Down on the Farm

Triple-A Scranton rained out. No makeup date announced.

Double-A Trenton rained out. No makeup date announced.

High-A Tampa (3-1 loss to Dunedin)
Reegie Corona: 2 for 4, 1 K – 12 for his last 27
Jose Tabata: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 HBP – 5 H and 2 K in last 23 AB
Mr. Miranda: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 K – first XBH in 11 games
Edwar Gonzalez: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 CS
Kevin Russo: 0 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 K
James Cooper: 1 for 3, 1 2B
Mike Martinez: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K – first start since his senior year at Fullerton in 2004
Wilkins Arias: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K

Low-A Charleston had a scheduled off day.

Baseball Gods rain down on Yankees

I’m sure everyone has heard that tonight’s game is a washout. No, they won’t play a doubleheader tomorrow.

This, of course, is great news. And it extends beyond the fact that I still get to see Phil Hughes pitch tomorrow night.

First, it allows Andy Pettitte to move back to Friday’s start against the Red Sox. Instead of Karstens – Igawa – Wang, the rotation is now Pettitte – Igawa/Karstens (hopefully Karstens) – Wang. They’ll be lined up against Matsuzaka – Wakefield – Tavarez. I definitely like the Yankees chances better under this scenario. If the Yanks can pull a repeat performance on Matsuzaka, well, let’s just say that Pettitte won’t be giving up four straight bombs.

The news gets better, though. The game being rained out means that the Yankees bullpen gets a freakin’ full day off! Woo hoo! If Hughes can go six tomorrow, the pen should be decently rested for the weekend series — which will be followed by an off day. And, if the Yankees tee off on Burnett, we can just bring in this guy

and continue resting the guys in the bullpen who, given proper rest, can actually shut down the opposing team in a big spot.

On Monday, when Hughes’s start was announced, Mike immediately informed me that rain was in the forecast. It worried me for a second, until I realized that weathermen are as good at predicting the weather as Orestes Destrade is at predicting the baseball season.

Of course, when weathermen make these predictions, they don’t factor in the will of the Baseball Gods. For if they did, they would have known that it wouldn’t rain on Thursday, the Major League debut of Phil Franchise.

The Yankees needed two things immediately: some rest for the bullpen and a sweep against Boston. Today’s rain facilitates those needs. The Baseball Gods are smiling upon our New York Yankees.

Jim Callis on the Hughes call-up

From his ESPN.com chat:

Matias (Buenos Aires, Argentina) : Jim, do you regard the Phil Hughes situation as a panic button situation for the Yankees?

SportsNation Jim Callis: (2:29 PM ET ) Not at all. He has a great arm, better than anyone they have. He’s ready.

‘Nuff said.

Update: I squeezed in a question:

Mike A. (SD, CA): Now that Hughes is up, who’s the best Yankee pitching prospect in the minors?

SportsNation Jim Callis: (3:07 PM ET ) If you don’t count Joba Chamberlain (hamstring) or Dellin Betances (extended spring), who aren’t actually on clubs right now, and discount all the victims of elbow injuries . . . my favorite is Kevin Whelan. Yankees would go with Ian Kennedy. I might too, if I had a report on his stuff. Have to go to the draft phones now, see you next week.

Kennedy has been tearing it up: 19 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 8 BB, 19 K, .190 BAA. All he’s got to do is cut down on those walks…

Devil Rays sweep Yankees

Player WPA Pitcher WPA
Posada .195 Vizcaino .138
Matsui .177 Farnsworth .017
Phelps .121 Bruney .004
Jeter .024 Wang -.104
Minky -.013 Myers -.506
Cairo -.016
Melky -.027
Damon -.039
Alex -.051
Abreu -.116
Giambi -.145
Cano -.159

*I’ve removed pLI from the tables. The stat doesn’t sit well with me. It doesn’t tell you a whole lot. If you look at the LI for each situation, yeah. But an average over the course of a game? Nothing.

I’m not a big platoon guy unless the numbers — over a reasonable sample size — bear something out. And yes, one game isn’t a large sample size. Is it just coincidence, then, that Abreu, Giambi, and Cano were the offensive goats of the game? Probably. And it’s not like you’re going to sit any of them because of a pitching matchup — especially because of Melky’s ineptitude this season. It’s not like they have bad lefty-righty splits.

Ben summed up the game from the bullpen angle. The talent is all there…it’s just a matter of having them pitch two or three innings a game rather than four or five. But I’ll let Ben’s words speak for themselves.

The game started off on an exciting note. Both of our recently-returned DLers contributed. Despite the WPA, Wang pitched well, especially for a guy who was making his first start of the season on April 24. He scattered a few hits, which is going to happen, but he didn’t really let it phase him until the fourth. After a bloop and a double in the seventh, he came out for pitch count reasons. That move can be contested, but it’s one of those double edged swords, so it’s not worth levying criticism. However, I will say this: I would have rather had pitch to Harris with the bases loaded than Vizcaino. Viz has had control problems all year, and he ended up getting lucky that the liner was hit right at Cairo. Wang, on the other hand, could have induced the groundball double play to end it. Just sayin…

I thought Mike Myers was supposed to be the guy to come in and get out a tough lefty. Yet, when he’s been called upon to do so, he’s gotten smacked around. However, he’s been stellar in mop-up duty. I know it’s a very small sample, but I’d be reluctant to let him pitch to Ortiz or Drew this weekend. Or hell, even Lyle Overbay over the next two days.

