Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’

A second chance to make the next impression

By Jon Lane
We’re live from Yankee Stadium on a gray Thursday morning, where later today Chien-Ming Wang will attempt to erase a dreadful beginning to his 2009 season when makes his first start in nearly seven weeks. Since he was activated from the disabled list (hip), which also was a chance for him to hit the reset button, Wang allowed two runs and nine hits in eight innings covering three relief appearances while showing the form that made him a two-time 19-game winner.

One start good or bad won’t define the rest of the season for the right-hander, but you know Wang and the Yankees are hoping for the best even though he’s on a limited pitch count (around 75). It’s going to be very interesting to see how this unfolds.

Back later with much more, including today’s lineups and the status of Mark Teixeira, who sat out last night with a bruised right ankle.

11:26 a.m.
Here are the lineups. It’s just a day off for Derek Jeter with a stretch of 17 games in a row. And Teixeira told Joe Girardi this morning, “I’m good to go,” and later explained that his collision with Elvis Andrus was bone on bone, which is what left him sore for a day.

11:54 a.m.
MLB has suspended A.J. Burnett six games for intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of Nelson Cruz Monday night. It is expected he will appeal.

11:57 a.m.
Some quick rehab reports:

Jorge Posada is healthy and is also getting the day off. Girardi thought about starting him this afternoon, but when Posada told him he was OK, Girardi replied, “Let’s keep it OK.”

“I just thought it was better to give him a day,” Girardi said. “It’s a quick turnaround.”

Brian Bruney threw from 90 feet Tuesday and felt fine … Xavier Nady had the day off … Jose Molina was expected to return to New York today to receive treatment and will be held off from baseball activity for the next week or two.

12:58 p.m.
About 10 minutes before Wang makes his first pitch. Girardi reiterated this morning how Wang’s sinker over his last few outings has worked like it’s supposed to, going down and not side to side. The bottom line is he deserved a shot at redemption and today will not be a case of one bad start and you’re done.

“He had three really tough starts,” Girardi said. “He won 46 games in 2 years. I’m not sure how many guys can boast that. This is not just a guy we’re trying out. This is a guy we believe in.”

I spoke to a respected member of the Taiwanese media who noted a swagger that’s been missing from Wang since Spring Training. Imagine being in limbo and having to rehab in Tampa while your wife is weeks away from giving birth to your first child? You’d be pretty upset and the vibe is that Wang will channel those energies in a positive way.

1:16 p.m.
Nice start for Wang retiring the Rangers in order on 13 pitches (nine for strikes), including freezing Ian Kinsler on a perfectly located 3-2 pitch. Remember that Wang’s pitch limit is around 75, but Girardi cited the Rangers’ penchant for swinging the bat, which made him hope Wang can work five-six innings anyway.

1:26 p.m.
Mark Teixeira reached on an error when David Murphy dropped a fly ball he initially caught one-handed. Rangers manager Ron Washington argued that the ball was lost on the transfer from glove to throwing hand, but replays indicated Murphy did not secure the ball first.

I was inserting a moral of the story message to Mets rookie Fernando Martinez about the importance of running to first base no matter what, which Teixeira did, until Teixeira got caught between first and second trying to advance on Alex Rodriguez’s fly ball to right. Shortstop Elvis Andrus cut off Nelson Cruz’s throw, chased Teixeira back to first and tagged him out a split second before getting back to the bag.

1-0 Yankees after one on a leadoff home run by Johnny Damon.

1:51 p.m.
Wang’s laboring here in the third. The Rangers took a 2-1 lead on a wild pitch and Hank Blaock’s RBI single.

1:54 p.m.
Chris Davis led off the third with a ground-rule double and Wang nearly esacaped a runner on third, one-out jam before he threw ball four – and a wild pitch – that allowed Davis to score the tying run. Wang had to work – he caught a bad break with Michael Young’s infield hit – his location wasn’t as sharp as the first two innings. He threw 22 pitches, which gives him 45 after three. His last pitch, though, froze Nelson Cruz for strike three.

