Friday, July 28, 2006

It's a Deal

Carlos Lee to the Rangers.

The compensation: Laynce Nix, Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench. The Brewers also sent prospect OF Nelson Cruz, of whom I have not heard before today.

Initial assessment: the Rangers aren't starving for a bat. Their pitching remains an issue, though this could turn into a nice little trade should Lee re-up with the Rangers after this season. How much it helps them currently remains to be seen.

After-effect: this will up the price for Soriano and Abreu. D'oh.

Friday is Trade Talk Day

Out at the bar last night, I received a call from my father, who wasted no time in opining that trading Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit would be a move the Yankees cannot pass up. This rumor spread quickly over the course of the week, and I had heard basically every argument from every angle on this subject, so I was prepared for my father's logic.

“Proctor is at the height of his trade value.:
“Torre is burning him out.”
“You can't turn down a versatile 26-year-old with some pop to his bat.”

You know what? Those are all valid points, especially the one about Torre burning him out. However, I still don't think it justifies a swap. I'll offer up one reason to counter the Trade Proctor notion:

Who the hell is going to take his spot in the bullpen?

If Octavio Dotel was ready to go next week, it would be a different story. And even then, there is no guarantee on Dotel's effectiveness (though he's done well in his sporadic minor league rehab assignments). That means Villone slides into the seventh inning role, and the Yanks take a gamble (and possibly overpay for) a guy like Roberto Hernandez. This not only downgrades (Proctor has been lights out when properly rested), but it limits the effectiveness of Villone, who does a great job of picking up for starters that have to leave before the sixth inning.

Assuming Dotel isn't coming back – and some think he's done for the season -- the bullpen looks like this:
Mo, Farny, Proctor, Villone, Myers, Chacon, Beam/Smith

Realistically, the Yankees should be looking to replace the Beam or Smith with a better suited reliever, not forcing themselves to have both on the roster. I mean, I like the guys, but they're very green and might not be ready for this intensity that is September in the Bronx. Dealing Proctor would mean the Yanks would have to fill at least one, ideally two bullpen spots. And to replace the quality Proctor has given the Yanks will be no menial task.

For the future, this move makes sense. But you know George and Brian aren't thinking about how Wilson Betemit can help the Yankees in 2007; they're thinking about who can help the Yankees in 2006. And, though many signs point to trading him, Proctor is going to be integral to any kind of success this team will see. Now if we can just buy him another four days off...

What about Borowski?

I heard his name tossed around this week, and I honestly think he'd be a nice fit for the Yanks. He'll come cheaper than many because he's 35 years old and playing for a team out of contention. The Marlins have no realistic use for him, and with the current supply-demand situation for middle relievers, they could command some bounty for him.

There were rumblings that Joe Girardi wants Bubba Crosby. During his year in New York, Girardi thought Bubba was capable of playing every day, and with Reggie Abercrombie under performing in centerfield, the time seems perfect for experiments. Of course, Bubba himself would not fetch Borowski (3.51 ERA, .258 Slg. against lefties), but it doesn't appear he'd cost anyone the Yanks don't want to part with. The only problem, as usual, is that there will be plenty of bidders.

Abreu Update

From the Daily News:

After asking for top prospects (such as Phil Hughes or Jose Tabata) in exchange for Bobby Abreu earlier this month - even though the Bombers believe any transaction involving Abreu is basically a salary dump for Philadelphia - the Phillies are now said to be discussing a deal that would net them lesser prospects for Abreu - with the catch being that the Yanks have to take on former Bomber Jon Lieber, too.

There are no two greater words in the English language than “lesser prospects.” And what is this with taking on Lieber as a catch? We need another starter; Lieber is a starter. Preferably, we'd like a starter with playoff experience; Lieber not only has playoff experience, he has it with the Yankees, against Boston. I realize he's not pitched so well this year, but I am still adamant in my stance that his escape from Citizens Bank Park will be cause for immediate improvement.

The names of these lesser prospects is mere speculation at this point, but so long as they fall at or below the level of Tyler Clippard, I think this could work out. In fact, I'm kinda miffed that I read that report, because it is making me unrealistically optimistic about Abreu and Lieber in the Bronx.

This development makes sense coming on the heels of Carlos Lee's rejection of a long-term deal. That means there are three high-talent, high-priced outfielders swirling around the trade market, thus reducing the value of each. And of the lot, I'd take Abreu every day of the week.

