It has not been more than a few weeks since the Yankees won the 2009 World Series but already the team well known for its off season acquisitions is making a splash in the free agent market. Rumors of pursuing John Lackey, Curtis Granderson, and Roy Halladay have permeated the rumor basins. These kinds of things are nothing new to any Yankee fan who has watched the team make major moves almost every off season this decade. The big announcement that I believe has the most impact on the team, however, is not the pursuit of big name players but Brian Cashman’s statement that Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be starters next season (NY Daily News). My question is, why?
Hughes for the most part of the season was nothing short of spectacular in the bullpen. He became the 8th inning guy that Chamberlain was before the experiment with Joba as a starter. Hughes had a stellar 2009 campaign in the bullpen, posting an ERA of 3.03, a WHIP of 1.12, and striking out 96 while walking only 28 in 86 innings pitched. If the Yankees resign Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang returns to be at least somewhat effective then Hughes’s presence in the starting rotation would not be absolutely necessary. But, if you absolutely had to put one of them back in the rotation it would be Hughes.
Joba simply isn’t cut out to be a starter with such stringent pitching limits. When he came up in the bullpen with the Yankees he was electric, energizing, and dominant. I watched his first save as a Yankee in a meaningless game against the Blue Jays late in the season a few years ago and the crowd went wild as Joba struck out the last batter on a fastball that clocked at 100 mph. His stretch as a starter ultimately ended with him traveling back to the bullpen so the Yankees management can say what they want but he was ineffective as a starter. Their unwillingness to pitch him during the playoffs speaks to that. Mariano cannot pitch forever and Joba is a better fit for being a closer than a starter with a pitch count.
If the Yankees go and get Halladay or even John Lackey putting Joba back out in the starting rotation would not be worth it if they were still going to protect him with a pitch limit. The only way it would make sense is if they simply let him pitch until his arm got tired the way Nolan Ryan has his pitchers work for the Texas Rangers. Otherwise he needs to be left in the bullpen where he is incredibly effective.
From the time the Yankees stepped on the field last night to when they stepped off of it victorious, there was one particular question running through my head. Have there ever been four players who have stuck together as long as the Yankee’s core group has? Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter have been together since 1996, disregarding Pettitte’s vacation in Houston, and they have had unparalleled success together. I cannot think of any group of four or more players who have played together for the same team for such a long time, have had so much success, and all became integral parts of the team in the same year (1996)!
Jeter plays shortstop as well as any player in the league today, giving the Yankees consistency at a position that many teams struggle to find. Posada is the Yankee’s rock at catcher giving the team consistency at another position that is difficult to fill. Pettitte has had unprecedented and record-setting postseason success; being a dominant left-hander has given the rotation someone to rely on for over a decade. And, of course, Rivera has been the game-over guy who has been instrumental in the success the Yankees have enjoyed since 1996. For those who say the Yankees buy all their talent, these four men disprove that point. They play four critical positions and the Yankees management has done its job by putting in good talent around this core group.
Pettitte did leave the Yankees in 2003 but was quick to come back in 2007. Other than that it does not seem that any of the other three have ever considered leaving New York for some other place. This speaks to their loyalty, ability, and love of being Yankees. We as fans are blessed to have been able to see these players grow and succeed.
I was six years old when they won the championship in 1996 so I have grown up with these players. Though I do not remember much from the Yankee dynasty of 1996 to 2000, I do remember seeing the same four faces over and over while others left or retired or were traded away. I remember Derek, Jorge, Andy, and Mariano. Let’s hope that these brilliant players will lead the Yankees to their 27th championship and restore the Yankees to glory because this time around, I will be able to remember everything.
Born in New York City and raised in Connecticut, I have been a Yankees fan my whole life in a place where 50% of the people root for the Yankees and 50% of the people root for the Red Sox. My allegiances with New York sports teams runs as far back as my grandfather rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a team he actually liked more than the Yankees. I have grown up in a time when Boston was the dominant team and have not had the opportunity to truly cherish and appreciate a Yankees World Series win. This had made me frustrated and like the Boss himself playoff appearances alone are not enough to satiate my need for Yankees dominance. I have not ever tried posting on a blog like this but I saw the opportunity to do so and took it. I hope to contribute to this site on a regular basis.
Without further ado, here is the interview in its entirety:
1. In a recent blog post I debated whether I would prefer Ryan Howard or Mark Teixeira for this series….which would you take?
