Tag: yankees

Yankees Acquire Berkman and Kearns

In the event you don’t follow the “other” league, the New York Yankees have acquired Lance Berkman from the Astros and Austin Kearns from the Indians.

The Yankees sent prospects Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes to Houston, who also sent $4M back to the Bronx to help defray Berkman’s $14.5M contract. The Yankees will NOT be required to pick up Berkman’s option for 2011.

As for Kearns — who was one of the Indians’ top hitters this year — he was acquired for a player to be named later or “cash considerations”.

Meanwhile, the Mets did nothing, fully confident with the personnel in their organization.

Why do I bring this up? Because the crosstown rival Yankees have the best record in baseball — in fact, they have 5 more wins than anyone else — and are at the top of the toughest division in MLB. Yet, even the Yankees saw a few spots on their roster that could’ve been improved, and did what they had to do to address them. Considering what they gave up and what they brought in, on the surface it looks like they did OK. Berkman is having a down year but is still an on-base machine, has good pop, and is a pure hitter with plenty of experience in pennant races. Kearns has rebounded after several subpar seasons and will fit in very nicely as a backup outfielder.

These are not earth-shattering acquisitions, but the Yankees didn’t need to bring in superstars, either — and there is little risk on the part of the Yanks with both deals. The point is that no matter how strong a team is, there is always room for improvement.

Maybe I’m being too hard on the Mets. After all, there are still a few hours before the trading deadline.


Mets Game 69: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 4 Mets 0

Sorry Dad.

Mark Teixeira chose the Subway Series to get his groove back — much to the chagrin of Mets fans.

Additionally, C.C. Sabathia chose Father’s Day to spin his best outing of the season.

Game Notes

C.C. Sabathia spun 8 innings of shutout ball, holding the Mets to a mere 4 hits and 2 walks.

Johan Santana was not quite as sharp, as he — everyone, together now — didn’t have his best stuff. Santana allowed 8 hits and a walk in 6 innings, expending 114 pitches. The big blow was a four-run homer by Teixeira (which is often referred to as a “grand slam” or “grand salami”). Santana had no command whatsoever of his change-up, often missing high and in to LH / high and away to RH (in fact he plunked Robinson Cano with one, Santana’s first HBP of the year). His fastball velocity hung around 88 MPH, and was located above the belt, usually catching the middle of the plate. Generally speaking, spotting your two main pitches high in the strike zone is a bad thing, particularly in a homer-happy ballpark such as the new Yankee Stadium. In fact, I found it surprising that the Yankees didn’t hit MORE homeruns, considering where Santana was “living” in the strike zone. Ironically, Teixeira’s blast was one of the few pitches Santana placed at the knees — but it was flat and without much mustard.

The closest the Mets came to mounting something resembling a rally was in the 7th inning, when an Ike Davis leadoff single was followed by a Jason Bay walk (it was also the only inning that the Mets had two runners on base). However, Rod Barajas followed with a strikeout and Fernando Tatis hit into — you guessed it — a double play.

Speaking of, why in the world was Fernando Tatis the DH? Just because he is a righthanded hitter and there was a LHP on the mound? I suppose that is the CYA logic used by Jerry Manuel, with the addendum that “it was a chance to get Tatis some at-bats”. Guess what? The whole concept behind the DH is this: it is an opportunity to put the best batter in your lineup who doesn’t have position. The lefty / righty thing does not apply, unless your best hitter not on the field is unusually weak against a like-sided hurler. Armed with that knowledge, who should have been the DH in Sunday’s game? Chris Carter, of course, because he is the best hitter on the 25-man roster who wasn’t on the field.

Oh, and why was it so important to get Tatis at-bats? The argument, of course, is that he hasn’t been getting many opportunities to hit lately. Why is that? Because he’s NOT A VERY GOOD HITTER! The man is hitting .178 with a .259 OBP. Yes, he hasn’t had many chances — but if he was hitting at all, there would’ve been good reason to give him more chances. Carter’s numbers don’t look awe-inspiring, for sure, but they’re much better than Tatis’ (his OPS is over 100 points higher) and Carter has at least been hitting the ball hard recently.