Any and all trade developments will be covered here today, so make sure you're hitting that re-load button. I'll also try keep up over the weekend, but I make no guarantees.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yanks 8, Rangers 7 -- We Own This Town

I don't think I've ever punished my couch like I did last night. Down 4-2, I figured that the boys could come back. What I didn't figure was that Farnsworth would abruptly become unavailable, for what he says were cramps. Hopefully that is the case, because the Yanks just can't afford to lose Farny for any period of time.

(Aside: I know a lot of you are down on the guy, and with good reason. But he's looked more solid of late, and I'm not ready to throw in the towel on him yet.)

Crunch time came in the top of the eighth. Down 4-2 and with the 4-5-6 hitters due up, the Yanks had to get something done. Go down 1-2-3, and not only have you wasted three of your best hitters, but you've set up the ninth inning with 7-8-9, which translated to Melky, Fasano, and Cairo. True, Posada and Guiel likely would have pinch-hit, but that's still not an intimidating force for closer Akinori Otsuka.

Five pitches sailed past Alex Rodriguez, and not once did he take his bat off his shoulders. He worked the count to 3-2 on a close pitch, but it was certainly off the plate. Locked in, you could notice he was leaning out over the plate ever so slightly. This, of course, was to protect against the low and away pitch that tails further away, a pitch he has been susceptible to all season. When you see Alex whiffing, it's usually on a pitch that's out of his reach. He hasn't learned lay off or make an adjustment to this type of pitch, hence the slumping and striking out. But he was ready this time, and just hammered one over the center field wall. The only sensation greater than a crowd going nuts for such a home run at Yankee Stadium is the dead silence of an opposing stadium. Alex had brought us closer.

Bernie Williams did something of which I didn't think he was still capable: he walked for the second time in the game. For Bernie circa 1996-2002, this is no feat. He was always known for his impeccable plate discipline and the resulting high OBP. But lately, he's been hacking away. This, I think, is attributed directly to his declining skills. Back in his prime, he knew he could wait on pitches because when he got one, he could hit the shit out of it. But now he's not so wont to demolish pitches, and he's trying to overcompensate by swinging at everything in an attempt to show everyone he can still hit. That's not fact, just speculation on my part.

Then came the man who initially put the Yanks up 2-0. I was surprised by Phillips's two RBI in the first inning, because it looked like he got under the pitch and was going to fly out to Gary Matthews in center. But from the replay, it looked like the ball was moving away and ended up hitting the end of the bat, hence the lesser contact. Anyway, he put the ball in center field, moving Bernie, the tying run, to second.

Melk man then proceeded to give us all a collective migraine. Sent up to bunt, he looked like a man who has never laid one down. This is no surprise, because it has been established that he doesn't have a clue how to bunt. Yet, Torre sends him up to do just that in an important at bat. The risk-reward factor just wasn't worth it here, and thankfully Melky was able to knock two bunts foul. He lifted one to deeeeep left-center, a ball that might have been a home run if this was 2008. But it's 2006, and the Yankees had no problem with his two-run double, putting the Yanks up 5-4.

You can thank Francisco Cordero for the sixth run, because without that wild pitch, it is doubtful that Melky would have scored.

Rolling into the eighth, everyone would have expected Farnsworth had YES not panned to the Yankees bullpen the previous half-inning, showing no signs of Farny. He had been warming up, but once the eighth rolled around he was nowhere in sight. Enter T.J. Beam, recently recalled from Columbus. I was a little nervous, but Beam can handle himself. Or, at least he usually can. Opening the inning with a walk to Gary Matthews was a colossal mistake, as was allowing Ian Kinsler to get to a 3-1 count. I know Guidry gave Beam a list of things to work on in Columbus, but apparently he forgot the first bullet point:


A reliever will never be successful unless he can get the ball over the plate; walks are detrimental late in games. So after two hitters, Joe Torre decided that Scott Proctor hadn't been used enough lately and gave him the call. And after one pitch, the Rangers had tied the game. I want to yell at Proctor for letting that one get through the five-hole, but you really can't expect a pitcher to make that kind of play. It's sad, but true. So Proctor gives up four straight singles, and exits the game without recording an out.

The cupboard was bare, so Torre was left with no recourse but to go with Shawn Chacon. And, amazingly, he struck out the first batter he faced. That's a valuable lesson, Shawn, that you could have learned from Guidry's missing memo: THROW STRIKES! Thankfully, Brad Wilkerson had a belated birthday present for Chac, sending a line drive right into his mitt and transforming him into a deer in headlights. That second of hesitation nearly cost the Yanks the double play, but in the end it all worked out.

