By Jon Lane
Freddy Guzman in for Eric Hinske. Francisco Cervelli and Damaso Marte stick around.
“If Gardy [Brett Gardner] gets a start, then you don’t have a pinch runner (without Guzman),” said Joe Girardi. “It just frees us up to do some more things.”
Could Girardi start Gardner in Game 2 if Johnny Damon continues to struggle?
Position players (14)
Jerry Hairston Jr.
By Jon Lane
Joe Girardi gave indications during a conference call with beat writers that the Yankees may go with a three-man rotation during the ALCS. That would mean CC Sabathia would start Game 4 on three days’ rest. Not only did Girardi point out a lighter Sabathia workload compared to last season with the Brewers, and the eight days he has between Friday and Game 1 of the ALDS, off days will have Sabathia available on regular rest if the series extends to a seventh game.
“Not getting him to 250 innings during the regular season allows us to consider that,” Girardi said. “We’ve told him, though, to concentrate on Game 1. That’s the most important game, and we’ll go from there.”
Furthermore, Joba Chamberlain and Chad Gaudin would remain in the bullpen. We’ll know more over the next day or two – the Yankees will work out at Yankee Stadium tomorrow and Thursday – but it sounded like Girardi wants to again carry three catchers, which means the lone roster change could be Brian Bruney or Freddy Guzman for Damaso Marte.
By Jon Lane
Eventually I’ll be fully migrated into the new My YES structure. Click here to sign up and participate
My projected Yankees ALCS roster. The only change I’d make is Brian Bruney for Damaso Marte. Having Francisco Cervelli as a third catcher worked out better than anyone imaged in Game 2, so he stays. Chad Gaudin sticks around too. He’ll either start Game 4 or remain the long man if CC Sabathia gets the call, the only game he’d have to start on short rest.
Position players (14)
Jerry Hairston Jr.
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.
By Jon Lane
A wrap on the first installment of Subway Series 2009.
First off, above is a great shot from the AP of a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knghts parachute team drifting above Yankee Stadium after jumping from an aircraft before the start of Sunday’s game as part of Military Appreciation Day.
Mets-Yankees to me overdone and it would be better if it took place once a year, three games and alternate the venues each year. But not only does six games make more money, the Subway Series continues to keep the Apple’s heart pumping. I was at Friday’s game and despite a report to the contrary, Yankee Stadium had a pulse which grew as the game progressed and reached a fever pitch with Luis Castillo’s dropped fly ball.
Once Gary Sheffield became a Met, Dwight Gooden, his uncle and one of 104 players to suit up for both the Yankees and Mets, told him that experiencing the Subway Series from both sides will be a lifetime memory. The Tampa, Fla., native makes his baseball season home in New Jersey, where for years he’s been hollered at from all directions.
“When I was with the Yankees I used to get a lot of Mets fans yelling at me,” Sheffield said. “Now I have Yankees fans yelling at me. It’s fun because you don’t know who the real Yankees or Mets fan is until they get it out of their mouths.
“Just the New York fans all together, one rooting against the other. That’s always fun, but it’s still New York at the same time.”
I documented some give-and-take between fans in the bleacher section in my diary from Friday.
The Yankees hold a 39-30 record against the Mets since interleague play was established in 1997. This weekend by far was the most eventful of a saga that’s made names of Dave Mlicki, Matt Franco, Mel Rojas, Dae-Sung Koo and Fernando Nieve. The past three days boosted the profiles of Brian Bruney and Francisco Rodriguez, sullied Castillo’s reputation, and have Mets fans on alert and panicking over Johan Santana.
The Yankees smashed Santana for nine runs (the most allowed over his stellar career) in three innings (matching his shortest start), which left many worried over Santana’s decreased velocity and wondering if he’s hurt. Santana shot down any notions about his health after the game, but this is something to monitor. Remember the Yankees took flack over refusing to part with Phil Hughes for Santana. In the interest of building a program, which I’ve explained many times in this space, over the long haul one could make an argument that Brian Cashman was right.
Some more lopsided numbers: Sunday was the Mets’ worst loss since a 16-1 thrashing in San Diego on August 22, 2000. The 15 runs were a season-high for the Yankees and their largest shutout win since blanking the Blue Jays, 15-0, in Game 1 of a doubleheader on September 25, 1977
The Yankees’ off day today comes at exactly the right time – following 16 games in 17 days with no day off since May 28 (a travel day between Texas and Cleveland) and a rainout on June 5. When they resume play tomorrow night they’ll oppose the atrocious Nationals who can’t pitch, but can put runs on the board. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees ring up a couple of 10-spots and do expect a demotion for Chien-Ming Wang if he can’t get it done on Wednesday. That and CC Sabathia starting tomorrow adds some intrigue to series that in comparison to the Mets is like going from Happy Hour to a boardroom.
