Open Thread: The Old Timers’ Day Roster

(Photo Credit: Flickr user bump via Creative Commons license)

The 2011 edition of Old Timers’ Day will take place ten days from now on Sunday, June 26th. Earlier today we learned that Bernie Williams will be there, and earlier this year we heard that both Joe Torre and Lou Piniella will be there as well. The full roster of attendees was released today and can be seen here. Aside from those three, other first timers include Clay Bellinger, Brian Boehringer, George Frazier, and former first base coach Jose Cardenal. Here’s a fun fact: three Old Timers (Aaron Small, Homer Bush, and Ramiro Mendoza) are younger than Mariano Rivera. Crazy.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing the Braves (Dickey vs. Minor) and MLB Network will carry a game as well (teams depend on where you live). That’s it, the NBA and NHL seasons are over. Talk about whatever your heart desires, go nuts.

Joba Update: Joba Chamberlain had his Tommy John surgery, and he tweeted afterward that everything went well. Based on his feed over the last few days, he seems to be in pretty good spirits considering how much an injury like that sucks.

Bernie Williams to make first Old Timers’ Day appearance

Via Peter Botte, Bernie Williams will make his first Old Timers’ Day appearance this year on June 26th. Bernie’s been back to the Stadium a few times since unofficially retiring, specifically the final game at the Old Stadium, but this will be his first as an Old Timer. It’s always fun whenever former great makes his first appearance at the event, so I’m excited. Bernie was probably my favorite player during the dynasty years.

Yankees’ starters and the good kind of homers

Interleague play has been in baseball for 15 years now, but no Yankees’ pitcher has ever hit a homerun in an NL park. I didn’t remember one, and B-Ref’s Play Index confirms it. That’s kinda disappointing. In terms of OPS+, the best hitting Yankees’ pitcher in the interleague play era is Kevin Brown (min. two plate appearances), who had a double and a strikeout in his two plate appearances back in the day. That adds up to a 290 OPS+. Javy Vazquez leads the way with a 121 OPS+ among guys with ten or more plate appearances thanks to a double, two walks, and three sac bunts in ten trips to the plate. The Yankees don’t pay their pitchers to hit anyway, no team does.

With the team headed to Chicago and then Cincinnati over the next few days, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that one of the Yankees’ starting pitchers will in fact hit a homerun at some point on the trip. Which one? I’m not that brave, but I am feeling it this year. Let’s stick some odds on the fellas…

Friday @ Cubs: Freddy Garcia

Sweaty Freddy has never hit a homerun in his career and has just a .190/.212/.222 career line in 80 plate appearances. He hasn’t had a hit since 2007 (in part due to injuries), and his two career extra base hits were a double in 2007 and a double in 2002. Wrigley Field is just about neutral when it comes to right-handed batters, so that doesn’t help his cause either. Garcia will have the platoon advantage against lefty Doug Davis, a ground ball guy (~45% over the last few years) that has surrendered 1.1 homers for every nine innings pitched over the last three years. Doesn’t look good for Freddy. Chances: 0.5%

Saturday @ Cubs: A.J. Burnett

All those years with the Marlins produced a .134/.180/.180 batting line in exactly 300 plate appearances, though A.J. has three career homers. One came off Rick Ankiel, another off Robert Person, and the third off Kevin Correia. The problem is that Burnett has just one hit (a single) in 17 plate appearances since coming over the AL. He will be at a platoon disadvantage against righty Ryan Dempster, who gave up eight homers in his first five starts this year but just five in ten starts since. Not liking his chances, but I do like them better than Garcia’s. Chances: 5%

Sunday @ Cubs: CC Sabathia

Now we’re talking. Sabathia is a .258/.265/.381 career hitter with three homers in 101 plate appearances, and two of those homers came with the Brewers in 2008. He also picked up a hit with the Yankees in both 2009 and 2010, though both were singles. Wrigley Field is very favorable for left-handed batters and CC will have the platoon advantage against Randy Wells. Wells has been an extreme fly ball guy this year (just 35.1% grounders) and has given up three homers in 18 IP since coming off the disabled list a few weeks ago. Chances: 29%

