August 2009

Yankees vs. Mariners: Lineups 8/13/2009

yankees.jpgYANKEES (71-43)

Jeter SS

Damon LF

Teixeira 1B

Matsui DH

Swisher RF

Cano 2B

Cabrera CF

Hairston, Jr. 3B

Molina C


Pitching: CC Sabathia (12-7, 3.76)

mariners.jpg

MARINERS (60-54)

Ichiro RF

Gutierrez CF

Jose Lopez 2B

Mike Sweeney DH

Branyan 1B

Johjima C

Hannahan 3B

Josh Wilson SS

Michael Saunders LF

Pitching: Ian Snell (0-0, 6.14)

Joba limit painful, but necessary

arod_250_081309.jpgBy Jon Lane
Life in the penthouse as winners of 20 out of 26 is good, especially when one of the perks is having the luxury of dealing with injuries without succumbing to desperation.

Four major players left for Seattle with barking body parts, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. If the Yankees were close to falling off a cliff, you’d bet on all of them “manning up” and playing tonight, the first of a four-game set at Safeco Field that begins a seven-day excursion out west and a 10-day road trip that concludes next weekend in Boston.

The Yankees own a 5 game lead over the Red Sox, far from safe, but currently a luxury. X-rays on Jeter’s sore foot were negative, but considering the team had to immediately board a plane and fly across the country and further north, I’d be surprised if Jeter is in tonight’s lineup, and near shocked if Posada – he took a foul tip off his right hand and was beaten up chasing A.J. Burnett’s three wild pitches and many others in the dirt – will play. Remember yesterday he played after catching the night before.

Joe Girardi said A-Rod was already getting tonight off, but as luck had it, A-Rod was hit by a Shawn Camp pitch in a most minute spot, the part of his left elbow slightly unprotected by a huge pad.

Rivera’s status was unknown until after the game and anytime you learn about soreness in his pitching shoulder – the one that underwent a procedure to remove calcification from a joint – that’s frightening. Both player and manager insisted Rivera would be ready to go. Rivera, incidentally, did not leave with the team, but that was to attend a personal matter and unrelated to his heath.

These are the advantages of having a nice-sized lead in your division and a deep bench; you have the capability to manage nagging ailments correctly and be smart about resting your starting pitchers. This brings me to the latest obsessive-compulsive debate about Joba Chamberlain. First he belonged in the bullpen. Now he’s coddled and overprotected, which will adversely affect the rest of his career. Chamberlain is 8-2 with a 3.85 ERA and despite annoying inconsistency hasn’t lost a decision since June 18.

joba_250_081309.jpgThis isn’t complicated and it’s a not a big deal. This is the case of a 23-year-old ace in the making that in 2006 dealt with triceps tendinitis and was disabled late last season with rotator cuff tendinitis. It’s fair to debate that not being on a consistent schedule affects one’s rhythm – and Chamberlain is at the top of his game when working at a swift pace. I buy that, but don’t complain based on precedents. Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson are from a different era. Justin Verlander has averaged roughly 189 innings through three full seasons and 2009, but he has no history with injuries, but everybody is different. Just because Verlander and Felix Hernandez have gone unscathed doesn’t mean Chamberlain will survive the strain and stress of a way-too-soon heavy workload.

The Mariners, incidentally, were also careful with King Felix, deciding in 2006 to cap his innings to 205 (he threw 191). They did this by skipping his turns after falling out of contention and lifted the cap the following season. The Yankees aren’t out of contention, but the Red Sox are far from finished and division titles are won in September. News flash: The rivals collide in a three-game series September 25-27 at Yankee Stadium. Something tells me those meetings will decide who captures the AL East flag.

Giants ace Tim Lincecum was shut down in September 2007 after his innings count rose to 177 1/3 between the Minor and Major Leagues. The following season he was ordered not to throw bullpen sessions typical of an offseason routine. Manager Bruce Bochy told The San Francisco Chronicle they were being careful due to studies showing that pitchers who throw 200 innings early in their career were more susceptible to injuries.

