Is it too early to think about 2009? It seems as though, in Yankee-land, it is not.

Toward the end of Jayson Stark’s latest (and voluminous) Rumblings & Grumblings, the ESPN columnist drops in a note about Jason Giambi and the Yankees:

Price of the Giambino: Two months ago, we would have set the odds of Jason Giambi’s returning to the Bronx next year at approximately, well, zero. But we’re hearing the Yankees have sent signals to Giambi that, assuming he stays healthy and reasonably productive, they would be amenable to bringing him back next year. There’s zilch chance they’ll pick up his $22 million option. But a modest one-year offer, on top of his $5 million buyout, apparently is no longer out of the question. Who’d have thunk it?

Who’d have thunk it? Well, outside of our own Jamal, approximately no one. We knew Giambi wasn’t going to be terrible all season; we didn’t realize he would start putting up MVP-caliber numbers over a significant stretch of the season.

Now, I don’t need to rehash Giambi’s numbers since he broke out of his slump. I’ve done that recently here and, in a more in-depth post here this week. Suffice it to say that Jason Giambi is having a stretch right now that ranks among his best in pinstripes.

So what are the Yankees to do next year and beyond? The Yanks hold a $20 million option or a $5 million buyout for Giambi. There’s almost no chance that the Yanks would opt to exercise that option. Stark’s sources speculate that the Yankees would be more inclined to exercise that buy out and sign Giambi to a much lower one-year deal.

There are of course a few factors involved in this decision. One of those factors lies with Jason Giambi. If Jason continues to mash this year, the odds are pretty good that he could land a deal longer than one year. He’ll have to decide if he wants to stick around New York or go for a longer contract. I highly doubt the Yanks would be willing to do more than a year-to-year situation with Giambi. Maybe they would give him a two-year deal with a lower salary but some high incentives.

The other factor, of course, lies with the Yankees. If Jason Giambi can be a productive offensive player, the Yankees will definitely look to bring him back. He hasn’t been terrible in the field this year, and he more than makes up for it at the plate. Furthermore, the Yanks seem to believe that Hideki Matsui is no longer as durable as he once was and are hoping to prolong Jorge Posada‘s career by spelling him behind the plate as often as possible. Giambi could do a bit of 1B/DH platooning next year.

But if the Yankees want to go young — or younger — and take a long, hard look at Mark Teixeira in the off-season, they probably wouldn’t opt to retain Giambi and Matsui. Despite the age difference, I’d almost take Giambi over Matsui with that lineup. Of course, economics play into it too. If the Yanks are going to be paying Giambi $5 million not to renew his contract, they’ll probably want some of that money to go to on-field production and would thus be more willing to bring him back for the right price.

In the end, of course, despite Stark’s assertions, it’s way too early to be making this decision. We still have over half the season to go, and questions of frailty surround Jason Giambi. It’s interesting to think about it, and if Giambi stays healthy and keeps producing, the Yanks will have to make a decision this October that probably doesn’t have a right or wrong answer.

Categories : Analysis
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Mike is out of commission for the next few nights. So I’m taking over the Down on the Farm reins for a few days. Don’t worry; I’m not staging a coup. I’ll have a link to the box scores and a few stat lines but not nearly as many as Mike features. Feel free to add more depth in the comments.

AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre lost to the Toledo Mud Hens 4-3(box score).
Alan Horne – 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K – He threw 96 pitches but only 53 for strikes in a losing effort
David Robertson – 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K
Shelley Duncan – 1 for 4 with his 7th AAA HR of the year

The Mud Heads featured former Yankee farm hand and Major Leaguer Fernando Seguignol as their clean-up hitter. The Yanks owe a thanks to the 33 year old as he was once traded by the Yanks to the Expos for a pitcher named John Wetteland.

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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  • Open Thread: Evaluating RAB

    So things are good in Yankee-land tonight. While the Yanks have the evening off, an afternoon win brought the Bombers their seventh victory in a row. With a plethora of open threads lately, we figured now would be a good time for some site evaluations. Thanks to Mike’s tireless draft coverage, we’ve had a huge month traffc-wise, and today, Joe debuted first RAB podcast.

