• The backstop conundrum
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    Based on the rumors, as Ken Rosenthal reports them, the Yankees are interested in upgrading at catcher. Kenny says that Gerald Laird of Texas could be a potential match for the Yanks; we advocated for Josh Bard. Now while Laird has shown some ability to hit this year, his career numbers — .257/.308/.387 — are none too inspiring. >

    But the bigger problem is the Yanks’ position. Everyone knows the team is looking for an upgrade over the Molina/Mueller tandem. Why would anyone be willing to sell for a reasonable price? Teams with excess catchers always have the upper hand in trade talks, and the Yanks would be buying from a position of weakness. Don’t expect a move behind the plate.
    · (54) ·

So that Ian Kennedy start. Pretty impressive, eh?

In case you’re joining us already in progress, Kennedy, the exiled and highly-regarded pitching prospect, came within one out of a seven-inning no-hit, no-walk performance for AAA Scranton this evening. He ended the game throwing seven, allowing no earned runs, one hit — a run-scoring double after a Chris Basak error — no walks and seven strike outs. He threw 61 of 92 pitches for strikes and was about as good as it gets.

With this start, Kennedy thrust himself back into the Bronx picture. No longer can we ignore him every five days, pretending that he isn’t there. In fact, Kennedy’s rehab and subsequent progress at AAA had to, inevitably, lead to this point. While he started out July on a mediocre foot, since landing in Scranton, Kennedy finds himself sporting a 2.73 ERA. He has struck out 19 over 26.1 innings and has a WHIP of 0.99. Remember that number.

Over the next few days and weeks, Kennedy’s name will begin to resurface more frequently in New York. If he pitches well, he will become a replacement option for either Sidney Ponson and his 1.72 WHIP in the Bronx or Darrell Rasner, coming off a nice start but still sporting a 6.42 ERA over 47.2 innings since June 1. Kennedy’s name will also appear in other forms. With this outing tonight, he has re-established himself as one of the biggest trade chips in the Yankee organization. He doesn’t appear to be untouchable as Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson, Mark Melancon and Jesus Montero are, and teams will be drawn to his talent and ability as well as his pedigree.

So what are the Yanks do to? At some point, they’ll have to replace Rasner, Ponson or both. The two just don’t have the numbers or stuff to be what the Yankees need with Chien-Ming Wang out, and Kennedy is now a prime candidate to replace either sooner rather than later. But if the right trade offer comes along, Kennedy could be gone.

Despite his early-season Major League struggles, I’d still like to see the Yankees hold on to Kennedy. Thrity-seven innings do not a career make. But will the brass see it the same way? Only time will tell. One thing, though, is for certain: Ian Patrick Kennedy is back on the radar.

Categories : Pitching
Comments (142)

Triple-A Scranton
Game 2 (4-1 win over Richmond in 8 innings, walk-off style)
Alberto Gonzalez, Chris Basak & Greg Porter: all 0 for 3 – The Former Attorney General drove in a run, drew a walk & K’ed … Basak tripled, K’ed & committed a pair of fielding errors … Porter K’ed & committed a fielding error
Eric Duncan & Matt Carson: both 1 for 4 – Carson K’ed
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 1 E (fielding)
Cody Ransom: 1 for 4, 1 R, 3 K
Ben Broussard: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI – walk-off 3-run homer in the bottom of the 8th
Chris Stewart: 0 for 1, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K
Ian Kennedy: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 10-3 GB/FB – 61 of 92 pitches were strikes (66.3%) … needed one more out to finish up a 7 inning no-hitter (since, apparently, errors count against perfect games, which is retarded because the pitcher can’t control that, unless he’s the one that makes the error), but a Scott Thorman double with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th ended the bid for the no-no and the shutout all at once … oh well
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K
Mighty Matt: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 9-1 GB/FB – old habits die hard

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Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (69)

With apologies to Donald Rumsfeld for the headline…

Let’s assume for a minute something rather unlikely: The Yankees will make no trades this year prior to the deadline. Therefore, the team as it is now is the team we will have after the season ends whether that be in September or October.

As the Yankees stand now, the 2008 edition will look vastly different from the one on the field come Opening Day 2009. Of the high-price free agents hitting the market this winter, the Yanks have their fare share of them. Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Mussina, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte and LaTroy Hawkins (if he makes it that long) will all be off the books.

But besides the money, the Yankees will have roster spots to fill. The losses of Abreu and Giambi will create big holes in the middle of the lineup. The pending free agencies of Moose and Pettitte would leave the Yanks without two pitching stalwarts, and even Kyle Farnsworth has turned himself into a useful part this year.

Tonight, as we suffer through yet another evening with no Yankee game, let’s turn our thoughts to 2009. What should the Yankees do?

They could — and probably will — work out a reduced-cost extension with Jason Giambi. They owe him $5 million if they don’t pick up his $22 million option next year. But Mark Teixeira‘s impending free agency looms large over any discussion of first base. And somehow the Yanks will have to fill Bobby Abreu’s outfield spot. Austin Jackson isn’t ready yet.

Andy Pettitte will come back if he wants to come back, and I have to believe that he’ll want to be there to open the new Yankee Stadium after his long tenure in pinstripes. But what about Mussina? A few months’ shy of 40, he’s pitching his way toward a multi-year deal if he wants it. Should the Yanks — with young pitching galore — wave good bye to Mussina? Or should they subscribe to the philosophy that one can never have too much pitching?