Right now I would take Howard. He’s as hot as anyone not named Alex Rodriguez, and he’s even getting Rodriguez a run for his money. I got to see Howard hit quite a bit in Scranton, and he’s more than just a pull-the-ball power hitter. He can go the other way. He can move runners. He’s not awful at first base. On the whole, though, I think Teixeira is a more complete player. Just hard to overlook what Howard’s done this postseason.
2. With Pedro Martinez starting game 2, do you think the Yankees or Pedro have the upper hand? (Which has the advantage in that matchup)
I think Pedro’s a little different pitcher than he used to be. He’s still mixing his pitches, but this isn’t going to be the same Pedro that Jeter and Posada and the rest remember from Boston. I’m not sure the experience against one another plays a huge role, but certainly this is going to be a tough place to pitch for Martinez and this Yankees lineup is awfully dangerous. I’ll take this Yankees lineup over an aging Martinez, but I’ll say that respectfully. The guy can still pitch. Just ask the Dodgers.
3. Do you think the Yankees will go with a 3 man or a 4 man rotation for the World Series? Which would you do?
Four man. That’s what I think they’ll do and that’s what I would do. I would pitch Sabathia in Game 4 and Gaudin in Game 5. That leaves a fully rested Burnett/Pettitte for Game 6, and the off day between 5 and 6 means the Yankees can burn through a ton of relievers without losing them for the next game.
4. Do you think the set-up man role is open right now? Girardi has stuck by Hughes, but if Hughes struggles?
I still think Hughes has the job, mostly because Chamberlain hasn’t been lights out. He’s allowed some hits of his own. I’m a huge Robertson believer, and I think the eighth inning might be his one day, but I’m not sure a few big outs by Robertson and a couple of bad innings by Hughes is enough to swap roles. Hughes earned this spot and I’m not sure anyone has done enough to take it from him.
5. Having covered the Phillies farm system in the past, can you give us some background on their core players?
Utley is the best player I ever saw in Scranton. He and I weren’t especially close — he was never particularly comfortable with the media back then — but he’s a terrific, terrific hitter. I touched on Howard, who can do more than hit home runs. He has a lot of power to left-center. Victorino isn’t so underrated anymore thanks to the all-star game, but he’s had a lot of talent for a long time. Good speed. Good power. Terrific arm. I’ve said before that I think Victorino is the kind of player the Yankees hope Austin Jackson becomes. Don’t count out Carlos Ruiz. His numbers aren’t good, but he’s a dangerous hitter and does good work behind the plate. He works great with pitchers. That’s why he’s remained an everyday catcher.
6. What do you think is the biggest problem for the Yankees going into the World Series?
I think there should be a little bit of concern about the middle of the order, outside of Rodriguez. Teixeira and Matsui got it done this season, but both have been a bit cold in the playoffs and I think the Yankees need both of them to break out oit.
7. For the Phillies?
The bullpen. The rotation has some question marks, but the bullpen is full of them. Brad Lidge has pitched really well this postseason, but I don’t know any Phillies fan who feels particularly comfortable with him in the ninth. And getting to him is hardly a sure thing.
8. Any bold predictions for the series?
Nothing too bold, but I’ll say Teixeira snaps out of it and Utley gives the Yankees more trouble than Howard.
- Who wins, how many games? Yankees in six.
- Best starter? Sabathia.
- Best Hitter? Utley.
- Best Reliever? Rivera, with Hughes getting back on course in the eighth.
- World Series MVP? Jeter.
Solid pitching and defense help secure the Yankees’ 40th trip to the big show
FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 5 ANGELS 2 (F9th)
- Top of the 3rd: Jeff Mathis doubles to center field with 1 out. Bobby Abreu singles to right field, Jeff Mathis scores (NYY 0, LAA 1)
- Bottom of the 4th: Robinson Cano Walks. Nick Swisher singles to left field. Melky Cabrera out on a sacrifice bunt that moves runners to 2nd and 3rd base respectively. After Derek Jeter is issued a 1-out walk, Johnny Damon comes to the plate with bases loaded for the second time in the game. Damon hits a line drive to center field, Cano and Swisher scores (NYY 2, LAA 1)
- Bottom of the 4th: After a Mark Teixeira infield single to load the bases, Alex Rodriguez draws a walk. Derek Jeter scores (NYY 3, LAA 1)
- Top of the 8th: Mariano Rivera comes in for an 6 out save. Chone Figgins singles on a bloop to left field. Bobby Abreu grounds out to first base, Figgins advances to 2nd base. After Torii Hunter grounds out to 2nd base, Vladimir Guerrero singles on a ground ball to right field. Chone Figgins scores (NYY 3, LAA 2)
- Bottom of the 8th: Lead-off walk for Robinson Cano. Nick Swisher puts down the sacrifice bunt and a missed catch error by second baseman Howard Kendrick puts man on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Brett Gardner comes in to run for Swisher. Melky Cabrera puts down another perfect sacrifice bunt but an error throw by pitcher Scott Kazmir moves Cabrera to 2nd and Garder to 3rd. Robinson Cano scores (NYY 4, LAA 2).
