It looks like today’s off-day will not be used to skip one of the current starters. The Yanks will trot out Mike Mussina on Tuesday, Sidney Ponson on Wednesday, and Andy Pettitte on Thursday to face the Red Sox. Sure, they could tell Sidney to take a day off, slide Pettitte into his spot, and pitch Pavano on Thursday. But is that any better? After all, Sidney tends to do well in his start after being blown out.

The real rotation issues actually begin on Saturday. This will be Darrell Rasner’s next start. He’s faced Toronto twice this year, each time coming up with at least acceptable results. So do you give him another shot? Or do you turn to Phil Hughes or Alfredo Aceves?

It’s not an easy question to answer. Aceves might seem attractive after last night’s performance, but is he ready for The Show? Hughes has been uninspiring his past two times out, but could eight days of rest cure what ails him? These are questions the Yanks will ask over the course of the week. The results against the Red Sox could play a large role in that decision.

Let’s toss this one up to the comments. Do you take a risk with Hughes and Aceves, hoping that they can piece together a few good starts in September? Or do you give Rasner the ball again and give those two another start in AAA?

Categories : Pitching
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Mark Melancon gets it

By in Minors. Tags: · Comments (36) ·

This quote from the Yanks’ uber-relief prospect following Triple-A Scranton’s 2-0 win over Buffalo yesterday is just too good. Via Chad Jennings:

“The game of baseball is challenging,” [Melancon] said. “It’s really the game, it’s not the opponents. It’s getting strike one. It’s getting the first out. It’s throwing to the glove. Obviously I’m giving respect to the hitters but at the same time, if you locate the ball it really does not matter who’s up there. You know, sometimes guys are going to get a good pitch and hit it far, but you can’t worry about that. You have to worry about what you can control, and that’s throwing my pitches well.”

I mean, wow. Could he have said it any better?

We’ve been hearing how great Melancon’s makeup is since he was drafted, and that quote shows it. The 23-yr old from Colorado has come back from Tommy John surgery better than anyone could have expected, and has put himself in a position to be a factor out of the Yanks’ pen as soon as next April. He’ll be a fan favorite rather quickly.

Categories : Minors
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Rare are the series this season when the Yankees sweep a three-game set. But if ever there were to be a time for the Yanks to pick up the pace, this week would be it.

While New York is reeling from the news about Osi Umenyiora, the Yankees are trying to make a last-gasp run at the playoffs, and to accomplish this dream, they’ll have to sweep the Red Sox this week. Momentum is on their side.

Sunday’s game did not start out well for the Yankees. Darrell Rasner, a starter by default, was terrible. He allowed ten baserunners and five runs — three earned — in just 3.1 innings of work. While the Yanks spotted Rasner to a 7-3 lead, he and the bullpen could not hold the Orioles, and at this point, no one really knows who will next start for the Yankees when they need a fifth starter.

Meanwhile, the Yanks’ bullpen came through late with a few huge innings. While David Robertson and Edwar Ramirez coughed up a two-run lead, Jose Veras, Damaso Marte and Mariano Rivera held the Orioles over the final three innings. Marte finally showed Yankee fans what he could do, and Mariano picked up a four-out save — his 31st of the season — to give the Yankees a much-needed victory.

Offensively, Sunday belonged to Robinson Cano. While he’s still trying to overcome a terrible start, Cano knocked out four hits on Sunday including the game-winning home run in the seventh inning. He drove in two, scored two and pushed his average up to .269. The Yanks really need to Cano to get hot over their last 30 games, and Sunday proved to be a good start.

Meanwhile, while Jason Giambi had yet another 0-fer and left seven runners on base, A-Rod and Bobby Abreu went a combined 5 for 7. Xavier Nady drove in two runs; Johnny Damon drove in three. And while Boston won, the Yanks kept the pressure on the Wild Card teams.

They may be down, but they’re not out. And with Boston on the way this week, the Yanks’ fate rests squarely in their hands. A sweep would keep them alive; anything would be a big blow. Here come some key August games. What could be better?

