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Posts Tagged ‘Yankees’

Wilson Betemit finishing his home run trot on August 2, 2008 against the Angels.

Wilson Betemit finishing his trot around the bases after hitting a home run on August 2, 2008 against the Angels.

The New York Yankees acquired 1B/OF Nick Swisher and a minor league pitcher, ironically with the surname Texeria, for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez. As Peter Abraham of the Journal News so eloquantly put it, “There is no “losing” Wilson Betemit. There is dumping Wilson Betemit.” I am delighted that the Yankees were able to get a player of even the slightest significance in exchange for Betemit. Swisher can give the Yankees an option at 1B and the outfield corners, which is always beneficial. Cody Ransom can slide into the utility infielder slot, and Justin Christian is re-learning how to play 2B in the fall leagues, so he can play in the infield in a pinch as well, assuming he makes the roster.

All in all, I am quite content.

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A few sports quick hits on this Monday night.

– Boy it’s good to have pro football back. It’s just great to have on in the background on a lazy Sunday. Having, for whatever reasons, multiple affililates of CBS and FOX, I am sometimes able to watch 4 games at a given time, which is awesome. Yesterday’s Baltimore Ravens game was the NFL debut for former UD quarterback Joe Flacco, and he did well managing the game, and he also ran for a 38 yard touchdown, which was impressive because he’s a big guy and he’s pretty slow. It’s been nice watching tonight’s Monday Night Football doubleheader, having non-stop football from 7pm until probably 1am.

– Local Delaware TV has been airing a commercial of former football coach Tubby Raymond do an endorsement for Jack Markell for governor of Delaware. I’ve only seen it on ESPN, but I’ve seen it so many times, it’s ridiculous. I wonder what kind of influence Markell thinks that a former college football coach can have on an election for governor. I’m sick of watching the same commericals over and over again, but I guess that’s what happen when I only watch ESPN.

– The Yankees suck. But Tom Brady’s out for the season and Billy Wagner is out for a year, so I can just think about that for awhile, while Carl Pavano and Sidney Ponson lead the Yankees to futility.

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It seems that I have forgotten the HTML code for bulleted lists. I’ll figure it out eventually. But for now, here are some quick hits.

– I think I’m gonna try to write a list of assorted thoughts at least once a week. That will keep me writing often and hopefully with more substance than just Yankees related posts.

– I think my only reader, Max, doesn’t know about this address yet. Maybe I should tell him now. But I think it would be more impressive if I gave him this address after I wrote for a good streak of time… like maybe a week’s worth of posts, 5-7 posts. Then he could see that I’ve been writing and that I should be able to keep the writing going.

– It’s great to be early for a train, but I think it sucks quite a bit when you show up for a train leaving Grand Central at 10:05pm at 9:39pm. While I was more than guaranteed to get a seat, I’d say that being 26 minutes early is a bit much to sit on the train and wait for it to leave. But that’s what I did. Luckily, I had a copy of All About Jazz on me, and I read that. Interesting content in that publication, I’d say.

– Speaking of jazz, I saw Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra last night at the Jazz Standard on 27th and 6th, and they were awesome. Not only was the music awesome, but it seemed that they were really big promoters of the advancement of music in America, which is something that you don’t see from every musician. Many of the musicians in the band teach master classes and Arturo’s 13-year-old son, Adam, composed an excellent piece that the band played, and that featured a trumpet solo of his own that was also well done. Plus, if the great music just wasn’t enough, the jazz club offered food from Blue Smoke, located directly upstairs from the club, and their wings were fantastic.

– I can’t wait for The Office to come back (on September 25), and this The Office promo for the Olympics is just making me even more excited for that date to arrive.

– Segue to the Olympics! Jason Lezak and the US men’s 4×100 meter relay team last night had an incredible victoryover France tonight. I am positive that Michael’s Phelps’ reactions to the team winning will be played on TV non-stop for days, and girls around the country (and Chris Gage) will be in awe of his physical being.

– I wonder how long those last two links will stay up. Hopefully a while! I have no readers right now! hahahah. Also, I wonder what the difference between tags and categories are on WordPress. I should look into that, and then tag/categorize this post. No rush though; no readers yet! Finally, I think I should change the banner to something from one of my own photos. I’ll do that eventually, before I get readers.

– And no blog post would be complete without some Yankees stuff. Quicker hits: I can’t believe Sidney Ponson is still on this team. Jeff Karstens has thrown 15 shutout innings for Pittsburgh including a complete game shutout which was a perfect game until the 8th inning with two outs. A-Rod can’t hit in the clutch. Jeter’s hitting way too many double plays. Wilson Betemit is awful. I sure don’t miss Kyle Farnsworth, and the Yankees certainly don’t need him right now, but I feel that the bullpen is a mess. I wonder who’s gonna start on Wednesday. I’d go with Giese, with Rasner in the pen just in case, but I have a feeling he wouldn’t be needed. Finally, where is Melky Cabrera’s bat? He’s losing plenty of playing time now, and Matsui may be on the way soon.

