Starting the bullpen carousel

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Sometimes your options are so poor that it really doesn’t matter what you do. That’s the situation at the back of the Yankees’ bullpen right now. Chan Ho Park, Chad Gaudin, and Boone Logan have provided so little value that, in theory, you could call up a random AAA reliever to replace them and you’d realize equal, if not better, results. That appears to be just what the Yankees will do. By all appearances, Dustin Moseley will join the team tomorrow at the Stadium.

We learned yesterday that Moseley has an out clause in his contract that allows him to elect free agency if not on the 25-man roster by July 1. Last night he was scheduled to make his final start before that date, but as Donnie Collins reported in the early evening, Moseley would not make his start. Collins went on to confirm that the move did not involve an injury, and later that Moseley was throwing in the bullpen. That sounds like we’re just an official announcement away from seeing Moseley join the team.

That means the Yankees will have to jettison one of those three underachievers. Since they have a 40-man roster spot free they could simply option Logan and let that be that. That way they could keep both Gaudin and Park on the major league roster while stowing away Logan for depth. It sounds like the most likely move from a GM who covets his depth. But at this point I’m not sure it’s the correct move.

What, exactly, do the Yankees think they’re going to get from Chad Gaudin? Pick a stat, either results- or peripheral-based, and you’ll see nothing but dreck. ERA: 6.89, FIP: 6.10, xFIP 4.57, tERA 5.96. Oh, he has a 3.84 SIERA. His numbers have improved a bit since joining the Yankees, so maybe he’s not a total waste. But that doesn’t mean the Yankees have to keep him around. They can try to do better than simply not a total waste.

Now seems like as good a time as ever to start sending the bullpen cart to Scranton and picking up random relievers for auditions. Moseley starts on Tuesday. Albaladejo figures to get a shot soon enough, probably at the expense of Park or Logan. Moseley will get a few chances, and a lack of success will lead to his release, only to be replaced by someone like Romulo Sanchez or Jason Hirsh. Better to find out what they have now, rather than try to deal for someone at the deadline when there’s an answer right under their noses.

Will Moseley, or any of these guys for that matter, prove the answer to the Yankees’ bullpen issues? Probably not. But chances are they won’t provide a necessarily worse option than Park or Logan or Gaudin. At this point there isn’t really a reason for Gaudin to be on the team. Someone will have to go, regardless, when Sergio Mitre returns from his DL stint. Why not DFA the guy who will be DFA’d at some point anyway? At least that way Girardi will get to keep his coveted double-lefty tandem.

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Is it the pitcher, or is it the opposing offense?

The Phillies, as we’ve frequently heard, have had trouble scoring runs lately. After they beat Boston on May 21 they led the NL in runs per game, and given what we know about their offensive players that should have come as no surprise. Since then, in a 22-game span, they’ve dropped a full run per game to ninth in the NL, a half run per game behind league-leading Cincinnati. Yet last night they broke out for six runs on six hits, three of which went for extra bases. Were they breaking out of a slump?

As Ben noted this morning, “Last night’s affair was one of those ugly outings where the pitcher shoulders all the blame.” Given how the game unfolded after he left, I have to agree with that. The Phillies reverted to the futility we’ve seen, or at least heard of, during the past few weeks. Worse, they did it against two of the Yankees’ worst pitchers.

Photo credit: Paul Sancya/AP

It’s not secret — not to Yankees fans, not to anyone who follows baseball with a modicum of intensity — that Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin rank among the lesser relievers in the league. If not for injuries they probably wouldn’t have major league jobs right now. But they were easy options, and since the Yankees have two relievers on the DL their presences are understandable. Temporarily, at least.

Their troubles are well known. Gaudin walks too many hitters and has a tough time with lefties. In an ideal world he’d come in from the pen to face a string of righties, but there’s always that lefty on the bench that can trip him up. This leads to a high number of hits, particularly extra base hits. Logan walks even more batters than Gaudin, and even has troubles throwing strikes to same-handed hitters. The only reason he ever sniffs the majors is because he throws the ball with his left arm.

Yet those two combined to not only hold the Phillies scoreless during the final 5.2 innings last night, but to no-hit them. While Burnett used 87 pitches to record 10 outs, Logan and Gaudin combined for 78 pitches to get the final 17 outs. They threw two-thirds of their pitches for strikes. They each struck out three hitters, Logan in 2.2 innings and Gaudin in 3. It was quite the change from what we saw earlier in the game.

Could it have been the Phillies offense getting complacent after scoring six runs? It could be, I suppose, but I’d never turn to this as a primary explanation for their late-inning futility. They know that a four-run lead isn’t safe with the Yankees’ offense — hell, they brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, and it wasn’t all that surprising. So I’m sure they didn’t just turn off some switch and slide into cruise control. Maybe it was something subconscious, a sense of satisfaction that they had scored six runs after battling and struggling to score just one during many games in the past few weeks. None of us can really say for sure.

The most likely explanation is that Burnett was just bad. We know that he has terrible outings from time to time, just like we know that Guadin and Logan are bad pitchers. We also know that the Phillies offense has struggled during the past few weeks. When those elements combine in my head, it points to Bad A.J. and not much else. We’ll have to learn to live with these starts. At least it bodes well for today.

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.

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.