Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Game 53: Mean Old World

When an MRI determined that Jorge Posada had a hairline fracture back on May 19th, the Yankees' catcher wasn't buying the three to four week timetable offered by the Yankees' doctors.
"It's not going to take that long," said Posada, who wore a protective walking boot on his right foot. "They can say whatever they're going to say. I'll be here before that."
I personally rolled my eyes at this a bit, but as it turns out, Jorge was right. Here we are two weeks later and makes his triumphant return to the lineup. We don't yet know who he is replacing on the roster because the Yanks are waiting until after batting practice to make a move. [Update: It's Miranda]

At the present time, Jorge is only fit to DH since getting down in the catcher's crouch could potentially aggravate the stress fracture that put him on the DL in the first place. However, as our buddy Joe Pawlikowski pointed out over at FanGraphs the other day, Jorge is one of the few catchers in the game who is fit to occupy the role of designated hitter. He's appeared in fewer than half of the Yankees' games this year but has the same OPS+ (177) as Robinson Cano does in those 101 plate appearances.

When the Yankees signed Posada to that four year, $52M contract in November of 2007, they surely knew that he was only going to play a limited amount of games behind the plate. However, he's played sparingly in general, not just behind the dish. Jorge missed almost one-third of the 2008 season, played in just 111 games last year and has already missed a good portion of this season with three different injuries, all of which may have stemmed from the same single pitch.

Jeremy Guthrie hit Posada in the knee on April 28th, the lingering effects of which may have caused the calf strain which sidelined him for five days, which may or may not have contributed to this recent stress fracture. When you play through injuries, there could be a tendency to favor that side and put more pressure in places that the body isn't quite used to. Perhaps those hours behind the plate, putting too much weight on one side or the other could have weakened his foot to the point where the impact of a foul ball set off the fracture.

Jorge isn't an old guy in the grand scheme of things, but he certainly is up there when it comes to being a baseball player. He's downright ancient for a catcher.

As we all get older, we notice that we don't recover from the little injuries like we used to. A small tweak from a pick-up basketball game might linger for a couple of days. A run that you used to knock out without a problem now leaves you with aches and pains in places you aren't accustomed to. Hell, sometimes you might just sleep wrong and end up with a stiff back. Luckily for us, we can take a fews days off and be okay. Baseball players often try to work through minor issues and end up making things worse.

It was no secret that the Yankees were a little long in the tooth coming into this season, but I think it would be surprising to even a pessimistic observer just how many nagging injuries they've suffered. However, the world is a cruel place and they aren't getting any younger. It's just good to have Jorge back and put another solid stick in the lineup. It's not quite having Nick Johnson at DH and Posada behind the plate, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

This is a mean old world, try and live it by yourself.
Can't get the one you love, have to use somebody else.
[Song Notes: I really wanted to use the version of this song that Eric Clapton did with Duane Allman but the embedding on YouTube is disabled by request. This one from the movie Hail Hail Rock & Roll featuring Chuck Berry, Clapton, Keith Richards, Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Leavell and Steve Jordan is plenty good, however. The original version was recorded by Little Walter in 1953.]


Yankees: As we may have mentioned, Posada is back and DHing. He'll be batting sixth. Mark Teixeira is in the line up after being removed from yesterday's game with a bruised foot.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF
Phil Hughes P

Corey Patterson, LF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Scott Moore 2B
Caesar Izturis SS

90% Of The Game Is Half Mental

[What follows is a review of Emma Span's book, 90% Of The Game Is Half Mental written by a good friend who wishes to be referred to simply as "Jack". In addition to being a stalwart Mets fan and supporter of the Rays, he makes an annual pilgrimage to Spring Training in Florida and is an aficionado of minor league ball, particularly here in the northeast.

Emma, who occasionally writes for Bronx Banter and her own site when she has time, sent me a review copy of the book. I'm going to read the book and do a review at some point, but when Jack heard about Emma's work, he asked if he could get the first crack at it.]

I recently finished reading Emma Span's 90% Of The Game Is Half Mental and the short of is that it's a very good read. While you can't go wrong with a Yogiism for the title, I think the sub-title, "And Other Tales from the Edge of Baseball Fandom" more accuately portrays her baseball experiences, from her New Jersey childhood to working odd summer jobs while attending Yale, to her brief gig as the Village Voice baseball writer and beyond. Baseball, especially New York baseball, isn't something you would expect to be a consuming interest of a funny, sarcastic, literate, New York-centric, admittedly neurotic, female insomniac, but Emma clearly loves the game.

Chapters related to the job with the Voice and the trip to Taiwan (not Japan?) are often hilarious in their observations. Locker room scene descriptions and commentary on the New York press corps highlight her awkwardness, but despite being a bit of a nerd, she seems to be pretty self-confident.

Emma obviously knows her inside baseball. Her blog was once called Eephus Pitch and the book discusses the arguments of stathead sabermetrics vs. old school scouting. She gets into some detailed modern history of Yankees' and Mets' postseason appearances and touches upon male/female baseball perspectives, Yankees/Mets fandom, New York/non-New York fandom, and baseball movies (she hates "The Natural", I love it).

