When Manny orchestrated his departure from Boston, you knew this gem of a news item would come sooner or later. Manny, according to news reports, wants to play in New York, and it seems as though he simply wants to don Yankee pinstripes in order to stick it to the Red Sox 19 times a season. Five years ago, I would have drooled over the idea of Manny in the Bronx, and five years ago, the Yanks could have had him for the price of his contract. But now I’m not so sure. He’s better than Bobby Abreu, but is he, as he approaches 37, worth $100 million over four or even five years? I doubt it. · (29) ·
Since joining the Detroit Tigers on August 1, Kyle Farnsworth has been a bit less than impressive. He’s thrown 4.2 innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs. By all accounts, his Detroit performance has been something of a market correction after a stellar four months in the Bronx. But, right now, the Yanks actually miss him.
This afternoon, in Anaheim, the Yanks’ bullpen imploded. While Dan Giese exceeded expectations and earned himself another start, after Giese left the game, everything fell apart. Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and David Robertson combined for the worst two innings I’ve seen any bullpen toss in a long time. The three gave up 11 hits and 10 runs — nine earned — en route to blowing a 3-1 Yankee lead. When the dust finally settled, the Angels walked away 11-4 winners, and with the Red Sox winning, the Yanks saw their October hopes slip further away.
Offensively, the Yanks didn’t do much against John Lackey and the Angels. A-Rod homered for the second straight day; Jason Giambi added his second post-mustache home run; Damon singled; and Jeter hit a sac fly. That would be all the Yanks would muster against the Angels.
But again the story focused around the bullpen. After giving up the game on Friday night, the gang out of the pen did it again tonight. In August, the pen has been beyond horrible. They’ve thrown 28.2 innings with an ERA of 8.16. They’ve blown Yankee leads and close games; they’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and have stymied potential comebacks. It has, in a word, been a disaster.
Ironically, the problems started when Kyle Farnsworth was shipped out for Ivan Rodriguez. While Farnsworth was never a sure bet, he provided stability in relief. With Krazy Kyle around, the rest of the Yankees relief corps were all pushed back an inning. But when Kyle left and Damaso Marte arrived, the New World Bullpen Order collapsed. Marte hasn’t yet filled in for Farnsworth, and no one else is getting the job done.
Perhaps, this rough patch is just one of those things that happens in August when everyone’s feeling the aches and pains of a 162-game season. Perhaps the pen will snap out of it and restore itself to its July grandeur. But right now, it’s costing the Yankees precious games in August in a pennant race, and I actually find myself missing Kyle Farnsworth. What ever have we come to?
Wilkins DeLaRosa was deservingly promoted to High-A Tampa, but Eladio Rodriguez, the 2007 Israeli Baseball League MVP, was released. DeLaRosa has been revelation this season, easily one of the biggest surprises in the system. E-Rod was a spare part, he had no place to play with Trenton since PJ Pilittere, Frankie Cervelli & Joe Muich are all on the team as well. He’ll definitely get an opportunity elsewhere.
Chad Jennings shares his opinion on Ian Kennedy, check it out.
Triple-A Scranton (7-6 win over Syracuse, walk-off style) they scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game
Brett Gardner: 1 for 3, 2 RBI, 2 BB – walk-off single
Matt Carson: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 1, 1 R, 4 BB, 1 K – the Barry Bonds of the International League
Juan Miranda: 1 for 5, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 3 K – tied the game up in the 8th with a 2-run double
Cody Ransom: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 2 K
Ben Broussard: 0 for 3, 2 BB
Chris Stewart: 1 for 3, 2 R, 2 BB
Eric Duncan: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K – had been 5 for his last 40 (.125)
Chris Basak: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 K - 13 for his last 31 (.419)
Chase Wright: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 10-4 GB/FB – 47 of 77 pitches were strikes (61.0%)
JB Cox: 1.2 IP, zeroes, 3-2 GB/FB – 10 of 16 pitches were strikes (62.5%)
Scott Patterson: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K – 27 of 37 pitches were strikes (73.0%) … gave up what appeared to be a pair of insurance runs in the 8th, but he ends up walking away with a win
What do you get when Sidney Ponson is your No. 3 starter? Dan Giese on a Saturday in Anaheim. Not that Giese has been bad at all this season. He’s done more than any Yanks fan could have reasonably expected to this point. In more than one way, he’s looking like Aaron Small v2.0.
Maybe he can conjure some of that magic today. The Yanks need a win in a bad way. After going on an eight-game tear to start the second half, they’ve faltered since, going 5-8 in the subsequent 13. You’d like to see them go 4-1 over their next five, evening out the above mark to 9-9 over 18, heading into their first off-day since July 24.
And on the mound, number 38, Dan Giese.
Pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis last night, ex-Yankee Ross Ohlendorf walked a rehabbing Michael Cuddyer in the first inning, then threw a pitch that the next batter ripped down the first base line. The ball hit Cuddyer as he tried to jump out of the way, breaking his foot and effectively ending his season. Cuddyer was scheduled to come off the DL in the coming days and make his return to the lineup when the Yanks visit Minnesota early next week. Thanks Ross, we know you and your Princeton education planned that. · (7) ·
Dave Brown, Yahoo! Sports’ very own Answer Man, sat down for an interview with Mike Mussina, and the results are priceless.
The always amusing and rather verbose Mike Mussina discusses the new Yankee Stadium, living in New York City, crossword puzzles and the smells on the subway. We also learn that the Yanks’ 15-game winner subscribes to Popular Photography, no longer throws a knuckleball and doesn’t find The Onion’s constant ribbing particularly amusing.
But my favorite part is this exchange:
Q: Why don’t people go to Orioles games anymore?
MM: I don’t think fourth place every year really brings in the fans.
This might just be my favorite interview with an athlete I’ve ever read if for the simple fact that Mike Mussina actually has something to say and sounds smart while saying it. Check it out. (Hat tip to BBTF.)
Manny Ramirez is the gift that keeps on giving. Today’s Manny-related headline comes to us from the Los Angeles Times: Bud Selig questions Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez trade.
The headline itself is a bit misleading; Selig isn’t concerned with the Dodgers’ acquisition of the future Hall of Famer but rather with the way Manny finagled his way out of Boston. Bud doesn’t like it and plans to send his minions to make some noises before declaring the whole thing a non-issue.
To this, I say: Of course, Selig doesn’t like it. Any self-respecting fan of baseball shouldn’t like it. With an assist from Scott Boras, his agent, who knows what Manny can get on the open market, Manny Ramirez put on a show to get the Red Sox to trade him. He took a few calculated risks, sat out a few key games, said just the right things to the ever-rabid Boston press. Voilà, Manny Ramirez has his options declined and gets himself a one-way ticket to Chavez Ravine.
Now in LA, Manny is hitting .464 with four home runs this month, and the Red Sox aren’t happy. But this is what baseball has become, and while A-Rod‘s opt-out shenanigans in October highlighted the baser business side of the game, Manny’s in-season antics drove home the idea with an exclamation point.
When players know they can get more money than their contracts allow and teams are willing to give their top players any sort of leverage with an option, those players and their shrewd agents will do anything they can to get out of seemingly bad deals even when those deals are for more money than you or I will see in our lifetimes. Bud Selig can cry foul; the Red Sox can cry foul. But Selig loves touting the economic health of baseball, and the Red Sox are among the richest, most successful teams in the game these days. They can’t have it both ways, and we the fans just get to watch a shouting match between the rich and the richer. How pleasant.
I’m not going to mince words about Ian Kennedy’s start today. It went about as poorly as anyone could hope.
Kennedy faced 16 batters tonight in just over two innings of work. He gave up nine hits and a walke en route to a five-earned run performance. On the season, he is now 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA, and opponents are simply teeing off against him.
As we saw with Kennedy in April and May, his approach at the Big League level seems off. He can dominate Minor League hitters, but he hasn’t yet made that jump up to the highest level of competition. For two-plus innings tonight, I saw Ian Kennedy miss with his breaking pitches and nibble at the corners. When he had to make pitches in hitter’s counts, he offered up 89-mile-per-hour fastballs that were drilled for base hits.
After Kennedy left, Darrell Rasner and Brian Bruney, pitching for the fifth time since coming off the DL and the fourth time in the last five days, combined to allow five runs on eight hits in six innings. While Kennedy didn’t do the job, neither did the bullpen, and a woudla-coulda-shoulda comeback by the Yanks — they were within one after a two-run sixth — never really came to fruition.
We could point fingers at the bullpen, but everyone knows this game is on Kennedy’s shoulders. As Ed Price noted during the game, the stats aren’t pretty. Kennedy has become the first Yankee rookie to win his first Big League start and then go winless in his next 11 outings. His ERA to date puts him in some rather unrarefied company as well.
Now, over the course of this season and especially tonight, we’ve long been accused of being Ian Kennedy apologists. We, our detractors say, have a blind faith in a young man who hasn’t yet shown that he can succeed above AAA. We are too willing to look beyond his short-coming and predict him as the next Mike Mussina, the next Tom Glavine, if only he would attack Major League hitters.
Tonight, I’m not going to offer up apologies for Kennedy. He was terrible. But — and you knew a “but” was coming — the idea that he’s finished as a prospect, that he sucks, that he will never amount to anything is simply wrong, and in responding to that spurious line of thinking, we are labeled apologists.
