June 2009

Mariners vs. Yankees: 6/30/2009 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (43-32)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF

Pitching: Joba Chamberlain (4-2, 3.81)

mariners.jpgMARINERS (39-36)
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Russell Branyan 1B
Jose Lopez 2B
Ken Griffey, Jr. LF
Mike Sweeney DH
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Chris Woodward 3B
Kenji Johjima C
Ronny Cedeno SS

Pitching: Brandon Morrow (0-3, 5.64)

UPDATE: Brian Cashman told Michael Kay on ESPN 1050 in New York that Eric Hinske’s flight from Pittsburgh is delayed by inclement weather. It is uncertain when he’ll arrive at Yankee Stadium. For that reason, there’s no roster move yet, but Cashman implied Ramiro Pena would be demoted to Triple-A. – Jon Lane

4:59 p.m.
Comments from Joe Girardi:

On why the move was made:
“At some point, we’d thought we’d have Nady back this week. Unfortunately he had a pretty substantial setback. Hinske was available. He has the versatility of infield and outfield, so he was attractive.”

On Hinske’s intangibles
“He’s had a lot of success in the American League East. He’s been on a couple of playoff teams, a World Series team, and we thought it was important because he does know the league. He knows the brand of baseball that’s played here. We feel that he’s a tough player and we like his credentials.” – jl

Random post-vacation thoughts

hinske_250_063009.jpgBy Jon Lane
Inclement weather, part of the absolute worst June ever in terms of never-ending rain, compromised my time away, but only a little bit. I enjoyed quality time with the family and the week that was, from a landmark live streaming announcement, to Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, to a one-sided Subway Series and capped by the great Mariano Rivera, it was seven eventful days, along with a few to pause and mourn the tragic losses and reflect upon the legacies of two cultural icons.

Strictly in the confines of baseball and the Yankees, many props to the newly-wed Joe Auriemma, and fellow colleague Glenn Giangrande, for filling the YES Blog. You’ll be reading plenty more from them and seeing the duo on Pinstriped Weekly as the season progresses. Wrestling fans are familiar with this expression from Jim Ross: “Business is about to pick up.”

? Turns out that’s what happened late this morning with the Yankees’ acquisition of veteran Eric Hinske (pictured) from the Pirates for two Minor Leaguers. It was only yesterday when Brian Cashman provided his usual GM-speak when discussing the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 by saying, “We’ve got the pieces in place.” When you spend $400 million on people, you expect to have the pieces in place, yet Cashman is best at flying stealth before pulling the trigger. Expect him to look into Huston Street’s availability to buff the bullpen.

Since losing Xavier Nady for the season hurts, Hinske will help share the load with Nick Swisher in right field and even help spell Alex Rodriguez; last season for the Rays, he started 47 games in right, 37 in left, nine at first base and four at third. He’s never hit for average, but the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year slugged 20 homers with 60 RBIs and 21 doubles for the AL Champions and won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2007. This is a guy whose value goes beyond subpar numbers. He’ll provide intangibles and grit, which even the high-priced Yankees need.

The team will need to make a corresponding roster move today, which means either Brett Tomko will be designated for assignment or Ramiro Pena optioned to Triple-A so he can play every day. This morning I figured Shelley Duncan’s return was imminent, but that won’t happen.

? The Yankees are winners of five straight – albeit three came against the New York Mess, er, Mets – while having busted out offensively. The numbers from their last three games against a Quadruple-A lineup from Flushing are staggering: The Yankees outscored the Mets, who never led, 33-3 and held them to a .102 batting average. Jerry Manuel’s men were atrocious defensively and lifeless all around; only Livan Hernandez and Gary Sheffield showed any kind of heart and soul. Worst of all, Francisco Rodriguez issued a bases-loaded walk to Mariano Rivera. Embarrassing. And word had it Carlos Beltran may need microfracture surgery, which would mean his season is over and career in jeopardy. Whoa boy.

It turned out Beltran won’t need surgery. But still, there are big problems in Queens.

? Rivera is the greatest closer to ever play baseball. Period. I don’t care if you love or hate the Yankees, this is as close the truth gets to opinion. Jim Kaat and Steven Goldman each ruminate on the magnificent Mo.

