Despite throwing a successful 75-pitch outing against Minor Leaguers on Sunday, Andy Pettitte‘s prospects in the early going this season look bleak. The Yankees pitching depth, it seems, will be tested early.
According to reports out of New York, Pettitte’s back did not respond well at all to the weekend outing, and the Yanks believe he could be out for as long as two months. To make matters worse in the eyes of fans, the Yankees plan to replace Pettitte with the much-maligned Kei Igawa who, just a few hours ago, was named the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Opening Day starter.
The Yankees all of a sudden find themselves with a little bit of a pitching problem. While Chien-Ming Wang will retain his place at the front of the rotation, the four pitchers behind him are anything but a given. Mike Mussina will slot into the second starter position, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career and had a shaky Spring Training. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, two youngsters who may struggle at times, will follow Mussina, and Igawa will pick up the rear.
When word of Pettitte’s injury came down, I, like many of you, probably turned your thoughts to the ace in the hole the Yanks seem to carry in their bullpen. Wouldn’t Joba Chamberlain be a much better choice than Kei Igawa? Right now, the Yankees seem unwilling to move Chamberlain out of the pen. They fear that he’ll be used too much too soon and will reach his innings cap before the Yanks need to call on him in October.
While the rained out Opening Day and subsequent 7:05 p.m. rescheduling of the game took some of the damper out of the festivities that surround the start of the season, this news casts a veritable pall over what is usually a joyous time of year. This time, Roger Clemens won’t ride to the rescue. All of a sudden, the Yanks are left with a hole, and Johan Santana sure looked good in his Mets debut.
But the Yanks have overcome adversity before, and they still have the makings of a championship team. Maybe Kei Igawa can step. Maybe he can pitch effectively. That is, after all, why they play the games. And, oh yeah, Happy April Fools Day.
While Morgan Ensberg couldn’t stand the heat he got for picking out Paul O’Neill’s former number, the long-dormant 21 will return to the field this week if the Yanks ever get to begin their season. LaTroy Hawkins, in an effort to honor Roberto Clemente, will don 21 this year, and Bryan Hoch traces the feelings surrounding O’Neill’s number. It will be interesting to see how Hawkins is received for taking what many Yankee fans believe is a number that belongs in the Yankee Pantheon. Hawkins has previously worn 32 and donned 22 with the Yanks in Spring Training. He grew tired of having Brian Bruney call him “Roger.” Doesn’t that sound endearing? · (34) ·
You get one guess. · (26) ·
While it never really rained for about three and a half hours this afternoon and Yankee fans were grumbling that the game could have gone on, one group of people enjoyed the delay. As The Times’ City Room blog notes, rain delays are great news for the vendors. As David Greco, the owner of an Italian deli at the Stadium, said,”They’re coming back tomorrow night, so we got a bonus day.” The parking lot attendants are just as thrilled. · (1) ·
Relax, I’m talking about the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Even with more talented pitchers in the rotation, Igawa gets the nod on Opening Day because
he’s accomplished more at a higher levelhe simply lines up to pitch that day. Following Igawa in the rotation will be (in order) Steven White, Alan Horne, Darrell Rasner and Jeff Marquez. Sean Henn (2006) and Tyler Clippard (2007) were the last two Opening Day starters for the Yanks’ Triple-A affiliate, so it’s probably a good thing to keep the talented guys away from that bad juju.
Sucks the game got rained out, huh? · (9) ·
The Yankees and the Blue Jays have postponed today’s planned Opening Day game due to the weather. Right now, the Yanks and Jays will try again tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. once this storm system clears. For those of you wondering why they aren’t playing in a drizzle, it’s not because of the current conditions but because of the storm system on the way in. They don’t have a clear window in which to fit a nine-inning game. · (22) ·
Yankee Stadium has never looked better. For more lego stadiums, check out Home Run Derby.
On Saturday, I celebrated my birthday. Two days later, Major League Baseball is giving me the best present for which any obsessed Yankee fan could hope: Opening Day.
Today, Chien-Ming wang turns 28. His birthday present? An Opening Day start.
There’s really nothing like Opening Day when everything says zero, and everyone has their hopes and dreams. It’s the day when we know spring is here even if the weather tells us otherwise. It’s the day when we know summer will be on the way soon.
