So Derek Jeter. He’s a fighter, huh? Just one day removed from taking a 93-mph fastball on the wrist, the Yankee Captain is back in the lineup. That’s either insane or gutsy; I can’t decide.
Meanwhile, the Yanks’ hottest hitter — Jason Giambi and his thong are hitting .275/.444/.575 in May — have the night off. With a lefty on the mound, Giambi and his May OPS+ of 145 will give way to Shelley Duncan. With Abreu, Matsui, Cano and Damon all still in the lineup, I’m not quite sure what taking out Giambi does to improve the team.
Otherwise, the Yanks should just go out and win tonight. Play fast; play loose. A win would do wonders for everyone. Darrell Rasner, very well rested, takes the mound. He last pitched 11 days ago. Hopefully, that’s not a problem.
Game time’s at 7:05.
More bullet-point draft goodness:
- Drug testing for the top 200 draft prospects is underway. I’ve already done on record saying that I don’t think amateurs should be subjected to testing under MLB’s CBA, but what do I know.
- Tim at MLBTR has added a link on his sidebar for all his draft coverage. Amongst plenty of other things, he’s noted that the Rangers and Cards intend to take a college pitchers with the 11th and 13th picks, respectively. Shooter Hunt sounds like a Texas name, and Eastern Kentucky southpaw Christian Freidrich seems like a perfect fit for St. Louis.
- Florida prep 3B Harold Martinez was near the top of everyone’s draft board just a few short months ago, but a terrible senior year has crippled his stock. I’ve always felt that talent doesn’t just disappear, and that a few bad months shouldn’t be enough to tarnish a reputation. Martinez is a great chance for a value pick, popping him anytime after the third round is a steal in my opinion.
- One kid picking up a ton of helium is uber-raw Connecticut prep SS Anthony Hewitt. In a recent ESPN chat (can’t find the link, sorry) BA’s Jim Callis said that Hewitt may have the highest upside of any player in the draft. There’s a ton of risk involved taking a kid this raw in the first round, as Callis suggests may happen in this week’s Ask BA. He could be the next Matt Kemp, he could be the next CJ Henry. I’m an upside guy, but a little polish is nice, especially in the first round.
- Adam at Project Prospect recently sat down and spent a whole lotta time compiling an intense statistical breakdown of the top college bats in the draft class. I’m a bit surprised to see Arizona State 1B Brett Wallace rank 9th on a list of 12 players, that kid can flat out mash and may be the best pure hitter in the draft.
- Speaking of Wallace, the kid’s got a blog chronicling his adventures from Pac-10 regular season to play to first round pick. Cool stuff.
- As loyal reader Jamal G. pointed out in the game thread last night, Tino Martinez will represent the Yanks at this year’s draft broadcast. It’s purely a figurehead thing, he won’t have any say in who they take.
That’s all I got for now.
Sorry, Will, but how could I resist this headline after your comment?
So Mike Mussina had one of those “someone made an error; I can no longer pitch” outings, and the Yanks got trounced. That’s too bad. Hopefully, this is somewhere near the bottom in that whole rock-bottom thing, but as Mike said to me tonight, the good thing about baseball is that you just have to shake it off and play again the next day.
That being said, let’s take a little bit of a light-hearted look at tonight’s 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Orioles:
- A-Rod‘s return is already lifting the Yankees. Without him in the lineup, the Yanks would have been shut out tonight!
- The last — and first — time in his career that Mike Mussina left a start throwing less than one inning of work was July 13, 1995. In that game, Arthur Rhodes threw 7 innings of relief work and struck out 10. The Orioles were in a position to win that game until the bullpen gave up three runs over the final two frames of the game. At least the Yanks didn’t blow the save tonight!
- Despite obvious frustration on the face of Derek Jeter and concern from the Yanks’ trainers, x-rays on Jeter’s hand came back negative. He’s day-to-day with a contusion and a nasty bruise. At least Jeter won’t be out for an extended period of time!
- Following games played on May 20, 2007, the Yanks found themselves 10.5 games out of first and 7.5 off the wild card lead. One year later, the Yanks are just 7.5 games out of first and 6.5 behind the Wild Card leader. That’s progress! (Hat tip to my sister on this one. She is ever the Yankee optimist.)
