Best of everything to the Indians’ 2006 1st-pick pitcher David Huff, who generously waved to reassure the crowd after A-Rod’s line drive ricocheted off his face into center field in his first start at Yankee Stadium. Sadly ironic is the comparison that analysts have made between him and his star opposing pitcher CC Sabathia, who was also the Indians’ top pick, back in 1998.
I am glad A-Rod showed his concern, crawling-in gingerly from 2nd to stay nearby behind him.
Scott Miller breaks down how replacing K-Rod (traded to Mets) with Brian Fuentes (24 saves – leads the Majors) did not cause the Angels’ bullpen to hold 3rd-to-last place (behind Cleveland and Washington) as of Wednesday 7-8-09.
Mainly, it’s injuries and the unfamiliarity of roles that young pitchers have faced when filling-in for the injured.
-Scot Shields was a key set-up man until knee surgery (left) ended his season in June.
-Jose Arrondondo has elbow inflammation, and has been sent to AAA Salt Lake to work through his turnabout from last year’s impressive debut.
-Darren Oliver and young Kevin Jepsen have been on the DL since April.
“The result was that some relievers pitched out of their roles and some younger arms were pushed, by necessity, into situations they shouldn’t have been in in the first place,” Miller explains. Furthermore, Angels’ starters have struggled, taxing the already-depleted pen. He quotes pitching coach Mike Butcher saying that lack of leadership is not a factor with Fuentes, whose bullpen has had so many challenges to face. He does acknowledge the tremendous confidence that K-Rod’s presence had contributed to the other bullpen pitchers, however, and starter John Lackey referred to an early “‘adjustment period.'”
-Bullpen performance has improved since June 12: 6-1, 10 saves, 2.82 ERA.
-Justin Speier is keeping righties to a 1.64 batting average.
-Jepsen (RHP) has learned a cutter and has shown improvement.
-Jason Bulger (RHP) is young but coming along.
-Darren Oliver is now ok.
Halos bullpen faces critical test down stretch – by Scott Miller – CBSSports.com Baseball
Petitte vs Wakefield
Plate umpire Jim Reynolds called Petitte’s 1st inning 3-1 pitch to #3 batter “Big Papi” Ortiz a ball, though Sterling says it had the plate and was belt high. Hmm, this after Petitte struck out Ellsbury and Pedroia. On review of the video Waldman said it was off the plate by 3″ and sets the boundaries for the strike zone. Next batter Kevin Youkilis — batting in Manny’s former slot — walked, too. Let’s see how tonight goes….
(For the sake of narrative satisfaction I should add that Bay popped out.)
At the very top of the 2nd — with the score at 1-0 courtesy of Damon’s HR off his former-countryman Wakefield — Sterling noted that Petitte’s 2-1 pitch was called a ball in a rather tight zone against Lowrie. (By the way, neither Sterling nor Waldman saw Reynolds call the final strike against A-Rod at the bottom of the 1st.) And now, for the second straight inning, here’s another 2-on, 2-out situation for Pettite, who had shut down the first 2 at-bats in the inning before letting 2 swinging bunts from the bottom of Boston’s line-up get on base and the first – Bailey – score on Ellsbury’s subsequent single. Score: 1-1….
As the Yankees were going ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the 2nd, a quietly enchanting astronaut who had phoned Sterling from the Space Station was that rarest of persopnages, a perfect guest, so engaging, and speaking in thoughts that seemed too natural to be timed to fit between the pitches Sterling had to call, but they did. I dislike having my game interrupted by guests who come on during games, and thankfully Sterling and Waldman welcome few. But this gentleman, who threw out tonight’s first pitch, was a pleasure.
Note: Top of the 4th (3-2 Boston): As Girardi and Petitte confer on the mound, Sterling conjectures that they are discussing Petitte’s strike zone being squeezed by Reynolds. Sure enough, next they invite Reynolds to the mound, where, as Sterling tells it, Girardi is taking care not to get thrown out for arguing balls and strikes, speaking loudly but facing no one in particular. After the confab, Petitte strikes out the batter and speaks to the umpire on his way off the field. Sterling was right on top of this from the 1st.