Off-the-field notes: A.J. Burnett’s conference call regarding the appeal of his six-game suspension for throwing high-and-tight to Texas slugger Nelson Cruz on June 2 was postponed until June 30 … Damaso Marte (left shoulder tendinitis) has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.
UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.
From Yankees PR:
? Damaso Marte was seen by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Andrews concurred with the previous evaluations of Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Dr. David Altchek. Marte will return to Tampa, Fla., to continue his throwing program. Good news there.
? Alex Rodriguez will greet fans in Monument Park from 4:10-4:30 p.m. prior to Tuesday night’s game against Washington. Beforehand at 1 p.m., Robinson Cano will serve as “Principal for a Day” for PS 55 (450 St. Paul’s Place, Bronx, NY).
? The first 18,000 fans in attendance at Tuesday’s game will receive a “Strikeouts for Scholarships” keychain, courtesy of WCBS 880-AM, in support of Yankees media member Ed Lucas’ charitable endeavors with Seton Hall University. Through the “Strikeouts for Scholarships” program, established in 2008, WCBS donates $10 to Seton Hall’s Ed Lucas Scholarship Fund every time a Yankees pitcher strikes out an opposing batter. Ed is a great guy who does occasional interviews for YESNetwork.com. Visit him at EdLucas.org to learn about his inspirational story.
By Jon Lane
Read: Great anecdote from Yankees radio announcer Suzyn Waldman, who also pens for WFAN’s Web site, about Phil Hughes and the fire in his belly. Hughes threw eight stellar innings on Monday in an 11-1 win over the Rangers, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out six in the longest outing of his career.
React: And there are those who believe Hughes is better suited for the bullpen, even though it’s temporary. Look, when it comes to Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, the two most cherished arms in the Yankees organization, this yo-yo business is stupid. Once you make a decision – starter or reliever – you stick to it without messing with a young pitcher’s head or routine. Wisely, the Yankees are keeping Chamberlain in the rotation even with the possibility of Brian Bruney gone for the rest of the season and Hughes will remain among the five, Chien-Ming Wang or no Chien-Ming Wang.
Chamberlain is 23, Hughes is 22. These guys represent today and tomorrow, and have a great chance to be frontline starters within a few years. To quote “Wall Street’s” Lou Mannheim, “Stick to the fundamentals. That’s how IBM and Hilton were built. Good things sometimes take time.”
Read: Wang is stuck in long relief purgatory.
React: Adam Jones’ line drive that hit Chamberlain’s knee last week put the Yankees in a bind, forcing them to forgo Wang’s final Minor League start for immediate bullpen help. He’s off the disabled list and the Yankees can’t demote him because he’ll be exposed to waivers. It has them in a quandary with Hughes pitching well and Wang needing in-game repetitions, but it’s one of those nice ones. Joel Sherman of the New York Post sums it up best:
“Last year, Hughes was handed something he had not earned: a rotation spot. This year he is earning his spot. Will we ever say that about Wang in 2009?”
Read: Damaso Marte, out since April 26 with shoulder inflammation, is in Tampa, but it’ unclear when he will return this season. The Yankees seem to have little interest in his return, writes Peter Abraham
“It’s going to take some time,” Joe Girardi said. “His timetable? We really don’t have a timetable when he will be back.”
React: Three years and $12 million for Marte? Abraham isn’t the first to wonder why the Yankees are quick to share injury information about most players but not Marte.
By Glenn Giangrande
I just can’t take it anymore. The Yankees bullpen is like a train wreck that I DON’T want to watch.
In defense of Joe Girardi, he was dealt a tough hand when he lost Brian Bruney to the disabled list and Damaso Marte apparently was pitching hurt. That being said, about half the active ‘pen at minimum is downright unreliable right now. Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and Jonathan Albaladejo can’t be trusted in big situations, but they also can’t be counted on to keep games close when the Yankees are down. Girardi also doesn’t seem to trust David Robertson much, and I can’t imagine Mark Melancon helped himself by walking the bases loaded in the ninth against Boston Tuesday night. Aside from Phil Coke and Mariano Rivera, it’s ugly out there.
