Dan Haren Rumors: Asking price vs. selling price

As Saturday evening arrives, Dan Haren remains a member of the Diamondbacks, but Arizona’s asking price and the Yanks’ thinking are coming into view. As Frankie Piliere reported earlier today, the D-backs want Joba and “perhaps a guy like [Manny] Banueloes” while the Yankees would prefer to deal Hector Noesi, Ivan Nova or Zach McAllister. Piliere says he can “see this going down to the wire.” The wire is, of course, 4 p.m. next Saturday.

While Sergio Mitre‘s start underscored the Yanks’ need for some pitching depth, the Yanks are under no pressure to make this trade earlier in the week than necessary. The two sides are clearly negotiated, and each knows what the other wants. Now, it’s up to the general managers to make the best trade possible without giving up too much. The rest of us will just have to play the waiting game.

Open Thread: Hip Hip

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Remember when Jorge Posada first came off the disabled list last month, and he struggling with the bat aside from those two grand slams against the Astros? Sure you do, he hit .215/.348/.336 in 132 plate appearances between coming off the DL and the All Star break. It was rather ugly. Well, the break certainly seems to have recharged his battery. Including today’s one-for-three effort that included a homer and a walk, Jorge is now hitting .348/.464/.870 with three long balls since the break. His defense is as bad as ever, but until another catcher on the team starts hitting like that, Posada should be behind the plate as much as possible.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. You guys know what to do, so have at it.

Pettitte eying quick return to the mound

After watching Sergio Mitre get smacked around for seven runs — five earned — in 4.1 innings against the Royals, any news about a better starter is welcome, and progress from the injured Andy Pettitte is even better. Well, consider this good news then: Pettitte says his groin is feeling good, and he could return sooner than expected. The lefty played catch for five minutes at 60 feet today and reported no problems. He’ll fly to Tampa on Monday to continue his rehab. “I feel good. I’m not having any problems at all,” he said. “They told me to take it day-by-day. As soon as I can start long tossing, that’ll be great, because I can keep my arm strength up.”

Pettitte, 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA, is eligible to come off the disabled list on August 2, but the Yankees plan to be cautious with him. The team doesn’t want this problem to linger throughout the stretch drive, and Pettitte will probably make a rehab start before returning to the Bronx. “It’s one thing to walk around, it’s another thing to get off the mound and push. I’m very happy with the progress he’s making and that he feels good. I’ll feel a lot better when he starts throwing off the mound and says he doesn’t feel anything, because that’s where you’re going to exert yourself in that area,” Joe Girardi said. “Whatever it takes, when he comes back, I don’t want this to be a recurring problem.”

Olney: ‘No conversations’ on Haren today

Update (3:15 p.m.): The Dan Haren saga is getting increasingly more intriguing as Buster Olney chimes in with a few of his patented “Heard This” tweets. The Yankees and Diamondbacks, he says, have had “no conversations” today concerning Haren. Furthermore, the Yankees “scoffed at reports that they were in the lead of the Haren negotiations because they have never been close to completing a deal to this point.” Olney speculated this morning that the D-backs are interested in Joba because they are looking for a closer. Arizona has reportedly asked Detroit for Jacob Turner and Andrew Oliver, two of the Tigers’ top pitching prospects. For what it’s worth, Fox News’ Jon Morosi reported yesterday that the Tigers are one of the teams on Haren’s no-trade list.

Earlier today, Jon Heyman added his own two cents as well. The Yanks, he said, won’t give up Joba Chamberlain and pay all of Haren’s salary. He also said that, in the right deal, the club would pay the salary but wouldn’t take Chad Qualls or Chris Snyder too. Right now, the two clubs are playing a game of poker, and the negotiations will continue.

Game 96: You know Sergio?

After a month-long stint on the disabled list due to an oblique strain suffered while taking batting practice, sinkerball specialist Sergio Mitre is making his long awaited return to the starting rotation this afternoon. Well, I’m not sure how true that last part is, we’d all rather have Andy Pettitte out there. But until he comes off the disabled list (or the Yankees swing a trade), Mitre is the team’s best option for that rotation spot.

