September 2009

Jobamania

joba_275_092509.jpgBy Jon Lane
Admittedly, I borrowed the headline from Peter Abraham, author of the LoHud Yankees blog. Pete, incidentally, begins his new job as Red Sox beat writer for The Boston Globe next week. We at YESNetwork.com wish him the best. He did great things for The Journal News and he’ll reach new heights in Beantown.

Based on the amount of Joba Chamberlain content on YESNetwork.com and various columns in today’s papers, it is Jobamania in the Bronx, though by no means is it running wild. Jobamania hasn’t been Hulkamania in nearly two months. Instead he’s been the jobber – in layman’s terms enhancement talent – old-school wrestling promoters feed to their established stars for a pounding.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. If you’re already calling Chamberlain “Joba the Bust,” get real, but the right-hander is 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA in his last eight outings. His start Sunday in Seattle was a complete embarrassment (seven runs, three innings), which left Joe Girardi to say – if you read between the lines – “Step it up, or else.” Pulling no punches, Bob Klapish writes that “the clock is running out on
this immature underachiever who threatens to take down the Bombers’
dream season.”

Simply put, there is no more polarizing figure in New York at the moment, perhaps in all of sports. Jim Kaat questions whether “The Joba Rules” are helping or hurting the right-hander. In today’s New York Daily News, Anthony McCarron gathered viewpoints from a few baseball experts. Former Mets and A’s pitching coach Rick Peterson believes the Yankees accomplished their team goals, but sports psychology consultant Dr. Jack Llewellyn told McCarron that any limits “might cause him to try to pitch better instead of just letting himself
pitch. It sounds like just words, but there is a big difference, and
the toll it takes is mentally. It just saps your energy when you’re trying to make yourself do things.”

To sum up, Chamberlain must pitch well tonight, at the very least keep the Yankees in the game. Another implosion and, unbelievably, Chad Gaudin may be your Game 4 ALCS starter.

_______________________

Hidden within Jobamaina, here’s what you need to know for tonight and this weekend:

? The Yankees’ magic number is five. The only way they win the AL East is by sweeping the Red Sox. Otherwise the party will be on hold until next week against the Royals.

? Considering Chamberlain’s opponent, it’s even more urgent he pitch well. Jon Lester (14-7, 3.33 ERA) is 11-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 20 starts since May 31 – the third-best ERA in the Majors over that span – and 3-0, 1.90 in six career starts against the Yankees. In that same stretch. Alex Rodriguez is 2-for-13 (.154) and Robinson Cano 2-for-18 (.111) facing the left-hander.

? This season, Mark Teixeira is 3-for-9 (.333) with a homer against Lester. In their careers, Derek Jeter is 8-for-23 (.348), Melky Cabrera 6-for-16 (.375) and Jose Molina 5-for-11 (.455).

? CC Sabathia starts Saturday against Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Yankees’ ace was moved up a day to provide him with extra rest before the playoffs. Andy Pettitte – his shoulder his fine, folks – opposes Paul Byrd Sunday afternoon.

Frozen Moment: Kennedy completes comeback

kennedy_300_092409.jpgBy Jon Lane
Mariano Rivera sealed the Yankees series-clinching win over the Angels, one that put a bug in the Halos’ heads – finally, not the other way around – if the teams are to meet again next month. Victory was attained when Ian Kennedy gutted out the eighth inning, his first Major League inning since last August when he was tattooed on the same field. Yes, he walked two batters and hit another, and his first out was a line drive right to Ramiro Pena at third base, but Joe Girardi looked him in the eye and told him it’s your day, your time, now get the job done. And he did.

Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin and Brian Bruney were unavailable – would you trust Bruney in that spot anyway? – so Girardi summoned Kennedy based on some strong Minor League rehab appearances and Dave Eiland’s vote of confidence. You can feel the consternation – John Sterling endlessly second-guessed the move while calling the game on the Yankees’ radio network – and negativity wondering if Girardi had gone mad at the most inopportune time. He had decided to rest a handful of starters, the AL East and home field advantage not yet secured, against their annual tormentors since 2002. Then he put the game in the right hand of one who underwent May surgery for an aneurysm and a year earlier was 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in 10 games (nine starts).

It’s easy to complain, even when a team is 40 games (now 41) games over .500 and older players are banged up with a cross-country flight awaiting them. When Erick Aybar flied out to left to end the eighth with the bases loaded, you exhaled with satisfaction. Rivera would close and the Yankees would have one of their best wins in a season filled with many.

With guts comes glory, and win or lose, respect. Kennedy is back from a serious health issue a lot sooner than anyone expected. Whether he sneaks onto the postseason roster or not (probably not), he’ll pitch in the Arizona Fall League and receive a golden opportunity to start for the Yankees in 2010.

“Just to be pitching is an accomplishment,” Kennedy said. “And then to be pitching here, and in a big situation, there are no words to describe it. It got a little crazy, but I was glad it worked out barely. These are big, important wins for us.”

