Results tagged ‘ Chien-Ming Wang ’

Tigers Claw Past Yankees On Cabrera’s Home Run

GAME 28

TIGERS 10, YANKEES 6

Miguel Cabrera broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run home run that sparked a five-run inning as Detroit overcame what was once a 4-1 deficit to down New York on Saturday at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, FL.

Cabrera’s fourth homer of the spring came off Cody Eppley (0-2), who failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in the frame and he was charged with all five runs.

Right-hander Darin Downs (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning in the top of the seventh to get credit for the victory.

Andy Pettitte started the game for the Yankees and he pitched well until he was tagged for three runs in the fifth inning. He ended up giving up four runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out five in 6 1/3 innings.

The Yankees broke out on top on the strength of an RBI single by Eduardo Nunez in the third inning, a solo home run from Ben Francisco – one of two home runs he hit on the day – and a two-run double in the fifth inning off the bat of Kevin Youkilis.

With the loss the Yankees dropped to 11-17 this spring. The Tigers improved to 16-11.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Francisco’s solo shot in the fourth and two-run blast in the eighth were his first two home runs of the spring. Francisco, 31, may be a non-roster player but he is very quickly pushing his way into the outfield picture as part of a potential platoon with the lefty swinging Brennan Boesch. Francisco is hitting a sizzling .350 on the spring.
  • Pettitte pitched much better than his final line indicated. He was in command and looking like he was in midseason form in the first four innings. Discounting the bad inning, Pettitte gave up one run on four hits and one walk while striking out five. Pettitte, 40, said after the game he felt good about the outing and that he just got too many pitches up in that three-run third.
  • Youkilis snapped a small slump over the past week to drive in two big runs with his double with two out in the fifth inning off Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez. Youkilis now has eight RBIs this spring, which is second on the team behind outfielder Melky Mesa, who has 10.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Eppley had one of those days he would like to forget. The sidewinding right-hander came into the game for Pettitte with one out in the sixth and proceeded to give up a single to Torii Hunter, the homer to Cabrera, a single to Quintin Berry, an RBI double to Victor Martinez and a RBI single to Matt Tuiasosopo before being removed from the game by manager Joe Girardi. Eppley is 0-2 with a 14.29 this spring. However, he likely still will make the 25-man roster.
  • On a day when the Yankees scored six runs on 14 hits, designated hitter Travis Hafner  –  once again  –  contributed nothing to the attack. Hafner, 35, was 0-for-3 and did not get a ball out of the infield. He is hitting .118 on the spring and may end up being a huge bust. Perhaps signing free agent Jim Thome would have made more sense.

BOMBER BANTER

Derek Jeter grounded out in each of his four at-bats in a minor-league game played against the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate at the Yankees’ spring complex in Tampa. Jeter did not run hard on his surgically repaired left ankle but Jeter remains  confident he will be able to be ready to play on Opening Day.  . . .  It was made official on Saturday: The Yankees announced they have signed right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to minor-league contract. Wang, 32, won 55 games over a four-year span with the Yankees, including two seasons in which he won 19 games. He was 6-6 with a 4.94 in 21 games with Washington Nationals last season.  . . .  Vidal Nuno has opened eyes this spring enough to be in the running for a spot in the bullpen, according to general manager Brian Cashman. With left-handed specialist Clay Rapada recovering from bursitis in his throwing shoulder, Nuno has a shot to make the 25-man roster. The 25-year-old lefty is 1-1 with a 0.68 ERA this spring.  . . .  Boesch was examined by a team doctor on Saturday and his sore left ribcage checked out fine. Girardi said Boesch could return to the lineup on Tuesday or Wednesday.

ON DECK

The Yankees return to George M. Steinbrenner Field to play host to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Right-hander Adam Warren will start for the Yankees and he will be opposed by right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

Game-time will be 1:05 EDT and the game will be telecast locally by the YES Network and nationally by the MLB Network.

 

Yankees Break Out Of Doldrums To Overtake Twins

GAME 27

YANKEES 9, TWINS 7

As the old saying goes, what a difference a day makes. After managing just one hit at home on Thursday against the Twins the Yankees finally found their way to the bat rack on the road in Fort Myers, FL, and got a measure of payback on Friday.

Robinson Cano drove home two runs and Ben Francisco broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning with an RBI single as New York collected 14 hits to down Minnesota in front of a record paid crowd of 8,366 at Ed Hammond Stadium.

Cano, playing in just his second game back with the Yankees after returning as the Most Valuable Player for the World Baseball Classic champion Dominican Republic team, was the designated hitter and was 1-for-2 with an RBI double and a sacrifice fly.

Francisco’s RBI single off Tyler Robertson (0-2) in the eighth came as part of a four-run inning that put the game out of reach.

Ivan Nova started for the Yankees and surrendered five runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings. Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit hit back-to-back home runs off Nova as part of three-run second inning.

Jim Miller gave up no runs on one hit and a walk in 1 1/3 innings to earn credit for the victory. Despite giving up a solo home run to Dan Rohlfing in the ninth inning, Kelvin Perez was credited with a save.

The Yankees’ Grapefruit League ledger is now at 11-16. The Twins are 12-13.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Having a red-hot and contract-driven Cano back in the lineup is already paying big dividends for the Yankees. With all the losses to free agency and injury, Cano remains the biggest and best threat the Yankees have. Along with winning the MVP in the WBC, Cano is hitting a torrid .318 for the Yankees this spring. This could be the year he breaks out in a big, big way.
  • Very quietly Francisco is having a big spring. He was hitting .333 for the Cleveland Indians when he arrived and he is continuing to hit well for the Yankees. With Juan Rivera seemingly a lock to play first in the absence of Mark Teixeira, Francisco figures to make the team as part of a platoon with the lefty-swinging Brennan Boesch in a corner outfield spot.
  • Ronnier Mustelier is also knocking on the door to make the team as a third baseman and outfielder. Mustelier, 28, was 3-for-4 including a two-run double in the the Yankees’ four-run eighth inning. The Cuban defector is hitting ,313 on the spring after he hit a combined .314 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs at two minor-league stops last season.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • It just seems the Yankees get good pitching when they don’t score runs and when they do score runs they don’t get good pitching. This one of those days they scored and could not shut the other team down. The Yankees relinquished 2-0, 4-3 and 5-4 leads before scoring four runs in the eighth and then later gave up single runs in the eighth and ninth. This is perhaps a byproduct of the fact that Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Cody Eppley and Joba Chamberlain rarely pitch on the road and Boone Logan is just back from a sore elbow. 
  • Nova struggled for the second straight outing. In his last two starts, Nova has given up nine runs (eight earned) on 13 hits and two walks in 10 1/3 innings. Both David Phelps and Nova have struggled of late and they remain pretty even in their battle for the fifth starter’s spot.
  • Sloppy fielding continues to plague the Yankees this spring. The team committed three errors and they all had some impact on the score. Melky Mesa bobbled a single off the bat of Wilkin Ramirez in the second that led to a run scoring later the inning. In addition, after Nova fielded a ball of the bat of Ray Olmedo in the fourth, he looked back Doumit at third and threw to Rivera at first for the second out. However, Doumit broke for home and Rivera air-mailed the throw over Chris Stewart’s head to allow Doumit to score. In the eighth, Dan Johnson misplayed a routine throw to first that later allowed another unearned run to score.

