The Obligatory J.C. Romero Post

(Photo Credit: Flick user WEBN-TV via Creative Commons license)

The Yankees are in a perpetual search for left-handed bullpen help, so anytime someone with a smidgen of big league success to their credit hits the market, you can be sure Brian Cashman & Co. will show interest. The Phillies designated J.C. Romero for assignment yesterday, so he’s the next name to enter the LOOGY sweepstakes. I like the pros and cons breakdown we’ve been using in the Scouting The Trade Market series, so let’s roll with that…

The Pros

  • Being left-handed and breathing qualifies as a plus in this game all by itself, but believe it or not Romero has handled lefties very well this year. You figure he would have performed poorly since they cut him. Romero held same side batters to a .208/.321/.208 batting line in 29 plate appearances, striking out eight. Lefties also have an 81.3% ground ball rate against him this year, which is ridiculous. Since the start of last year, he’s held left-handers to a .215/.317/.262 line with as many strikeouts (28) as total bases in 126 plate appearances.
  • Romero’s contract will pay him just $1.35M this season, after which he’ll be a free agent. That’s nothing, the Yankees could pickup the pro-rated portion of that up and not blink an eye.
  • The Phillies have already devalued him with the DFA, so they’re forced to trade, release, or waive him within ten days. They essentially stuck an “O.B.O.” on the sticker price.
  • He’s got pennant race, playoff, and World Series experience with the Phillies … yadda yadda yadda.

The Cons

  • Romero’s fastball velocity is down noticeably, which may have something to do with the torn flexor tendon in his left elbow that required surgery and kept him on the shelf from late-July 2009 to late-April 2010. He also missed time with a calf issue this year and has a PED suspension in the not too distant past.
  • He’s completely unusably against right-handed pitchers. They’ve got a .297/.435/.432 batting line against Romero this year with six unintentional walks and two strikeouts in 46 plate appearances, and it’s .303/.446/.552 in 103 plate appearances since the start of last season. His career splits aren’t as drastic, but the point stands, can’t use him against righties.
  • Romero does not project as a Type-A or B free agent, so the Yankees wouldn’t get a draft pick if he were to leave after the season, assuming they offered arbitration.

They say you can’t predict baseball, but the Yankees interest in Romero is as predictable as it gets. There’s no chance he’d get to them off waivers since every team but the Red Sox would have a chance at him before they do, so forget that idea. It’s trade or bust. Some similar pitchers that have been traded recently include David Purcey (twice) and Will Ohman, both of whom returned fringy prospects a little on the older side. Think Lance Pendleton or Greg Golson. I’m not saying that’s who the Yankees should offer, it’s just an example of what it’s taken to acquire similar players in the recent past. I’m not the biggest Romero fan in the world, but there’s little reason for the Yankees not to pursue him.

Gardner gets pie as Yankees finish sweep

Is there a better way to end a ten game homestand than with a walk-off win? I don’t think so. The Yankees got their brains beat in by the Red Sox in the first three games a week ago, but they finished with six wins in the final seven games against a pair of first place teams. Successful homestand? Successful homestand.

Hooray for pie.

Brett Gardner, Not A Platoon Guy

Despite a .364 OBP against lefties this year and a .333/.414/.504 batting line since April 23rd, Joe Girardi decided to sit Brett Gardner in favor of Andruw Jones against Texas’ left-handed starters on Wednesday and Thursday. Jones went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk before Gardner took over for defense late in a tie game on Thursday, but the regular left fielder did a lot more than play defense. With the score tied at two in the 12th inning, Gardner came to the plate with Curtis Granderson (bloop single) on second and Robinson Cano (phantom hit-by-pitch, I think it just hit the knob of the bat) on first with one out. Lefty Michael Kirkman went to his fastball, and Gardner yanked a ground ball through the 3.5 hole to score Grandy for the walk-off win.

Gardner also singled in his first at-bat, that one also off Kirkman. So he came off the bench for defense and ended up with two hits, including the game winner. It’s pretty obvious that if Girardi wants to platoon Andruw, he has to do it with Jorge Posada as the DH. Gardner has to play every game, period. He’s simply too good (on both offense and defense) to platoon right now.

Brian Gordon’s Big Day

Not bad, Brian.

Three days ago, I had no idea that Brian Gordon even existed. Yet there he was Thursday afternoon, starting for the Yankees against the defending AL Champion Rangers. Five innings into the game, Yankee Stadium was chanting his name as he tried to wiggle out of a bases loaded, one out jam. I can’t imagine how that must have felt for the 32-year-old.

