Betances promoted to AAA after a rainy day

Dellin Betances was promoted to Triple-A Scranton, which was expected. Congrats to him.

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. Doubleheader tomorrow.

Double-A Trenton (4-2 loss to Harrisburg)
Austin Krum, LF & Ray Kruml, DH: both 1 for 4, 1 K, 1 SB – Kruml drove in a run
Jose Pirela, 2B, Rob Lyerly, 1B & Melky Mesa, CF: all 0 for 4, 2 K – Pirela scored a run … Lyerly committed an error on a missed catch
Zoilo Almonte, RF: 0 for 3, 1 K
Yadil Mujica, SS: 1 for 3, 1 K, 2 E (fielding, throwing)
Addison Maruszak, 3B: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
R.J. Baker, C: 0 for 2, 1 K, 1 E (throwing) – Corban Joseph pinch-hit for him late and drove in a run with a single
Graham Stoneburner, RHP: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 9-1 GB/FB – 58 of 105 pitches were strikes (55.2%) … he’s getting ground balls, but still seems a little off since being activated off the DL
Brad Halsey, LHP: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 23 of 33 pitches were strikes (69.7%)
Pat Venditte, SwP: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3-0 GB/FB – 17 pitches, and 16 were strikes … wow

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

Summer Sundays without the Yankees are just weird. I slept in, headed out for a late breakfast, then settled in for a game that was never played. I had no idea what to do with myself. I had this four hour block of … nothing. Oh well, at least I managed to actually be productive around the house during the downtime. The Yankees, meanwhile, are off to Kansas City, and there’s a decent chance they’re already there. Alex Rodriguez won’t be in the lineup, but hey, we can always re-live his three homer game in Kauffman from last season.

Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is in St. Louis for Rockies-Cardinals (Esmil Rogers vs. Edwin Jackson), but feel free to talk about anything here. You all know what to do, so have at it.

The Forgotten Reliever

Jeter, Teixeira...... Wade, Nunez. (copyright Amanda Rykoff)

There are lots of cool things about Yankees pitching, AJ Burnett’s terrible hair notwithstanding. Mariano Rivera. Bartolo Colon. CC Sabathia. But you know what? These are all pretty big names in the scale of baseball, and especially when talking about general Yankee successes. When you consider the good fortune that Yankees pitching has had so far, there also needs to be some consideration given to some slightly smaller pitching names as well. I’m not even talking about strikeout/leverage machine (and 2011 All-Star) David Robertson or never-a-top-100 prospect (but 10-game winner) Ivan Nova.

How about Cory Wade? On the scale of successful ballplayers on the Yankees that no one talks about, he’s gotta be up at the top or near it. Wade was drafted in the 10th round by the Dodgers in 2004 and pitched a full reliever’s season in 2008 in the bigs, posting a pretty 2.27 ERA in 71 IP. However, after a slightly less impressive 2009, he spent the year bouncing between the Dodgers (where he posted a 5.53 ERA in 27.2 IP) and AAA Albuquerque. He was granted free agency after that and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in November of last year, then was assigned to AAA Durham. There, he worked in relief, posting a sparkling 1.23 ERA and a pretty nice 3.34 FIP, to go alone with a K/BB ratio over 5. He did all of this in about 40 innings, and then used a clause in his contract to opt out on July 11th. This is where it gets good.

Let me set the scene for you. Rafael Soriano has just gone on the DL with elbow soreness and is not expected back until the All-Star Break. Joba Chamberlain has just gone on the DL two days before, with a strained flexor. Currently taking their places are the ever famous Jeff Marquez (minor league ERA: 3.97, FIP: 4.37) who has just been claimed off waivers from the White Sox, and Amauri Sanit (ERA: 5.21, FIP: 4.73) from AAA. Meanwhile, you are Brian Cashman, and your arch-enemies, the Rays, have just released a really good reliever from their system. That’s exactly what you need! Excellent! The Yankees signed Wade two days later, had him pitch 1.2 innings in SWB and then called him up to the big leagues.

