Chad Gaudin Really Sucks As a Major League Pitcher – Please release him!

June 30, 2010

Don’t believe what you saw over the last couple of outings or that one really good night against the Philadelphia Phillies. After Bad AJ Burnett coughed up six runs in three plus innings, Chad Gaudin did his job by teaming with another terrible pitcher, Boone Logan, to shut down the opposition.

Gaudin threw three shutout innings, allowing no base runners while striking out three. He saved the Yankees from using their key bullpen arms prior to tonight’s series finale.

Don’t get too used to this Yankee fans, because…

Chad Gaudin sucks as a major league pitcher. He can not consistently throw strikes, can’t get out left handed hitters, and is a guy who is only on the roster because Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre are hurt and on the disabled list.

Depsite three socreless outing in a row, Gaudin will more easily put up appearances like thisthis, or this bomb here.

That last game is what got him released from the Oakland A’s.

Gaudin was also released by the New York Yankees in Spring Training mainly as a casualty of the enormous amount of starting/long relief arms they had at their disposal.

Many Yankee fans were not happy with Gaudin’s release.

I was.

They basically thought Gaudin was a fifth starter/long relief candidate, but while he was on the Yankees post season roster last year, he only pitched one inning. Not exactly a huge vote of confidence.

He is the Yankees 12th guy. He is the bullpen arm which should never be on the roster since these guys always are veteran retreads who stink, and never pitch unless the game is out of hand early or blown open late.

That roster spot should ALWAYS be used for another position player who would be more useful to win individual games, like a speedy, defensive outfielder or a big home run threat off the bench, like the future Yankee full-time DH, Jorge Vazquez.

But have no fear Yankee fans. Since Mitre will return soon, and Aceves reported no back pain the last time he threw in Tampa, Gaudin will be gone soon. This is a blessing for Yankee fans everywhere.

Now if we can only get Girardi to realize two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen is a bad idea when one of them is named Boone Logan.

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The New York Yankees: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Segment No. 5

June 28, 2010

This is the latest installment of the 2010 New York Yankee progress, honoring the epic Clint Eastwood movie of the same name.

MOVIE TRIVIA: Given that the Italian Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo literally translates to the English: The Good, the Ugly, the Bad, reversing the last two adjectives, advertisements for the original Italian release show Tuco (Eli Wallach – the Ugly) before Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef – the Bad) , and, when translated into English, erroneously label Angel Eyes as “The Ugly” and Tuco as “The Bad”.

Now I know why beat reporters who work on deadlines get very frustrated.

I had the following paragraph all ready during the 9th inning of last night’s Yankees – Dodgers clash.

“Since my last installment (No. 4), the Yankees have played 12 games, resulting in a 6-6 record. What is more important is that the Yankees still have themselves the No. 1 record in the major leagues at 46-29, a game up on the pesky Boston Red Sox.”

After the stunning comeback last night over the Dodgers, correct that to a 47-28 record and two game lead over the injury-depleted Red Sox.  

The Yankees have been 16-8 in June, with a split of their just completed, six game West coast Inter-league trip through Arizona and Los Angeles. During the last 12 games, the Yankees lost three in a row once (two to Philadelphia and the opening game versus the New York Mets).

All numbers are from the last 14 days, unless noted.

THE GOOD

CC Sabathia – with all the hub-bub over AJ Burnett’s disastrous June, have you noticed that the only pitcher the Yankees should have signed two season’s ago, is 5-0 in June? Sabathia became the third pitcher this season to win five straight starts while going seven plus innings in each?

The other two? See below.  

CC was 3-0, 1.57 ERA over the three starts the past two weeks. Simply dominant.

Phil Hughes – because of his innings limit skipped start out west, he only made one start over the last weeks. Phranchise made it his 10th win, going seven strong over the New York Mets, avenging his only loss to the Mets and Mike Pelfrey.

Robinson Cano – hit .298 BA/.365 OBP/.489 SLG/.855 OPS with two runs, which isn’t exactly Canoesque as we have been programmed to see. But he continues to come through with huge hits, culminating in last night’s extra-inning, game-winning home run off of left-handed reliever George Sherrill.

