As Mo sits, Toronto walks off in the 14th

For 13.5 innings covering 81 outs, the Yankees and Blue Jays, with a few hiccups, put on a clinic in pitching. Yet, with the game tied in the bottom of the 14th, Joe Girardi opted to go with Chad Gaudin over Mariano Rivera, and two batters after a lead-off walk to the number nine hitter, the Yanks were heading back to the dugout, 3-2 losers in a contest marred by the ineffectiveness of the team’s heart of the order.

Credit: Adrien Veczan, AP Photo/The Canadian Press

Biggest Hit: Jeter goes yard

In a game marked by a decided lack of Yankee fan, the biggest hit of the game for the Bombers was clearly the captain’s fifth inning blast. Derek Jeter took a 2-0 pitch from Ricky Romero and deposited it 385 feet away into right field. The Yankees had their first lead of the series against the Blue Jays.

For Jeter, it was his sixth dinger of the year, and after hitting just one in all of May, he has matched that total through five games in June. More comforting though have been Derek’s numbers of late. After a strong start to the season that saw him end April with a .330/.354/.521 line, Jeter struggled in May. He hit just .204/.275/.247 over 21 games, and many started worrying that end of Jeter was night.

Yet, this old dog has a few new tricks up his sleeve. Since bottoming out on May 22, Jeter has gone 23 for 55 with five walks over 13 games. The home run today was Jeterian, and the Yanks’ leadoff hitter seems to have escaped the May doldrums. The same, however, cannot be said of other Yankees.

Biggest Non-Hit: Mark Teixeira and the middle of the lineup

Credit: Darren Calabrese, AP Photo/Canadian Press

While Jeter had the Yanks’ only RBIs of the game, the heart of the order was utterly abysmal. Mark Teixeira went 0 for 6 with five strike outs and appears lost at the plate. With one-third of the season behind us, his batting line — .215/.328/.370 — suggests that he needs a new spot in the lineup, a day off or both. I doubt Girardi would let him stew after a diamond-encrusted platinum sombrero performance, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yanks’ first base take a breather later this week.

Beyond Teixeira, the Yanks’ 2-3-4-5-6-7 hitters combined to go 4 for 33 with 12 strike outs and nine runners left on base. Despite some late-inning choices which we’ll cover in a second, the Yankees lost the game when the bats fell silent. I know Ricky Romero has been a good pitcher of late, but the team’s offense just could not get the job done.

Prior to the 14-inning affair, the Yanks exhibited some shocking home/road splits. While in the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium, the Bombers hit .316/.394/.515. That’s an entire lineup of Alex Rodriguez in a down season. On the road, though, the team ekes out just a .258/.341/.395 line, and that doesn’t include today’s 8-for-47 debacle. The numbers are subject to a small sample size warning, but right now, the Yanks are a team built for their home stadium.

Biggest Out: Jeter lines into a DP

Unfortunately for Jeter, though, on a day in which everyone else struggled, his at-bat in the 7th defined the game for the Yanks. With Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner on second and third with one out, the Blue Jays brought the infield in, and Jeter lined the ball hard but right at Aaron Hill. Although Hill dropped the ball, the umpires ruled it a drop on the transfer. Jeter was out, and Cervelli, halfway down the line at third, was easily doubled up.

Had Jeter hit that ball elsewhere, the Yanks would have had a 4-1 lead. Had he hit it on the ground, the Yanks would have had a 3-1 lead. At that point, the Yanks needed Jeter to hit it where they ain’t, and though no fault of his, the rally was quashed. After that double play, Alex Gonzalez led off the 7th with a home run to tie the game, and the Yanks could never reclaim the lead.

Getting to the end of the game

In a certain sense, the early-game struggles were overshadowed by the end game. After coaxing 4.1 scoreless innings from his often-shaky bullpen, Joe Girardi had but three relievers left in the pen: Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. If ever the team needed Al Aceves, it was yesterday.