Since then, Wade’s been nothing short of awesome. He’s a perfectly solid middle-reliever and has handled both high-leverage situations and garbage time equally well. In fact, out of his 21 appearances, he’s only posted a negative WPA in 4 of them, and has gone 2-0. His other numbers are similarly impressive, albeit the small sample of only 23.1 IP is worth nothing: 2.31 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 3.32 xFIP, 6 ER, 18 Ks. His 1.5 BB/9 and 6.9 K/9 are good for a healthy 4.5 K/BB ratio. His 79.2 LOB% is a bit high, but certainly within reason, and his .254 BABIP is the highest he’s ever had. 40.6% groundballs contributes.

Part of it is mental: as a Yankees fan, I feel comfortable watching Cory Wade pitch the sixth or the seventh in a one-run game. I feel like he is a safe guy to give the ball to despite the fact that I’ve never heard his name before this. But part of it is in the numbers: those are legitimately strong stats. He’s racked up about half a win in fWAR, which is nice to have in only 23 innings. He’s given up only six earned runs in that span. Plus, he’s not yet valuable enough to where Girardi is considering him a one-inning guy only: he’s had three outings where he threw two innings, and one more outing when he threw three. He also isn’t constrained to a particular role, such as an eight-inning guy or a closer. In a way, his namelessness contributes even more to his success.

As has been mentioned before, the Yankees have been extremely successful and extremely lucky when it comes to pitching this year, and this makes for endless words for us bloggers looking for something to talk about. As the season winds down, we’ll see more and more of how these players shape up come September and eventual October/playoff baseball. Cool thing is, your name doesn’t have any correlation to have could you can be. Throw strikes, get batters out, win. It all works the same no matter who you are: Mariano, Sabathia, or a castoff from the Rays.

(Yankees Baseball Daily helped me think this up. Check it out.)

A-Rod continues rehab with simulated game

After asking to DH yesterday, Alex Rodriguez continued his road back from knee surgery in a simulated game today. He got 13 at-bats, then did some situational work at third base and more extensive defensive drills after that. The plan is for Alex to get Monday off, then travel north and join Triple-A Scranton to continue his rehab on Tuesday. The Yankees still want him to play two full nine inning games before activating him, and there’s still a chance A-Rod will be activated in time for Thursday’s opener at Target Field.

Game rained out, will be made up in September

As you probably know by now, this afternoon’s game against the Rays has been postponed due to rain. Joe Girardi indicated that the game will be made up as part of a doubleheader sometime in September. Tampa doesn’t come back to New York until the third to last series of the year, so hopefully the Yankees will have a playoff spot wrapped up by then and can let the kids do most of the work in the second game. As an added benefit, Jamie Shields will now pitch against the Red Sox tomorrow instead of against the Yankees today. Hooray for that.

Phil Hughes to the bullpen, for the right reasons

Earlier this week, Joe spent some time discussing the possibility of  sending A.J. Burnett to the bullpen, and how it may be a good idea so long as it’s done for the appropriate reasons.  The basic gist of the article was that if Burnett was to be transitioned the bullpen, it shouldn’t simply be resultant of a reactive angst-induced fit from his recent performance implosions, but rather because it may actually be more conducive to A.J.’s stamina and abilities going forward.

It became fairly obvious after watching yesterday’s match against the Rays, that the same discussion will have to be had regarding Phil Hughes.  As a result of of Phil’s past few starts (in addition to Nova’s rather surprising overall production), the Yankees have found themselves in a rather envious plight, that is to say they have too many starting pitching options.  Hughe’s role with the team for the remainder of the season will have to be defined, and I suspect this decision will occur in the next couple days (if it hasn’t already).

