Personally, I can’t stand the idea that the All Star Game counts for something. The game itself is nothing more than a glorified exhibition contest designed to showcase some of the best talent around while celebrating the game. The voting is nothing more than a popularity contest.
So every year, when the voting comes around, it’s a bit laughable when the true All Stars aren’t the ones getting the vote. What makes this year’s voting more ironic — at least from the Yankee/Red Sox perspective — is that the fans of the Red Sox, the AL’s front-runners right now, are voting for their own players when it would behoove their chances for that home field advantage in the World Series to vote for the Yankees (and a few non-Yankees). I wonder if Boston fans can handle that cognitive dissonance.
Let’s take a look at the most recent voting results, starting with the first basemen.
Over at Minor League Ball, John Sickels talks about the controversial Jesus Montero. What’s so controversial you ask? His defense and his plate discipline, apparently. In case you missed the DotF update, Montero finished second to Hagerstown’s Michael Burgess in the Sally League HR Derby last night. Eleven unfortunate balls felt the Wrath of Jesus. Ain’t nothin’ controversial about that. · (36) ·
The Yankees feel bad for Willie Randolph. While Jorge Posada understands the politics of baseball, both he and Derek Jeter praised Randolph for his baseball skills and demeanor. Based on Brian Cashman’s statements, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Willie rejoin the Yankees in a Front Office capacity before too long. · (5) ·
Joe Girardi irked a few Yankees earlier this year when he banned unhealthy food from the post-game spread. Ever looking for edge, Mike Mussina made a deal: When Moose reaches 10 wins, the ice cream returns. Well, Mussina won his tenth game on the road, and the ice cream is back. Once Moose reached 12 wins, the donuts can return, and 15 wins will bring back the candy. If that’s what’s keeping Moose dealin’ this year, maybe the Yanks should have tried this sooner. · (14) ·
On Friday, July 7, 2006, the Yankees were in Tampa Bay facing the Devil Rays for a weekend series. Jaret Wright, then 4-5, was on the hill against Jae Seo. It was hardly a match-up for the ages.
That evening, Wright had his best performance as a Yankee. He threw six four-hit innings while striking out ten before giving way to Scott Proctor (two K’s) and Mariano Rivera (two K’s). A fourth-inning RBI single off the bat of Bernie Williams would account for the only run of the game, and the Yanks would improve to 49-35 on the year.
That date matters to us tonight because of the strike outs. That night, Yankee pitchers struck out 14 Rays, and it wouldn’t be for another one year, 11 months and 10 days, that the Bombers’ staff would reach such gaudy strike out numbers again.
Last night, facing the weakest offense in the Majors, the Yankees’ pitchers went to work. Andy Pettitte threw seven strong, striking out nine, before giving way to Jose Veras and his two strike outs. Mariano Rivera came in for the 9th and dispatched the Padres, nailing down three K’s on 15 pitches. And that, folks, is the Yanks’ first 14-strike out game since 2006.
For Pettitte and the Yankees still reeling from the Chien-Ming Wang injury, this game was huge. Andy Pettitte has now thrown 15 innings over his last two starts. After giving up 10 runs to the Royals a few weeks ago, Pettitte has allowed 10 hits in 15 innings while giving up one run on two walks and 15 strike outs. Pettitte passed Ron Guidry on the Yanks’ all-time win list last night, and at a time when the Yanks need Pettitte the most, he seems to be rounding into shape.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, we have Jason Giambi, who is hitting everything with authority. Tonight, Giambi blasted two home runs. One sneaked over the short porch in right field, and the other was an opposite-field shot a hair to the left-field side of center. I was at the game tonight, and that second dinger was gone off the bat. All 52,000 fans in the stadium knew it.
In his own way, Jason Giambi is having something of an MVP caliber season. Through April 20, he had been hitting .109/.288/.283 and nearly every Yankee fan outside of our own Jamal G. thought he was through. But since then, he’s had a monster season. Following tonight’s 2-for-3 performance, Giambi is now hitting .319 over his last 45 games. His OBP during that span is .441, and he’s slugging .694. He’s homered 15 and has 34 RBI. That’s simply sick.
The Yanks are riding high on a five-game winning streak, and it’s hard to argue with that. They face Jake Peavy tonight, never an easy feat, but with the way this team is hitting, look out.
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss to Norfolk)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 5, 2 K – 5 for his last 24
Justin Christian: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B – 15 for his last 35 (.429)
Cody Ransom, Juan Miranda, Nick Green & Chris Stewart: all 1 for 4 – Miranda drove in a run & K’ed … Green hit a solo shot & K’ed thrice … Stewart doubled, scored a run & K’ed
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 0, 4 BB, 1 SB – picked off second … still hitless in his return to the minors, but at least he brings spark and energy … he’s put the ball in play just twice since going back down
Jason Lane: 0 for 4, 3 K
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 7 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 9-9 GB/FB – 61 of 90 pitches were strikes (67.8%)
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K
Heath Phillips: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – opponents are hitting .310 off him
While the Yanks won’t feel the effects of Chien-Ming Wang‘s absence until Saturday, this is their first official game without him. Hence the mildly inappropriate title.
