Tonight in Kansas City, Jimmy Gobble took one for the team. He had the distinct pleasure of allowing all ten runs the Tigers scored in the eighth inning. He walked four and allowed seven hits en route to a singularly bad outing.
Every time Sidney Ponson takes the mound, I half expect that to happen, and one night, it will. It may not be his next start which happens to fall against — gulp — the Red Sox, but it will come. Tonight, Ponson managed to win yet another game for the Yanks. He went 5.2 innings and allowed his customary 11 base runners. Somehow, he has to keep up that 1.94 WHIP.
The Twins, however, managed to plate just three runs. Ponson got his double play when he needed it most and managed to escape serious harm throughout the evening. It’s a rather tense high-wire act, and as long as the Yanks can score 12 runs every five days, he’ll be fine. But one night, it’s going to all come crashing down in a Jimmy Gobble-like mess of base runners and runs. I’m not looking forward to that.
But Ponson pontifications aside, the Yanks just kept doing what they do best these days: They won at home for the eighth time in a row. Their last home loss came on July 4th when today’s starter Darrell Rasner took the L in a game against Boston.
Offensively, everyone except Jason Giambi hit. Robinson Cano continued his torrid July with two hits including his eighth home run of the year. He’s up to .260 and should see his OBP climb over .300 soon. Small victories, right? A-Rod and Derek both picked up a pair of hits and a home run apiece, and the new starting catcher Jose Molina went three for four.
After the team was through hitting, the bullpen took over once again, and I can’t say enough about the pen. Edwar Ramirez pitched out of a pickle and now hasn’t allowed a hit in over nine innings, and over his last nine games covering 11.1 innings, Ramirez has allowed one hit and two walks while striking out 16. That’s phenomenal. With his scoreless inning tonight, David Robertson has now gone 11 innings with seven hits, four walks and 14 strike outs. We’ve seen Brian Cashman‘s bullpen plan come together perfectly recently, and it couldn’t have come at a better.
For a night, the offense made us forget about Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. The bullpen made us overlook another two-base-runners-per-inning outing from Sidney Ponson. And the score made us yearn for a few more home games as Yankee Stadium continues to refuse to yield its magic to the ballpark slowing arising across the street. This, folks, is turning into a pennant race. Would we have it any other way?
The uninspiring Austin Jackson was named the Eastern League Offensive Player of the Week thanks to his .643 BA. Phil Coke was named EL Pitcher of the Week. Allowing 5 hits with 21 strikeouts in 14 IP will earn you that honor. Brian Baisley won NY-Penn League Offensive Player of the Week honors, but he’s the oldest position player in the league, roughly 6 years older than league average.
TPA posted their Midseason Top 10 Yankees’ Prospects. Hard to argue with that list, very well put together.
Remember, the number in parenthesis following a player’s name is the round he was selected in if he was an ’08 draftee.
Triple-A Scranton (6-4 win over Richmond)
Alberto Gonzalez & Nick Green: both 0 for 4, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Matt Carson: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – threw a runner out at come from CF … OPS’ing over .860 this year
Juan Miranda: 0 for 4, 2 K
Cody Ransom: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – 17 homers this year
Ben Broussard: 2 for 3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB
Chris Stewart: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Kei Igawa: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 7-10 GB/FB – 69 of 107 pitches were strikes (64.5%)
Chris Britton: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – 10 of 11 pitches were strikes (90.9%)
Billy Traber: 0.1 IP, zeroes
Steven Jackson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
It’s nice to have Johnny Damon back atop the lineup, especially considering that the Yanks score 1.22 more runs per game when he’s playing, but am I the only one that thinks a minor league rehab stint would be in order, even if it was just a 3-gamer with the nearby Staten Island Yanks? I mean, he last played in a game on the 4th of July, so it’s been 17 days since he faced live pitching. Plus check this out: with the Damon in the lineup, the Yanks are 41-41, but without him they’re 12-4. I dunno about you, but I smell a nice 0-fer coming tonight.
While getting Damon back is big news, the far bigger news is that Jorge Posada has been placed on the DL and is probably done for the year. While his throwing has deterioriated immensely, his bat remained a weapon (109 OPS+) and downright Ruthian compared to Jose Molina (48 OPS+, yikes). Luckily the 3rd Annual Robinson Cano Second Half Surge has begun, but the Yanks are still going to need some other guys to pick up the slack (I’m lookin’ at you, kid). Maybe they can buy low Josh Bard, who’s currently playing in rehab games after having his season derailed by Albert Pujols.
