Vazquez returns to lineup in Trenton win

Brandon Laird‘s monster week won him Eastern League Offensive Player of the Week honors. Luke Murton did the same in the Sally League.

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Durham)
Greg Golson, CF & Jon Weber, DH: both 2 for 3, 1 BB – Golson drove in a run … Weber tripled & scored a run
Reegie Corona, 2B & Reid Gorecki, LF: both 1 for 3 – Corona drew a walk & K’ed … Gorecki walked, drove in a run, scored another & K’ed
Eduardo Nunez, SS & Matt Cusick, 3B: both 1 for 4 – Nunez K’ed
David Winfree, 1B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI
Colin Curtis, RF: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB – threw a runner out at the plate
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 4, 2 K – just five for his last 34 (.147) … at least he threw out a runner trying steal … while allowing five stolen bases
Zach McAllister: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 9-6 GB/FB – 61 of 101 pitches were strikes (60.4%)
Boone Logan: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 13 of his 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB - 11 of his 16 pitches were strikes (68.8%)

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Teixeira leaves game with bruised left foot, x-rays negative

Update (8:30pm): Bruised left foot for Tex, so it was the foul ball. The x-rays came back negative, thankfully. He’s day-to-day.

8:03pm: Mark Teixeira left tonight’s game after the 3rd inning for an unknown reason. He fouled a ball off his foot earlier in the game, and he was also hit by a pitch that glanced his back leg (knee?). Juan Miranda replaced him at first. We’ll update this post when we learn more.

Game 52: The Cap’n’s all right

That's right. Run far, far away Brian. (Photo Credit: Rob Carr, AP)

A minor scare was sent through Yankeeland yesterday when Derek Jeter exited the game with tightness in his left hamstring a few innings after being hit by a pitch in the same spot. The last thing the Yanks need is another injury, especially when the drop off from Jeter to his replacement is so massive. Thankfully, the Cap’n is back in their tonight, in his customary leadoff spot. As for the rest of the lineup, meh. I know a lefty is on the mound of Baltimore, but does Curtis Granderson really need to hit 8th? Eh, whatever.

The real story tonight is Javy Vazquez, who will be making his first start following the stinker in Minnesota that followed two dazzling starts. Javy has yet to face the Orioles this year even though they’ve already played them a bunch of times already, so at least he has the element of surprise on his side. He’ll be opposed by Brian Matusz, who’s already faced the Yanks twice this year, putting 18 men on base and allowing six runs to score in 12 innings. Hopefully the third time’s a charm for the Yankee offense.

Here’s the lineup…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Thames, DH
Cervelli, C
Granderson, CF
Russo, LF

And on the mound, Javier Carlos Vazquez.

The weather won’t be perfect, but there should be plenty of time to get this one in. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET, and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Yankees lose Shane Lindsay on waivers

Via MLBTR, the Indians have claimed reliever Shane Lindsay off waivers from the Yanks, who designated him for assignment last week to make room on the 40-man roster for Chad Gaudin. The Yanks claimed Lindsay off waivers from the Rockies just over two weeks ago, releasing the opt-injured Chris Garcia to fit him on the roster. He never appeared in a game during his time with the organization, instead hanging out in Extended Spring Training to trying to harness the upper-90’s heat that made him Colorado’s number 23 prospect before the season.

Posada close, but not yet activated

Via Sweeny Murti, injured catcher Jorge Posada is very close to be activated, but it won’t happen today. Joe Girardi wants to see him run again first, and there’s a chance he’ll be activated in time for tomorrow night’s game. I’m kinda surprised they’re going to bring him back so soon without at least letting him hit in a rehab game, let alone catch. It’ll be great to have Posada back in the lineup, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Series Preview: Orioles (15-36) at Yankees (31-20)

After taking three of four from the Indians over the weekend, the Yankees face another last place team, this time from their own division as the Orioles come into town for three games.