He also has a string of 60 errorless games. Interestingly, his throwing error was during Dallas Braden/Alex Rodriguez “don’t cross my mound” game.

Alex Rodriguez – starting to get the power stroke back with three home runs this past week. He slashed .256/.362/.564/.926 with the three HR’s and 11 RBI. All three home runs were huge, giving the Yankees the lead in this game and this one.

His home run last night got the Yankees on the board with his fifth inning two-run shot off of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

I am concerned with Alex’s hip/groin issue as it has made him much slower in lateral movement. It also has eliminated his ability to steal a base.

Brett Gardner – until getting hurt last night, Gardner was hitting .342/.419/.395/.813 while continuing to play great defense. He still leads the other New York left fielder, Jason Bay, in OPS this season (.821 vs. .791), while making considerably less money.

Colin Curtis – due to inter-league games in NL parks, he made his major league debut this past week. When Jorge Posada was catching, Curtis was the primary left-handed bat off the Yankee bench.

He had a few hits in six at bats, driving in four runs. His great at bat last night led to a RBI ground ball.

He has shown a good knowledge of the strike zone, takes great swings and can play better than average defense.

Read more about Curtis here in my 40 man roster advice from last season.

Good video of Curtis here on the biggest challenge of his life.

Good deal for Curtis, who is a very likable guy, cancer survivor and all.

He also played his college baseball at Arizona State. I remember in 2008, after the Trenton Thunder won the Eastern League title, I asked Curtis if that title was bigger than starring in the College World Series his junior season.

He smiled, took a few seconds, and said “the College World Series was awesome.”

In that Series, he faced Joba Chamberlain and former Yankee Zach Kroenke of Nebraska in Game 2, doubling off Kroenke in the 8th.

Chad Huffman – like Curtis, Huffman got his first major league hit within the last two weeks. He also had that big two-run single in Sunday night’s stirring comeback against the Dodgers.

And he hustles all the time.

Mariano Rivera – A great move by Joe Girardi in bringing in Mo into a tie game on the road again last night.

Two times in one road series, and two wins. I guess Girardi can learn from his mistakes when he did not use Rivera in that June 5th extra-inning road game at Toronto.

As I tweeted last night, Rivera is like an elite piece of real estate – location, location, location. When he hits the corners, he is unhittable.

David Robertson – he continues his really good pitching after a disastrous beginning to 2010.

In 5.2 innings over the last two weeks, he allowed a single cheap run. His overall ERA is now 5.04 (it was over 14 in early May!), but in June he has pitched to an ERA of 1.00.

People wanted to dump him to the minors in early May, but he is now the most consistent bullpen arm not named Rivera.

Yankees rookies – very interesting, but four Yankee young players have gotten their first major league hit this season; both Curtis and Huffman, plus Greg Golson and Kevin Russo. And Ivan Nova and Romulo Sanchez pitched well earlier when the bullpen needed a few new arms.

Sure, the team’s payroll is around $200 million, but the organization is doing a much better job at bringing up their young players and letting them play.

Joba, Phranchise, Gardner, Francisco Cervelli, David Robertson, and even when they started this new trend by bringing up Cano and Chien-Ming Wang in 2005.

THE BAD

Mark Teixeira – I am sorry, but Teixeira needs to change his approach from the left side to stop being a complete pull hitter.

But from what I hear, Teixeira is not a willing participant in the adjustment game, and thinks “he will come out of it on his own.”

He won’t by continuing to try and pull every pitch when he hits left handed.  

With pitchers getting better, Teix getting older and the usual big shift, Mark’s split against RHP is a terrible .228/.333/.386/.719.

I do not see him improving unless he makes some changes.

Jorge Posada – he is beginning to look old, with a slower bat. But it might just be him getting back into the groove of playing every day.

Posada will get more consistent at bats as the Yankees are finished with the National League parks and Jorge can DH a few days a week.

Last night’s 9th inning ten-pitch at bat against Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton was the Posada we know.

If he hits the way he can, the lineup can withstand the continued year-long slump from Teixeira.

