It’s nice to have Johnny Damon back atop the lineup, especially considering that the Yanks score 1.22 more runs per game when he’s playing, but am I the only one that thinks a minor league rehab stint would be in order, even if it was just a 3-gamer with the nearby Staten Island Yanks? I mean, he last played in a game on the 4th of July, so it’s been 17 days since he faced live pitching. Plus check this out: with the Damon in the lineup, the Yanks are 41-41, but without him they’re 12-4. I dunno about you, but I smell a nice 0-fer coming tonight.
While getting Damon back is big news, the far bigger news is that Jorge Posada has been placed on the DL and is probably done for the year. While his throwing has deterioriated immensely, his bat remained a weapon (109 OPS+) and downright Ruthian compared to Jose Molina (48 OPS+, yikes). Luckily the 3rd Annual Robinson Cano Second Half Surge has begun, but the Yanks are still going to need some other guys to pick up the slack (I’m lookin’ at you, kid). Maybe they can buy low Josh Bard, who’s currently playing in rehab games after having his season derailed by Albert Pujols.
1. Damon, DH
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Cano, 2B
7. Melky, CF
8. Molina, C
9. Gardner, LF
And on the mound, the Amazin’ Arubian, Sidney Ponson.
With his catching (and throwing) abilities severley compromised, Jorge Posada may be done for the year. According to numerous Internet reports, Johnny Damon has replaced the Yanks’ catcher on the active roster, and Tyler Kepner notes that Posada, whose damaged right shoulder is still bothering him, may opt for surgery sooner rather than later in order to be ready for Spring Training in 2009. While missing Posada’s bat looms large for the Yanks, he’s hitting just .214/.365/.262 in July and has seen his power suffer with this shoulder injury. The Yanks now will hope that Bobby Abreu can pick it back up as the bottom third of their lineup — Jose Molina, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner — have not shown much in the way of offense lately. · (235) ·
While the Yankees are dealing with injuries that have shelved their number one starter and starting DH, they’re also attempting to handle the Jorge Posada situation. Posada, suffering from a shoulder heading to surgery, is no longer a viable option behind the plate this year. He’s thrown out just 7 of 39 would-be base stealers and can’t command the running game. His back up — Jose Molina — has thrown out an astounding 25 of 52 attempting basestealers but has a pathetic OPS+ of 48. Jack Curry checked in with Posada and Joe Girardi today and finds that Posada is frustrated with his shoulder but won’t have the surgery sooner. The Yanks need Jorge’s bat, but they can’t afford to stick him behind the plate. How Joe Girardi handles this over the next few months will go a long way in determining the Yanks’ success this season. · (33) ·
The Yanks have been doing a lot of window shopping lately. They’ve been said to be looking at Damaso Marte, Jason Bay, and Xavier Nady of the Pirates. They’re supposedly keeping up with Freddie Garcia’s rehab assignment. Now we’re hearing, via MLBTR, that the Yankees are interested in A.J. Burnett. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. While the Yanks won’t necessarily make a big move before the deadline, they’re certainly exploring what’s out there.
That the Yankees sent two scouts solely to see Burnett doesn’t mean that they’ll land him. As we’ve discussed before, it’s not likely that J.P. Ricciardi would dish him within the AL East. However, this is a unique case. Burnett can opt out of his five-year, $55 million contract after this season. So Ricciardi, knowing he could lose Burnett at the end of the season anyway, might be willing to send him to whomever bids the highest.
This brings to the forefront a number of problems. If the Yanks trade for Burnett and he smokes the competition in the second half, he’ll opt out and the Yanks will have wound up with a two-month rental. If he sucks it up, not only will the Yanks have paid for a lemon, they’ll be stuck with him for another two years, owing him $24 million. The only way this really works out is if he pitches well and agrees to stay with the team.
Then again, given his injury history, maybe the Yanks would be best served to have him as a two-month rental. We know he has the stuff to succeed. It’s a matter of his ability to stay healthy. And yeah, he’s pitched poorly this year, though he’s done well against the Yanks and the Rays in his past two starts.
