« And You Thought N.Y. Was The Only Place With Fan Booing Issues.... | Main | Time To Discontinue Unit Production? »

September 06, 2006

September 6th @ The Royals

Jorge & Unit might not be as slick as Bacardi & Cola, but, tonight, they got the job done.

Randy Johnson, when he's on, as we saw this evening, can be unhittable. But, when it goes for him, it goes in a hurry. He's fooled me a few times now - in thinking that he might throw a no-no. But, just when you start to think it's safe to begin counting off the outs needed that are left, he seems to give up a hit. I guess, at his age, a no-hitter is not meant to be......unless he gets some great plays made behind him when it's late in the game.

So, the magic number is now 15 with 24 games to go.

If the Yankees win five of their next seven, that would get the number down to ten. And, if Boston (at the same time) loses three of their next six games, that would get the magic number down to seven - leading into when the Sox arrive in the Bronx.

Then, it would take a sweep (of Boston) by New York when the Yankees return home to clinch the A.L. East.

Thinking this over now, it looks like the Yankees will probably clinch around September 22nd (while they are on the road). The timing here is a shame - it would have been nice to see them clinch at home. Still, it's nice to wrap it up with ten or so games to go.

That will eliminate any excuse of being tired heading into the A.L.D.S.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at September 6, 2006 10:50 PM


Jeter is 1 point behind for the batting title, Robbie is ~4 back and ~10 AB's short of qualifying. He should be qualified in around a week to 10 days. Ought to be fun...as long as they keep winning. I remember Donnie and Windbag going down to the wire in 84, praying for Don to win it. This year, we win either way, although I'd really like to see Jeter add it to his resume. If Don is going to take any heat for A-Rod's performance, then he deserves some credit for Jeter and Cano.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 01:16 AM

I think Jeter's going to take it - and it won't be close. As far as the credit, Damon deserves an assist.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 08:25 AM

I think Cano has a slight advangtage because he has fewer at bats. A 3 for 5 game late in the season will give cano a .003 or .004 point bump, while Jeter would only get a .001 or .002 point bump from the same performance.

I would like to see Jeter win it though. His resume is missing two things - a batting title and an MVP and I think the former will help him get the latter.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 08:39 AM

I didn't watch the game last night. Any reason why Proctor/Farns got into the game? I guess Bruney's overworked already but there are other options down there, no?

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 09:44 AM

I agree on the Damon point and mentioned it in a posting yesterday. Jeter should never be moved out of the 2 hole. Johnny plays this way for the next 3 years, DJ's good for 200+ hits a year and 90+ RBI's, plus Abreu will be lined up to be an MVP hitting out of the three hole. Can't pull against Robbie, but go DJ go. Any more of Ortiz's late inning heroics will be meaningless at this point, assuming he gets his stroke back in a week or so. Remember those, "Nomar's better" chants?

Miggy? Getting close to ready. Matsui? Getting close to ready (the deal there is he's a better left hand DH than Guiel or Bernie, and as long as Giambi is healthy enough to play the field, #55 will add to the mix). Pavano? Ehhhh, not quite yet (candyas*).

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 10:43 AM

Forgot to mention this for the benefit of my buddy Baileywalk...

Phil Hughes' line from last night's game:

6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 13 K

He's a beast, I tell ya. A beast.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 11:32 AM

I don't think Johnson's stuff is ever really "unhittable" anymore. But on nights like last night, when he has an extra tick on his fastball and a good slider, he's still a topnotch pitcher. How-evah! -- this dude LOSES is so quickly it's scary. After giving up that triple, and having the runner erased by a wicked throw by Jorge (who's a scary-good catcher this year), he walked a guy and then gave up a shot that had home run written all over it. Mark Grudzielanek missed a home run by a hair. I don't know what it is about Unit. Either he loses concentration or gets frustrated and just throws the fastball right down the heart of the plate. Whatever it is, Torre made the right decision to immediately get someone up in the 'pen.