BOMBER BANTER

Derek Jeter tested his inflamed left ankle at a workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday and said that if it were up to him he would playing now. Jeter took ground balls and participated in batting practice with no issues with the ankle other than some mild soreness. The Yankees announced a day earlier that Jeter would not play in any more Grapefruit League games in order to preserve the team’s ability to backdate his stint on the disabled list so he could return as early as April 6, if it were necessary. The Yankees still believe Jeter can open the season with the team on April 1.  . . .  Of course, it is not Yankees camp without another injury. Boesch rode the team bus to Fort Myers but had to be scratched from the game with a sore left ribcage. Manager Joe Girardi said Boesch likely will not play again until Tuesday.  . . .  In more injury news, left-handed relief specialist Clay Rapada likely will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list with bursitis in his left shoulder. Rapada, 32, did throw 15 fastballs from a mound on Friday but he still says he will need to be able to pitch effectively for several days in a row to help the team. Rapada says he is close to being ready but it will not be at the start of the season.  . . . Meanwhile fellow walking wounded right-hander Phil Hughes allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits over three innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class-A West Virginia club on Friday. Hughes was not sharp in his 57-pitch outing but he said he was just glad to be back on the mound after missing most of the spring with a bulging disk in his upper back. It seems likely Hughes will open the season on the disabled list and he will miss at least one start.  . . .  Jon Heyman reported on Friday that the Yankees have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with former Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang. The 32-year-old right-hander, won 55 games in four seasons with the Yankees before a series of foot and shoulder injuries derailed his career. He was 6-6 with a 4.94 ERA in 21 games with the Washington Nationals last season. Wang drew interest from major-league teams after he threw 12 shutout innings in two starts for the Chinese Taipei team in the WBC.

ON DECK

The Yankees will travel to Lakeland, FL, on Saturday to play the Detroit Tigers.

Left-hander Andy Pettitte will make his second start of the spring for the Yankees. The Tigers will counter right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will not be telecast.

 

Amid Gloom Yanks Shine Bright By Blanking Bosox

GAME 25

YANKEES 4, RED SOX 0

TAMPA  –  With all the dark clouds that seem to be swirling around the Yankees’ spring training camp  –  both literal and figurative  –  the skies always seem to part widely to allow in bright sunshine when they beat their most bitter rival. That is exactly what happened on Wednesday.

Left-handed camp sensation Vidal Nuno tossed five scoreless innings while the Yankees sent nine men to the plate in a four-run second inning against Felix Doubront as New York shut out the punchless Bostonians at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Nuno (1-1) is a 25-year-old pitcher who was released by the Cleveland Indians and discovered by team scouts pitching for the Washington Wild of an independent league. And all he has done this spring is throw up zeros, including five shutout innings against the Yankees when he was loaned to the World Baseball Classic champion Dominican Republic team for an exhibition game on March 6.

On Wednesday he did the same to Red Sox with a five-pitch assortment including a fastball, curveball, slider, cutter and changeup. Nuno allowed just two hits and a walk while he struck out one in a sparkling 63-pitch outing.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense got to Doubront in the second inning.

Juan Rivera opened the frame with a single and newly acquired outfielder Ben Francisco doubled him to third. Jayson Nix scored Rivera on a sacrifice fly and Chris Stewart followed with an RBI single to score Francisco.

Thomas Neal and Melky Mesa each singled to load the bases and Doubront then dug a deeper hole for himself by uncorking a wild pitch to allow Stewart to score.

Brett Gardner drew a walk to reload the bases and Eduardo Nunez closed out the scoring another sacrifice fly to plate Neal.

Five Yankee relievers combined to hold the Red Sox scoreless in the final four innings, limiting them to just two hits and no walks.

The victory improved the Yankees’ spring record to 10-15. The Red Sox fell to 13-12.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • As impressive as Nuno has been this spring with his tidy 0.68 ERA, it is unlikely he will make the team’s Opening Day roster. Nuno is considered a starting pitcher and the Yankees have six starters ahead of him. There is a very slim possibility he could be used as a second left-hander out of the bullpen while Clay Rapada recovers from bursitis in his left shoulder. But the Yankees seem to be learning toward using Josh Spence in that role. Believe me, though, Nuno has made an impression and will get a chance with the big club at some point in 2013.
  • The Yankees’ four-run second inning is pretty much how the Yankees will have to do a lot of their scoring in the regular season. They scored three of their four runs on a wild pitch and two sac flies. Such is life without power for the Yankees in 2013.
  • Francisco has been a doubles-hitting fool this spring between his stint with the Indians and the Yankees. His double against Doubront in the second was his eighth double of the spring and those doubles account for all but three of his 11 hits. He is hitting a cool .333 and he likely will make the team a platoon corner outfielder.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Perhaps Kevin Youkilis was too jazzed up facing his former team. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and he failed to get a ball out of the infield. Youkilis drew a lot of “Youk” calls from the paid crowd of 10,801 but it seemed most of them were from Yankee fans while Red Sox fans booed or were silent.

BOMBER BANTER

The game was played amid a solid blanket of heavy clouds but it could not compare with the gloomy news about shortstop Derek Jeter. After feeling soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle on Tuesday, Jeter was a late scratch from a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, FL. Jeter downplayed the soreness, saying it was something doctors told him to expect. But Jeter’s availability for Opening Day is now in question after he was administered an anti-inflammatory injection on Wednesday. General manager Brian Cashman said the soreness in Jeter’s left ankle is not serious but that he might have to open the season on the disabled list. If that is the case, Nunez would start the season at shortstop.  . . .  Ace left-hander CC Sabathia threw 92 pitches on Wednesday against a minor-league lineup at the team’s complex in Tampa. Sabathia is scheduled to open the season April 1 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.  . . .  Former Yankee right-hander Chien-Ming Wang worked out for the team at the team’s complex on Wednesday. Wang, 32, is a free agent who is drawing interest from a number of major-league teams after he pitched for Taiwan in the WBC. Cashman said the team has no vacancies in the rotation but they would be willing to offer Wang a minor-league deal to pitch at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

ON DECK

The Yankees will stay at home to play host to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

Right-hander David Phelps will continue his quest to make the rotation in his sixth start of the spring. He will be opposed by right-hander Liam Hendricks.

The Yankees will also welcome back WBC Most Valuable Player and All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano back to the lineup.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast live by the YES Network and on tape-delay by the MLB Network.

 

Yankee Reserves Come Up Big To Beat Nationals

GAME 14

YANKEES 8, NATIONALS 5

During a time when a lot of the starters are struggling with hitting this spring the non-roster and minor-league players who dominated the Yankees’ lineup on Thursday were the ones who came up big.

Bill Hall drove in two runs with a double in the third inning and New York’s spring reserves scored four runs in the seventh inning off Washington’s John Lannan en route to a Grapefruit League victory over the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.

Brett Marshall (1-0) got credit for the victory in relief. Lannan (0-1) gave up six runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk in four innings and he ended up taking the loss. Adam Warren retired the last batter and picked up a save.

The Yankees mounted a 13-hit attack led two hits by Hall and Justin Maxwell and Hall and Jose Gil each drove in two runs.

There were two significant injuries incurred during the game. Nationals starter and former Yankee right-hander Chien-Ming Wang had to leave the game in the third inning with a strained right hamstring after he lost his balance fielding a Russell Martin grounder and stumbled awkwardly over the first-base bag.

