Game 49: Taking it easy on Curtis

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Curtis Granderson returned to the lineup with a bang last night, reaching base three times thanks to a walk, a double, and a hit by pitch. Alas, he won’t be in the lineup this afternoon as the team coddles in him back from the groin injury. It doesn’t hurt that the Indians are throwing a lefty out there today, so if you’re going to give Grandy a day off, might as well be on a day a southpaw’s starting. Here’s the starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Thames, DH
Cervelli, C
Russo, LF
Gardner, CF

And on the mound, C.C. Sabathia.

First pitch is set for 1:05pm ET, and can be seen on YES.

The wrong call on Randy Winn (and Kevin Russo)

I know I’m in the minority when I saw this, but the Yankees made the wrong call when cutting Randy Winn.  I say this not in support of Winn’s ability, but in support of Kevin Russo’s.  While I believe that Russo likely at this point can bring more to the table than Winn, he’s not a big enough improvement to justify having Russo lose important development time.  Russo has the ability to be a decent super-sub type of player, and riding the pine at the big league level isn’t going to help.  If there is a serious injury and someone is going to get 300 AB’s, I’d much rather it be Russo than Winn, but for the role the Yankees need to fill now, Russo is not the man for the job.

As the winner of the Winn/Russo battle (as 4th or 5th outfielders), Russo is going to maybe start one game a week. How much more can Russo possibly bring to the table than Winn?  Winn is the better defensive outfielder, and he also has the ability to play CF.  Now Russo likely will be more productive with the bat than Winn, but a glance at his triple slash line (.250/.286/.350 in a very SSS) doesn’t show the type of impact some feel he has had.  A couple of “big” hits and everyone thinks he’s off to a great start, but he’s not.  If Russo were 30 years old, I could care less.  Russo, however, is 25 and has a chance to be an important (and cheap) player off the bench for the Yankees for years to come.  He needs to be in the minors getting reps all over the diamond to see if he can become that player.

Russo does not have the bat to be a corner infielder or outfielder, and likely doesn’t defend well enough to be a full time 2B.  If he’s relegated to 4th or 5th OF now, he’s eminently replaceable.  Kevin Russo the outfielder carries almost no value, Kevin Russo the jack of all trades does.  I’d like to see Russo get the chance to be a Mark Derosa or Jerry Hairston type of player, instead of being just another guy.

If you send Russo down, he’s a short drive back the New York if he’s truly needed.  Right now he’s not needed; he’s a short term luxury that comes at a long term price. (My) best case scenario is that the final shoe has not yet dropped.  Maybe the Yankees bring up Greg Golson in a few days to become the final OF on the roster and get Russo back to Scranton.  Maybe they pick up one of the available OF’s still looking for jobs (Rocco Baldelli, Eric Byrnes, Elijah Dukes?), maybe they make a trade to pick up a veteran to fill the job.  In any of these scenarios, I have no problem with them cutting Winn today; I just don’t want this to be a long term thing at the expense of Russo.  Likely his only chance of having a long term career (and maximizing his value to the Yankees) is by learning to play everywhere.  Let’s hope they find a way to make that happen sooner rather than later.

For more of my work, head over to Mystique and Aura.

Yankees welcome back Granderson with a win

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Following Thursday night’s disappointing loss to the Twins, the Yankees had two things to look forward to: They were coming back home, and Curtis Granderson would be back in the lineup. Their centerfielder had missed just about four weeks with a groin injury, and during that time they went an unspectacular 12-11. After Friday’s game, it sure looks like Granderson is a key part of the Yankee offense.

Swisher Puts The Yanks On Top

The last time the Yankees won a game, they won because Nick Swisher came through big time with a 9th inning homer in Minnesota. His shot wasn’t as dramatic on last night, but it served the same purpose.

It was only the 2nd inning, and Robbie Cano had just reach base thanks to a blown call by first base ump C.B. Bucknor (more on that later). Fausto Carmona, who’s rebounded well in 2010 after two horrid seasons, started him off with a fastball off the plate for ball one, and he probably wishes he did the same with the second pitch. Instead, he hung a sinker that Swish jumped all over, wrapping it around the rightfield foul pole for two runs that felt like 20 given how the team has been swinging the bat.

The score was much more lopsided at the end of the game, but that two run homer increased the Yanks chances of winning by 15%, a sizable mark that early in the game.

Welcome Back, Curtis

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

After all that time on the disabled list, Granderson returned Friday and instantly added some length to the Yankees’ lineup, not to mention some much needed lefthanded pop. He flew out in his first at-bat, but drew a five pitch walk next time up. After a grounder the third time up, Granderson took two swipes at bunting Derek Jeter over to second against a very tough lefty in the 7th, but when he couldn’t get it down he took a big cut at a 0-2 fastball right down the middle. The ball flew out to the right-center gap for a double, and reminded us all of what we were missing while Randy Winn and Kevin Russo and whoever else was playing the outfield during Granderson’s absence. He tacked on a hit by pitch to reach base three times in his return to the lineup.

The Goods

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Phil Hughes was pretty darn good tonight following two stinkers, striking out eight guys and allowing just six baserunners (five hits and a walk) in seven innings of work. He threw 76 of his 109 pitches for strikes (69.7%), and got twice as many ground ball outs as fly outs. Oh, and he started the game by striking out the first five batters he faced. That was pretty cool.

Robbie Cano cooled off a bit earlier this month after his molten hot April, but he’s back in the swing of things now. He went 3-for-4 on Friday night, including his third career four-run homer which broke the game wide open late. Cano’s now hitting .390 in his last 14 games, and he’s hit safely in his last 11 contests.

