Mike Lowell in pinstripes?

So the word in Boston is that Mike Lowell is on the outs, and could be gone within a week.  Since he made his displeasure with his semi-platoon with David Ortiz known on May 19th, he has been buried on Terry Francona’s bench.  While some of that can be attributed to  Ortiz’ resurgence at the plate, he has been struggling lately, yet Lowell hasn’t gotten much of a chance to contribute.  In 11 games in June, Ortiz has a .158/.333/.316 line with 1 HR.  Considering Ortiz is also hitting just .217/.315/.326 vs. LHP on the year, they surely could have found more at-bats for Lowell, no?

I bring this all on up on the slight chance that the Sox just release Lowell in the next 10 days or so.  I assume, by eating the rest of Lowell’s contract, the Sox will be able to find a trade partner.  In the offseason, before failing a physical, the Sox had agreed to trade Lowell to Texas for intriguing catcher Max Ramirez.  I expect a trade soon, while the Sox will likely get less of a return, they are in more dire need to rid themselves of a potential problem.


If the Sox can’t work out a trade, and Lowell is soon released, how would Lowell look in pinstripes, returning to his original organization?  Is there room for him in New York?  Would he be happy with the playing time?  Would he even consider crossing to the other side of the rivalry?  My answers are yes, yes, and yes.

The recent injury to Alex Rodriguez, however minor, has shown what a huge hole is created when he is out of the lineup.  While Curtis Granderson, Jorge Posada and Nick Johnson have all missed time this year, there were sufficient backups in place which allowed the Yankees to tread water at those positions.  At third base, it’s a different story.  Not only is A-Rod better than the aforementioned trio, his backups are worse.  Ramiro Pena simply cannot hit at the major league level.  Kevin Russo has shown nothing with the bat and has seen limited time at 3rd base.  If A-Rod were to even go on the 15 day DL, it would be a huge blow to the Yankees.

If A-Rod remains healthy, is there a role for Lowell as a DH?  While Lowell is (or was) being used in Boston as a DH against LHP, in his career he has OPS’d .797 against righthanders, so he doesn’t exactly have Marcus Thames type splits.  That .797 OPS of course came primarily as a strong fielding 3rd baseman, and not a DH, so there was a ton of value in that type of offensive production.  Could you bring in Lowell as a backup at the corners, and give him 60-70% of the at-bats at DH?  You could still work Posada in at DH, and have Thames (or now Huffman) DH against lefties.  If you are comfortable with Ramiro Pena in the OF, you can send Kevin Russo to Scranton.  If you are comfortable with Russo at SS, you can send Pena down.  If bringing in Lowell would provide enough of an upgrade, you can make it work roster-wise.

To address my second and third yes votes above, why would Lowell be happy as a part-time player in New York if he’s not happy in Boston?  Lowell, frankly, has been bitter since soon after resigning with the Sox after the 2007 World Series.  He took a hometown discount as the Phillies were offering him a longer deal, but Lowell wanted to stay with the Sox and took fewer years and total dollars.  It wasn’t long before the rumors started about the Sox acquiring new players that would have pushed Lowell out of his starting role.  This displeasure was strongly evident when the Sox made the hard push to sign Mark Teixeira after the 2008 season, which would have moved Kevin Youkilis to 3B, and Lowell on the trade block.  Lowell was pissed.  After winning the World Series MVP and taking a hometown discount, he felt he deserved better.  Lowell’s feelings were only compounded this offseason when the Sox signed Adrian Beltre (after many Adrian Gonzalez rumors) to play 3rd, pushing Lowell to the bench.  This, a nearly two-year-old chip on his shoulder, just might be enough for Lowell to not only accept a reduced role for another team, but also to do it for the Yankees, just to spite the Red Sox.

There are a lot more questions than answers, and at the end of the day I don’t think the Sox will cut Lowell knowing that he could end up in pinstripes.  We don’t know whether Lowell can play even a passable 3rd base anymore.  He was terrible in 2009, but was struggling with a major hip injury.  We don’t know how much is left in his bat; in 2008 and 2009 he was about league average, and he has just 74 ABs this year.  We don’t know if he would consider a part-time role — or any role — with the Yankees.  If the Yankees had the opportunity to get Lowell for the minimum, I think it’s something they would have to look into, and see if they can catch lightning in a bottle.  If not, they can cut him themselves, no harm, no foul.

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

Yanks offense makes life easy for Javy in 9-3 win

Today’s game might not have been as smooth as last night’s, but that’s for a good reason: the Yankees offense needed some more time to run up the score. It made for a comfortable game, where the Yanks had the lead most of the way. There was that microscopic length, which lasted just three outs, where the Astros had a one-run lead, but we knew that wouldn’t last. In fact, before the Astros could record an out in the bottom of the third the Yanks had essentially put the game away.

