Archive for Nick Johnson
Earlier today we learned that Damaso Marte had to be placed on the disabled list with a bout of shoulder tendinitis and then A.J. Burnett left his start with lacerations on his right hand. While those two are only the latest in a slew of injured Yankees, we have some updates on the guys working their ways back to the Bronx.
Sergio Mitre threw a side session this afternoon after making a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton on Thursday. He will return to the team for the start of the Angels’ series on Tuesday. You have to figure that’s the end of the line for one of Chad Ho Moseley trio, and after today’s outing, Moseley may have thrown his final pitches for the Yanks. They should have traded him before he could opt out when his stock was at a high.
Two other key cogs aren’t close to returning. After suffering yet another setback, Alfredo Aceves will begin a throwing program this weekend by tossing off flat ground. With some major back problems plaguing him, Aceves isn’t coming back to help the bullpen anytime soon, and anything the Yanks get out of him this season is a bonus. He may have to explore surgery after the season is over.
As for Nick Johnson, he has restarted his rehab after feeling pain in his wrist earlier this month. His new plan involves “aggressive wrist exercises,” but he is still a few weeks away from true baseball activities such as swinging a bat. Like Aceves, anything they get out of Johnson the rest of the season is gravy.
Feel free to use this update as tonight’s open thread. We’ll be back later with Down on the Farm and the recap of this afternoon’s Rays-Yanks affair.
On Monday night Ben reviewed seven Yankees who performed better than we could have expected heading into the season. Those players have helped keep the team moving as various players slumped. Some of those slumps lasted longer than others, and that resulted in a number of players falling short of the expectations we had for them early in the season.
Was an injury to Nick Johnson expected? To some extent it had to be. Even last year, when he was mostly healthy while playing for the Nationals and Marlins, Johnson still hit the disabled list for two weeks. But a season-ending injury in May? While it was a certain possibility I’m not sure any but the most cynical of fans had that in mind. It pays to be a cynical fan in that way — if you’re right you get to gloat and call everyone else an idiot, if you’re wrong you’re pleasantly surprised. It works well in a sport where the failures far outweigh the successes.
Even while Johnson was in the lineup he didn’t perform to expectations. As normal his OBP was high, on the strength of his superhuman 24.5 percent walk rate, but Johnson didn’t exactly hit to expectations. In fact, he had just 12 base hits in his 98 PA, while he walked twice as many times. Half of his hits did go for extra bases, a huge plus in a larger sample but mostly useless in Johnson’s case. He has been the big disappointment this season.
Chances are his season is done, even though the Yankees could use someone exactly like him right now. That’s a shame. There was so much potential there, and the Yanks realized none of it. They had to choose among injury risks for their DH spot, and they picked the one guy who didn’t stay healthy. Such is life.
It hurts me just a little to put Teixeira on this list. Sure, he was the source of mass frustration in April, and then again in May, and then for a little of June. His slumps have put him in a tough spot, a .254/.360/.465 line headed into the break. In terms of his career that’s off the mark, but a .361 wOBA looks pretty nice all considered.
Teixeira produced the worst April of his career, a mere .136/.300/.259, .271 wOBA. We were used to Tex getting off to slow starts, but this was much worse than last year when he hit .200/.367/.371, .330 wOBA. May started off well but then he slumped again and finished the month with a .280/.366/.475 triple slash, .366 wOBA. In June he stumbled again, a .353 wOBA, but he has recovered in July with a .545 wOBA through 50 PA. That makes his May 1 through the break numbers look a bit better: .291/.380/.529. I don’t think anyone will complain if he maintains that pace for the rest of the season.
At the beginning Derek Jeter was an equal opportunity first-pitch swinger. It seemed like he was swinging at all of them and, for the most part, grounding them all to shortstop. Yet through his first 23 games he was hitting .333/.367/.510. The lack of walks was a bit concerning, but as long as Jeter was hitting all was well. Unfortunately, his torrid start ceased right there.
In the course of just a few weeks Jeter saw his average tumble to .266, a span during which he was 12 for 71. He then climbed back over the .300 mark for a bit, but has steadily declined since. He peaked on June 1, when he was hitting .307 after a 2 for 3 day. Since then he’s hitting .221/.319/.321.
Why are we citing Jeter’s batting average above all else? Because his game seems so dependent on it this year. Or, at least, it was. Since the April in which he walked in just 3 percent of his plate appearances, Jeter has steadily improved, walking 6.4 percent of the time in May before walking in nearly 13 percent of his PA in June and July. His BABIP has fallen off in these months, so if he can just put it all together I think he can have a fine second half. It won’t look like last year, but it should look a bit better than 2008 if all goes well.