Which brings me to another point: Burnett is a Yankee killer. In 53.2 innings career against the Bombers, Burnett has struck out 46 to 19 walks, and has allowed just 17 runs. Since the beginning of the 2006 season, Burnett’s first with the Jays, only Roy Halladay and Scott Kazmir have better numbers against the Bombers (minimum 45 IP). Make the minimum IP 35, and Burnett slides one slot back, to Jarrod Washburn, another guy the Yankees could conceivably target.
No, I don’t think they’ll land Burnett. No, I don’t think it’s worth adding Washburn and his $9 million salary for 2009. But Brian Cashman is certainly peeking into the window. If there’s a deal to be had, it seems the Yanks will be prepared to take it. But I wouldn’t go betting on an acquisition before July 31.
Dan Graziano, reporting on the latest trade deadline rumors, reports that the Yankees are interested in a left-handed reliever, and I have to ask why? The bullpen has been spectacular lately, and with Brian Bruney on the mend, the one remaining spare part — LaTroy Hawkins — should see his time in pinstripes expire. Meanwhile, lefties are hitting .243/.328/.374 against all Yankee pitchers. If a team has relievers who just get outs, a lefty specialist is a waste of a roster spot, and if ain’t broke, there’s no reason to fix it. · (77) ·
A three-game set against a depleted A’s team was exactly what the good doctor ordered for the Yankees to start the second half.
Facing a team with a weak offense and down a few pitchers after two recent trades, the Yanks made the most of this chance to win three at home while Tampa Bay dropped their finale on Sunday and the Red Sox lost three in Anaheim. With 64 games left, the Yanks find themselves 4.5 out in the AL East and just three behind Boston in the Wild Card. They face the Twins — the second-place Wild Card — before journeying up to Fenway. A big week awaits the Bombers.
Sunday’s speedy game was dominated by pitching. Andy Petitte threw eight stellar innings, giving up a run on four hits while walking no one and striking out nine. Yankee starters have issued just one walk since the All Star Break. On the other side, the A’s All Star starter Justin Duchscherer threw six effective innings, allowing just two runs but a sixth-inning Jason Giambi home run would give the Yanks the lead and the series.
Amusingly enough, after winning Saturday’s game on a walk-off HBP for the first time since the mid-1960s, the game ended yesterday with a caught stealing. How fitting.
But while the Yankees are riding a three-game winning streak that pushed them right back into the playoff picture, the team now faces a daunting proposition: They have to beat the Twins with Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson on the mound. It’s here, again, that I come back to Chien-Ming Wang and his ill-begotten injury. Had Wang not suffered some of the worst luck I’ve ever seen on the basepaths, the Yanks would be in a prime position to reach October.
Even if the team leaves 20+ runners on base, even if they’re aren’t the offensive powerhouse they should be, this team has the pitching to compete. Since the break, the Yanks are pitching to a 1.50 ERA with 39 strike outs in 30 innings. They walked a whopping five Oakland A’s this weekend. While not every team will be as impotent as the A’s, the pitching — at least for their front three — is there. Now we just have to hope that it holds up in the back as well. October depends on it.
Chad Jennings has some quick Triple-A news: LHP Heath Phillips has been released, and Dan McCutchen will skip his next start to keep his innings down. I take this as a pretty clear sign that they’re strongly considering calling him up for the stretch run because he’s thrown only 123.1 innings this year, 55.1 IP fewer than his career high of 178.2. They want him available in late September and maybe, just maybe, October. Why else would they want to limit his innings?
CJ also mentions that Thursday’s scheduled starter is still TBA, even though Ian Kennedy lines up for that start. Not sure what that’s about. The big league club is off that day.
One last thing: I received a request in the comments yesterday to incorporate a little more info about this year’s draftees into DotF, so I’m going to add the round the player was drafted in in parenthesis after his name. So “Gerrit Cole (1)” means Cole was a first round pick. Simple enough. I’m going to do this for 2008 draftees only.