Categories : Game Stories
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Triple-A Scranton (2-0 win over Buffalo)
J-Christ & Melky: both 0 for 4, 1 K
Juan Miranda & Chad Moeller: both 0 for 3 – Miranda K’ed thrice
Shelley: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – 25 of his 42 hits in AAA have gone for extra bases (59.5%)
Ben Broussard: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
Chris Basak, Nick Green & Bernie Castro: all 1 for 3 – Green K’ed
Al Aceves: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 5-5 GB/FB – 65 of 95 pitches were strikes (68.4%) … pitched very well against a lineup that included a whole bunch of rehabbing big leaguers and top prospects
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 0-3 GB/FB – 15 of 21 pitches were strikes (71.4%) … you know, I didn’t believe that whole “he’s throwing so few pitches per inning that he needs to pitch multiple innings to get his work in” excuse for why his innings total was so high, but now that I’ve been able to see his pitch count in the box score, man, he’s one efficient dude
Bill Traber: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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  • Should Moose head to Cooperstown?

    A little Sunday afternoon discussion for you: Jonah Keri thinks that Mike Mussina belongs in the Hall. Do you? What if he reaches 20 wins this year and somehow makes it up to the 285-300 range over the next few years? This old Moose seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve, and one of them may be earning himself a spot in Cooperstown. · (33) ·

The Yanks have won 5 of their last 7 games, and after today’s game they get a crack at the Wildcard leader in a three game set in the Bronx. If there ever was a time for the Yanks to make a move, now is it.

Dareel Rasner takes to the mound for the boys in pinstripes, sporting a 3.38 ERA in his last three outings. He’ll be opposed by big Danny Cabrera, who gives the Yanks fits for whatever reason (3-0, 3.15 ERA against the Yanks this year), but he’s been brutal over the last month, pitching to a 7.15 ERA & .920 OPS against. He’s basically turned everyone into Josh Hamilton over that time.

The Yanks have to remain patient, work the count and let Cabrera get himself into trouble. He’ll do it, it’s almost inevitable. Playoff caliber teams win these games. 1:35pm start today, get it done.

1. Damon, CF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Nady, LF
7. Matsui, DH
8. Cano, 2B
9. Pudge, C

And on the mound, Waiver Claim Rasner.

Update: Tigers Thoughts updated the Elias rankings. Bobby Abreu is comfortably a Type-A free agent, while Jason Giambi is barely a Type-B. It’s not even worth thinking about risking offering The Big G arbitration at this point. (h/t reader Steve)

Categories : Game Threads
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  • The Brian Bruney Appreciation thread

    Since returning from his Lisfranc injury earlier this month, Brian Bruney has pretty much picked up where he left off at the end of April. In August, he’s throw 10 innings and has allowed three runs on six hits, five walks and seven strike outs. He hasn’t allowed a run over his last four appearances, and I have to wonder just how badly the Yankees’ bullpen missed his arm for three months this year. Those Lisfranc injuries have really killed the Yanks this year. · (24) ·

It’s amazing what 502 days of rest will do for a pitcher, eh?

A whopping 502 days after his last start, Carl Pavano made his 20th appearance as a member of the New York Yankees. It wasn’t pretty, and Pavano wasn’t particularly adept at keeping the Orioles off the base paths. But the oft-injured right-hander made the pitched he needed to make when it counted, and the Yanks emerged as 5-3 winners over Baltimore.

For the surging Yankees, last night’s win was their fifth in their last seven. With Boston’s losing 11-0 in Toronto, the Yanks moved to within five of the Wild Card lead, and it looks like this week’s series in New York with the Red Sox will be a key turning point in the race for a playoff spot.

In Baltimore, the Yanks spotted Carl Pavano to an early lead. Johnny Damon singled to lead off the game, and while Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu both lined out, A-Rod hit a booming double to center field that plated Damon. Jason Giambi drove in his first of three runs with a single, and before Pavano had a chance to step to the mound for the first time since April 9, 2007, he had a 2-0 lead.