However, just as there are correct and incorrect reasons for transitioning A.J., so are there correct and incorrect reasons for shuffling Phil.  I have heard plenty of comments along the lines of, “Phil should be in the starting rotation because he’s not a sporadic pitcher with issues stemming from a lack of mental fortitude’ named A.J.”  Similarly, there’s the topic of Burnett’s contract, as Joe astutely notes.

With more than two years left on his deal, Burnett is not going anywhere. The Yankees are not DFAing him, nor are they trading him. That leaves them with limited options. They’ve taken the path of least resistance, which is to continue trotting him out there and hoping for the best. But as has become apparent in the past two seasons, his best might not be enough. He’s been good at times, but he hasn’t sustained his success for any long stretch.

Putting superficial diagnoses of A.J.’s makeup aside, in an ideal world, Hughes would not have his role determined merely by the fact that A.J. is an expensive (albeit ineffective) member of the rotation.  Although Burnett is paid as “a number two guy,” this does not mean does not mean he should be treated as such if performance dictates otherwise (which is the case, I believe, given A.J.’s role on the playoff roster).  Conversely Hughes should not, by default, have his responsibilities influenced by A.J.’s production; rather, whatever path is chosen or Phil should be merited by his own results and ability.

Now, for all intents and purposes, Hughes has shown relatively steady improvement since coming back from the disabled list (although that Oakland start is a bit of an eyesore).  Consider Phil’s game log since returning.  Note: the table excludes yesterday’s results.

Rk Gcar Gtm Date Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str StL StS GB FB LD Exited
1 104 3 Apr 3 NYY DET L,7-10 GS-4 L(0-1) 4.0 5 5 5 2 1 2 0 11.25 19 90 58 15 2 3 13 1 4t 3 out d1
2 105 7 Apr 8 NYY @ BOS L,6-9 GS-2 2.0 7 6 6 2 0 1 0 16.50 14 47 29 8 1 5 7 3 2b 3 out d3
3 106 11 Apr 14 NYY BAL W,6-5 GS-5 4.1 7 5 5 0 2 1 0 13.94 20 70 51 14 4 4 14 4 5t -2- 1 out d4
July Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str StL StS GB FB LD Exited
4 107 85 Jul 6 NYY @ CLE L,3-5 GS-5 L(0-2) 5.0 6 2 2 2 2 0 2 10.57 25 87 57 14 2 7 12 6 5b 3 out d2
5 108 92 Jul 17 NYY @ TOR W,7-2 GS-6 W(1-2) 6.0 4 2 2 2 5 0 0 8.44 24 80 51 13 8 3 14 3 6b 3 out a3
6 109 97 Jul 22 NYY OAK W,17-7 GS-5 4.1 9 7 7 4 3 1 1 9.47 27 98 66 29 4 9 10 5 5t 123 1 out a9
7 110 102 Jul 27 NYY SEA L,2-9 GS-6 L(1-3) 6.0 9 2 2 1 3 0 0 8.24 26 101 65 11 9 7 15 5 6t 3 out d1
August Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF Pit Str StL StS GB FB LD Exited
8 111 108 Aug 2 NYY @ CHW W,6-0 SHO(6) W(2-3) 6.0 3 0 0 0 4 0 0 6.93 20 65 48 16 5 9 7 0 6b 3 out a4
9 112 113 Aug 7 NYY @ BOS L,2-3 10-GF(10) L(2-4) 0.1 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 7.11 4 13 6 3 0 0 3 1 10b end d 1
NYY 38.0 52 30 30 14 20 5 3 7.11 179
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/14/2011.

Phil had a decent start against Toronto (who probably posed the biggest challenge offensively in terms of opponents faced). The outcome against Seattle (two ER) was good although he did surrender nine hits in the process.  As for Chicago and Tampa Bay, the overall performance was much more satisfactory in all regards.  Hughes’ strikeout and walk ratios were heading in the right direction, his pitch selection was sufficiently mixed, and he was showing better efficiency with his “out pitch.”  Of course, one could certainly make the argument that neither of these clubs are particularly potent.