2:07 p.m.
Wang’s time in this game is rapidly running short. A single and two straight doubles have given the Rangers a 4-1 lead, the last of which drew boos from an impatient crowd. Alfredo Aceves warming up.

2:09 p.m.
He recovers to record three quick outs without further damage. At 60 pitches, expect the fifth inning to be his last.

2:16 p.m.
A-Rod, incidentally, is 2-for-13 in this series and drew loud boos with his groundout to short after Teixeira led off the fourth with a double.

2:25 p.m.
Wang retired the first two Rangers on the fifth on ground balls, throwing only six pitches. He was on his way to a nice finish before Nelson Cruz crushed his worst pitch of the day into the Rangers bullpen (he had not allowed a home run to a right-handed batter in his prior 21 starts.

His final line: 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 1 WP. Great? No. But Wang isn’t yet fully stretched out to throw 90-100 pitches. It’s a work in progress and not an audition, so you’ll be seeing him in the rotation for some time.

2:45 p.m.
In a blink of an eye, Wang is off the hook. The Yankees load the bases, Nick Swisher draws a run-scoring walk and Mark Teixeira doubles home three to tie the game at five. The number of ways Teixeira is valuable to this team seems to double every game.

2:48 p.m.
Now the fans love A-Rod. He pokes an opposite-field single to plate Teixeira and put the Yankees ahead, 6-5. Lots of layers to this contest, but the most important is Wang laying the foundation to again be an important part of the Yankees’ rotation sooner rather than later.

3:01 p.m.
Ian Kinsler homers off the foul pole to tie the game 6-6. Aceves has definitely looked better in other outings.

3:37 p.m.
Still 6-6 as we enter the eighth. The bullpens have settled things down while Nick Swisher (2-for-3, BB, RBI) is out of the game for defensive purposes. Brett Gardner is in center while Melky Cabrera shifts over to right.

3:43 p.m.
Phil Coke: 1 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and a snatch catch of a line drive. It’s the best he’s looked in awhile. But I like Girardi calling on David Robertson to face the right-handed Elvis Andrus. Robertson needs to be tested in big spots and he did his job, retiring Andrus on a fly ball to left.

3:49 p.m.
Melky … again. Not a walk-off, but he hands a two-run lead to Mariano Rivera in the ninth.

New and old guard proving most valuable

By Jon Lane
Mark Teixeira for MVP?

It has merit. Right now, you the readers are making it clear that Teixeira is the Yankees’ MVP at the moment. Teixeira’s production has been front and center. On May 12, he was batting .191. It was a matter of time before he’d turn up the heat, but with each passing strikeout or pop up, along with that body language that suggested he’d rather be elsewhere, that was becoming harder to believe.

A snapshot look at what Teixeira has done since:

  • Batted .330 in May to raise that average 90 points

  • Slugged 10 home runs with 24 RBIs last month

  • Bumped his slugging percentage from .321 to .595.

Currently, Teixeira ranks in the AL Top 10 in slugging (ninth), homers (T-2nd) and RBIs (fourth). Say what you want about how the return of Alex Rodriguez has helped, and it’s helped immensely, no questions asked. But the biggest reason behind the Yankees record-breaking 18 straight games without an error? Teixeira and his Gold Glove at first base. The biggest play of Tuesday’s 12-3 win over the Rangers? Teixeira’s hard slide into second base after Vicente Padilla plunked him for the second time in the game. Words were exchanged, but instead of throwing punches, Teixeira and Co. hit Padilla and the Rangers where it hurt the most, the scoreboard. That hard slide broke up a potential inning-ending double play and led to a seven-run fourth inning.

One doesn’t need protection to do that, not even from a three-time AL MVP.

A lot of times, MVP awards are handed out to those with the best numbers rather than the one who defines the term to its truest form. On May 13, Teixeira improved his average from .191 to .202 with a 2-for-4, two-RBI day in the Yankees’ 8-2 win over the Blue Jays. New York is 16-4 since while winning nine of its last 11 home games. Furthermore, the Yankees are a season-high 10 games over .500 – a feat not accomplished until Game 100 last season – and are now the AL’s top team. Best of all, they’re 6-4 against teams also currently in first place (Tigers, Rangers, Phillies). Not a bad way to resume a stretch that after Texas will include the Rays before a trip north to Boston to face a Red Sox team 5-0 against them.

