Many of us have been quick to write off Mike Mussina this year. He hasn’t been spectacular for sure, with really one solid start against the Rays, and one not-so-terrible start against the Sawks. It seems like fans will judge him on a game-to-game basis this year, so six innings and three runs or fewer is crucial if he wants to stay in good favor.

(Though I suspect Moose doesn’t care what you and me think.)

We’re facing old friend Javy Vazquez, who has had a good start to the season. He’s struck out 27 to just 5 walks in 25.1 innings, pitching to a 3.20 ERA. He had a very good year last year too, striking out 213 to just 50 walks in 216.2 innings, compiling a 3.74 ERA.

(I said it at the time of the deal, and I’ll repeat: I would have much rather kept Vazquez, not traded for Johnson, and signed Beltran. Though it’s not like Carlos is making me look good this year.)

Same lineup as last night. Let’s score as many runs!

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

And on the mound, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.

Categories : Game Threads
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  • When corporate sponsorship goes to far

    Ed Price relates an odd story from Chicago: The White Sox have put up a sign exhorting players not to drink bottled water on the bench. Why? Because Gatorade, the official sports drink of Major League Baseball, won’t be happy if someone is spotted in the dugout drinking some other bottled drink. “White Sox clubhouse personnel said if players take bottled water onto the bench, all the bottled water will be removed from the clubhouse as punishment,” Price relates. That strikes me as utterly ridiculous. · (15) ·

When controversy strikes the Yankee clubhouse, everyone has an opinion about it. Today’s Joba Chamberlain opinion comes to us from Johnny Damon via Tyler Kepner and the Bats blog:

Speaking of Chamberlain, here’s Johnny Damon’s take on his role. It seems to be the majority opinion of the veterans in the clubhouse: “Joba as a starter, he has a chance to help us out once every five days. Him coming in and bridging the gap to Mariano, he’s got a chance to do that three or four times during those five games.

Damon added: “Our objective is to win games. Down the road, if we can find someone else like him to throw that eighth inning, then so be it, he’ll be able to start. But he’s helping us win too many games so far this year.”

The emphasis, of course, is mine.

Johnny Damon’s math, in my opinion, is off a bit. Let’s say the Yankees play three games every five days in which they absolutely need Joba Chamberlain to pitch the 8th. I would consider that to be a one- or two-run save situation in the 8th inning or a situation, like last night, where the game could get out of hand in the 7th. Joba would then be throwing at most three innings every five days.

That math translates to about 100 innings pitched in a 162-game season, and only overworked folks like Scott Proctor see that sort of bullpen use and bause. Joba the starter could be throwing at least six innings every five days for something along the lines of 180-200 innings pitched a season. It’s a no-brainer in terms of numbers.

But what I find interesting about this short piece is how Kepner notes that Damon and the other Yankee veterans all see to prefer Joba in the 8th. To me, it seems as though the idea of Joba has become something of a crutch for the Yankees. Even if he pitches just once in five days because the Yanks lose two games and are winning the other two by lopsided margins, the idea that Joba is in the bullpen does more for the Yankees’ psyche than his presence does in the games.

That, however, is no way to win championships.

Categories : Pitching
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  • A winning streak, a sore thumb and a big southpaw

    Chieng-Ming Wang gutted it out for six innings. The Yankee bats smashed three home runs — all by lefties. And the bullpen pieced together three decent innings as the Yanks downed Jose Contreras and the White Sox 9-5 last night. With Mike Mussina starting tonight against our old friend Javier Vazquez, Wang’s fourth victory of the season — which keeps him on pace for 25 wins — was a big one. The five strike outs in 6 innings was a good sign too.

    On the injury front, Jason Giambi left the game tonight not because his defense is laughably bad but because his thumb is swollen. He hurt his thumb by taken a grounder off of it in the 7th. So actually, his defense did force him out of the game but in a more Pavano-ian sort of way.

    Meanwhile, in Kansas City, C.C. Sabathia went six strong, allowing four hits and striking out 11. Reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated, and the Yanks will be seeing him first-hand this weekend. And that’s all I’m saying there.
    · (47) ·


Tabata demoted*

By in Down on the Farm. · Comments (27) ·

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 loss to Buffalo)
Brett Gardner, Shelley Duncan & Cody Ransom: all 0 for 4 – Gardner walked & scored a run … Shelley drove in a run & K’ed three times … Ransom K’ed once
Nick Green: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Juan Miranda: 2 for 3, 2 BB – hitting streak up to 8 games … 7-14 K/BB ratio on the year
Eric Duncan: 2 for 2, 2 BB, 1 SB
Jeff Marquez: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 7-5 GB/FB – best start of the year
Jon Albaladejo: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K – only 18 of 40 pitches were strikes (45%)
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – 11 of 13 pitches were strikes (84.6%)
Edwar: 1 IP, zeroes, 0-3 GB/FB

Read More→

Categories : Down on the Farm
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For baseball fans in Chicago, today is one of those rare days with the chance to grab a fantastic double-header. The Cubs are currently wrapping up a North Side win over the Mets, and at 7:11 p.m. Central time — yes, that’s intentional — the Yankees and the White Sox will square off on the Chicago’s South Side.

