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.
Rick Peterson is currently jobless, and I’m not sure he’ll land a full-time gig before the end of the season. He’ll still be paid by the Wilpons, so you might as well sit back and enjoy the free money. That is, unless another team has use for you.
Is it outlandish to think the Yankees could do some good by hiring Peterson to work with Kei Igawa and Phil Hughes during his rehab? I think it would be a decent investment. If Peterson can do with Igawa half of what he did with Oliver Perez, I’d be more than satisfied. Plus, if Phil really is having mechanical issues, as is the popular theory, Peterson might be able to help out in that regard, too.
Or maybe the Giants will hand him a sack with a dollar sign painted on it so he can get back to working with Barry Zito. · (23) ·
Despite his early season struggles and his being overshadowed by Joba, Phil Hughes is still very much a part of the Yankees’ futures plans. As Brian Cashman tells Tyler Kepner over on the Bats blog, the Yanks still consider Hughes an untouchable. While Hughes won’t return to the Bronx until early August, the Yanks weren’t about to trade Phil for Johan Santana, and they won’t part with him to land C.C. Sabathia. So all you haters are just going to have to deal for a little longer. · (44) ·
Despite winning three of four games and seemingly turning things around a bit, Willie Randolph got the ax this morning. The Mets finally fired Willie and his two of his coaches. Perhaps the Yanks can find a spot for the man shouldering all too much of the blame for the Mets’ poor play this year. · (72) ·
Lost in all the talk about Chien-Ming Wang‘s injury yesterday was the outcome of Sunday’s game. In it, the Yankee offense erupted for 13 runs, and the Yanks’ team MVP Alex Rodriguez was right there in the thick of things.
On the day, A-Rod was 3 for 5 with a home run, three RBIs and a walk. That performance, his second three-hit game in two days, raised his season totals to .326/.411/.603. By the end of the week, A-Rod will have enough plate appearances to qualify for the AL leaderboards, and when he does, he’ll be in top five in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. His 12 home runs has him just outside the top 10.
Even more amazing are A-Rod’s numbers since coming off the DL. In 26 games, the Yanks are 17-9, and A-Rod — along with Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon — has led the way. Rodriguez is hitting .366/.470/.710 with 8 home runs — and a ninth that went over the fence but was incorrectly ruled in play — over 93 at bats. He’s even stolen five bases in six tries.
At this point, it’s hard to overstate Alex Rodriguez’s importance to the Yankees. Since coming back, he’s changed the dynamic of the lineup, and that quad injury was just as damning to the Yanks’ early goings as the struggles of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Meanwhile, with A-Rod hitting ahead of him, Jason Giambi is just as hot, hitting .364/.467/.701 since Alex’s return for the DL. What a powerhouse combination.
Yesterday, ESPN.com published an eTicket story by Tom Friend about A-Rod’s close friendship with Pete Rose. Baseball’s all-time hits leader has been coaching A-Rod both mentally and physically as he’s continued to mash the ball in New York City, and I can’t say I mind having Rose, one of the game’s best hitters ever, help A-Rod, one of the game’s best hitters and most tortured souls, keep his head in the game.
In the end, as A-Rod mashes, I keep coming back to October and November when we were ready to move on without Alex. Where would the Yankees be today if Alex Rodriguez had truly jumped the ship? The answer is not a pretty one.
Short Season Staten Island kicks off their season tomorrow, and you can see their roster here. Shot in the dark, I’ll say Nick Chigges gets the ball on Opening Day. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to seeing what Pat Venditte can do. The Rookie GCL Yanks start their season this Thursday, but their roster hasn’t been posted yet.