Triple-A Scranton (7-2 win over Lehigh Valley)
Alberto Gonzalez & Eric Duncan: both 3 for 5, 2 R - The Former Attorney General mashes 3 doubles … E-Dunc doubled twice, homered & drove in 2 … he’s such a tease, isn’t he?
Matt Carson: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Juan Miranda, Cody Ransom & JD Closser: all 1 for 4, 1 RBI – Miranda K’ed … Ransom hit a solo jack & K’ed twice … Closser doubled & K’ed
Ben Broussard (Reds, ’99, 2): 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B
Jason Lane & Greg Porter: both 0 for 2 – Lane K’ed & left the game for an unknown reason in the bottom of the 4th
Chris Basak: 0 for 4, 1 K
Jeff Karstens: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 13-6 GB/FB – 62 of 94 pitches were strikes (66.0%)
Billy Traber: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
JB Cox: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1-1 GB/FB
Posted by mobile phone: Lisa Kennelly checks in with Johnny Damon and finds that, while Damon would like to come off the DL, the Yanks are holding him back for a few more days. Damon should be activated for the weekend series against Boston, but his presence on the active roster will further clog up the DH logjam. Due to his shoulder, he won’t be set to play left until next week at the earliest, and he’ll join Jorge Posada as a bat the Yanks need but an arm they can’t afford to have on the field. · (48) ·
This is a guest column by Travis G., regular commenter and author of Yankees Etc..
Remember when you used to love going to Yankee games? For me, although I certainly did, it’s hard to even recall why.
Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up. My father’s company (that he co-manages) was able to acquire box-seat season tickets when the Yanks were at their lowest: 1989 (“It’s a whole new ballgame” was the motto that year; I still have a bumper sticker with it.) I went to at least 10 games each year through the 90′s — saw the Jeff Maier home run in ’96, Tino’s Game 1 grand slam in ’98, Clemens spraying the fans with champagne in ’99, and the following year throwing a bat at Mike Piazza. Each year though, my access to tickets waned as demand among my father’s clients increased. My father and his business partner sold all the playoff tickets in 2001 for several reasons: they were bordering on unaffordable, the offers/requests from buyers/clients were too strong to turn down, and they (and I admittedly) thought they’d be in the World Series about every year.
So I guess you could say we were part of the problem — the reason the attending fan base started to change to more corporate/casual-fan types (the ‘glitterati’ — you know, people who glitter). We definitely deserve some of the blame, but other reasons for that change include the success of the Yanks, the ensuing demand for tickets, and the freedom that gave the Yankees to raise prices astronomically.
There used to be knowledgeable, passionate fans in attendance, but a side effect of the team’s success is that those fans were forced out by demand. In fact, my wife and I prefer sitting in the $18 upper deck seats where the fans actually care about the game.
Does anyone, anyone, still do the YMCA? I pity the grounds crew that must endure that contrived garbage (aimed purely at casual fans) on a nightly basis. Then there’s the relentless audio bombardment that doesn’t let up until “New York, New York” has played several times. And what ever happened to organic chants, cheers and general fan enthusiasm? On countless occasions have I witnessed organic chants snuffed out by the PA system blaring some canned chant or music that we’ve heard a thousand times.
There’s just a lack of understanding of what the fans want, like the refusal to show video replays (of close plays) on the jumbo-tron. I know they don’t want to show up the umpires, but they do it all the time in the NFL, why not in MLB? I had no idea Jeff Maier had even reached over the wall until I got home that night to see the replay. That brings me to my next point: while all the cons of attending a game have increased over the years, the pros of watching from home have also increased. The advent of HD, surround sound, the YES Network and DVR have combined to make the home-viewing experience better than being there. And where would you rather sit, on a plastic folding chair or your living room couch?