Fausto Carmona finished fourth in 2007 AL Cy Young voting after going 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA and 215 innings pitched – and threw 15 more in the playoffs. The following season he plummeted to 8-7, 5.44 in 120.2 IP and this season the Indians demoted him to their Rookie League when he was 2-6 7.42, 41 walks and 36 strikeouts in 60 2/3 IP.

Chamberlain pitched 88 1/3 innings in the Minors before he was called up in August 2007. He entered this season with 124 1/3 Major League innings pitched and will match that total with eight more outs next Wednesday. Because this is New York and Chamberlain’s team is the Yankees – anything less than a World Championship is a failure – many are in an uproar. Girardi told reporters last night, “This is not just about the next two months. This is about years and years to come.”

If this is Kansas City or Pittsburgh, it’s a mere subplot. Here in the Big Apple, this is “ruining” Joba Chamberlain, just like taking him out of the bullpen is traumatizing him and Brian Cashman is paying for his decision to rebuild a program with non-contending seasons.

Girardi’s later statement is most telling: It’s “all hands on deck” for the postseason, when The Joba Rules I, II, III, IV, V and so on are tossed away like trash. A fresh Chamberlain gives the Yankees their best chance to win it all this year and in future years, when every April the “This team stinks” and “What have you done for me lately” tsunami of complaints arrive with the Yankees’ first three-game losing streak.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees: Lineups 8/12/2009


yankees.jpgYANKEES (70-43)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Hideki Matsui DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher 1B
Eric Hinske RF
Melky Cabrera CF

Pitching: A.J. Burnett (10-5, 3.67)


bluejays.jpgBLUE JAYS (54-58)
Marco Scutaro SS
Aaron Hill 2B
Adam Lind LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Vernon Wells CF
Randy Ruiz DH
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Raul Chavez C
Joe Inglett RF

Pitching: Ricky Romero (10-5, 3.66)

Blue Jays vs. Yankees: Lineups 8/11/2009

yankees.jpgYANKEES (69-43)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixiera 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Eric Hinske RF
Melky Cabrera CF

Pitching: Joba Chamberlain (8-2, 3.73)

bluejays.jpgBLUE JAYS (54-57)
Marco Scutaro SS
Aaron Hill 2B
Adam Lind LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Vernon Wells CF
Randy Ruiz DH
Edwan Encarnacion 3B
Rod Barajas C
Joe Inglett LF

Pitching: Scott Richmond (6-6, 3.97)

The Pulse of New York

Every Tuesday, YES Blog takes the pulse of New York on the hottest topics being talked about right now in the world of sports. What’s your take on the below issues?

Have the Yankees put the Red Sox in their rearview mirror for good?(opinion)

Who will win the AL MVP?(polling)

Do you believe David Ortiz when he says he never knowingly used PEDs?(survey software)

Who benefited most from the Alex Rios deal?(trends)

Who should start at QB for the Jets?(polling)

Blue Jays vs. Yankees: Lineups 8/10/2009

yankees.jpgYANKEES (69-42)
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Jerry Hairston LF
Melky Cabrera CF
Jose Molina C

Pitching: Sergio Mitre (1-0, 7.50)

bluejays.jpgBLUE JAYS (53-57)
Marco Scutaro SS
Aaron Hill 2B
Adam Lind DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Vernon Wells CF
Jose Bautista RF
Edwan Encarnacion 3B
Rod Barajas C
Joe Inglett LF

Pitching: Marc Rzepczynski (1-3, 3.74)

Never too early for award talk

teixeira_250_081009.jpg

By Joe Auriemma
Johnny Damon made a statement after the Yankees’ completion of their four-game sweep over the Red Sox Sunday night that made me think a bit.
Damon said that Teixeira should be considered as an MVP candidate this
season. Now, I know there are 51 games left and there is
a lot of baseball to be played, but I still think it’s not to early to
talk about Yankees who are possible candidates for awards in
recognition of their 2009 regular season performance.

MVP Candidates
Mark Teixeira

Damon had it right when he proclaimed that Teixeira is an MVP candidate. The Yankees have the best record in the Majors and Teixiera’s play has a lot to do with that. His .286
average, league-leading 29 home runs and team high 83 RBIs are
astounding. He is proving that his offseason signing might be what the
Yankees everyday lineup has been missing for quite some time.

