Friday, July 17, 2009

Game 89: Break On Through

After what felt like an interminable All-Star Break, the Yankees return to action tonight, kicking off a ten game homestand against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers. The Yanks took two of three from Detroit in late April, leaving the Tigers just a game above .500 at the time. Since then they've gone 37-29 and currently hold a 3.5 game lead over the White Sox in the Central.

The Tigers have struggled a bit offensively. They are just below league average in runs per game and as a team are only hitting .259/328/.422. Of course they play their home games in cavernous Comerica Park; we'll see if the bandbox that is the new Yankee Stadium jump starts the bats at all. On the pitching side, the Tigers' staff is allowing the third fewest runs per game and has the fourth best ERA+.

Detroit sends a dreaded rookie left-hander to the mound tonight in Luke French. French was first recalled in mid-May, making two scoreless relief appearances. After getting sent back down, he was recalled and inserted into the rotation in early July. Tonight will be his third start. On the year, he's 1-0 with 1.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. However, his BABIP against is absurdly low, his BB/9 is high, his K/9 is low, and his FIP checks in at 5.06. The numbers, though based on a small sample size, suggest that Mr. French is in for a rough outing or two at some point. Hopefully it's tonight. And if he lives up to his surname, he'll likely turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble.

A.J. Burnett goes for the Yanks, and I'm glad he gets the first start after the break. He's been the Yanks best pitcher of late, going 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over his last five starts, while holding opponents to a .193/.294/.277 batting line. He still leads the AL in walks, but Detroit is just tenth in the AL in BBs drawn. I'm hopeful Burnett won't be too rusty after not starting since last Wednesday.

It's been eight days since the Yankees last won a game. It's been five days since they last played a game. The bitter taste of that three game sweep in Anaheim has lingered for too long. The Yanks are a combined 2-12 against division leading Boston and Los Angeles. Twice this year they've climbed into at least a tie for first place in the division, and twice they've followed that with a bad, bad stretch of baseball. They enter the season's second half three games out of the division, leading the wild card, and getting a shot at the AL Central leaders. As we break on through to the second half of the season, it sure would be nice for the Yankees to break on through the glass ceiling they've hit earlier this year and go on a nice little run. A ten game homestand offers ample opportunity to do just that.

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Try to run, try to hide
Break on through to the other side

College Football Closer To Reality At New Stadium

Back in May, we ran a post about Notre Dame expressing interest in playing at Yankee Stadium. Today, that looks closer to being a reality.

According to the Times Herald-Record, Army and Notre Dame will play their 2010 game at the Stadium. The Black Knights will also reportedly play a game there in 2011, 2012, and 2013 against opponents yet to be determined.

I agree with ESPN's Graham Watson in thinking that having the annual Army-Navy game there would be great, but the locations for that game are already booked for years to come.

While I can appreciate the novelty and the nostalgia of hosting football at the new Stadium, I'm not sure it's the best idea in the world. The Yankees have invested billions of tax payer dollars in building a new baseball stadium. Why jeopardize the quality of the turf by subjecting it to a football game?

As Jay noted last week, multi-purpose ballparks are dying off. In recent years Veterans Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, Candlestick Park and Qualcomm Park, all former two sport venues, have been replaced. The Metrodome will join them at season's end. Of the remaining dual sport MLB parks - Network Associates Coliseum and Landshark Stadium - are considered the worst venues in baseball. Why would the Yankees want to jump back to the multipsort mindset of 20 and 30 years ago?

Morning News and Notes

Good morning Fackers, and Happy Friday to you. Not only is the work week nearly over, but our extended All-Star Break sabbatical has finally reached its end. Yankee baseball returns tonight; time to get back to business around here. Here are a few news items to start you off this morning:

Missing Man Damaso Marte has officially begun his rehab assignment. He started for the Gulf Coast League Yankees last night, allowing two hits and an earned run in his inning of work. Not exactly what you'd want to see from a Major League veteran facing Rookie League competition, but right now it's about Marte getting his work in, not necessarily the results. His rehab clock is officially ticking now. Barring further injury, which is a never a sure thing with Marte, he'll be back within 30 days. Mr. Tomko, please prepare to pack your bags.

Via Rob Neyer, Jeremy Sandler of The National Post reports that Dick Scott, Blue Jays' Director of Player Development, was scouting the Tampa Yankees this week. Sandler then proceeds to pull out his jump to conclusions mat and state the the Jays are likely scouting the Yanks' prospects for a potential Roy Halladay deal:
One Tampa Yankee prospect Toronto might look at is catcher Jesus Montero, New York's second-best prospect according to Baseball America. The 19-year-old is hitting .356 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 48 games at Single-A this season.

Well that's great Mr. Sandler, they should scout Montero, except he's been with AA Trenton for more than a month now. I thought that silly things like "checking your facts" was what "real journalists" were taught in school.

George Steinbrenner made an appearance at the Yankees Minor League Complex yesterday. The article doesn't contain any direct quotes, but implies that he did address the media in some way. To my knowledge, this was Steinbrenner's first public appearance of the year. I'm actually a little surprised by it.

The Yankees' contract with international free agent The Artist Formerly Known as Damian Arredondo has been voided because the player in question is not in fact "Damian Arredondo" nor is he 16 as believed. This is just further evidence as to how seedy and corrupt the Latin American free agent process is.

Back with more later on.