In the fourth inning, Yankee shortstop Ramiro Pena left after spraining his right ankle as he slid into second base on an unsuccessful steal attempt.

The Yankees snapped a three-game losing streak and improved their spring record to 6-8. The Nationals are 5-6.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The Yankees were losing 3-2 with Lannan beginning his third inning of work in the sixth when the Yankees greeted him with five consecutive hits. Jayson Nix singled, stole second and scored the tying run on a RBI single by Gil. Doug Bernier advanced Gil to third on a bunt single and Maxwell scored Gil on a single to left. J.R. Murphy followed with a single to right to score Bernier. Maxwell then scored the fourth run of the inning on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Zoilo Almonte. Nix is the only player involved in the rally who had started the game.
  • The Yankee reserves turned the game into a rout with two more runs in the seventh. Brandon Laird, who reached base on an error by shortstop Andres Blanco, scored on a passed ball by catcher Jhontan Solano. Dewayne Wise, who doubled in the inning, later scored on a sacrifice fly by Gil, giving the Yankees an 8-3 lead.
  • Michael Pineda made his third start of the spring and there were some mixed results. Pineda pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk while he fanned four batters. The good news was that Pineda was able to throw about 10 change-ups and his slider was virtually unhittable. The velocity on his fastball, however, reached only 91 miles per hour, down considerably from his 2011 average of 94.5, which ranked fifth in the majors. The Yankees refuse to talk about it, but the lack of velocity has to be a concern at this stage of spring training.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Three of the left-handers competing to become a potential second lefty in the bullpen pitched in the game and none of them were exactly sharp. Clay Rapada did not give up a run in 1 1/3 innings and has a 0.00 ERA this spring. However, he walked two and gave up a hit before inducing Chad Tracy to ground out with the bases loaded in the fifth.
  • Juan Cedeno opened the sixth by issuing a leadoff walk to Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth followed with a double. Then with one out, Steve Lombardozzi hit a sacrifice fly to score LaRoche.
  • Michael O’Connor opened the ninth with a 8-5 lead and promptly issued a leadoff walk to Roger Bernadina and one-out single to Mark Teahan to bring the tying run to the plate. After O’Connor retired Tracy on a grounder to advance Bernadina and Teahan, manager Joe Girardi summoned Warren to close out the game.

BOMBER BANTER

With Eduardo Nunez still nursing a bruised right hand for the past 10 days, the injury to Pena is not good news. Pena said he hopes to miss only two or three days by Girardi said he is not so sure about that. No tests are planned on the ankle and Pena will be re-evaluated in Tampa, FL., on Friday.   . . .  It appears doubtful that veteran right-hander Fraddy Garcia will be able to pitch in his next scheduled start because of a bruised right thumb and index finger.  Garcia was struck on the hand on a grounder off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays in the fourth inning of a game on Wednesday. The Yankees think Garcia just has a bad bruise and they do not believe the injury is serious.

ON DECK

The Yankees will complete a two-game home-and-away series with the Nationals at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday.

Ace left-hander CC Sabathia is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees. He will be making his third start of the spring. The Nationals will start former Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who has not given up a run in his two previous appearances spanning seven innings.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay and locally live by the YES Network.

 

Blue Jays Break Out Long Ball To Down Yankees

GAME 13

BLUE JAYS 7, YANKEES 5

Edwin Encarnacion hit two home runs and drove in four runs and J.P. Arencibia added a two-run shot of his own as Toronto laid out the heavy lumber to defeat New York in a Grapefruit League game on Wednesday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, FL.

Veteran right-hander Carlos Villanueva (1-0) pitched two innings of scoreless relief to get credit for the victory. Freddy Garcia (1-1), who left the game with a hand injury in the fourth inning, took the loss. Jim Hoey pitched a scoreless ninth to earn a save.

Arencibia’s home run in the fourth inning off reliever Corey Wade broke a 1-1 tie and the Blue Jays tacked on four more runs in the fifth off rookie left-hander Manny Banuelos, keyed by a three-run home run by Encarnacion. The Yankees mounted a four-run rally in the seventh inning but fell short to lose their fourth straight exhibition game.

The Yankees’ spring ledger is now 5-8. The Jays have now won eight straight games and are 10-2.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Curtis Granderson was 2-for-3 in the game and stroked a two-out RBI double in the third inning off starter Henderson Alvarez to score Derek Jeter to tie the score at 1-1. Granderson is hitting .316 on the spring and is one of the few Yankee regulars who is producing offense of late.
  • After looking absolutely outmatched by Boston pitching Tuesday night, Doug Bernier stroked a two-run double off Blue Jays reliever Anthony Carreno in the seventh inning. Dewayne Wise then followed with a two-run single to bring the Yankees to within 7-5 before the rally fizzled. Bernier, 31, and Wise, 33, are the longest of longshots to make the Yankee roster this spring.
  • D.J. Mitchell, another one of the “Fabulous Five” ticketed to make up the starting rotation at Triple A turned in three spectacular innings of relief. Mitchell did not give up a run, a hit or a walk and fanned four batters. Mitchell, 24, pitched at Clemson and is considered to be a great ground-ball pitcher with excellent control. His future with the Yankees could involve a move to the bullpen at the major-league level.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Garcia’s outing was cut short by a hand injury but he did not pitch as effectively in this start. He was nicked for a solo home run by Encarnacion in the second inning and he gave up four hits and a walk in his three-plus innings of work. Of course, Wade entered the game and gave the two-run home run to Arencibia after Garcia was struck by Encarnacion’s hard grounder up the middle on the fingers of his right hand ended up skewing Garcia’s ERA higher.
  • Banuelos, who turned 21 on Tuesday, just had one of those days he could not throw a strike. Of the eight batters he faced, Banuelos threw a first-pitch strike only to the last hitter he faced. He also fell behind every hitter he faced until the final batter (Arencibia) to end the inning. It is not easy to pitch effectively when you are behind in the count to every hitter and the Blue Jays made him pay. Banuelos was ticketed for Triple A anyway so he can just chalk up this outing as a learning experience. Banuelos must learn to command his secondary pitches.
  • I hate to beat a dead horse but Raul Ibanez was 0-for-3 and he is hitting .083 this spring. After dealing with the struggles of Jorge Posada at designated hitter last season the Yankees might not be worried yet. But they better have a plausible Plan B if Ibanez does not shake his batting woes when the bell rings to open the season.

BOMBER BANTER

As usual with the Yankees on the road, the Blue Jays welcomed 5,509 fans to the game on Wednesday, their largest crowd of the spring.  . . .  X-rays taken on Garcia’s right hand indicated no broken bones. Garcia’s right thumb and the tip of his index finger were swollen and it is unclear of Garcia will miss his next spring start.  . . .  Meanwhile, All-Star reliever David Robertson was able to run on a treadmill for 30 minutes and he will resume pitching off a mound this weekend. Robertson suffered a bone bruise on his right foot while slipping on a step at his home last week.  . . .   Veteran outfielder Nick Swisher left Wednesday’s game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left groin. The injury does not appear to be serious and Swisher is listed as day-to-day.

ON DECK

For the next two days the Yankees will embark on a home-and-away set with the Washington Nationals starting Viera, FL.

