In a way, Joe Girardi’s brief post-game interview about Joba completed overshadowed tonight’s crisp and refreshing Yankee win. We — and every other Yankee blogger — will have a lot more about Joba tomorrow; as a teaser, PeteAbe aptly summarizes the 8th inning choices. For now, though, let’s just focus on the win.

Tonight’s game belonged to two Yankees. It goes without saying that they are Darrell Rasner and Alex Rodriguez. On the pitching front, Rasner dazzled the O’s all night. He doesn’t throw hard, but he changes speeds well and hits his spots. He threw 95 pitches over 7 innings (see that, Ian Kennedy?), and 61 of them were strikes. He gave up five hits and one walk while striking out six, and the Orioles put nothing together against him. At 3-0, Rasner is fast becoming this year’s Aaron Small but with a much higher upside.

Offensive, A-Rod is A-Rod. It’s pretty damn clear that this team missed their anchor during the last few weeks. A-Rod went 3 for 4 tonight, and he hit his second home run in as many days. He also blasted his eighth and ninth doubles of the year.

Or at least, he was credited with his eighth and ninth doubles. One of those, as we know, was actually his seventh home run of the season. The play — which you can watch here — unfolded as such: A-Rod hit a screaming line drive into right center field, and the ball just kept carrying. It bounced hard off the yellow staircase in front of the right field bleachers. Nick Markakis fielded the carom, and instead of stopping to retrieve a home run ball, he hurled into the infield as though it were still in play.

The replay clearly showed that the ball hit the yellow staircase. In fact, it was a good three or four feet above the top of the outfield wall. But the ball was so hard that none of the umpires could position themselves to see it, and A-Rod got himself only a double out of it. While much like Carlos Delgado’s disputed home run on Sunday, the missed call didn’t impact the outcome of the game.

But that’s not the point. On Sunday, on national TV, the umpires get the call wrong; two games later, with one of the game’s biggest starts up, the umpires get the call wrong. While opponents of instant replay say it would take too long and slow down games, would it really take longer than it took for the four umpires to confer and wrongly issue a call tonight? Of course not.

I know I’m beating the same drum I hit upon just three days ago, but this is just bad for the game. At what point, on what stage will MLB finally get it together to allow instant replay for these disputed calls? It doesn’t tarnish the game; it doesn’t cause irreparable harm to anyone. It’s more important to get it right than anything else, so why is baseball continuing to sacrifice that aspect of the game?

At some point, someone will hit a home run late in a meaningful and some team will win or lose the pennant or World Series off of a blown call by an umpire that millions of Americans can watch on repeat in their living rooms. Will it really come to that before MLB institutes instant replay?

A-Rod has been stellar since coming off the DL. He has hit three balls out of Yankee Stadium for two home runs. He’s been the offensive shot in the arm the Yanks needed. Now, if the weather holds, the Yanks will turn to Ian Kennedy later today. I hope they can turn their one-game victory into an actual winning streak.

Categories : Game Stories
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  • Girardi: ‘The process has started’

    During his postgame interview with Kim Jones, Joe Girardi fielded a question about Joba’s throwing a career-high 35 pitches tonight. His response: “The process has started.” That process, of course, is turning Joba from a reliever back into a starter. Girardi, in announcing one of the more significant in-season moves the Yanks will make this year, was very matter-of-fact about it. So here it goes…

    Update: Courtesy of Mike’s DVR, we have a transcript: Kim Jones: What are we to read into it, Joe, that Joba pitches two innings and it looked like he started the ninth with a couple of change-ups? Joe Girardi: Well, the process has started converting Joba to a starter, and tonight was the first [time] extending him a little bit, and we’ll continue to do it and get him up to where he can throw enough pitches.
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Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off day.

Double-A Trenton (15-5 beat down of Reading) all that offense, and the game still took only 3 hrs and 27 mins to complete
Ramiro Pena: 2 for 3, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Austin Jackson: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K – believe it or not, that’s only the second best offense performance of the day
Colin Curtis: 0 for 4, 1 R, 2 BB
Edwar Gonzalez: 3 for 6, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Cody Ehlers: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 K – 2 XBH in his last 10 games after piling up 16 XBH in his first 25 games
Jose Tabata: 3 for 6, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI – matches his RBI output over the last 15 games combined
Kevin Russo: 4 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K, 2 E (fielding, throwing)
Eladio Rodriguez: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K, 1 PB
Phil Coke: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 6-6 GB/FB – easy to pitch when your lineup gives you that kind of run support
Eric Wordekemper: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K – 4.96 ERA this year after a 0.56 ERA last year
Zach Kroenke: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP

High-A Tampa (10-6 loss to Vero Beach)
Damon Sublett: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB – first XBH since May 6th
Mitch Hilligoss: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B
James Cooper & Josue Calzado: both 0 for 4 – Cooper scored a run & was hit by a pitch … Calzado K’ed, committed a throwing error & threw a runner out at second from RF
Kyle Anson: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB – 19-26 K/BB ratio in 34 games
Seth Fortenberry: 1 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Kevin Smith: 2 for 4
Luis Nunez & Tim Battle: both 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 K – Battle hit a solo bomb
Eric Hacker: 5 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 1 Balk, 9-3 GB/FB – easily his worst outing of the year
Phil Bartlewski: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP
Edgar Soto: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

Low-A Charleston (20-2 massacre of Greeneville) dropped a 12-spot on 3 pitchers in the 4th
Austin Krum: 1 for 6, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB
Justin Snyder: 1 for 2, 2 R, 1 BB
Chase Odenreider: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 E (throwing) – came in for Snyder in the 5th when the score was 12-1, and he still got 3 at-bats!
Brandon Laird: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Jesus Montero: 2 for 4, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K – they score 20 runs as a team, but he gets shut out of the RBI column … hilarious
Brian Baisley: 5 for 6, 4 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 K – I told you Ajax had only the second best offensive showing of the day … this is easily the best game by a hitter this year
David Williams & Walter Ibarra: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB – Williams K’ed & was caught stealing … Ibarra committed a fielding error
Carmen Angelini: 1 for 2, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 E (throwing) – taken out in the 6th with a 17 run lead
Dellin Betances: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 4 K, 3-5 GB/FB
Craig Heyer, Ryan Zink & Gabe Medina: combined 4.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 9-3 GB/FB

Categories : Down on the Farm
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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.

Damon LF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Duncan 1B
Cano 2B
Moeller C
Cabrera CF

Rasner P

Categories : Game Threads
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Draft nuggets

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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.

Categories : Draft
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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?

Categories : Game Stories
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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)

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
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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.

1. Johnny Damon, LF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Jason Giambi, 1B
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Melky Cabrera, CF
9. Jose Molina, C

P. Mike Mussina

Categories : Game Threads
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  • McCutchen to Scranton, for real this time!

    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.

Categories : Guest Columns
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