Biggest Hit: Jorge don’t need no stinkin’ rehab assignment

Photo credit: Seth Wenig/AP

In last night’s recap I mentioned Jorge’s poor numbers, including high strikeout total, since returning from the disabled list. It appears he could have used a rehab assignment, but given that he’s been back since the beginning of the month he’s basically been through one already. While his strikeout to lead off the second was discouraging, he made up for it in his next at-bat.

The entire bottom of the third was one long string of excellent. The Astros had just taken a 2-1 lead, and the Yankees just couldn’t stand for that. Derek Jeter started the inning by drawing a walk on a 3-2 count, and got a bit aggressive on the bases. He bolted for second and would have made it even if the throw didn’t get deflected into shallow center. That allowed him to take third and score easily when Nick Swisher lined one to left-center. Tie game.

Mark Teixeira continued showing a more discerning eye at the plate, drawing another walk. This is nothing but an encouraging sign. Robinson Cano followed with what Michael Kay called a potential double play ball, but probably would have accounted for only one out had the ball landed in Wandy Rodriguez’s glove rather than deflecting off it. That loaded them up for Jorge with no outs. It took just two pitches to put the Yanks out ahead again. Wandy came inside with a fastball for a called strike one, and then tried to go low and away with a curve. Jorge picked it up and smashed it the other way. Over the right field wall it went. 6-2 Yanks.

Jorge got on base in his next two times up as well via a single and an HBP. If he and Teixeira are staring to get into a rhythm, and if rest really does cure A-Rod‘s ailing hip flexor, the Yanks will be set for the summer. Also, I might be sounding a bit like Peter Gammons there.

Biggest Pitch: Stros take a puny lead

Photo credit: Seth Wenig/AP

Javy Vazquez looked good right at the start of this one. He was using his fastball and changeup well, retiring the side on 14 pitches, including a first-pitch pop out Carlos Lee to end the inning. He had a few hiccups, but nothing especially worrisome. In the second, Hunter Pence led off with a game-tying home run on the first pitch. It was a high fastball, a pitch Javy just can’t throw if his fastball is clocking under 90 mph. While he’s improved on that aspect of his game since April, I’m sure it’s easy to forget that his lack of velocity precludes him from throwing certain pitches in certain places.

The biggest blow came in the top of the third. Tommy Manzella, who apparently can hit only Yankees pitching, led off with a single. Javy then had one of the most amusing sequences in the game, throwing Michael Bourn six straight changeups, eventually getting him to tip one into Cervelli’s glove. He actually started off the next batter, Jeff Keppinger, with two changeups, both of which missed low. His next pitch, a slider, caught a bit too much of the plate and Keppinger lined it to the wall in left. With Marcus Thames out there at the time it was a no brainer to send Manzella home.

From there, however, Javy rolled. He retired 10 straight before Carlos Lee hammered a belt high fastball over the left field wall. He then got four of the final five hitters he faced. He threw just 95 pitches through seven innings, which made me wonder why Girardi removed him. But with the top of the order coming up I guess he wanted to get Javy out.

Strange fact of the game: Javy threw more changeups, 39, than he did fastballs, 24 four-seamers and five two-seamers. He also went to the curveball 16 times. The slider he threw most infrequently, 11 times. After the Keppinger double he threw only one, a first-pitch later that inning, until the seventh, when he attacked Manzella with it.


Derek Jeter’s two-homer game was the ninth in his career and his first since August 27, 2006. He did it twice, in the same month, in 2004.

Another 1 for 3 with a walk day for Teixeira. Not only is he performing better, but he’s looking better at the place. Though I suppose the two go hand in hand.

Marcus Thames left the game with hamstring problems. He had an MRI. As of this writing I haven’t heard anything.

Jorge will catch tomorrow. I’m guessing they’ll recall Miranda and play him at DH if Thames hits the DL.

Yanks with RISP: 4 for 7. Thaaaaat’s more like it.

Six strikeouts and no walks for Javy. He’s been quite excellent lately.

Graph and box

You know it’s a good game when the graph goes flatline towards the end.

Box and graphs.

Next Up

Another matinee to close out the series. It’ll be Brian Moehler for the Astros against Phil Hughes.

Moseley & Montero guide SWB to a win

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Indianapolis)
Reid Gorecki, LF, Rene Rivera, C, Reegie Corona, 2B & Greg Golson, CF: all 1 for 4 – Gorecki K’ed … Rivera drove in two & K’ed twice … Corona doubled & K’ed … Golson hit a solo jack & K’ed
Matt Cusick, 3B & Colin Curtis, RF: both 0 for 4 – Cusick K’ed thrice, Curtis twice
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 K, 1 HBP
Jesus Montero, DH: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B – eight for his last 20 (.400) with four doubles … he wasn’t even supposed to play today, he was a late add because of Chad Huffman’s promotion
David Winfree, 1B: 1 for 2, 2 HBP
Dustin Moseley: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 1 WP, 10-1 GB/FB – 66 of 108 pitches were strikes (61.1%) … that’s one helluva start … 21 outs recorded & just one in the air? studly
Boone Logan: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 12 of his 20 pitches were strikes (60%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K – 13 of his 20 pitches were strikes (65%)

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Backman Goes Bananas

Someone sent that in during yesterday’s chat, but I had to wait until today for an open thread to use it in. The video both is and isn’t safe for work. There’s nothing inappropriate visually, but the audio is rather … colorful. Truly an epic meltdown by Wally Backman.