So where on the planet is there to turn? For starters, Alfredo Aceves and his career .228 BAA deserve a chance to pitch some meaningful late innings. I’m not counting on Chien-Ming Wang’s return, so I’ll leave Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain out of the equation for now. Casey Fossum was signed to a Minor League deal after being cut loose by the Mets, a team that like the Yankees are dealing with a bullpen in dire straits. I guess Fossum is no worse than the current options, but anyone out there think he’s a real solution to the problem? Is there even an realistic external solution to be had? It’s too early to talk trade, not that the relief market is going to be any better than usual, and Fossum is clearly the best the Yankees could do via free agency.
On a brighter note, did anyone out there catch Family Guy this past Sunday? I was dying. Lauren Conrad-Bill Cosby sex tape, Mr. Magoo driving with Lindsay Lohan … there was some tremendous stuff. If you want your mind taken off the Yankees’ relievers, check it out on your preferred Internet TV portal of choice.
By Jon Lane
I know it’s April 27. I’ve said and written many times that last I checked, seasons do not end in late April. The Yankees are .500, but plenty of would-be contenders are in worse predicaments. Alas, because we’re in New York and it’s the Yankees, hell is breaking loose. Cries of “this team is aging, old, tired, and has no heart …” have caused sleepless nights, yet all it takes is one big game to re-write perception. That’s the baseball season. That’s how it works over 162 games and eight-nine months. How many times in recent history were the Yankees declared dead, only to find it within them to win 90-100 games?
That said, right here and right now, the Yankees have big problems. Being swept by the Red Sox is never good. Blowing two wholly winnable games and allowing a steal of home in the third is inexcusable. Look, Mariano Rivera is going to blow saves, so if that’s feeding your ulcers, get over it and get off his back. But neither Rivera’s gopher ball nor Damaso Marte and his 15.19 ERA had anything to do with a problem that simply will not go away: The Yankees were 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position and left 15 men on base Friday night. On Saturday, they scored 11 runs and still lost. Enough said there.
When was the last time the Yankees had a feared, unequivocal, no-fuss, no-worries stopper? Mike Mussina won 20 games last season and he was great, but I’m talking about a bona fide big guy in the prime of his career who has carried his team on broad shoulders before. That’s you, CC Sabathia. Tonight in Detroit, you have to stop this. You have to get the Yankees re-aligned with their universe, a place in which their contending against their history and the justification of a palatial new home. You were handed $161 million to win a hell of a lot more than you lose.
Tonight, CC, play stopper. Go long, go hard and if not all the way, get the ball to Rivera with a lead. You cannot hand over the responsibility of halting a four-game losing streak to Phil Hughes.
This Tigers team, Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, etc., can rake, even if all the pistons aren’t firing at once. Still, you’ve been decent against them throughout your career (13-9, 4.70), especially at Comerica Park (7-2, 3.80). It’s the ideal time to improve those April numbers of 11-10 with a 4.47 ERA over your first eight seasons.
Everyone is expecting it: your fans, your manager. You’ve shown you can handle the media. You haven’t snapped, snarled or played hide-and-seek. You’re a guy who in crisis situations says, “It’s okay guys. It’s all good. We’ll be alright, just follow my lead.”
Do it, CC. It’s April 27, but fair or not, tonight is already a must-win.
The suggestion box
- The AP this morning called Alex Rodriguez a “conquering rescuer.”How many of you right now are wishing A-Rod would go away? It’s either A-Rod and his shenanigans or the awesome Angel Berroa/Ramiro Pena duet at third base. Berroa has played all of three games at third. It showed Sunday night and he’s has done nothing since winning ROY in 2003. Suggestion: start Pena and tighten your defense until Rodriguez returns, which may be well before the target date of May 15.
- Nice first impression by Mark Melancon, eh? Yes, two innings do not make a career, but he worked out of his own bases-loaded, no-out jam without allowing a run. Once Brian Bruney returns, wouldn’t a Rivera-Bruney-Melancon back end work nicely? David Robertson (yes, he allowed Mike Lowell’s crushing double on Saturday) also deserves a longer look and Phil Coke more rope. The alternative is more of Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Marte and Jonathan Albaladejo.
By Jon Lane
The Yankees are 9-8. In five of those losses they’ve allowed at least 10 runs and have been outscored 73-27.
On Wednesday, the Yankees played baseball for four hours and 57 minutes covering 14 innings. Saturday, it took 4:21 to complete the sixth-longest nine-inning game in Major League history.
Think the bullpen is tattered and torn? Brian Bruney is on the disabled list and there are big problems with everyone not named Mariano Rivera. Jonathan Albaladejo,
Phil Coke, Damaso Marte, Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras have a combined
ERA of 7.08. Marte has been a disaster and there’s no middle ground with Ramirez or Veras. Both are either real good or flat-out unwatchable. (No, Joba Chamberlain is not being moved to the bullpen.)
