Injury Updates: Chan Ho Park & Nick Johnson

Finally, some good injury news. Prior to this afternoon’s game, GM Brian Cashman confirmed that Chan Ho Park would be activated off the disabled list in time for tomorrow’s game. He’s been on the DL for just about a month with a hamstring issue, but apparently he’s good to go after make two rehab appearances (one in Extended Spring Training, one in Triple-A) last week. With Al Aceves on the shelf for the foreseeable future, getting CHoP back is going to be a nice boost to a bullpen that been pretty shaky before the 8th inning.

Meanwhile, the news for Nick Johnson isn’t as promising. He received a cortisone shot in his wrist, and there’s only a 50% chance that it’ll take care of the inflamed tendon. If it doesn’t, he’ll have to go under the knife, which means 4-6 weeks before he could even pick up a bat. They’ll know whether he needs surgery or not within ten days or so. Just putting it all together, Johnson might not be back until August if he has surgery since he’ll need time for a minor league rehab assignment and what not.

Game 36: Andy Returns

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

After missing a start with some minor elbow inflammation, Andy Pettitte returns to the bump this afternoon as the Yankees look to pick up yet another win over the Twins at home. Minnesota is sending Francisco Liriano out there as they try to win for just the fourth time in the Bronx during the Ron Gardenhire Era, and all he’s done this year is post a 2.24 FIP with a 50.9% groundball rate (zero homers!) in six starts. He’s completely annihilated lefthanded batters as well (1.64 xFIP), so it might be a tough day for Robbie Cano and Brett Gardner. Here’s the lineup that’ll try to figure him out…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF – I guess the bicep is okay
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, DH
Thames, LF
Cervelli, C
Gardner, CF

And on the mound, Andrew Pettitte.

Nothing like a Saturday game under the sun. First pitch will be at 1:05pm ET, and the game can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Link Dump: Laziness, Girardi, House For Sale, Salty, and Tebow

Some Saturday morning links for your reading pleasure.

Putting data behind the obvious

Rob Iracane over at Walkoff Walk takes a look at a subject touched on many times here with regards to players who are questioned about hustle.  It’s a good read and even though what Rob writes is well known, the simple data he compiled is alarming.

Joe Girardi gets some credit

If you’re a Joe Girardi fan, enjoy this while it lasts.  Michael Rosenberg at SI lays out reasons for why Girardi is a perfect manager for the Yankees, without ignoring some of his faults.  If you can’t stand Girardi, take a peek and see if Rosenberg does anything to sway you.

In the market for new house?

‘Duk over at Big League Stew writes about the Field of Dreams being up for sale in Iowa for $5.4 million.  For anyone who has seen the movie, it’s a pretty good read, and it’s interesting to know what happened to the field since.

Remember this guy?

It seems like Jarrod Saltalamacchia should have been an All-Star several times by now, but his career as a catcher is heading in the wrong direction.  Bob Hersom of okcredhawks.com takes a look at Salty’s issues throwing the ball back to the pitcher.  The good news is Salty is hitting the ball well, so hopefully he either figures it out soon or his bat is strong enough to get him in the majors as a 1B/DH.  There’s always room in the majors for guys with 14 letter last names who married a teacher from his high school.

Well, if the whole football thing doesn’t pan out

Interesting story (scroll to bottom) in the Memphis Commercial Appeal about Tim Tebow taking batting practice with the Memphis University School baseball team.  Long story short, he crushed the ball.  Just in case he doesn’t make in the NFL, maybe he should keep his swing sharp.

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Link Dump

Putting data behind the obvious

Rob Iracane over at Walkoff Walk takes a look at a subject touched on many times here with regards to players who are questioned about hustle. It’s a good read and even though what Rob writes is well known, the simple data he compiled is alarming.

Joe Girardi gets some credit

If you’re a Joe Girardi fan, enjoy this while it lasts. Michael Rosenberg at SI lays out reasons for why Girardi is a perfect manager for the Yankees, without ignoring some of his faults. If you can’t stand Girardi, take a peek and see if Rosenberg does anything to sway you.

In the market for new house?

‘Duk over at Big League Stew writes about the Field of Dreams being up for sale in Iowa for $5.4 million. For anyone who has seen the movie, it’s a pretty good read, and it’s interesting to know what happened to the field since.

Remember this guy?

It seems like Jarrod Saltalamacchia should have been an All-Star several times by now, but his career as a catcher is heading in the wrong direction. Bob Hersom of okcredhawks.com takes a look at Salty’s issues throwing the ball back to the pitcher. The good news is Salty is hitting the ball well, so hopefully he either figures it out soon or his bat is strong enough to get him in the majors as a 1B/DH. There’s always room in the majors for guys with 14 letter last names who married a teacher from his high school.

Well, if the whole football thing doesn’t pan out

Interesting story (scroll to bottom) in the Memphis Commercial Appeal about Tim Tebow taking batting practice with the Memphis University School baseball team. Long story short, he crushed the ball. Just in case he doesn’t make in the NFL, maybe he should keep his swing sharp.

