankees should welcome him with open arms. Peter Abraham caught some quotes from the lefty which indicate that he’d be open to coming back next year should the Yankees want him.
“I look at that ballpark next door, and it makes you want to play there. It’s wonderful to look over there and think how special that would be,” he said. “I came back here to try to help this team win and win in the playoffs.”
In seasons past, Pettitte has been concerned about his family and being away from seven or eight months of the year. That seems to be less of a concern now. He says of his in-season home in Westchester:
“We love it, we really do. It feels almost as much as home as Houston does sometimes,” he said. “The people have been so nice to us.”
As for his kids, well, at this point they’re at the age where they can appreciate their dad being a major league pitcher. Pettitte says that they’d try to talk him out of quitting if it came to that.
Abraham also brings up Pettitte’s off-season workout routine, or lack of it. He’s worked hard since Spring Training, but his off-season workouts, less than he’s used to, might explain why he’s fading in the second half. Let’s hope that’s the case. This way, he can get back to working out as normal this winter, and give the Yankees a solid lefty in the rotation for 2009.
If it sounds like a cliché, that’s because it is one. But tonight’s game was Yankee baseball the way it should be played. Good starting pitching, timely hitting and a crisply fielded game brought the Yankees a road win in Anaheim.
In a way, this was a game the Yankees needed to win. They didn’t need for any hope of making the playoffs; realistically, those hopes died when they didn’t sweep Boston in New York a few weeks ago. But they needed it for the morale of their fans. Lately, Yankee fans have been down on the team with their minds on the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants or the Brett Favre-led Jets. But baseball in New York will still be around for another 20 games, and we might as well enjoy them.
The story of the night was, obviously, Al Aceves. Making his first Major League start in lieu of Darrell Rasner, Aceves threw seven innings of five-hit ball. He gave up one run, didn’t walk anyone and struck out two. He threw just 89 pitches, 63 of them for strikes, and kept the Angels off balance all night. While his stuff seemingly isn’t that much better than Rasner’s, Aceves is a huge improvement over a pitcher who made way too many starts this year. He has a few more miles per hour on the fastball than Rasner does, and he pitches with more command and authority.
Offensively, the top four hitters on the Yanks went 7 for 17 with six runs scored, six RBIs and three home runs. A-Rod hit a monster three-run to give the Yanks a 4-0 lead, and Johnny Damon added a two-run shot in the seventh and a solo blast in the 9th. Two hours and thirty six minutes after it started, the Yanks wrapped up their 7-1 victory.
In the end, this game doesn’t really tell us anything about the Yankees except that they have more options than Rasner and Sidney Ponson floating around their system. Aceves showed what he could do, and the young arms are coming. All it needs is just a little patience.
Triple-A Scranton (8-7 win over Durham, walk-off style) SWB leads the best-of-five Governor’s Cup 1-0 … Ian Kennedy gets the ball in Game 2 tomorrow
Justin Christian: 0 for 5, 2 K – threw Jonny Gomes out at home from LF
Bernie Castro: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K – picked up an RBI hit off David Price, a pretty good lefty
Shelley Duncan: 2 for 4, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI – last three hits have gone for extra bases
Tim Battle: 1 for 1, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – doubled in the game-tying run in the bottom of the 9th
Ben Broussard: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB – picked off first
Matt Carson & Eric Duncan: both 1 for 5, 1 RBI, 3 K – E-Dunc hit a walk-off single … bust
Nick Green: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
Chris Stewart: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB
Chase Wright: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 9-5 GB/FB – 55 of 84 pitches were strikes (65.6%) … outpitched Price … can’t say I saw that coming
David Robertson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 3-1 GB/FB – 16 of 27 pitches were strikes (59.3%)
Zack Kroenke: 0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP – only 2 of 6 pitches were strikes … allowed 2 inherited runners to score
Scott Strickland: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HB – allowed all 3 inherited runners to score
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K - I guess the back’s okay