1. Damon, DH
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Cano, 2B
7. Melky, CF
8. Molina, C
9. Gardner, LF
And on the mound, the Amazin’ Arubian, Sidney Ponson.
With his catching (and throwing) abilities severley compromised, Jorge Posada may be done for the year. According to numerous Internet reports, Johnny Damon has replaced the Yanks’ catcher on the active roster, and Tyler Kepner notes that Posada, whose damaged right shoulder is still bothering him, may opt for surgery sooner rather than later in order to be ready for Spring Training in 2009. While missing Posada’s bat looms large for the Yanks, he’s hitting just .214/.365/.262 in July and has seen his power suffer with this shoulder injury. The Yanks now will hope that Bobby Abreu can pick it back up as the bottom third of their lineup — Jose Molina, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner — have not shown much in the way of offense lately. · (235) ·
While the Yankees are dealing with injuries that have shelved their number one starter and starting DH, they’re also attempting to handle the Jorge Posada situation. Posada, suffering from a shoulder heading to surgery, is no longer a viable option behind the plate this year. He’s thrown out just 7 of 39 would-be base stealers and can’t command the running game. His back up — Jose Molina — has thrown out an astounding 25 of 52 attempting basestealers but has a pathetic OPS+ of 48. Jack Curry checked in with Posada and Joe Girardi today and finds that Posada is frustrated with his shoulder but won’t have the surgery sooner. The Yanks need Jorge’s bat, but they can’t afford to stick him behind the plate. How Joe Girardi handles this over the next few months will go a long way in determining the Yanks’ success this season. · (33) ·
The Yanks have been doing a lot of window shopping lately. They’ve been said to be looking at Damaso Marte, Jason Bay, and Xavier Nady of the Pirates. They’re supposedly keeping up with Freddie Garcia’s rehab assignment. Now we’re hearing, via MLBTR, that the Yankees are interested in A.J. Burnett. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. While the Yanks won’t necessarily make a big move before the deadline, they’re certainly exploring what’s out there.
That the Yankees sent two scouts solely to see Burnett doesn’t mean that they’ll land him. As we’ve discussed before, it’s not likely that J.P. Ricciardi would dish him within the AL East. However, this is a unique case. Burnett can opt out of his five-year, $55 million contract after this season. So Ricciardi, knowing he could lose Burnett at the end of the season anyway, might be willing to send him to whomever bids the highest.
This brings to the forefront a number of problems. If the Yanks trade for Burnett and he smokes the competition in the second half, he’ll opt out and the Yanks will have wound up with a two-month rental. If he sucks it up, not only will the Yanks have paid for a lemon, they’ll be stuck with him for another two years, owing him $24 million. The only way this really works out is if he pitches well and agrees to stay with the team.
Then again, given his injury history, maybe the Yanks would be best served to have him as a two-month rental. We know he has the stuff to succeed. It’s a matter of his ability to stay healthy. And yeah, he’s pitched poorly this year, though he’s done well against the Yanks and the Rays in his past two starts.
Which brings me to another point: Burnett is a Yankee killer. In 53.2 innings career against the Bombers, Burnett has struck out 46 to 19 walks, and has allowed just 17 runs. Since the beginning of the 2006 season, Burnett’s first with the Jays, only Roy Halladay and Scott Kazmir have better numbers against the Bombers (minimum 45 IP). Make the minimum IP 35, and Burnett slides one slot back, to Jarrod Washburn, another guy the Yankees could conceivably target.
No, I don’t think they’ll land Burnett. No, I don’t think it’s worth adding Washburn and his $9 million salary for 2009. But Brian Cashman is certainly peeking into the window. If there’s a deal to be had, it seems the Yanks will be prepared to take it. But I wouldn’t go betting on an acquisition before July 31.
