• Hell has frozen over

    While the Yankees and the Orioles are slugging it out in Baltimore and Jorge Posada is going through rehab in Extended Spring Training, the AP reports that pigs are flying Carl Pavano has thrown 35 pitches off of a half-mound. And he did it without injuring himself. What are the odds that Pavano wins the game that clinches the AL East for the Yanks this year? · (18) ·

As we discussed earlier today, Kennedy could be pitching for his spot in the rotation tonight. Then again, with his horrible start to the season, he’s basically doing that every time out. He helped himself last time out, but as Ben noted, he still had his flaws.

The lineup gets a slightly different look tonight with Melky sitting. The kid needs a damn day off. He’s hitting .195/.241/.268 on the month, after a .299/.370/.494 April. It’s like he and Cano can’t hit at the same time. Robbie hit .151/.211/.236 in April, and has surged to .325/.369/.494 in May. Wait…I thought his low BABIP was just a low BABIP…

In Melky’s place is Johnny Damon, who I really don’t want to see playing center tonight. His play in left has been shaky at best of late. Abreu and Matsui will round out what is undoubtedly the worst defensive outfield in the game.

Betemit gets the start at first against a lefty. As if there weren’t enough signs of Morgan Ensberg’s impending release. The only question is of whether the Yanks will wait until May 31 to replace him with Jason Lane, or if the move will come sooner.

Your lineup:

1. Johnny Damon, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, LF
6. Dirty ‘Stache, DH
7. Hey Mr. Wilson! 1B
8. Low BABIP is a Low BABIP, 2B
9. Hava Molina, C

And on the mound, No. 31, Ian Patrick Kennedy

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Mariano Rivera, pitching coach

    When the Yanks capped off their comeback win on Sunday against the Mariners, Mariano Rivera, as he has for so many games since 1997, was on the mound when the last out went up on the scoreboard. That day, Rivera completed his 20th inning of work this season without allowing a walk, and Tyler Kepner noted in a Bats blog post the greatness of Rivera. Mo, you see, gives pitching lessons to the Yanks, and he may very well be responsible for turning Edwar Ramirez into a useful cog in the bullpen. When Mo calls it quits in a few years, I hope the Yanks can convince him to stick around as a pitching coach. He’s got one valuable mind for the game. · (6) ·

Over at MetsBlog this afternoon, Matthew Cerrone jumped into the Brian Cashman fray. He pondered the idea of Cashman helming the Mets’ front office and wondered why current GM Omar Minaya isn’t shouldering more of the blame for the Mets’ failures.

Personally, I’m stunned that Minaya has received what amounts to a free pass in the New York media while Willie Randolph has become the whipping boy for the media. Omar Minaya put this team — this expensive, flawed team — together, and it stands to reason that the Mets’ struggles are as much his fault, if not more, than they are Willie’s.

Right now, that’s neither here nor there. The Mets’ problems are a Queens-based issue, and we’re concerned with the Bronx. But I did get a good chuckle out of the MetsBlog commenters who seem to hate Brian Cashman almost as much as some Yankee fans do. A sampling, if you will:

“No thanks. Omar Minaya blows this guy away.”

“I’d rather pick up Delgado’s option than hire Cashman to be GM.”

“Cashman is a bigger failure than Omar is.”

“Cashman’s team is one game under .500 while Omar’s is 3. Not a big enough difference to make me want Cashman. He’s a joke”

“He’s contributed nothing but one bad investment after another. This guy is a joke.”

“Cashman would be Horrible. Omar has done a pretty good job; it falls on the manager to get it done. Cashman has made mistake after mistake during his tenure. No more Yankee trash!”

So let’s review: Brian Cashman’s Yankees have won three World Series titles, were two outs away from a fourth, have made the playoffs every year during his tenure as GM and are the best team in baseball over that same period of time. Yet, somehow, because the Yanks haven’t won a ring, Cashman is “Yankee trash,” “a joke” and my personal favorite: “a bigger failure than Omar is.”

