July 2009

HOPE Week: Day 1

By Jon Lane
The Yankees kicked off HOPE Week today when Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera and Joe Girardi paid a visit to the Chiappetta family. Each helped donate athletic equipment and food vouchers to their organization, the Patchwork of Young Leaders Society.

In the summer of 2006, Marco and Jennifer Chiappetta were married and
returned to their roots in Washington Heights.
While taking walks together, they were saddened by the sight of local
schoolyards that had been abandoned by children. Inspired to make a difference, Marco visited a park near his home to engage in athletics with whomever
wanted to play. His hope was that emotional connections on the
schoolyard could eventually spark a change in the culture of the
neighborhood.

Within a month, upwards of 60 teenagers began showing up to enjoy the
camaraderie and positive atmosphere of Marco’s activities. The couple
also opened their home to these children, offering stability and
encouragement many had never experienced. Even
for kids whose parents took an active interest in them, Marco and
Jennifer served as a bridge between the generations.

As time has
passed, the original children have become mentors themselves. As for Marco and Jennifer, who personally funded many of the group’s grassroots efforts from their own personal savings, they formalized their activist work into the Patchwork of Young Leaders Society. For more information or to donate, click here.

Tonight, the Chiappettas, the teenagers and some of the teenagers’ parents will attend the Yankees-Orioles game as special guests of the team.

Tigers vs. Yankees: 7/19/09 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (53-37)
Derek Jeter SS
Brett Gardner CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mekly Cabrera LF

Pitching: Joba Chamberlain (4-2, 4.25)

tigers.jpgTIGERS (48-41)

Curtis Granderson CF
Placido Polanco 2B
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Marcus Thames DH
Clete Thomas RF
Brandon Inge 3B
Josh Anderson LF
Gerald Laird C
Ramon Santiago SS

Pitching: Edwin Jackson (7-4, 2.52)

Starting Lineups 7/18/09: Tigers vs. Yankees

yankees.jpg

Yankees

Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF

CC Sabathia P

tigers.jpg

Tigers

Curtis Granderson CF
Placido Polanco 2B
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Marcus Thames DH
Magglio Ordonez RF
Ryan Raburn LF
Brandon Inge 3B
Gerald Laird C
Adam Everett SS

Justin Verlander P

Tigers vs. Yankees: 7/17/09 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (51-37)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF

Pitching: A.J. Burnett (8-4, 2.77)

tigers.jpgTIGERS (48-39)
Curtis Granderson CF
Placido Polanco 2B
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Marcus Thames DH
Clete Thomas RF
Brandon Inge 3B
Josh Anderson LF
Gerald Laird C
Adam Everett SS

Pitching: Lucas French (1-0, 1.93)

Another Halladay take

By Jon Lane
Jerome Preisler pens the Deep in the Red blog for YESNetwork.com. On his day off, he e-mailed me his take on the Roy Halladay trade rumors:

Halladay is probably the best pitcher in baseball. He would alter the balance of power in the AL East in a way that can be equated to what occurred when the Red Sox acquired Curt Schilling. But unlike Curt Schilling he is 32 years old and in the prime of his career. The Yankees could expect him to produce at a high level for at least another half decade.
 
A trade of this magnitude will be painful almost by definition. The Red Sox didn’t want to give up Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett, and they didn’t want to take on Mike Lowell’s contract, but look how well it worked out for them. I interviewed Ramirez when he was with the AA Portland Seadogs. I saw him play several times and knew without any doubt that he would be something special. But I also knew it was a trade the Sox had to make.
 
I would present J.P. Ricciardi with a package that includes Joba and, if need be, Austin Jackson as its centerpieces, but other Minor Leaguers could be movable pieces. Phil Hughes would be off the table.
 
I agree with you that the odds don’t favor such a trade. But I think it’s more than a possibility, and Brian Cashman’s greatest strength as GM, or one of them, has been to pull these sorts of surprise moves out of his vest pocket. 
 
Another thing to consider: Joe McDonald of the
Providence Journal reported that the Red Sox have officially phoned Ricciardi about Halladay, and that Ricciardi stated that Clay Buchholz was mentioned as key to any potential deal. Thus, one can assume they had a substantive discussion about a trade. Like the Yankees, the Sox have the resources to pull one off here, and the Yankees must do whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t happen. That means monitoring this situation with all due diligence.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Jays are freezing out the Yankees and Red Sox, and haven’t returned a phone call placed by the Yankees 10 days ago.