Again, this is not a guy I wanted to put on the list, but with his subpar first half numbers I couldn’t leave him off. A-Rod has had some shining moments for sure, including three grand slams and a few game-changing hits. Still, on the whole he’s been something of a disappointment, probably in part because of his hip issues.
Everything is down for Alex this year, even his strikeout rate. His defense has been fine, but suffered a bit when his hip hurt him the most (just before he sat out against Philly and Houston). Since June 1 he is hitting .232/.298/.464, which is nice from an isolated power perspective, but even then it’s sub-par for A-Rod. Hopefully his proclamation at the Home Run Derby, that he felt stronger, holds true in the second half. The Yanks will need his production.
One thing we knew when the Yankees acquired Curtis Granderson is that he’d need to work with Kevin Long in order to correct the problems that plagued him last year. They went beyond mere bad luck on balls in play; Granderson was putting the ball in the air more often, and had been especially pull-happy. While lefties pulling the ball at the Stadium can produce quality results, it doesn’t usually make for a well-rounded player.
Granderson’s first half results can be rated as nothing but a disappointment. He has produced even less than he did last year, a .319 wOBA. His walk rate and power are down, which doesn’t go well with his .280 BABIP. The good news is that he’s putting the ball on the ground and hitting it on a line more often, so maybe he’s working out of it.
Unlike the others on the list I don’t have as high expectations for Granderson in the second half. It took Long a year to transform Swisher, just like it took him time to get Robinson Cano into a good spot. I imagine that we might see some improvement from Granderson in the second half — he can’t really do much worse at this point — but I don’t expect it to be revelatory. I will still maintain faith, however, that we’ll see a different Granderson in 2011.
In April and May Burnett killed opponents, a 3.28 ERA and 3.37 FIP. He had a few bad games in there, notably a nine-run performance against Boston, but for the most part he was pitching very well despite a curveball that wasn’t working like normal. So his strikeouts were down, but he made up for that by keeping the ball on the ground more often than last year. But then June came and ruined everything.
Burnett’s June totals: 23 IP, 35 H, 29 R, 29 ER, 17 BB, 19 K, 9 HR. He had allowed four home runs in his previous 77.1 IP. That’s the entire reason he comes in below expectations. Even with his two excellent starts in July he still has a 4.75 ERA and 4.73 FIP. That’s not what the Yankees are paying $17.5 million for. Burnett will have to hold up his end of the deal in the second half. Thankfully, everyone surrounding him is picking up the slack.
The non-Mo bullpen
The list could go on forever if we listed all of these guys individually, so it’s best to just lump them together. In terms of peripherals the unit has been adequate. They rank 4th in the AL in OBP against, 5th in SLG against, and 4th in WHIP. The strikeouts could be better, 7.43 per nine, 7th in the AL. But as a unit they’re simply giving up too many runs, a 4.14 ERA that’s good for 9th in the league.
Here’s a quick rundown of the individuals in the pen and their deficiencies:
Joba: Too many hits allowed. Not sure if this is luck or him just trying to not walk guys. He has walked only 14 in 37.1 IP, a decent rate, but one he’s going to have to eventually bring down if he’s going to be a success in the setup role.
Robertson: Still trying to work off that Abreu grand slam. He walks way, way too many guys, though his strikeout numbers are again impressive, 32 in 29.2 IP.
Park: Hits, homers, and a lack of velocity. He’s dialed it up recently, but with few positive results to show for it. His time is running short.
Marte: Again, too many walks. Lefties are hitting just .146 against him and he has allowed just one extra base hit to the 31 righties he’s faced, but those walks — eight to righties — will hurt plenty. Especially with no one else in the pen to pick up for him.
Gaudin: Again with the walks. I see little reason to keep him around. He won’t once the next guy returns.
Mitre: Very good all considered. His WHIP is 1.00, fueled by a low hit rate, but maybe that’s something he can capitalize on in the pen. Once he returns from his batting practice injury I think he’ll get a shot in one-inning stints.
From the no one should be surprised department, Nick Johnson felt pain his wrist taking swings today, and has been sent back to New York for test. You really didn’t think that NJ would get through his rehab without a setback, did you? It’s a shame, the Yankees could really use a productive (and set) designated hitter right about now. Anything they get out of Johnson the rest of the season is just gravy, zero expectations.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been reduced to getting exciting about Marcus Thames returning, but that’s where we sit. The righty bat will play nine innings in the field during his third rehab game with Triple-A Scranton tonight, and if all goes well he could rejoin the team as soon as tomorrow. Given the current DH situation, that’s a good thing.