After a short dry spell the Yanks righted themselves last week, taking series from the first and last place teams in the AL Central. They beat the Twins with quality pitching, and only dropped the final because Javier Vazquez could not match the performances of A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. That pitching magic carried over into the Indians series — the only game they lost came when the pitching staff melted down. The bats also came alive against the Indians. It’s hard to believe that, with all the struggles we’ve seen from the Yanks, that they still lead the league in wOBA by a wide margin.

The Orioles have won the fewest games in the majors, no thanks to a current five-game losing streak. They haven’t won more than three straight this year, a feat they accomplished twice. They’ve gotten quality performances from Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie, the veterans atop their rotation, but haven’t seen much from their youngsters. In fact, David Hernandez realized the best results of the bunch, a 5.08 ERA, and he was the one demoted to the bullpen in favor of Chris Tillman. On offense, a number of disappointing performances, notably from Adam Jones and Miguel Tejada, have led the Orioles to a league-worst showing.

Just about everything, from the overall numbers to the pitching matchups, favors the Yankees this week. That doesn’t mean they’re destined to sweep, although they could certainly use three quick wins this week. The Orioles are vulnerable, and the Yankees look like a Mack truck. These things can turn on a dime, though, so we can’t really expect a sweep. Anything less than two out of three, of course, would represent a disappointment.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Brian Matusz (5.76 ERA, 3.81 FIP) vs. Javier Vazquez (6.86 ERA, 5.83 FIP)

This game looks like the Orioles’ best opportunity to steal a win. They’ll go against the weak link in the Yankees’ rotation, and while their own starter has had his problems lately, we can’t count the Orioles out of a slugfest. If the Indians can do it, surely the Orioles can, too.

Matusz started the year with a few solid starts, exiting April with a 4.40 ERA. That’s not bad for a 23-year-old player in his second pro season, especially coming in the AL East. He tripped up a bit in May, getting rocked by the Twins, Rangers, and A’s. He had two decent starts in there, including a seven-inning shutout against Cleveland. The other came against the Yankees, six innings and three runs, though two of the runs were unearned. He faced them in the start before that, too, allowing three earned in six innings.

Vazquez appeared to be recovering from his poor start to the season, but with a chance to sweep the Twins on Thursday, he took a step back. He struggled with command on secondary pitches, which hurt his cause right away. That he couldn’t get a strike call on his low and away slider hurt him further. The Orioles aren’t the Twins, though, so we get to see if Vazquez can respond and give the Yankees another solid start.

Wednesday: Brad Bergesen (5.96 ERA, 5.85 FIP) vs. Phil Hughes (2.70 ERA, 3.03 FIP)

Bergesen did a good job during his brief stint last year, but missed the season’s final two months after taking a comebacker off his leg. He also got off to a slow start this season after suffering a shoulder injury while shooting a commercial. He’s a groundball guy, and that skill hasn’t eluded him this year. A little over 50 percent of balls in play from him have been on the ground. His strikeout stuff, never impressive to begin with, is even worse this year, and he has actually walked more than he has struck out. He’s prone to the longball, which is not a good thing against the Yankees at the Stadium.

After the Red Sox and the Mets gave Phil Hughes a wakeup call, he responded in his last start against Cleveland. it seemed like the previous two teams were sitting on his cutter, fouling it off until he came at them with something in the zone. This time Hughes went to his curveball more often, and with much success. He also used the changeup. That will be more and more critical as the season wears on. It doesn’t have to be a frequently used secondary pitch, but Hughes will benefit from having it in his arsenal. It will, at the very least, prevent hitters from sitting on his cutter.

Thursday: Kevin Millwood (3.89 ERA, 4.47 FIP) vs. CC Sabathia (4.16 ERA, 4.48 FIP)

Kevin Millwood’s K/9 is at its highest level since 2004. His walk rate is at the lowest point of his career. That helps explain his 3.89 ERA. His 4.47 FIP? That’s because of the 1.46 HR/9 rate, right up there with 2001 as the highest in his career. Again, that doesn’t bode well for his matchup with the Yankees. He has handled himself well with diminished stuff, going to his secondary pitches more now that his fastball is 2 mph below the last two years.