Note: Top of the 5th (3-2 Boston): Sterling observes that 1st base umpire FIelding Culbreth missed Giambi’s tag-out (of Crisp?), putting-on an extra Boston runner. Subsequently, Bailey wasn’t called for interfering with catcher Molina on the basepath, and Sterling asks if Waldman or Feinsand recalls which umpire called that very out against the Yankees at which park on their recent road trip. Nada. After reviewing a play at 3rd on video between innings, Sterling discovered that A-Rod’s tag beat another runner’s [Lowrie’s?] slide.
So, what would the score be at the end the 5th if accurate calls were being made? Not 6-2 Yanks, even discounting any squeezing of Petitte’s strike zone by Reynolds.
Top of the 6th (6-3 Boston): Here we go again. Molina thought Bruney’s last pitch to Pedroia was a strike, and Girardi comes out to talk to Reynolds again. No reversal. Waldman, mentioning a talk she’d once had with Mussina, speculates that the concern is that Reynolds is not being consistent on his calls on the same pitch. (Mussina had told Waldman that pitchers can get used to a unique strike zone as long as the umpire is consistent.) Bruney walks 3 men in a row. (7-3 Boston)
6 walks by Yankee pitching in 6 innings.
The calling of Yankee pitches is very much an issue in this game, as are at least 2 safe calls, made at 1st and 3rd.
- Greinke wins! He bats 2 for 3 and scores, too! KC vs Florida 9-3
- How cool — in an intra-state interleague ERA staredown in Ohio, Cleveland’s bounding LHP Cliff Lee (6-0.067) faces RHP Edinson Volquez (6-1.112) at Cincinnati.
- Lefty Shawn Estes (1-0, .257) starts his 2nd game since 2006 vs Seattle’s RHP Felix Hernandez (2-4 3.38) at 1:10pm. (His 1st game was his 100th win! May 13, 2008, at Wrigley) He’s a Padre, and that makes me feel good. Did you wonder where he was? As he comes back from a long recovery from Tommy John surgery and works on some of his old trouble spots, I am hoping that being this inspired pitching-focused team — home of former Angels pitching coach Bud Black as Manager and Coach of last year’s MLB-leading pitching staff Darren Balsey — will make his return a welcoming one. Otherwise, maybe Dave Duncan on the Cardinals would be a good match. Not that they can just choose their locations like that. I’ve enjoyed him since his presence on the Mets, where, like Steve Trachsel‘s, his record did not always reflect what happened on field, For awhile the easiest way to keep track of him was to follow Dusty Baker. It was nice to see that.
Was that …last year? Pinstripes on the Park? Yankees in Toronto? Joe Torre told the boys to show up late with no practice because they’d been pressing? Newly re-signed (does anyone come back a 3rd time?) Roger Clemens got up on stage in the middle of Manhattan, in Bryant Park right behind the public library’s main branch, and tried mightily to heave-ho us into headiness for playoffs the Yanks had not looked ready to secure lately. I had to admire his The crowd did not look ready to welcome Roger. Not rude, just not, well, warm. Definitely wary. Maybe it was because he wouldn’t say how great it was to be a Yankee again, to come back and fix Boston. There was a need to hear that and, surely, a way to say it.
SHAWN CHACON Makes Houston’s Rotation!
“Chacon pitched five innings, allowing three hits and one run with four strikeouts in Houston’s 8-7 win over Atlanta.
“Astros general manager Cecil Cooper said after the game that the right-hander has ‘got to be 1 of the guys’ who will join ace Roy Oswalt in the rotation.” KLTV 7 (East Texas) 3-20-08“Chacon’s work in win over Braves earns spot in Astros’ rotation” (AP) http://www.kltv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8044019&nav=1TjF
“‘Chacon retired nine of his first 10 batters before allowing three hits in the fourth, and overall, he held the Braves to one run. After giving up five runs over three innings in his previous outing and rating it ‘G,’ for ‘garbage,’ the right-hander was considerably happier with this showing.
“‘That’s a lot better,’ Chacon said. ‘I just pounded the strike zone from the first inning. That’s the difference. I had a good changeup tonight, threw the breaking ball for strikes. I didn’t get as many ground balls as I’d like, but I’m not complaining at all.'” “Chacon throws himself into the rotation: Cooper says righty practically a lock after Wednesday’s outing” by Allyson Footer, MLB.com 3-19- 08 http://houston.astros.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080319&content_id=2445882&vkey=spt2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=hou
ZACK GREINKE Is Back, Shuts Down White Sox A-Team!