The Yankees are scheduled to pitch 23-year-old right-hander Michael Pineda, who has been plagued by a lack of velocity on his fastball this spring. He will be making his third start. Pineda will be opposed by an old friend, Chien-Ming Wang. The 31-year-old right-hander and former Yankee star will be making his second start of the spring and he is 1-0 with 9.00 ERA.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network.

 

Yankees Could Retain Garcia If Deals Fall Through

With the advent of the free-agent signing season coming, the New York Yankees obviously are in the market for some starting pitching help. We have already detailed the Yankees’ likely interest in the Rangers’ C.J. Wilson, Japanese star Yu Darvish and longtime White Sox ace Mark Buerhle. But what if the best laid plans of general manager Brian Cashman do not work out as planned and the Yankees sign none of those players? What if they are unable to make a trade for a starter? Let’s see if there is a creditable Plan C if free agents and trades are unavailable. This is a two-part report. The first part deals with the Yankees options at the major-league level. Part two will deal with their minor-league options.

PART 1: POTENTIAL MAJOR LEAGUE OPTIONS

Last winter, the Yankees struck out on Cliff Lee, Andy Pettitte retired and the Yankees decided to make smaller moves to patch their starting rotation holes.

They signed a pair of veteran free agents, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

Most baseball observers were underwhelmed by those moves. But a strange thing happened as spring training unfolded.

Colon, 38, actually started pitching a lot like he did during his 2005 Cy Young Award-winning season with the Angels. Though he did not initially earn a rotation spot out of spring training, his work in the bullpen was so exceptional that he was placed in the rotation on April 20 in place of an injured Phil Hughes.

Colon not only won his first two starts, he was pitching impeccably. Of his first nine starts, he was 4-2 with a 3.10 ERA and he had thrown seven quality starts.

However, the other end of Colon’s saga played out in that ninth start on June 11 against Cleveland.

The Yankees were not happy when Colon reported to spring training well over his listed weight of 265 pounds. But they overlooked it when Colon threw so well during spring training. They put him in the bullpen largely because of concerns about the fact he had not thrown more than 99 innings in any season since 2005.

Well, Father Time has a way of penalizing overweight players in the middle of their success. That is what happened to Colon when he strained his right hamstring covering first base. Colon won the game but landed on the 15-day disabled list. He ended up missing three weeks.

Colon won his return start against the Mets on July 2 by pitching six shutout innings but then lost his next two outings. He then ran off a stretch of four quality starts in his next five outings to run his record to 8-6 with a 3.31 ERA as of Aug. 11. But, from that point on, Colon would struggle so badly he would not only lose a spot in the playoff rotation; he also was left off the playoff roster altogether.

In his last eight starts, he did not win a single game. He also gave up 28 runs over the last 44 2/3 innings (a 5.84 ERA) and he did not look anything like the Colon who was probably the Yankees’ second-best starter behind CC Sabathia in mid-August. But after 110 innings, Colon’s stuff went south quicker than a Kim Kardashian marriage.

The prospects of the Yankees re-signing the veteran right-hander are very slim. In addition to his age, Colon will never be able to slim down enough to make the Yankees want to take a chance on him again. Colon’s only hope is to catch with another club and pitch out of the bullpen. His days as a starter look to be over.

On the other hand, Garcia did not really pitch exceptionally well in the spring. Of course, the 34-year-old right-hander had a habit of not pitching well in the spring. So Garcia was kept as the team’s No. 5 starter despite a less than stellar spring.

Much like Colon, Garcia started out hot by winning his first two starts by throwing 12 innings of shutout baseball in those two games.

While Colon was doing it with his mid-90s fastball, Garcia could have been clocked on his pitches with a sundial.

Yet, Garcia was effective in putting away hitters with a devastating slow split-finger fastball. It may not have looked as impressive as Sabathia or Mariano Rivera blowing ptches by hitters but it was nevertheless effective. Garcia was able to keep the Yankees in almost every game he pitched.

On Aug. 7, Garcia made his 20th start of the season at Fenway Park, giving up one run in five innings a no-decision victory. At the point, Garcia was 10-7 with a 3.09 ERA. Then a mishap with a knife at home cost him a trip to the disabled list with a deep cut to a finger on his pitching hand.

He came back on Aug 29 to beat the Orioles with his 15th quality start in his first 21 starts of the season. But September proved to a cruel month for the pitcher nicknamed “Chief.”

Of his four starts that month, only his final start – six innings of shutout baseball over the Red Sox at Yankees Stadium – was a good start. He was 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in September but he did finish the season 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA and he earned the third spot in the Yankees’ postseason rotation against the Tigers.

Unfortunately, Garcia did not pitch well in that start. He gave up three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings in a loss to Justin Verlander and the Tigers.

If the Yankees are to advance in the playoffs in 2012, it would seem they would have improve their pitching enough that they would not need a Colon or Garcia in their rotation. But if the Yankees fail to land a top-flight free agent or get a decent starter via a trade, you could very well see Garcia re-signed.

Garcia stands out as a very possible Plan C.

But there are many options the Yankees can look to within the organization. After all, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova both are products of the Yankees’ minor-league system and they are being counted upon as two member of the starting rotation next season.

Hughes followed up a 18-8 season in 2010 with an injury-plagued 2011 campaign where he was 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA.

Hughes, 25, arrived at spring training with a strange lack of velocity on his fastball. As the spring unfolded in was obvious that there was something wrong with Hughes. After three ill-fated starts and a 13.94 ERA, Hughes was placed on the disabled list with weakness in his right shoulder.

He returned in July and showed flashes of his old self. Through Aug. 25, he made seven starts and he gave up more than two earned runs in only one of them.

But in back-to-back starts against Oakland and Boston, Hughes surrendered 12 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. However, few fans remeber that his last two starts against Baltimore and Seatlle were both quality starts before he was placed in the bullpen due to recurring back spasms.

if Hughes is able to regain the form that made him an 18-game winner in 2010, the Yankees will be very lucky. Hughes is still the poster boy for Cashman’s renewed emphasis to develop pitchers in the Yankees’ farm system rather than trading good young prospects away for pitchers well past their prime.

The Cashman strategy also worked in Nova’s case. But it was quite by accident.

Nova’s minor-league numbers showed ability but it hardly screamed out that he was an star pitcher. He had good stuff but he was hardly a Stephen Strasburg who will blow you away with velocity. Nope, Nova is more like Chien-Ming Wang, another Yankees pitching prospect Cashman helped develop into success in the majors.

Nova relied on the groundball outs to get by in the majors. Who would have guessed it would have took him so far in 2011?

Nova pitched so well in spring training he forced manager Joe Girardi to use him in rotation at the expense of Colon.

In his first three starts, Nova was 1-1 and he lost a game in relief the Blue Jays to go 1-2 with a 7.63 ERA. A more impatient team might have given up on Nova and shipped him back to the minors but with Hughes injured they still needed the 24-year-old right-hander.

After winning his next two starts, Nova was blasted on May 12 by the Kansas City Royals, of all teams, for 10 hits and eight runs (four earned) in three innings. He was 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA.

From that point on, Nova only lost one more game the entire season when he gave up two earned runs in six innings on June 3 to the Angels in Anaheim, CA. Nova was 13-1 with a 3.40 after that outing against the Royals. That also included a stint of one month when Nova was sent down in July when Hughes retuned to the rotation.

Yes, the Yankees actually sent a pitcher to the minor leagues who ended up with a 16-4 record and 3.70 ERA and who became the team’s second-best starter behind Sabathia by the time the playoffs rolled around.