The month of May was not kind to CC Sabathia. He had a 3.12 ERA and 3.38 FIP in April, but that jumped to 5.15 and 5.52 in May. Home runs and strikeouts have been the problem, and we can expect CC to put it back together sometime soon. He went through a similar stretch last year, though that was in April. This year it’s May. If it’s just one month, it’s nothing to worry about. If the Yanks take the first two, he’s still the guy I want on the mound to complete the sweep.

Should the Yanks bring Kanekoa Texeira back?

"You're going to have to shave that thing, son." (Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson, AP)

In the midst of a disappointing 19-31 season thanks in part to one of the game’s worst offenses (.298 team wOBA, which is just a click north of Randy Winn territory), the Mariners started making changes to the roster last night with more moves to come. The first set of changes involved a familiar name to Yankee fans, sinker-slider reliever Kanekoa Texiera, who was Rule 5’d in December. The Mariners designated him for assignment (along with MVP 2005 All Star Jesus Colome) to make room on the roster for some other bullpen pieces.

Texeira was by no means great with Seattle, but he wasn’t dreadful either. His ERA was certainly high at 5.30, but his peripheral stats remained decent: 6.75 K/9, 4.82 BB/9, and a 44.8 GB%, leading to a 3.39 FIP and a 4.34 xFIP. Sure, the walks are high, but I suspect that’s the result of some rookie jitters considering his career minor league walk rate is solid at 3.4 BB/9. Jonny Venters of the Braves has similar peripherals (3.51 FIP, 4.38 xFIP) in 1.2 more innings this year, but he sports a 0.89 ERA. That’s what having .363 BABIP and a 63.6% strand rate like Texeira will do to you, artificially inflate that ERA.

The Mariners have already started the process of returning Texiera to the Yanks, but I imagine they would prefer to work out a trade so they could keep him in the organization. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik not only drafted Texeira in the Rule 5 Draft last winter, but also out of high school in 2004 when he was the Brewers’ scouting director. It’s pretty obvious he’s a fan of his. What should the Yankees do though, should they take Texiera back if given the opportunity? Simply put, hell freaking yes.

It’s not a matter of having him step right in to help the big league team, it’s about adding inventory. As we’ve been saying for over two years now, the Yankee bullpen is built on having lots of options and lots of flexibility behind Mariano Rivera. If an Edwar Ramirez wasn’t getting the job done, there was a David Robertson waiting in the wings. If Robertson can’t get the job done, Mark Melancon is a phone call away. Given the volatility of relief pitchers, there’s nothing more you can do than have plenty of interchangeable pieces, and Texeira would be just another piece of that puzzle. Another guy making the league minimum with two quality pitches, something you can’t have too many of.

Of course, getting him back in the organization might not be easy. The entire point of the Rule 5 Draft is to give players stuck in the minors an opportunity to play in the big leagues, and because of this Texeira will have to clear waivers before the Yanks even have the option of taking him back. If another team were to claim him, the Rule 5 rules (having to keep him on the 25-man roster all year) would simply shift to the new team. Considering the bullpen drek that exists in places like Arizona (5.30 bullpen xFIP), Cleveland (5.10), and Kansas City (4.96), there would seem to be a demand for his services.

Remember, the Yanks managed to find a taker for Edwar Ramirez earlier this year, and not only was he the epitome of a one trick pony, but he’s also five years older than Texeira. If someone wanted him, I’m sure someone will want Texiera. Perhaps a stat-savvy team not scared off by an ugly ERA. The Yankees lost one potential relief option when Zach Kroenke leveraged his ability elected free agency to remain with the Diamondbacks as a Rule 5 pick this spring, but they might have a chance to rebuild some depth by paying the $25,000 to get Texeira back. Let’s hope they take advantage of it.