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Derek Jeter MVP? Unlikely at the moment, but – again – after a close examination of Most Valuable Player, it has merit. In the Yankees’ current 16-4 run, Jeter is batting .400 with a .474 on-base percentage and a .576 slugging percentage and isn’t too shabby as a leadoff hitter. The Captain has hit safely to lead off the first inning in 10 of his last 12 games since May 21 (seven singles, three doubles).

From the hard to believe department: Jeter turns 35 in three weeks. As Peter Abraham points out, he’s in pretty good company. Future Hall of Famer? Yeah, that has merit too.

Tuesday potpourri

By Jon Lane
The majority of Yankees fans got their wish Monday night. Joba Chamberlain pitched in the eighth inning.

Those in the minority reigned supreme over water coolers and caffeine fixes. Joba Chamberlain pitched eight superlative innings to defeat the Indians, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. In between, he made a diving catch that would have made the late Kirby Puckett blush. In the end, he swatted away those annoying midges like gnats, kept his velocity in the high 90s (97 MPH in that eighth inning) and improved to 3-1 while lowering his ERA to 3.71. His eight innings of work – and great ones at that – were a career high and the first time Chamberlain went that long since a Single-A game in 2006.

Yep, put him in the bullpen. Take a 23-year-old potential franchise pitcher who neutralized the Tribe with everything in his arsenal and relegate him to one inning and three outs. That’s exactly what the Twins did with Johan Santana after in 2002 he led the Majors with 15 wild pitches.

Oh wait. I’m sorry. I erred. The Twins showed something wholly fickle in this town – patience while allowing evolution to take its course. They transitioned Santana into their rotation in 2003 after he spent four months as a reliever. He won his last eight decisions and pitched Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees. You know the rest of his story.

Yet the voices still ring loud. Heaven forbid Chamberlain gets into a jam by walking a batter or allowing a base hit, he’s a failure as a starting pitcher. The next time he gets lit up – and he will because Santana and all the great ones get lit up – we’ll have to continue to endure this.

Here’s something refreshing: The Yankees right now have SIX legitimate starting pitchers. Is that a problem?  Really? Can you honestly have enough starting pitching? If you believe that you must be president of the Sidney Ponson Fan Club. Just wait until 2010 when Ian Kennedy is healthy. This is all part of building a program, folks.

Thanks mainly to Joba the starter, the Yankees completed a 5-2 road trip and are winners of 15 out of 19. They lead the AL East by one game and open a seven-game homestand tonight against the Texas Rangers (YES HD, 7 p.m.). Chamberlain starts again Saturday against the reeling Rays.

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The Yankees set a Major League record Monday night as they played their 18th consecutive game without an error (they were tied with the Red Sox, who played 17 straight error-free from June 11-30, 2006). The Yankees are 14-4 during this streak and a big part of it has been Mark Teixeira and his perfect fielding percentage. By no coincidence, Derek Jeter’s clip stands at .990 with only two errors, on pace for his best totals of his career.

And by the way, Teixeira’s hitting streak is at 14 games. You think the Red Sox executive offices are under siege for not doing whatever it took to bring him to New England?

Jeter’s single in the third was the 2,600th hit of his career

Stuff to think about

burnett_250_051309.jpgBy Jon Lane
There’s nothing anyone could have done about Tuesday’s loss in Toronto. Roy Halladay is one of the top five pitchers in the game and was so dominant neither the 1927 nor the 1961 Yankees were hitting him. Doc also continued his ownership of the Yankees. He’s 13-2 over his last 19 starts and 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA lifetime.

