Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nice recovery by Yanks

Maybe it was seeing Graeme Lloyd back in pinstripes, or the carry-over excitement of the regenerative abilities of Wade Boggs' hairline. Perhaps it was getting a fresh dose of the batshit crazy Rickey Henderson or realizing what a GILF Billy Martin's wife is. Whatever the reason, things turned in the Yankees' favor this weekend against the Angels.

For entertainment purposes alone, can we have Old-Timer's Day every homestand?

It's not often that I'm happy with a split at home, but after the Angels' wipeout of the Red Sox at Fenway and subsequent victories in their first two games in the Bronx, the Los Angeles of California of Orange County in Anaheim Angels had a strut going that could of spelled doom. With Moose coming off a shaky start and the awful Darrell Rasner coming up, the fear of a four-game sweep was very real.

But the recipe that guided the Angels to their 11-2 start to the second half turned sour in a hurry. Mussina got the job done on Saturday in picking up his 14th win, and then the Angels did the Yankees a favor by beating themselves in Sunday's finale. After beating up on Rasner and taking a 5-0 lead into the fifth inning, a few bad pitches and atrocious defense opened the door for the Yanks. Mark Teixiera's grand slam off Edwar Ramirez (looking brutally tentative) nearly saved the day in the eighth, but the Angels made an amazing four errors and should have been charged for a fifth in the seventh and eighth innings, gift-wrapping a 14-9 New York win. The Yanks finished their homestand with a 3-4 mark.

Xavier Nady is making Brian Cashman look like a genius so far, his homer and six RBIs pacing the offense. A more subtle hero was Dan Geise, who relieved Rasner in the fifth and shut down the Angels for three innings as the Yanks clawed back. A few Bombers ducked the goat horns, as A-Rod's easy double-play ball in the eighth was botched by Chone Figgins, while Ramirez lost control of the zone before throwing one of his scintillating 78-mph fastballs to Teixeira. By the way, how is Ramirez in the game at that point? Marte or Mo are by far better options once the bags are juiced there. In the words of Thomas Earl Petty, you got lucky, Joe.

The back end of the rotation has reached emergency status for the Yanks, and Cashman is going to have to address at least one of the spots before the next turn through the rotation. Comeback wins like Sunday don't happen very often, and the bottom line is that Sidney Greenstreet and the Razz are burying the Yankees almost every start. Ponson's six innings on Friday were misleading, he was charged with one run but could have easily given up eight if some rockets were aimed better by the Angels. Rasner was non-competitive and now has just two wins since May 26. I know the offense has been inconsistent, but two wins in 12 starts when you're playing for the Yankees is pretty hard to do.

Ian Kennedy had another strong start today for Scranton Wilkes-Barre, allowing two runs over seven innings. If the Bombers are smart, they give the kid another shot. Rasner has been a benefactor-of-circumstance this year, sticking around far longer than he should have as injuries kept New York from sending him to his rightful place in long relief. If Cashman can figure out a way to get the Washburn deal done down the line, you can plug him in for Ponson when the time comes. But Rasner has to go now.

Around The Horn: Rasner's ERA has jumped from 2.67 to 5.23 since June 1. He should buy one of those goofy neck pillows for his long rides on Minor League buses. ... This may fly in the face of all those feel-good 'Stache stories, but Jason Giambi actually batted a chilly .234 in July and is hitless in nine August at-bats. Maybe it's time to grow an obnoxious 1996-style goatee or wear dress shirts without collars? Put some Chumbawamba on the Discman, perhaps? ... Wins on Saturday and Sunday only served to keep pace with the Rays and Red Sox, who won both their weekend games as well. The Bombers are 2.5 out in the AL Wild Card chase and 5.5 back in the AL East. ... Kyle Farnsworth is wasting no time making good on his unspoken promise to kill Jim Leyland, giving up a pair of homers to cough up a lead to the Rays. He's still screwing the Yankees and he's not even on the team anymore. Thanks for playing, Kyle! ... The Yankees begin a tough 10-game road swing on Monday in Texas, playing four vs. the heavy-hitting Rangers, three against the AL West-leading Angels before closing with three against the AL Central-leading Twins. Me thinks we'll know a lot more about the guts of this team by Aug. 14. I'm signing off on a 6-4 trip with my fingers crossed so hard I can feel the bones cracking. ... Bobby Murcer was missed on Saturday, no doubt about it.


SA Yankee fan said...

I agree the Yanks need to do something about the backend of the rotation but do you really think it is wise to go after Washburn? You have Kennedy, Hughes and Pavano(not that I am holding out much hope for him) all either available or soon to be available.

Lets assume with the roughly 80mil (70 if they get Washburn) the Yanks have available this offseason they either get CC or Sheets for the frontend of their rotation, they will have way too much starting pitching. I understand that they can just trade away the excess but I don't think they are going to be able to get rid of Washburn and his 10mil a year.

I understand they are going for it this year and want to be playing in October but they can plug Kennedy in now (I know it is only AAA but he does seem to be pitching quite weel) and then Hughes in like 3 weeks. These guys were good enough for rotation spots in April, why are they not good enough now?

DH said...

Hey SA. As always, thanks for reading.

If we both agree that Rasner and Ponson shouldn't be in the rotation, then that means you have two spaces to fill.

Sure, plugging in Hughes and Kennedy makes sense on paper, but they were both awful before hitting the DL. It's certainly a reach to expect both to excel now.

So I hedge my bets. Figure either Hughes or Kennedy will come back and be effective. Washburn slides into one of the slots as a dependable veteran.

I have a feeling that of Pettitte and Mussina, only one vet will be coming back. Maybe neither. Pettitte is always talking about retiring while Mussina may end up asking for too much after what could be an 18-20 win season. If the Yanks sign CC and both vets are history, the rotation looks like this:


Washburn makes complete sense for this year, and he is a good -- if not expensive -- insurance policy if the kids falter again in '08.

If both kids excel, the Yankees are a 100-win team that can deal off Washburn for a mid-level prospect in May or June. Eating some or all of the salary is never an issue in Yankee Universe.

If Pettitte or Mussina do come back, Washburn will likely be dealt before Spring Training.

Pavano can't be in the discussion. He just can't.

SA Yankee fan said...

Ok, I suppose you never really can have too much starting pitching.

Still seems a bit excessive to me though, I can't see the Yanks not landing a frontline starter this offseason and with that you will probably end up with an entire extra rotation come spring training.

I don't really expect Pettitte to retire with a brand new Yankee stadium to pitch in, I also think moose will be back (although even if he goes he'll be a type A free agent and so the Yanks will get draft picks). Pitching in the new stadium is going to be a drawcard for any free agents the Yanks go after (that and the ton of money they will free up) and I expect it to be a productive offseason (although they will probably overpay for the players they get).

They could run into spring with:

X number of overrated prospects

Thing is, could the Yankees get into October without Washburn? Once they are there, the need for a fifth starter is minimal.

You do have both Kennedy and Hughes plus Pavano (who actually has an incentive to pitch this year considering next year he won't get paid 10mil to not pitch)