Joe Girardi – even though I am a big fan of his Mariano Rivera move, Girardi still tries to show everyone that he is a National League manager. Too many double switches by pulling Swisher out of games, and leaving his bench very vulnerable.

But the NL park games are over.

He was gong to pinch hit Ramiro Pena at Arizona in the Mariano game. I would rather see CC Sabathia pinch hit then Pena, especially after using both catchers. Pena is the emergency backup.

Then with first and third, with one out in LA, and Gardner on first base, Girardi elects to have AJ Burnett bunt over the runner to second.

Why not have Gardner steal second instead? If he gets thrown out, and AJ makes an out (very likely), then Derek Jeter leads off next inning.

I am a big fan of the bunting game, but with one out, giving away an out when AJ isn’t moving over two runners is a big mistake.

THE UGLY

Derek Jeter – whew! That three strikeout performance Saturday night was brutal. His slash line over the 12 games is worse – .244/.358/.289/.647 with ZERO extra base hits and no RBI.

Chan Ho Park – a .400/.444/.680/1.124 slash line is great if you are a hitter, but just brutal if you throw the ball for a living. Many have pointed out that it is usually his second inning which causes lots of damage, but some of his single inning appearances aren’t great either.

I do not believe it is Park’s durability which is an issue, as he was a starter and has several successful multi-innings appearances this season, including April 7th at Boston and June 5th at Toronto.

But after a really good 2009 season, maybe Park isn’t that good this season. This is typical of many relief pitchers.

But if the Yankees only pitch Park for a single inning, then he needs to go. Other pitchers can go the one inning route, but an effective bullpen needs lots of guys who can go multi-innings.

When Alfredo Aceves comes back, Chad Gaudin is gone, but Park is not far behind. The Yankees have lots of patience with ineffective relievers (see Damaso Marte last year), but if Sergie Mitre comes back, too, Park could be gone.

AJ Burnett – it is not Dave Eiland’s month off, lack of in your face, walk-off cream pies, or Jorge Posada catching him.

It is AJ Burnett. He is not that good.

I was against him coming here in the first place, and have never wavered off my thoughts. I still believe he will eventually be on the disabled list.

He can not throw strikes to specific spots, thus leaving the ball out over the plate, where it gets roped all over the park. Except for his really good 2008 season, Burnett is basically a .500 career pitcher. There is a reason for that.

He is not that good. When you can not command your pitches, you will never pitch well. And it does not appear he concentrates on every hitter in every situation.

Never a good combination.

ANSWER: The other two pitchers in 2010 besides Sabathia with five straight starts, five straight wins and each win going seven or more innings is Ubaldo Jimenez and Nick Blackburn.

Jimenez was the easy choice, but Blackburn was tough. He has had a terrible April and June, but sandwiched them around an amazingly dominating May.

I guess he is destined for a really good July?


With Phil Hughes, as Yogi Berra Would Say, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

April 22, 2010

He is not the savior, and he was never a prodigy, but he was a talented right-handed pitcher who had a popping fastball and killer, knee-buckling curve.

The fact that Phil Hughes carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of last night’s game on the road, against an American League West opponent in his second start of the season, seemed familiar to Yankee fans.

That is because Hughes turned the same trick three seasons ago on May 1, 2007, as a 21-year-old in his second ever major league start at Texas. That game ended with Hughes allowing no hits but being removed from the game, as he popped his hamstring* making a pitch.

As Yogi would say, “It was deja vu all over again,” which is basically being repetitively redundant.

*The great image on SNY a few days ago of New York Mets reliever Ryota Igarashi’s hamstring popping and visible from underneath his pants was the same as Hughes’ hamstring issue in 2007 and Pedro Martinez’ in 2008.

Hughes did return that season, starting 13 games total.

Hs second start last night was just as dominating—probably more dominating. His fastball was great, and his curve induced many weakly hit balls, as there were not too many balls in play that were hit hard. The hardest-hit ball might have been Eric Chavez’ up the middle grounder that hit Hughes and bounced away, and Chavez made it to first base safely.

His final line last night was impressive: 7.1 IP, one H, one ER, two BB, and 10 K’s, with 70 strikes thrown in his 101 total pitches. He probably would have been able to finish the eighth inning, but Hughes walked Gabe Gross in a nine-pitch at-bat two batters after Chavez’ single.

Hughes pretty much threw fastballs, cutters, and curves all night, and when he needed to, he blew the ball by hitters for many of his 10 strikeouts. Interestingly, the pitch f/x summary indicated Hughes did not throw a single change-up, the same pitch he worked on throughout spring training.

Hughes’ command of that new pitch was the primary reason manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman gave Hughes the coveted fifth starter’s job.

The Yankees had too much invested in Hughes’ development as a former first round pick and projected savior. He is not a savior, but just a talented kid finally getting another chance at starting in the major leagues.

I am not complaining about Hughes getting that fifth starter’s job, as it was a foregone conclusion that he would “win” the job. It did not matter how well Alfredo Aceves or Sergio Mitre pitched. That is why the manager and GM came out with those change-up command reasons for keeping him in the rotation and sending Joba Chamberlain to the pen.  

I was against Joba in the pen (I believe Mark Melancon can be a dominant closer), as I feel he can still be a very effective starting pitcher, but it appears Cashman and Girardi’s plan of Hughes in the rotation and Joba in the pen has worked very well.

Everybody is happy with that.


Both Joba and Hughes Need to be Future Yankees Starters

March 21, 2010

After Alfredo Aceves gave up five runs in four-plus innings yesterday, the Yankees hierarchy was secretly giddy. Phil Hughes, the darling prospect of the team since being drafted in 2004, is now back in the lead!

Headlines in Sunday’s papers shouted, “Aceves’ Bad Outing Could Cost Him in Yankees Contest ,” and “Aceves Puts Himself In Hole With Poor Start .”

Unless Aceves had a completely dominant spring training, he never had a chance, and the Yankees couldn’t be happier. While Hughes and Joba Chamberlain alternated early on between starting and relieving, facing mostly minor leaguers, Aceves and Sergio Mitre were usually starting, facing the oppositions’ starters two or even three times.

In his next outing against the Philadelphia Phillies, Hughes is in relief of starter AJ Burnett. It was supposed to be on his normal rest, and if Hughes goes his four or five innings, he will likely face minor leaguers for a turn through the lineup.

Aceves faced the Astros starters the entire time, and was on a full week break from live pitching.

Advantage Hughes.

GM Brian Cashman and others want Phil Hughes to be fifth starter. Despite what they said about all five guys (Hughes, Joba, Aceves, Mitre, Chad Gaudin) having a shot to win the job, unless Hughes imploded, he (or Joba) was going to get the job. It’s funny, but a rotation of all five of the fifth stater candidates is probably better than Pittsburgh’s current rotation.

Even though Joba is not on an innings limit for this season, Cashman made the decision not to follow his 2008 plan and have two young pitchers in the rotation at the same time. But a more mature 2010 Hughes and Joba are better than a younger Hughes and Ian Kennedy in 2008.

However, Cashman needs to keep up with Boston and does not want to miss out on the playoffs again after a great 2009 season.

That is why Cashman traded for Javier Vazquez, and left only one spot for Hughes or Joba. Aceves is well regarded as a rubber armed swingman, and Mitre and Gaudin are really trade bait.

But while the Vazquez deal is good for the Yankees this season, unless another young pitcher is given the opportunity to make the rotation next season, the Yankees will again have to fork over big dollars for a free agent pitcher. 

That free agent could be Vazquez (likely), Josh Beckett (if he does not re-sign with Boston, but less likely) or even Cliff Lee (highly likely). But while Lee would be the favorite*, based upon his performance this year he would require at least a five-year deal at $15-20 million a year beginning with his age 32 season.

*Lee would be the favorite because he would want that type of contract and the Yankees are one of the few teams with the resources. If Boston re-signs Beckett before next year, they are likely out of the Lee market since they will have multi-year deals with Beckett, Jon Lester, Dice-K, and John Lackey already on the books.

With Beckett seeking Lackey type money of about $17 million a season, the Red Sox would have $50 million between the current four. I do not believe they would be able to afford Lee.

Also, Lee is a great friend with current Yankees CC Sabathia as they played together in Cleveland and Burnett, who like Lee is from Arkansas and shares the same agent, Darek Braunecker .

Cashman has often said his goal was to draft and develop starting pitchers because of the high price tag for starters in free agency . Despite all that hyperbole, Cashman is still building the rotation from outside the organization.

The Vazquez trade goes against what Cashman has always talked about. So does signing Sabathia and Burnett before last season and possibly going after Lee next year.

And that is why the Yankees want Hughes to get the 2010 fifth starter job; to keep the Yankees moving down the development path.

And beginning in 2011, they will need more homegrown kids to produce.

The Yankees are anticipating the end of Andy Pettitte, who might be in his final season on the hill. Pettitte is now in his 16th season as a major leaguer, plus another full season on his arm via the playoffs.

Currently, he is on a year-to-year basis. At the age of 38 this season, Pettitte is better than 50-50 to hang ’em up after this year, especially if the 2010 season is injury plagued or less than Pettitte standards.

If Pettitte is no longer around next season, and with Vazquez being a free agent after 2010, that would be two new spots to fill in the 2011 rotation. If Vazquez has a good year, he will likely have more suitors in the offseason than the Yankees.

Also, if CC keeps throwing the ball well, he has the ability to opt out of his Yankee contract after the 2011 season, and could elect to become a free agent. That would be another starting role for the Yankees to fill.

That is why it is imperative for Hughes to get the fifth spot, to gain full season stamina in 2010 to be better next season. He is expected to be on an innings limit of about 160-170, prepping him for a no-holds barred 2011.

With Hughes firmly entrenched as the fifth starter, the Yankees are expected to go with Aceves as the swingman and Joba as back end bullpen guy. While that Joba debate has been discussed ad nauseum, since the Yankees probably would need starters next season, and since he still has options, it would be best long term to have Joba get regular work down in Triple-A as a starting pitcher.

In fact, since the Yankees do not need a fifth starter until the end of April, it would not surprise me if both Hughes and Joba start the year in Scranton. The Yankees do not play on a Monday at all in April, and have five days off that first month. I find it unusual that MLB gives extra off days early in the season, when these off days would be more welcome in August, during the dog days of summer.

With both young guys in Triple-A to start the season, the Yankees could then keep Mitre around as another two to three inning middle guy if he isn’t traded by then. Despite what the Yankees say about how much they like Gaudin, he stinks . He never has had a decent season in the majors and with a sub-.500 career record (34-35), 4.50 ERA, and a WHIP over 1.500, I am surprised the Yankees re-signed him for 2010.

Any of the proposed Triple-A starters, such as Zach McAllister, Ivan Nova, Romulo Sanchez, Dustin Moseley, or Jason Hirsch could probably give the Yankees similar production as Gaudin. 

With Joba and Hughes getting regular starts and innings, the Yankees would have an extra spot in the bullpen to maybe give to Boone Logan, who appears to be a Joe Girardi favorite. Although I am not in the Yankees need a second lefty in camp , Logan has pitched well enough this spring to garner a spot. Mark Melancon deserves a spot, too.

Starting in 2010, the Yankees are going to probably need two (if not three) new starting pitchers over the next few seasons.

To avoid going the free-agent route next offseason, the Yankees need Hughes to have that fifth spot this season. First reason is to validate the draft and develop the idea set down by Cashman, especially with the golden child Hughes. Second, to save the Yankees possibly about $20-30 million a year by having to sign up to two free agents for 2011.

Keeping Hughes and Joba in starting roles will be better for the Yankees in the long run, with the program of developing a mostly homegrown rotation, but especially financially so they can use these saved resources on other areas of need.


Yankees Do Not Need a Second Left Hander in the Bullpen

March 5, 2010

Last week New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi said he prefers to have a second left handed relief pitcher in the bullpen. His reasoning is simple: Girardi does not want to be without a LOOGY in case David Ortiz, Carlos Pena, Justin Morneau or God forbid, Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon comes up in an important situation late in a game.

Shouldn’t that LOOGY role be for Damaso Marte?

With his multi-year, multi-million dollar contract through 2011, Damaso Marte is about as good a lock for the Yankees bullpen as Mariano Rivera. After being injured for most of the 2009 season, Marte was ineffective during the regular season when he was pitching.  Resurrecting his best Graeme Lloyd impression, Marte eventually earned every dollar he made last year with a superb post season.

Girardi wants to add to the Marte perfection, but why would Girardi choose another lefty for the pen? A lefty who will throw maybe 25 innings total, one batter per game over about 75 appearances?

The two main candidates for this second LOOGY role are Boone Logan and Royce Ring.

Are the Yankees and Girardi serious? Boone Logan? Royce Ring?

Ring has not pitched in the majors since 2008 and did not have success last year in AAA against that level of talent. How would anyone think he can still get out lefties in the major leagues?

And Logan is really not much better.

In fact, the Yankees have several pitchers projected to be in their 2010 bullpen who have better numbers against lefties than either Ring or Logan.

Alfredo Aceves and David Robertson both had better numbers than the two journeymen left handed relievers under consideration. Two guys who did not even make the Yankees roster out of spring training last season finished as aces out of the pen, key contributors to a World Series title.

What K-Rob and Aceves did was mix in their secondary pitches well. K-Rob used his devastating curveball and Aceves used his amazing change of speeds to continuously fool left handed hitters. Aceves is amazing in that he is not afraid to throw any of five pitches in any count.

Here are the numbers against left handed hitters for the fantastic four:

Aceves   161 PA, 32 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 8 BB, 33 SO, 4.13 K/BB, .212/.255/.305/.559 OPS

K-Rob     83  PA, 14 H, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 BB, 30 SO, 3.33 K/BB, .189/.277/.324/.601 OPS

Logan        44 PA,  9 H,  3 2B, 0 HR,  4 BB,  7 SO, 1.75 K/BB, .231/.318/.308/.626 OPS

Ring (08)  61 PA, 14 H, 4 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 13 SO, 2.60 K/BB, .264/.339/.396/.735 OPS

Eyre          67 PA, 13 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 BB, 12 SO, 2.40 K/BB, .210/.269/.355/.623 OPS

I added Scott Eyre, another lefty specialist who pitched last season for the Philadelphia Phillies, who is supposedly retired, but has been mentioned by some as another lefty option.

Why would anyone even think that a Boone Logan or Royce Ring is a better option than Aceves or Robertson? Both of those RHP Yankees had better numbers last season against LH hitters than the LOOGY guys written about in this piece.

And both guys can get out RH hitters, too. It eliminates the need for extra pitching changes. I would do what the Yankees with their relievers in the minor leagues. Go with one of your guys (Ace, K-Rob, Chan-Ho Park, Melancon) and leave them in for 1+ to 2 IP an appearance (unless of course they start getting hit).

In the minor leagues, the Yankees have developed the multiple inning reliever. That saves pitchers in times they have to get up and throw, saving overall wear and tear, spreading the appearances out. Once a reliever is in the game and being effective, leave them in.

The 2010 Yankee starters (CC, AJ, Andy and Javy) went at least 6 innings in 80% of their starts last season. They went at least six full and one out into the 7th in 62.5% of the starts.

Lets just say some guys get their wish and Joba goes to the pen for most of the year, and is crowned the 8th inning guy.

You men to tell me that Robertson, Aceves, Park, Melancon and Joba can’t get 4 or 5 outs (mixing in Marte for a batter) in the games they need to be in there for 2+ innings during the 37.5% of the games that the starter only goes 6+?

There is your supposed bridge to Mariano.

Even though Ring and Logan each have had a really good appearance so far this spring, they were mostly facing AAA and AA guys. Guys hitting in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings of the spring are far different from the major league All-Stars in the American League lineups during the regular season.


A Relentless Yankees Lineup Takes No Prisoners

September 3, 2009

The Yankees bashed their way to another win Tuesday night in Baltimore, pounding six Orioles pitchers for nine runs, 12 hits and eight walks. That is 20 base runners.