Now, I know that Yankee fans are divided on Brian Cashman’s effectiveness. Some see a series of bad moves and an inability to find starting pitching when starting pitching is at a premium. Others see a mixed record of good and bad moves as well as an increased focused recently on the farm system that has already begun to pay dividends.

Yet, for all his flaws, real or otherwise, Brian Cashman has been an effective GM. The Yanks have reached October, and their losing in the playoffs has less to do with his ability to put a team together and more to do with the Amazing Disappearing Yankee Offense in October. For all the guff Cashman takes, the Mets could do a lot worse to have him as their GM, and if the fans can’t see otherwise, I’m more than happy to see Cashman stick around the Bronx. And, hey, while we don’t all agree on Brian Cashman, at least we can all agree that Mets fans are just a little bit nuts.

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As you all know by now, signability is a major factor in MLB’s first-year player draft, so much so that it’s informally referred to as “the sixth tool.” While big names like Andrew Miller and Rick Porcello receive the bulk of the attention as players who fell because of their price tags, more often than not it’s the lesser-known players, the second or third round guys who feel they’re worth first or second round money, who end up being the real signability steals of the draft.

The Yanks have worked this angle to perfection in recent years, digging deep in their Swiss bank accounts to bring players such as Austin Jackson, Dellin Betances and Carmen Angelini into the system. All three were solid sandwich or early-second round talents in their respective drafts, but their lofty bonus demands and college commitments scared teams away. The Yanks took each player later than their talent warranted (Jackson and Betances in the 8th round, Angelini in the 10th), and paid out bonuses typically given to players selected in the late first round. All three are now among the most promising prospects in the system.

While this year’s draft class is lacking in overall quality compared to that of the last three or four years, there is still plenty of talent to go around. Here are two guys who fit the Jackson-Betances-Angelini mold — top talents with top bonus demands. It’s not a matter of if the Yanks will pay the money needed to sign these kids, it’s just a matter of how fast the ink can dry on the signing bonus check. Fun starts after the jump.

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Categories : Draft
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The next stop on the Joba train comes on Wednesday. The soon to be starter will aim to throw 50 to 55 pitches in relief against the Orioles, hopefully with a bit more economy than Saturday, where he threw 40 pitches (22 strikes) over two innings of work. After that, though, the Yanks might run into an issue: You can’t count throwing more pitches than that out of the bullpen, even if Mussina is the starter.

This would create an interesting scenario for the starting rotation. Namely, who do you axe in favor of Chamberlain? If he’s going to start a game, it’s best not to screw around. After throwing 55 pitches on Wednesday, he should be on tap to pitch Monday (five days’ rest), and certainly no later than Tuesday. With the off day on Thursday, the Yanks will have some juggling to do.

Kennedy is going tonight, and Pettitte is going tomorrow. That much is set. Clearly, a lot rides on Kennedy’s outing. He’d be the clear choice for removal from the rotation. If that were the case, you’d probably see Mussina go Friday, Wang go Saturday, Rasner Sunday, and Joba Monday, possibly with Kennedy shadowing him. The alternative there is to swap Kennedy for Karstens and have the latter shadow Joba.

If Kennedy pitches well tonight, though, it makes little sense to remove him from the rotation. Girardi has not ruled out a six-man pitching rotation, so pushing everyone back a day is an option. That would allow Joba some more time in between starts, and also help keep his innings in check for the rest of the season. The only drawback, of course, is that you’ll get fewer appearances from Wang. That’s an issue that certainly needs to be addressed.

The only issue I have with a six-man rotation is the bullpen. Are the Yankees prepared to only have six guys coming out of the pen? Recent history says they are not. As with many other potential moves, this could spell the end of Morgan Ensberg — and of Jason Lane, if the team decides to use Ensberg’s roster spot for a reliever rather than another position player.

Clearly, though, this is a good problem to have. As they say, you can never get enough good starting pitching.