The Yankees today are without their All Star third baseman. The reigning MVP would have missed the game with a slightly strained quad, but he’s not with the team because his wife Cynthia gave birth to the couple’s second child. Anyone believing in conspiracy theories would posit that C-Rod’s labor was induced to conveniently keep A-Rod away from the stadium while his strained muscle heals.

On the field, Jorge Posada makes his triumphant return behind the dish. Posada hasn’t been the starting catcher since April 8, and he’s caught just 33 innings this season. The Yanks couldn’t have picked a better team against which to test Posada’s shoulder. The White Sox have attempted just five stolen bases this year and were successful three times. I think the Sox may test Posada’s arm, but the team just doesn’t run that much anyway.

Chien-Ming Wang, 3-0 with a 3.81, takes the mound today. He’ll look to avenge himself after failing to make it out of the fifth against the Red Sox last week. It’s been a long week for the Yankee bullpen, eh?

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

Wang P

Notes: Joe will be accepting submissions for guest column consideration until tomorrow morning. Details are in the linked post.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (301)
  • Things just ain’t that bad

    While sports talk radio and a lot of Yankee fans have panicked over the start of the season, David Pinto reminds us that things could be worse. Last year, at this point, the Yanks were 8-12, and they had used nine different starters including Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa and Chase Wright. This year, the five starters have thrown in turn each time around the rotation; Kennedy threw but did not start in KC. Says Pinto, “It’s a stable rotation. I don’t think anyone should be panicking yet.” · (27) ·

That sure is a long line of retired numbers. (Photo by flickr user aeonix01)

The Yankee fan masses have spoken. After three days of voting, 79 percent of you feel that Paul O’Neill’s number should not be retired while 21 percent of you would like to see 21 added to the growing list of Yankee retired numbers.

Despite these overwhelmingly one-sided results, the debate has generated a lot of conversation about the nature of retired numbers and the way the Yanks go about retiring the numbers. Some fans seem to feel that the Yanks retire way too much numbers; others feel that the honors are warranted. And no one can agree on exactly what standards are applied to a player to determine if a number is retired.

Take Phil Rizzuto’s number 10. Rizzuto is, famously, in the Hall of Fame after many passionate fans waged a rather rabid campaign to get him inducted, and one could say that he’s in the Hall as much for his decades-long career behind the microphone as he is for his play on the field. In fact, his play on the field, while great at its peak, wasn’t that spectacular overall. He played 13 years for the Yanks and hit .273/.351/.355.

In 1985, the Yanks decided to hang up Rizzuto’s 10. At that point, he had been retired for 31 years, and seven other players — including Chris Chambliss, Tony Kubek and Rick Cerone — had worn 10. Why the Yankees opted then to retire Rizzuto’s number is anyone’s guess. In fact, as an August 18, 1985 letter to The Times shows, Yankee fans 23 years ago were not of the mind that Rizzuto was deserving of a spot alongside the Yankee greats.

Ron Guidry’s 49 and Reggie Jackson’s 44 are also big question marks. Guidry was great for a long stretch but not a baseball immortal. Reggie had a few iconic games in the post-season for a team that played during an era when George Steinbrenner was hell-bent on winning the World Series. He ended up spending just five of his 21 seasons in the Bronx.

Interestingly, the timing of these two retirement ceremonies raises an eyebrow or two as well. Reggie’s number was retired in 1993 when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. At the time, the Yanks were mired in their worst World Series drought since the early years of the Twentieth Century, and perhaps, George was looking to recapture some of the aura of his glory years of the 1970s. Guidry’s number was retired in 2003 right when he was returning to the Bronx fold. The Times speculated that perhaps it was some sort of gesture of appreciation designed to draw Guidry into a soon-to-be vacant coaching job.

Whatever the case, retired numbers are a prickly issue in Yankee-land. Fans of players from recent teams grow vehement in their arguments for or against enshrinement in the outfield. Take the 1990s teams. Off the top of my head, I would guess that Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre and Bernie Williams will see their numbers retired. Paul O’Neill supporters will feel slighted, and Jorge Posada fans will wonder why their catcher doesn’t get the same respect. Andy Pettitte‘s 46 never comes up and was in fact given out to five players during’s Pettitte’s three years in Houston. And the A-Rod debate will rage forever until or unless the Yanks win a few rings while he’s in town.

Meanwhile, as the Yanks slowly run out of respectable numbers, a few fans have floated the idea of un-retiring certain numbers while keeping the number circles up as monuments in Monument Park. While I like the idea in principle, how that would work is again anyone’s guess.

The Yankees have a tricky balancing act to perform. They have a vast history that they want to enshrine and recall. They have legends of the game and legends of the Bronx and just plain old fan favorites. As the available numbers decrease and more plaques find their way to the left field park, these debates will only grow more boisterous. Who needs single-digit numbers anyway?

Categories : Days of Yore
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