Mitre had just thrown a few innings yesterday and was unvailable, and the game had not yet entered that situation to end all situations: The Save Situation. So Chad Gaudin came into the game. Released a few weeks ago by the Oakland A’s, Gaudin walked Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays’ struggling nine hitter, on four pitchers, got an out on a sacrifice bunt and gave up a walk-off single to end the game.

I was apoplectic even before this disastrous 14th inning unfolded. How could Joe Girardi not use Mariano Rivera, the greatest reliever of all time, before Chad Gaudin, an Oakland reject? Girardi later said he would not use Rivera in a tie game on the road unless Mo can go two innings and that it’s still “too early in the season” to use Mariano for that length. Instead, Gaudin got the ball and the loss.

I understand the counterargument. I understand wanting to use your closer for a save situation. But at some point, it simply becomes necessary to save the game from being a loss. At some point, Rivera has to pitch in extra innings, and if the game is still tied after he’s out of gas, at least the Yanks went down firing their ace. It is a lesson Yankee managers have not learned since Alex Gonzalez took Jeff Weaver deep during the 2003 World Series. The loss ultimately rests with the offense, but the bullpen management in the 14th did not help.

Very Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte

Credit: Darren Calabrese, AP Photo/The Canadian Press

By the time the 14th inning rolled around, Andy Pettitte was but an afterthought. I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t give a big tip of the cap to Number 46. Facing a lineup that leads all of baseball in runs scored, Pettitte threw 7.2 masterful innings. He gave up just two solo home runs, struck out 10 and issued just three free passes. While he didn’t get a W, it was not for lack of trying, and Pettitte’s outing today continues his amazing run to start the 2010 season.

The WPA Rollercoaster

Up and down and up and down.

Up Next

Javier Vazquez (4-5, 6.06) will look to stop the bleeding in Toronto. He takes a recent hot streak into the 1:07 game against Brandon Morrow (4-4, 6.00), and after today’s long affair in which everyone but Mo pitched, the team will rely on Javy for some innings.

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Yankees bring back Chad Gaudin

Via Mark Feinsand, the Yankees have signed Chad Gaudin for bullpen depth, and he’s expected to be added to roster in time for tonight’s game. The Yanks released him at the end of Spring Training in favor of Sergio Mitre, a move that was greatly ridiculed around these parts. They only had to pay Gaudin $737,000 of termination pay (rather than his full $2.95M salary), and now they only have to pay him the pro-rated minimum from here on out since Oakland is on the hook for his 2010 contract after designating him for assignment. Gaudin posted an 8.83 ERA (but a 3.92 xFIP) in 17.1 IP for the A’s.

Feinsand mentions that Gaudin is being brought back to serve as the long man, so it’s possible that Mitre will be moved into a more leverage relief role, which Joe advocated yesterday. Both a 40-man and 25-man roster move are needed to accommodate his return. Bye bye Boone Logan?

Step 1: Leave Yankees. Step 2: Grow beard

The Yankees organization prides itself on class and professionalism. Whether or not it lives up to its self-image is a source of constant debate, though they do take measures to ensure that their players represent the team well. One infamous policy they’ve had in place since George Steinbrenner took over is a ban on facial hair below the lip. You wanna grow a pencil-thin mustache? Go for it. But you can forget about a fu manchu. Sal Fasano learned that first-hand.

After years of having an organization tell them what they can and cannot wear on their faces, it’s natural for former Yankees to immediately sport beards. This year’s crop of departures are no exception. Leave Yankees, grow beard. I’d do it, too.

A few of the departed Yankees rocked beards before coming to New York. Here’s Johnny Damon, who started to grow one in spring training with the Tigers, but has since shaved. Maybe the wife doesn’t like it. In any case, it would take a lot to top the beard he’s sporting in the second picture. Oh, what luck. There’s a french fry stuck in my beard.


Photo credits, left: Charlie Riedel/AP, right: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP

Chad Gaudin also rocked a beard when he pitched for the A’s, Cubs, and Padres before heading to New York. His beard is not very remarkable, which makes me sad. I wanted to include a wiseass remark with each beard.