And then there are the free agents. CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets are both hitting the market at the same time. The lefty — healthier, better — will want Johan Santana money while Sheets is an injury risk but won’t expect a six- or seven-year deal. A.J. Burnett is also an intriguing name.

So have some fun with this, and try to be realistic. Who do you want to see in the Bronx next year? What moves should the Yanks make? Who should they pursue in free agency and which of their own players should they eschew signing to new deals? And just what do you do with the enigma that is Kyle Farnsworth?

Categories : Open Thread
Comments (207)

Two weeks ago, Brian Cashman had this to say about Barry Bonds:

“I guess I can say that they have engaged us in the past and I’ve told them that I have too many people, maybe not too many people with the same ability, but too many people at the same spot that you have a lot of dollars committed to.”

However, that was before Matsui faced a setback in his rehab and Jorge realized that the pain in his shoulder is too much. With both offensive cogs likely done for the season, it looks like the Yanks don’t have “too many people at the same slot.” Though they brought in Dicklock Sexy, he seems to be an option only against lefties and as a late-innings defensive replacement.

Could the Yanks work out a system whereby Bonds takes a few days a week from Damon in left, in which Damon would DH, while acting as the primary DH? Could Damon move to center some days and Bonds could play left? Oi, that would be some horrid outfield defense. And where would that leave Jason Giambi? He needs time at DH, too.

It appears the Yanks will be addressing these question, and are probably addressing them as you read this. I’ll offer that there are certainly worse ideas. But the idea of having Bonds in left, Damon in center, and Abreu in right is frightening. Maybe if Wang was on the mound, but we know that’s not happening for a while.

Categories : Hot Stove League
Comments (189)
  • Jeering, with respect
    By

    Growing up a Yankee fan and then attending college a stone’s throw from Philadelphia, I’ve seen my fair share of nasty fan behavior. But one thing I learned from my parents early on — and this puts my firmly in the minority among Yankee fans — is never to do the “Boston sucks” chant. Sure, Boston, for the first 21 years of my life, was an abject failure of a baseball team and objectively they did suck for a very long time. But cheering that way just isn’t respectful.

    Today, Kevin Cullen, a Red Sox fan and columnist for the Boston Globe, succinctly sums up the case against “Yankees sucks” chants. As he writes, “My experience has been that most people who shout “Yankees suck” are either drunk, obnoxious, or stupid and very often a combination of all three.” In a way, he’s speaking for us in the Bronx too.
    · (47) ·

  • Yanks sign seventh rounder
    By

    Via Ken Davidoff, the Yanks have signed their seventh round pick, California prep catcher Kyle Higashioka, to a deal worth approximately $400,000. Rated the 77th best prospect in the state by Baseball America, they describe him as a superb defensive catcher with interesting power potential. The deal is roughly $250,000 overslot, and buys him out of a commitment to Cal. Austin Romine, Jesus Montero & Higashioka are an eviably trio of lower level catching prospects. (h/t to Patrick) · (48) ·

  • Doubt grows in LA
    By

    Across the nation on the West Coast, the Dodgers are in second place, just one game behind the D-Backs. But by many accounts, their season has not been a success. They’re three games under .500, and as Ian O’Connor writes, Joe Torre doesn’t look so hot anymore. Sure, Frank McCourt killed a deal for CC Sabathia. Sure, Ned Colletti will probably take the blame. Los Angeles, however, expected more from Joe. I was surprised when Torre took this LA job. It was a no-win situation for him because, while the pressure wasn’t as high as it was in New York, anything short of a World Series would be both a disappointment and an admission that perhaps Torre isn’t as great an on-field manager as many think he was while in the Bronx. · (93) ·

The Yankees today sit at something of a crossroad in 2008. They are on the verge of an important three-game set against the Red Sox in Boston. They’ve gained a lot of ground in both the division and Wild Card and could see their play this weekend determine whether they are pretenders or contenders.

Meanwhile, one of their star players and biggest money-makers, number 20 himself, Jorge Posada has a decision to make as well. On the one hand, we have doctors — many of them — calling for Posada to get surgery. It is a foregone conclusion that, at some point, he will need surgery on his ailing shoulder, and recovery time for this surgery is at least six months. If he has the operation now, he’ll be ready for the start of Spring Training if all goes according to plan. His window for this decision is about two weeks.

But at the same time, Jorge Posada sees the Yankees winning and doesn’t want to give up. He also knows that the Yankees rewarded him with a high-risk, four-year contract. While this shoulder injury isn’t indicative of the problems likely to show up in the latter years of the contract, that Posada is missing so much time at age 36 is sending off alarm bells left and right.

To that end, Jorge is considing a position change that would keep him in the lineup. He might play first; he might DH; he won’t be catching. Some reports have pressure on Posada originated with Yanks’ Team President Randy Levine. Others have it coming from Jorge himself and his desire to play.

But the reality is that the Yankees need Jorge Posada to be healthy for next season. They don’t need him to delay surgery, and they know that his bat isn’t what it should be with his shoulder hurting. In fact, Jorge has said so himself, and the numbers bear him out. Since returning from the DL in June, Jorge has hit .248/.380/.371 over 129 plate appearances. Since July 1, those numbers — .214/.365/.262 — look even worse.

For the Yankees and for Jorge, it’s not worth the risk. Posada should get the surgery and come back next year. The Yankees — 6-0 in the last six games — can win without Jorge, but next year, they’ll need him healthy and ready to go.

Categories : Injuries
Comments (34)