Yet, is a handful of games enough to warrant a starting rotation spot?  If Yankee Brass feels that Hughes has fully recovered and can sustain these performances going forward, than the answer is unequivocally yes.  A productive starting pitcher is just more valuable to the team.  There’s also the argument to be made that this gives the team the best chance of winning every fifth day.

Realistically speaking however, there’s a very real chance that Hughes will head back to the bullpen for the remainder of the season.  We can pretty much predict the reason for such a shift; well, at least we can predict the reason that will be publicly provided.  Either Cashman or Girardi will say something along the lines that Phil’s stuff will be more effective in the bullpen for the remainder of the season (as proven by his prior experience there).  If we’re “lucky,” we may even hear that an expected uptick in velocity will occur.

This is not the correct reason for this outcome though (at least in my eyes).  I won’t mind Hughes being sent to relief if the team’s rationale is that the postseason is rapidly approaching and the starting rotation for the playoffs doesn’t include Hughes anyway.  Because of the “win now” nature of the organization, I can somewhat rationalize beefing up the bullpen and prolonging Hughes development if it means another potential World Series championship. Also, given Hughes’ shoulder fatigue, it may make sense to limit him down the stretch for the sake of preserving his arm for next year and beyond.

Posada, Hughes turn back the clock in win over Rays

The afternoon started with the Yankees honoring Derek Jeter and his 3,000th career hit, and it ended with another Yankees great showing everyone that the gas tank isn’t empty just yet. To the bullet points!

  • You think Jorge Posada‘s got a chip on his shoulder? In his first game in exactly a week, Posada singled in the game’s first two runs in his first at-bat, blooped a single in his second at-bat, and walloped a grand slam in his third at-bat. That was his first homerun since the interleague series against the Brewers at the end of June, and he had three hits this month total before this game. I don’t know if this game will get him more playing time, but it was fun to re-live the glory days, wasn’t it?
  • While Posada was busy partying like it was 2007, Phil Hughes was getting his 2010 first half on. Philbert struck out six walked one, and allowed just four hits in six innings of work, giving up just two runs in what was essentially garbage time. He also got seven ground ball outs compared to five in the air, which was a welcome change. Hughes threw 96 pitches, held his velocity throughout the start, and mixed his pitches were well: 46 fastballs, 25 curveballs, 13 cutters, and 12 changeups. That’s much more like it. Phil has now thrown three straight quality starts, and has allowed two runs or less in five of his six starts since coming off the DL.
  • The Yankees offense was brutally effective as a whole, working deep counts and punishing mistakes. Jeremy Hellickson needed 99 pitches to get 13 outs, and Brandon Gomes needed 21 pitches to get two outs. Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano all had two hits, and Posada had the three. The Grandyman whacked his 33rd homer of the season, tying him with Jose Bautista for the MLB lead. Cano’s double was his 30th, making him the first player in franchise history with 30 doubles in each of his first seven seasons. Bananas. Eric Chavez and Russell Martin had one hit each, and although Nick Swisher didn’t pick up a knock, he walked three times. All told, the Yankees put 22 men on base and managed to score nine runs despite being 2-for-11 with RISP.
  • Cory Wade chipped in two scoreless innings (on just 21 pitches), and Hector Noesi actually came out of his burrow to see his shadow and throw a scoreless inning. That means he’ll go another six weeks before pitching, right?
  • The win stretches the lead over Tampa for the wildcard to 8.5 games. Jered Weaver and the Angels took a pounding in Toronto, so the Yankees lead them by eight full games. Here’s the box score, here’s the WPA graph, and here’s the updated standings.

The rubber game will be played Sunday afternoon, at least in theory. The weather report is looking pretty grim, so there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to play. Freddy Garcia was supposed to start, but he’s been scratched with a cut on his finger. A.J. Burnett will go against Jamie Shields instead.