Monday @ Reds: Ivan Nova

Nova has never come to the plate in a professional game, majors or minors, and opposing starter Johnny Cueto has gotten better and better at limiting homers as his career has progressed. It’s also a right-on-right matchup, which never helps. That said, Nova’s young and presumably strong, plus the Great American Ballpark is absurdly favorable towards right-handed batters, so I could see him surprising us and running into one. Chances: 15%

Tuesday @ Reds: Brian Gordon

This is where it gets interesting. Gordon spent the first ten years of his career as an outfielder and is a career .275/.321/.460 career hitter in 4,161 minor league plate appearances. He hit no fewer than ten homers in any season from 2000 through 2006, including a 22 homer year in 2004. He averaged 15.1 homers per year during that stretch. Clearly, he has some power. The GAB also favors lefties, but Gordon will be at a platoon disadvantage against southpaw Travis Wood. Wood is an extreme fly ball guy though (just 31.5% grounders in his career), so if he doesn’t Gordon doesn’t hit one out himself, there’s a chance the Yankees’ offense will knock the Reds’ starter out of the game early and give their starter some swings against a right-handed long man. I like the odds. Chances: 50%

Wednesday @ Reds: Garcia again

The opposing starter is Mike Leake, a ground ball heavy right-hander (48.4% career). Sorry Freddy, it’s probably not going to happen. Odds: 0.5%.

Yankees will look into Kazmir

Via Jon Heyman and Alden Gonzalez, the Yankees will at least kick around the idea of signing Scott Kazmir, though it’s more due diligence than anything. “I know he’s struggled,” said Brian Cashman, who confirmed that he has yet to look into it. The Yankees could use a second lefty in the bullpen, but Kazmir hasn’t exactly shut lefties down throughout his career, even when he was good. There’s also nothing to suggest that he can get big league hitters out right now (15.1 IP, 22 H, 30 R, 29 ER, 20 BB, 14 K, 6 HB, 5 WP during his rehab assignment). I have no problem with giving anyone a minor league deal, but the expected return here is zero.

Game 67: Gettin’ Away

(Photo Credit: The Morning Call)

The Yankees have already won this series against the Rangers, so all that’s left is to finish off the sweep before getting away and heading to Chicago for the NL park leg of the interleague schedule. Brian Gordon is in fact getting the start, and he prepared for today by playing long toss with a staffer in the park across the street from Yankee Stadium yesterday. Oh, and Alex Rodriguez isn’t in today’s lineup. After DH’ing yesterday, I think it’s safe to say he’s banged up. Either that or they’re just resting him before six straight games in NL parks. Here’s the lineup…

Nick Swisher, RF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Andruw Jones, LF – poor Brett Gardner
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C – oh hey, welcome back Russ
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Ramiro Pena, 3B

Brian Gordon, SP

The game can be seen on YES locally or MLB Network nationally, but if you’re stuck in the office you can always listen on WCBS 880. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 1pm ET. Enjoy.

Yankees add Gordon to roster, demote Pendleton, release Sanit

Update (12:25pm): Via Peter Botte, the Yankees have flat out released Amaury Sanit to make room on the 40-man roster for Gordon. Releasing a man while he’s injured? Ouch. At least he’ll get a Major League salary for the rest of the season.

Original Post (11:55am): Via Dan Barbarisi, the Yankees have officially added Brian Gordon to the roster, and it appears as though Lance Pendleton is being sent down in the corresponding move. He was seen packing his bags. I’m not sure what the 40-man roster move is yet, though I supposed Pendleton could have been designated for assignment rather than just sent down.

When Jeter goes down: a brief history

For the bulk of his career, Derek Jeter has been the paradigm of health. Outside of suffering a freak shoulder injury on Opening Day in 2003, he had, before this week, been on the disabled list just three other teams and had never missed more than the minimum. To reach 3000 hits and over 2350 games played, health is a requirement and a skill.