- While the Yankees lost to the Orioles tonight by a lopsided, 10-run difference, at least they only lost once. Down in Atlanta, the Mets lost twice today. I’ll take one loss over two any day of the week!
Such is baseball. There’s bound to be a stinker in the 162-game bunch. The Yanks just need to pick themselves up, dust it off, go out there on Wednesday and relax. The wins will come. I have faith. Do you?
I tell you what, the stats in the TJ Watch are looking mighty fine these days.
Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Pawtucket)
Bernie Castro, Justin Christian, JD Closser & Matt Carson: all 0 for 4, 1 K – Christian scored a run … that’s alotta guys with last names that start with a “C”
Brett Gardner: 1 for 2, 2 BB
Jason Lane: 1 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 K – 7 RBI in his last 3 games
Eric Duncan: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Jeff Karstens: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 4-8 GB/FB – 43 of 65 pitches were strikes (66.2%)
Bo Hall: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – send down to Trenton after the game to make room for Dan McCutchen
JB Cox: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4-1 GB/FB – sportin’ a 2.38 GB/FB ratio, glad to see the two-seamer came back without a hitch after TJ
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, zeroes - hasn’t allowed a baserunner in his last 5 appearances (5.2 IP)
So A-Rod owes us something like five homers and a few more doubles, right? You know, to make up for the time on the DL. Clearly I’m kidding, though it would be nice to see him kickstart the offense.
Still no word on the roster move for his activation. Or did I just miss it? I have to believe it’s Britton at this point.
Anyway, it’s raining, and I’m hoping they can get it in tonight. We could sure use a freakin’ win.
P. Mike Mussina
The indispensable Chad Jennings has the news: Danny McCutchen will join Triple-A Scranton, taking the place of reliever Bo Hall, who heads back down to Double-A Trenton. It’s safe to say McCutchen will fill the rotation spot currently held by the over-matched Heath Phillips. Al Aceves was bumped up to Trenton from High-A Tampa to take McCutchen’s starting spot, with Chris Garcia taking Aceves’ spot in Tampa. · (13) ·
This is a guest post by Paul Vinelli.
After enduring another horrific start from Andy Pettitte (earning $16 million this season), a strange question enters my mind:
Are the Yankees’ players paid too well to win?
I’m not an economist, so my logic is almost entirely anecdotal. My formative years with the Yankees were the late 1980s and early 1990s. Back then, the team nearly always sported one of the largest payrolls in baseball. Steinbrenner and company signed “tough, proven” pitchers (Rick Rhoden, Andy Hawkins), over-hyped “stud prospects” (Hensley Meulens), platooned “aspiring sluggers” (Kevin Maas, Mike Blowers) and routinely overpaid one-dimensional outfielders (Deion Sanders, Jesse Barfield). It was a culture of meddling ownership, fiscal irresponsibility, reckless trades, and dismal grooming of young talent.
As a result, while growing up I always believed in the illusion that the Yankees could compete because the team could afford to swallow its most dreadful mistakes in supplementing the efforts of superstars like Mattingly, Henderson, Winfield, and Righetti. However, with the introduction of sabermetrics and the new generation of free-spending owners, I fear that the current squad fields too many mistake signings and that this affects overall performance.
While the current Yankees administration continues to overpay its players, the competition has become far savvier in how it allocates its resources. The Angels and Tigers have owners that are willing to spend money — and they do so relatively intelligently. The A’s have Billy Beane. The Mariners’ front office is clueless (witness the Bedard trade), yet their team still competes somehow. Cleveland has a bunch of young studs, and the Rays’ collection of prospects might be the best in baseball. Most terrifyingly, the Red Sox employ terrific scouting and top sabermetricians while wielding a payroll that rivals New York’s.
And what of the Yankees? Two years ago I considered the Mussina signing to be unwise ($22 million for 07-08) and in 2001 I was rabidly against bringing on Giambi (my friends and I deem the current championship drought as “the curse of the contract”). Andy Pettitte earns $16 million this year, though fortunately his deal is only for one year. Left field is entrusted to the immobile Matsui and the feeble-armed Damon ($26 million combined this year and next). Abreu was re-signed for a ghastly one-year sum, and his effort in RF is best categorized as “easy-going.” If Jorge isn’t splitting time between 1B and DH by the end of 2009, I’ll honestly be surprised. Carl Pavano – ’nuff said.