In some of the key clutch stats, he also comes up big. With two outs
and runners in scoring position, he is hitting .357 with two homers
and 20 RBIs. Seven of his homers have broken a tie, 12 of his 29
have come when the game is within one run and 19 have
come when the game is within two runs. In the close-and-late category,
which is after the seventh inning when the game is tied, within one run
or the the tying run is at least on deck, Teixeira is hitting .302 with
four home runs and 19 RBIs. He’s also having a tremendous second half.
Since the All-Star break he is hitting .326, with eight home runs and
20 RBIs in 23 games.

If that didn’t already make him a legitimate MVP candidate, then his
sparkling defense should put him at the top of the list. The two-time
Gold Glove-winning first baseman has proven why he has been
bestowed that honor in the past. He has range, leaping ability and can
really pick it over at first. He is certainly their best defensive
first baseman since Don Mattingly (no offense to Tino Martinez) and has
saved many potential errors this season. His presence alone has upgraded
an infield that has been in need of this type of player since the
dynasty days.

Alex Rodriguez
People may think I’m crazy for bringing up A-Rod’s name in MVP
talk, especially that he missed more than a month this season and
his numbers don’t really look MVP worthy. To me, A-Rod can stake as
much claim to being a candidate for the award as almost anyone in the
league. He may be batting .259 this season, he does have 21 home runs
and 63 RBIs in just 80 games. 

The MVP award is exactly what it stands for, the Most Valuable Player in the American League to his team. Well Alex can make a claim
that he is. The Yankees are 56-27 since his return on May 8 and 53-27
when he’s in the lineup. That means they’re a mediocre
16-15 without him in any game and were 13-15 before his return. 

The lineup has really been terrific with him. A-Rod changes the
complexion of the game. He disrupts a pitcher’s game plan and makes managers change their whole way of
thinking when you see his name penciled into the cleanup spot. Just
look at Teixeira’s numbers before A-Rod returned. To
start the season, Teixeira was hitting .198
with five home runs and 15 RBIs. Since the return of A-Rod,
Teixeira is batting.312, with 24 home runs and 68 RBIs in 82 games.
He’s seeing better pitches to hit because A-Rod is hitting behind him
in the order.

Let’s not forget to mention how clutch Rodriguez has been. In close-and-late situations, he is hitting .310 with eight home runs and
16 RBIs. He has also hit nine of this 21 home runs in tie ball games and
14 of his 21 round trippers are when the game is within one run. He
also has two walk-off wins this season, including one that ended a 15-inning marathon in a scoreless game against the Red Sox, which is as
pressure packed as it gets.

Johnny Damon – Honorable Mention
Johnny, don’t sell yourself short in the MVP talk. To this point , Damon has been brilliant in the No. 2 spot. When
opposing managers have to take a look at the top four in the Yankees’
order, it should make them cringe. Damon already has 21 home runs, only three off his career high from his first season with the
Yankees in 2006. He’s hitting .281 with 65 RBIs and is on pace for
another 100-run season (79). He’s already set the
single-season Yankees record with Teixeira with six back-to-back
home runs.

With that being said, I don’t think that he will be a candidate when it’s all said and done, but my question is why not?

Cy Mo
Don’t you think it’s time that Major League baseball rewarded the
greatest relief pitcher of all time with some hardware? Why can’t Mariano Rivera
win the Cy Young Award this season? I know that many critics are going
to bring up Mark Buehrle and his perfect game, Josh Beckett and his
13-4 record with a 3.12 ERA and Roy Halladay (12-5, 2.73
ERA) but Rivera is right there with them.

Rivera has not allowed an earned run since June 12 against the
Mets. Over that span, he has pitched in 21 games, 21.1 innings, allowed 10 hits, earned 18 saves, with 21 strikeouts and just four
walks. He has also lowered his ERA from 3.38 to 1.88. 

Even more astonishing is that Rivera has converted 32 of 33 save
opportunities this season and has not blown a save since April 24
against Boston. With all of the talk of the five home runs
he allowed earlier in the season, he has not given up a dinger since
May 20th.