There were some highlights on the offensive side, like Matsui’s shot that nearly hit his digital visage out in right field. Every time you think the guy is looking shaky at the plate, he goes and whales one like that. It’ll be extra nice to have him back in the lineup against Boston, where he can do some serious damage.

Phelps was another highlight, driving in the go-ahead run in the seventh. But then Joe pinch ran for him, which kinda came back to bite him in the ass. I understand the situation: Phelps standing on second, one run lead. You want a guy scoring on a single, so you put the faster runner in there. Problem is, the hitter was Miguel Cairo. What, you actually think he’s going to single and bring in that run? You’re going to replace a potent bat because you want the runner on second to score on a highly unlikely single? Some may say I’m nitpicking, but I think I have a valid point here. The worst case scenario arose in the ninth, as the Yanks, down by two runs, have their final two outs in the hands of Melky Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz.

I don’t know why Johnny Damon was replaced, and I didn’t hear anything about it this morning. I hope it was because his hammies or back were acting up on him, because there’s really no other way to justify that sub. If it was just to give Damon a break from the turf, well, then that’s just stupid. Instead of having Cano-Phelps-Damon in the ninth, the Yanks trotted out Cano-Cabrera-Mientkiewicz. A considerable drop-off, to say the least.

Thankfully, Andy Pettitte is headed to the hill tonight. He’s delivered when the Yanks have needed him to this season. He’s going to have an “eh” start sooner or later. Hopefully, that won’t come tonight — the bullpen sure could use an 8-inning performance.

Minor league transactions

From BA:

New York Yankees
Recalled: RHP Colter Bean, RHP Chris Britton, LHP Chase Wright
Optioned to Triple-A: RHP Darrell Rasner
Placed on minor league disabled list: RHP Guillermo Villalona, 2B Carlos Mendoza, 3B Marcos Vechionacci, SS Angel Chavez, OF Austin Jackson
Reinstated from disabled list: 2B Russell Raley, SS Grant Plumley
Rehabilitation assignment: RHP Jeff Karstens, RHP Chien-Ming Wang (both high Class A Tampa)

Jackson, the club’s eighth-round pick in 2005, is on the shelf with a lower body injury. Bean, 29, is logging significant big league time for the first time.

Vech hurt his hand on a defensive play last week, I doubt it’s a major injury, but you never know…

Potential Scrap Heap Pickup: SS Chase Lambin, who was cut by the Mets. He can’t be worse than Miguel Cairo, could he? Hee Seop Choi was released by the D-Rays, but word on the street is he’s heading back to Korea.

He’s still in baseball? RHP Paul Shuey (reinstated from the minor league DL by the O’s), OF Wil Cordero (released by the Mets), and OF Angel Fermin (former Yankee prospect was cut by the D-Rays).

No Unit separation anxiety here

Just in case anyone’s wishing we had the Big Unit this year instead of a debacle of a pitching staff, worry no more. Against the Padres last night in his 2007 debut, Randy Johnson was terrible. He threw 5 innings, giving up 6 hits, 6 earned runs and 4 walks. While he struck up 7, he also allowed two home runs. Some things don’t change when you’re a 43-year-old pitcher with numerous injuries.

Death by Bullpen

bullpenofterror.jpg

I have nightmares about these guys now only to wake up to find they really did blow yet another game.

In The Shield last season, Walton Goggins’ character Shane told the rest of the show’s main characters a joke with the intent to distract Forest Whitaker. The tale Shane told was the infamous Death by Chichi story. Well, after tonight’s game, the Yankees are going through not Death by Chichi but rather Death by Bullpen.

The Yankees have not won since coming off a strong three-game sweep of the Indians five games ago. Since Friday night, the Yanks, who lead the Majors in runs scored, have plated 29 runs. 29 runs! Five games! That should be, well, five wins really. But they’ve also surrendered 35 runs. So, oops.

While the Yankees starting pitcher has been terrible, the team has also been victimized by its bullpen, and after tonight, I am once again left wondering why Brian Bruney is brought in after Luis Vizcaino and Mike Myers to clean up their messes instead of before to pitch out the jam. But I digress.

Tonight, the Yanks’ bullpen threw 1.2 innings which including a sighting of the endangered species known as Kyle Farnsworth. They gave up 2 earned runs and did an excellent job allowing all of the inherited runners to score. Wang got the loss, but who would you blame for this game? I finger Vizcaino and Myers. Final bullpen tally: 1.2 innings, 1 hit, 2 earned runs.

Last night, Kei Igawa was bad and the bullpen matched him. The bullpen started up with the score 6-4 in favor of the Devil Rays. Colter Bean allowed yet another inherited runner to cross the plate, and the bullpen managed 3.2 innings, 7 hits, 3 walks and 3 earned runs. That 10 baserunners in just over 3 innings led to only three runs is luck.

In Boston, the story was the same. On Sunday, the bullpen had to throw 5 innings. They gave up 6 hits, 6 walks and only 3 earned runs. On Saturday, the bullpen did its job. Hallelujah! 3.2 innings, 4 hits and no runs. Only the wacky centerfield dimensions prevented Bobby Abreu from hitting a game-tying home run. C’est la vie.

And Friday was the start of this debacle. The bullpen went 1.2 innings giving up 5 hits and 5 runs.

So for those of you keeping score at home, the Yankees’ bullpen over their five-game losing streak has gone 15.2 innings. They’re 0-2 and have given up 25 hits and 13 runs for an ERA of 7.46. They’ve managed to strike out just 8 while walking 14.

This is what death by bullpen looks like. And after another loss in another game that the Yanks should won, I’ll take death by chichi instead of this nightly torture.