The past two losses have been galling. Rivera blew a two-run lead in the ninth on Friday and A.J. Burnett a 6-0 advantage yesterday, a game that required 385 pitches, 28 hits, two errors, 15 walks, a catcher’s interference and two hit batters in those four hours and 21 minutes.
What hasn’t changed is the Yankees’ biggest problem offensively last season, delivering with runners on base. Saturday they slugged 15 hits but left 12 men on base and are a combined 7-for-36 with runners in scoring position in the series.
The Rays are 7-11. The Angels, 6-11. The Indians, 6-12. The Mets, 8-9. The Cubs, 8-8. Moral of the story: seasons do not end in April and none of those teams’ managers are on the hot seat. The Red Sox have won nine in a row, yet are one game behind first-place Toronto with the Yankees three behind the pace.
Enjoy your Sunday.
By Jon Lane
SI.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that Xavier Nady has been diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow and will avoid surgery. What began as fear that Nady would be gone for the season has turned into a timetable that could last for 4-6 weeks.
Heyman added Nady could return in a DH role. As I wrote earlier today, the Yankees are very concerned about Hideki Matsui’s knees. Matsui is in tonight’s lineup and batting seventh.
Plenty of time to kill before the Yankees and A’s try it again tonight (My9 HD, 7 p.m.). Skies are overcast but more rain may invade the area later today into tonight.
Yesterday’s rainout allowed me to pay full attention to Game 3 of the Rangers’ first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals. Rather than step on the favored Caps’ throats to the brink of extinction, the Blueshirts decided to form a Conga line to the penalty box. They were outplayed by Washington’s snipers and a 20-year-old goaltender named Simeon Varlamov in dropping a 4-0 decision at Madison Square Garden, where they went 26-11-14 during the regular season. On the road they were 17-19-5 and won the first two games of this series in Washington DC. Go figure.
Back to baseball and the ongoing Xavier Nady watch. While the Yankees are holding out hope their right-fielder will not need surgery on his injured right elbow, the prognosis remains bleak. To date, Nady has undergone at least five tests in which doctors are trying to differentiate between this and injury he suffered in 2001, which required Tommy John surgery. Dr. Lewis Yocum, the surgeon who performed the procedure on Nady’s elbow in ’01, was expected to get the MRI pictures today. Supposedly there were to be sent via e-mail yesterday, but Dr. Yocum isn’t up on 21st century technology, so the Yankees FedExed him the information.
You obviously hope for the best in a situation that is flat-out terrible timing. Nady batted .305 with the Pirates and Yankees last season and becomes a free agent after this season. It makes you wonder how teams will view a veteran who turns 31 in November and whose body of work will be two RBIs in 28 at-bats in seven games. Speaking to a couple of Yankees, they made it clear Nady is appreciated and will be missed. The day after Nady injured his elbow, Nick Swisher painted a big ‘X’ on his arm to let him know his teammates won’t forget him. At the beginning of Spring Training, the two were competing for playing time in right field. The rivalry evolved into a tight friendship.
“Anytime somebody has to go through that it’s tough,” Swisher said. “We all want him to know we’re going to be there for him. Anything we can do to help, we’re all going to do that. You’re talking about losing a tremendous player – not just a tremendous player but an awesome guy.”
“It’s a big loss,” said Brett Gardner. “‘X’ is gone hopefully everybody can rally together and pick up the slack. It drives you a little more when you know your team and your coaches are counting on you.”
Further complicating matters is the fact that Hideki Matsui’s surgically repaired left knee needed to be drained last Thursday, creating a major level of concern about an aging veteran restricted to DH duty, and batting.194 (6-for-31) overall and .083 (1-for-12) with runners in scoring position. This makes you wonder if Matt Holliday will be the Yankees’ top target come July.
I hate to bring this up, but it’s true. Ross Ohlendorf – he and Jeff Karstens were shipped to Pittsburgh before last
season’s trade deadline for Nady and the now flammable Damaso Marte – threw seven shutout innings against the Marlins Monday night and would be better than 1-2 if not for a lack of run support. He had gone 0-5 with a 5.88 ERA dating back to last season before silencing a team that scored a combined 16 runs in its previous two games.
Like the signing of Carl Pavano, you may complain about this now, but you weren’t then. At least four teams were fighting over Pavano in 2004; Ohlendorf and Karstens, two pitchers on the outside looking in, were traded as part of a package for two reliable and proven veterans. It was impossible to foresee Nady getting hurt and Marte becoming a time bomb.
Karstens starts tonight and looks to recover from his 2009 debut in which he walked five in four innings.