Archive for Damaso Marte

Prospect season is in full swing these days, and Baseball America is in the middle of posting their top ten prospects for each team. The Yankees list won’t be released until December 18th, but the Pirates’ list came out today, and old pal Jose Tabata checked in at number two behind Washington Heights’ own Pedro Alvarez.

You probably all remember Tabata as the talented, yet troubled outfielder that would tantalize you with his natural ability but frustrate you with his childishness. The Yanks shipped him to Pittsburgh in the Xavier Nady-Damaso Marte trade after having to suspend him twice for insubordination, and the now 21-year-old has enjoyed a bit of prospect rebirth with the Pirates. He hit .293-.357-406 between Double- and Triple-A in 2009, easily his best season since playing with Low-A Charleston back in 2006.

It’s all too easy to look back and judge trades in hindsight. Heck, the evaluation of Tabata trade has been a roller coaster since it was made. When it was made, everyone love it and called it a steal. When Tabata and Ross Ohlendorf were doing well for the Pirates while Nady and Marte went down with injuries, it was an awful move. When Marte turned Chase Utley and Ryan Howard into Corey Patterson and Yuniesky Betancourt en route to the World Series, it was pure genius. It doesn’t require any brainpower to judge a move in hindsight, nor is it an accurate way to do things.

The reality is that it was a move the team had to make and a move Tabata needed. The Yanks were just two games out of a playoff spot at the time of the trade, and adding an everyday outfielder enjoying a career year plus an accomplished lefty reliever made all the sense in the world. Meanwhile, it’s clear that Tabata was frustrated by the season he was having in 2008 (.248-.320-.310 before the trade), pulling himself from a game and leaving the park (suspension #1), then slamming his bat at the plate and showing up an umpire after looking at strike three (suspension #2). I can’t see Tabata making that kind of turnaround with the Yanks. He needed a change of scenery, and in the end it worked out for both parties.

Anyway, that’s my evening rant. Use this as your open thread for the night. The Knicks are in LA taking on the Lakers, while the Nets’ drive for 0-82 will continue out in Denver. Anything goes, just don’t be a jerk.

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The rise of Damaso Marte

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Damaso Marte in Game FourWhen the playoffs started, the question wasn’t whether Damaso Marte would be the first or second lefty reliever out of the bullpen, it was will he even be on the playoff roster? Three-plus weeks later, he’s morphed from an “only in an emergency” option to a bonafide weapon out of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen.

It’s no secret that Marte’s Yankee career started off in inauspicious fashion. After being acquired along with Xavier Nady at the 2008 trade deadline, Marte put 24 men on base in just 18.1 IP to close out the year, though his 3.02 FIP and 3.71 tRA disagreed with his 5.40 ERA. Then, in a somewhat surprising move, the Yankees declined Marte’s $6M option for 2009 only to re-sign him to a three-year, $12MM deal a week later. It was surprising because the team took on much more risk, rather than being able to walk away after a year if things didn’t go as planned. And they didn’t go as planned, at least as first.

Marte returned from the World Baseball Classic with shoulder inflammation, and then proceeded to serve up three homers and allow nine runs in his first seven outings of the season, covering just 5.1 IP. His velocity was down, and he ended up on the DL in early May with a sore shoulder. With CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher performing so well, Marte certainly looked like the token dud offseason move.

After getting cleared by Dr. Andrews, Marte’s rehab experience started way down with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Yankees. He ultimately made 13 rehab appearances, 11 with Triple-A Scranton, which is an unusually high number. It seemed like the team was in no rush to get him back up to the big leagues, and sure enough when he did return in late August, he was used sparingly in low-leverage spots. His season numbers were pretty awful (9.45 ERA, 5.65 FIP, 5.30 tRA), but he held lefties to a .120-.214-.280 batting line and got his postseason spot because of the presence of Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel in the middle of Minnesota’s lineup.

Since the playoffs started, not only has Marte usurped Phil Coke as the primary lefthander out of the bullpen, he’s also jumped ahead of several righthanders in the setup crew pecking order. After allowing a pair of singles to Mauer and Kubel to start his 2009 postseason, Marte has retired the last 10 batters he’s faced, three on strikeouts thanks to a ridiculous 79.4% strike rate (yes, I know it’s in a small sample). He’s completely neutralized NLCS MVP Ryan Howard (0-for-3 with a strikeout in the World Series, 0-for-3 with three strikeouts career coming into the series), and pretty much everyone else that stood in the box.