Anyway … eh screw it. You guys know what to do with these open threads by now, so have at it.

Thames hits the DL with hamstring issue, Huffman recalled

Leftfielder/designated lefty masher Marcus Thames left today’s game with a hamstring issue, and although the MRI came back clean, he’s been placed on the disabled list with a strain. Chad Huffman has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton to take his place.

Huffman was claimed off waivers from the Padres in April, and he’s pretty similar to Thames. Righty hitter, mashes lefties (.903 OPS vs. LHP in the minors, .830 vs. RHP) and is limited defensively to leftfield and first base. Considering that Thames is hitting just .176-.314-.250 since May 2nd with awful defense, chances are Huffman can step right in and the Yankees won’t miss a beat, if not improve.

Is Phil Hughes’ pitch selection really a problem?

There has been a much discussion around Phil Hughes and his lack of secondary pitches this year. Sure enough, he has primarily relied on the fastball and cutter, rarely broken out the curve, and the changeup we read about all winter is seemingly non-existent. There’s certainly some concern here as he starts to see teams for the second, third and fourth times this year, but if he can get by without mixing his pitches too much, should he?

We all remember Hughes’ start against the Red Sox where he couldn’t put anyone away and the Sox were fouling off pitches left and right. It was concerning, and was prefaced by a post that was questioning how Hughes would do the second time around.  The post turned out to be spot on for that appearance. While that start seems to stick out amongst a ton of great starts, I think we as fans are coming back to that start a little too often. I have read and heard a bunch of people talking about Hughes’ lack of mixing his pitches and that Sox start is being used as an example. He certainly struggled that night without being able to put batters away, but what do the stats tell us about Hughes’ ability so far to get people to swing and miss?

In researching this, I came across some pretty interesting info, but Hughes certainly isn’t struggling with foul balls and getting batters to swing and miss. He is inducing swinging strikes right up there with the best pitchers in the game (a group he may be on the way to joining). So far Hughes has managed to get swings and misses on 9% of his total pitches. Without context that’s somewhat meaningless, but let’s take a look at how some other pitchers are doing.

Lester 10%
Burnett 7%
Price 8%
Buchholz 10%
Verlander 8%
Halladay 10%
Jimenez 9%
Johnson 11%
Lincecum 13%
Wainwright 10%

In the AL, Verlander and Burnett possess some of the most lethal, swing and miss stuff in baseball, and yet Hughes is getting more swinging strikes than them. He’s also ahead of Price, and just below Boston’s duo of Lester and Buchholz. John Lackey, (not to be confused as having great stuff or being a great pitcher despite being paid like one) has garnered swings and misses on just 6% of his pitches this year. Clearly the guys in the NL have an advantage in that they are facing weaker lineups, but Hughes’ is getting as many swing and misses as Jimenez, who is off to a historic start, and is just behind Halladay and Wainwright.

I think a lot of the concern with Hughes’ pitch usage so far stems mainly from that Red Sox game, and sure enough that was his worst game all year in terms of swings and misses with just 5. We, as people, do a great job of remembering the outliers, not the norm. Is there a chance that the Yankees and Hughes have decided to try to get by early in the season on a limited repertoire, only to unleash everything else as the season goes along? It’s pretty far fetched, but if he’s having so much success with primarily two pitches, what’s the use of using the curveball and change? The obvious answer is that he doesn’t want to lose the feel for those pitches, though maybe he is focusing on those pitches in his side sessions. Again, I don’t think that was the plan, but he may be comfortable enough, and having enough success, that it’s not worth throwing the kitchen sink at the Detroit Tigers in a game in May. I don’t think Hughes will continue to have the same success going forward without mixing in more curves and changes, but in the meantime, I don’t mind the pitch selection. As soon as he starts getting hit (and that could mean within a game), they need to switch it up ASAP.  He’s not always going to have his best fastball, in terms of location or velocity, and while he hasn’t had major struggles yet, when the time comes, Hughes and the Yankees will need to respond.

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

Game 62: Javy vs. Wandy

You think Brandon Jacobs could play third until A-Rod's back? (Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP)

It’s a fitting pitching matchup today, a pair of ace-level performers from 2009 that are finding success much tougher to come by in 2010. The similarities end there though, because Javy Vazquez did whatever he needed to do to get himself back on track (2.73 ERA in his last six appearances), but Wandy Rodriguez is still scuffling along. The only possible explanation is that he’s on my fantasy team, and I had the nerve to call it a steal when I landed him 79th overall.

Anyway, here’s this afternoon’s starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
Cano, 2B
Posada, DH
Thames, LF
Cervelli, C
Granderson, CF
Russo, 3B

And on the mound, Javier Vazquez.

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