? In case you bring up that the Yankees bullpen owns a 1.60 ERA in their last 13 games and how well Phil Hughes has pitched, would you honestly trust this current collaboration against the Red Sox in late September? The Yankees are in decent shape: They lead the surging Rays by a game-and-a-half in the Wild Card race and are 3 behind the Red Sox in the AL East while having outscored opponents 37-13 since Joe Girardi’s ejection last Wednesday. But neither that nor anything masks their insidious 0-8 record against Boston. The Red Sox have an elite bullpen from top to bottom, the Yankees don’t, and that’s been the biggest factor in this one-sided rivalry.

Yankees acquire Hinske

By Jon Lane
This just in from the Yankees. Lots more later.

The New York Yankees today acquired infielder/outfielder Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates along with cash considerations in exchange for Minor League right-handed pitcher Casey Erickson and Minor League outfielder Eric Fryer.

Hinske, 31, appeared in 54 games with the Pirates this season, batting .255 (27-for-106) with 18 runs, 9 doubles, 1 home run and 11RBI. He has played 13 games in right field, six games at first base and three games at third base, and has made 29 pinch-hit appearances, going 8-for-24 (.333) with 5 walks. Hinske was the Opening Day right fielder for the 2008 American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, batting .247 (94-for-381) with 21 doubles, 20 home runs and 60 RBI, making 47 starts in right field, 37 in left field, nine at first base and four at third base. He was also a member of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox in 2007.

Hinske was originally selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 17th round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft and made his Major League debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002, winning the American League “Rookie of the Year” award that season. The left-handed batter has compiled 196 doubles, 106 home runs and 410 RBI in 957 career Major League games with the Blue Jays (2002-06), Red Sox (2006-07), Rays (2008) and Pirates (2009).

Hinske will join the team in New York today. The Yankees will make a reciprocal roster move prior to tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game vs. Seattle.

Erickson, 23, was 3-3 with a 2.25 ERA (44.0IP, 11ER) in 21 games (three starts) with Single-A Charleston in 2009. He combined to go 6-1 with a 2.95 ERA in 19 appearances (15 starts) with Charleston and short-season Single-A Staten Island in 2008, leading the Staten Island staff in innings pitched (75.0) and strikeouts (77). He was selected by the Yankees in the 10th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Springfield College.

Fryer, 23, appeared in 59 games with the Single-A Tampa Yankees this season, batting .250 (56-for-224) with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs and 24 RBI. He also collected a team-high 11 stolen bases in 16 attempts. Fryer was acquired by the Yankees on February 4, 2009, from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for left-handed pitcher Chase Wright. He was originally selected by the Brewers in the 10th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Ohio State University.

Phil Huge

By Glenn Giangrande
Me thinks it’s time to proclaim Phil Hughes a reliever for the remainder of the 2009 season.

A few days ago while driving to the New York Islanders Draft Party at Nassau Coliseum, a.k.a The John Tavares Spectacular, Joe Girardi was on WFAN talking about how the Yankees will, in a few weeks, lose the ability to stretch Hughes out as a starter down at Triple-A. There’s no doubt that his Major League future lies in starting. He was the top prospect in all of baseball just a few years ago. He should help the Yankees’ rotation for a long time to come.
 
As far as the here and now is concerned, his performance out of the ‘pen should speak for itself.
 
By throwing 1.2 scoreless innings against the Mets on Sunday night, Hughes lowered his ERA as a reliever to 1.50 in 12.0 IP. He’s pitched in seven games, allowing runs in just one of them – a pair of them at Fenway Park on June 10th, when he threw 3.2 IP in relief of an ineffective Chien-Ming Wang. His fastball is humming in the mid-90s. He’s been close to unhittable. Given the other options the Yanks have for the rotation, Hughes’ power arm in the ‘pen is a major asset.
 