    So I want to take this opportunity to ask you, our readers, to evaluate the site with a critical eye. If you think we’re doing a great job and shouldn’t change a thing, thank you, but we’re not fishing for congratulations. We’d rather reserve this thread for comments about what we aren’t doing or aren’t doing well. What would you do to improve the site? What would you like to see added to our coverage? Leave your ideas in the comments, and we’ll sift through ‘em over the next few weeks. The feedback would be a massive contribution to the site.
    · (95) ·

Just two days ago, I wrote up a 14-strike out game tossed by Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen. It was the first time in nearly two years that the Yanks had reached that lofty K plateau. Little did I know they would reach — and exceed — that level again less than 48 hours later.

Behind a strong, 100-pitch outing from Joba Chamberlain, four Yankee pitchers combined for a whopping 15 strike outs of the San Diego Padres. Joba started off the fun with 2 K’s in the first and hardly looked back. On the day, he threw a few too many balls (42) and issued a few too many walks (3), but in 5.2 innings, Joba struck out nine and gave up just four hits. Outside of a rough first outing, his transition into the rotation has been about as smooth as we could expect.

On the season, Joba has yet to pick up a win as a starter, but to anyone who follows the team, that matters very little. The Yanks are now 3-1 in Joba’s four starts, and the right-hander has thrown 18.1 innings while striking out 19. For all the analysts who said Joba couldn’t keep up his velocity and strike out totals, Chamberlain is doing a good job of proving them wrong so far.

Of course, it’s still early on in Joba’s career, and he’s still finding his way as a Major League starter. The walk total — 12 in 18.1 innings — is, point blank, unacceptable. It will get better.

After Joba’s departure, Jose Veras, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. The trio struck out six with Mariano Rivera’s continuing to utterly dominate the Padres. He faced San Diego three times this week and nailed down seven strike outs.

Offensively, the Yankees took advantage of the Padres’ weakness. While Josh Banks continued his stellar pitching this season, the Yanks exploited the Padres’ catchers. Melky Cabrera scored the Yanks’ first run of the game off a walk, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly. A Derek Jeter stolen base put him in position to advance to third on a Bobby Abreu ground-out and score on an A-Rod single. Who says the Yanks can’t run?

With that win, the Yanks win their seventh in a row. It is their longest winning streak since they won nine in a row against the White Sox, Pirates and Diamondbacks in June of 2007. The Yanks, it seem, love beating up those weak NL teams.

Riding high on a win streak and just 2.5 games behind the Wild Card-leading Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks will meet the Reds, another last-place NL team, this weekend. Edinson Volquez and his sub-2.00 ERA go on Friday. The Yanks are finding ways to win big and small, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it.

Categories : Game Stories
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Update: After listening to the mixdown through the internal audio player, I changed the levels and uploaded a new version. So if you caught a broken link, it’s back up and running now.

We’re going to try something a bit different over the next few weeks, leading up to the July 31 trading deadline. It’ll be a weekly podcast going over the trade environment at the time. We’ll talk about needs, wants, rumors, and other potential maneuvers.

This week, it’s me going solo, though I’ll be joined by Mike and Ben as time permits. Also, if you’d like to “call in,” so to speak, just hit me with an email and we’ll try to work something out.

Today I talk about — what else — starting pitching, Cleveland’s situation in evaluating a return for C.C. Sabathia, bullpen help, and a defensive first baseman.

If you want to download the podcast, you can right click here and hit “Save As.” Otherwise, it will launch the podcast in a new screen. Otherwise, you can just use the audio player below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Categories : Podcast
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Game 73: 100 pitches

By in Game Threads. · Comments (90) ·

Can you believe that, by the end of next week, we’ll be at the mid-point of the 2008 baseball season? It seems like only yesterday we watched the Yanks emerge victorious on Opening Day against the Blue Jays.

The story today, as it is every five day, is Joba Chamberlain. While Joba has yet to pick up his first win a starter, he’s done quite well for himself so far. In three starts spanning 12.2 innings, his ERA is 2.84, and he’s maintaining a high strike out rate. While he’s walked nine — that’s too many — his stuff has looked good. Today, he’s up over 100 pitches, and by all accounts, he’s basically off the pitch count now. It will be interesting to see how he does against a weak Padres lineup.

Hideki Matsui is out again. He says he’s available to pinch hit.

Game time is 1:05 p.m. Apparently, MLB likes to schedule getaway-day day games for teams that aren’t the Yankees or Mets. Go figure.

Damon LF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Posada DH
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF
Molina C

Chamberlain P

Site Notes: Check back later this afternoon for the first RAB podcast, and we’ll have an ever-popular Open Thread tonight, topic TBD.