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The Yankees will hold a “major” press conference on Monday to announce an upcoming college football event at Yankee Stadium. According to the The Times Herald-Record, Notre Dame will play Army at the Bronx Mahal next year.

Back to work

By Jon Lane
The Yankees begin the second half of their season tonight at Yankee Stadium, where A.J. Burnett takes the ball against Luke French and the Detroit Tigers (YES HD, 7 p.m.). There are storylines aplenty entering the summer’s dog days, including Burnett, writes Peter Abraham. The right-hander posted a 1.77 ERA in winning his last three starts and is 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA in his past five. For all the talk of CC Sabathia’s importance, and it’s legit, Burnett must continue to show that he’s peaked and is capable of carrying a team.

A few other random thoughts as we gear up for the weekend, which includes Old Timer’s Day on Sunday. I’ll be on-site with lots of blogging and storytelling.

The Yankees hope to emerge from a four-day break recharged after a three-game sweep in Anaheim, where they allowed 29 runs to the Angels that wiped out an eight-game road winning streak. The Tigers (48-39) are a good team in the mold that’s given the Yankees fits. Against the first-place teams they’ve played in 2009, New York’s record is 5-15. Tonight and the weekend is the first of many statement games and series. This is the time of year where business gradually begins to pick up and the next couple of weeks could determine whether the Yankees will be major players at the trade deadline. Those reports you’ve been seeing on how they won’t be pursuing Roy Halladay? Take them with a grain of salt. Brian Cashman loves to fly stealth.

Speaking of Doc, like with any great debate, there are those who want him in pinstripes at any cost, others at only the right price and those who think it’s crazy for Cashman to gut a farm system he so painstakingly rebuilt. Steven Goldman’s message to the Yankees: Don’t do it. As Newsday‘s Anthony Rieber wrote yesterday, the Yankees can and must take on Vernon Wells’ bloated contract to make this happen while preserving the system. But as one fan points out, Plan B — a Brian Bannister or Paul Maholm — is the best route. What do you think?

Alex Rodriguez is once again generating attention, except this time it’s been confined strictly to the baseball diamond, and that’s a good thing. Over his last 17 games, A-Rod is batting .373 (22 for 59) with eight home runs and 22 RBIs. His first game was May 8, yet Rodriguez ranks second on the team in homers (17) and tied for second in RBIs (50), and the Yankees are a league-best 38-22 since his return.

Still, there’s something about the Yankees’ performance against the Red Sox that gnaws at you. Oh, that 0-8 record. And if there’s enough to worry about coming from Boston, beware of the Rays, writes Goldman.

Check back on YESNetwork.com for lineups and updates from the Stadium. And be sure to read about HOPE Week a program designed to promote five remarkable stories and inspire others into action.

Yankees introduce HOPE Week

hopeweek.jpgBy Jon Lane
The Yankees announced a great program that will run next week. Here’s the 411:

_______________________

The New York Yankees are proud to introduce HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel), a unique week-long community program that will bring to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.

The creation of HOPE Week is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture.

Each day from Monday, July 20, through Friday, July 24, Yankees players will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. All daily celebrations will culminate at Yankee Stadium, however, outreach will often take place away from the ballpark. Whenever possible, the Yankees’ goal is to personally connect with individuals in the settings of their greatest personal accomplishments.

For the Yankees, this event is unique in that every player on the roster, along with manager Joe Girardi, will participate.

HOPE Week also strives to bring attention to the week’s highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.

HOPE Week will consist of the following stories and events:

Monday, July 20: A newly-married couple saddened by the sight of abandoned schoolyards in their New York City neighborhood decided to become mentors to at-risk young people in their area. Their work over the years has had a profound effect on the neighborhood as children who began in their program have become mentors themselves. Players will surprise the neighborhood children by dropping in for lunch at the couple’s household from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Players will bring food and sporting goods, speak with everyone there and invite the couple and the children to the Stadium for the game that evening.

