Around the Horn: Call-ups, Javy, Jeter, Ted Lilly…

A few interesting items to cover during this edition of Around the Horn.

  • As reported last night, Jonathan Albaladejo, Chad Moeller, and Greg Golson have been called up as “September call-ups”. Furthermore, Lance Berkman has been activated. That’s gives Joe Girardi four new players to manage with, and more should be on their way, especially after the minor league playoffs are finished. Despite the hate he gets from many Yankee fans, Berkman should be a nice addition to this team, and when/if Marcus Thames cools down, “The Big Puma” should be able to get regular at bats at the DH position. I look for Jon Albaladejo to possibly have a huge impact with this team. I would say more about Albie, but Mike Axisa of RAB already has it covered with a post about the righty reliever.
  • After two very good relief appearances following his removal from the starting rotation, Javier Vazquez will be returning to the rotation. Earlier today Joe Girardi told reporters that Javy would be taking Dustin Moseley’s spot in the rotation and will be starting on Saturday. This seems like the perfect time to do this because Javy has been pitching well lately, and unfortunately it looks like the real Dustin Moseley has shown up.
  • We all know Derek Jeter has struggled immensely this year. It hasn’t become a huge issue yet for several reasons, a couple of them being that Derek Jeter is well, Derek Jeter, and the Yankees are winning without his contributions. The issue was, however, brought up during a pregame session with Joe Girardi today. Via Chad Jennings, we learn if Joe has considered moving Jeter down in the lineup, a move I would fully advocate for and support. Unfortunately, Girardi’s answer was, “I don’t see that happening.” Sure, it’s not a huge deal now to have Jeter at the top of the lineup, but when the postseason rolls around will the Yankees still be set to having Jeter at the top of the lineup if his struggles continue? I’m not so sure I would be comfortable with him up there. I love Jeter as much as the next guy, but I really would like to something done. If his name wasn’t “Derek Jeter” he’d be batting eight or ninth for the Yankees now. If the Yankees don’t have the guts to move him down in the lineup, will they have the guts to offer him a reasonable contract this offseason? Or will they overpay him for his past performances? I can only imagine.
  • Last night we got news that the Yankees won the waiver claim for Dodgers pitcher, and former Yankee, Ted Lilly, but the Dodgers pulled Lilly off waivers. Oh well, end of story. But wait, there’s more! The rules state that in order for a player to be eligible for the playoffs they have to be in the organization before September 1st, so while the Yankees could technically still acquire Ted Lilly, he wouldn’t be able to pitch in the playoffs. Here’s where it gets interesting. According to a Daily News report, the Yankees believe that because they had a waiver claim in for Lilly before September 1st, there is a loophole which would allow Lilly to pitch in the playoffs if they were to acquire him. Interesting. I don’t know what to make of it, so let’s just wait and see.
  • Alfredo Aceves has been on a rehab assignment in the minors for a while now, but has yet to be called up. Joe Girardi said, “he’s just not up to where we believe he can be yet [performance-wise].” Back problems are a tricky thing to recover from.
  • The Arizona Fall League rosters were recently announced, and Frankie Piliere says the Yankees will be sending Austin Romine, Brandon Laird, Corban Joseph, Craig Heyer, and George Kontos to Arizona this year. He also says there are a couple of open roster spots, so the Yankees could opt to send more players.
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A-Rod and Thames save Yanks from loss

Last night the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in a very exhilarating game. While I don’t want to waste all my time analyzing the entire game, I’ll try to break it down a bit.

This graph really shows how the momentum of the game really changed last night. First it was all Yankees, then all Red Sox, and then obviously back to the Yankees favor.

Pitching

If I had to sum the Yankees pitching last night up in three words, I’d say “not very good.” Fortunately, I’m not limited to three words.

Phil Hughes started last night’s game and only lasted 5 innings while giving up 5 runs and 2 home runs. He simply wasn’t very sharp. Although he threw a lot of strikes, they weren’t necessarily good strikes. In addition, it’s possible he didn’t have his best stuff. In the end, he didn’t pitch well, but he battled and that builds character and perhaps allows a pitcher to mature more than a dominating game does. I wouldn’t worry about Hughes yet, and remember young pitchers struggle.

Boone Logan followed Hughes and in one inning of work he allowed a home run to Victor Martinez. Logan may impress people with his velocity, but upon further look it’s clear his control is awful. There are tons of people who throw hard, but unless they can control the ball they aren’t very valuable. So far, Logan has fallen into that category. In addition, Logan (a lefty) has actually been worse against lefty batters this year than righties (not to say he has been good against righties). In my opinion the Yankees would be better off having Mark Melancon in the bullpen instead of Logan.

Chan Ho Park came in after Logan. Fresh off the DL Park looked good in his first inning of work. However, in the eight inning Park allowed 3 runs on 2 home runs. He looked very fatigued, and this was expected considering he hasn’t pitched multiple innings in over a month. I think in normal circumstances with the bullpen more deep, Girardi wouldn’t have turned to Park for two innings. I wouldn’t worry about this appearance at all, just remember his stamina is low coming of the DL and it certainly showed last night. Once he gets built back up he should return to form.

