Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Game 44.5 Recap

[The suspension did some funky stuff with FanGraphs and they don't have the WPA data from the resumption of the game, hence the hacky photoshopping. Here's the first part of the recap.]

A.J. Burnett got his wish. Derek Jeter was the second batter when play resumed and after Kevin Russo struck out swinging, he smashed a home run into the Twins bullpen in left field. That was the only run of the 2:39 minute contest that lasted more like 23 hours. The win didn't come easy, however, as the Yanks' bullpen had to struggle to keep that one run lead.

David Robertson (not Sergio Mitre or one of the left handers as was widely speculated) was the pitcher that began the game for the Yanks. The first batter he faced was Joe Mauer and the Minnesota catcher hit a line drive off of Robertson's back that deflected to A-Rod in the air for the out.

D-Rob was apparently okay as he stayed in the game and ran the count full to Justin Morneau before walking him. Michael Cuddyer followed with a pop up to Robinson Cano for the second out of the inning but Jason Kubel slashed a double down the right field line that looked like it was going to score Morneau from first, however but he was held up by the third base coach. With the go-ahead runner on first, Delmon Young hit a hard grounder into the hole but Jeter performed a spectacular rendition his patented jump throw and got the out at first, saving the run and preserving the lead.

Robertson retired the first two batters in the seventh but was pulled after giving up a single to Denard Span. Joba Chamberlain was called on to get out of the jam and he got Orlando Hudson to ground out and end the inning.

Joba pitched around a hit and a walk in the eighth inning and passed the ball to Mariano Rivera in the 9th. Mo provided a real scare when J.J. Hardy led off the inning and blasted a ball into deep left center that looked like a certain home run, but Kevin Russo settled under on the warning track. He then walked Jim Thome but induced a game-ending double play from Denard Span. It was far from conventional, but the Yanks got the win and so did A.J. Burnett.

Game 45: Two

At 7:10 EDT or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game, whichever comes later, the Yanks and Twins will start the game originally scheduled for today. Much like last night's game today's game the first game of this series, the pitching match up will be a rematch from the series in the Bronx the weekend before last.

Southpaws Andy Pettitte and Francisco Liriano faced off in the middle game of that three game series, with Pettitte coming out on the long end of a 7-1 final. It was the final Yankee victory before this recent cold spell started. Entering play today, the Yanks have gone just 2-6 since that game.

Both of tonight's pitchers have made a start since their last meeting. Pettitte had a rough outing and took the loss in the series finale against Tampa Bay. That same night Liriano started in Fenway and got knocked around by the Red Sox.

Most recent outings notwithstanding, both pitchers have begun 2010 in impressive fashion. Pettitte enters this game at 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA, though his FIP (4.00) and xFIP (4.33) suggest he hasn't been quite as outstanding as his ERA indicates. Meanwhile Liriano comes in at 4-3 with a 3.25 ERA, backed by an impressive 2.65 FIP and 3.65 xFIP. He's helped by an incredibly low 4.3% HR/FB rate. That's bound to increase over time, but if Target Field continues to play large and the Yankee bats continue to play dead, it's not likely to go up tonight.

But it takes two when it used to take one
It takes two when it used to take only one
[Song Notes: So really, it takes one and four ninths when it used to take only one, but that just doesn't have the same ring to it. This one won't exactly fire you up for the game, but it's the best song I could think up that plays on today's unexpected one and a half header. Plus it's Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, who were one of the best bands going until Adams decided to marry Mandy Moore, break up the band, move from NYC to California and start an ill-advised metal project. Still, when he's on, there are few better. 2005's Cold Roses remains my favorite album of the aughts (one of three Adams released that year, plus a stint with Phil Lesh and Friends). "Two" is from the 2007 follow up Easy Tiger, which is also excellent. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get something like this from Adams again someday.]

Because of the fractured nature of today's proceedings, we don't know the lineups quite yet. Francisco Cervelli has caught every inning since the last Twins series wrapped. Will he make it nine starts in a row tonight? What roster moves will be made to accommodate the Chad Gaudin signing? [Update: Boone Logan has been optioned to Scranton to make room for Gaudin and as Matt guessed earlier, Shane Lindsay has been DFA'd.]