Triple-A Scranton (10-0 beatdown at the hands of Norfolk)
Brett Gardner & Eric Duncan: both 1 for 4, 1 K – Duncan doubled
Justin Christian & Nick Green: both 2 for 4 – Christian stole a base … Green doubled & K’ed
Cody Ransom & JD Closser: both 0 for 3, 1 BB – Ransom was caught stealing
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 2, 2 BB, 1 K
Juan Miranda: 0 for 4, 2 K- out since May 18th with a shoulder injury
Matt Carson: 0 for 4, 1 K
Jeff Karstens: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5-5 GB/FB – 55 of 85 pitches were strikes (64.7%) … could he be a candidate to fill Wang’s spot? Man I sure hope not…
Heath Phillips: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1 K
Steven White: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2 HB, 1E (pickoff) – 21 of 49 pitches were strikes (42.9%) … he’s allowed 71 baserunners & 35 earned runs in his last 30.1 IP … he’s been beyond terrible, not even worthy of the NOFX reference anymore
Scott Patterson: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – allowed all 3 inherited runners to score
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
So let’s leave our Wang problems alone for a few hours. There are only so many times in one day we can discuss Wang anyway. Instead, let’s turn our attention a few miles south and east of Yankee Stadium, and let’s visit the Yanks’ bumbling co-inhabitants of the New York City baseball universe.
Heading in the 2008 season, the New York Mets and their fans had high expectations. While they were coming off an epic last-season collapse that saw them lose the NL East to the Phillies on the final day of the season, their off-season acquisition of Johan Santana as well as the return of Pedro Martinez had the Shea Faithful feeling pretty good about the team’s chances in the final season in the House that Robert Moses Built.
But things haven’t worked out as planned. Sixty-eight games into the season, the Mets find themselves at a disappointing 33-35, 6.5 games behind the Phillies and treading water in the playoff hunt. While Santana has made a difference — without Johan, this team would be dead and buried — these numbers don’t even begin to tell the full story.
From the get-go, this has been one of those epic bumbling Mets seasons for which this team is famous. They’ve lost countless players to injuries; Carlos Delgado has been terrible; the pitching has been inconsistent; and Billy Wagner has seemingly forgotten how to close out games, blowing four of his last nine save opportunities and three of his last four late-inning appearances. The team also did a marvelous job putting Ryan Church’s career and life at risk by rushing him back from a concussion.
Off the field, things have been no better. Since the Mets rolled into Yankee Stadium in May, Willie Randolph’s job has been hanging by a thread. The Mets’ Front Office has continually declined to give Willie any long-term vote of confidence, but they refuse to flat-out fire him, perhaps recognizing that this team’s poor performance rests more on the shoulders of Omar Minaya than anyone else. It was Minaya, after all, who opted to go with an old team; it was Minaya who didn’t shore up the pitching beyond Johan Santana and a whole bunch of question marks; it was Minaya who milked the farm system dry for the likes of Delgado, Ambiorix Burgos and countless other moves.
Meanwhile, another day has passed with the axe still hanging over Willie’s head but not quite ready to fall. His coaches may be dismissed; his ability to lead this team may be questioned; but no one in the Mets organization is willing to pull the trigger. The fans have noticed too with prominent Mets bloggers calling it a perplexing embarrassment.
So as we Yankee fans leave our troubles behind for a few hours, let’s discuss the Mets. How would you fix the disaster in Queens? Would you fire Randolph? Fire Minaya? Hold a fire sale of usable parts? The Mets can’t really improve through trades this year; they have nothing left. So something must give. What do you do?
Baseball America’s Jim Callis took a question about Yanks’ sandwich rounder Jeremy Bleich in this week’s Ask BA. When asked if Bleich would have been considered a first rounder if not for the elbow strain, Callis replied “he could have been regarded as a consensus sandwich-rounder. He’s a lefty who knows how to pitch with an 88-91 mph fastball, a curveball and changeup, and his changeup grades as his best pitch. I wouldn’t call him a steal in the supplemental first round, but he wasn’t a reach either.” I’ll take it, but the real question is this: can he hold down Wang’s rotation spot? Pretty please? · (13) ·