The magic number is five. The Red Sox are in town this weekend. The indeterminable Joba Chamberlain starts against Jon Lester tomorrow night. You want to see the Yankees enter the postseason healthy and winning, so the games remain important. For one day, Kennedy played his part while emerging victorious from not only a game, but the biggest battle of his young life.

_______________________

Two things to keep an eye on today: David Robertson will throw a bullpen session and Jerry Hairston Jr. will undergo a second MRI on his left wrist. The Yankees need Robertson to be their seventh/late-inning fireballer and Hairston to fill multiple roles off the bench. If he’s forced to miss at least the ALDS, Pena can fill the void to a point. He’s yet to play in the outfield, which would make Eric Hinske’s presence more important.

Yankees vs. Angels: 9/23/2009 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (96-56)
Derek Jeter SS
Jerry Hairston 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Shelley Duncan RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera LF
Brett Gardner CF
Jose Molina C

Pitching: A.J. Burnett (11-9, 4.22)

angels.jpgANGELS (90-61)
Chone Figgins 3B
Erick Aybar SS
Bobby Abreu DH
Torii Hunter CF
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Gary Matthews RF
Mike Napoli C

Pitching: Scott Kazmir (9-8, 5.08)

Exhale

miagyi_275_092309.jpgBy Jon Lane
“Breathe in, breathe out – and no scare fish.”
– Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid

Okay, some 1980s cheese to begin today’s blogging, but the point is you can take a deep breath, exhale and chill out. The Yankees are officially, securely, in the postseason after a one-year hiatus. Now there’s the matter of clinching both the AL East and home field advantage. Something catastrophic would have to happen to deny them both luxuries.

Thanks to everyone for providing feedback to my ALDS roster projections. Chad Gaudin did nothing to hurt his chances of making the cut, but didn’t provide reassurances that he’d be a viable alternative for Joba Chamberlain in Game 4 of the ALCS if the Yankees get that far. The Yankees are 5-0 in games he’s started, but that means nothing in the playoffs, where you can no longer rely on an offense to bail out a mediocre pitcher.

It would make a world of difference if Chamberlain shows life and passion Friday night while turning out Boston’s lights.

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?

Who would you feel most comfortable with starting a game in the post season?(surveys)

Who would you like to see as the Yankees’ starting right fielder in 2010?(polling)

Who is the American League MVP?(online surveys)

Where will Brett Gardner be most valuable in the post season?(survey software)

Which American League team would you most fear facing in the post season?(survey software)

Who will win the American League Central?(survey)

Yankees vs. Angels: 9/22/2009 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (95-56)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner CF

Pitching: Chad Gaudin (1-0 3.68)

angels.jpgANGELS (90-60)
Chone Figgins 3B
Maicer Izturis 2B
Bobby Abreu RF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Torii Hunter CF
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Erick Aybar SS
Jeff Mathis C

Pitching: Ervin Santana (7-8, 5.43)

Sonia Sotomayor to throw out first pitch

New York Yankees Media Relations
The New York Yankees will hold two special ceremonial first pitches during the team’s final regular season homestand to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. United States Supreme Court Justice – and Bronx native – Sonia Sotomayor will throw out the game’s first pitch on Saturday, September 26, prior to the Yankees’ 4:10 p.m. game vs. the Red Sox. Panama President Ricardo Martinelli will do the honor the night before, on Friday, September 25, prior to the Yankees’ 7:05 p.m. game vs. Red Sox.  

On Monday, September 28, the Yankees will conclude their Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations with the on-field presentation of the Yankees’ Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Community Achievement Awards prior to the Yankees’ 7:05 p.m. game vs. the Royals.

“Having Justice Sotomayor, a South Bronx native, participate in our yearly Hispanic Heritage Month celebration is very exciting, as she is an inspiration to so many,” said Manuel García, Yankees Director of Latino Affairs. “We are proud to welcome her and President Martinelli to our new home.” 

Starting lineups: Yankees vs. Angels, 9/21

YANKEES

Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Swisher RF
Posada DH
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF
Molina C

Pettitte P

ANGELS

Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Guerrero DH
Hunter CF
Rivera LF
Kendrick 2B
Quinlan 1B
Mathis C

Saunders P

Lineups

YANKEES

 

Jeter SS

Damon LF

Teixeira 1B

Rodriguez 3B

Matsui DH

Posada C

Cano 2B

Cabrera RF

Gardner CF

 

Chamberlain P

 

 

MARINERS

 

Ichiro RF

Gutierrez CF

Lopez 2B

Griffey, Jr. DH

Beltre 3B

Hall LF

Carp 1B

Moore C

Josh Wilson SS

 

Snell P

Starting lineups: 9/19

YANKEES

Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Swisher RF
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF
Cervelli C

Sabathia P

MARINERS

Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 1B
Sweeney DH
Beltre 3B
Johjima C
Hall LF
Tuiasosopo 2B
Wilson SS

Fister P