Tuesday, July 21: A child with cerebral palsy who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate through conventional speech became an inspiration to his Little League teammates by dressing in uniform, sitting in the dugout with them and giving high fives as necessary. This season, the team won the league championship. Additionally, his father is the inventor of revolutionary equipment that allows non-verbal individuals to communicate in new ways. Yankees players will meet the child and his best friends for lunch at a local eatery. Afterward, everyone will go to the local Little League field to meet the child’s teammates and other children with cerebral palsy. Yankees players will then give a talk about baseball and sportsmanship before holding a brief baseball skills clinic. The child and his teammates will attend the Yankees game that evening.

Wednesday, July 22: An Army veteran in upstate New York has lost use of his arms and legs due to ALS. His wife is a pillar of their local community. At a party with his family and friends this weekend, he will be shown a videotaped message from a Yankees player, inviting him to fulfill his dream of watching a game at Yankee Stadium with his young son. Included in the invitation are his wife and son. What none of them know is that Yankees players will have an added surprise for them when they arrive at the Stadium. Additionally, they will receive a private Stadium tour from Yankees players following the game.

Thursday, July 23: Xeroderma Pigmentosum is a rare (approx. 150 in U.S. and 1,000 worldwide) genetic disorder that prevents sufferers from going outdoors in daylight. UV light, including florescent lighting, causes them severe burns and eventually skin and eye cancer. Campers (and their families) from a special camp that caters to their unique needs will travel to Yankee Stadium, arriving after sunset to watch the remainder of the evening’s game from a party suite. Immediately after the last pitch, the field will be transformed into a massive open-air carnival for the families, who will be joined by Yankees players and their families. The fun will continue until approximately 4:00 a.m., when the XP families must re-board their buses in order to make it back to camp before daybreak.

Friday, July 24: With the help of a major non-for-profit human services network, two young men with developmental disabilities have integrated into the workforce at a company in New York City. Yankees players will surprise them at work and take part in their day, helping them to complete their daily assignments. A lunchtime party with the visiting players will celebrate the two individuals as well as the company that had the courage to hire them. At the conclusion of the party, the two young men will be transported to Yankee Stadium, where they will return the favor by assisting Yankees staff with their day-job expertise, before taking in the evening’s game.

Those inspired by HOPE Week stories can look to New York City’s NYC Service and President Barack Obama’s United We Serve, which promote and find outlets for volunteerism.

An alternative Halladay proposal

By Jon Lane
Anthony Rieber, Newsday‘s fine and entertaining sports reporter, opines that the Yankees need to bring Roy Halladay to the Bronx. But rather than sell the farm, Rieber suggests the Yankees do the Blue Jays a favor and offer them financial relief by agreeing to take on Vernon Wells’ bloated contract.

Wells, 30, is due nearly $110 million through 2014. That’s insane. But here’s the alternative to dealing Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Jesus Montero: The Yankees offer Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera, a couple of lower-level pitching prospects and nothing more, writes Rieber while reminding what little the Mets surrendered to pry Johan Santana from the Twins – without taking on a huge contract. And it’s not like Wells is exactly washed up. He may no longer be an All-Star, but the excitement of a championship chase in New York may energize him.

Either one team will go all-in, or the winner (if any by July 31) of the Halladay sweepstakes will be the one that held out the longest to force Toronto to take what it can get. Rieber’s strategy presents a suitable alternative to those opposed to selling the farm.

Marte begins rehab assignment

By Jon Lane
Damaso Marte threw an inning today for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, his first rehab assignment of his recovery from left shoulder tendinitis that’s kept him out since April 25. Marte threw 12 pitches (11 strikes) against the GCL Pirates at the Yankees’ Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., allowing a run on two hits. His next appearance is scheduled for Saturday.

Marte owns a 15.19 ERA in seven appearances. If he returns to the form that enticed the Yankees to acquire him along with Xavier Nady at last season’s trade deadline, he’ll fortify the back end of the bullpen.

Second-half storylines

By Jon Lane
The Yankees are 14 games over .500. They are three behind the Red Sox in the American League East and lead the Wild Card by two-and-a-half over the Rangers. Their 495 runs scored, 132 home runs, 358 on-base percentage and.471 slugging percentage lead the Major Leagues, and their 25 road victories are  tops in the American League.