That game in K.C. wasn't the most important game going on in the Yankee universe last night. The one in Trenton was. I was there to see Phil Hughes dominate. I've seen some amazing performances from pitchers, and this was definitely one of the most dominating performances I've had the pleasure to witness. He struck out 13 batters in 6 innings. Only five of the outs weren't strikeouts. He had total command of his fastball, working inside and out, and his curveball was almost unhittable. I saw Hughes earlier in the year, when he first got to AA, and he is a much better pitcher now. Watching this guy blow away hitter after hitter, the crowd was awash in a collective drool.

As for Matsui -- he looked a little bulkier than I remember him; he struck out on a slider with late bite down and in his first time up, got intentionally walked, smacked a laser beam to right for an out, and then hit a ground ball single past the first baseman (I thought the first baseman, who everyone was calling Papi Jr., since he looked like his twin, had a shot at it, but it skipped by him).

Brett Gardner is insanely fast. He beat out two infield hits and stole a base despite a pitch-out. Along with good pitching from Hughes and Charlie Manning (whose fastball is better than advertised), Brett's legs won the game.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 11:54 AM

MJ, not only do we think alike, but we write things at the same time! Like I said in the post, I was there to witness it, and yes, Hughes is a beast. Performances like this are going to get him more of a look in spring training... I hope.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 11:56 AM

My favorite part of the Trenton game was that Hideki had to wear a Yankees helmet because the Trenton Thunder don't own a helmet that fits Hideki's enormious cranium.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 12:20 PM

I don't live that far from Trenton but I get out of work a bit too late most nights to make it down there. I'm hoping to see more of him in February/March of next year. Unfortunately if he ends up in AAA next year, I'll probably never get to see him live until he puts on the real 'stripes up here in NY.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 12:29 PM

MJ, you're going to have to sneak out of work during the playoffs if you want to see him live (until he makes it to the Bronx, that is). He's a lock to be starting in AAA next year. With him, Clippard and Cox (and MAYBE Duncan and Gardner), AAA is going to have real prospects for the first time in a long time (Melky notwithstanding). That team has been a trap for career minor leaguers and nobodies for a long time. Now there will actually be some excitement on that team.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 12:51 PM

But, are the Yankees being too cautious here? The trend in recent years has been to promote straight from AA to the majors, with AAA, as you said, being the haven for career minor leaguers and the occasional AAAA player who can be called up to fill out the margins of a roster. As presently constituted, AAA is not a good barometer of major league readyness. Tim Redding (yes, that guy) pitched a CG shutout for the Mudhens in the IL playoff opener last night. You all recall his 1 inning, 6 run job last season.

Posted by: JohnnyC [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 01:04 PM

Without Tim Redding, I wouldn't have met Melky Cabrera that horrible Friday night in 2005. I was so disgusted that I went out and got positively hammered at a bar around the corner from my house. So I'll always blame that hangover on Redding (the bastard).

JohnnyC brings up a good point. But I think that the Yankees owe it to Hughes and to themselves to at least start the kid at AAA and not rush him next year. I don't think that means they have to keep him Columbus all year, but it wouldn't hurt to have him get a bit more seasoning, even if it's against AAAA players. The true test will be in spring training when he faces the big leaguers for a handful of starts in mid-March.

And Bailey, I would sneak out early if I could but I'd probably get busted right quick. I sit on a trading desk and there's nowhere to hide over here...

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 01:47 PM

MJ, it's a good thing we don't hang out. You got hammered after the Yankees lost, I'm prone to leaving holes in walls with my fist after they lose -- if we saw a Yankee loss together we might go on a shooting spree or something.

I have to agree with Johnny here. If the Yankees feel Hughes established that he's ready for the big leagues, and it's all about getting innings in, then I would start him in the Bronx out of spring training. Pitching for AAA isn't really going to do much for him, development-wise. More times than not, he's probably facing better competition in Trenton. If he's going to throw innings, he might as well do it in the Bronx.