Meanwhile, A.J. Burnett is 0-1, 6.47 and has allowed five home runs in his last five starts. It’s May 13 and already it’s desperate times for the Yankees. Almost half the team is on the shelf or flirting with the disabled list, CC Sabathia is hoping to finally gain traction off Friday’s nine-inning whitewash of the Orioles and Chien-Ming Wang will need one more Minor League start before he returns. Burnett has had his chances to show he can carry a team in need and hasn’t done it.

Wang, meanwhile, threw six shutout innings for Triple-A Scranton Tuesday night, giving up three hits walking three and striking out six. It’s still impossible to believe a two-time 19-game winner is 0-3 with a 34.50 ERA. The Yankees are praying that was due to the weakness in his hip abductor muscle and not anything mechanically or emotionally.

It’s gotten ridiculous with these injuries. Derek Jeter sat out Tuesday with a strained rib-cage muscle and hopes to play tonight. Hideki Matsui, already playing on creaky knees, now has a tight right hamstring. Matsui says it’s only a cramp, but I’d be surprised to see Matsui for the rest of this series given the Rogers Centre turf.

Normally, when in times of crisis, Andy Pettitte is the one you’d want on the mound. However, the veteran left-hander is 0-1 with a 6.62 ERA in his last three starts. This is a team that was pegged not only for greatness, but to do something special. Keep the faith that things can turn around quickly in this game, but at this rate the Yankees are looking like the 1992 Mets (minus the dysfunction). That team signed free agents Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray and Bret Saberhagen and had visions of a World Championship. They finished 72-90.

A bit over the top? Maybe so. But the Yankees Version 2009 are laden with big names who are also aging veterans. There’s no need to worry about Sabathia, but Burnett is not doing what he did last year and any defense of Mark Teixeira and his history of slow starts no longer carry merit. Teixeira went hitless in four at-bats on Tuesday and has been stuck below the Mendoza line the past week.

This team needs to get healthy and get it going – quickly. The days of the AL East being a two-team race are long over, which means the Yankees are vulnerable to getting buried sooner than you think.

4:57 p.m. Jeter and Matsui are both out of tonight’s lineup. Reports out of Toronto say the captain is hoping to return tomorrow.

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?

Mark Teixeira will …(poll)

How many consecutive games will Ryan Zimmerman hit safely in?(online poll)

Brett Favre should …(online poll)

The reasoning behind Big Papi’s slump is …(ning polls)

Manny Ramirez has apologized to Dodgers ownership. Should he do the same to his teammates?(poll)

The Cleveland Cavs will …(poll)

Why the Yankees are under .500

By Jon Lane
George King of the New York Post dissected the numbers:

  • Overall, the Yankees’ 5.79 ERA ranks 29th out of 30 teams. Only the Indians (5.83) are worse.

  • The rotation is 28th in the Majors with a 9-10 record and a 5.64 ERA, leading only the Red Sox (14-10; 5.81) and the Phillies (7-10; 6.28), and Yankees starters’ .289 batting average against is the fifth-highest in baseball. Why are the Red Sox 20-12 and the Yankees where they are? Simple, the Yankees’ putrid bullpen is 28th with an ERA of 6.04.  

  • The Yankees deserve credit for a few big hits in big spots, especially from Johnny Damon, named the AL Player of the Week. Overall, however, the Yankees are 14th with runners in scoring position at .244 (70-for-287). Mark Teixeira, a career .324 hitter in the clutch, is batting .192 (5-for-26).

  • Too many times have runners been stranded early in games and has haunted the Yankees in the later innings. It’s a problem that hasn’t gone away and needs to be stopped, immediately. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett have been singled out for uneven beginnings, and now it’s time for Teixeira to show his true colors. Otherwise, even Alex Rodriguez will fly under the radar while everyone wonders what’s wrong with the $180-million man.

Adventures in Mannyland

manny_250_050809.jpgBy Jon Lane
Today on YESNetwork.com, reaction to the suspension of Manny Ramirez:

“Manny being Manny” reached a whole new level, writes Chris Shearn.

The latest Manny saga is disgusting and abhorrent to baseball, writes Steven Goldman.