Then there’s the food situation. I can order in a large pizza for the price of about three disgusting slices at the Stadium. $9 for shit beer? No thanks. I’ll take my favorite, Dogfish Head (ed. note: this man has good taste in beer), which runs $9 for a six-pack. At my only game this year, the trio in front of me ordered food and drinks through the waiter service. It took almost two hours to get something akin to two beers, a soda, chicken fingers, a hot dog, and a sandwich (for $71 plus tip). It’s basically fast-food quality, only slow. I learned my lesson long ago and now bring soda, water, sandwiches, peanuts and seeds to every game. It saves money and time (outside of tasting better). The vendors don’t even come down to the box-seats; to get food you have to order through a waiter (and wait the requisite hour plus) or leave your seat to catch up to a vendor or wait in line at the food court.
Transportation has become more difficult. Instead of spending an hour (each way) and $20+ getting to and from the Stadium, I can spend that time walking my dog, cooking dinner, watching the post-game show, watching another ballgame, etc. Parking is absolutely FUBAR around the Stadium, and I have a knack for being the first car locked out of the parking lot (it’s happened twice) – I mean I was literally the very first car that cops started putting traffic cones in front of to block out of the garage. You might suggest taking the subway, which I did many times when I lived in Manhattan and Queens, but it’s hardly better than driving, only more cost efficient. The worst subway ride of my life followed a Yankee game: a hefty, teenage boy stood near me holding the ceiling rail on a hot summer day (you know what that means), and the stench emanating from him was unbelievable. It was hold your breath horrible, and there was no where to go as the train was completely packed.
On top of that, my wife and I have a talent for attending rained out/rain delayed games, which now kills us because we live in Philly (have since last May). I was upset to find out the new Stadium will not have a retractable roof. I know it would cost about $400 million, but they’re spending over a billion dollars already, and the Stadium’s supposed to last more than 50 years, why not make the investment that would ensure a complete and on-time game every single day? Yet another reason we have and will be attending fewer games.
My father’s tickets, $250 a seat this year, will jump to the $500-$2500 range next year, and they’re not even being guaranteed the same seats in the new Stadium. He’s going to try to “move back” to affordable territory: back section of the field level or front section of the upper deck (we hope).
With all that being said, I’m certainly going to a game at the new Stadium, but more for the novelty, not to watch my beloved Yankees.
This might come off as whiny, but don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy attending games in person, just not as much as I used to and the preceding was a summary of my problems as a cathartic exercise. I know this is a season to celebrate the Stadium, but I for one will miss nothing but the history. As far as I’m concerned, the original Yankee Stadium was destroyed in 1974.
Including today, 11 of the Yanks next 14 games are at home, the lone exception being a three game set in Fenway next weekend. The wins don’t have to be textbook, they all count the same.
Some stats for you:
- Since June 14th, Robinson Cano is hitting .350-.373-.534 with a grand total of six strikeouts in 103 at-bats. The Annual Robinson Cano Second Half Surge is officially underway.
- Hat tip to PeteAbe on this one: Edwar Ramirez hasn’t allowed a hit in his last 9 IP, striking out 14 in the process. Kyle Farnsworth is 1 inning away from his own hidden no-no. Crazy.
- Since moving to the rotation on June 3rd, Joba Chamberlain‘s 2.64 ERA is the 15th best amongst starters in all of baseball. It’s the 7th best mark in the AL. His 10.20 Kper9 is 4th best in all the land. Could the transition have gone any better?
- When I post the game thread, the Yanks are 13-7, good for a .650 winning percentage. When Joe posts it, they’re 18-21, or a .492 winning percentage. Ben? 21-17, or a .553 win %. You’ll be seeing less of Joe and more of me in the coming weeks.
1. Jeter, SS
2. Abreu, RF
3. A-Rod, 3B
4. Giambi, DH
5. Cano, 2B
6. Betemit, 1B
7. Cabrera, CF
8. Molina, C
9. Gardner, LF
And on the bump, the grizzled vet, Andy Pettitte. He’ll be opposed by All-Star Justin Duchscherer, the guy with a .213 BABIP. I believe the term is “completely unsustainable.”