The Yankees were behind tonight 1-0, and 6-5 before they tied the game in the 6th inning on an Alex Rodriguez two-out RBI single. Then they rode Nick Swisher’s* two-run homer and Eric Hinske solo shot for a three run 7th. The back to back homers gave the Yankees a lead they wouldn’t again relinquish.

* I wasn’t a big fan of the trade which brought Swisher to New York. Not because of Swisher’s abilities, but mostly I thought the Yankees could get away with using guys from their won system like Juan Miranda and Shelley Duncan in a platoon at first base. Swisher was supposed to be the starting first baseman in 2009, as this was a trade done well before the Yankees signed free agent Mark Teixeira. At least the Yankees did not give up Alfredo Aceves in that Swisher deal.

I was incorrect about the Swisher deal as he is a valuable member of this team, and helps lengthen the lineup more than the Yankees have had in several seasons.

Hinske’s 7th inning blast was especially interesting, as the left fielder for the Orioles, Jeff Fiorentino, tried to catch the ball over the fence but the hoard of Yankee fans in the left field bleachers literally snatched the ball away from his glove.

And on Wednesday night, with Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada both resting the entire game, Swisher hit third (2-4, 2 walks, 2 runs) and played first base, while Hinske played right field.

And even with two of the Yankees’ switch-hitting big boppers out of the lineup, they still put up a 10 spot on the Orioles, including a big seven run 9th inning to ice the game.

Alex Rodriguez had TWO very big two-run singles, the first in the 7th inning gave the Yankees the lead. The second big hit was during the 9th inning, giving the Yankees a big three-run cushion at 5-2 before they continued to pour it on.

It is a lineup that is relentless, never giving in and always confident that they can get the job done, not matter if it is the first inning or the 9th. Many times I have witnessed the Yankees going quietly the first time through the order, but in the 3rd through the 6th innings, score runs in bunches.

There is not a break in the lineup at any of the nine spots, with even Melky Cabrera having a good year, it makes it tough for an opposing pitching staff to work efficiently. Too many of the hitters (Teixeira, Swisher, Posada) work counts, and while I believe they take TOO MANY pitches, including many good to hit first pitch strikes, you can’t argue with their overall success.

The key is that while they get runners on base, they also drive them in. Witness last night’s game, where the Yankees were 7-15 with runners in scoring position (RISP), and the Yankees league all the major leagues in runs scored with 763.

Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Robinson Cano are also having great seasons, and A-Rod is in the midst of an 11 game hitting streak to lift his average to .275.

There is always two or three guys on this team who are always red-hot at any given time.

The key to the lineup is the structure. The Yankees have four switch hitters (Tex, Swisher, Posada and Melky), the two big righties in Jeter and A-Rod plus lefties Damon, Matsui and Cano. And when that lineup is in late, it is very difficult (although they try) to mix and match because the Yankee lefty hitters hit lefty pitchers very well. Click on the names above to see their splits.

And I don’t know of another lefty hitter in baseball right now who goes the other way better than Cano.

Many people are talking about how teams don’t want to face certain teams in a short series because their starting pitching (mostly the top two guys) could be so dominating. Those teams include the Red Sox with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester; the Angels with John Lackey and Jered Weaver (now Scott Kazmir); the Cardinals with Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright (you could also throw in Joel Pineiro); the Tigers with Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson; and the Giants with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum.

All playoff teams usually have a really good top two, but very few teams have a really strong 1 through 9 lineup like the Yankees have.

This is a lineup which has beaten Beckett, Halladay, Johan Santana, Verlander, Jackson, Matt Garza and even nemesis Cliff Lee this season. And when they get beaten down by a top starter, they can counterpunch with their own dominating pitchers.

If I was part of one of those a pitching staffs, I wouldn’t want to face the Bronx Bombers relentless lineup. It would be a nightmare having to continuously face those nine hitters in a short series.


The Yankees Should Have Emulated Their Minor League “Joba Rules” in the Majors?