“The Royals…built leads of 5-1 and 6-2 behind Zack Greinke, who limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings. Greinke struck out six and walked one…
Greinke got stronger in each of his five spring starts. In all, he gave up 12 runs and 18 hits in 20 innings but just three runs and seven hits in his last 11 innings.
“‘I was a little worried at the start of spring training,’ he said. ‘I started off way worse than I ever imagined. The first game was horrible. I had no idea where anything was going or what it was going to do. I just felt lost out there.'”
“‘The last two outings, I’ve been really happy with how they’ve been.'” “Royals’ Day in Camp” by Bob Dutton 3-23-2008 http://www.kansascity.com/baseball/story/543682.html
SHAWN ESTES Wins in Relief!
- 2 scoreless hitless innings of 10, ending 3-2 over KC on 3-22!
Lefty tosses two scoreless, hitless innings with two K’s by Alan Esquew Special to MLB.com March 22, 2007 http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080322&content_id=2452369&vkey=spt2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=sd
- + 2 SO’s and 3 groundball outs! one walk.
- Was in Minors last year from 2006 Tommy John surgery
- “‘I’m getting more comfortable on the mound,’ Estes said. ‘I felt like I was going in the right direction today. My breaking ball was coming around. It’s hard to gauge after two innings, but I felt like I was throwing the ball a little bit better today.
“‘That was the hope all spring that I gradually got better. I didn’t feel like I would struggle this bad with my command, but I’m improving, making progress.'”
- “Padres manager Buddy Black liked what he saw of Estes against the Royals.
“‘Shawn threw well,’ Black said. ‘I liked Shawn’s sink on the fastball. He had some good running action and got some grounders. He ran it in on some lefties and away from righties. He looked good.’
“Black noted Estes hasn’t missed his turn in a game or throwing bullpen sessions. ‘So that’s a great sign for Shawn that he’s coming around physically,’ Black said.”
“‘It’s just a matter of fine-tuning some things, finding my release point more consistently, being more consistent with my mechanics, being more fluid,’ Estes said. ‘Now that I’m full strength, it’s like the first time I’ve picked up a baseball. When I get on the mound, I feel great at 80 to 85 percent, but when I get that extra 10 to 15 percent effort, things have been falling out of whack a little bit.
“I’t’s a matter of being able to throw and compete at full-strength again, mentally knowing that everything is fine, now throwing strikes. It’s just been different. It’s been difficult.'”
…which means he’s wise and I don’t have to repeat myself to you.
Of course, he’s (at metsreport.com) talking about the Mets, having decided El Duque should retire after today, with 3 weeks left in the spring season. (As usual, I find Met fans too hasty with the eject button.)
Wish the YANKEES would bend an ear. Do I necessarily think we need a 5th starter, exactly? No. Do I necessarily think Wells has starter stuff all season? No. Could he warm up the season as long relief, lending some stability to the bullpen in case the young starters break down occasionally? WOULD he? Could he deal with a contract reflecting non-starter status? Or, maybe the question is whether the Yankees — or any team — could deal a contract that compensates a respected starter for stepping into an irregular schedule, with the understanding that — at the end of the season — he would have a place in the rotation unless his pitching is under an agreed-upon performance indicator. (A 6th starter?! Why not! We can afford it, especially with 3 young ‘uns. More than likely, however unfortunate, is the possibility that one of the 5 starters will be injured by then, or will at least need to be spelled.)
Wouldn’t it be nice to sigh at the start of postseason, which for him is like midnight to a nightowl, "Ahhh, all’s Wells."
It even goes beyond retiring as a Yankee. Did you know that Ron Guidry was his idol growing up! Uh, huh! Wait ’til you hear this — in his first MLB start, his opposing pitcher WAS Guidry. Take a look at the symmetry — closing out his career with Guidry as pitching coach?!
And, wasn’t David (David Wells, for those of you whose needs I have rudely ignored) undefeated as a Dodger until this week, when he took care to take LA out of contention himself, in plenty of time to sneak onto our roster?
You know he’ll pitch wherever he’s needed — as a starter, out of the bullpen, whatever. He and Clem could combine for a game. Now that’s symmetry.
Let’s make nice. OK? Please? So little is going well, even in my baseball social life. This bone would make so many dogs happy.
Let me get this straight:
- The Yankees just traded reliever Scott Proctor for part-time Dodger infielder Wilson Betemit
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox just obtained Eric Gagne (2.16, 17 of 18 saves) from the Rangers, despite having a killer closer in John Papelbon (2.15, 23 of 25 saves).