How about Juan Miranda working a bases loaded four pitch walk? Sure, Carmona made it somewhat easy for him, but it’s not uncommon to see guys who were recently called up try to do too much and expand their zone in a spot like that. Also, how about Ramiro Pena‘s 11-pitch at-bat with two men on two batters later? Even though he struck out, that’s great stuff from a guy swinging a a rolled up newspaper.

Mark Teixeira was kickin’ ass and takin’ names defensively in this game. He made several nice plays on balls that took weird hops or were right on top of him. That’s why he makes the big bucks.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

The Yankees certainly benefited from some blown calls by Bucknor at first base in this one. Cano reached in the 2nd despite being obviously out, and then crossed the plate when Swisher homered one batter later. Fast forward to the 7th, and Jason Donald was called out despite beating Hughes to the bag. The next half-inning, Jeter was called safe at first on a questionable call, igniting a four run inning. I’m not complaining, I’ll take the ump screw-ups when they come. They tend to even out over the course of a season.

And finally, nice debut for Chad Moeller. Just missed a homer early in the game, but ripped a double in the 8th. Maybe Joe Girardi won’t be so hesitant to sit Frankie Cervelli once a week now.

The Bads

Really not much to complain about in this one. Miranda smoked a ball to dead center and had nothing to show for it but an out because Trevor Crowe made an absolutely amazing catch (video). It’s good that he crushed the ball, but damn. Back to the dugout he went.

The wave. It can burn in hell. Take that nonsense to CitiField.

WPA Graph & Box Score has the box score, FanGraphs the nerd score.

Up Next

Same two teams tomorrow afternoon in a 1:05pm ET start. CC Sabathia takes on his former team, who will throw young lefty David Huff.

Romine & Laird keep hitting, but Trenton can’t finish off the win

Let’s of notes today, so let’s break out the bullet points…

  • Apparently J.R. Murphy was bumped up to Low-A Charleston so he could get used to playing under the lights and in actual stadiums before he joins Short Season Staten Island next month (subs. req’d). Can’t say I’ve seen that before.
  • Amaury Sanit was suspended for 50 games for failing a performance enhancing drug test. He’s been on the disabled list for the last week or so, but he was getting knocked around before that (8.69 ERA, 6.25 FIP in 19.2 IP).
  • Schaeffer Hall was promoted to High-A Tampa after laying a beatin’ on the Sally League (1.85 ERA, 2.52 FIP in 68 IP) in part due to being old for the level. I wouldn’t be surprised if Adam Warren got bumped up to Double-A Trenton as a follow-up move.
  • Speaking of Warren, he’s one of five Tampa Yanks that were named to the Florida State League All-Star Team. The others are Hector Noesi (he won’t play because he’s in Trenton now), Mitch Abeita, Jack Rye, and Corban Joseph. Tampa’s entire coaching staff will call the shots for the North Division Team as well.

Triple-A Scranton (6-2 win over Syracuse) tomorrow’s Stephen Strasburg day
Greg Golson, CF: 2 for 5, 1 K, 2 SB, 1 E (fielding)
Reegie Corona, 3B: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 0 for 4
Jon Weber, RF & Rene Rivera, DH: both 1 for 4 – Rivera doubled & K’ed twice … three of Rivera’s four hits are doubles
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 PB – that’s his sixth passed ball of the year
Chad Huffman, 1B: 2 for 4, 2 R – it seems like he gets a hit every day, but the game log says differently
Reid Gorecki, LF: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
Jeff Natale, 2B: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB
Dustin Moseley: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 13-5 GB/FB, 1 E (pickoff) – 62 of 101 pitches were strikes (61.4%)
Boone Logan: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-2 GB/FB – 11 of his 18 pitches were strikes (61.1%)
Royce Ring: 1 IP, zeroes, 2-0 GB/FB – seven of his eight pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 48: Back home

Do the Yankees have a little Captain in them? (Photo Credit: Craig Lassig, AP)

Hopefully some home cooking will wake the offense up. That and the short porch, anyway. The Indians have the third worst record in baseball at 17-28, which tends to happen when your pitching staff has the game’s second worst xFIP at 4.79. Offensively, if the Yanks manage to contain Austin Kearns and Shin-Shoo Choo, they should be in the clear. Hopefully our boy Shelley Duncan gets some playing time. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him hit one out as long as the Yanks have the lead and are firmly in control.

Here’s the Alex Rodriguez-less lineup…

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF – good to see him back
Teixeira, 1B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Miranda, DH
Gardner, LF
Pena, 3B
Moeller, C – hooray for Frankie Cervelli finally getting a day off

And on the mound, St. Phil.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET, and can seen on YES. Enjoy the game.

Yankees designate Randy Winn for assignment

I didn’t expect it, but the Yankees designated Randy Winn for assignment today, clearing room on the roster for Curtis Granderson, who’s been activated off the disabled list. “I was ready, I was prepared,” said Winn. “I played terrible, that’s the bottom line.”

Winn didn’t do much of anything during his short time in pinstripes, except for hitting that three run homer a few weeks back. Otherwise, he’s been a zero with the bat and hasn’t played enough to make a difference on defense. The Yanks still owe Winn the $1.1M his contract calls for, but he didn’t reach any of the incentives.

Yanks have two kinds of players on their summer shopping list

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees’ shopping list for the summer includes two kinds of a players: a relief pitcher, and a hitter to presumably replace the perpetually injured Nick Johnson. Yesterday we heard they were likely to look for a versatile outfielder, which I guess could help form some kind of four-headed outfielder/designated hitter monster. As for the bullpen … meh. I hate trading for relievers just because they’re so volatile. Why give up an asset for complete unpredictability?

Is it just me, or does it seem like a summer rumor season started a little early this year?