A-Rod slams Twins in 8-4 win

Coming home to play in front of their home fans for just the 13th time this season, the Yankees looked to get the bitter taste of the Detroit series out of their mouths by beating up on a familiar foe. The Twins are just 3-23 against the Yanks in the Bronx during the Ron Gardenhire Era, and one very clutch grand slam later, they were 3-24.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Biggest Hit: A-Rod Makes Them Pay

You know, there was once a time when Alex Rodriguez had a problem coming through in big spots. He’d tense up and take that big hack and invariably get just on top or just underneath the ball and provide a less than desired outcome. Then the first five months of 2009 happened, and Alex hit rock bottom. I can’t imagine what kind of effect that had on him personally, but all I know is that he’s been a big hit machine since then. Regular season, playoffs, whatever, he’s made things happen when the Yankees needed them to happen.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Gardenhire pulled something out of the 2008 play book on Friday by intentionally walking Mark Teixeira in the 7th inning to load the bases with one out for A-Rod. Tex had a single and a double already to his credit on the night, so he was put on and Matt Guerrier was brought in to try and induce the inning ending double play. Alex fouled off his first pitch, a fastball on the inner half, but didn’t miss the second pitch in the same spot. It was quite literally a big fly, hanging up in the air as it carried out to left. Even if it didn’t reach the seats, the game was tied because the ball was hit far enough back to bring Frankie Cervelli in from third. Cervelli wouldn’t have to do anything more than trot, because the ball landed a few rows back for Alex’s 19th career grand slam, third most all time. It also gave him sole possession of 7th place on the all-time homer list with 587.

The best part of that whole at-bat was the matchup. Gardenhire went to his trusted righty setup man in that spot and completely ignored the numbers; A-Rod had been 4-for-6 with three (!!!) homers off Guerrier in his career, so you’d think that was the last guy Minnesota would want to have on the mound in that spot. His first pitch was 90 mph and the second 91, so at least he tried to change speeds on Alex.

Biggest Mistake: Pitching To Morneau

The outcome of the game will certainly mask the mistakes, but pitching to Justin Morneau and his AL leading .485 wOBA with the go-ahead run on second and two outs in the 7th inning was quite the blunder. I understand Damaso Marte is the guy that’s getting paid the big bucks to get out big time lefties in spots just like this, but there comes a point when you have to take a look at the reality of the situation and make a judgment based on that. Michael Cuddyer is making outs more than 68% of the time this season, and your righty relief ace is warmed up in the bullpen. You put Morneau on in that spot and call on Joba Chamberlain to get the vastly inferior hitter in Cuddyer.

Alas, Marte hung a slider that Morneau whacked into the gap for a double, but the Twins ahead by one. When you play the Twins, you don’t let Joe Mauer or Morneau beat you. You don’t even give them the chance.

Biggest Out: Span Hits One Back To The Pitcher

Things got ugly early in the Bronx on Friday. A.J. Burnett fell victim to his own wildness and home plate ump Alfonso Marquez’s incredibly shrinking strike zone in the 2nd, loading the bases on a single, a walk, and an error with no outs recorded. Burnett inexplicably walked Nick Punto (Nick Punto!) on four pitches to force in a run, and all of a sudden we were wondering how many innings Ivan Nova could go after throwing two yesterday.

Thankfully, Denard Span bailed A.J. out. After taking three straight pitches for a favorable 2-1 count, Span jumped all over 94 mph heater down in the zone, hitting right back up the box. Burnett fielded it semi-cleanly, and fired home to start the always fun 1-2-3 double play. If that ball gets by the Yanks’ starter, the Twins are up 3-0 and there are still no outs in the frame. It was very early in the game, but given the Yanks’ recent offensive woes, a three run deficit would have felt like thirty.

When Bad Things Go Good

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

The night didn’t start out well for Burnett. His 1st inning involved a walk, a single, nine strikes, and seven balls but luckily zero runs. The next frame wasn’t as pretty, as you read above. By the time the inning was over, A.J.’s pitch count was already at 39, just 17 of which were strikes. After that inning, Bad A.J. climbed into the phone booth and out came Good A.J.

Burnett retired 14 of the next 20 batters he faced, with the only significant blemish coming in the 5th inning when last year’s AL MVP took a 93 mph piece of cheese on the outer black and hit it off a railing next to the visitor’s bullpen for a solo homer. It’s impossible to complain about that, it was a high quality pitch that a super-high quality player handled as if he was taking batting practice. It really was an impressive piece of hitting by Mauer.

Despite that high pitch count after two, Burnett pitched into the 7th inning before giving way to Marte, allowing just three runs (two earned) on exactly 100 pitches (just 51 strikes). He was missing his spots early, but he settled himself down and took the ball deep into the game. Burnett’s generally considered to be an unreliable guy, but this was the 35th time in 46 starts as a Yankee (playoffs included) that he completed at least six innings of work (76.1%). That’s getting the job done, people.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Happinesses

Brett Gardner going deep. Again. Wasn’t even a cheapie either. Even better: he broke into his homerun trot halfway down the first base line. Dude also added a single to bring his season line to .333-.411-.421. Raise your hand if you saw this coming. (Put your hand down you liar)

Robbie Cano getting things back on track. He picked up a pair of hits after a rough start to the month, and he’s still OPS’ing over 1.000 (1.017 to be exact).