Nova actually starred in the playoffs with his amazing start in Game 1 (which actually was a relief appearance) in which he limited the Tigers to just two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He also started Game 5, but was obviously pitching injured when he gave up two first-inning home runs after a regular season in which he given up just 13 in 165 1/3 innings.

Nova left, the Tigers scored only one more run and we all know the Yankees failed to get the big hit the rest of the way and lost. It would have been nice to have seen what would have happened if Nova were healthy that day. But the Yankees can take comfort that Nova will return and he looks like he will be a successful pitcher for many years to come.

He will never be an ace. But he is plenty good enough to win.

But, if the Yankees fail at Plan A (signing a free agent), Plan B (trading for a starter) and Plan C (signing a veteran retread like Garcia). What will they do? Is there a Plan D?

In other words, are there any pitchers the Yankees can count on to come up like Hughes or Nova to fill a void in the rotation in 2012. The answer is, thanks to Cashman and the scouting department, is yes.

We will discuss the options in the second part.

NEXT: MINOR-LEAGUE OPTIONS

 

Yanks Deal A-Jax, Coke And Kennedy For Granderson


WINTER MEETINGS
DAY TWO

The future is now in the Bronx.
The New York Yankees and General Manager Brian Cashman mortgaged the most valuable piece of the team’s future in Austin Jackson by trading him to the Detroit Tigers for Curtis Granderson.
The rumored three-team deal between the Yankees, Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks was agreed to in principle by the three teams Tuesday morning in Indianapolis.
The Yankees received the 29-year-old center fielder Granderson from the Tigers and they sent their five-tool center fielder of the future in Jackson to the Tigers. The Yankees also sent left-hand reliever Phil Coke to the Tigers and right-hand starter Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks.
The Tigers and Diamondbacks also swapped three right-hand starters in the deal. The Tigers received Max Scherzer and pitching prospect Daniel Schelereth while the Diamondbacks picked up Edwin Jackson.
Granderson, who hit .249 with 30 home runs, 71 RBIs and 20 stolen bases last season, brings his left-hand bat into new Yankee Stadium, where he could take advantage of the short  porch in right field. However, he hit only two home runs and batted .183 in 181 at-bats against left-handers last season. He also strikes out more than twice as much as he walks.
Patience is not a Granderson virtue.
But Granderson is a very good defensive outfielder and he will take over as the team’s center fielder. Melky Cabrera, who played center field most of last season, likely will move to left field.
GOOD NEWS FOR MATSUI?
The Yankees reportedly are interested in signing one of their two outfield free agents: Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. It is hard to read into the Granderson deal directly but it would seem that Matsui might be the choice for the Yankees to sign now.
Granderson likely would become the Yankees leadoff hitter and Derek Jeter would return to bat second. Damon, who hit .282 with a career-best-tying 24 home runs and 82 RBIs last season, is seeking a four-year deal at age 36. He spent most of his career as a leadoff hitter but was moved to second last season.
The Yankees are reluctant to go any further with Damon than two years guaranteed and perhaps a club option for a third season. But the Yankees are sure to let Damon go if any team offers him three or more years.
That would be good news for Matsui, who although he could not play the outfield last season still hit .274 with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs in only 456 at-bats. Matsui also is the only player the Yankees had on the roster in 2009 that could adequately protect Alex Rodriguez in the No. 5 spot in the batting order.
But either way, the Yankees are not likely to play either Damon or Matsui in the outfield on a regular basis now. Matsui has had surgery to both knees and Damon’s weak arm is a real liability to the Yankees. This past season a National League team scored a pitcher from second on a single to Damon and teams were even running slow-footed catchers from second base on him.
It appears both players would be limited to DH for the Yankees if they were signed.
YANKEES PART WITH A-JAX
But the biggest loss for the Yankees is the 22-year-old Jackson, who hit .300 with four home runs, 65 RBIs and 24 stolen bases at Scranton-Wilkes Barre last season. Scouts rated him the best athlete in the Yankees’ organization and they projected he would eventually hit for 20 home-run power at the major-league level.
The Tigers likely will give Jackson a chance to make their major-league roster in 2010 and replace Granderson as the team’s center fielder.
The Yankees also traded Coke, 27, who was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA with two saves last season as the team’s primary left-hander out of the bullpen. Coke lost his job in the postseason when Damaso Marte, finally recovered from a shoulder injury, pitched better than Coke in the playoffs.
The Yankees also dealt 25-year-old right-hand starter Ian Kennedy. Kennedy actually made the Yankees’ roster in 2008 as a starter but was quickly sent out after posting an 0-4 record with a 8.17 ERA in nine starts. 
His 2009 season was marred because of an aneurysm discovered under his right armpit. He had surgery to repair the problem on May 12 and returned to pitch in August. Kennedy posted a 1-0 record and a 1.59 ERA in four starts at Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He also shined in a stint in the Arizona Fall League, which encouraged the Diamondbacks enough to ask for him in the deal.

ONE AND DUNN

The one saving grace is that Cashman did manage to hold on to left-hand reliever Michael Dunn, who the Yankees’ lone representative in the Futures All-Star Game this fall. Dunn, 24, a converted outfielder, also pitched well in the Arizona Fall League.

Though Dunn is a strikeout pitcher with a mid-90s fastball, he still needs to work on his command of the strike zone. Once he conquers that he likely will replace Coke as the team’s second left-hander in the bullpen.

Dunn was originally reported to have been joining Coke in the trade to Detroit but Cashman likely realized it did not make much sense to trade the second- and third-best left-hand relievers in the organization in one deal. 

Dunn is a very good prospect and keeping him out this deal was a big coup for Cashman.

MORE MOVES?

With Granderson aboard what other deals are lurking for the Yankees?

Cashman, who never let on the Granderson deal was in the works, likely will continue to play it close to the vest. But it would appear that with Kennedy gone and the Yankees close to re-signing Andy Pettitte that the team will not be too active in a potential free-agent signing of John Lackey or a trade for Roy Halladay.

The reason is that Cashman has been asked to cut $15 million in payroll for the 2010 season.

Lackey would be looking for a deal similar to the deal the Yankees gave A.J. Burnett last season and any trade for Halladay would have to include negotiations to extend his contract past 2010 and would cost similar money that CC Sabathia received last season.

That would not exactly jive with the Yankees’ desire to cut payroll and get younger. But, then again, the Yankees did not exactly meet that goal with the Granderson deal. Granderson will be paid $5.5 million this season but his contract jumps to $8.5 million next season and $10 million in 2012.

HARDEN FAST RULE

The Yankees might be looking for bargain free-agent pitching help. With veteran left-hander Randy Wolf looking to be headed to the Brewers, the Yankees might turn their sites to Rich Harden, a 29-year-old right-hander who was 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 31 starts with the Cubs last season.

Harden, whose career has been marred by arm problems, has now made 51 starts his last two seasons and he is combined 19-11 in those starts. The Yankees may feel he is cheaper alternative to slot as a No. 4 starter and would allow the Yankees to move Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen and Phil Hughes back to a starter in the No. 5 spot.

The Yankees having already dealt Brian Bruney and Coke may be signalling that Chamberlain may return to his setup role ahead of closer Mariano Rivera.

Hughes, who likely would be limited to about 130 innings under the same rules that applied to Chamberlain, could be switched to the bullpen at midseason to hold down his innings pitched. The Yankees use swingman Chad Gaudin as a No. 5 starter to replace Hughes.