The actual results are mixed. I would have signed up for two runs in 5.1 IP in a heartbeat, but Gordon did put a dozen men on base in that time. He gave up seven hits, walked three (one was intentional), and hit two batters, though he got some help from a pair of double plays and Russell Martin throwing out two would-be basestealers. The Rangers put three men on base against him the first time through the order, then four men the second time through the order, and then five men the third time through the order. Gordon’s fastball sat 88-90 and his go to pitch was a slow, slooooow curveball that he got a little predictable with. If he was ahead in the count, you were getting the curve down and away.

I thought Gordon did a fine job of limiting the damage in the fifth, when he allowed his only two runs but escaped a second and third with no outs situation by allowing just one run. Taylor Teagarden walked to leadoff the inning, and a hit-and-run by Endy Chavez moved him up to second. It would have been a routine ground ball double play if Eduardo Nunez wasn’t going to cover second, but he did a good job to recover and keep the ball on the infield and Teagarden at second. Ian Kinsler blooped in a double to score a run and setup the second and third situation, but Gordon recovered to strike out Elvis Andrus. An intentional walk to Josh Hamilton (more on that later) loaded the bases, then Michael Young popped out for the second out. Gordon was almost out of it, but he lost the handle on a curveball and hit Beltre (in a two strike count) to force in a run. Mitch Moreland ended the inning with a routine fly ball. All things considered, it was a fine job.

The Rangers are a strong offensive team despite their recent struggles, and Gordon handled the start about as well as we could have expected. I think he did enough to earn another look (Girardi confirmed that we will start again in five days), but if nothing else he looks like he could be a serviceable reliever with that fastball-curveball combo. That would solve the problem of having to go through a lineup multiple times, and he certainly has experience in that role (he didn’t start until mid-April). We’ll see.

Blown Chances

The last time the Yankees played a day game after clinching a series win, they blew some early opportunities against Carlos Carrasco before going quietly and taking the loss. This game had a similar feel to it. Two outs on the bases (more on that later) killed a potential first inning rally before it even had a chance to start, then Ramiro Pena stranded two runners on base in the second inning, then Cano and Jones struck out to strand runners at second and third in the third. The ninth inning was the icing on the blown opportunity cake; a single, sac bunt, and two walks loaded the bases with two outs, but Granderson struck out (after being in a 3-1 count) and Mark Teixeira grounded out to send the game to extras. The two best hitters on the team couldn’t get it done. The next inning ended when Adrian Beltre turned a Posada line drive into a double play because Gardner was running on the pitch. Of course. At least they came away with the win.

IBB 4 Life

I’m not a big fan of the intentional walk, except in extreme situations. Something about free baserunners doesn’t sit well with me. Intentionally walking Hamilton to a) loaded the bases with one out, and b) put men on first and second with no outs don’t qualify as extreme situations to me. I mean, Young has killed the Yankees all season, absolutely killed them (came into this game hitting .400/.455/.600 against them this year), why put more runners on base in front of him. Yeah, the (literally) free passes worked in the sense that Hamilton did not come around to score, but the hit-by-pitch to Beltre forced in a run because the reigning AL MVP was put on first. Sometimes bad process leads to good results, like today.

So nice to have a catcher than can throw.

Leftovers

It’s Cory Wade‘s world, we’re all just living in it. After just two days on the roster, he already has three times as many 1-2-3 innings as Rafael Soriano. Wade sat down all three men he faced on Wednesday and all six he faced in this game, ending his outing by striking out Hamilton, who swung and missed at three changeups. Gorgeous. All told, the Yankees’ bullpen allowed two hits and a walk in 6.2 IP. Hector Noesi did a great job bridging the gap between Gordon and the regular late-game duo of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera.

Martin looked a million times better today than he did when he started on Sunday. He was moving around and running much more freely it seemed, and he answered the call when the Rangers tested him with some stolen bases attempts. Russ also singled in the first run of the game, and had another single plus a walk, so it was an all-around good return to the lineup for him. Tex took a big fat 0-for-6, which is never fun. Nick Swisher had a hit and a walk from the leadoff spot, Granderson had three hits, Cano two hits and a walk, and Posada a double (his first extra base hit off a lefty this year, and it drove in the tying run in the sixth). Eduamiro Penunez combined to go 0-for-6 with a walk and a sac bunt, though Alex Rodriguez pinch-hit for Ramiro Pena in the ninth only to be intentionally walked. Nunez had both the walk and the bunt.