Alex Rodriguez should be thankful for Manny’s logic-defying explanation, writes Kimberly Jones.

My hope, and I’m still holding out hope, is that players are finally scared straight into not doing anything so stupid.

Sadly, there was neither shock, nor awe, only sadness and indifference. Because Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez will now be judged against their recent (or distant) past, this will not go away and people will continue to bring this up.

I won’t be one of them.

A-Rod returns tonight and that’s great, because he’s going to give the Yankees a big boost. Tabloid reporters have had a feast with tales of his tomfoolery, narcissism, steroid use admission and Selena Roberts’ new book. Like him or not, the truth is he has 553 career home runs, a career .306 average, owns three MVP awards and is the Yankees’ record holder for most homers by a right-handed hitter (54).  He will provide Mark Teixeira protection and the lineup is another step closer to becoming a circular threat. Teixeira needs Rodriguez behind him, anything to get him going, because right now, he’s batting .198 and he stinks.

Tonight in Baltimore will be a circus with inquiring minds asking all questions A-Rod, but here’s hoping that like yesterday, Manny’s idiocy will keep the focus to baseball. Rodriguez is peculiar, but he’s one of the best to play the game and his entire body of work cannot be judged on the three seasons spent in Texas in which he admitted steroid use. Starting tonight, it’s A-Rod’s chance to be a true impact player before judges and juries: the fans.

Thanks to Manny Ramirez, baseball fans have a new punching bag. That alone is a good start.

Big bucks, small production

ccblogyes0502.jpgBy Jon Lane
At what point do you worry about two of the Yankees’  big-ticket acquisitions? It’s still too early in my view, and people around the team will insist that Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia will turn it around, and soon. But since a baseball season is dissected in reaction to daily events, Teixeira and Sabathia have been anything but impact players, and fans are getting restless.

Teixeira went 0-for-3 in today’s 8-4 loss to the Angels, is 2-for-27 (.074) over his last eight games and is batting .182. In the sixth inning with Derek Jeter on third and one out in a 1-1 game, Teixeira flied out to shallow center, not deep enough to put the Yankees ahead.

“I’m very upset,” Teixeira said. “I’m not getting hits. I’m very upset that I’m not coming through for my team. I’m embarrassed that I’m hitting one something.  Whatever one is, it’s embarrassing.
 
“In the last couple of days, I’ve really worked hard. Kevin Long and I have been looking at videotape of my swings and my swing feels good. I just got to swing at maybe a few better pitches.”

Metro New York reporter and stats guru Larry Fleisher compiled a list of his batting averages through May 2 in his career.
 
2008 – .265
2007 – .223
2006 – .292
2005 – .259
2004 – .222
2003 – .188

To be fair, Teixeira hasn’t had Alex Rodriguez hitting behind him and once the sleeping giant awakens the Yankees will begin reaping the benefits of the $180 million they’re paying him over eight years. Combine the fact that A-Rod will fortify a lineup playing in a hitter’s park and Teixeira will turn those boos into cheers.

(A-Rod, by the way, went 0-for-6 in an extended spring game and is 2-for-18 in three games.)

Ditto Sabathia, who was brilliant for six innings before falling apart in the seventh. He’s 1-3 and winless since April 11 and the Yankees are 2-4 in games he’s started. Blame the big guy all you want, and he’s with fault, but his team has supported him with one run over his last two starts, and today was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position while stranding seven.

“Sure, I had given up the lead, Sabathia said. “It was just frustrating. It was a tie game up until that point  When we’re not scoring runs, it’s up to the pitcher to go out and keep it close when we get in that eighth and ninth inning. That’s frustrating.  Every time you go out there, you want the team to win.  I’m just going to keep working hard and try to turn it around.”
 
Fleisher the stat guru notes that Sabathia has thrown 656 pitches in 39 innings through six starts (119 today). At this point last season he threw 604 covering 32.