It’s the day when the clock starts ticking. No longer are we left debating trades that were and weren’t made. No longer are we left sitting here wondering about missed opportunities and an invasion of midges. No longer are we left scrutinizing meaningless spring training stats and wondering what kind of manager Joe Girardi will be in New York. Today is the day when everything starts all over again.
For the Yankees, it’s a new year, a new team and a new look. A lot of the names we’ve heard about made their ways to the Bronx last season. We saw 70 innings of Phil Hughes, three starts of Ian Kennedy and some mighty impressive 8th inning work by one Joba Chamberlain. Ross Ohlendorf, in a late-season call-up, showed off a heavy sinker and a tendency to throw strikes. This year, all four begin the season in the Bronx.
Of course, the old guns are back too. Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera returned to the Bronx while Alex Rodriguez locked up a deal that makes him a Yankee for life. In fact, at some point this September, A-Rod will probably find himself a Yankee for longer than he was in Seattle or Texas.
And then we turn to the Cathedral in the Bronx. As the Yankees take the field today, they will do so for their final home opener in Yankee Stadium. It’s a bittersweet day to be sure.
For the Yanks, they have their work cut out for them today. They haven’t lost on Opening Day since 2004 when the Devil Rays beat them in Japan. At home, they’ve been perfect since April 11, 1997 when Aaron Small and the A’s outlasted Jeff Nelson and the Yankees 3-1 in 12 innings.
Today, the Yanks face Roy Halladay while Chien-Ming Wang pitchers for the Yankees. Two of the game’s most winningest pitchers over the last three season square off. Someone’s gotta give. The game starts at 1:05 p.m. on YES and ESPN.
Time, they say, begins on Opening Day. To me, life begins on Opening Day. It’s a day for promises and hope that after 162 games, there will still be more to play. Let’s get this season started.
Notes: Please pledge to join the RAB Big Three K’s Craniosyntosis fund drive. We’ve raised a total of $3.17 per Big Three strike out so far…Please take a minute to read the RAB Commenting Guidelines…While Bob Sheppard is out, Derek Jeter will still be announced by the Voice of the Yankees. Jeter recorded Sheppard saying his name last year. That’s smart thinking by the captain.
Update 12:14 p.m.: ESPN is reporting that the first pitch will be pushed back to 2 p.m. due to rain in the New York area. Tomorrow is a scheduled off day, but the rain is supposed to continue on and off throughout the next few days.
Update 2:10 p.m.: The game is still delayed. We may not see baseball in New York until Wednesday.
What fun would Opening Day be without the New York tabloids questioning the Yankees’ off-season? Today’s (hopefully) last gasp of Johan Santana doubting comes to us from John Harper in a column where the headline and reality don’t seem to line up.
“Scouts say Yankees should have traded for Johan Santana,” the headline on Harper’s latest screams. The article says otherwise:
Over the last week I posed that question to six major league scouts and executives who saw the Yankees multiple times this spring, and for what it’s worth, here is the consensus opinion:
The Yankees could well win multiple championships over the next 10 or so years, thanks largely to a pitching staff built around young guns Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. But this year? Forget it. It’s more likely their streak of 13 straight playoff seasons will come to a crashing halt…
“I love their future,” was the way one scout put it. “But if you think those young guys aren’t going to take their lumps at times this season against American League lineups, you’re dreaming.”
The point Harper is trying to make — that the Yanks should have traded for Johan Santana to win now — is not the one he succeeds in making. Rather, by noting that the Yanks “could win multiple championships over the next 10 years or so,” Harper just proves all of us who were questioning the Santana trade right in the eyes of scouts.
The Yanks didn’t trade for Johan Santana because they too felt they could win for years after Santana loses his effectiveness. Agree or disagree with their decision, the rational has always been as simple and as transparent as that conclusion.
As we head into Opening Day, hopefully this will be the end of the Johan Santana speculation. He’s on the Mets and not the Yankees or the Red Sox (or the Twins who surprisingly ponied up for Joe Nathan instead), and the Yanks are in a position to potentially win a lot and often over the next decade. End of story.