Having said that, unless Mussina doesn't re-sign (which I think he will) and they have to fill an extra spot in the rotation (assuming Wright is gone), then I think Hughes is going to Columbus with Clippard and Cox.

Since it's what everyone does -- and you know how baseball teams do whatever everyone else does -- Hughes will probably come up some time around the All-Star Break and stay.

Hughes gets a lot of comparisons to Clemens, but I see a lot of Andy Pettitte and Mo in him. Not stuff-wise, but in that cool, nerves-of-steel way of going about his business. This kid does not sweat. He's had to face enormous pressure and expectations, and he hasn't blinked -- which makes me think he can easily handle the Bronx once he gets here.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 02:33 PM

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Hughes has to start at AAA. It's the only way I'll get to see him.

And Redding was good last night. (I was at the game.) But the Mudhens are a free swinging group, they lead the IL in homeruns (154, IIRC) and strikeouts (1100+). It's amazing they actually made the playoffs.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 02:46 PM

//..Hughes gets a lot of comparisons to Clemens, but I see a lot of Andy Pettitte and Mo in him. Not stuff-wise, but in that cool, nerves-of-steel way of going about his business. //

Interesting observation. No less of an authority that Gene Michael told me that for the first several years of Andy's career he lacked the required mental edge and toughness. Clemens was a big part of his maturing. If Hughes has that in his tool kit already, look out. It'll be interesting to see how he handles getting knocked around for a couple of outings in a row. He may never have faced that in his life, and it will happen. Some time in AAA will only help.

Posted by: #15 [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 03:19 PM

I've always wondered about this but does anyone know why the Yanks have their AAA team in Columbus, OH (besides the fact that RBJ lives there).

Is it because Steinbrenner is from Ohio? Is it because the Yanks want to have a wider reach in a part of the country that would otherwise detest them?

I've always preferred the Red Sox or Orioles model of keeping all the minor league affiliates close by so you could a) get players to and from spots easily and b) provide your local fans with relatively easy access to all levels of the system.

I've been to several SI Yankees games and a couple of AA games on the weekends and I'd go to AAA games if they were close by.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 03:28 PM

MJ, actually I'm in Toledo. Columbus is about a 3 hr. drive. Not bad, but I'd have to stay overnight for a game. I usually go to the Columbus at Toledo games, there are a fair number of NY jerseys at those games.

Interesting fact, the Clippers are owned by the city of Columbus. That doesn't help with why the Yankees AAA is out here. I suspect that it is hard to keep all of one's affiliates nearby. Many affiliates were originally independent teams and so it's easier to put an affiliated team where there's a ready base of support. Plus maybe it's too crowded in the NE for all the teams. Still, it would make sense to put the Yanks AAA team in Albany.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 03:54 PM

RBJ, how did you get to be a Yankee fan while living in Toledo? Do you have roots in NY area?

I'm sure the northeast region can squeeze in one more minor league team, especially in a place like Albany. They could build a ballpark on the waterfront, behind the Pepsi Arena where the hockey team plays. It would enhance a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry with Pawtucket being so close, as well.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2006 04:15 PM

Still, it would make sense to put the Yanks AAA team in Albany.
At one time they had the AA team there. They moved to Norwich and are currently the CT Defenders. The reason the team moved was because the city didn't want to build a new stadium

There is already a team playing in Troy, in a new facility, I don't think that they would allow a AAA franchise in Albany, and even if they did, I don't think Albany would pay to build a new ballpark.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 8, 2006 07:48 AM

Weren't they in Oneonta, NY?

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 8, 2006 09:15 AM

Weren't they in Oneonta, NY?

That was the single-a club. The club currently playing in Staten Island

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 8, 2006 10:07 PM

To be fair to Albany, they were told that they had to build a new stadium; MLB handed down an "edict" of what amenities a park should have.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2006 08:00 AM