Photo credits, left: Jeff Chiu/AP, right: Lenny Ignelzi/AP

I always forget about Brian Bruney. I’m not sure what that says about him, or me, other than I don’t miss him in the bullpen. Great potential, just couldn’t put it all together. But he can grow one mean beard, which should certainly help his future earnings potential once he can’t throw a baseball 95 mph.


Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Duane Burleson/AP

Two more bearded former Yankees never got a chance to rock the facial hair before. Take Phil Coke for instance. He spent his entire career in the Yankees’ system, so he’s always had to keep a razor nearby. Once traded t the Tigers, though, he went all out, growing a mullet, a beard, and picked up the beer gut to go along with it. He kinda looks like Rod Beck, though I’m pretty sure no one will write a song about Coke when he passes away.


Photo credits, left: Eric Gay/AP, right: AP file photo

Finally, we get to Melky. He showed up to Braves camp with a beard, but it appears he has since shaved it. That’s a shame. Melky looks slightly more badass with the beard. Slightly. Which is an improvement upon not at all. I wonder, then, why he shaved. Maybe the women don’t like it.


Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Darren Calabrese/AP

The only one who didn’t grow a beard, it seems, is Hideki Matsui. He should rock the Chan Ho beard this year.

Gaudin catches on with Oakland

Via Ken Rosenthal, Chad Gaudin has reached an agreement with the A’s, just a few days after the Yankees released him. Gaudin enjoyed his greatest amount of big league success in with Oakland, posting a 4.42 ERA (4.69 FIP) in 34 starts back in 2007. It’s a shame the Yanks didn’t keep him for depth, and I’m not surprised he landed a new job before the end of the weekend. Oh well.

Chad Gaudin Released

According to The Star Ledger’s Marc Carig, Chad Gaudin has been released. He had been placed on waivers earlier this week. The Yanks only have to pay him 45 days of termination pay (approximately $737,500), so this absolves them of the bulk of Gaudin’s $2.95 million salary for 2010. They could always re-sign him to a minor league contract to keep him in the organization, but I don’t think it’ll be hard for him to find a big league job elsewhere. After all, there are teams out there seriously interested in Jarrod Washburn.

I’m really not sure I get this, Gaudin is a damn useful piece. I guess the team must really have faith in Sergio Mitre now that he’s further away from Tommy John surgery.

Report: Yankees place Gaudin on waivers

The battle for the fifth starter’s spot appeared to lose a candidate overnight, as Ed Price reports that the Yankees have placed righty Chad Gaudin on waivers. Several things can happen now…

  1. Someone claims him. The waivers are irrevocable, so whoever claims Gaudin will get him and his entire $2.95M salary, no questions asked.
  2. He clears, and the Yanks send him to the minors. They’d still owe him his full salary.
  3. He clears, and the Yanks choose to flat out release him. They’d still owe him 45 days termination pay, which would be $737,500 according to Ken Rosenthal.

Considering that he’s bounced around so much (six teams in seven seasons), I’m willing to bet Gaudin’s been outrighted off someone’s 40-man roster before, which is essentially what the Yankees are doing. Under that assumption, Gaudin has the right to refuse a minor league assignment and elect to become a free agent, however he would forfeit his entire salary by doing so. Given the current economic climate, I can’t imagine he’ll find more than $2.95M on the open market, so it seems unlikely that he’ll go this route. If he does, his agent will have given him some bad advice.

For the second straight year, Gaudin had a tough going in Spring Training. Last year the Cubs decided to cut him loose too close to Opening Day, so they had to pay him his full $2M salary. The Padres signed him for the league minimum, then flipped him to the Yanks in August. He’s allowed 16 hits and ten runs with a 5-5 K/BB ratio in 9.1 innings this spring, covering four total outings (two starts), which is obviously pretty bad. However, did the Yankees fall for the trap of Spring Training stats by waiving Gaudin instead of Sergio Mitre?

Sure, Mitre’s had an impressive spring (14 IP, 3.21 ERA, 14-3 K/BB), and with an $850,000 salary it’s less likely that he would have cleared waivers. Maybe the Yanks felt this was the best way to keep both players in the organization, since Gaudin’s hefty salary makes him less attractive than most of the other back-end types floating out there. I hope that’s the case, because there’s nothing in either player’s track record to suggest that Mitre is better option going forward than Gaudin.