Meanwhile, Sergio Mitre made his first rehab appearance after an oblique strain last night, throwing just one inning for High-A Tampa before throwing some more in the bullpen. He’ll throw two innings on Monday, and right now isn’t expected to rejoin the team until after the All Star break. Al Aceves is going to throw 40 or so pitches off a full mound early next week, a rather significant step in his return from back issues. The Yanks are going to take is slow and be very cautious with him given the nature of his injury, so Ace is probably still a few weeks away.
Finally, we have Nick Johnson, who is actually going to swing a bat today. Granted, it’ll just be a fungo, but it’s progress. Assuming all goes well – not a safe assumption, of course – he’ll head down to Tampa and continue baseball activities there. NJ is still a ways off from rehab games and rejoining the team, but any news is good news at this point.
Via Jack Curry, the Yankees have recalled catcher Chad Moeller from Triple-A Scranton to help carry the load while Jorge Posada is out with a hairline fracture in a his foot. Nick Johnson was shifted to the 60-day disabled list to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. The 35-year-old Moeller was signed to a minor league deal at the end of Spring Training to mentor top prospect Jesus Montero in Scranton, and he’s hit just .207-.233-.310 in limited playing this year.
You probably remember Moeller from his 2008 stint with the team, when he hit .231-.311-.330 in 103 plate appearances. Frankie Cervelli figures to get the majority of the playing time behind the plate now, and I assume P.J. Pilittere will take Moeller’s spot in SWB.
According to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal, Nick Johnson will undergo surgery on his right wrist. The Yanks’ erstwhile DH will be out until at least July as he recovers from the procedure. Over the weekend, we reported that the odds on Nick’s needing surgery were around 50 percent, and apparently, his wrist did not respond to a cortisone shot. Johnson, off to a slow start during his second stint for the Yanks, was hitting .167/.388/.306 before the injury, and the Yankees will now turn to Juan Miranda and a rotating list of veterans to fill the designated hitter hole. The Yanks’ lineup, as I wrote last week, is better off with a set DH, and I have to wonder if Brian Cashman is at all tempted to kick the tires on this guy.
For Nick and the Yankees, a wrist injury is both not surprising and very disappointing. If one major injury has plagued Johnson throughout his injury-plagued career, it has involved his right wrist. He missed the entire 2000 season with a right wrist injury and had surgery on the same wrist in 2008. He also suffered a left wrist injury in 2002 that carried over to 2003. Without strength in his bottom hand, the left-handed Johnson may find it hard to hit for much power if he returns later this summer.
Update (4:15 p.m.): Making this news official, the Yankees have confirmed surgery for Johnson. He’ll undergo the procedure tomorrow, and the team anticipates that it will be at least four to six weeks before Johnson resumes baseball activities. “This is not a quick fix,” Joe Girardi said to reporters. “This is going to be a while.”
Finally, some good injury news. Prior to this afternoon’s game, GM Brian Cashman confirmed that Chan Ho Park would be activated off the disabled list in time for tomorrow’s game. He’s been on the DL for just about a month with a hamstring issue, but apparently he’s good to go after make two rehab appearances (one in Extended Spring Training, one in Triple-A) last week. With Al Aceves on the shelf for the foreseeable future, getting CHoP back is going to be a nice boost to a bullpen that been pretty shaky before the 8th inning.
Meanwhile, the news for Nick Johnson isn’t as promising. He received a cortisone shot in his wrist, and there’s only a 50% chance that it’ll take care of the inflamed tendon. If it doesn’t, he’ll have to go under the knife, which means 4-6 weeks before he could even pick up a bat. They’ll know whether he needs surgery or not within ten days or so. Just putting it all together, Johnson might not be back until August if he has surgery since he’ll need time for a minor league rehab assignment and what not.
Via Marc Carig, an MRI revealed tendon inflammation in Nick Johnson‘s right wrist. He received a cortisone shot, and is expected to miss several weeks according to GM Brian Cashman. Hopefully several weeks translates into two to four, and not say, six to eight. Once Juan Miranda heals up (he took a pitch off the elbow a few days ago, and hasn’t played since), I expect that he’ll come up for his first extended look at the big league level.