So far, the Yankees haven’t exactly missed Derek Jeter during his two games on the shelf. The club has scored 24 runs in the span, and Eduardo Nuñez, Jeter’s fill in, is now 4 for 8 with a home run and two RBIs. The Yanks’ leadoff hitters, meanwhile, are 4 for 7 with four runs scored and three walks. The numbers look gaudy both because they are and because Jeter is slowing down as soon-to-be 37-year-old middle infielders are prone to do, but in this small sample, the Yanks have survived without their captain.

Of course, replacing Jeter hasn’t always been so easy. They ran through a period of using a rogue’s gallery of short stops with Jeter out. As an exercise in nothing more than history, let’s see how they did it.

DL Trip #1: June 4 – June 19, 1998

It’s almost hard to believe Derek Jeter missed any time during the Yanks’ historical run in 1998. That year, he played in 150 games, hit .324/.384/.481, stole 30 bases, landed on his first All Star team and came in third in the MVP race. Yet, he missed time with a strained abdominal muscle suffered on a check swing in June.

During the 12 games that year which Jeter missed, the Yankees went 9-3 as Luis Sojo filled in less than admirably. The fan favorite managed to hit .180/.212/.200 over 52 plate appearances, and four of his hits came in one game against the Expos. Jeter’s return on June 19 was, needless to say, a welcome one.

DL Trip #2: May 12 – May 26, 2000

Two years later, Jeter found himself back on the DL with a strained abdominal muscle. Again, he would miss only the minimum, and again, it came in a year in which he utterly dominated at the plate. In 2000, he hit .339/.416/.481 and only came in 10th in the MVP voting. During his time on the shelf, Clay Bellinger, Alfonso Soriano and Wilson Delgado attempted to replace him. Each was worse than the last.

Bellinger, a cult favorite in the early 2000s, lasted four games at short, and he went 1 for 9 before the Yanks tried to plug Soriano into that hole. Sori made two errors on the nine balls hit to him over his four games and went just 3 for 16 at the plate. Delgado played three games at short during Jeter’s DL stint and went 4 for 12. That is the very definition of holding down the fort, but the Yanks went only 4-8 during Jeter’s absence.

DL Trip #3: March 23 – April 7, 2001

The three-time World Series Champion Yankees had to open the season with their short stop out with a strained quad. Jeter, who hurt himself in Spring Training, needed a few extra days to heal, and he had to started the season on the disabled list. This time, they opened the season with Luis Sojo at short and went 3-1 without Jeter. That .750 winning percentage, though, was no thanks to Luis who went 1 for 15. He never really was a very good hitter.

DL Trip #4: April 1 – May 13, 2003

Jeter’s injury on Opening Day in 2003 has a little bit of the “where were you when…” allure to it. I was a sophomore in college in the midst of jazz band rehearsal when I got a text message (on a phone which at the time looked a little bit something like this) from my parents freaking out about Jeter. I had no idea what had happened and quickly learned that Jeter might be out for four months. My heart sank, but the Jeter-less depression was short-lived. Luckily, that turned into six weeks, and Jeter came back in mid-May.

For the Yankees, his return that year wasn’t a moment too soon. In his absence, Enrique Wilson and Erick Almonte split time at short, and Almonte was, in a word, terrible. While playing 28 games with Jeter out, Almonte managed to hit a serviceable .272/.337/.370, and he even homered in his second plate appearance on April 2. Defensively though, he cost the team 7.4 runs in just 28 games. Enrique Wilson, with a .189/.211/.324, was a nothing on offense with Jeter out. Still, the Yanks went 25-11 before the Captain came back.

By and large then, good teams are still good teams when one of their better players lands on the DL. A well-balanced team can weather the storm of a short stop on the disabled list for a few weeks, and the Yankees have certainly proved that in the past when Jeter was a better player than he is today. It’s certainly remarkable that Jeter has gone since May 13, 2003 without being on the disabled list. Hopefully, this calf strain, suffered while he jogged off the field, isn’t a harbinger of age to come. The late 30s are not often kind on an athlete’s body, and Derek would be better served fully healing now than playing through the pain as he has done so often in his career.