The Inflexible Roster

(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

The Yankees continued the long and painful process of phasing Jorge Posada out yesterday, informing their long-time catcher that his playing time will decrease because they need to put their best lineup on the field and he’s not a part of it. “[We’ll] try some different things [at DH],” said Joe Girardi before yesterday’s game, a pretty good indication that they’re going to rotate people in and out of the spot for the next few days and maybe weeks. That’s all well and good, but now the Yankees are working with a roster that offers very little flexibility.

Due to the team’s six-man rotation situation, the Yankees are currently carrying 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster, which means only three bench players. Before yesterday those three guys were Frankie Cervelli, Andruw Jones, and either Eduardo Nunez or Eric Chavez. Now it’s Cervelli, Jones, and Posada, basically a backup catcher/emergency infielder, a platoon outfielder, and a platoon DH. You can’t do anything with that, especially if the Yankees are committed to not playing Posada more than once or maybe twice a week.

“Eventually we will probably get to 12 pitchers,” said Girardi. “That will give our bench more versatility. We are not a club that necessarily pinch-hits a lot, we are not a club that has to make a double switch. The bench in the American League, the versatility isn’t used a ton. Our thought moving forward is that some of our guys’ day off will be DH days.”

I’m in favor of the six-man rotation, at least temporarily to give Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova innings at the big league level while CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia all get a little extra rest heading into the season’s final month and (potentially) the postseason. It’s going to hinder the roster construction but only if the Yankees let it. There’s no reason to carry all three of Hector Noesi, Luis Ayala, and Cory Wade on the roster, so send one down for an extra position player. Noesi is the easy choice there, let him start in Triple-A to build innings and what not. A six-man bullpen isn’t the end of the world.

The Yankees also have the option of using the phantom DL to open a roster, basically coming up with a fake injury. They did this to a certain extent with Lance Berkman last season, though that whole situation started with a legit injury. He hurt his ankle running through first base in Kansas City and was only going to miss a few days, but the Yankees placed him on the DL and kept him there for two weeks until Sept. 1st. Perhaps Jorge will feel something in his back during BP this week and needs some time off. It’s not the most ethical thing in the world, but teams do it all the time and the Yankees should at least consider it.

Roster spots are precious like outs in a game because there is a finite amount of them. The Yankees do a great job of not making outs, but right now their 25-man roster is completely inflexible. They’ve been shooting themselves in the foot by keeping the unproductive Posada around for this long, so they might as well hold onto him until the rosters expand in three weeks. He might still be useful as a veteran pinch-hitter against lefties, but that’s pretty much it. The roster right now is basically the regular starting nine, the rotation, three or four core relievers, and half a dozen 25th men. It’s tough to work with that.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 8th, 2011

Record Last Week: 5-2 (42 RS, 26 RA)
Season Record:
69-44 (603 RS, 436 RA, 74-39 pythag. record), one back of AL East lead, seven up for wildcard
Opponents This Week:
Mon. OFF, vs. Angels (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Rays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

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Yankees fall to Red Sox after Mo blows save

You can probably blame this one on me, I had the recap 99% complete before Mariano Rivera even took the mound in the ninth. It was getting late and I wanted to get to bed at a reasonable hour. My bad guys. I hear Boston’s parade is scheduled for Tuesday and the Yankees are already scouting Stanford’s Mark Appel for the first overall pick next June.

Freddy Sez: Hey, Not Bad

(Michael Dwyer/AP)

Did you expect five innings of one run ball out of Freddy Garcia? Did you expect him to actually throw five innings after the Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning? I sure didn’t, not on either count. But he did it, that son of a bitch.

Garcia escaped that second inning jam by allowing just one run, and he nearly wiggled out of it unscathed before Marco Scutaro’s two-out single. The Sox didn’t exactly pound the ball either; Kevin Youkilis walked, David Ortiz grounded a single through the right side, and Carl Crawford reached on an infield single before Garcia got a strikeout and pop-up from Josh Reddick and Jason Varitek, respectively. Sweaty Freddy pitched around a leadoff walk in the third, a two-out walk and single in the fourth, and a leadoff single in the fifth.

All told, Garcia walked three and allowed five hits, all singles and only three out of the infield. He had to work, throwing 96 pitches (54 strikes, 56.3%) to get just 15 outs, and just eight of the 22 men he faced saw three pitches or less. Nine of his non-strikeout outs came on the ground as well. It’s totally cliche but I don’t care, Garcia had the kind of night that is typically described as gritty and gutty, a veteran pitcher not succumbing to pressure, stuff like that. I’m behind the point of caring about the process, Freddy got the results and has been all season. One run in five innings against the Red Sox is getting the job done.


Everyday Shortstop

I get on Eduardo Nunez a lot, more than most I’d say. But give the kid some props, that was a pretty big homerun off Josh Beckett in the fifth inning. Beckett left a 1-0 cutter up in the zone and Nunez put his patented hack on it, driving the pitch over the wall in left and into the light tower. It tied the game at one, though the fallacy of the predetermined outcome says it’s should have been a two-run shot if Russell Martin hadn’t gotten thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double one batter earlier. Beggars can’t be choosers, the game was tied and that’s all that matters.


Things got a little hairy an inning after Nunez tied it up, though it was hardly a well-built rally for the BoSox. Boone Logan came into face a triumvirate of lefties, but he walked David Ortiz after throwing what appeared to be strike three and strike four. Carl Crawford managed to squeeze an infield single through the left side to put men on first and second with none out. Josh Reddick popped up for the first out, then in came Cory Wade to face the bottom two hitters in the order.

Uncharacteristically, Wade started the corpse of Jason Varitek with three pitches out of the zone. The fourth one was out of the zone too, but Varitek hacked at it and popped the ball up in foul territory. That was a gift, and the second out. Marco Scutaro fouled off a few two strike pitches before reaching on what felt like Boston’s millionth infield hit of the game (it was actually their third) to load the bases, then Wade ran the count to 3-0 on Jacoby Ellsbury. He got the called 3-0 autostrike before Ellsbury fouled off two straight pitches, then the Boston center fielder flew out to left on a gutsy changeup. It was far, far from easy, but Logan and Wade navigated a scoreless sixth so Joe Girardi could hand the ball off to his big guns.

(Michael Dwyer/AP)

Leadoff Hitter

Because Nunez taking Beckett deep wasn’t unexpected enough, the Yankees took the lead after Wade’s escape job when Brett Gardner slugged a solo homer into the Red Sox bullpen in the top of the seventh. There were two outs in the inning and Matt Albers threw the Yankees’ leadoff man one too many sliders, catching just a little too much of a plate with the third consecutive slide piece. Gardner golfed it out, it wasn’t a terrible pitch but not great either. Usually you can get away with a pitch like that against a guy like Brett, but Albers had no such luck this time.

Blown Save

I hate when this happens. After some stellar seventh and eighth inning work from Rafael Soriano and David Robertson, the immortal Mariano Rivera was human in the ninth. Scutaro led the frame off with a double off the Green Monster then moved to third on Ellsbury’s sacrifice bunt. Pedroia drove him in with a sacrifice fly to tie the game and eventually send it to extras. Mo got beat on two inside cutters to right-handed batters, probably the one spot he has to be perfect. He wasn’t and that cost ’em the lead.

Initially I was pretty aggravated that Girardi did not send him back out there for the tenth following the nine-pitch ninth, especially with the off day tomorrow, but you know what? Forty-one-year-old closer, not the most important game in the world … I’m fine with it. Ben talked me down from the ledge. Anyway, Phil Hughes needed just 13 pitches to give up the game-winning run in the tenth, doing so on an Ortiz ground rule double, Crawford intentional walk (IBB to a guy with a sub-.300 OBP? really?), and Reddick single. Sucks, but it was fairly predictable.


How about 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position? That’s pretty pathetic. The Yankees left a man on second in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings plus the bases loaded in the seventh. You’d never know this was the second best hitting team with men in scoring position in baseball by actually watching them play. Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez went a combined 0-for-9 with six strikeouts, so that was a huge black hole behind the middle of the order. I miss A-Rod.

Gardner stole a base in the fourth and another in the ninth, his 20th and 21st consecutive steals without being caught. That broke Paul Molitor’s AL record for consecutive successful steals in a single-season (20), and Gardner’s just two away from tying the MLB record. Go Brett go.

Soriano has retired all 12 men he’s faced since coming off the DL, including five on strikeouts. I won’t hate the signing as long as he pitches exactly like that for the next two years and two months. I can’t imagine Hughes will start as scheduled on Tuesday, there’s no point. Give him a few extra days, we really don’t know how many warm-up pitches he threw in the bullpen and what not. Just don’t put him back in the bullpen, that’s stupid.