To the ninth. Derek Jeter led of with a single, bringing the struggling Jason Giambi to the plate. The two through six hitters had all done their jobs tonight, driving in and scoring runs. Giambi, however, had not done much, getting a little under a few pitches and putting them into the mitt of Gary Matthews. But when Giambi made contact, there was no doubt about it. I must have done 40 fist pumps in celebration, as the Yanks had taken an 8-7 lead, with Mo eagerly warming in the bullpen.

And, as he is wont to do, Mo quickly disposed of the Rangers in the ninth, surrendering just one hit. Ironically, it was to the guy who he struck out to end Wednesday night's game. And, through all that emotion, we pulled through and finished the sweep.

A much deserved rest today, followed by three games against the Rays – sans Kazmir – and another rest day Monday. I know I'm just getting cocky, but I can taste another sweep.

NOTE: Apologies for the un-updated standings. That should be back into full swing tomorrowish.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yanks Add Clue Haywood

Read it and rejoice.

For one, I'm totally excited about this. Fasano may not be a hitting guru, but he's certainly better than Three-Pitch Strikeout Stinnett (I think it was SG at RLYW who originally used that nickname).

For the reference made in this post's title, check here, though it should be self explanatory.

And yes, Fasano definitely leads the majors in nose hairs.

Yanks 7, Rangers 4 - Aaron Guiel's Band

Used in limited situations, this Aaron Guiel guy may just work out. He parked another one last night, this time off a lefty – a lefty with an ERA under 3.00 – and it was the difference in the Yankees 7-4 win over the Rangers.

I'll have to admit some disappointment in the early goings last night. Having spent the all of 2006 to this point on the DL, I figured we'd smack around Adam Eaton. But he held up well in the early goings before finally succumbing to fatigue in the fourth. Of course, fatigue is just speculation, but it's hard to think otherwise when he walked two straight, hit a guy, and walked in a run after quickly recording the first two outs of the inning.

Eaton was chased, and Ron Mahay looked to be picking up at the same spot, as he walked Bubba freakin' Crosby to reload the bases. Thankfully for him, he got a gift from the home plate ump and caught Melky looking to end the two-out rally. But it's the fifth that was truly interesting.

Mahay began the inning by surrendering a single to Derek Jeter, which is going to happen roughly 35 times out of 100. He looked to recover a bit by inducing an infield fly off the bat of Giambi. Personally, I would have parked under that pop up and let it drop in front of me; there's no reason to keep Jeter on the basepaths when you can swap him for Giambi. Alex faced Mahay next, and after five pitches and no swings, Alex was on first and Jeter moved to second. Posada looked locked in, but Mahay caught him with an off-speed pitch on an 0-2 count.

Up came Aaron Guiel's Band, bearer of a career .220/.298/.357 line against lefties (as opposed to .254/.328/.438 against righties). The inning looked cooked, but on Mahay's fifth offering, Guiel took a mighty hack and parked some insurance runs in the right field seats. 6-2 Yanks.

The bottom of the fifth started off with some major frustration. Handed a four-run lead, Moose thought it appropriate to let his guard down as he did with an 8-0 lead over the White Sox. Jim Thome parked a three-run shot off him that time, but it was much more embarrassing in this instance. After quickly putting himself ahead 0-2, Mussina nibbled for that third strike and made a mistake on his fifth pitch, which Barajas promptly deposited adjacent to the right field foul pole. True, it was only a solo job, but it was Rod Barajas, which is just inexcusable. The fact that it made a comfortable lead a save-situation lead didn't make me any happier, because that only meant that Mo would likely appear again.

Appear he did, and though he gave up a leadoff single, he mowed down the next three hitters to seal the victory. Unfortunately, Boston destroyed Oakland, so we're still 2 ½ back in the division. However, Minnesota did another fine job of knocking off Chicago, leaving us a mere half game out of the Wild Card lead. Hey, remember all that talk before the All-Star break about how the Wild Card was coming from the AL Central, and that only the East division winner would make the playoffs? Funny how a few games change everyone's perspective. And not only that, but Minnesota is poised to pull into a tie with Chicago should they continue their winning ways tonight.

(Aside: There are two teams other than the Yankees that I find absolutely fascinating this season: the Twins and the Mariners. Both weren't expected to factor much into the playoff picture this year, but both have been simply solid teams of late. It also helps that I thoroughly enjoy reading Lookout Landing and Aaron Gleeman.)