Am I missing something?
- CONSENSUS There was one, right? Yankees need bullpen pitching BADLY. NOT batters.
- A BAT FOR THE BENCH? Let’s look at our oft-maligned bench.
- Anchored by the mending Johnny Damon (.247), replaced in center by Melky Cabrera, who has improved to .291 from April’s .200, hitting .373 in July as an every day player
- Enriched, we hope, by the upcoming return of refurbished slugger Jason Giambi
- Ignited by Make-It-Happen Miguel Cairo ("the best .239 player in baseball," John Sterling reminds us.), a defensive star and utility player who has hit .255 overall but much higher during periods of everyday play covering first base while the injured Giambi’s replacement Doug Mankiewitcz was on the DL, and until farmhand Andy Phillips was appointed permanent substitute. If that sounds like teaching in NYC, where teachers who have more than paid their dues after a decade or two in the system are being forced into substitution while youngsters take over the classrooms, you’re right.
- No offense to Betemit (.231), but, … well, do we need him more than we need Proctor? And isn’t the point that we needed to ADD to our bullpen?
- BULLPEN – Yankees just traded their righty reliever Scott Proctor (3.81 ERA) Why?
- True, he hit a wall in June when he averaged 5.17 runs. But his July ERA is 2.84!
- He has pitched in 52 games. Last year he entered 89 and ended the season at 3.52.
- Consensus is that manager Joe Torre overused him last year. Umm. Would you say he was ON PACE to burnout again this year? Remember the uniform-burning ritual?
- Why are so many Torre Dynasty relievers in the running for most innings pitched?
- Does Torre have a pattern of overusing a reliever as his trusted go-to guy? Hmm.
- Lefty Ron Villone was so wiped out last year that his arm was dead by postseason. To recognize his contributions, the Yanks started him in the minors this season. Today his ERA is 3.12 after 23 games. He ended last year with a 5.04 ERA after 80 games. Looks like Torre might have learned something here.
- Is Mike Myers the new trusted lefty? Uh-oh. 2.61 after 50 innings. Already!
- Wherever and however he pitches, the one comment you can count on hearing about Mike Stanton is that he’s on the list of the hardest-working lefty relievers in baseball. He pitched in over 70 games for over half of 6 years with the Yankees (over 60 for the other 3). As a Met, he reached his pinnacle of 83 games in 2004, and still managed to keep his ERA at 3.16. Did Torre start him on this path? At this point, I get the feeling that he he keeps going in order to see how many innings his career can survive.
- Remember righty Paul Quantrill in 2004? Get ready: 86 games, 95.1 innings. Remember him burning out his arm?
- You get the idea. And don’t forget the great relievers they let go. Remember the Stanton – Mendoza combo? I’m still smarting from that one.
So, Mr. Cashman- Would you mind ADDING to our bullpen rather than taking away from it? Between you and Mr. Torre, we’re losing our relievers faster than we can win our games.
It makes perfect sense. Peace in the Middle East may be within sight. A US Ambassador to Israel retires to become Israel’s Baseball Commissioner! First task : Raise funds for a Palestinian Baseball League. Be fruitful and multiply, right? That’s what I would do. Diplomacy, manners, the significance of small symbolic gestures — these constitute the language of the game.
However, I’d feel more confident about the survival of Israeli baseball – and any peace our great sport can broker – if Dan Kurtzner hadn’t been Ambassador during the second Bush administration. Not exactly the peace that passeth understanding. Then again, maybe he kept it from getting much, much worse.
World Series? Feh. How about the 7-Day War? And it will be played every year, so there’s no "winner." There’s some revisionist history for you. Hey, that’s even better than Yankees vs. Red Sox. (Hmm, Varitek vs. A-Rod, Pedro vs. Zimmer. That’s hard to beat.)
I shouldn’t make light of 2 unwanted peoples’ fight for safe borders. Seriously, if any sport can bring people together in a temporary symbolic oasis in the desert, it is baseball. Maybe Mr. Kurtzner can make this more than a field of dreams.
Here a couple tips for you, Commish: National League rules – we can’t have pitchers throwing at batters’ heads with impunity. (Look how many brawls Pedro and Clemens avoided with the Mets and Astros.) And NO MLB UMPIRES!