Damaso Marte took over for Park in the eight and got good results. In 1.2 innings of work Marte allowed no runs on 1 hit and 1 walk.

Javier Vazquez came in to get the last out in the ninth as it appeared Marte was tiring. Javy did the job, and actually picked up the win. Considering he only threw 4 pitches, Javy is still in line for his Friday start.

Offense

The Yankees scored 5 runs of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first inning of last night’s ballgame, but they cooled down after that. Through the second to eight inning the Yankees only picked up 2 more runs. Going into the ninth inning the Yankees trailed 9-7. Would there be any late inning heroics like there were in 2009? Yes. With a man on and facing Jonathan Papelbon, Alex Rodriguez crushed one to left field to tie up the game. Then with Francisco Cervelli on base, Marcus Thames came up to the plate looking dead red. And he got red and took it deep to left for a walkoff home run. Ballgame over, time for pie! I don’t know about you but I never get tired of these unreal endings.

"A-Rod watches his home run leave the park." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports.

"The look of pure happiness on Marcus Thames' face last night has to make you smile." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports.

“Catching up with the blogging world”

Check out Matt Vereb’s exclusive interview with Nick Swisher. You can really see how nice a person Swisher is, plus Matt asks some good questions like “Who’s your best friend on the team?” I won’t spoil the answer, go check it out!

P.S. If there is a game tonight, you’re welcome to use this post to discuss it.

Game 2: Yankees at Red Sox

After losing the first game of the year on Opening Night to the Red Sox, the Yankees will take on Boston again tonight hoping for a better outcome. Here is tonight’s starting lineup for the Yankees via Chad Jennings

SS Derek Jeter

DH Nick Johnson

1B Mark Teixeira

3B Alex Rodriguez

2B Robinson Cano

C Jorge Posada

RF Nick Swisher

LF Marcus Thames

CF Curtis Granderson

RHP A.J. Burnett


A Few Changes To The Lineup

With Jon Lester, an elite lefty, toeing the rubber for the Red Sox, Joe Girardi has made a few lineup changes today. Most notably, Marcus Thames is playing left field instead of Brett Gardner. Marcus Thames doesn’t necessarily hit for a better average against lefties (.256 career AVG against lefties, .234 career AVG against righties) but he does for more power against lefties. However, Thames has to prove that his bat upgrade is worth the defense downgrade vs Gardner. Anyway, the other lineup change is that with Lester pitching, Girardi has moved Curtis Granderson to the 9th spot in the lineup.

Hughes Excels in Extended Spring Game

Yesterday Phil Hughes threw the equivalent of 8 and 1/3 innings in a simulated Spring Training game. Hughes allowed 3 hits to assorted Yankee prospects and struck out 12 while throwing 70 strikes and only 30 balls. Now what does this mean? Well nothing really, the only purpose the game was to keep Hughes fresh and allow him to work on a few things if he needs to.

“Zen Baseball”

Benjamin Kabak over at RAB wrote a nice article about what he calls “Zen Baseball”. Basically, what he is saying is that we as fans need to relax and enjoy baseball instead of worrying over it too much. I highly suggest reading the full post, maybe it will help you gain a better perspective.

Link Fiesta: Montero, Gardner, Thames…

On this Saturday after a snow filled week here in New York, here are some links to keep your mind entertained:

Jesus Montero and his unique throwing technique

We’ve all heard about Montero and how his bat is other-worldly but his defense needs work. While his defense may need work he has always been blessed with a powerful arm, and supposedly in order to make up for his big body he makes his throws in a way most catchers do not. “Instead of popping up onto the front of both feet and firing to second, Montero kept his right foot anchored in place after catching the pitch; he took a short stride with his left foot and threw to second base.” (If any of you have ESPN Insider access you can click on the link and read the rest of the article, but I don’t have the access.)

Montero impressing many during spring training

With his bat of course…

Sticking with the Montero theme…

Just a nice article about Montero for those of you wishing to learn more about him.

Brett Gardner a 5 win player in 2010?

Fangraphs has a nice article saying how Gardner could be the 2010 version of Nyjer Morgan and have a 5 WAR. I wouldn’t expect it, but there is a chance.

Andrew Brackman working to get back on track.

Brackman is working hard and has been impressing during spring training this year.

Thames has an opt-out clause.

If he doesn’t make the team out of spring training he can become a free agent if he wishes, so basically it is a competition between Thames and Jamie Hoffmann and whoever doesn’t make the team is gone. I’m going to say Hoffmann makes the team.

Granderson gets contacts.

Hey, it can’t hurt.

Former Yankees…

Two things you need to know about them: They stick together, and they usually end up in Pittsburgh. (H/T to RAB)

Former Yankees, Melky and Coke breaking the Yankees facial hair code…

Will Damon bring back the Jesus look? (Click on Melky and Coke’s name to see a picture)