August 1, 2021

Clearing The Bases

September 1, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

We’ve had to take a few weeks off due to some software problems, but we’re back today, just in time to watch all of the players that major league teams will call up to fortify their bullpen and bench during this final month.  The Yanks and Red Sox have been playing a big series this week in Fenway, but is it really a big series, not like either team is in danger of missing the playoffs, and there isn’t an easy team to face in the first round of the playoffs as each possible opponent has their challenges.  Who wants to face Justin Verlander twice in a five game series?  The Rangers have the deepest pitching staff of any possible playoff team and can rake with either the Yanks or Sox, and although the Angels don’t have an imposing lineup, they can lineup three starters that can limit what an opposing offense can do.  Here is a look at a few of the stories going on around the Yankees.

Jesus Montero was called up by the Yankees and may instantly be inserted into the lineup.  The Yankees have a need for a DH as Jorge Posada has just not been able to get the job done.  Andruw Jones has been hitting for a great deal of power of late and should still have a part-time role in the lineup, but perhaps that should be as part of a platoon with Brett Gardner who is once again not hitting the baseball.  It’s fairly well known that Montero can’t catch at the major league level, although he will probably get another shot to prove me wrong, but he can hit, and could be a boon to the Yankees in September, especially if Alex Rodriguez is unable to come back from multiple injuries (knee, thumb).  A more serious problem for the Yankees is what to do about their starting pitching staff.  Let’s take a look at the starters.

  1. CC Sabathia:  Has been mentioned as a CY Young candidate quite a few times this season but has fallen off of late.  He is still a top pitcher and one the Yankees will need to be at his best once the playoffs start.  If he is not at his best the Yanks will have almost zero chance to advance very far in the playoffs.
  2. Bartolo Colon:  Has been nothing short of a godsend for the Yankees.  The problem is he does have the look of a pitcher who is wearing down.  He might benefit from a couple of skipped starts to refresh the batteries as he is looking like the number two heading into the first round.
  3. Freddy Garcia:  I don’t think anyone has any idea how Garcia gets outs on a consistent basis,  His fastball almost never reaches 90MPH, but he is a veteran pitcher who changes speeds well and hits his locations.  That being said, the Yankees can’t feel all that confident about their chances with Garcia going up against Boston or Texas, those lineups might just have a field day with Garcia.
  4. Ivan Nova:  The rookie has been outstanding for the Yankees, not a lights out type of pitcher, but an innings eater who keeps the team in games long enough for the offense to put runs on the board.  He could easily be the number two starter if the Yanks prefer him over Colon versus a certain team, or if they would rather start him at home rather than on the road.
  5. Phil Hughes:  An enigma this season, what happened with his arm?  He seems to pitch well at times, but is terribly inconsistent.  He has pitched better than AJ Burnett, but probably loses his rotation spot to Burnett as he has proven in the past that he can pitch well out of the bullpen.
  6. AJ Burnett:  Just a complete nightmare who melts down as soon as runners reach base.  With two years left on his contract at over $30 million the Yanks are stuck with him.  He has the talent to be a very good pitcher, but not the mental capacity, perhaps he never will.  Look at it this way Yankee fans, if not for Burnett winning Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, you probably don’t

have another ring of your finger.


As for the bullpen, it has been one of the best in the game with the exception of a left-handed specialist.  Boone Logan is not the answer and the Yankees don’t have any other possibilities within the organization.  Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte have missed the entire season with arm injuries and although both are rehabbing, it seems unlikely that either one can make any kind of contribution this season.  The question is why don’t the Yankees call up Manny Banuelos and just him out of the pen as that left specialist, similar to what the Rays did with David Price in 2008.  They could at least find out if he can handle the bright lights and give him a taste of the big leagues.


What was John Lackey thinking when he drilled Francisco Cervelli with the first pitch in his next at-bat after hitting a home run Tuesday night.  Even if you thought Cervelli was showing you up, you were down 4-2, you don’t hit the leadoff pitcher on purpose, just a selfish thing to do.  If you feel you need to seek revenge you wait until the next time you face him when the stakes aren’t so high, and you had better make sure he doesn’t score which he did.  If I’m Terry Francona I’m certainly not happy with that, plus I’d be getting a little tired of his antics on the mound whenever he thinks a defensive player made a bad play.  You don’t see Dustin Pedroia put his hands on his head when Lackey gives up a home run.


2 Responses to “Clearing The Bases”
  1. Paul Dunn says:

    Great article on the Yankees and their post-season chances. I don’t know how Garcia does it either-he looks like a right-handed Jamie Moyer or going back a good number of years, Doyle Alexander. I’m amazed the Yankees have gotten so much out of what at first glance , looks to be a very ordinary bull pen. Nevertheless, Robertson has been great as a set up man and while Rivera is not the closer he once was, he still can be very effective. I would also add that somehow or other Noesi,Logan Ayala and Soriano have gotten the job done. The trouble starts when, for example, Burnett gets knocked out early one night and Colon follows with an early exit the next night. That is when the bull pen is most likely to falter.

  2. George Kurtz says:

    I do a weekly podcast with Chris Mitchell (Evil Empire and the Nation) and we both are constantly amazed that the league hasn’t caught up with Garcia this season. He and Colon have really saved the Yankees this year. As soon as I hear Doyle Alexander’s name, the first thing that comes to mind is Detroit traded a young John Smoltz for him, ouch. The bullpen was always thought to be the Yankees strength this year. Robertson was going to be used in the 7th, Soriano the 8th, and Mariano the 9th (Joba would fill in as needed), but once Joba and Soriano were injured most thought the bullpen would implode, but instead they have only gotten better. I agree with your assessment, back to back short outings by a couple of starters could hurt the pen in a series. The Yankees still view Noesi as a possible starter but he has been pretty solid in the pen, not sure I would make that move next season.

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