By Jon Lane
I wrote in this space after the Yankees’ took two of three from the Red Sox last month at Fenway Park that the men from the Back Bay aren’t dead yet. Alas, the Red Sox are winners of seven straight games and 10 in a row on Yawkey Way.
There won’t be too much suspense these last few weeks. The Yankees’ magic number for clinching a playoff berth is four, which means you seriously do not have to worry about a Mets-like September collapse. But homefield advantage throughout the postseason is far from wrapped up, even if New York leads Boston by 6 ½ games in both the AL East and the right to host that extra DS and LCS game.
Red Sox-Yankees at Yankee Stadium next weekend now has some intrigue. The Yankees’ AL East magic number is 11, and the way the BoSox are playing you figure the Bombers will spray champagne in their own clubhouse either that weekend or the following week when the Royals are in town. This brings up a question, writes Pete Caldera. Do you celebrate clinching the playoffs with the big champagne party, or wait until you clinch the AL East?
Nothing ever seems to go right for the Angels when they play the Red Sox. They’ll arrive to Fenway for the finale of a three-game set tonight still steaming over controversial calls that they perceive cost them Wednesday’s game. Closer Brian Fuentes actually wondered whether the men in blue were too “timid” or “scared” to make a decision that riles the temper of Red Sox Nation.
“Especially here and some other places, they seem timid to make calls,” Fuentes said after twice failing to get a third strike called on Nick Green before walking him with the bases loaded score the tying run. “I’ve heard it from other guys that come in here and say that. That’s either because it’s a mistake, or they’re scared.”
Barring any late comebacks, the clubs will meet for a third straight time in the first round of the playoffs, where in the last two Octobers the Red Sox have eliminated the Angels, who are 1-9 against Boston in the postseason since 2004.
Updating you on two of the Yankees’ potential playoff opponents, the Tigers rallied from a three-run deficit Wednesday to snap a three-game skid on the night they honored the iconic Ernie Harwell, while the Twins completed a sweep of the Indians to take a four-game win streak to a showdown with the Tigers this weekend, three of seven remaining games between the clubs this season.
Detroit leads Minnesota by 4 ½ games entering today and is trying to hold on with a pitching staff of Justin Verlander and fingers crossed. (I initially didn’t mention Edwin Jackson, but the Royals are currently lighting him up and, like Rick Porcello, we’ll see how they respond with the season on the line.) Jarrod Washburn has given up at least three runs in each of his last five starts and a bum knee has bumped him from his scheduled start on Sunday. I’m just sayin’.
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 Glenn Giangrande
By Jon Lane
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. from the Cincinnati Reds. More on this later and how this may affect Shelley Duncan.
Earlier today, Chad Jennings is reporting on his Scranton Yankees blog
that Duncan was on his way to Chicago to join the Yankees for tonight’s
game. The Yankees have been lacking in bench and outfield depth since
Brett Gardner went on the disabled list. Hairston helps fill those
No word on who will be sent down, but the Yankees have
been carrying 13 pitchers, so my guess is either Jonathan Albaladejo or
Meanwhile, the Yankees took a hit in the rush to
the non-waiver trade deadline when the Tigers acquired left-hander
Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners, someone looked at as an ideal
alternative to Roy Halladay. SI.com’s Jon Heyman had reported the team
will let the deadline pass
and go through the waiver wire. This might mean Bronson Arroyo is on
their radar. No team will claim Arroyo and pay the full $17 million
he’s owed through 2010.
Sherman reports Duncan
will remain with the team and two roster moves need to be made, one of
which will involve a relief pitcher.
Class-A catcher Chase Weems sent to Reds system for Hairston.
Roy Halladay, Tweets Sherman, has not been traded.
By Jon Lane
Cross Ian Snell off the Yankees’ wish list. The Pirates right-hander touted by Steven Goldman was dealt to Seattle with shortstop Jack Wilson for SS Ronny Cedeno, Triple-A catcher Jeff Clement and three Minor League pitchers.
This business with Roy Halladay, starting today against the Mariners, will resolve itself probably by 3:59 and 59 seconds Friday afternoon. I had the Blue Jays and Phillies settling any reported differences and Halladay headed to the City of Brotherly Love, but that was before the Phils and Indians completed a trade for Cliff Lee, writes Gordon Edes. Make that two off the list.
Many teams are apparently turned off by Halladay’s price tag. Perhaps his price now drops.
As for the Yankees, I think they’ll do something. The New York Daily News reported a possible interest in outfielder Josh Anderson, recently designated for assignment by the Tigers but 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. That would make him a nice fill-in for Brett Gardner, out of action with a broken thumb for at least the next couple of weeks. Left-hander Jarrod Washburn, on the team’s radar last season and having a great year in Seattle, is a free agent this winter. Barring a steal of a deal for Halladay, Washburn is the Yankees’ best option, writes Glenn Giangrande.
Part II of Ray Negron’s diary on the Yankees mourning the loss of Thurman Munson is on-line.
By Glenn Giangrande
In the wake of Tuesday night’s reports of Chien-Ming Wang being done for the season, the Yankees need another starting pitcher, especially if they intend to hold firm on Joba Chamberlain’s innings limit.
I’ve championed the idea of acquiring Roy Halladay, but it does not appear that Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi will budge from his lofty asking price. The cost of the Indians’ Cliff Lee may also be prohibitive. If neither of those front-line starters can be obtained, it might be time to go to Plan C: Jarrod Washburn.
If you recall, Washburn was heavily linked to the Yankees at the 2008 trading deadline, but no deal was made between the Yanks and Mariners. Now Washburn is in the final season of a four-year contract. He’s having a fantastic season, posting a 2.64 ERA and a .223 BAA, both dramatically lower than his numbers through July 27, 2008 — a 4.50 ERA and a .289 BAA.
Mechanical adjustments, plus a couple of new pitches, appear to have made a big difference for the soon-to-be 35-year-old lefty. He’s pitched in big games before, having been a key cog in the Angels rotation earlier this decade.
Seattle is in no position to ask for a ransom. The Mariners have fallen onto the fringes of playoff contention and their farm system is still depleted following the Erik Bedard trade prior to last year. Young pitching seems to have vaulted the Rangers past the Mariners in the AL West pecking order. A couple of mid-level Minor Leaguers would have to be viewed as a good haul for Washburn. He’d be the most cost-effective move.
One caveat: As of Tuesday, Washburn ranked fifth among American League pitchers in the number of outs he’s recorded through the air. Some of those balls might turn into homers in Yankee Stadium as opposed to spacious Safeco Field. However, CC Sabathia and the aforementioned Lee are also among the leaders, two pitchers doing just fine, so it’s not the end all, be all; just one of the only downsides to a pitcher who’d be an economical acquisition.