The Yankees made a pair of outs on the bases in the very first inning, including the first out at third base when Swish over-slid the bag going first-to-third on a Granderson single. Grandy got caught stealing to end the inning shortly thereafter. Sigh.

In nine games against the Yankees this year, the Rangers managed to give up 22 homers, including shots by Pena, Nunez, Frankie Cervelli (a grand slam), and Derek Jeter (two!). Now that’s impressive. Texas is now 2-8 in their last ten games while the Yankees are 18-9 since that ugly six game losing streak no one seems to remember.

WPA Graph & Box Score

So much leverage, so little time. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

Time to hit the road and visit the Chicago Cubs as the NL park leg of interleague play begins. Freddy Garcia gets the ball against Doug Davis in another afternoon game on Friday, this one at 2:20pm ET. The Cubbies play a lot of home games during the day, in case you’re not familiar with the other side of the baseball world.

Heredia dominant again in Tampa win

The Short Season Staten Island Yankees kick off their season tomorrow, and Robert Pimpser says Bryan Mitchell will be on the mound. It’s unclear if he’s starting or relieving, but for the love of Mo he better start. The kid’s 20 years old with some of the best stuff in the organization, they can’t put him in the bullpen. The Yankees also signed 23-year-old lefty Vidal Nuno out of an independent league and sent him to Staten Island. Just roster filler, but here’s some video from 2009.

Mike Ashmore spoke to Austin Romine, who talked about his concussion. Ha still has not picked up a bat. Grant Duff was also placed on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, and it sounds like Carlos Silva is ready to come off the disabled list after dealing with a shoulder issue of his own. As for the really bad news, Tim Norton has a severely torn labrum and this latest shoulder ailment might be career-threatening. That’s a damn shame, he was maybe a month away from the big leagues given how well he was pitching.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 loss to Columbus in eight innings) game was completed early due to rain … they faced an old pal, who apparently has a new delivery and more velocity … oh, there were two other old friends in the opposing lineup as well
Kevin Russo, 2B, Jorge Vazquez, 1B & Doug Bernier, SS: all 0 for 3 – JoVa and Bernier each whiffed twice
Greg Golson, CF: 2 for 4
Jesus Montero, C & Austin Krum, LF: both 1 for 3
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 3, 1 R
Jordan Parraz, RF: 1 for 2, 1 BB
Gus Molina, DH: 0 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 CS
David Phelps, RHP: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5-1 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) – 50 of 71 pitches were strikes (70.4%) … left because of a lengthy rain delay
Lance Pendleton, RHP: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 3-1 GB/FB – 29 of 52 pitches were strikes (55.8%) … welcome back to Triple-A
Ryan Pope, RHP: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K – just 14 of 29 pitches were strikes (48.2%)
Eric Wordekemper, RHP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0-2 GB/FB – nine of 16 pitches were strikes (56.3%) … allowed all three of Pope’s inherited runners to score
Andrew Brackman, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – a dozen of his 15 pitches were strikes (80%)

[Read more...]

Cashman: We want Montero to play everyday

Brian Cashman told reporters today that the reason Jesus Montero has not been called up is because he wants him to play everyday rather than serve as Russell Martin‘s backup and get occasional at-bats at DH. “Is Montero better than [Francisco Cervelli]? Yes he is,” said Cashman, continuing his theme of brutal honesty. I can certainly see why they would prefer to do this, but … I mean …  how long are they willing to wait for a full-time spot to open up? What if one doesn’t until next season?

Open Thread: The Old Timers’ Day Roster

(Photo Credit: Flickr user bump via Creative Commons license)

The 2011 edition of Old Timers’ Day will take place ten days from now on Sunday, June 26th. Earlier today we learned that Bernie Williams will be there, and earlier this year we heard that both Joe Torre and Lou Piniella will be there as well. The full roster of attendees was released today and can be seen here. Aside from those three, other first timers include Clay Bellinger, Brian Boehringer, George Frazier, and former first base coach Jose Cardenal. Here’s a fun fact: three Old Timers (Aaron Small, Homer Bush, and Ramiro Mendoza) are younger than Mariano Rivera. Crazy.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing the Braves (Dickey vs. Minor) and MLB Network will carry a game as well (teams depend on where you live). That’s it, the NBA and NHL seasons are over. Talk about whatever your heart desires, go nuts.

Joba Update: Joba Chamberlain had his Tommy John surgery, and he tweeted afterward that everything went well. Based on his feed over the last few days, he seems to be in pretty good spirits considering how much an injury like that sucks.