Joba Chamberlain continues to look fantastic. He’s faced 23 batters this month, and has struck out 11 of them. Seven of the last ten men he’s faced have gone down on strike three. That’s domination, yo.

Cervelli continues to dunk cheap little bloop hits all over the field, but hey, I’ll take ‘em.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Punto sliding into first on a foul ball to the third base side. What the frig was that? Is it possible to overdose on grit? You can’t not laugh at that.

Sadnesses

Not too much, just Nick Swisher aggravating his biceps strain. Hopefully he won’t be out too long. Oh, and Derek Jeter continues to look lost at the plate. Yeah he doubled, but he also saw just 14 pitches in his five plate appearances. He’s down to 3.52 pitches per plate appearance this season (3.84 last year), his lowest mark since ESPN started recording the data in 2002. He’s swinging at lots of junk out of the zone and has noticeably expanded his zone, which is frustrating as hell.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Now that’s a graph. MLB.com has your box score, FanGraphs the individual WPA breakdowns.

Up Next

Same two teams in a Saturday matinee, 1:05pm ET. Andy Pettitte will be making his first start in ten days, and will be opposed by a rejuvenated (and particularly nasty) Francisco Liriano. Should be fun.

Swisher day-to-day with biceps strain

Update (11:01pm): The MRI came back negative, thankfully, and Swish is day-to-day. They’re calling it a slight sprain. I’m assuming he won’t play tomorrow, and if we don’t see him until Monday, I won’t complain.

8:33pm: It is indeed the biceps, and Swisher has been taken to the hospital for a “precautionary MRI.” The absolute last thing the Yankees need is an injury to another outfielder right now.

8:04pm: Nick Swisher was removed from tonight’s game after three innings and one at-bat for an unknown reason. He missed yesterday’s game with a sore biceps, and was shaking his arm while at-bat and in the field earlier this game. Hopefully it’s just a little sore and they’re playing it safe. We’ll update this post if we find out anything more.

Trenton one hits Binghamton for eighth win in a row

The Yankees released outfielder Joe Talerico, their 21st round pick in 2009, before he ever played a game in the minors. That happens more often than you might think.

And speaking of releases, in case you missed it earlier, Chris Garcia was granted his. Donnie Collins spoke to GM Brian Cashman about the move, and he said it wasn’t really a difficult decision. Cash also said the team is grooming Kevin Russo into a Jerry Hairston Jr. kind of player.

Triple-A Scranton (6-1 win over Charlotte)
Kevin Russo, 3B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HBP, 1 E (fielding)
Reegie Corona, 2B: 0 for 5
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 3 for 5, 1 R – nice little five game hitting streak
David Winfree, 1B: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 K – 11 for his last 28 (.393)
Jon Weber, RF: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 K – picked a runner off second with a snap throw … yeah, the outfielder misplayed the triple, but it’s a line drive in the box score
Chad Huffman, LF: 0 for 4, 1 K
Reid Gorecki, CF: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Robby Hammock. DH: 0 for 2, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 CS
Chan Ho Park: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 0-1 GB/FB – 10 of his 12 pitches were strikes … apparently the wild pitch went to the backstop … he went down to the bullpen to throw some more pitches afterward
Romulo Sanchez: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 8-3 GB/FB - 66 of 109 pitches were strikes (60.6%) … first outing since he pitched in relief of A.J. Burnett in Boston … that’s as good as it gets right there
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-0 Gb/FB – 11 of his 19 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 35: Coming home to beat the Twins

The only thing Robbie Cano runs for is the flight out of Detroit. (Paul Sancya, AP)

That title doesn’t come off too good, does it? Eh, oh well.

The Yankees went a cool 10-0 against the Twins last season (playoffs included), outscoring them 56-31. That’s pretty ridiculous. If you go back three years, the Yankees are 21-6 against Minnesota, so they certainly have their number. Considering how lethargic the team has looked over the last five days, it’ll be good to see the Yanks at home and taking on a familiar whipping boy.

On the mound will be A.J. Burnett, who’s coming off his worst start of the season in (where else?) Boston. The Twins are essentially a league average team against fastballs and slightly below against curveballs, so the matchup favors the Yanks’ starter. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are no joke in the middle of the lineup though, and those two can win a game all by themselves if Burnett’s not careful.

Here’s the lineup that’ll take on Scott Baker, who’s a lot better than he gets credit for…

Jeter, SS
Gardner, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Thames, LF – noooooo!!!
Miranda, DH
Cervelli, C

And on the mound, Allen James Burnett.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET, and can be seen on YES. There’s a chance of some rain tonight, but it looks like they’ll have no trouble getting this one in.

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP