Yankees sign Carlos Silva

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have signed Carlos Silva to a minor league contract that has an opt-out date. The Cubbies are on the hook for his entire 2011 salary after releasing him ($11.5M), so the only thing the Yankees will have to pay him in the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. The Yanks, says Sherman, will send him down to extended Spring Training in Tampa in an effort to ” get [him] in shape” before shipping him off to a farm club.

Late last month we heard that the team had no plans to pursue the right-hander, but apparently they changed their mind (probably after seeing Phil Hughes‘ awful start to the season). Larry Rothschild was his pitching coach in Chicago, so I’m sure he had some input here. I’m not a Silva fan because of the whole pitch to contact thing, but I’m not going to complain about a deal that costs the team next to nothing. The depth doesn’t hurt.

Game Eight: Super Nova

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Yesterday’s loss was frustrating but that’s life. Games like that happen over the course of a season. The Yankees managed to score five runs without the benefit of a homer and non-Phil Hughes/Boone Logan pitchers kept the Red Sox bats at bay. Those are pretty much the only positives.

The ball goes to Ivan Nova today, who is facing most of Boston’s hitters for the first time. He made one start and one relief appearance against the Sox last year, but the only holdovers from those lineups that are starting today are J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, and Jed Lowrie. Like most pitchers, Nova thrives on facing batters than haven’t seen him before, but then again this Boston lineup isn’t filled with normal hitters. Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis … those are stars of the first order, it might not matter that they’ve never seem before.

Here’s the lineup…

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

Ivan Nova, SP

It’s a 1:10pm ET start, and the game will be broadcast by FOX. Two FOX games in the first two weeks of the season just isn’t cool, man. Try to enjoy the game.

Yankees Attendance No Catastrophe

The following post is written for commenter Ross in Jersey, who told me he would donate $1 for every Tex RBI to the RAB Pledge Drive if I wrote an entire article without periods or ending punctuation and still had it make sense, and I figured  the flame comments I’d get from people lacking in reading comprehension were a small price to pay for helping inner city kids

"It's April, so I can only hit home runs when 40,000 no ones are here" (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

One of the reasons the Yankees are such amazing winners is that they have the financial power to make up for a lacking farm or surround the farm talent with high-powered free agents like CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, and one of the places that that virtually unlimited cash flow comes from are the droves and droves of fans that pour through the gates of Yankee stadium to see these people play – the “Yankee Universe,” as it’s been coined by the Yankees organization, is one of, if not the biggest fan following in professional sports, and plenty of fans are at home ready to shell out cash, hop on a subway, train, car or bus and head to the House that Ruth (or perhaps Jeter, nowadays) Built, and people take notice when the seats aren’t filled in the stadium in the Bronx – no matter what the reason is for that and regardless of the numbers that count or the rest of the stadiums around the country, and quite frankly, the attention that has been drawn to the record-setting lows in the new stadium (sounds scary now, huh?) is pretty absurd

The record-setting low that was set for attendance in Yankee Stadium 3 was 40,267 – only 40,267, really – and that seems like a decent number of fans to turn out for one game in any sport, in any organization, and keep in mind, it doesn’t matter to the Yankees how many people actually show up to a game, just how many people buy tickets, because even if you make the stadium look empty on TV (and on a cold day, Legends needs no help with that, zing), you’re still contributing to the massive Yankees cash flow, and honestly the bottom line is all that matters when we get down to the nitty gritty of the whole thing, because looking embarrasing on TV does not pay Mark Teixeira, but buying a season ticket package and deciding not to go to a game does

Those people with season tickets who decided not to come are not, by default, Yankee haters, nor does that make them terrible fans, especially because a usual April day in New York is chilly, with a cold breeze and often rain and the third game of the year has no leverage for people to brave the weather to show up, such as is the case during Opening Day – that record low was set on a cold (average 49°F, with a low of 41°F), rainy, windy day – just the kind of day no one wants to be outside for an extended period of time for, and if you have season tickets and don’t mind blowing the money, the perfect day to skip a ballgame or StubHub your tickets, and unless you’re desperate to see the Yankees, no one on StubHub is flying to pick up tickets for such a miserable day, and that’s really what it comes down to after all – people go to ballgames to have fun, after all, and sometimes the weather just makes having fun impossible, and so there’s no reason to show up

For a little perspective on the matter, a table:

Obviously, small sample size applies, but all of these teams have played two different teams at home, and I’m fairly sure that the oh-so-terrible showing of 40,267 fans will not lead the Yankees to become bottom feeders or force them to start shedding salary – what matters to the team’s wallet is how many tickets are sold, not how many people show up, and the wallet is the most important part of an organization that uses its massive financial might to help itself win

Moral of the story: no one likes going to a baseball game when it’s miserable out, even if your team is amazing, even fewer people are interested in low-leverage April games that happen to fall on those miserable days, and the Yankees, once again, have the power to make something that means absolutely nothing newsworthy

Red Sox rough up Hughes for first win of 2011

It was bound to happen at some point, it’s just unfortunate it had to happen against the Yankees. The Red Sox won their first game of the 2011 season on Friday, eight days after New York captured its first W. It was a fairly typical Yankees-Red Sox game in that it featured a lot of offense, a lot of pitching changes, and lasted about four hours.

The Phil Hughes Problem

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

For the second straight start, Hughes was simply awful. He was actually worse than his first start against the Tigers, both in line score (2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) and overall look. Phil’s fastball was fast in name only, topping out at 91.9 mph (one of just eight pitches over 90) and averaging just 89.84 mph. His breaking balls just tumbled, they didn’t have any sharp break and were just spinning in place it seemed. Of his 47 pitches, 30 (!!!) were cutters, and that’s no way for a non-Mariano Rivera pitcher to live.

“[I was] just trying to find a way to get [batters] out,” said Hughes after the game, essentially admitting that he has no answers for his troubles. He pitched defensively, afraid to come near the zone and challenge hitters, and he paid dearly. The Yankees can talk all they want about not being worried because they believe he’ll find the missing velocity, but they should be concerned. You almost hope he’s hurt in some way (not seriously, of course), because at least then we’d have some kind of explanation. I assume the team will have Phil checked out medically (MRI or whatever) just to be certain; they’d be foolish not to.  Their prized 24-year-old right-hander looks like a shell of his former self.

What’s the solution? I wish I knew. In my completely amateur opinion, I think they should let Hughes take another turn or two just to see what happens, because maybe it is something as simple as building up arm strength. If that doesn’t work, then you consider a disabled list stint or a trip to minors since Kevin Millwood’s opt-out date will be fast approaching. The Phil Hughes that was on the yesterday was not a Major League pitcher, and there has to be concern.

Like a boss. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Bartolo Colon Solution

Hughes was relieved by a guy who knows all about losing stuff and fighting back, and boy, was Colon sharp. He worked both sides of the plate with two fastballs, a straight four-seamer and a running two-seamer that resulted in quite a few called strikes. Colon used the Greg Maddux pick rather effectively a few times to strike out lefties, throwing that two-seamer inside and having it dart back over the inside the corner. For my money, I don’t know if there’s a prettier pitch in baseball. Here, look. Gorgeous. (thx Rich Iurilli)

Colon threw 62 pitches over 4.1 innings, striking out five against just two hits and one walk. He allowed an unearned run in the fifth then one earned run when he wasn’t even on the mound, but we’ll get to that in a bit. After Hughes’ awful two innings, Colon gave the Yankees plenty of time to get back in the game, and frankly he looks like he belongs in the rotation. It was only one outing of course, but if the Yanks do end up having to yank Phil from the rotation at some point, Bartolo made a fine case for a starting spot today. Give that man a round of applause.

The Boone Logan Problem

With Pedro Feliciano on the shelf for what I’m just assuming is indefinitely at this point, Logan is the guy Joe Girardi is going to turn to to get out tough lefties. Three appearances into the season, he hasn’t come close to doing that. With a man on first in the seventh, Logan ran a 3-1 count to David Ortiz before allowing a double off the monstah. A full count to J.D. Drew and an RBI single followed that, a run that was charged to Colon. Logan allowed the first five left-handed batters he faced this year to reach base before retiring Jacoby Ellsbury to end that inning.

I saw some people jump on Girardi for lifting Colon, but I don’t agree with that for a second. That’s all on Logan, he’s got to get the job done there, plain and simple. For a guy whose track record of success in the big leagues consists of like, 20 innings at the end of last season, Logan needs to improve his performance and fast. He’s not exactly an indispensable cog in the machine.

General Awfulness

Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4 with a walk and is now hitless in his last eleven at-bats. Jorge Posada took an 0-for-4 as well and is hitless in his 14 at-bats. That dates back to his second inning homer off Scott Baker in the first game of the Twins’ series. Russell Martin has two hits (both singles) in his last 13 at-bats, and Curtis Granderson has just three singles in his last 20 at-bats, though one came in this game. That’s a lot of slumping bats in the lineup at one time.

Derek Jeter‘s 1-for-5 effort was marred by sixth inning double play that ended the inning. The Yankees had men on first and second at the time and were down by just a run, and former Yank Al Aceves was asking for trouble, missing his spots badly. Jeter let him off the hook though, the double play checked in at -.143 WPA. The only play that decreased New York’s chances of winning more was Dustin Pedroia’s two-run single in the second (-.176 WPA). If that wasn’t bad enough, the Cap’n popped up a first pitch bunt after John Lackey walked Brett Gardner to lead off the game. Lackey walked two batters in the inning and the Yankees ended up scoring two runs despite Jeter gift-wrapping Boston an out.

For the second straight game, Tex let a playable ball slip under his glove for a run scoring hit. Maybe we’ve set our standards too high because of his glovework over the last two years, but those are balls he’s got to scoop up to save some runs. Just knock it down at least.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Bright Spots

We’ve talked enough about the bad stuff, let’s make sure we mention the silver linings as well. Brett Gardner was awesome, reaching base four times thanks to a double, a triple, and a pair of walks. He also stole a base and saw 23 pitches in five trips to the plate, and has reached base in six of his last eight plate appearances. That’s more like it.

Alex Rodriguez clubbed a solo homer to lead off the fifth, and he also reached base on a walk and a hit-by-pitch. A-Rod scored half of the team’s six runs because Robbie Cano was doin’ work behind him. The second baseman had two doubles, the first clear over Ellsbury’s head in center and the second off the big green wall. Only he could start the season with multiple hits in nearly half his games and still make it appear as if he’s slumping.

Believe it or not, David Robertson did not get dry humped. He warmed up and actually pitched in the game, working a scoreless eighth inning after Logan let things get out of hand. The Red Sox mustered very little offense against non-Hughes and Logan pitchers in this game, which I suppose bodes well for tomorrow, right?

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score and no video highlights.

Up Next

Game two of the series will be broadcast on FOX tomorrow afternoon (boo) at 1:10pm ET, not the usual 4pm start FOX throws at us. Ivan Nova gets the ball against Clay Buchholz.

Heathcott goes deep twice in Charleston loss

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. They’ll make this one up as part of an April 18th doubleheader.

Double-A Trenton (8-7 loss to New Hampshire, walk-off style)
Austin Krum, LF: 0 for 2, 2 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 1 SB – led the system in walks last year, I guess he’s looking to do the same this year
Jose Pirela, SS: 1 for 5, 3 E (all throwing) – that’s four errors in two games
Austin Romine, C: 1 for 5, 2 R – didn’t throw out any of the four guys that attempted steals
Bradley Suttle, 3B: 0 for 5, 2 K
Cody Johnson, DH: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 K – surprised it took him until his second game to strike out … he’s the Mark Reynolds of minor league baseball
Melky Mesa, CF: 1 for 4, 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Corban Joseph, 2B: 3 for 5, 2 2B, 2 RBI – hopefully some of the doubles will start clearing the fence soon
Ray Kruml, RF: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 K, 2 SB
Shaeffer Hal, LHP: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 7-2 GB/FB
Wilkins Arias, LHP: 0 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 0 K – egads
The Ghost of Kei Igawa, LHP: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0-4 GB/FB – he walked in an inherited runner
Pat Venditte, SHP: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0-2 GB/FB – gave up a walk-off single

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Baldwin vs. Krasinski

I found myself at Standings this afternoon watching the game with a friend of mine from Worcester as the Red Sox and the Yanks played a sloppy slugfest. We were enjoying some beers and the game, and as it’s still early April, the atmosphere at the bar was a jovial one. There’s no need to get too worked up over the Yanks/Red Sox rivalry quite yet.

The only quiet moment during the game came when the New Era commercial above aired. As Yankee fan Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski, Boston partisan and star of The Office, verbally duked it out, we watched it in rapt silence. I’m sure we’ll see this ad thousands of times this year, and I’m sure we’ll be able to recite in our sleep by the time October rolls around. But today, it’s fresh and funny. Enjoy.

Anyway, the rest of the game wasn’t quite as funny. We’re worried about Phil Hughes, but Mike will have more on that during the recap later. In the meantime, enjoy your open thread. The Knicks, looking to wrap up the six seed in the Eastern Conference and a date with the Heat, travel to New Jersey to play the Nets at 7 p.m. The Islanders are hosting the Penguins too, and of course, there’s a full slate of baseball games on tonight. I’d pick the Cliff Lee/Tim Hudson match-up as the game of the night.

Site Notes: Please consider participating in our 2011 Pledge Drive … Also, please take our completely anonymous reader demographic survey if you haven’t already … Lastly, please vote for Alex Kresovich’s “The Reader” track for the NBA2K12 by clicking “Like” on Facebook. Alex put together the intro music for our podcast.

Kemba Walker to pitch at Yankee Stadium

Fresh off leading the UConn Huskies to a national title win in this week’s NCAA championship game, Bronx-native Kemba Walker will take the mound at Yankee Stadium next week. The college junior, likely heading for the NBA, will throw out the first pitch before Wednesday night’s affair against the first-place Orioles, Roger Rubin of The Daily News reported yesterday. Along with Walker’s appearance on the mound, the Yankees are hosting a SuperGroup Ticket night for UConn “fans, students and alumni” on Wednesday. Mosey over to this page for details on the $5 ticket night.