Categories : Pitching
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  • To coin a phrase

    Yankee fans are very possessive of Derek Jeter. He is, after all, the team captain, and he is the proud owner of four World Series rings. On the other hand, though, are fans of other teams who can’t stand Jeter and all the accolades Yankee lovers toss his way. Over the weekend, Joe Posnanski coined a new word that sums up why non-Yankee fans don’t like Jeter. The word is Jeterate. Check out Posnanski’s piece; and don’t take it too seriously. The Bobby Abreu acronym is a good one too. · (5) ·

April 6

One park that will now be a parking lot. (Photo by Ben K.)

When the Yankees and the City of New York agreed to the deal that allowed the Yankees to build a new stadium atop a popular park for a green-starved South Bronx neighborhood, the city — and not the Yankees — was supposed to replace the parkland before the new stadium opens in ten months. Now, according to a weekend report in The Times, the cost of replacing the parks has skyrocketed, and the city is well behind schedule.

Timothy Williams reports:

The cost of replacing two popular parks where the new Yankee Stadium is being built has nearly doubled. At the same time, several of the eight new parks, which were supposed to be completed before the new stadium opens next spring, have been delayed by as much as two years, according to city documents.

The price of the new small parks — which are to replace tennis and basketball courts, a running track and baseball and soccer fields eliminated to make way for the new stadium — is now projected to be $174 million, almost one-seventh the cost of the $1.3 billion stadium itself. The original estimate had been $95.5 million. The increase comes amid skyrocketing costs for construction projects, both public and private, around the city.

As anyone who’s read my subway work at Second Ave. Sagas knows, skyrocketing construction costs have impacted all facets of New York construction from the subways on up. It’s not a surprise, then, that the cost estimates for these parks has doubled, and the final figures will probably exceed the $174 million mark when Heritage Field — on the site of the current Yankee Stadium — is completed in three years, five years after the South Bronx lost its parks to the new stadium.

Interestingly, as the article notes, the construction costs for Yankee Stadium have gone up by as much as 60 percent, but the Yankees are loathe to talk about that aspect of the project.

So then, why should we care about parkland in the Bronx? It’s easy to overlook the community aspects of this new Yankee Stadium. Admittedly, the building going up on the northwest corner of 161st St. and River Ave. looks great, but the community shouldn’t be ignored. While the vast majority of Yankee fans coming to the Bronx visit Yankee Stadium as though the building and the surrounding stores and bars are an isolated baseball bubble, they exist as part of a larger neighborhood, and that neighborhood — and the city at large — is getting screwed over.

As a good government advocate, I find it more than a bit dismaying that the Yankees aren’t paying to cover the costs of the parkland. While they’ve donated some money to cover the cost of taking over one of the borough’s most popular greenways, the city is footing the bill. This is just one of the ways in which the city is giving the money-laden Yanks a taxpayer-funded break to build a new stadium on valuable park space.

To make matter worse, the current replacement park at Jerome Ave. and 161st St., which has become very popular, will be turned into a parking lot. The Yankees win while the people who live in the neighborhood lose. At a time when the city is strapped for cash and is looking to cut funds for some vital services, that they have to fund park costs because they did a hundred-million-dollar favor for the Yanks is a black mark on the team. The Yankees weren’t going to leave New York, and the City knew it. Yet, city officials caved anyway. It’s too late to make amends, and the Yanks and the City are simply honoring terms of a deal they struck. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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While the final score – 6-1 – of the Yanks’ first loss since Tuesday makes the game sound like a lopsided Baltimore victory, for six innings, this afternoon’s game had all the makings of a pitcher’s duel. Darrell Rasner, throwing a few too many pitches early on, had another outstanding start, and Garrett Olson overcame last week’s outing to flash the stuff that has everyone raving this year.

This game got out of hand when the bullpen took over. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, the Orioles beat up on LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Veras. While Mike advocated for getting rid of Billy Traber, I have to believe that LaTroy wouldn’t be too far behind. He’s been spectacularly ineffective this year, and the Yanks will soon have two high-ceiling relievers in Mark Melancon and J.B. Cox knocking on the Yanks’ bullpen door.

In the end, though, I can’t really complain tonight. While this loss drops the Yanks under .500 and back into last place, if they’ve won five out of six games, and I’d always take that.

Categories : Game Stories
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