Tonight is the sweep game, which the Yanks just have to win. I'm sick of winning the first two games of the series and not being able to finish the sweep. I read this notion elsewhere this season, and I've been repeating it ever since: you have to finish off a team if you've beaten them two straight. We all know that winning two of three is phenomenal: not many teams end with a .667 winning percentage. But being satisfied with two of three should be limited to those series in which you lose the first or second game, and a sweep is not possible on Day Three. But if you've been better than a team for two straight games – and the Yankees have clearly been the better team – there is no excuse to drop the third one. Not with an off-day on Thursday. Not with John Rheineker on the mound. Plus, J-Wriggidy used up his bad outing last time out; time for him to come in and give us five-six solid innings.

Looks like Beam will see some action today, which will be nice as well. He was okay in his first stint, showing flashes of being a very serviceable reliever. He was susceptible to the long ball, but that could be all nerves.

Damon today? Maybe? But really, anyone but Bubba. Where's Kevin Thompson?

UPDATE: I totally forgot to mention this earlier, but you all should head over to So, do you like...stuff?, Mike Kenny's blog. He's a columnist for the Courier, a New Jersey newspaper. He's quite the writer, and has a piece up about the commentating tandem of Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Beating the Ace

Lord, I love baseball. One day you're down, ripping your team for shitting the bed over the weekend. A day later, you're singing their praises on the heels of a 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers.

The best part about this is that there's not much to really say about last night. The Yanks did a nice job of getting on base, and unlike many times this year, were able to hit it where they ain't with runners in scoring position. All this off the Rangers ace, Kevin Millwood, which bodes well for the rest of the series.

Chicken or the egg question for Randy: is he sulking less now because he has better control over his pitches, or does he have better control over his pitches because he has stopped sulking and started playing the goddamn game? Two factors have me believing the latter (all other signs point to former): 1) after errantly throwing to second base on the Matthews rundown play, the YES cameras caught him tapping his chest and saying “my bad.” 2) Normally, Randy is a horribly cocky man when it comes to balls and strikes. However, in the sixth inning last night, the home plate ump called a ball on a pitch on the outside corner. I thought it was a strike, the woman thought it was a strike, and of course Randy thought it was a strike. Instead, Randy asked if the pitch was outside, the ump signaled that it was, and they continued. That, my friends, is how you deal with that kind of a situation. I hope Mussina was taking notes.

I think we reassess this question after just about every Randy start: is he going to be reliable? Honestly, I think we're getting the same deal as last year. He'll pitch like a No. 2 through the rest of the year. Mostly solid 6-7 inning outings like last night with a few offsetting dominating and faltering performances. My biggest fear with him at this point is his ability to pitch his two games against the Red Sox. I'm not looking forward to the potential backlash of a faltering performance up in Fenway.

Let's see, what else is on the list? Scott Proctor: lights out. Kyle Farnsworth: scarin' the shit out of me but coming through in the end. Last night, he gave me flashbacks of John Wetteland. And for the sake of bitching, I'm not a big fan of pitching Mo last night. As the cliché goes, you never know what tomorrow will bring. What if Mo is needed the next two games? I'd be shaky pitching him today, let alone two more days in a row. The freshly recalled Beam gave Torre a better 9th inning option, with Villone and Myers ready just in case. I know he needs to stay sharp, but I'd ideally like to see him have off until Friday.

For anyone concerned, A-Rod went 2-5 last night with a single and double. You know what that means? SELL HIGH! Get Jim Hendry on the phone! Gotta sell A-Rod before he slumps again. Gotta sell A-Rod before he slumps again.*

On a serious note, you do realize that we're the laughingstock of most fans (except Boston, Seattle, and Texas, who especially hate the guy) for this whole trade A-RodAlex thing. Only the Yankees would get worked up about trading the most talented player in the league. This is why it's so difficult for me to start a baseball discourse once someone finds out I'm a Yankees fan; I'm immediately labeled a smug prick who has no appreciation for my team's players.

Tonight, Adam Eaton makes his season debut. He was brought in this off-season to play second fiddle to Millwood, but I don't think that will be the case. This is a guy who gave up one home run every nine innings at PETCO. And now he's gone from the pitcher's haven and is being plugged right into Ameriquest, a notorious hitter's home. Adding fuel, he's not much of a groundball pitcher (1.08 lifetime ratio, 1.13 last year). There is absolutely no reason for him not to get rocked tonight.