Let’s assume the Yankees make it to October. They’ll only need four starters, with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte the locks. Joba Chamberlain has made big strides in the rotation in recent outings, and Wang appears to be making his own steps in the right direction. Why mess with a good thing?  If Brian Bruney can stay healthy for the remainder of the year, he and Hughes would be a formidable 1-2 late inning punch in front of Mariano Rivera. Then Alfredo Aceves can stay in his “swing” role of being able to set-up or settle things down early. If David Robertson and his 2.60 ERA are able to handle some high leverage innings, the Yanks will have cobbled together a pretty solid bridge to Mo.
 
There’s no reason Hughes shouldn’t be a part of it, if only for this year.

Do the Yankees need another outfielder?

By Glenn Giangrande

With Xavier Nady seemingly done for the year, do the Yankees need another corner outfielder?

Let’s assume that Brett Gardner’s red-hot June continues, giving him the starting job in center that he lost to Melky Cabrera earlier this year. Melky COULD slide over to right, but would having Gardner and Cabrera together in the lineup be detrimental to the offense? Say yes for the sake of argument. Nick Swisher is an adventure out in right, and Johnny Damon’s defense has clearly taken a step back in left. The Yanks would do wise to bring in one more outfielder with the versatility to handle left or right.

The perfect fit? Mark DeRosa.

A New Jersey native, DeRosa was a guest on Batting Practice Today earlier this season, saying he’d love to play for the Yankees before his career ends. He’s in the final year of a three-year contract that he signed with the Cubs, who traded him to the Indians over the winter. Cleveland appears headed for a rebuilding phase, with ace pitcher Cliff Lee being rumored to be on the block. If he was on the Yankees right now, DeRosa’s bat would qualify as the second best among players able to handle the outfield behind Damon’s – I’m not counting Hideki Matsui, whose knees have betrayed him. DeRosa is probably best known as an infielder, but he’s got a fair amount of experience in the outfield, having started a total of 179 games in right field and left field combined. In 216 total games counting those in which he moved to one of those positions, he’s made only two errors.

Prior to the news developing concerning Nady’s likely need for Tommy John surgery, Brian Cashman was quoted as saying that the Yankees didn’t need a bat and that “all the bats are here.” If his perspective has changed, the idea of DeRosa is one the Yankees would do well to pursue.

Lineups: Yankees vs. Mets 6/27/09

Yankees
Gardner CF
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Cabrera LF
Pena SS
Burnett P

Burnett P

Mets
Cora SS
A. Reyes 2B
Wright 3B
Church RF
Sheffield LF
Murphy 1B
Reed CF
Schneider C
Redding P

Redding P

Lineups: Yankees vs. Mets 6/26/09

Yankees
Brett Gardner CF
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena SS
CC Sabathia P

CC Sabathia P

Mets
Luis Castillo 2B
Alex Cora SS
David Wright 3B
Gary Sheffield LF
Fernando Tatis RF
Ryan Church CF
Nick Evans 1B
Omir Santos C
Mike Pelfrey P

Mike Pelfrey P

Happy 35th birthday, DJ

By: Joe Auriemma

It’s June 26th and that can mean only one thing — it’s the captain’s
birthday. Derek Jeter is 35 years old today. Wow, where did the time
go? It seems like just yesterday, we saw this young, lanky talent get
his first Major League hit back on May 30, 1995, in the Kingdome. Even
in that 1995 season, we saw greatness, but we didn’t fully realize how
much he would mean to the franchise until the 1996 season when he won
the Rookie of the Year. Jeter and company created one of the most
magical seasons in the history of the Yankees. His maturity level was beyond his years, and his knack for hitting in the clutch provided a spark to a veteran squad. One of the memories that most people will never forget from that first season is of course the Jeffrey Maier home run against the Orioles in the ALCS.

Throughout his career, Jeter has given Yankees fans so many memories. He is still the only player in the Major League history to win both the All-Star Game MVP and the World Series MVP in the same season (2000). In that aforementioned World Series, the Subway Series against the Mets, Jeter lead off game four with a home run off of Bobby Jones that turned the tide in that game and the momentum in the series.

Who can forget the flip against the A’s that changed the momentum in that series? Grasping on to a 1-0 lead, that play not only gave the Yankees that game but led the charge to another two wins and a series victory.

The play that might be the most quintessentially “Jeter-ian” is the dive into the stands against the Red Sox. It was the classic Yankees-Red Sox showdown on July 1, 2004, and it was a defining moment in the career of the captain. The dive exemplified everything that Jeter is as a player, a person and a leader.