August 30, 2009

Joba Chamberlain will finally get his opportunity to pitch every fifth day as the Yankees yet again, refine the Joba Rules.

In trying to keep Chamberlain’s total amount of innings around 160 for the regular season, the Yankees have decided to let Joba pitch every five days. The disastrous results from his 6, 7 and 8 day layoffs haven’t thrilled Yankee management (or Yankee fans), so Joba will pitch in lock step within the the rotation.

But he will be limited in the amount of innings he goes every start. He likely will no go more than five innings in any of his remaining six of seven starts.

According to Yankee manager Joe Girardi, the primary goal is to get Joba on a regular routine and not worry about his (or the team) getting a victory.  “He’s in the starting-pitcher mode in the sense that he’s going to get the ball every fifth game,” Girardi said. “As far as innings, there’s going to be games that will be short. I will say that. He might not factor in a decision.”

While Joba might not factor in the decision, the idea to pull out an effective Chamberlian after four or five innigs could result in a Yankee loss. If Joba is cruising in a game with the Yankees winning, say 3-1, after five innings, the Yankees would then rather take the risk of blowing a September game with their bullpen coming in for the remaining four innings.

The Yankees do have a current six game lead over the second place Boston Red Sox, and with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte throwing very well, the Yankees don’t appear to be in line to blow the division lead.

But, they should also keep an eye on Los Angeles for the best overall record in the American League. Especially if they want to limit Joba’s innings. With the best AL record, the Yankees get to choose what playoff schedule they want to appear. With the right schedule Joba does not even have to pitch until the ALCS, and then only one game there.

That is very appealing to the Yankees and their fans as they can ride the power arms of Sabathia and AJ Burnett, plus the playoff experience of Andy Pettitte as much as possible.

If the Yankees are worried about Joba throwing every five days and staying in “rotation” then they can simulate games while the ALDS is going on.

In today’s game, Joba only went three innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs. However, he did walk any White Sox hitters, and after only 35 pitches, Joba was relieved by Alfredo Aceves. With a plethora of pitchers (Mark Melancon, Anthony Claggett, Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Zachary Kroenke/Michael Dunn) likely being called up on Tuesday when rosters expand, the Yankees will have plenty of options to piggyback Joba’s future starts.

For example: Melancon, Claggett and Kroenke have regularly pitched 2+ innings in each of their last 10 appearances, with Claggett and Kroenke starting several games.

With the way it looked today, the best bet might be to always follow Joba with Aceves, the 26 year old multi-talented Mexican import*. That will allow Aceves to lengthen his innings to fill a long reliever/extra innings role during the playoffs.

*It is funny how the Yankees do not worry about Aceves’ innings, pitch counts or how they use him as he wasn’t a high draft pick or considered a “prospect.” Minor league starter to begin the season, multi-inning reliever, one inning reliever, major league spot starter. It didn’t matter for Aceves as he is still throwing the ball when called upon.

If the idea was to limit Joba’s innings this year, and the  didn’t ever want him in the bulpen, why not piggyback every one of Joba’s starts with a multi-innings relievers such as Aceves, Melancon, David Robertson or even Brett Tomko, who was the Yankees veteran “long man” early in the season.

It was a scenario I originally brought up on a radio show called “The Locker Room” with Kevin Williams last season when the Yankees moved Joba from reliever to starter.

That is exactly what the Yankees do in their minor leagues to develop their young pitchers, to keep their innings in check. Even though the minors are about development and not necessarily winning (although try telling that to the kids who travel the busses and play the games), it would have been better to let Joba from the #5 spot in the rotation go 30 starts at five to six innings per to get to his innings limit.

That scenario would have been much less problematic all season long, with less questions from an ever inquisitive New York media. After all isn’t it about Joba’s future and no his present?

With the stud aces at the top in CC and AJ, returning veterans Chien-Ming Wang and Pettitte and a potent lineup, this was the perfect season to let Joba and Aceves work the #5 rotation spot all season long. It would have limited Joba ‘s innings the correct way, and would have limited his frustrations, too.  It would have been a good plan all season long.

And it is the successful system the Yankee organization has been using in the minor leagues over the last several years.