Thursday tidings

joba_250_043009.jpgBy Jon Lane
George King has coined the newest Yankees catch phrase: Phi Sigma Joba Starter (PSJS) nation. Here’s hoping the loyal order of the Joba-to-the-bullpen army was served with a reality check with Joba Chamberlain’s finest start since that 1-0 win over Josh Beckett and the Red Sox in Boston on July 25, 2007.

Yeah, right. This debate will never go away. Though I am guilty of adding kindling to the fire by only presenting the other side of the story, Chamberlain has to stay in the rotation. This won’t be an issue until (if) Chien-Ming Wang returns healthy and back in form, but people won’t stop talking about it. To be fair, this is indeed a tasty storyline and an excellent problem worth discussing, not those “revelations” from that new book coming out on some (in)famous baseball player.

Here’s why Chamberlain is a starting pitcher, case closed:

Imagine a rotation with Chamberlain and Phil Hughes pitching brilliantly? The jury will still be out on Hughes for awhile, but best-case scenario is you have two outstanding homegrown starters pitching well in a group that includes CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Remember, Andy Pettitte probably isn’t coming back after this season, so the long-range forecast includes Chamberlain, Hughes, Wang (he’s down, but not out) and Ian Kennedy if he can finally scale the roadblocks that have prevented him from pitching in the Major Leagues. Not too bad of a future for a win-now franchise, eh?

Everyone makes a fuss about how Chamberlain threw 97 MPH as an unhittable, intimidating reliever. Here’s something few actually talk about: He’s 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 16 career starts and has allowed 82 hits and struck out 91 in 88 1/3 innings – and he’s still getting warmed up. The next time anyone brings up how he’s only throwing 92-93 instead of 97 must be re-told the story on how Burnett has matured from setting speed records to a pitcher that locates and changes speeds.

Out-of-the-box storytelling from Peter Abraham on how Chamberlain’s approach against Miguel Cabrera and one pitch decided the game. This eliminates any doubt about Chamberlain’s capabilities as a starter. This sequence started a run of 10 straight Tigers batters retired by Chamberlain, five by strikeout.

One of my readers summed it up best: For years the story has been the Yankees’ lack of quality pitching. At this rate they will have a lot of rounds to spare. Too many arms are never – EVER – enough. Want proof? See last season. 

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Abraham compiled a report from Alex Rodriguez’s extended spring game in Tampa: 1-for-6 with a homer and two walks.

Another bad April for Mark Teixeira, his worst since 2003. Here’s a breakdown of his batting average, and on-base and slugging percentages for each April the past seven seasons:

2003     .188     .288     .344
2004     .276     .432     .552
2005     .262     .321     .485
2006     .293     .391     .495
2007     .231     .346     .341
2008     .290     .355     .490
2009     .197     .365     .364

Worried? You need not be.

Mariano Rivera has allowed a home run in his last two appearances, notes Kat O’Brien. He gave up four all of last year and hasn’t surrendered more than four since 2001 and five since 1995, when he began his career as a starting pitcher. Reason to worry? Uh, no.

For those who care (I don’t), the book on A-Rod says he may have been taking steroids since high school. I quote Al Davis, “Just win, baby.” Do that and nobody will talk about this stuff.

Starting lineups: April 14, 2009

yankees.jpgBy Jon Lane
YANKEES (3-4)
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher LF
Jorge Posada DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Xavier Nady RF
Ramiro Pena 3B
Jose Molina C

A.J. Burnett P

rays.jpgRAYS (4-3)
B.J. Upton CF
Carl Crawford LF
Evan Longoria 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Pat Burrell DH
Dioner Navarro C
Ben Zobrist RF
Akinori Iwamura 2B
Jason Bartlett SS

Matt Garza P

Notes
Teixeira is back after missing three games with tendinitis in his left wrist. He had an MRI Monday in Tampa, which revealed no structural damage, and was prescribed stronger anti-inflammatory medicine.

Ramiro Pena gets his first career start to give Cody Ransom a blow. Ransom is batting .083 (2-for-24) in the Yankees’ first seven games.

Swisher lifetime as a clean-up hitter: 10-for-30 (.333) with a homer and nine RBIs in 11 games.