Kennedy now has a whopping 58.2 innings of Major League experience under his belt. In 19 of those innings, he was pretty damn good; in 39.2, he was pretty terrible. And it’s simply impossible to judge a pitcher based on 58.2 innings.
Everyone involved with the team from Hank Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman on down knows that, with a plan that includes young pitchers, growing pains are part of the bargain. Sustained future success is more important that short-term, one-year victories, and if that future success means watching 23-year-old First Round draft picks struggle, then so be it. The Yankees are willing to accept that because they know the dividends it can pay. The fans want everything now, now, now.
Who knows what Ian Kennedy will become? He could be another member in a very long line of failed pitching prospects that dot baseball history; he could become a serviceable middle-of-the-rotation guy; he could triumph over this adversity and deal in the Majors as he has through every other level of professional baseball. But right now, we just don’t know what he’ll do, and 39.2 innings this year just isn’t enough to pass judgment. Kennedy haters can call us apologists, but I like to think of it as a more discerning approach to analyzing baseball.
While Mike’s not around to do a Down on the Farm tonight, and we’ve got the game thread going strong, I thought I’d put together a quick recap of the Minor League action. It’s better than watching yet another terrible Ian Kennedy effort.
In Scranton, the Syracuse Chiefs down the Yankees 5-2. Cody Ransom went 3 for 3 with his 22nd home run of the season. Juan Miranda and Brett Gardner picked up a hit apiece. Jason Jones allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 6.1 innings. He walked none and struck out four. Chris Britton gave up two runs in the top of the ninth. Some guy named Vernon Wells went 0 for 4 as the Chiefs’ DH, but don’t count him out yet. He has a bright future.
In Trenton, in Game 1, the Thunder walked off with a 3-2 win over the Akron Aeros. P.J. Pilittere hit the two-run walk-off single. Anthony Claggett went 1.2 innings for the win but walked three. Jason Stephens, in his AA debut, allowed two runs on three hits and two walks. He struck out nine. Bronson Sadinha homered for the Aerons. Game 2 saw the Aerons dominate, 8-0 in seven innings. A-Jax went 0 for 6 on the day.
After falling behind 7-1 after two innings, Tampa outscored the Clearwater Threshers 13-2 en route to a 14-9 win. Ryan Pope got torched. His final line: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 2 BB. Seven Tampa hitters had at least two hits each.
Playing in the former Yankee stronghold of the Oneonta, the SI Yanks downed the Tigers 5-2. Michael Obradovich threw another scoreless inning, and Pat Venditte racked up two K’s for his 12th save.
The GCL Yankees were rained out.
Just over two years ago the Yanks spent the 21st overall pick in the draft on a polished college arm out of USC, one Mr. Ian Patrick Kennedy. The smallish righthander wasn’t your prototypical electric stuff guy, he was a high probabilty four pitch command guy that repeated his delivery like a robot. He was one of the unsexiest yet safest picks in the class.
Kennedy proved to be worth the pick his first full season as a professional baseball player, going 12-3 with a 1.91 ERA & 0.96 WHIP across three levels before being named Minor League Pitcher of the Year by milb.com, as well as Minor League Player of the Year by us here at RAB. He earned a September call-up and thrived in the shadow of Joba Chamberlain, twirling 19 innings of 236 ERA+ ball during the stretch run, including this gem up in Toronto. Baseball America rated him the 45th best prospect in the game during the offseason, and grabbed the sponsorship for his B-Ref page.
Kennedy was sidelined by a strain in his right lat-muscle for over a month this year, but has since returned to form during his rehab stint. Climbing the ladder from the Rooklie level GCL to Triple-A Scranton, Kennedy basically repeated his 2007 performance, posting a sub-2.00 ERA (1.99) and a sub-1.00 WHIP (0.88). He allowed 4 runs in his last 27 IP, including a near 7-inning no-hitter, before the Yanks once again called his name. Back home in front of friends and family tonight in Anaheim, Kennedy will look to stabilize a Yankee rotation plagued by injury and ineffectiveness.
Everyone deserves a second chance now and then. Kennedy starts fresh tonight.
Notes: You want a good omen for tonight? Well here’s one: the only other time tonight’s starters (IPK & Jered Weaver) faced off was this game back in 2004, the first time Kennedy ever pitched for USC … if that’s not a sign of Kennedy starting off fresh tonight, nothing is … Hideki Matsui felt no pain in his knee after working out yesterday, a good sign … in case of chest hair emergency, pull tab quickly and back away … sorry folks, no DotF tonight (life interrupts blogging sometimes), so here’s the scoreboards for AAA, AA, A+, A-, SS & Rk … you can get to the box scores from there …