I believe that the Yankees have repeatedly tendered these ridiculous contracts in the past few years in order to give the elder Steinbrenner one last shot at the title. I respect this win now approach — however, the dynastic nucleus is aging (Pettitte, Jeter, Posada, Rivera) and there is a management struggle at the top (Hank vs. Hal vs. Cash vs. Levine). I’m not sure that if the team even wanted to make a big move (e.g. trade for Sabathia mid-season) that it even could foster the consensus to do so.
Hopefully when the current contracts expire the team will choose to focus on building from within instead of signing another big name to patrol left field. This might require a year or two of non-playoff growing pains, but I’m just hoping that 2008 won’t be one of those years.
According to Keith Olbermann, Gino Castignoli, the construction worker infamous for burying a David Ortiz jersey in concrete in the new Yankee Stadium has also buried a 2004 ALCS program under the new stadium as well. This time, however, he ain’t sayin’ where the goods are buried. While the Yankees aren’t about to dig up their entire new stadium in search of a delinquent program, this new story promises to get Hank riled up and ESPN on the case. I wonder if the Yanks know of anybody who could “send a message” to Castignoli. (Hat tip to iYankees.) · (8) ·
As the Yankees and the Mets both deal with underperforming first basemen at the ends of lengthy and expensive contracts, Dan Graziano takes a look at the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes and concludes that the Yanks and Mets will emerge as the two most likely bidders for Teixeira’s service. Throughout the piece, Graziano bemoans the old sluggers on the New York teams and calls Teixeira — 29 at the start of next season — a “a breath of fresh air for either New York team.”
But the problem is that Teixeira will be a breath of fresh air only until he too starts getting old. I don’t think Teixeira will sign for anything less than seven years, and while I’m not opposed to the idea, his contract will eventually be as problematic as Jason Giambi’s and Carlos Delgado’s are right now. While “in with the young, out with the old” is a sound philosophy, the young grow old quickly. · (59) ·
Foes of Brian Cashman can take heart. In a Tyler Kepner piece in Tuesday’s Times, Hank Steinbrenner, the outspoken of the two brothers, shares his views on the current Yankee brain trust, and from his words, it seems that while Joe Girardi and his three-year contract are safe, Brian Cashman and his remaining five or six months may not be.
Hank on Girardi: “I think he’s doing fine. It’s pretty simple — he’s playing the hand that he was dealt, just like I am. He’s doing the best job he can. I have complete confidence in Joe.”
Hank on Cashman: “If Brian wants to be the G.M. next year, there’s a chance he will be. If he doesn’t want to, he won’t be. At this point, do I still want him to be the G.M.? Yeah, I do.”
Talk about hedging your bets: If Cashman wants to come back, says Hank, it’s not a given. There’s a chance that he’ll return which also means there’s a chance that he won’t return.
But within the same interview, Hank took what could be interpreted as a dig as father’s heavy-handed style of management. “Whether those cards work or not will determine what happens in the off-season, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to win,” Hank said. “There’s been a lot of mistakes the last five to seven years that I had nothing to do with and Joe had nothing to do with — and quite a few things Brian had nothing to do with.”
There were indeed quite a few things Cashman had nothing to do with that have plagued the Yankee organization over the last ten years. The challenge for anyone — and it’s impossible task for those not in upper-level management positions in the Yankee organization — is to weed out the Cashman Moves and the George Moves. Hank probably knows the difference, and he, for now, sees something he likes in Cashman and the role Brian plays.
We’ve made our thoughts fairly clear on this issue. We think Cashman has done a great job. Of course, many Yankee fans judge success absolutely: Either the team wins the World Series and the season is a success or the team does not win the World Series and the season is a failure. While we can try to convince doubters that the playoffs — five-game and seven-game series — are in no way indicative of how good — the 2007 Red Sox — or how average and lucky — the 2006 Cardinals — a team is, Yankee fans are set in their ways.
If the Yanks are serious about pursuing a new path, they should let Cashman’s plan run its course, and that course is longer than the first quarter of the season. That course is probably two or three years long. If the Yanks were to dismiss Cashman now, the spoilers of his era — a highly regarded farm system and better international scouting — would continue to pay dividends well into the tenure of the next GM. And until the Yankees win four World Series in five years, we’ll forever be having the same debate we have now.
Cashman and his approach have gotten the Yanks into the playoffs every year of his tenure so far. Why change things now?