It’s pretty amazing that ESPN got rid of Joe Morgan and still managed to downgrade their Sunday night booth. I’m glad to know that Bobby Valentine thinks Gardner will be a year in, year out 20 homerun hitter before his career is over because he saw him hit one out against the Red Sox. Anyway, the Yankees fall one game back of the Sox in the AL East but are still seven games up in the wildcard. Boston has won the season series against the Yanks for the first time in seven years.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the update standings.

Up Next

The Yankees are off on Monday, then will return home to the Bronx for what is probably their most important series of the season (to date). I guess Ivan Nova will start the opener on Tuesday against Dan Haren and the rest of the Angels. A.J. Burnett would be the other option. If you decide to head up to the Bronx for that game, RAB Tickets get help get you there on the cheap.

Two walk-off wins on the farm

Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread. Also make sure you check out Mike Ashmore‘s piece on long-time organizational catcher P.J. Pilittere, who spoke about his plans for when his playing career is over and what he’s doing to prepare for it.

Triple-A Scranton Game One (5-4 loss to Louisville in eight innings) faced a (theoretical) big leaguer
Kevin Russo, 2B: 0 for 4, 1 K, 1 E (missed catch)
Chris Dickerson, CF: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 SB
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K – got a little seven game hit streak going
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K – last four hits have gone for extra bases (two doubles, two homers)
Mike Lamb, 1B & Greg Golson, LF: both 0 for 2, 1 K – Lamb walked, got hit by a pitch, and scored a run
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K – pimped the homer off a reliever after whiffing twice in two at-bats against Volquez
Jordan Parraz, RF: 0 for 3, 1 SB, 1 HBP
Luis Nunez, SS: 1 for 1, 1 R, 2 BB
Manny Banuelos, RHP: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 6-4 GB/FB – 65 of 91 pitches were strikes (71.4%) … he was up to 93 on the gun and pitched out of a number of jams, including man on third with no outs (ground out, line out, fly out) … only the third time he’s completed six innings this year, and he might have had another inning left in him … he allowed three hits to lefties, two off a former big leaguer (and Mike Axisa Prospect Crush Hall of Famer) … anyway, it’s another very good start for the youngest pitcher in the league
Logan Kensing, RHP: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – 16 of 27 were strikes (59.3%) … blew the save and Banuelos’ win
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – ten of 17 pitches were strikes (58.8%)

[Read more…]

Game 113: Freddy’s Big Test

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Yankees decided not to trade for a starting pitcher before last Sunday’s trade deadline, instead putting their faith in the guys they already have. Freddy Garcia has been surprisingly effective this year, better than league average in terms of both ERA (3.22) and FIP (3.59), but he’s started against the Red Sox twice before this season and has gotten his brains beat in each time (5 R in 5.1 IP and 4 R in 1.2 IP). This isn’t a big game in terms of the standings (yes it’ll determine first place in the AL East for the time being, but both clubs have such a huge lead on a playoff spot that it’s not worth worrying), but it’s important for Freddy to show that he can at least hold his own against a great lineup down the stretch and heading in the postseason. Here’s the lineup that will be backing him…

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, DH
Russell Martin, C
Eduardo Nunez, 3B

Freddy Garcia, SP

It’s an ESPN Sunday Night Game, so that means an 8pm ET start. The weather in Boston isn’t great, but the wet stuff is supposed to hold off until after midnight. Hopefully the game is over by then, but no guarantees with these two teams. Enjoy.

Posada out as DH, at least for time being

Via Joel Sherman, Bryan Hoch and Erik Boland, Eric Chavez will be the Yankees designated hitter “for a while.” If that doesn’t work, the Yankees will call up Jesus Montero, though they have no immediate plans to do so at the moment. “I’m not happy about it,” said now former DH Jorge Posada, “[but] I put myself in this situation.” The team told him they need to put their best lineup on the field, but he’s not a part of it.

Posada had a nice little run in late-May and early-June, but he’s hitting just .237/.289/.364 with only three homers in his last 128 plate appearances. I suspect that Chavez won’t be the DH exclusively, but rather you’ll see a bit of a rotation. Chavez at third while Eduardo Nunez gives Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano a day at DH, or Chavez at first with Mark Teixeira at DH, maybe Andruw Jones in the outfield with Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher at DH, something like that. Either way, something had to be done.