Joe Girardi said that Mitre will be limited to about 90 pitches today, but he’ll be paying extra attention once he hits the 75 pitch mark. That’s what Mitre threw in his last rehab outing, so if he starts leaving some pitches up after that point, you know why. Sadly, Jonathan Albaladejo was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Mitre. The Chad Ho Moseley monster just will not die.

The other big story of the game is Alex Rodriguez and the pursuit of his 600th career homer. My money is on him hitting it in the first inning today, a three run shot off Kyle Davies. Just like his 500th. Here’s the lineup…

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, C
Thames, RF – eek
Curtis, LF
Pena, SS

And on the bump, it’s Sergio!

Game Notes: Brett Gardner had some kind of stomach issue but should be available off the bench, no biggie…Nick Swisher expects to be back tomorrow. Game starts at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Albaladejo optioned for Mitre

To make room on the active roster for Sergio Mitre, the Yankees have optioned Jonathan Albaladejo back to AAA Scranton. In two appearances for the Bombers this week, the right-hander had given up a run on two hits and a walk in 2.2 innings. He struck out three and appeared to be throwing better than he had in his other Major League stints. Right now, the Yanks’ 25-man roster now features Chad Gaudin, Dustin Moseley, Sergio Mitre and Chan Ho Park. Even if the team feels they need a long man today to caddy for Mitre, who will throw between 75 and 90 pitches today, that’s a lot of dead weight in the bullpen. I have to believe another move could come as early as tomorrow.

The Joba conundrum from someone who’s been there

A few weeks back I had the chance to meet Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster. I’ll start off by saying he was an extremely nice, down to earth guy, and from now on I’m a fan of his. While I only had a few minutes to talk to him, my first question was what he thought the Yankees should do with Joba Chamberlain. As a pitcher who has had success in both the rotation and then pen, I was intrigued on what he had to say on the subject.

Dempster first said they need to just make up their minds one way or another, which I completely agree with. The bouncing around Joba has been through isn’t helping anyone and they need to make a decision and stick with it. It’s pretty interesting to note, that while Dempster has pitched in both roles, in his 12 full seasons, he had a defined role and wasn’t switched back and forth. The closest he had to being bounced around was in 2005 where his first 6 appearances were starts and he spent the rest of the season in the bullpen. That is clearly the easy way to transition, from the rotation to the pen not the other way around. There’s no building up of innings or stamina, and once he was moved to the pen, he stuck.

Dempster believes, primarily because of pitching in the AL East, that Joba should probably remain in the bullpen. He mentioned the way lineups wear you down and how the pitch counts can grow pretty quickly, especially for a guy like Joba who racks up a lot of strikeouts. While I do disagree with him in that I am fully in the Joba as a starter camp, it is interesting to think about what Joba’s career path might have been like coming up in another division, or even in the NL as a starter. Obviously there’s no way the Yankees can ease their starters into the big leagues against weaker competition than the AL East, but the bullpen might be the way to go, as long as there is a set path to get a good young pitcher back to the rotation. While both Joba and Hughes have somewhat followed this path, it wasn’t by design, instead it was by necessity.

After talking with Dempster I decided to take a look at his career arc and found that after his time in the bullpen he became a much better starter. Phil Hughes may have gotten a boost in confidence last year in the pen, but Dempster had a full 3 seasons of relieving, and came out of it significantly improved in the rotation. In his 3 years as a starter before going to the pen Dempster had a 4.6 BB/9 ratio and a 6.9 K/9 ratio. In the three years since he’s been back in the rotation he’s at 3.2 BB/9 and 8.1 K/9, all coming in the NL.  While there are likely a ton of reasons why Dempster improved, I wouldn’t be shocked if spending time in the pen was one of the main factors. As much as I want Joba in the rotation (and wanted him there for 2010), I really hope he can take advantage of his time in the bullpen to help him as a starter down the road.

My few minutes with Dempster certainly made me think about what’s going to happen with Joba’s future and how the (hopefully) temporary banishment to the bullpen (and yes, it was a demotion) makes him better down the road As much as I want Joba in the rotation (and wanted him there for 2010), I really hope he can take advantage of his time in the bullpen to help him as a starter down the road (even if with the Diamondbacks).