- Bottom of the 8th: Mark Teixeira out on sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brett Garner scores. (NYY 5, LAA 2)
STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)
- Andy Pettitte: 6 1/3 innings, 7 hits allowed, 1 earned run, 3 BB, 6 SO, 2.84 ERA
- Joe Saunders: 3 1/3 innings, 7 hits allowed, 3 earned runs, 5 BB, 0 SO, 5.84 ERA
KEY PERFORMERS: Andy Pettitte gives another solid postseason performance, in the process becoming the winningest pitcher in postseason history. A solid 6 1/3 innings with only 1 earned run. Damon, Teixeira, and Rodriguez each had 2 hits and at least 1 rbi, none bigger than Damon’s 1 out hit to center field which gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish. Mariano Rivera was…well Mariano Rivera.
COMMENTARY: The New York Yankees have won the 2009 American League Championship. This is the most beautiful sentence I’ve written for The Pinstriper yet. What else is there to say folks? This team with its infectious attitude, steely resolve and clear focus has secured itself an opportunity to win another World Championship. There is a lot to be said about this closeout game, the pitching, the defense, the contributions up and down the lineup, and it will all surely be dissected numerous times before the first pitch of the World Series.
I just want to pay homage to a group of athletes that never lost sight of their goal, they played within themselves, they were patient and showed everyone that their confidence in each other is not mere bravado. The Yankees looked comfortable in every aspect of this game, inning after inning they never wavered and if there were any nerves it must have come from the bleachers because this team never showed a hint of worry. After a 6 year hiatus the Yankees are headed to their 40th World Series. They arrive to the October/November classic with a combination of youth, talent and experience unlike any team I can remember, along with the confidence that they finally have the right mix that can get it done. Let’s go get it! Congratulations to the 2009 AL Champions New York Yankees!
Ok I wasn’t supposed to post anything today based on my schedule but you know what I don’t care. A video has surfaced on the internet that accuses Mariano Rivera of cheating. It says that he spit on the ball to get the three outs in yesterdays game.
A. Mariano Rivera wouldn’t cheat. He got his powers (yes he is a superhero) from a freak accident as reported by Sports Illustrated.
B. The accusers are BLOG WRITERS who blog guess who? The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
C. No one would even consider for a second that Mariano Rivera would do this AND he was facing the umpires (outfield and 2nd base) when he did this so called action.
D. He spit. So what? 99.9% of baseball players spit during the game. Rivera just happened to spit near the ball.
This isn’t a newsworthy story. This blog doesn’t deserve publicity and the video should be erased. MLB has investigated and found no evidence. I guarantee you if you ask any person with any remote knowledge of baseball you will find out that Mariano Rivera is the classiest player in baseball. He did not speak to reporters after blowing a save one day…..what happened the next day? He apologized, spoke to reporters, and said he had a family matter to take care of.
If the Angels bloggers feel any bit better for writing this garbage story that doesn’t deserve to be linked to by me, great for them.
This is a pathetic situation that should not be taking up your time but I am writing about it because I am furious that someone would accuse the best closer of all time of cheating the game.
Its a cutter. A cutter involves movement. It’s a spit. People spit. It was near the ball OH NO. Grow up and write a reasonable story next time that maybe-just maybe-will have an ounce of credibility.
UPDATE 4:43 THANK YOU! SOMEONE GETS IT!
The Angels beat the Yankees in walk-off fashion.
FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 4 ANGELS 5 (F11th)
- Top of the 1st: Derek Jeters homers to left field (NYY 1, LAA 0)
- Top of the 4th: Alex Rodriguez homers to left field (NYY 2, LAA 0)
- Top of the 5th: Johnny Damon homers to right field (NYY 3, LAA 0)
- Bottom of the 5th: Howard Kendrick homers to left field (NYY 3, LAA 1)
- Bottom of the 6th: Bobby Abreu gets a 1 out single to left field, after Torii Hunter flies out to right field Vladimir Guerrero hits a 2 out homerun on a 2-2 count to even it up at 3 (NYY 3, LAA 3)
- Bottom of the 7th: Maicer Izturis out on a sacrifice fly. Howard Kendrick scores (NYY 3, LAA 4)
- Top of the 8th: After pinch runner Brett Gardner gets tagged out stealing second, Jorge Posada homers on a shot to center field (NYY 4, LAA 4)
- Bottom of the 11th: After a Howard Kendrick single, Jeff Mathis doubles to center field. Howard Kendrick scores, game over (NYY 4, LAA 5)
STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)
- Andy Pettite: 6 1/3 innings, 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 4.26 ERA
- Jered Weaver: 5 innings, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 BB, 4 SO, 5.40 ERA
KEY PERFORMER: Jeff Mathis, the backup catcher hit 2 doubles including the walk-off hit of the game.