Couple of notes from PeteAbe (because you haven’t seen his game thread yet, right?). Dan Giese is official for Saturday. If he can give us a couple of decent starts — six or seven innings, three or four runs each time out — it’ll be tough to complain. Ian Kennedy won’t be up anytime soon, at least not in time for the Mets doubleheader a week from Friday. The time in AAA will do him good. Yes, I just said that.
Apparently, Brian Cashman is intrigued by the hot start of Trenton righty Al Aceves. He’s not exactly young; eight months younger than yours truly. But he’s dealing in Trenton right now, having walked just three guys in 36 innings, striking out 29, and sporting an even 2.00 ERA. Cashman, though, said he’d need at least a little time at Scranton before the Yanks will consider him. Does that mean he’ll be promoted soon?
Good find from Mike. John Moores, owner of the Padres, has taken his entire staff to New York so they can experience the old Stadium before it is no more. Sounds like a boss I’d like to work for.
And finally, your lineups:
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.
Just wanted to mention that you can check out Short Season Staten Island kick off their season against the Brooklyn Cyclones tonight on SNY. The game is at Coney Island’s beautiful KeySpan Park, with first pitch set for 7pm. Man, I can’t tell you how much I’m hoping Pat Venditte pitches. Two innings out of the bullpen, say 4 RHB and 2 LHB would be just perfect. (h/t to commentor JohnC)
Update: Sorry all, looks like the game isn’t on. That’s what I get for not confirming the info before posting it. Thursday’s Yanks-Cyclones game will be on SNY though, at least that’s why my DVR tells me. Again, sorry about that. Feel free to call me an idiot in the comment. · (15) ·
Hal Steinbrenner told Yankee reports that he was “shocked” by the Mets’ firing of Willie Randolph. Call it inept; call it embarrassing; one thing it ain’t is shocking. Meanwhile, Hal says that, once the firing blows over, the Yanks will figure out how to honor Willie this year. “Willie’s been a Yankee for a lot of years and he’s a great man,” the younger Steinbrenner said. “We need to let all the dust settle and see what happens here and go from there.” · (21) ·
When I first posted my instant analysis on Chien-Ming Wang‘s injury on Sunday afternoon, I pointed my finger at the inanities of Interleague Play. The marketing gimmick, I argued before getting refuted by the commenters here, unnecessarily puts American League pitchers at risk. While these athletes are in fine shape, they aren’t used to the act of running the bases. It’s not one of the five tools for nothing.
While it’s hard to argue that Wang’s injury was directly a result of Interleague Play and his running the bases, it was only the second time in his professional career that Chien-Ming Wang found himself on base. That is not a comforting thought for anyone relying on the health of the Yankees ace. As luck would have it, the Yanks caught a very bad break, and Wang finds himself out until, by all indications, at least September.
While Yankee fans are being surprisingly stoic about this spin of the wheel of fortune, the Big Mouth of the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner himself, had a few ridiculous choice words for the rules of the Senior Circuit. Said Hank:
“My only message is simple: The National League needs to join the 21st century. They need to grow up and join the 21st century. I’ve got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He’s going to be out. I don’t like that, and it’s about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s…
“This is always a concern of American League teams when their pitchers have to run the bases and they’re not used to doing it. It’s not just us. It’s everybody. It probably should be a concern for National League owners, general managers and managers when their pitchers run the bases. Pitchers have enough to do without having to do that.”
Setting aside the fact that the DH is from 1973, and pitchers used to bat in both leagues for decades prior to that, Hank, through the bluster, does raise something of a point. When Major League teams invest so heavily in pitching and pay through the nose for guys at the top of the game, all General Managers must cringe in agony every time one of their hurlers takes a big hack or winds up on base. Whether or not that’s good for the game is another matter.
For Hank, this is just more of the same. He likes to sound off, and it doesn’t impact anything other than the number of papers sold in New York, the ratings of the FAN and the general perception of Steinbrenner in the eyes of everyone else.
From a practical matter, the Yankees are going to have to proceed carefully. As foot guru Dr. Philip Kwong told BP’s Will Carroll today, the Yankees have to make sure Wang’s injury is 100 percent healed before he does anything else because the risk of chronic injury is very high. Carroll speculates that the Yanks’ record will dictate how they rehab their young ace, and I would be surprised to see Wang pitch again this season. He’s just that important next year.
The injury was horrendously bad luck, and we can harbor resentment toward the NL. Maybe it’s time to revisit that age-old DH debate or maybe not. But one thing is for sure: Hank Steinbrenner makes for great copy.