WANG’S STATUS IN LIMBO

The Yankees are unlikely to offer arbitration to Chien-Ming Wang, which will make him a free agent. But the Yankees might look to retain him at a lower price tag. 

Wang, who had surgery to repair his right shoulder, may not be able to return to the mound until June, is currently working out and rehabbing his shoulder in Taiwan. It is unclear whether Wang will be able to harness the sinker that was his trademark pitch when he won 19 games for the Yankees in 2006 and 2007.

Wang suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot running the bases in Houston in May 2008 which ended his season. Last season, he started the season with an 0-4 record and an ERA over 30 before the Yankees discovered he had a weakness in both hips as a result of not being able to work out on his injured foot in the winter.

Wang spent a month on the disabled list and seemed to be rounding back into form when he injured his right shoulder. Wang had surgery to repair his labrum and missed the rest of the season. By re-signing Wang at a cheaper cost as a free agent, it will give the Yankees another pitching option for 2010. 

Stay tuned . . .


Pettitte Should Return To Yankees In 2010

The champagne has flowed, the parade down the Canyon on Heroes is over and now the New York Yankees must make the difficult decisions about what to do about the roster for 2010. What free agents should they keep and who should they let go. The choices made this winter will affect the team’s chances to repeat as champions. Let’s examine these choices one by one and see what General Manager Brian Cashman and his staff may be weighing before the first warrmup toss is made in Tampa this spring.


PART 5: ANDY PETTITTE

The question is will Andy Pettitte retire?
If we have the answer to that question then we will kno
w how General Manager Brian Cashman will handle Pettitte as a free agent. He will most assuredly sign him.
The reason is pretty clear if you caught any of Pettitte’s postseason starts. Pettitte won the Yankees’ division-clinching game, the American League Divisional Series clinching game against the Twins, the American League Championship Series clinching game against the Angels and the World Series clinching game against the Phillies.
Pettitte also became the all-time major-league leader in postseason victories with 16. 
It stands to reason that if the Yankees’ goal is to go back to the postseason and repeat as champions in 2010, it would love to have Pettitte back to pitch in those critical postseason games.
Last winter, Pettitte wrestled with retirement and chose to come back. But the decision cost him quite a bit of money in the process. Paid $16 million in 2008, Pettitte turned down a $10 million offer from the Yankees only to have the free-agent pay market implode in the winter of 2009.
By the time Pettitte and his agent got back to the Yankees, the offer was $5 million plus incentives that brought the contract to about the $10 million Pettitte had declined. But I am not sure Pettitte is truly motivated by money.
“Obviously, you can imagine what’s going through my head right now,” Pettitte told Jon Lane from back home in his Deer Park, Texas, ranch. “I’m just going to try to take a little bit of time here and I want to do the right thing. I want to do the right thing for my family more than anything. And I don’t want to continue to play baseball trying to accomplish selfish goals because I’ve never done that before, and I feel like that if you try to start doing that you’re not going to be able to be successful as a teammate as you need to be. There’s a lot of things I need to factor in and think about.”

Pettitte is coming off an excellent 2009 season in which he was 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA. But that does not tell the whole story. 
After the All-Star break, Pettitte was 6-3 with a 3.31 ERA in his 14 starts with 78 strikeouts in 86 innings. The Yankees were 9-5 in his second-half starts and they were 21-11 in his starts this season.
Though CC Sabathia was clearly the Yankees’ ace this season, Pettitte actually was manager Joe Girardi’s second-best starter. Pettitte proved that even more clearly in the playoffs, where he was 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA in five starts.
So Pettitte only has to inform the Yankees he wants to come back and he likely receive a fair offer to return for 2010. Cashman is in a bit weaker bargaining position this time around. The Yankees may actually need Pettitte more than Pettitte needs the Yankees.
With Sabathia and A.J. Burnett having paid immediate dividends from the signings last winter, the Yankees’ rotation choices after them are not plentiful. 
It is not clear that Joba Chamberlain (9-6, 4.75 ERA) is really cut out to be a starting pitcher because he looks so much more comfortable in the bullpen. Exhibit A is his 1-0 record with a 2.84 ERA in 10 games in the postseason.
Though the “Joba Rules” were set up for the 24-year-old righthander to become a 200-inning starter, some in the Yankee hierarchy are now saying that Joba belongs in the bullpen in 2010.
Meanwhile, Phil Hughes may be headed back to the starting rotation after his sensational work as the eighth inning bridge to Mariano Rivera in the regular season. His hiccups in the postseason aside, Hughes always has been considered a starter.  If Chamberlain does move back to the bullpen it gives the Yankees the luxury of  starting Hughes.
But beware of “Phil Rules.” Because Hughes pitched in 92 1/3 innings in 2009 he will be limited to about 120 innings in 2010. That means Hughes could not pitch as a starter for more than 20 games if he averaged six innings per outing.
The likely plan is Hughes will be utilized as the No. 5 starter and will be skipped whenever possible and pitch as a starter until the All-Star break in 2010 then be shifted to the bullpen to finish his remaining innings he has under the limit.
That leaves the Yankees with two other starting options: Chad Gaudin and Chien-Ming Wang.
Wang is a free agent and the Yankees could let him go because he will not be ready to pitch in the spring and may not be ready to resume pitching until midseason. Wang is coming off serious right shoulder surgery and his recovery period will be a long one.
But, if the Yankees do choose to keep Wang, he could be ready to take over for Hughes at the midpoint of 2010. How he will fare in his return is anyone’s guess. Wang lives off his sinker and without it he is cannon fodder as he showed last season.
Gaudin provides insurance in case Wang is not ready. He could easily pitch as a long reliever out of the bullpen in 2010 and take over for Hughes as a starter after the All-Star break. Gaudin’s versatility makes him invaluable to the Yankees next season.
There also is the free-agent market and the Yankees are looking at signing John Lackey of the Angels to a deal similar to Burnett’s. If Lackey does sign with the Yankees, he is great insurance if Pettitte retires. If Lackey signs and Pettitte does come back, the Yankees will not have to use just three starters in the postseason in 2010. They will have four playoff-tested starters next season.
But the question remains. Will Andy decide to come back?
My guess is yes. The fact Pettitte has not filed for free agency is telling in itself. Pettitte is not looking to go anywhere else other than the Yankees. So if Pettitte does pitch in 2010 it will be with the Yankees. I think Pettitte has proven he still has enough left in the tank at age 37 to pitch one more season.
I think the lure of another championship will be enough to bring Pettitte back. The Yankees need him and I don’t think he will want to disappoint his teammates. He saw Mike Mussina retire one year too early and I think he knows how important he is to the team’s success.
Bank on it. Pettitte will be back in 2010.