Categories : Game Threads
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  • The physical toll of a road trip

    The Freakonomics blog points to a study about the impact of jet lag on baseball players. As Scientific American summaries, “A new study shows that MLB teams that travel such distances to play a game could have up to a 60 percent chance of losing.” The study goes on to note that the advantage dwindles as teams get more acclimated to the new time zone and suggests that MLB factor in days of rest at the start of long road trips. Freakonomics also links to a Science Blogs post noting that the Amphetamines ban may account for the jet lag effect. · (6) ·

Let’s start with the familiar refrain: Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez paced the Yankees with three hits apiece, including one loooong home run for A-Rod. Darrell Rasner did what a fourth starter should do and gritted it out for five innings en route to his fourth win of the year and the Yanks’ sixth straight victory.


Now, the bad stuff: The Yankees scored eight runs against the Padres tonight and led the game for eight innings, but they could never put it away because the bullpen continued to allow San Diego back in the game. In both cases, I blame the pitchers.

We begin in the sixth inning. Darrell Rasner had labored through five innings, allowing eight base runners but only two runs. Just 55 of his 96 pitches were strikes. Against a better team, Rasner would have ended up a with a much worse pitching line.

In the sixth, Joe Girardi opted to call upon Edwar Ramirez, and the righty responded by dispatching the Padres on nine pitches. Ramirez earned himself a second inning of work, and after two outs, he surrendered back-to-back home runs on bad pitches to the Padres. After getting the third out, the Yanks would emerge from the top of the 7th up by just a run.

In the bottom of the inning, the Yanks plated two more, and Girardi went to Kyle Farnsworth. The enigmatic and infuriating reliever promptly allowed a home run, and two batters later, Khalil Greene doubled. I guess Kyle just wanted to pitch with the tying run up at the plate for as long as possible.

Eventually, he worked out of trouble; the Yanks scored another run in the 8th; and Rivera would exert himself through all of 11 pitches to nail down his 19th save of the season. Little harm, no foul, I guess.

But the problem is that for Farnsworth — and, recently, Edwar Ramirez — these struggles are a common occurrence. Ramirez has now given up a terrible nine HR in 43 big league innings, and until he gets that long ball rate down, the Yanks will never be able to rely on him in tight games.

Meanwhile, Farnsworth has been nothing short of bad over the last month. Since May 17, Farnsworth has appeared in 13 games, throwing 13.1 innings. He’s given up 17 hits and nine earned runs (6.08 ERA). While he’s struck out 10, he’s also walked six and has surrendered five home runs. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 23 baserunners in 13.1 innings, and prior to Padres’ 2-for-5 evening , opponents were hitting .333/.423/.667 off Kyle since mid-May.

Joe Girardi, meanwhile, just doesn’t get it. While no manager would throw his own players under the bus, Joe has been a little too gracious: “You let them pass. They’ve been throwing the ball so well. Even Eddie tonight, he threw the ball so well. You hate for that to happen. I was happy with the way he threw the ball. Farnsy, he gave up a leadoff home run and then he bucked down. I’m not concerned.”

He’s not concerned, but the rest of us are. Right now, Farnsworth has done nothing to earn Girardi’s trust while Jose Veras, over the same time period, has put up numbers much better than Farnsworth’s. One of Girardi’s supposed strengths as manager was his approach to bullpen management, but so far, all we’ve seen is the same old “trust the same guys” approach that Joe Torre displayed to a fault. Tonight, it didn’t hurt the Yankees, but will they be so lucky next time?

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Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off day. Sidney Ponson showed up for the postgame spread anyway.

Double-A Trenton (9-8 loss to Harrisburg)
Ramiro Pena & Edwar Gonzalez: both 1 for 5, 1 R – Pena hit a solo jack … Edwar doubled & K’ed
Austin Jackson: 2 or 5, 1 R, 2 K – the HR streak ends at 4 games … rockin’ a .902 OPS this month
Colin Curtis: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Cody Ehlers: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Jose Tabata: 2 for 4, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB – hopefully he builds off this game
Chris Malec: 2 for 3, 1 HBP – picked off 2nd in the 9th inning of a 1-run game, ouch babe … 11 for his last 26
Reegie Corona: 1 for 4, 2 RBI
Jason Jones: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 7-3 GB/FB
Anthony Claggett: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K – first runs allowed since May 22nd
Steven Jackson: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
Bo Hall: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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