He needed every run of that lead and then some. Pavano allowed three hits in the first, and only a lucky double play prevented the Orioles from scoring any runs. An inning later, another three hits and a walk would lead to three Oriole runs, and after two innings, Baltimore had a 3-2 lead. Pavano, meanwhile, had thrown way too many pitches and wasn’t looking sharp. Everything turned after that.

Pavano retired the Orioles in order in the third but got into trouble in the fourth. In an effort to curry favor with the Bronx faithful, Pavano drilled Yankee nemesis Kevin Millar with a fastball. A Jay Payton single put runners on first and second with no outs, and while a Jason Giambi two-run home run had given the Yanks a 4-3 edge, that lead was in danger of evaporating. But Pavano bore down and struck out Juan Castro, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis to end the Oriole threa.

On the night, Pavano threw five innings and allowed three earned runs on seven hits and a walk. He also struck out five and threw 54 of 91 pitches for strikes. At times, it wasn’t pretty, but it was more than we could have expected from a pitcher everyone doubted. Whether he can do it again in five days is up for debate. That will, of course, be the true test of Carl Pavano.

Right now, we just tip our caps to Pavano — and the Yankee bullpen — and appreciate how the Yankees are still in this thing. While Carl Pavano now has more wins than Kei Igawa, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy combined, the Yanks have to make up five games over their last 33. As Carl Pavano — the YES Network’s Chevy Player of the Game — proved last night, anything is possible.

Categories : Game Stories
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Triple-A Scranton (4-0 win over Lehigh Valley)
Justin Christian: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K
Bernie Castro & Matt Carson: both 2 for 4, 2 K – Castro scored a run … Carson tripled & drove one in
Melky: 2 for 3, 1 BB, 1 CS – Chad Jennings notes that Melk’s run himself into quite a few outs since being sent down
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 RBI
Eric Duncan & Chris Basak: both 0 or 3, 1 R, 1 BB - E-Dunc K’ed once, Basak twice
Nick Green: 1 for 3, 1 K
Chase Wright: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 7-10 GB/FB – 62 of 92 pitches were strikes (67.4%) … he’s pitches very well in AAA, definitely should get a call-up when rosters expand
Phil Coke: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 16 of 20 pitches were strikes (80%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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How many of you remember this day? I know I sure do, it was awesome. Coming off of two consecutive seasons of at least 201 IP, Pavano was just entering his prime at age 28, and looked every bit the part of the young, workhorse starter the Yanks needed. It was glorious.

Then the injuries came. First it was rotator cuff tendonitis. Then it was the infamous bruised buttocks. Then it was broken ribs in a car accident. Then it was Tommy John surgery. Aside from the bruised hiney, all the injures were serious. But no one cares. Because of Brian Cashman‘s complete and utter inability to predict the future, Pavano’s tenure as a Yankee didn’t go as planned. With a grand total of 5 Yankee wins in 4 years under his belt, Pavano returns tonight right when the Yankees need him most.

Ironically, injuries are what force Pavano to the bump tonight, as Joba and Danny Giese are riding the DL pine. With only 34 games remaining and a 5.5 game deficit in the Wildcard staring the team in the face, Pavano returns at a time in which he can redeem himself the most. All the Yanks are asking of the now 32-year old Pavano is to keep them in games. If he does that, he will surpass everyone expectations.

The Yanks are 4-2 in their last 6 games; let’s keep this little hot streak going.

1. Damon, CF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Nady, LF
7. Matsui, DH
8. Cano, 2B
9. Pudge, C

And on the mound, (I can’t believe I’m actually saying this) Carl Pavano.

Notes: Billy Traber, one of the most useless players the Yanks have had in recent years, was shipped to Triple-A to make room for Pavano … Boston already lost, so the Yanks have a golden opportunity to gain ground in the WC … top prospect Austin Jackson was placed on the DL with a minor back issue …

Categories : Game Threads
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