Yankees Starters Improved In Second Half



STARTING PITCHERS


CC SABATHIA – Age 28
A.J. BURNETT – Age 32
CHIEN-MING WANG – Age 29
ANDY PETTITTE – Age 37
JOBA CHAMBERLAIN – Age 23

This was the starting rotation with which the Yankees started the season. Of course, Chien-Ming Wang did not finish the season, having season-ending surgery to repair his right labrum. So the Yankees had to come up with a fifth starter to take Wang’s place.
Despite calls to shift Phil Hughes back to the starting rotation and efforts be made to acquire Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees instead tried to go a cheaper route by bringing up veteran righthander Sergio Mitre from Triple A and picking up swingman Chad Gaudin off waivers.
Neither starter distinguished himself but both were able to keep the Yankees in the games in which they started. So it was not a total disaster to have either pitcher start for the Yankees. But it was also painfully obvious that neither would be a option to start games in the postseason.
So keeping Hughes in the bullpen and saving future Yankees’ prospects by not acquiring Halladay was the positive in the decision general manager Brian Cashman made.
I gave the starters an overall grade of C at the midpoint. 
Here are the individual grades I handed out:
Sabathia  B+
Burnett B
Wang I (Incomplete)
Pettitte C
Chamberlain D
Let’s now look at the second half beginning with Sabathia. In 14 starts after the All-Star break, the big left-hander earned his position as the staff ace by recording a record of 11-1 with a 2.36 ERA. 
His only loss was an outing in which he gave up six runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.
The Yankees won both of his no-decisions: beating the White Sox 5-2 in 10 innings on Aug. 28 at Yankee Stadium and beating the Rays 4-1 on Sept. 7 also at Yankee Stadium.
In his 99 innings of work after the All-Star break, Sabathia has given up only 79 hits and 24 walks for a sensational WHIP of 1.04. He also struck an even 99 in those 99 innings.
With one start remaining and a 19-7 record, Sabathia has a chance to win 20 games for the first time in his nine-year major-league career. He won 19 games in 2007 with the Indians and was awarded the American League Cy Young Award.
He is a candidate for the award again this season.
Sabathia simply was everything the Yankees imagined he would be, particularly in the seond half. For that reason, he would have to earn an A+ for the second half and an overall A grade since he was just 8-6 with a 3.86 ERA in the first half.
**********
The Yankees other high-priced free agent A.J. Burnett struggled with inconsistency in the first half of the season. He was 8-4 with a 3.77 ERA before the All-Star break. 
He had ended the first half on his hottest streak of the season with a 1.34 ERA in his last 33 2/3 innings and he had won four of past five starts. We gave him a B and said he could improve upon that great by continuing to pitch this well in the second half.
That did not happen entirely.
Throwing out a really bad shelling he took from the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Aug. 1, Burnett did go 2-2 with a 2.38 ERA over his seven starts to begin the second half. But his 2009 nemesis, the Boston Red Sox, started him on another steep decline on Aug. 22.
Burnett surrendered a career-worst nine runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings at Fenway Park. In two September starts against the Orioles, Burnett gave up six earned runs in both outings. Over that five-start stretch, Burnett gave up 25 runs in 29 1/3 innings (7.67 ERA).
It sounded alarm bells as the Yankees moved closer to the playoffs. Would Bunrett be a reliable starter for the Yankees in the postseason.
The Yankees hope Burnett’s last two starts are indicative of how Burnett will perform in October. In his last two starts he has given up just three runs in 12 2/3 innings (2.13 ERA) with 17 strikeouts.
In the second half overall he was 4-5 with 4.69 ERA. He gave up 88 hits and 40 walks in 88 1/3 innings for a really awful WHIP of 1.45. 
He received a midseason grade of B but for his poor second half he deserves a C- for his lackluster and inconsistent second half. After paying him a princely sum in the off-season, his overall record 12-9 with a 4.19 ERA gives him a disappointing overall grade of C for this season.
**********
Andy Pettitte was 8-4 with a high ERA of 4.85 in the first half. Between his struggles in May and June he earned an overall grade of C. But we mentioned at that time that Pettitte has historically been a better pitcher in the second half.
That again proved to be true. You can make a case for Pettitte being the key member of the staff with Wang out and Burnett struggling with his consistency. The end result was Pettitte rediscovered his hard cutter and he cruised to a 6-3 record after the break.
But the record did not tell the real story. The lefthander gave up just 29 earned runs in his 82 2/3 innings (3.16 ERA). He gave up just 66 hits and 28 walks for a 1.08 WHIP. His cutter also allowed him to regain a strikeout pitch by fanning 77 in those 88 2/3 innings.
Though he was plagued by five no decisions in the second half to go along with five in the first, a better indication of Pettitte’s worth can measured by the fact that the Yankees were 8-2 in those games. So the Yankees were 22-9 in all of Pettitte’s 2009 starts.
In comparison the Yankees were 3-3 in Sabathia’s no decisions and 22-10 overall. So Pettitte was well worth the bargain-basement $5 million-dollar contract the Yankees signed him to in the winter.
Pettitte earned his second-half grade of A and, with his 14-7 record and deceiving 4.11 ERA, he gets an overall grade of B+ for the season. 
**********
Joba Chamberlain was 4-2 with 4.25 ERA at the break and he was drawing criticism from the Yankees brass for his inconsistency and inability to pitch deep into games. He started the second half with hopes of showing some improvement.
He did. 
In his first three starts after the All-Star break, Joba was 3-0 with a 0.42 ERA. In 21 2/3 innings he gave up eight hits and eight walks (0.74 WHIP) and struck out 19 batters.
But after that, Joba;s season was short-circuited by the so-called “Joba Rules.” Concerned that pitchers under the age of 25 should not throw more than 30% more innings in the following season, Cashman said Chamberlain would be limited in his innings in the second half of the season.
Chamberlain would be skipped in the rotation at points and substitute starters would be used in others. What it ended up doing is ruining whatever ability Chamberlain might have had to help the Yankees in August and September.
In his next nine starts, from Aug. 6 through Sept 20, Chamberlain pitched 36 innings. In those 36 innings, he gave up 33 runs on 50 hits and 21 walks. That’s an ERA of 8.25 and a WHIP of 1.97. 
This carnage lasted through two different sets of Joba Rules. After skipping Chamberlain’s starts and giving him additional rest did not work, the Yankees decided to pitch him every fifth day but limit his innings. Neither version worked.
In his last start, one in which he was pitching on five days of rest and not limited by innings or pitch counts, Chamberlain pitched like he did in his first three starts of the second half. On Friday night against the Red Sox, Chamberlain gave up three runs over six innings and served up just five hits and one walk while striking out five.
It was his first victory since Aug. 6 and only his fifth victory in the second half. That proves one thing: Joba Chamberlain was adversely affected by what Cashman and the front office did to him.
Probably slated for long relief in the bullpen in the first playoff series, it will interesting to see if Chamberlain is used as a starter in league championship series. 
He earned a D for the first half and I hesitate to give him another D for the second half. It was the manipulation of his innings that skewed his poor numbers. So I will give him an I for incomplete for the second half and an overall grade of I for the season.
Until the Yankees take the the training wheels off Joba it is hard to evaluate what kind of starter he will be. But I agree with a lot of pundits in stating that the Yankees should flip-flop Hughes and Chamberlain next season, making Hughes a starter and moving Chamberlain to the bullpen.
However, that will create another problem. Hughes will have to have his innings limited by those same Joba Rules for him: Philly Rules. So maybe the Yankees will have to leave well enough alone and keep Joba in the rotation and Hughes in the pen.
**********
Sergio Mitre made nine starts in the second half and ended up 3-3 with a 7.16 ERA. The team was 6-3 in his starts so I guess that pleased Girardi enough. 
Mitre also had his moments. On Aug 15, he gave up just one earned run in 5 1/3 innings against the Mariners. Then on Aug. 29, he took a no-hitter in the sixth innings against the White Sox before being hit by a line drive off the bat of A.J. Pierzynski. 
But take away those two outings and Mitre was tagged for 34 runs in 32 1/3 innings for a 9.46 ERA and that is bad in any No. 5 starter’s book. In his last two starts he was blasted for 16 runs in nine innings against the Blue Jays and he has not started since.
It is safe to assume he will not be a starter in the postseason and he likely will not be in the bullpen either. Mitre can go back to rehabbing after Tommy John surgery and it unclear if he even has a future with the Yankees.
He certainly earned the D- for his woeful pitching.
**********
Chad Gaudin has made five starts for the Yankees, not including the start he is making Monday night. He has no decisions in any of them. In fact, he has pitched into the sixth inning in only two of them.
But he has been effective in those starts. In 24 1/3 innings, Gaudin has given up 24 hits, 13 walks and nine earned runs. That is ERA of 3.33 and a WHIP of 1.52. Gaudin’s shortcomings are bouts of wildness and he loses effectiveness after four or more innings. 
You have to give Gaudin props if, for nothing else, that the Yankees won every game he started. So a 5-0 record as a fill-in starter is not bad. Gaudin is even more effective in the bullpen where he can pitch multiple innings.
So his role as the long man of the bullpen is all but assured. Girardi held out hope that Gaudin might be selected as the fourth starter if Chamberlain continued to struggle. But Chamberlain’s strong outing against Boston on Friday and Gaudin’s inability to get out of the fifth inning in his last start looks to have sealed his fate to the bullpen.
I would give Gaudin a solid C for his work as a starter.
SECOND HALF STARTING PITCHING GRADE: C+