In over 460 career innings in the American League, Gaudin has been the definition of league average. His 4.25 ERA equals a 101 ERA+, his .271 batting average against isn’t much worse than the .265-ish league average (basically one extra hit every 142 at-bats), and his 6.5 K/9 is right around the 6.8-ish average as well (one fewer strikeout every 30 IP). His walk rate (4.2 BB/9) is definitely high (~3.4 league average), but he mitigates it somewhat with a strong groundball rate (43.7%). There’s nothing sexy about league average, but it’s very valuable in the role he’s expected to fill.

Mitre, on the other hand, has never been league average at much of anything, even before having Tommy John surgery. Even in his best season (2007), he put up a 4.65 ERA (93 ERA+) and a 4.8 K/9, both below average by any measure. And that came in the NL, in a pitcher’s park. His groundball rate (59.7% career) is spectacular, but missing bats and avoiding contact is the name of the game in the AL East. Oh, and Gaudin’s more than two full years younger.

The move to waive Gaudin all but assures that Mitre will open the season as the long man in the bullpen, yet there’s not much to suggest he’s the right man for the job beyond Spring Training stats. Thankfully, we’re talking about two guys that amount to spare parts, though for all intents and purposes they represent the Yanks’ sixth and seventh starters. Hopefully Gaudin clears and they’re able to stash him away in Triple-A for the time being. It would be a shame to lose him for what amounts to salary relief.

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar, AP

Winning the battle to get traded

New York Yankees’ Sergio Mitre delivers a warm up pitch in the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, in Port Charlotte, Fla., Friday, March 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

On a spring-like Friday, Joel Sherman dropped the not-so-breaking news that the Yankees will probably trade either Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin before Spring Training is out. Both of these vets have bounced around the league, and neither figures to be too high up on the Yanks’ depth charts. The team can’t send either to AAA, and instead of wasting roster spots, the Yankees will try to turn their surplus into something at all.

But who will go? In writing about it here yesterday, Mike voiced the prevalent opinion that Gaudin will stay. The soon-to-be 27-year-old has a better career track record than Mitre and has posted league-average numbers in the American League over 463 innings. Mitre, meanwhile, is 29 and with no real record of success. He wasn’t a highly-touted prospect while with the Cubs, and he hasn’t been very effective at getting outs as a Major Leaguer.

Yet the allure of Spring Training stats is strong with this one. Last night, in the Yanks’ 6-2 loss to the Rays, Mitre started and was stellar. Facing Major Leaguers who will make up most of Tampa’s Opening Day lineup, he threw 5 innings and gave up two runs on a pair of hits and a walk. He struck out seven. Gaudin relieved him and wasn’t effective. In 2.1 innings, Chad allowed three earned runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out just one and walked away with his third loss on the spring. The appearance effectively ended Gaudin’s hopes of landing the fifth starting spot.

On the spring, these two pitchers spot opposite numbers. Mitre has been the Yanks’ best starter. In 14 innings, he has allowed five runs on nine hits. He has walked three while striking out 14. Gaudin, meanwhile, has thrown 9.1 innings and has given up nine earned runs on 16 hits and five walks. He has struck out just five. Despite Mitre’s tradeability due to his lower salary, one might be tempted to say it is a no-brainer.

But the real question concerns Mitre. With a career K/9 IP of 5.5, he’s never been a strike out pitcher, and he’s having a Spring Training that makes one think of a flash in the pan. It’s true he’s another winter of strengthening away from Tommy John surgery, but nothing in his pre-surgical record suggests he will keep up this pitching success. Gaudin, at least, can rest on his AL laurels.

In the end, the Yanks don’t need to make a decision yet. They don’t need a fifth starter until late April and could juggle the rotation to keep both around until the right offer comes. When it’s time to trade one of them, though, I’d be far less sad to see Mitre vanish into the ether of the NL. He may be the Yanks’ Grapefruit League Cy Young, but history is littered with those pitchers who are Spring Training All Stars and revert to form come the regular season.