Stay tuned, Jay will update this post with the lineups as they become available.

Yankees: Jay here with the lineups. Swisher (who has been quite hot as of late) slides into the #2 slot as Brett Gardner (who is going through a bit of a slump but did pick up a hit yesterday's portion of the game) will bat last. As expected, Teixeira is back at first base after getting a break from the field in the series opener. Marcus Thames gets the start at DH against the lefty Liriano and bats 6th.
Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Thames DH
Cervelli C
Russo LF
Gardner CF
Denard Span CF
Orlando Hudson 2B
Joe Mauer DH
Justin Morneau 1B
Michael Cuddyer RF
Delmon Young LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Brandan Harris 3B
Drew Butera C

Game 44.5: Finish What Ya Started

At 5:05 EDT, the Yanks and Twins will resume last night's suspended game. The rain delay came at the conclusion of the fifth inning, with the game in a scoreless tie.

In the top of the sixth, the Yankees will send number nine hitter Kevin Russo to the plate, then the lineup will turn over for Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner. No word yet on who the Twins will send to the mound, but if the Yanks can push a run across in the sixth they'll put A.J. Burnett in position to get a win.

For the Twins, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer will bat in the bottom half of the inning, with Jason Kubel due as the fourth hitter. With three of those four batters being left handed, Joe Girardi may choose to match up and turn to Damaso Marte or Boone Logan. If not, it'll likely be designated longman Sergio Mitre. As we mentioned earlier, with Chad Gaudin being added to the roster for the second game, Giradi may choose to use his bullpen aggressively over the remainder of the suspended game. [UPDATE 4:00 PM: It's neither Marte nor Logan nor Mitre. It's David Robertson. Shows what I know]

Both clubs have their full benches and bullpens at their disposal for the rest of the game. Though last night's game began on MY9, both of today's contests will be on YES.

Tonight's regularly scheduled game will begin at 7:10 EDT or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game, whichever comes later. We'll have the preview for that one posted a bit later.

Come on baby finish what you started
I'm incomplete
That ain't no way to treat the broken hearted
I need some sympathy

[Song Notes: As much as I don't want to embed a Van Hagar video here, it fits this game perfectly.]

Here's last night's box score and play-by-play to refresh your memory.

Gaudin Returns

According to Mark Feinsand of The Daily News, Chad Gaudin, recently released by the A's, will be rejoining the Yankees today and will be active for tonight's game.

The Yankees 40 man roster is currently full, so space will have to be made for Gaudin. It's unlikely that Alfredo Aceves will be transferred to the 60 day DL just yet, unless his tests in New York today revealed something more serious. Recently acquired Shane Lindsay could be removed, or outfielder Randy Winn could be DFA'd in advance of Curtis Granderson's Friday return.

Gaudin's presence gives Joe Girardi a few more options in the suspended game today. Knowing that he'll have a fresh new arm available for game two, Girardi may manage his bullpen a bit more aggressively over the final four frames of the first game.

Like fellow relievers David Robertson and Chan Ho Park, Gaudin's ugly numbers thus far (8.83 ERA, 5.94 FIP) are misleading. His xFIP is a far more palatable 3.92. He's posted an outstanding 10.38 K/9 through 17.1 IP, a career best, and his walk rate is at a career low 2.60 per nine. He's been burned by an unsustainably high BABIP (.432) and HR/FB (22.7%), as well as a low strand rate (60.7%).

While it's unrealistic to expect his K and BB rates to stay at career bests, they won't regress nearly as much as his BABIP and HR/FB will. Gaudin is due for a nice rebound, and just as he was last year, figures to be a versatile and valuable depth acquisition.

We'll have an update on the final roster moves in today's preview.

Who Goes When Granderson Returns?

As we mentioned yesterday and again this morning, Curtis Granderson is currently rehabbing with Scranton and is slated to rejoin the Yankees in time for Friday's series opener against Cleveland.

Granderson's return of course means that someone has to go from the Big League roster. As much we'd like that someone to be Boone Logan, Joe Girardi has made it pretty clear that he likes having Logan as a second lefty in the bullpen and it's highly unlikely the Yankees will abandon the seven man bullpen ever again.

