Down on the Farm

The weather’s been creating havoc in the baseball world, and it’s not just the major leagues that are being put in a bind (although my fantasy team is looking forward to all those Grady Sizemore doubleheaders). Because minor league teams do not have the resources to deal with Mother Nature, games are called much sooner and much more often than they are in The Show. Here’s a quick wrap up of how the weather has affected each Yankee affiliate so far this year (includes tonight’s games):

Triple-A Scranton: 4 total games called off, none made up, haven’t played since Saturday
Double-A Trenton: 5 total games called off, none made up, also haven’t played since Saturday
High-A Tampa: 1 game rained out, and it’s already been made up
Low-A Charleston: no cancellations…yet

On to tonight’s action:

Triple-A Scranton snowed out. No word on a makeup date.

Double-A Trenton‘s doubleheader was rained out. They’ll try to make up one game as part of a doubleheader tomorrow, no word on the makeup of the second game. If they play tomorrow, it’ll be their first action since Saturday.

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Yankees 10, Indians 3

Player WPA pLI Pitcher WPA pLI
Alex .151 Bruney .032 0.33
Minky .092 Wright .021 0.87
Damon .073 Myers .012 0.10
Giambi .068 Britton .001 0.02
Jeter .063
Posada .029
Abreu .026
Nieves .000
Melky -.024
Cano -.043

* pLI not available at the time of posting. Work to do tomorrow morning, so I wanted to get this done tonight. I’ll fill it in tomorrow.

Not bad, Chase Wright. Not bad at all. Tonight ended up being an ideal scenario, with the offense striking early and allowing Wright to just throw strikes and let what happens happen. In a close game, who knows what happens. But he was handed ideal circumstances last night, and he took advantage.

Things didn’t look so hit at the beginning, though. After walking both Grady Sizemore and Jason Michaels to open the game, Gator was forced to make his first of what was hopefully not many mound visits. This situation was extra scary, because Travis Hafner was the next man up. He should have been MVP last year, despite his September injury. He’s just a scary, scary man up there, especially with two men on base. And especially when he’s up in the count 2-1. But Wright fooled him with a change, and then induced a grounder that advanced the runners.

Victor Martinez, who would be better off taking a Rascal scooter to first base, hit a run-scoring grounder to Jeter, leaving a runner on third for Ryan Garko, who even Chase Wright could retire. One inning, one run. Not so bad, Chase.

After Damon, Jeter, Alex, Giambi, and Jorge lent him a little hand, Chase went back out for the second. And again, the first two runners reached base, this time via a Casey Blake single and a Jhonny Peralta walk. Three fly balls later, and we’re in the bottom of the frame.

This is where the offense said, “Chase, you’re looking shaky out there. How about we knock this Westbrook character around for a while so you can calm down and finish an inning without letting the first two guys reach base.” We know this was a preconceived plan by the offense, because Doug “Guys hit balls out of the infield?” Mientkiewicz got it started with a tater to right. After an Abreu RBI single, Alex willed himself another home run. Two batters later, Jorge smacked one out, giving Wright an 8-1 lead. Apparently, Melky isn’t one of the cool kids; he made the first and last outs of the inning.

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Rumblings and grumblings surround Wang, Dice-K

In what would be a highly anticipated match-up halfway across the globe as well as in Boston and New York, rumors are surfacing that the pitching-strapped Yanks may have Chien-Ming Wang make his next rehab start not in the minors but in Fenway Park against Daisuke Matsuzaka on ESPN this Sunday. But Brian Cashman has denied these rumors. Personally, I would think Wang is ready for a Major League start. If his hammy’s feeling up for it, why have him waste innings pitching at an A-ball game when the Big League club is in desperate need of hurlers?

Who’s going to start on Saturday?

While discussing the Chase Wright situation yesterday, another interesting topic came up: who’s going to start Saturday against the Red Sox? Pettitte has Friday, and Wright — if he doesn’t completely bomb — will have enough rest to start Sunday. That leaves a damning hole.

Wang and Karstens won’t be back for the weekend. Starting Wright and Igawa on short rest on back to back days isn’t exactly advisable. What to do?

The easy answer is to start Sean Henn. However, much like the decision to give Chase Wright tonight’s start, this would be a mistake. Henn has done very well out of the bullpen so far, so why mess that up? Plus, the Yanks are going to need plenty of help from the bullpen against the Indians, and likely will also need it against the Red Sox. Why sacrifice a bullpen arm in that situation?

(Yes, I realize there are now eight bullpen arms: Mo, Farns, Proctor, Vizcaino, Henn, Myers, Bruney, and Britton. All of them may be needed over the next four games, and all of them, sans Britton and Mo, have been worked hard this season. Having eight guys in the bullpen is a Godsend this week.)

The solution suggested by River Ave. Blues: Mighty Matt DeSalvo. He’s dealing this year: 2 ER, 11 K, 3 BB, 6 H over 9 innings of work. Yes, this is just as small a sample as Wright’s (though DeSalvo has fewer innings). But we’re also talking about a guy who 1) is facing tougher competition (the Braves and Red Sox AAA teams, as opposed to the Orioles and Nats AA teams) and 2) is/was an actual prospect.

Like Wright, DeSalvo absolutely dominated the Florida State League (1.43 ERA, 80 strikeouts to 30 walks and ONE home run over 75.1 innings). He went on to have a great year at AA in 2005, compiling a 3.02 ERA over 149 innings, 151 strikeouts to 67 walks, and just 8 homers allowed.

Of course, we all know about his hiccup last year, but given his performances before and after, that seems like an anomaly. That’s what happens when you double your career walk rate. He also had personal issues to work through last year.

Really, there was little good reason to pass over DeSalvo for Wright in the first place (the 40-man roster status may have been the deciding factor, with DeSalvo having lost his spot to Miguel Cairo in January). However, with the opportunity for another start, there is even less reason to deny DeSalvo this time around. Choose Henn if you will, but that’s too simplistic and it doesn’t allow him to continue what he’s been doing so well this season: coming out of the pen and getting guys out. Some guys are just better off in the bullpen.

Down on the Farm

Triple-A Scranton
Game 1
(5-2 win over Pawtucket in 7 innings)
Alberto Gonzalez: 1 for 4 – BA “down” to .324
Bronson Sardinha: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Andy Phillips: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – more H (10), XBH (6), HR (3), RBI (6), and BB (6) in fewer ABs (38) than Minky and Phelps combined (6, 0, 0, 1, 5, 39) 
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K -  3 straight games with a bomb
Chris Basak: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Steven Jackson: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – solid effort considering it was 44 degrees and raining
TJ Beam: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1-5 GB/FB
Game 2 postponed due to wet grounds. No makeup date announced.

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