Life is good in Yankeeland, but not great. Both the Wild Card and division races will be fierce, and in the AL East, you cannot dismiss the Rays. Will the Yankees have the legs to return to October? Here are five storylines for the second half:

Will the Yankees reverse their fortunes against the Red Sox?
This is ugly: The Yankees are 9-19 against the Red Sox, Tigers, Angels and Phillies – all first-place teams – as well as the Rays. They resume the season tomorrow against Detroit at Yankee Stadium and still have to deal with the Angels in Southern California in mid-September. Anthony McCarron presented the brutal truth in today’s New York Daily News. Among the cliff notes, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte are a combined 3-10 with a 5.41 ERA against those elite teams.

This is ghastly: The Yankees are 0-8 against the Red Sox. The last time they saw them was at Fenway Park in June. They arrived to Boston in first place and with the AL’s best record, and hungry for revenge. Instead they were blown out 7-0 and dropped the next two games each by one run. Never mind the dormant offense, something was affecting the Yankees psychologically from where I sat.

The teams play 10 more times starting August 6 at Yankee Stadium. Since the Rays and Rangers won’t go away, how the Yankees perform against their rivals may determine who wins the AL East -and who misses the October party.

Will the Yankees reverse their fortunes against the Red Sox?(online surveys)

Will they pull the trigger for Roy Halladay?
Will Roy Halladay become a Yankee? Probably not. Do the Yankees have to have him? No, but they must explore every angle on what it’ll take to get him. As Bill Madden wrote today, “The teams that seemingly have the biggest need and are the best fits for a premier player coming on the market aren’t necessarily willing to pay the premium price, leaving the trading club no choice but to take the best package available.”

Outside of Sabathia and Burnett, there are growing holes in the Yankees’ rotation. Fans have spoken out against Brian Cashman dipping into his farm system he so painstakingly rebuilt, but as I suggested the other day, I’d offer Chamberlain, Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero only because it’s Roy Halladay. When you make a deal like this, it’s painful, but it’ll be worth a front three of Doc, CC and A.J. – not to mention the reunion of Halladay and Burnett.

Will they pull trigger for Roy Halladay?(poll)

Can Joba Chamberlain turn it around?

Go ahead, members of the Loyal Order of the Joba to the Bullpen Army, gloat. Chamberlain is struggling mightily as a starting pitcher. Alas, barring a complete collapse he’s staying in the rotation because that’s where he’s needed and Phil Hughes isn’t moving anywhere. Since June 1, Chamberlain has reached the seventh inning just once in seven starts and his body language has been terrible. But the Yankees are staying the course. The learning curve is a lot slower for some compared to others, but how much longer can they afford Chamberlain throwing 100-plus pitches in under five innings?

Can Joba Chamberlain turn it around?(trends)

Is this Andy Pettitte’s last ride?

Andy Pettitte has won just one of his last four starts while seeing his ERA balloon from 4.26 to 4.85. His numbers in June: 2-2, 5.06; this month: 1-2, 7.27; in two starts against the Angels: 0-1, 9.90.

His next start will be against the Orioles next week. If he doesn’t pick it up in the second half, you’ll have to wonder if at age 37 his career would be coming to an end. Pettitte is signed for only one year, this after contemplating retirement and the Yankees firm in their stance of offering only a one-year deal to return.

Is this Andy Pettitte’s last ride?(online surveys)

Will Chien-Ming Wang salvage a rough 2009 season?

Sabathia is 1-2 with a 5.59 ERA in three July starts, but remember what he did last year in Milwaukee in the second half (11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and the Brewers were 14-3 in his starts). He is capable of carrying a staff and the way Burnett has performed (two runs or less in five straight starts; 6-2, 2.00 in his last eight), he’ll have help.

Beyond that, there’s Chamberlain, Pettitte and who knows? Sergio Mitre will likely provide a band-aid until (or if) Chien-Ming Wang returns. The Yankees need Wang, and not just in body, but in spirit. At 1-6, Wang has shown little to nothing of the form that won him 46 games over the past three seasons.

Will Chien-Ming Wang salvage a rough 2009 season?(survey)