Thus, barring an injury between now and then, a position player will have to be removed from the roster. As the back-up catcher, Chad Moeller is safe. That leaves five candidates: Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo, Juan Miranda, Marcus Thames, and Randy Winn.

Thames is safe. Despite his defensive deficiencies, he's of value to the team as presently constructed, particularly with Nick Johnson out of action for the foreseeable future. Thames has hit a scorching hot .357/.472/.536 thus far, mashes lefties, and figures to be part of DH platoon with Juan Miranda. Miranda too figures to be safe, not only as part of a DH platoon, but in serving as Mark Teixeira's back up, thereby allowing Nick Swisher to stay in right field on a daily basis.

Ramiro Pena also figures to stick around His .211/.244/.237 batting line is anemic and he might benefit from two weeks of steady playing time at Scranton. But as of now Pena is the utility infielder. Kevin Russo could supplant him in that role, but given Russo's inexperience at shortstop, I think the club wants to keep Pena around. Derek Jeter may not take much time off, but when he does the team wants a reliable glove in his place.

Kevin Russo is the most likely to be demoted. His spot is the least secure on the roster, and though he's started three of the last four games in left field, he still has just 16 career appearances in the outfield. That said, his stock appears to be rising, his bat is one the few that's been awake over the past several days, and if the Yankees believe he is capable as an outfielder, his versatility as a super utility player would be extremely valuable on the bench.

All of which means that Randy Winn's job may be in jeopardy. Winn was an unpopular signing from the start. He was a decent player for much of his career, but his numbers took a nose dive last year (.262/.318/.353) and are even worse (.213/.300/.295) through the early part of this season. Though a switch hitter, last year he posted the worst batting line of a right handed hitter against left handed pitching in 55 years, and he's yet to reach base in 11 plate appearances against left handed pitching this year. He still rates well as a defensive corner outfielder, but is no longer capable of playing a passable center field, and made a costly misplay in left field against the Mets Saturday. He's also become a favorite whipping boy/scapegoat amongst the fanbase.

Winn has had only 71 plate appearances this year, so it might be a bit premature to consider him done. But he had a poor 2009 and at thirty six years old it's unlikely he'll bounce back all that much. The crux of the matter comes down to whether or not the organization views Russo as a capable outfielder. If they do, then he becomes a viable fourth outfielder, and a more attractive option than Winn. If they don't, he goes back to Scranton to continue his apprenticeship in the outfield and Winn lives another day.

Either way, Winn hasn't performed well. In addition to Russo, the stocks of Scranton outfielders Chad Huffman, David Winfree, and Colin Curtis all appear to be on the upswing. Most likely, the Yankees will want to option Russo, giving him a little more experience in the outfield and to give Winn a few more weeks to turn things around before cutting him loose. But with the trademarket figuring to loosen up soon, and with several cheaper and likely equally effective options waiting in Scranton, Randy Winn's days with the Yankees are likely numbered.

Wednesday Linkage

Did the Twins beat reporter actually devote a story on to the squirrel that ran on the field last night? Yes she did. Watch the clip embedded on that page and hear one of the Twins' announcers rip a squirrel he supposedly saw at Yankee Stadium 15 years ago. Not kidding.

When last night's game resumes at 5:00 today, it will be on YES.

Over at Big League Stew, Curtis Granderson fielded some questions from fans about his conditioning during the offseason, life in New York, what he thought of the Yankees as a player for another team and his opinions on some of the more advanced stats being used today.

Granderson's rehab stint rolled on last night in Scranton as he went 0-3 with a strikeout. So far he's 4-14 (all singles) with one walk. He's going to take tomorrow off, play one last AAA game on Thursday and then join up with the Big League team on Friday back in New York.

Javy Vazquez's finger felt fine during his bullpen session yesterday and as of now, he's scheduled to make his start on Thursday.

Alfredo Aceves' rehab is not going as smoothly. He suffered a setback while throwing off flat ground yesterday and will be flying back to New York to be evaluated by team doctors.

A.J. Burnett is into acupuncture? According to Marc Carig, Burnett thinks it's helped him stay healthy and part of the process of him signing with the Yankees involved Brian Cashman hiring an acupuncture specialist to work for the team.