Yankee fans crushed Marte all season long, saying he couldn’t handle the pressure of playing in New York, the usual shtick like that. A few of us stood by him, noting that his long and impressive track record indicated that he’s not just a good reliever, but one of the better and more consistent relievers of the century. Judging players on small sample sizes, especially when they were dealing with an injury, is never a good idea, and now Marte is rewarding Girardi’s faith by getting crucial outs in the late innings of October November. Remember, he’s the only reliever in the bullpen aside from Mariano Rivera with World Series experience.

Considering how recent postseason performance can inflate salaries on the open market, the Yankees may have actually saved themselves some money by re-signing Marte semi-long-term last offseason instead of just picking up his option and letting him hit the market again this winter. Funny how these things work out.

Photo Credit: Nick Laham, Getty Images

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So far, so good for Marte

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With so much frustration surrounding last night’s game, it’s easy to let something positive fall through the cracks. There was something of that nature last night for the Yanks, and his name is Damaso Marte. After retiring the only two batters he faced Friday, he came in to record the last out of the seventh and then retired the Rangers in the eighth. He did this with aplomb, striking out two batters in those 1.1 innings while issuing just one walk — a strategic one of the four-pitch variety, putting the dangerous Michael Young on in favor of Josh Hamilton, whom Marte fooled with a breaking ball for strike three.

The Red Sox just picked up Billy Wagner to help strengthen their bullpen. The Yanks have added Marte. On their best days, Marte isn’t at Wagner’s level, but their recent injuries might level the playing field a bit. Wagner, after all, is just 11 months out from Tommy John surgery and was concerned about his potential workload in Boston. Marte is also coming off injury, though of a less defined nature. He’s battled shoulder inflammation most of the year, but by all accounts the ailment wasn’t serious enough to consider surgery.

It’s tough to pin too many hopes on Marte. We’ve only see him throw two innings, but those two innings were pretty impressive. His fastball has been working, hitting 93 much of the time, though last night he did drop down to about 91 for a few pitches (on Friday he threw 93 most of the time) and his breaking stuff seems just fine. By all early appearances, Marte might be the guy the Yanks hoped he was when they signed him to a three-year, $12 million contract this off-season.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
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On Tuesday, we got the latest word in the Damaso Marte saga: the lefty could rejoin the team in Boston this evening. Yes, Joe Girardi said “might,” but why would he say it at all unless it was the likely move? Marte, if healthy, could even further upgrade a bullpen that’s been among the best in the league over the last few months. In fact, because the bullpen has been so good, and because the Yankees need some extra arms in order to accommodate Joba Chamberlain‘s innings limit, they might have some difficulty shuffling things around in order to make room for Marte.

The only two options for demotion in the pen are David Robertson and Phil Coke. Robertson’s been pitching awful well lately, and it’s doubtful he goes at this point. Coke has had his struggles, but he’s also been an effective option out of the pen. Plus, both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have expressed their desire to have two lefty options, something they’ve essentially lacked all season. With Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre needed in the rotation, it looks like no one on the pitching staff will get demoted.

That leaves one name: Ramiro Pena. He’s a useful player to have around. He can play all around the infield, and the Yanks think he can handle the outfield. His bat isn’t anything to brag about, but he doesn’t look completely lost up there. He can also pinch run. In other words, he’s a serviceable utility guy. The Yankees have another player like that, Jerry Hairston, and they might opt to use just one utility player for the rest of August rather than deplete their pitching staff.

Thankfully, the month is almost over. The Yanks play three in Fenway, then have a day off before playing the final seven games of the month. After that they can have up to 40 men on the active roster, meaning they can recall Pena if they so desire. It might hurt to have a short bench, but it’s only for 10 games. With the off-days surrounding the Boston series, the starters should be fresh enough to handle it. Even if they’re not, the Yanks can deploy super-sub Hairston.

The most interesting part of the next 10 games will be how the Yankees use Marte. No, they won’t use him in a tight spot over the weekend, but they’ll have to get him some work so they can gauge how useful he’ll be down the stretch. We’ve been saying it since the man went on a rehab assignment: a healthy Marte makes this bullpen perhaps the best in the league.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
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Via PeteAbe, currently DL’ed reliever Damaso Marte has been excused from the team indefinitely for “personal reasons.” Earlier this morning we talked about how Marte hasn’t yet returned to the team even though his 30-day rehab assignment ended yesterday, but this move essentially acts like another DL trip. No word on what said personal reasons are, but you have to imagine Mr. Cashman is kicking himself in the behind for his decision to re-up Marte for three years last winter rather than just pick up his option.