COMMENTARY: The Angels had to be thinking when are we going to catch a break. After the speedy Gardner gets caught steeling 2nd base for the first out of the 8th inning, Jorge Posada responds with a long home run to center field that ties the game. In the bottom of the same inning, an overzealous Bobby Abreu gets tagged out at 2nd base trying to stretch a double into a triple. Then there was the bottom of the 10th. A throwing error by Mariano Rivera puts men on 1st and 3rd with no outs and the middle of the order coming up, but the Angels are unable to take advantage and go down on consecutive groundouts to 1st baseman Mark Teixeira.
But, after David Robertson makes quick work of the first 2 hitters in the bottom of the 11th, Joe Girardi decided to consult The Dangerous Book of Managers, how to over-manage in today’s game and figures on the statistical advantage of bringing Aceves to pitch to Howard Kendrick. The rest is history, Kendrick singles on a ground ball to center field and Jeff Mathis who has been dialed in gets his 3rd double of the series to give the Angels the win. To blame this loss on Girardi’s exploits is to ignore the missed opportunities: the Yankees went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, Teixeira who has been giving a clinic on how to play 1st base went 0 for 3 with a walk and is now batting .077 for the series, Joba Chamberlain gives up 2 hits and 1 run in a third of an inning posting an ERA of 13.50. Yet it is hard to overcome the fact that sometimes you have to ignore the numbers, as Girardi put it in his post-game conference “we have all of the matchups and all of the scouting reports. We felt that it was a better matchup for us. It didn’t work.” No it didn’t.
According to the Star Ledger, Joe Girardi has official announced that CC Sabathia will pitch game 4 of the ALCS. This means that he will be going on 3 days rest. Now in the past, when CC has gone on 3 days rest in the playoffs, it hasn’t worked out well for him (I don’t think I need to go into what happened last year). However, this year is different. The Yankees cautiously gave him lots of rest down the stretch in hopes that it would allow him to pitch better in the playoffs, and so far, they’ve been right.
After looking absolutely dominant in his first two outings, CC will face his first true test as not only will he not be as well-rested, but he’ll be pitching in Angel Stadium for the 3rd time this season. CC is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA at the Big A this season.
Despite those numbers, I still feel it’s the right move for Joe Girardi. Say the Halos win tomorrow afternoon, making the series 2-1 Yankees. Would you really feel safe handing the ball to Chad Gaudin with the Angels oh-so-close to evening the series? If that were to happen, pitching CC in game 5 would be a lot less significant. The Yankees might be able to notch a win but would then be throwing the always-frustrating A.J. Burnett out there for game 6. Plus if CC were to lose, then those two games would become must-wins for the Yanks, a situation I can assure you they do not want to be in.
Now there is another side to this argument and that is Chad Gaudin and the Yankees bullpen. Gaudin pitched extremely well down the stretch, going into the 6th inning in 3 of his last 4 starts. Plus he didn’t pitch in last night’s bullpen extravaganza so he would be very well rested. If he can give the Yankees 6 quality innings (which he’s proven to be able to do, even if he later falters in the 7th) then Girardi could turn it over to the ‘pen to close it out.
That’s one of the key advantages the Yankees have this post-season: their bullpen. Joba Chamberlain to Phil Hughes to Mariano Rivera makes up on the best back-end bullpens we’ve seen in a very long time. So if Chad Gaudin could go 6 or even 5 (don’t forget about K-Rob) the Yanks would still have a good shot at winning. However, all of that goes down the drain if John Lackey can pitch the way he did against the Red Sox in the ALDS.
Going with Sabathia gives the Yankees their best shot at winning and I believe this to be a good move by Joe Girardi. However, my feelings don’t matter in this situation. All that matters now is how Andy Pettitte the Yankees can fare in game three against Jared Weaver and his halos. Get pumped for a good one and I’ll CC you in game 4