When Jeter eventually does retire, he certainly will go down as one of the greatest players to ever wear the Pinstripes. Shockingly, he is on pace to be the only Yankee to ever attain 3,000 hits in a Yankees uniform. So here’s to you Derek on your birthday.

Also, I’d like to send out a special Happy Birthday to my wife Kelly, who shares a birthday with the captain and just might be his biggest fan.

Derek Jeter’s Career Stats on his Birthday

AVG     .325 
H-AB    13/40
XBH       2
RBI        3
Runs      6
OBP     .404 

Pretty good I would say!

Lineups: Yankees vs. Braves 6/25/09

Yankees
Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Posada C
Swisher RF
Gardner CF
Ransom 2B
Pettitte P

Pettitte P

Braves
McLouth CF
Prado 2B
C. Jones 3B
McCann C
Escobar SS
G. Anderson LF
Francoeur RF
Kotchman 1B
Lowe P

Lowe P

Could it Actually be Sunny in New York?

By: Joe Auriemma

The sun is shining in wonderful Stamford, CT, the home of the YES Network’s studio. I was really starting to think that New York had inherited Seattle’s weather pattern. What a brutal month this has been for both weather in New York and for the baseball teams that reside here. How appropriate that they are both ending June by playing each other in the last weekend series.

The Yankees will finally check out the Mets new digs. I’m going for the first time on Saturday to get some interviews with some players and hopefully chat with both managers. I know that Jerry Manuel has to be pleased, that even though his team is not playing its’ best baseball, they are still only one game back of the Phillies in the division. The Mets have suffered some major injuries this season that would cripple any contender into the cellar, however, they have endured and continue to compete. Even though they have won their last three out of four, they are only 9-13 in the month of June and this series with the Yankees might give them an opportunity to leave this month unscathed after getting swept by the Pirates to start June. The other teams in the NL East continue to struggle giving the Mets the golden opportunity to stay in the race, while some of their main cogs try and get healthy.

The Yankees are five games back of the Red Sox, who seem to have had a stranglehold on the Yankees and the AL East since the meltdown of 2004. Now I know the Rays won the division last season, but it just feels like the Red Sox get all of the breaks the Yankees used to get before the 2004 ALCS. The Yankees need to figure out a way to beat those guys in the second half of the season or else it’s going to be another long offseason for the team’s fans and especially the team itself.

This weekend series is more than just a regular Subway Series for the Yankees; they need this series to make a push and finish out their first half on a high note. Let’s hope for sunnier days after the All-Star break.

Other Sports Related Notes

Basketball

According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, the Nets and Orlando Magic have agreed to
a trade that would send Vince Carter to the Magic. The official deal is Carter and
Ryan Anderson for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee. Orlando
would add Carter to an already star-studded lineup that would include
Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson, while Hedo Turkoglu is
most likely going to opt out of his contract this summer. The Nets are
trying to be big players in the big free agent market next summer, when
all of the big names seem to be free agents at the same time. The Nets
are going to be well under the cap with this move.

Shaquille O’Neal will be 38 years old next season and has one more opportunity to win a championship by teaming up with LeBron James. The Suns and Cavs have agreed on a trade that would send Shaq-daddy to Cleveland. My question is, when is Nike going to make a Shaq puppet. This should be interesting to see how Shaq and LeBron play together.
 

Wasted Fantasy Baseball Pick

Literally my pick was wasted on Geovany Soto this season. I thought I was getting a stud catcher and in his second major league season, he is turning out to be a dud. I’m happy that I traded for Victor Martinez, but Soto has been a huge disappointment. Now word is that he has failed a drug test administered by the International Baseball Federation for marijuana use during the World Baseball Classic. Thanks Geovany!

Can you believe the decade is almost over?

I want to put together a poll here on YESNetwork.com about the best and worst moments of the decade in New York and National Sports. I don’t know about anyone else, but this decade flew by. Give me a shout on twitter, https://twitter.com/JoeAuriemmaNYY, or comment on here if you like the idea and I’ll start to come up with some moments.

Till next time!