Latest from the Winter Meetings:
– The Rangers traded RHP Kevin Millwood to the Orioles for reliever Chris Ray
– LHP Randy Wolf and RHP Latroy Hawkins both signed with the Milwaukee Brewers
– The Atlanta Braves GM officially stated that Rafael Soriano will be traded
– The Cardinals officially signed RHP Brad Penny
– The Marlins sent RHP Matt Lindstrom to the Astros for 2 minor leaguers and a Rule 5 pick
– 2004 Rookie of the Year SS Bobby Crosby signed with the Pirates
– The Phillies signed PH/1B Ross Gload
1. Joe Mauer C- Minnesota Twins
2. Derek Jeter SS- New York Yankees
3. Mark Teixeira 1B- New York Yankees
4. Kendry Morales 1B- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
5. Kevin Youkillis 1B- Boston Red Sox
6. Ben Zobrist SS- Tampa Bay Rays
7. Alex Rodriguez 3B- New York Yankees
8. Michael Young SS- Texas Rangers
9. Aaron Hill 2B- Toronto Blue Jays
10. Ichiro CF- Seattle Mariners
Big question: Why no Miguel Cabrera?
You may have heard that he had a fight with his wife the night before one of the last games of the season. He was busy getting drunk while the rest of the teammates were working hard to make the playoffs. I don’t care about stats, that is the poorest excuse of a teammate I have ever seen and that shows no respect for your teammates or your team. No value in that at all.
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.
The Redsox are currently in a battle with the injury-stricken Texas Rangers for the wild card. The Rangers, with Michael Young and Josh Hamilton both out, are 79-60 this season. Currently two games out of the wild card, the Rangers have surprised all of the MLB this season. Michael Young said after his injury “I could get upset about missing some time or I could visualize the impact I could have on the last two weeks of the season. As down as I was about it last night, what I was told today was very uplifting. It’s only going to give me more energy about being aggressive with my rehab.” It seems like this team is going to grind it out until he and Hamilton return. The Redsox, on the other hand are used to this kind of situation.
How does this play out for the Yankees?
If the Rangers win the wild card the Yankees will play them (if the yankees get home field advantage), while if the Redsox win the wild card the Yankees will play the Tigers, most likely.
I’d rather face the Rangers, due to their not-so-great pitching staff.
The Texas Rangers are in town for a three game set. Here are the matchups:
TUESDAY: Kevin Millwood (9-8 3.48 ERA) AT Joba Chamberlain (8-3 3.98 ERA)
Notes: Joba Chamberlain is making his first start since August 16th when he went 5 IP giving up 7 hits and 4 ER. Joba has had 3 no decisions against Texas, with a 7.11 ERA. Kevin Millwood is 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 8 games vs. the Yankees in his career.
WEDNESDAY: Derek Holland (7-7 4.72 ERA) AT Andy Pettite (10-6 4.25 ERA)
Notes: Holland has faced the Yankees twice in his career going 0-1 with a 9.95 ERA. Pettite is 9-9 with a 5.56 ERA in his career vs. Texas.
THURSDAY: Dustin Nippert (4-2 3.95 ERA) AT A.J. Burnett (10-7 4.08 ERA)
Notes: Nippert has never faced the Yankees in his career. Burnett is 3-2 with a 3.99 ERA in his career vs. Texas.
Tuesday: Yankees 9, Rangers 8
Wednesday: Yankees 6, Rangers 2
Thursday: Rangers 7, Yankees 4