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Previously on this blog, back in the day when it was hosted on Blogspot.com, I wrote a very long post regarding the Yankees 5th starter position. I strongly supported the promotion of AAA pitcher Jeff Karstens over the signing of free agent Sidney Ponson. Unfortunately, I am not the GM of the Yankees, and Ponson was signed and has been a member of the Yankees rotation ever since that June 27 start against the Mets. So Ponson has been a Yankee for a month. As a Yankee, he is 2-1 with a 6.08 ERA and a WHIP of 1.88. Unfortunately, he’s still starting.

Meanwhile, Jeff Karstens has been traded to Pittsburgh in a six-player deal in which the Yankees acquired two important parts, outfielder Xavier Nady and lefty Damaso Marte. Nady is important because he provides the necessary right handed bat in the lineup, and he can also allow Johnny Damon to DH on a regular basis. He’ll bat in the lower half of the lineup and, hopefully, get some big hits in the next few months. His acquisition is also important because now the Yankees, if they want to shed payroll, aren’t obligated to sign Bobby Abreu for next year, as Nady is signed through 2009 and can shift over to right field and be paid considerably less than Abreu. Marte, it turns out, has been a crucial acquisition, not only because he’s the only lefty in the bullpen, and a good one at that, but this addition to an already overcrowded bullpen allowed some trading flexibility for GM Brian Cashman, and boy did he take advantage of this. Now with Nady on the team, it made even more sense for switch-hitting catcher Jorge Posada to have season ending surgery since the team got some right-handed power in a lefty-heavy lineup. But wait, there’s more!

In a trade, which was negotiated in mere hours, Cashman made one of his best moves as a GM, in my opinion, by selling high (if that was even possible) on the adventurous reliever Kyle Farnsworth, and trading him to Detroit for future hall-of-fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. This move would not have happened if Cashman didn’t acquire Marte less than a week before, as Marte can slide into the 8th inning role that Farnsworth had. Also, Brian Bruney is on his way back up to the majors after sustaining a foot injury earlier in the season, and he’ll be in the bullpen rotation as well. However, for now it seems that the seldom used Chris Britton will be called up to take Farnsworth’s spot on the roster. We’ll see how that works out, since Bruney is almost ready.

Pudge Rodriguez will start for the team, and take the roster spot of backup catcher Chad Moeller, who sparingly played since the beginning of June, while Jose Molina will slide to the backup catcher role that he originally signed for. Pudge has been batting 65 points higher than Molina, so he’ll be an upgrade at the plate, and behind the plate, he’ll be slightly worse than Molina; Pudge has thrown out 36% of potential base-stealers this year, which is good, but Molina has been throwing out 47% of base-stealers, which is exceptional. I’m sure Molina will get his share of games though; Mike Mussina likes him.

So the Yankees have solved a number of team issues, including a right handed bat in the outfield, a left handed pitcher in the bullpen, and a catcher to replace Jorge Posada for the rest of the year while he’s injured and recovering from surgery. The final issue? Get rid of Sidney Ponson!

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Previously on this seldom updated blog, I made a huge rant on why Sidney Ponson should not start a game on Friday against the Mets.

Since then, Dan Giese had an excellent start against the Cincinnatti Reds, pitching 6.2 innings allowing 3 runs, all unearned, lowering his ERA to 0.64. He’ll stay in the rotation and make a few more starts. However, there is still an opening for one of the games in the doubleheader against the Mets on Friday, June 27. In the minors, Jeff Karstens just got the International League Player of the Week award, mainly because of his excellent 11 strikeout performance against Toledo on Sunday. Because he started Sunday, he is lined up to pitch on Friday, like Ponson, who pitched the day before.

River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog, makes the argument that Jeff Karstens should start over Ponson, in a much more concise manner, agreeing with Mike Ashmore, the Trenton Thunder (Yanks’ AA affiliate) beat writer for the Hunterdon County Democrat.

We’ll see what happens… but I sure hope that #58 is on the mound on Friday.

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In 2006, the Yankees had some pitching troubles. The first three slots went to an aging Randy Johnson, the first full year of Chien-Ming Wang, and an aging Mike Mussina. Jaret Wright had the fourth spot, though he barely had any starts that were more than 6 innings, in his final year as a Yankee. The fifth spot went to a bunch of different people, starting with Shawn Chacon, who pitched remarkably as a Yankee in 2005, and the late Cory Lidle, who was acquired in the trade deadline deal that brought Bobby Abreu to the Yankees. A few spot starts, however, in between Chacon leaving the rotation (and ultimately being traded) and the acquisition of Lidle, went to an Aruban Knight named Sidney Ponson. In 5 games (3 of them being starts), Ponson went 0-1 with a whopping 10.47 ERA in 16 1/3 innings. A month and nine days after the Yankees signed him, the Yankees released Ponson, because frankly, it took them a month and nine days too long to realize that he has been an awful pitcher since 2004.

OK. That’s all good. Let’s fast forward to 2008.