Hideki Irabu's downward spiral continues. Two years ago he drank 20 beers and assaulted a bartender when his credit card got rejected this time he got a DUI after he nearly hit a parked car.

The WSJ talked to Yanks' VP of Operations, Mark Newman about the state of the farm system.

The Red Sox have taken the first two games of their series against Tampa, the one last night by shutout, allowing just one hit (but 6 walks). The good news is that it brings Tampa back down to earth a bit, but the bad news is that the Sawx are creeping up on the Yanks, now just a game and a half back.

Larry from Wezen-Ball has had his eye on David Ortiz's glacial home run trots all year long and one of Papi's leisurely strolls around the bases finally broke the unprecedented 30 second barrier. By comparison, Adam Rosales, owner of the fastest trot of the season had already gotten back to home plate in the time that it took Ortiz to get to second. Rays players were questioned about the amazing anti-feat but no word on whether or not Papi knows how historically slow he is.

The New York Times cited a study about pairs of brothers that played in the Majors and found that 90% of the time, the younger one tried to steal more bases.

Loyal commenter Matt on Earth conducted a mock interview with Michael Kay.

At Baseball Analysts Jeremy Greenhouse examined the differences between a 90mph fastball and a 95mph one. According to Jeremy's findings, David Robertson actually has one of the very best 90mph heaters in the game, even if it hasn't helped him pitch respectably this year.

The Fightins comes through with some prime Youkenfreude.

Remember how U2 made Major League Baseball juggle their schedule because apparently it takes 10 fucking days to set up their stage? Oh, well Bono's having back surgery so it was all for naught. This makes me like U2 even less (if that's possible).

The Super Bowl is officially coming to New York in 2014. It took the full four ballots for the Meadowlands to secure the vote over Miami and Tampa Bay, which pretty much never happens. Joe Posnanski calls it a "Real Super Bowl" while Matt Ufford from Kissing Suzy Kolber gives the pussies who are complaining about the weather a stern talkin' to. I hope it snows two feet.

Halfway To Somewhere

When asked about playing at the Twins' new stadium, Joe Girardi sounded hopeful about the weather:
...I do prefer outdoor baseball. Maybe we’re catching it at the right time. It’s supposed to be 80 degrees in Minnesota this week. They claim it’s only one degree colder than Chicago on average. And it seems the weather’s been really good up there this year.
Instead of the "right time" (i.e. a balmy evening like the one we had on the East Coast), the Yanks were part of the first rain delay in almost 30 years in Minnesota, dating back to September 26th, 1981, back at the old Metropolitan Stadium. Last night, it started raining with a purpose sometime around the second inning and only got worse from there.

Picking up where they left off against the Mets, the Yankees offense was painful to watch in the five innings of play that were completed before the game was suspended. Mark Teixeira erased a single by Brett Garnder by grounding into a double play in the first inning and Robinson Cano did the same thing to a base hit by A-Rod in the second.

When the lineup came around again in the fourth, Derek Jeter led off with a single and Brett Gardner worked a walk, setting the table for the middle of the order. However, Teixeira popped it up, A-Rod struck out swinging and Cano flied out to center without so much as moving the lead runner to third. Had the Yanks been able to sneak one across there and hold the lead, the game might have already been final.

A.J. Burnett had the Twins feeling the same way as he stranded two baserunners in each of the first two innings. He found his groove from there, however, retiring nine straight until Denard Span dropped a bunt single on him with two outs in the fifth. Span stole second but Orlando Hudson struck out swinging to end the inning and the game, for the time being.

Burnett whiffed five and allowed three hits and a walk during his five scoreless frames. With the game still knotted up at zero, he has a chance to get the win if the Yanks can score some runs in the sixth inning and hold the lead. One step at a time though, as any win will do just fine.

Play will resume today at 5:05 Eastern and they'll finish the game before the teams play their regularly scheduled tilt. One and a half header! Girardi didn't announce who would be pitching when the game begins again but it will likely be Boone Logan or Damaso Marte since lefties Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are due up in the bottom of the sixth and Joe Girardi will feel the need to start burning through relievers as soon as possible since there will be at least 13 innings to plat tomorrow. Mark it down.