Happy birthday Derek Jeter. The only player with more career hits on his 34th birthday: Robin Yount. At what point is it a lock that Jeter joins him in Cooperstown? On his 34th birthday, Pete Rose — who shares a birthday with yours truly — had 2,346 hits, 92 behind Jeter. Will Derek Sanderson break Charlie Hustle’s all time record? What the hell…I’m just going to go ahead and say yes.
Apparently, according to Ed Price, Mike Mussina is a perfect 5-0 when pitching in Pennsylvania. Yes, we all know that’s where Moose is from. (Ending a sentence with a linking verb followed by a preposition? Ouch, Joe.)
Bad news for Matsui: the DL is a possibility, according to our manager. I wouldn’t get my hopes up about a Brett Gardner call-up in that situation, though. The smart money is on another appearance by Shelley, if for no other reason than 40-man roster concerns. They’ve got to make a spot for Ponson (probably DFA Moeller, but possibly Chris Stewart, though a Moeller DFA would clear the 25-man spot, too). In any case, with Christian in the bigs, I’m not sure the braintrust would be as apt to make the move for Gardner just yet. Maybe if this is a long term thing…
Anyway, onto the lineup:
Chad Jennings comes through in the clutch again, running down Yanks’ Farm Director Mark Newman for a quick chat. The one item that will surely get everyone fired up is that Newman believes Mark Melancon will remain with Double-A Trenton the rest of the season. CJ hit the nail on the head, this is the way guys are supposed to develop, not everyone flies through the system in a year like Joba. Have patience. One Huston Street in two years is better than one Craig Hansen now. · (33) ·
Only one Yankee prospect is going: Jesus Montero. It’s too bad considering the game is in Yankee Stadium, you think they’d try to send at least two players from the host team. Remember, the USA Team will be the trial squad of the US Olympic team. Austin Jackson or Mark Melancon won’t be there, but thankfully Denard Span and Jess Todd will. Phew. · (5) ·
Freddy Sez, a fixture at Yankee games for as long as I can remember. (Photo by flickr user amb*r)
When I was a little kid, nothing would please me more at Yankee Stadium, other than a win from the Bombers, than a chance to bang on Freddy’s pan. In the days when 25,000 was considered a big crowd, Freddy with his “Freddy Sez” signs would roam the aisles of Yankee Stadium, and fans could hear that pan coming from sections away.
Over the years, Freddy has garnered his loyal following and has become something of an unofficial Yankee mascot to many. Two years ago, Manny Fernandez shed some light on Freddy with a profile in The Times. Freddy, we learned, has few teeth because he used to own a candy shop and has one eye after a stickball accident when he was nine years old in 1934.
These days, Freddy’s clanging spoon isn’t as loud as it used to be. With capacity crowds at Yankee Stadium, the familiar sounds of Freddy fade into a generally raucous stadium. But as the 83-year-old makes the rounds, slower than he used to, that sound still fills the sections of the stadium.
Now, I had always thought that Yankee fans were amused by Freddy. Here was an old man who loved the Yankees and showed it. But not everyone loves Freddy, I’ve learned over the last few weeks. While in 2005, Don Larsen clearly thought that Freddy was too loud, over the last few days, Freddy backlash has spread among a few Yankee fans.
It started last week with an off-handed comment late in the game on PeteAbe’s site. Wrote the beat writer: “By the way, instead of a Hard Rock, the new Stadium needs to have a moat filled with giant snakes. That way they’ll have someplace to throw the guy who bangs on the pan. Is this New York or Arkansas?” That’s grumpy, no?
Today, in a piece all too accepting of stadium diversions that detract from the game, make all together too much noise in between innings and should get off my lawn while they’re at it, Moshe Mandel at The Bronx Block advocates for the end of Freddy. “The sound of him hitting that pan is maddening,” complains Mandel. “I can’t bring in a soda can but he can bring in a frying pan? Kiss it goodbye.”
So as the Yankees turn their eyes north to a new stadium rising at the corner of 161st St. and River Ave., their fans are growing wary of the frying-pan-banging old guy who simply loves the Yanks. Now, call me a sappy traditionalist, but I like Freddy. The cowbell guys at Shea Stadium and Tampa? Those are just rip-offs. Sure, he’s getting old; sure, his signs aren’t nearly as creative as they used to be. But I’d take the Yanks’ Freddy any day. There are things far more annoying at Yankee Stadium every day.