On June 15, Chien-Ming Wang, who has developed into an ace pitcher for the Yankees, hurt his foot while running the bases in an interleague game against the Houston Astros in Houston. A MRI exam revealed that Wang had a mid-foot tearing of the Lisfranc ligament and a partial tear of the peroneal longus tendon. Wang could be out for as little as 10 weeks, taking us into late August, or even, worst-case scenario, out for the year. He hopes to pitch in September, but only time and rehabilitation will tell us how that turns out.

In the meantime, the Yankees need to have someone make his starts. The first option will be Dan Giese, who signed with AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as a reliever, and was converted into a starter during the season, with great success. He was called up to the team during Joba Chamberlain’s transition to becoming a starter to shadow the 22-year old as he had limited pitch counts. As an insurance policy, the Yankees recently signed a pitcher to a minor league deal, to pitch at AAA for now, and he could be called up in case Giese falters, or if the Yankees decide to call up a pitcher to start a game in a doubleheader on Friday June 27 against the Mets. That man, believe it or not, is the same man who pitched for the Yankees just two years ago, with an ERA over 10. Yup, the Yankees signed Sidney Ponson to a minor league contract. Yikes. Let’s see what happened to our Aruban Knight friend after his time with the 2006 Yankees.

After the Yankees released Ponson in 2006, he signed with the Minnesota Twins for the 2007 season to provide a veteran presence for a young pitching staff. He started 7 games and went 2-5 with a 6.93 ERA, and was then released. In 2008, he signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers. He was called up on April 26 to make some starts for the team, and he was actually doing decently, with a 4-1 record and an ERA of 3.88, though his WHIP was a pretty bad 1.56 and batters were hitting .307 against him. While he didn’t have the best statistics in the game, he was managing and it seemed like he had a secure spot with the team. Nope. He was designated for assignment on June 7 and released ten days later. He, according to Jon Daniels, the GM of the Rangers, was disrespectful towards his teammates and the ballclub.

So, the despirate Yankees are considering taking a flyer on Ponson. I think this is unnecessary. First of all, Ponson has just been awful. The numbers don’t lie. Let’s look at some basic statistics: Since 2004, Sidney Ponson has been released by five teams, and aside from this year, hasn’t had an ERA under 5 (and only in 2004 was it under 6) or a WHIP under 1.55. Batters have been batting .307 or better against Ponson in the same time period. I really hope that the Yankees don’t think that Ponson is the answer here.

Second, there are plenty of interal options the Yankees can use to replace their ace. Giese, after he was stretched as a starter this year, had a 1.98 ERA in AAA and has done well in his limited time in the bigs so far. Jeff Karstens seems to be healed from his injury, so he could be ready to start with the big league club if need be. Dan McCutchen was recently called up to AAA, and has done a pretty good job so far; his last start was a complete game. Al Aceves is an intriguing prospect who last year pitched in the Mexican League and now is rocking in AA. After a few AAA starts, he could do the job. Ian Kennedy is probably not a suitable option at this point, as he is healing from an injury and could use more experience in AAA. And these are just a few options. The AAA starting rotation has been excellent recently (which includes Kei Igawa, a man the Yankees shall never call up again, frankly).

Third, the Yankees could always get a pitcher from outside the organization, whether it’s making a trade with another organization, like how Shawn Chacon was acquired in 2005 or Cory Lidle in 2006, or signing a free agent who isn’t Sidney Ponson. While it’s not necessary to give up the entire farm system for C.C. Sabathia of the Indians, the Yankees could make a smaller trade for a solid pitcher. One intriguing option that the Yankees could quite possibly look into is Freddy Garcia, a pitcher who was out with a shoulder injury for most of 2007 and is currently rehabbing the injury. He could be available for the final few months of the season, and it’s an interesting option. Between 2001-2006, he pitched 200+ innings every year, with a WHIP no higher than 1.33 and an ERA no higher than 4.53. The Yankees could take a flyer on him, have him rehab in the minors, and see how he could do in the pinstripes. I cannot imagine him putting up any Ponsonesque numbers as long as he is healthy. All the Yankees would risk here is money, and not much of it, in terms of the payroll. Garcia cannot make an immediate contribution, but he is an option the Yankees should definitely look into while he is rehabbing.

Simply put, Sidney Ponson is NOT the answer to the Yankees pitching woes. First, let’s see how Giese does. If he does well, he gets more starts — it’s that simple. If he doesn’t after 2-3 starts, I’d much rather look interally for another answer first. As for the June 27 doubleheader against the Mets, I sure don’t want to see Ponson in a Yankee uniform that day. I’d rather see Karstens get called up for the day, even to make one start and then get sent down immediately after it. The chances of him doing well are better than Ponson’s chances. Let’s also recall that when it comes to rookies starting against the Mets, history has shown that two pitchers made their major league debuts against the Mets and did well — Brandon Claussen in 2003 and Tyler Clippard in 2007. So the Yankee fan in me would say that there is hope for Karstens, or a minor leaguer, to do a decent job on the 27th. So here’s to not seeing Ponson in pinstripes!

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