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On Thursday, we wondered when Damaso Marte would return. His rehab began on July 16, meaning his 30 days are just about up. By my count, it was up last night, as today is Day 31. As Mike noted, Marte pitched another scoreless inning, striking out one while allowing two hits. Yet it doesn’t appear Marte will be back today. Tyler Kepner has a quote from Joe Girardi on the matter: “We’re not sure if he’s going to get there.” Marte still hasn’t gotten his velocity back up to 93, the apparent target, and apparently still has inflammation in his shoulder. So I guess it’s a shut down for now. Look for Marte to appear in a minor league game again sometime next week (I suppose).

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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On May 4, the Yankees placed Damaso Marte on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 26, after seven pretty poor performances. The injury was termed tendinitis and weakness in his left shoulder. That’s never good news, especially for a guy who came back from the WBC nursing an injury. The outlook grew a bit bleaker when Marte took a trip to Dr. Andrews’s office in Alabama, but the good doctor didn’t find anything wrong. That was in mid-June. We’re now in mid-August, and we still haven’t heard anything about Marte returning any time soon.

Marte’s rehab assignment began on July 16 when he pitched an inning for the GCL Yankees. He then moved up to AAA Scranton, where he’s made 10 appearances so far. In his last 5.1 innings he’s allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out four, allowing no runs. It would seem from the results that he’s near a return. But, again, we haven’t heard anything to that effect from anyone. Just how long will Marte stay on this rehab assignment?

MLB rules allow for rehabbing players to play in the minors for 30 days. Since Marte first appeared on July 16, his clock started then. Today marks Day 27, so unless the Yankees pull him off the assignment for some reason, he’ll have to rejoin the team by Monday, in Oakland. It’s strange that he’s so close, yet the Yankees have been tight-lipped about his return.

If they were so inclined they could pull the same move they did with Humberto Sanchez last year. When his rehab clock was almost up they shut him down with another injury. When he finally got back into games, his clock re-started. Marte, of course, is a different situation. He’s a major league vet, and unlike Sanchez last year, the Yankees would be bringing him right back on the 25-man roster, whereas Sanchez would have been optioned to the minors. The move doesn’t seem likely, but it can’t be ruled out.

Assuming Marte does come back on Monday, as per his rehab clock, what move would the Yankees make to free up a roster spot? Would they dare option David Robertson while he’s pitching so well? Phil Coke? Would they go with 13 pitchers until rosters expand on September 1 and option Ramiro Pena? Those seem like the only three possible moves, and for one reason or another neither seems particularly palatable.

We’ll soon find out the Yankees plan. Until then all we can do is wonder. It sure would be nice to finally see some productivity out of the reliever to whom the Yanks committed three years and $12 million. If he can produce at anywhere near his previous levels, he’ll be a tremendous asset to the Yankees down the stretch.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
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Could the Yankees be getting lefty reliever Damaso Marte back in the near future? He started a rehab assignment last week, and while it got off to a sputtering start, he cruised through his second appearance. Carig tweets that Marte’s next stop is in Scranton on Tuesday. The Yanks have plenty of time to evaluate Marte — his rehab assignment can last through mid-August — and it looks like they’re eager to see how he fares against the best minor league competition. There’s nothing further on when he’ll return, but I’d assume the Yanks want to see him on back to back days first.

Update: It seems Chien-Ming Wang felt pain today while throwing. PeteAbe said Girardi mentioned the rotator cuff, while Hoch says biceps soreness. Either way it’s not a good deal. Girardi then went on to say that Aceves would be easier than to return to the rotation at this point. Which brings up an important question: Do you make the easier move or the better move? I find it hard to believe that even the most staunch B-Hughesers would think that Aceves would be better in the rotation than Hughes.

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Marte begins rehab assignment

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Lefty setup man Damaso Marte actually pitched in a game today, beginning his rehab assignment by allowing a run on two hits in an inning of work for the rookie level GCL Yankees. We heard this was going to happen the other day, but I don’t think any of us were going to believe it until we actually saw it. Marte has been MIA since April after coming back from the WBC with some kind of shoulder injury. A healthy Damaso Marte would be just as good as pretty much any reliever out there on the trade market right now, so I’m sure the team is eagerly awaiting his return.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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We have a Damaso Marte sighting. The Yanks’ left-handed reliever, missing in action since coming down with an (allegedly) WBC-inspired shoulder injury, is heading to rehab, Bryan Hoch says via Twitter. Marte threw 35 pitches during batting practice today and will begin a Golf Coast League rehab on Thursday. Getting a healthy and effective Marte back would allow the Yanks to seamlessly transition Phil Hughes or Al Aceves into the starting rotation while Chien-Ming Wang recovers from his shoulder injury.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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