In the past few days the Yankees have had to deal with a number of injuries. Most of them have been mild in nature, but that still causes problems for the roster. In fact, mild injuries can cause more problems than DL trips in some cases, because the player is not available and there is no one to take his place on the roster. Right now the Yankees have three players nursing injuries who won’t hit the DL, so that’s three inactive roster spots. It can make managing the lineup and bullpen a bit tricky.
The Yankees do have options, though, and will likely make a number of moves during the next few days to keep their roster up to speed. The moves will include recalling an infielder tomorrow, and then probably an outfielder early next week. They’ll need an extra OF if Marcus Thames is going to take more reps at DH. Let’s start with what they’ll do tomorrow.
Marc Carig reports that the Yankees have scheduled no tests on Robinson Cano‘s knee, so chances are he’ll just sit out a day or two. The Yanks could probably get by with just four infielders, but it’s probably advisable to have a backup. Kevin Russo makes the most sense, since he can play all infield positions and is already on the 40-man roster. I’d be very surprised if this didn’t happen tomorrow.
The Yankees currently have 13 pitchers, which is two too many. Logan and Robertson pitched last night, so they’re the most likely to go on an optional assignment. Mike wrote about demoting Robertson yesterday. Boone Logan writes about his own demotion every time he walks a batter.
The Yankees sent down Golson before today’s game, meaning that under normal circumstances he’d have to spend 10 days in the minors. With the injury to Johnson, though, the Yankees can bring him right back. If, as Carig reports, they’ll use Thames at DH, they’ll need a reserve outfielder. Golson is the best option right now.
Possible alternative: Moeller instead of Russo or Golson
Both Golson and Russo are really just emergency options. They’re nice to have around, and the Yankees have the flexibility to keep them around as insurance. They could, however, opt to give Jorge some reps at DH. That way they can get his bat into the lineup without risking his legs by playing him at catcher. That would require a third catcher, which would be Chad Moeller.
This is something I can see happening after the need for Russo expires. Once Cano is back to playing the Yanks don’t need two utility infielders, so Russo will likely head back to Scranton. That does leave a roster spot free. The Yankees could opt to recall Chad Moeller as Francisco Cervelli‘s backup and give Jorge reps against righties at DH. They could even ease him back into catching, making sure that his leg issues really are behind him.
Alternative two: Option Russo, recall Miranda
If the Yankees are prepared to let Jorge return to catching full-time, they could opt to replace Russo with a platoon partner with Thames at DH. I like this just about as little as I like carrying a third catcher. Miranda can back up Teixeira at first, and Thames can play the OF if need be, but neither presents a good option. Then again, with these injuries that doesn’t come as a surprise.
I’d probably support recalling Moeller more, because it provides the added bonus of getting Jorge’s bat into the lineup while making sure his calf is ready for the rigors of squatting for an hour and a half each night. Also, Miranda hasn’t played since May 4, so there might be something there.
Rain? That might help
There is rain in the forecast today, and while I’m not normally one to hope for a washout, it might not be the worst thing in this case. Rescheduling this afternoon’s game as a doubleheader later in the year accomplishes a few things.
- It pushes the whole rotation back a day. CC would pitch on Sunday, and then Burnett would go Monday against the Tigers. Vazquez could then go Tuesday as scheduled, followed by Hughes on Wednesday. Could Andy Pettitte pitch on Thursday? I doubt it, but there’s a non-zero chance.
- It gives Jorge and Robbie a free day. It sounds like Jorge could catch today, but giving him another day couldn’t hurt, especially if there’s no game to win that day. Cano won’t play today, so a rainout will only help there.
- It means no Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
No one likes to see injuries, especially ones to key players. The Yankees have weathered a few trips to the infirmary this year, but they’re in an even tougher spot now. They do have options, though they’re starting to get a bit thin.
10:36pm: Johnson appears headed to the disabled list. For shame.
10:29pm: Cano’s knee is sore, and he’s day-to-day, but Johnson is going back to New York to have tests performed on his wrist, which is not a good sign at all. There will be a callup before tomorrow’s game; my money is on Kevin Russo given his impressive Spring Training showing and versatility.
8:48pm: As if the Yankees need another injury, Nick Johnson was pinch hit for in the 5th inning of tonight’s game because of a sore right wrist. It’s the same wrist he had surgery on in 2008, which caused him to spend 137 total days on the disabled list.
Meanwhile, Robbie Cano took a fastball off the left knee in the 6th inning, and left the game as well. Jorge Posada missed a handful of games two weeks ago after a similar HBP. We’ll update this post with more info as it comes.