Haven't hear word on Damon, so I'm unsafely assuming he'll be in the lineup tonight.

*Using A-Rod here in a mocking sense. I'm still using "Alex," though I did slip up in the next paragraph. Aporogies.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Another Reason to Hate Newspapers

I e-mailed a sports editor (who will remain anonymous because he was very understanding in response to a very critical e-mail) regarding a story printed in his section today. I wondered aloud if the sensational fodder would hurt readership in the long run. The quick answer:

We sell 8.5 out of 10 papers by subscription, so we sell the same number of papers daily no matter what we put in the paper, for better or worse.

For context's sake, he was comparing this experience as a sports editor to his previous job, where the bulk of the sales came off the street. But that statement, I think, illustrates exactly what's gone awry with mainstream reporting, and that extends far beyond sports as well.

The Central Could Get Stronger

Uh oh, Soriano may be slugging for the ChiSox...soon.

Brandon McCarthy for Soriano seems to make enough sense, though I would have to question Kenny Williams slightly. Unless, that is, he's confident he can ink Soriano in the off-season.

The linked report also mentions another White Sox deal: acquiring Mike MacDougal from the Royals, which would fill the bullpen void left by McCarthy.

I do wonder, though, if the White Sox -- currently owners of the highest powered offense in the bigs -- would be better off trading for McDougal, planting McCarthy in the rotation, and seeking any kind of return on Freddie Garcia or Javier Vazquez.

I'll be waiting with bated breath.

Monday Morning Notes

Everything was going smashingly. Then came that Wells dinger off Mo. Then came Jaret Wright. And when the ship looked like it might right itself, the Castoff Crew (Ponson, Wilson, Chacon) sent us spiraling backwards.

There are two teams to which the Yankees cannot avoid to lose: Toronto and Boston. Dropping three of four to one of those two hurts – as if you needed me to tell you that.

Let's do this thing notes style.

  • Congratulations to Alex for his 2,000th hit and 450th homer. He provided the only punch on Friday night, but everyone's focus is certainly on Saturday's Golden Sombrero. Honestly, I'm just glad it wasn't at the Stadium. I do wonder, however, how he's going to react to the crowd in Arlington, who will surely boo him at every opportunity.

  • What the hell are we going to do about this pitching situation? I still maintain that the only reasonable solution that appears an upgrade is Jon Lieber. Willis, Zito, and Schmidt are pipe dreams. They likely won't be dealt in the first place, and if they are, their price tag will be much steeper than Cashman should be willing to pay. Lieber's $7 million guaranteed salary in 2007 makes him more of a liability to the Phillies than the aforementioned three are to their respective teams. If Pat Gillick can be reasonable about this maneuver, I can see it happening by the weekend.

  • Does Ponson get another start? With the current state of the schedule, they won't need a fifth starter until the August 8-27 run, where they'll play 22 games in 21 days, including a four-game set at Fenway. This means that they'll know the state of the pitching staff (i.e. if an arm is acquired). So, in short, there's no real way to answer that at this point. It's nice to know, though, that we'll only be seeing Randy, Moose, Wang, and Wright from now through August 6th.

  • After perusing the second-half schedule, I have to say that the Yanks don't have it half bad. There are eight games against Boston, which is to be expected at this point. Actually, the best part about it is the 13 games against Baltimore. There are also 10 against Tampa Bay, and while they're not a bad team, they've looked completely over matched by the Yanks this year. And, mercifully, there are only nine remaining with the Blue Jays.

  • See Farnsworth on Saturday? How can we get him to do that all the time?

  • A thought I had this weekend when there was talk about Matsui returning by mid-August: who do the Yanks release? It has to come down to Guiel and Bubba, and since Matsui is able to play centerfield (albeit not as well defensively as Bubba), I think the bench is much better served with Guiel. The only problem I can see is the speed factor, but Cairo has acceptable speed. Or, why don't we nix the whole thing, recall Kevin Thompson and DFA both Bubba and Guiel? Sorry, too creative there.

  • There have been talks about recalling Aaron Small as the long man in the bullpen. Apparently Cashman and Torre have learning disorders.

  • Nice to see that guys like Nick Green were getting hits against the guy received as compensation for Shea Hillenbrand. Let's see: someone who gives up singles to a guy who will be DFA'd in a week, or a .301/.342/.480 hitter?