Rivera’s total numbers on the season stand at 1-2, with a 1.88 ERA,
those 32 saves, 53 strikeouts and only seven walks in 48
innings pitched and 47 games. He’s only allowed 37 hits,
nine of which were for extra bases and opponents are hitting just
.206 against him. If that doesn’t wow award voters, I don’t know
what will.

If not Mitre, then who?

By Jon Lane
Most teams would love to have the Yankees’ biggest problem at the moment: the need for someone to emerge as the fifth starter. The job description is simple, provide at least five quality, at-worst average innings while keeping the team in the game. In the Yankees’ case, they have Joba Chamberlain’s innings limit to manage and with a big enough division lead would like to provide CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte extra days off any way they can.

Joe Girardi, partly out of loyalty to what he saw from Sergio Mitre in Florday and fairness since Mitre is not far removed from Tommy John surgery, is giving the embattled right-hander one more opportunity to hold onto his spot tonight when he starts against the Blue Jays (YES HD, 7 p.m.). Mitre’s ERA is an ungodly 7.50 and he’s allowed 32 hits over 18 innings; it was no coincidence that Girardi rearranged his rotation so that Mitre did not face the Red Sox.

If Mitre bombs again tonight – or even if he simply does not pitch well – he may lose his spot to new Yankee Chad Gaudin. Once a Rays top prospect, Gaudin has played for four other teams and is 32-35 with a 4.58 ERA for his career. At times he’s been really, really good, or good and terrible.

If Gaudin is a bust, there are Bargain Bin options available at Triple-A.

? Russ Ortiz was signed last week and threw six scoreless innings on Thursday, but he’s 35 and was 3-6 with a 5.57 ERA for the Astros. In 12 seasons playing for six teams, Ortiz is 113-88 with a 4.88 ERA. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2008 season. His best year came in 2003 (21-7, 3.81 ERA).

? Jason Hirsh was acquired from Colorado last month for a player to be named later. He’s last appeared in a Major League game in September 2008.

? Then there’s Josh Towers, another veteran who was called up on Saturday to fortify a depleted bullpen and designated for assignment the next day to make room for Gaudin. He’s hoping to clear waivers to return to Scranton and get another shot with the Yankees.

This shows you how far down the pecking order Kei Igawa has fallen, doesn’t it?

Boston Massacre III

By Jon Lane
The Yankees have little time to bask in the glory of their four-game destruction of the Red Sox with a game tonight against the Blue Jays, and a seven-day West Coast trip without a day off until August 20, but the facts and figures generated from this Boston Beatdown are extraordinary:

? The Yankees completed their first four-game sweep of the Red Sox in 24 years; their pitching held Boston’s offense scoreless for 31 innings, the longest streak in 35 years.

? The Red Sox were 3-for-38 with runners in scoring position in the four games.

? The Yankees are 4-8 against the Red Sox this season, but from their perspective that’s more beautiful than a supermodel. Consider: Since the All-Star break, the Yankees are 18-5, the Red Sox 8-14. New York is also 18-3 in its last 21 home games and 56-27 since Alex Rodriguez made his season debut May 8. The Yankees have won seven straight and hold a commanding 6 game lead in the AL East, the Red Sox’s largest deficit since October 1, 2006, with 51 games left.

It remains too early to tell if this will finish off the Red Sox like the Yankees’ five-game sweep at Fenway Park did in 2006. And unlike the past four days, the Yankees’ famous sweep in 1978 put the Red Sox down, but not out as Boston rallied down the stretch to force a one-game playoff, the day Bucky Dent broke hearts all over New England. But a comparison of other numbers lends credence to this being Boston Massacre III:

1978: Yankees 42, Red Sox 9
2006: Yankees 49, Red Sox 26
2009: Yankees 25, Red Sox 8

Does this mean the season is over? Absolutely not. But as Steven Goldman writes, the success of the past four days have the Yankees in a very good place.

Red Sox vs. Yankees: 8/8/2009 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (67-42)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Jose Molina C

Pitching: CC Sabathia

redsox.jpgRED SOX (62-46)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis LF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Lowell 3B
J.D. Drew RF
Casey Kotchman 1B
Nick Green SS

Pitching: Clay Buchholz