I was surprised that she never mentions any great baseball books or their writers (i.e. Halberstam, Kahn), but I was glad to read that she shares my criticism of some elements of The Great American Pastime. For instance:
  • Loud amplified needless cheering nonsense at games (between innings, between batters, sometimes between pitches) when normal converstion becomes impossible
  • The distraction caused by the gigantic TV screen in the new Yankee Stadium
  • Joe Morgan's television commentary
With 160 pages, an easy and conversational tone, an occasional F-bomb for emphasis, and some really laugh-out-loud passages, it's a quick, entertaining, and confessional autobiography that will especially appeal to New York baseball fans.

I strongly encourage you and your readers to give it a rip.

Six Days Worth Of News, Notes, & Links

Good morning Fackers. I'm still getting myself back up to speed here, but I suppose, that like the majority of the Yankees roster at present, I'm day-to-day. Hope you all had a good Memorial Day Weekend. Mine wasn't too bad. In fact, if I were a Yankees minor league prospect and I was assigned to Charleston, I think I might intentionally tank in hopes of repeating the level and spending another year there. Let's get caught up on the past several days with some news, notes, and links:
As we mentioned in last night's preview, Jorge Posada was not activated in time for last night's game, despite being eligible to come off the DL and having run and taken BP without incident over the past few days. Rumor is he'll be activated in time for tonight's contest.

Posada's return likely means the end of Chad Moeller's tenure with the club, at least for the time being. However, Posada has yet to catch, which is likely to be the most strenuous activity as it relates to the fracture in his foot. It's also rumored that Posada may ease his way back into the lineup as a DH. It's not entirely out of the question that the team might keep Moeller around for a few more days, but with just a four man bench I can't see the team carrying three catchers right now.

In other roster news, Cleveland has claimed pitcher Shane Lindsay off waivers from the Yankees. Lindsay was claimed from Colorado just two weeks ago, but was promptly DFA'd to make room when Chad Gaudin was signed last week. Interestingly enough, Cleveland passed on an opportunity to claim Lindsay when he was waived earlier this month, but thought better of it this time around. The tall Australian spent the entirety of his brief Yankee career in Extended Spring Training, trying to improve upon his career 6.1 BB/9.

Speaking of relievers with control problems, former Yankee Brian Bruney, late of the Nationals, has signed a minor league deal with Milwaukee. Bruney handed out 20 free passes in just 17.2 innings of work this year.

Meanwhile, the Yankees may soon be stocking another arm in their minor league system. On Monday, reliever Kanekoa Texeira was designated for assignment by Seattle. Texeira was a Rule 5 pick from the Yankees system this past off-season. Seattle now has ten days to trade, waive, or release Texeira. Any team that picks him up inherits the Rule 5 requirement of keeping him on the 25 man roster for the remainder of the year. If he happens to clear waivers, Seattle must offer him back to the Yankees for $25k, half of the initial Rule 5 purchase price. The Yankees would not be required to carry him on either the 40 or 25 man rosters. As Mike Axisa at RAB noted, it never hurts to have depth, so I'm sure the club would taken him back if given the chance.

If he were to return, Texeira would likely be assigned to Scranton, who faced the great Stephen Strasburg over the weekend, and handed the phenom his first professional loss. Catcher Rene Rivera hit the first home run surrendered by the top pick in last year's draft. Rivera's job is likely in jeopardy when Posada is activated and Moeller goes back down, but at the very least he has a good story to tell for the rest of his days.

Scranton is getting somewhat healthy again as well, as outfielder/first baseman David Winfree and outfield Colin Curtis both returned over the weekend after missing time with injuries. As we noted last week, Curtis had been playing good ball prior to spraining his ankle and Brian Cashman stated that he would have been under consideration for a promotion had he not been injured. As we approach the one third mark of the season and the club begins to evaluate their roster needs for the remainder of the year, including looking for "versatile outfield bats", don't be surprised to see Curtis get a look before the trade deadline.

We're a few days late on this one, but weekend contributor Steve H, of Mystique and Aura, had a good post at RAB on Saturday, pointing out that handing a Major League job to Kevin Russo right now may hurt his development long term. At some point we may see Colin Curtis replace Russo so he can continue to develop as a supersub at the AAA level.

On Friday, Scranton lost a player, as pitcher Amauri Sanit was suspended for 50 games. The diminutive 30 year old Cuban tested positive for Mephentermine and had posted an 8.69 ERA through 19.2 IP this year.

In AA Trenton, slugger Jorge Vazquez made his 2010 debut last night. The 28 year old corner infielder was part of the Yankees haul out of the Mexican League in recent years, joining Alfredo Aceves and Ramiro Pena as useful pieces plucked from south of the border. He hit 13 home runs in just 225 at bats last year, but had missed the entirety of this season following an appendectomy. Fellow appendix-less prospect Manny Banuelos has yet to return action this year.

Fangraph's Jack Moore checks in on Tampa switch picher Pat Venditte.

For more minor league info, Pending Pinstripes' Greg Fertel has a post on how his top thirty prospects have faired thus far.

On Friday, ESPN's Rob Neyer riffed on Steve Goldman's pondering about making Curtis Granderson a platoon player. Granderson has recorded a hit off a left handed pitcher every day since that post published.

Seinfeld debuted just over twenty years ago, and went off the air just over twelve years ago. ESPN New York put together a list of Yankees references throughout the show's history.
Ok, that just about clears out all the things I had stashed away in Google Reader over the past few days. Back with more later on.