OVERALL SEASON STARTING PITCHING GRADE: C+

Joba, Joba, Doo! Chamberlain Eclipses Rays

YANKEES 6, RAYS 2


Tell Joba Chamberlain he is not a starter. Tell him he doesn’t pitch deep into games. Tell that that he belongs in the bullpen.
Joba Chamberlain will tell you all of that is wrong. 
He also showed the Rays they were wrong in an overpowering eight innings of three-hit shutout baseball Wednesday night as the New York Yankees put the Rays right back where they were after they lost to the Yankees on Monday night.
The Yankees 6-2 victory at Tropicana Field pushed the Rays to 7 1/2 games back in third place in the American East race. The Boston Red Sox lost to the hapless Oakland Athletics for the second straight night by an 8-6 score to fall 3 1/2 games behind of the Yankees.
Is there a phone line burning between Boston and Toronto tonight?
Chamberlain put on a Roy Halladay-like display of his own against a punchless Rays team, winning his third straight start. 

“It’s just having confidence again, going out and being yourself,” Chamberlain told MLB.com. “You always need a little reminder once in a while, but it’s just going back to having fun and being aggressive.”

Chamberlain (7-2) struck out five and walked two and is now 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA after the All-Star Break. 

“Since he’s come back from the break, he’s done everything that we expected him to do,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You can’t expect him to be perfect all the time, but he’s throwing the ball so well and mixing all of his pitches in. His last three starts are as good a run as he’s had.”

“It’s the best performance we’ve ever seen from him,” Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon told MLB.com. “The pace of game was great, and that’s what we like to see. If we can see that all the time, you’ve got another guy like Roger Clemens out there.”

The Yankees roughed up Rays starter Matt Garza (7-8) early and often. They took an early 1-0 lead after Derek Jeter tripled to right to start the game and Mark Teixeira drove him in a batter later with a single.

In the fourth inning, the Yankees, who were bloop hit to death the evening before, got a bloop single of their own off the bat of Alex Rodriguez. DH Hideki Matsui then moved him to third with an opposite field double in the left-field corner. Robinson Cano scored A-Rod on an RBI grounder.

Cano made it 3-0 with two out in the sixth on a long blast to left center when Garza left a 1-2 slider over the plate. Garza actually knew the ball was gone and waved to it as it landed in the bleachers. It was Cano’s 16th home run of the season.

Garza also had to escape big jams in the third and fifth innings. He left after seven innings. He gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks.

The Yankees were able to tack on single runs in the eight and ninth innings off a shaky Rays bullpen. Jorge Posada contributed a run-scoring single in the eighth and Teixeira regained a tie with Justin Morneau for the American League lead in home runs by belting his 26th almost directly to centerfield.

The only concerning moment was in the ninth inning when reliever Brian Bruney coughed up a two-run home run by Evan Longoria. One out later, after Carlos Pena singled Girardi called on Mariano Rivera to close out the Rays. Despite a rare walk, Rivera fanned two batters to nail down the Yankees’ 11th victory in 13 games.

But all the Yankees could talk about was how dominant their 23-year-old starter was. 

“He’s throwing the ball so well, and he’s throwing so many strikes,” Girardi said. “His stuff is crisp. I think that’s the biggest difference.”

The Yankees will now ride their hot streak into Chicago to take on the White Sox on Thursday night.

Veteran lefty Andy Pettitte (8-6, 4.67 ERA) tries for his victory since July 1 in the opener at US Celluar Field. Pettitte actually held the Athletics to two hits in six scoreless innings before he faltered. But reliever Alfredo Aceves allowed all his inherited runners to score and Pettitte was charged with giving up four earned runs. Pettitte has not faced the White Sox this season.

The White Sox will send out righty Gavin Floyd (8-6, 4.24 ERA). Floyd gave up two runs — one earned — in 6 2/3 innings in his last start against the Tigers on Saturday. He ended up with a no-decision when closer Bobby Jenks blew his second straight save in the ninth inning. Floyd has career record of 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA against the Yankees.

Gametime is 8:11 p.m. EDT and it will be nationally broadcast live by MLB-TV.

NOTES . . . Chien-Ming Wang had season-ending surgery Wednesday on his right shoulder capsule by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, AL, and he will miss the rest of the season. Wang has been on the 15-day disabled list with a sore shoulder and bursitis. After a period of rest Wang felt discomfort on his biceps during his first throwing session. Examinations by Yankees team doctors and Andrews confirmed surgery was necessary. It is not known how long Wang will need to recover. He finished the season with a 1-6 record and 9.64 ERA in 12 games (nine starts). Wang was on the DL earlier this season with weakness in both abductor muscles in his hips. Last season Wang had his season cut short on June 15 when he suffered a sprain of the lisfranc ligament in his foot running the bases in Houston . . . The Yankees received a special surprise visit before the game from George Steinbrenner in the visitors clubhouse at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. In the half-hour visit the 79-year-old principal owner told the team to keep up the good work. The team promptly did just that and best the Rays . . . The Yankees officially released right-hand reliever Brett Tomko. Tomko had been designated for assignment when the club called up Sergio Mitre to take Wang’s spot in the rotation . . . The Yankees also acquired right-hander Jason Hirsh from the Colorado Rockies and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. GM Brian Cashman said the move was to add minor-league pitching depth lost with Wang out and Mitre having been recalled . . . The Yankees reportedly are sitting out the Roy Halladay sweepstakes but they are watching closely to see where he might end up. The rival Red Sox have apparently dangled Clay Buchholz and prospects for Halladay but the Jays apparently are driving a hard bargain for the former Cy Young Award-winner. The Yankees, who would have to part with Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes to even start discussions with the Jays, are just hoping Halladay does not end up in their division and they would be ecstatic if he went to a National League club. The trade deadline is 4 p.m. EDT on Friday.

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