Dan Graziano, reporting on the latest trade deadline rumors, reports that the Yankees are interested in a left-handed reliever, and I have to ask why? The bullpen has been spectacular lately, and with Brian Bruney on the mend, the one remaining spare part — LaTroy Hawkins — should see his time in pinstripes expire. Meanwhile, lefties are hitting .243/.328/.374 against all Yankee pitchers. If a team has relievers who just get outs, a lefty specialist is a waste of a roster spot, and if ain’t broke, there’s no reason to fix it. · (77) ·
A three-game set against a depleted A’s team was exactly what the good doctor ordered for the Yankees to start the second half.
Facing a team with a weak offense and down a few pitchers after two recent trades, the Yanks made the most of this chance to win three at home while Tampa Bay dropped their finale on Sunday and the Red Sox lost three in Anaheim. With 64 games left, the Yanks find themselves 4.5 out in the AL East and just three behind Boston in the Wild Card. They face the Twins — the second-place Wild Card — before journeying up to Fenway. A big week awaits the Bombers.
Sunday’s speedy game was dominated by pitching. Andy Petitte threw eight stellar innings, giving up a run on four hits while walking no one and striking out nine. Yankee starters have issued just one walk since the All Star Break. On the other side, the A’s All Star starter Justin Duchscherer threw six effective innings, allowing just two runs but a sixth-inning Jason Giambi home run would give the Yanks the lead and the series.
Amusingly enough, after winning Saturday’s game on a walk-off HBP for the first time since the mid-1960s, the game ended yesterday with a caught stealing. How fitting.
But while the Yankees are riding a three-game winning streak that pushed them right back into the playoff picture, the team now faces a daunting proposition: They have to beat the Twins with Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson on the mound. It’s here, again, that I come back to Chien-Ming Wang and his ill-begotten injury. Had Wang not suffered some of the worst luck I’ve ever seen on the basepaths, the Yanks would be in a prime position to reach October.
Even if the team leaves 20+ runners on base, even if they’re aren’t the offensive powerhouse they should be, this team has the pitching to compete. Since the break, the Yanks are pitching to a 1.50 ERA with 39 strike outs in 30 innings. They walked a whopping five Oakland A’s this weekend. While not every team will be as impotent as the A’s, the pitching — at least for their front three — is there. Now we just have to hope that it holds up in the back as well. October depends on it.
Chad Jennings has some quick Triple-A news: LHP Heath Phillips has been released, and Dan McCutchen will skip his next start to keep his innings down. I take this as a pretty clear sign that they’re strongly considering calling him up for the stretch run because he’s thrown only 123.1 innings this year, 55.1 IP fewer than his career high of 178.2. They want him available in late September and maybe, just maybe, October. Why else would they want to limit his innings?
CJ also mentions that Thursday’s scheduled starter is still TBA, even though Ian Kennedy lines up for that start. Not sure what that’s about. The big league club is off that day.
One last thing: I received a request in the comments yesterday to incorporate a little more info about this year’s draftees into DotF, so I’m going to add the round the player was drafted in in parenthesis after his name. So “Gerrit Cole (1)” means Cole was a first round pick. Simple enough. I’m going to do this for 2008 draftees only.
Triple-A Scranton (7-2 win over Lehigh Valley)
Alberto Gonzalez & Eric Duncan: both 3 for 5, 2 R - The Former Attorney General mashes 3 doubles … E-Dunc doubled twice, homered & drove in 2 … he’s such a tease, isn’t he?
Matt Carson: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Juan Miranda, Cody Ransom & JD Closser: all 1 for 4, 1 RBI – Miranda K’ed … Ransom hit a solo jack & K’ed twice … Closser doubled & K’ed
Ben Broussard (Reds, ’99, 2): 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B
Jason Lane & Greg Porter: both 0 for 2 – Lane K’ed & left the game for an unknown reason in the bottom of the 4th
Chris Basak: 0 for 4, 1 K
Jeff Karstens: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 13-6 GB/FB – 62 of 94 pitches were strikes (66.0%)
Billy Traber: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
JB Cox: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1-1 GB/FB
Posted by mobile phone: Lisa Kennelly checks in with Johnny Damon and finds that, while Damon would like to come off the DL, the Yanks are holding him back for a few more days. Damon should be activated for the weekend series against Boston, but his presence on the active roster will further clog up the DH logjam. Due to his shoulder, he won’t be set to play left until next week at the earliest, and he’ll join Jorge Posada as a bat the Yanks need but an arm they can’t afford to have on the field. · (48) ·