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
This via the AP:
Tigers left-hander Jarrod Washburn will miss his next start because of a sore left knee.
Washburn was scheduled to start Saturday in Tampa Bay. He said on Thursday that he will be replaced by Armando Galarraga. Washburn missed a start in May with Seattle for the same reason.
Washburn has an ERA 6.81 while winning one of six starts since joining the Tigers at the trading deadline. He is expected to make his next start on Sept. 10 against Kansas City.
Like last season, Washburn was a hot name on the Yankees’ radar before July 31 and many Yankees fans screamed over how they were beaten out by the Tigers and that fact that Brian Cashman’s only acquisition was Jerry Hairston Jr. Last I looked, Hairston has been a useful bench player batting .273 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 26 games. And that other ‘non-sexy’ name, Eric Hinske, has seven homers and 12 RBIs in 23 games. Cashman acquired him and $400,000 for two Minor Leaguers.
Jonah Keri today offered insight on what’s happened to Washburn since he became a Detroit Tiger.
Moral of the story: Remember Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small in 2005. The right role players blended with superstars make for the best recipe, yet a lot of these guys slip through the cracks.
One of the other Yankee no-names, Chad Gaudin, starts tonight in Toronto (YES HD, 7 p.m.). At this point, either Gaudin or Sergio Mitre will make the postseason roster as a long man.
Phil Hughes as temporary Yankees closer will be interesting to watch, for the Yankees can afford the luxury of being extra careful with Mariano Rivera (groin stiffness). No further explanations about Hughes’ breakthrough season are necessary. But, and I quote Kimberly Jones, will there be Hughes Rules next season?
By Jon Lane
The Good: 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 games over the Rangers. Expectations in this city, for this team, are often ridiculous, which Chris Shearn pointed out this morning, and perceptions change more often than toll collectors during rush hour. For the most part there’s been a vibe about this team we haven’t seen in years, and that includes the later Joe Torre teams that made the playoffs. Furthermore, the Yankees are much better than last season. That is indisputable.
The Yankees have received better-than-expected contributions from Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera. The duo is batting a combined .283 with 11 homers, 53 RBI and 23 stolen bases, lest we forget Gardner’s mad – and inspirational – inside-the-park home run and Cabrera’s .375/2/14 in close-or-late situations (of his 34 RBIs, 12 have either tied or put the Yankees ahead after the seventh inning). The Yankees had a deal in place to send Cabrera to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron and a one-year stop-gap in center, and Cameron is .258/14/42/4. With Gardner, Cabrera and Eric Hinske playing well, the Yankees have outfield depth and absolutely no reason to rush Austin Jackson.
Hinske has three home runs in 12 at-bats with the Yankees, two more than he hit in 106 at-bats with the Pirates before he was acquired in a trade on June 30.
Phil Hughes in relief: 18.1 innings, seven hits, two runs, five walks, 19 Ks. He has solved the Yankees’ eighth-inning problem; a bullpen operates at peak performances when each reliever knows and excels in his given role. Here’s hoping this is a warm-up to many great years as a starting pitcher. And Hughes will be a starter. You don’t groom promising and electric young arms to be eighth-inning or middle relievers their whole careers. Look at Johan Santana.
Playing in likely his final season in New York, Hideki Matsui is 12 of his last 30 with four homers and 12 RBI. He’s .265-14-40 in 234 at-bats (78 games) as a full-time DH. Not bad for a veteran of both Japan and the Major Leagues now playing on shot knees.
Playing in the second of a 10-year, $275-million contract, Alex Rodriguez is 22 of his last 59 (.373) with eight homers, 22 RBI and 17 runs scored and batting.256. Not bad for someone whose game is back in form after missing the season’s first month recovering from hip surgery and with a second one awaiting him this winter.
The not-so-good: The Yankees’ 51-37 record is impressive. The fact that they’re 2-9 against the Red Sox and Angels is alarming. Any visions of a 27th World Championship will go through Anaheim and Boston. If the season ended today, the Yankees would play the Angels in a five-game series with at most three in Southern California.
Since 2004, the Yankees are 18-33 against the Angels overall and 7-18 at Angels Stadium. And guess what? They play the Red Sox and Angels 13 more times between now and the end of the season, including a return trip to Anaheim September 21-23, and after an off day, a three-game set at Yankee Stadium September 25-27 that may decide the AL East – and if the Rays have any say, possibly the playoff fate of either the Yankees or Red Sox.
Andy Pettitte is 8-5 with a 4.85 ERA, yet in his last four starts is 1-2 with a 10.38 ERA. He’s shown flashes of the old Pettitte, but you wonder more and more how much he has left.
Joba Chamberlain is 4-2 with a 4.25 ERA, but he’s had a no-decision in 11 of 17 starts and is off three straight in which he’s allowed nine hits or more. He’s pitched into the seventh inning once since June 7 and a combined eight over his last two. For the past couple of weeks the back-end of the Yankees rotation has been unreliable while Chien-Ming Wang’s potentially lost season leaves a gaping hole. Will the Yankees be compelled to go all-in for Roy Halladay?
In between: CC Sabathia is 7-3 with a 3.43 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .218 batting average since May and A-Rod’s return. Overall, though, he’s 8-6, 3.86. With a great seven-inning effort at Minnesota in between, here are Sabathia’s two other pitching lines this month:
July 2 vs. Seattle: 5 2/3 IP, 10 H, six R, three BB, eight K, one HR (loss)
July 12 at L.A. Angels: 6 2/3 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 BB, six K (loss)
“So, so,” Sabathia said of his first 19 starts after Sunday’s game. “I was in a pretty good slot for a while, but I need to do better.”
Sabathia’s been a strong second-half pitcher his whole career (3.39 ERA/1.21 WHIP/.243 BAA compared to 3.89/1.26/.249). It’s one reason the Yankees spent big money to get him and they’ll be hoping for another yeoman effort, especially if not even a serviceable fifth starter can be had at the trade deadline.
By 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 ½ 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.
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.