A whole bunch of former Yankees are in the news these days: Consummate AAAA player Andy Phillips is back in New York albeit with the Mets where he will spend some time not hitting Major League pitching. Scott Prcotor is on the DL with — surprise! — an elbow injury. And Shawn Chacon tried to strangle his General Manager. All in a day’s work. · (15) ·
The Roanoke Times has the news. I wrote up O’Brien on draft day, so you can find more info about him here. If he wasn’t a 5′-11″ righthander, O’Brien would be considered a much sexier prospect. He passed on a 98% scholarship to Winthrop, so I suspect his signing bonus is rather large, probably in the $300,000 to $500,000 range, although that’s nothing more than a guess. A solid addition to the farm system. (h/t to Pending Pinstripes)
Update: Lane Meyer points out that O’Brien is also a Type 1 diabetic. Teams tend to be concerned about a player’s ability to hold up over a long season if he’s a diabetic, and I can’t say I really blame them. Current Yankee farmhand Bradley Suttle is also a Type 1 diabetic. · (5) ·
Friday may be a historic day for baseball in New York City, but the two pitchers the Yanks are tabbing to start are anything but. Prior to last night’s victory over the Pirates, Yanks manager Joe Girardi announced that Sidney Ponson will start Friday night’s game in Shea Stadium while Dan Giese will start the afternoon affair in the Bronx. Ponson will face Pedro, and Giese will face Mike Pelfrey. I’m holding my breath. · (19) ·
So this Joba guy. He sorta sucks. He can’t win any games. He can’t pitch out of the sixth inning. And, as I said to my dad this evening, without him in the bullpen, the Yanks don’t know what to do with the 8th inning.
Wait. Wait. What are you saying? Joba pitched 6.2 shut-out innings tonight? Joba struck out seven while walking just one? Joba gave up only six hits, only one for extra bases? I’m not sure what to make of this.
Sarcasm aside, Joba pitched into the seventh tonight, going 114 pitches, and emerged with his first win as a starter. Tonight’s game against the Pirates — the team that’s scored the fifth most runs in baseball — marked Joba’s fifth start. He has now thrown 25 innings as a starter and has an ERA of 1.80. He has allowed 22 hits and has struck out 26. While the walks had been high prior to tonight, the 7:1 K:BB ratio is very encouraging. Joba — who will one day take his lumps — has arrived.
Offensively, it’s hard to complain about a 10-0 game, but it’s easy to highlight the hot Yankees. Derek Jeter went 3 for 3 to raise his average to .286. The Captain is now working on a 13-game hitting streak, and he’s batting .359 with an OBP around .400 during that stretch. That’s more like it.
Bobby Abreu broke out of his Nick Blackburn-induced slump in a big way, going 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs. Robinson Cano is now 14 for his last 33 (.424) and finds himself just .013 batting average points behind Melky Cabrera, who has done quite well in the leadoff spot over the last two days.
In the end, it boils down to one thing: After Tuesday’s 12-5 debacle, tonight was just what the Yankees needed. They jumped out to a two-run lead after the top of the first and never looked back. They got Joba his first win, and the guys who haven’t been hitting did tonight. With Mike Mussina going later this evening, I’m feeling pretty good about this game after a bad first night in Pittsburgh.
Triple-A Scranton (5-1 loss to Columbus)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB – you know what I think…
Cody Ransom: 2 for 3, 2 BB, 1 E (fielding)
Matt Carson: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B
rest of lineup: combined 0 for 21, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K – Shelley drove in the run with a sac fly … Jason Lane drew all 3 walks … Chris Stewart committed a throwing error & allowed a passed ball
Dan McCutchen: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K – 65 of 106 pitches were strikes (61.3%)
Billy Traber: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5-1 GB/FB
Tyler Clippard: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 2 K, 2-8 GB/FB – sorry, old habits die hard
The Yanks face off against lefty Zach Duke tonight. Duke had a strong start to his career in 2005 — one of my buddies did a nice write-up of him during his rookie campaign. After pitching 215 innings of league average ball in 2006, he struggled mightily in 2007, and missed July, August, and half of September. At 92 innings this year, it seems that Duke has found himself again, pitching to a 3.91 ERA, though that 1.48 WHIP could come around to haunt him down the road.
What can I say about the Yanks, other than they need to win tonight? They did score two in the ninth last night, so I guess we get to put the ol’ theory to the test tonight. Fate will be in the hands of Joba Chamberlain, who has pitched rather well since making the conversion to a starter.
Questions for tonight:
Will Derek Jeter avoid grounding into a double play if presented with the opportunity?
Will Melky draw a couple more walks in the leadoff spot?
Will we be able to string together a few hits, rather than leaving our men on base?
Will A-Rod come back with a vengeance after taking an 0 for 5 last night?
If the answers to those four are all yes, we might be onto something.
1. Melky Cabrera, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Justin Christian, LF — felt good to type that
9. Joba Chamberlain, P
I guess there doesn’t need to be a pitching announcement…damn NL.
Notes: per Ed Price, Ian Kennedy will throw a rehab start for Tampa on Saturday. Phil Hughes played catch for the first time since suffering his broken rib. Price says we’re still six weeks away. I’d believe it.