Next Mets Game

The Mets get a day off as they travel back from the Bronx to Flushing (those subway transfers can take a while, you know). On Tuesday they host the Detroit Tigers. Game time is 7:10 PM, with Jon Niese taking the mound against Justin Verlander.


Mets Game 68: Loss to Yankees

Yankees 5 Mets 3

Sadly, all good things must eventually come to an end — including Mets’ winning streaks on the road.

For the first time since June 10th, the Mets lost. In fact, it was the first date the Mets played and didn’t win since June 2 (they won the second half of a doubleheader on the 10th).

They had to lose eventually, right? You can’t win ’em all, as they say.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey pitched fairly well considering the circumstances — the key circumstance being the jet stream carrying baseballs over the right field fence. But Phil Hughes pitched a little bit better, mainly in limiting the damage of the high flies. All runs in the game were driven in via the big fly, and Pelfrey’s line was 7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 106 pitches.

Jose Reyes drove in all 3 Mets runs with a pair of dingers — one leading off the game. Angel Pagan also had two hits, including a double. No one else did anything of consequence. Strange, considering that both Alex Cora AND Henry Blanco were in the lineup.

Ryota Igarashi threw one inning without imploding, which was encouraging.

Derek Jeter took a rare day off, but no one seemed to notice.

Next Mets Game

The rubber match will be played on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PM in the Bronx. Reminder: it’s Father’s Day, so run to the store and buy a tie for pop while the malls are still open. Johan Santana faces C.C. Sabathia in a classic matchup of underperforming aces.


Mets Game 67: Win Over Yankees

Mets 4 Yankees 0

Many criticize Jerry Manuel’s in-game management. But those are the people who are living in the moment, and seeing only the immediate results.

To be a great, brilliant manager like Jerry Manuel, one must have a keen understanding of the rhythm of a game, and to anticipate events far in the future.

For example, with the Mets up by four entering the ninth, many were up in arms when Raul Valdes stepped to the mound. Clearly, they did not have the foresight to envision exactly the matchup that Jerry did, which was K-Rod vs. Derek Jeter with the bases loaded.

A light bulb just went on in your head, didn’t it? Admit it, you just had one of those “ah-ha!” moments.

It’s OK … you and I and many others are mere mortals. It is why we are where we are, and Jerry Manuel earns three-quarters of a million dollars a year toiling in a Major League dugout.

You would think, though, that Jerry would yearn to use his rare intellect for tasks of more import to the human race, such as cancer research, or peace talks. Perhaps some day. Until then, cherish the time we have with him as manager of the New York Mets.

Game Notes

Who does Hisanori Takahashi think he is? He continued his domination of the mighty Yankees for another six innings, allowing no runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. The Bronx Bombers flailed, reached, and whiffed, only rarely hitting a ball squarely. If this were a World — rather than Subway — Series, I might consider bringing Takahashi back on Sunday for a few innings.

Similarly, LOOGY-no-more Pedro Feliciano spun two shutout innings of relief in his MLB-leading 40th appearance, retiring both lefties and righties. The only concern is that he expended 29 pitches in the process. In the past 8 days, Feliciano has thrown 98 pitches — not counting the inexplicable dozen or so warmups in the bullpen on Wednesday. Is that too much work? Will he be available on Saturday, and/or Sunday? Somewhere Fernando Nieve is attempting to scream through a cleave gag.

Jose Reyes and Jeff Francoeur each had two hits including a double.

Ike Davis drove in the Mets’ first run with a single in the first frame.

Angel “Carlos Who?” Pagan drove in two insurance runs with a clutch double in the 8th.

Fernando Rodriguez did an admirable job of keeping fannies in the seats in the 9th, walking slugger Brett Gardner to load the bases before striking out Jeter and getting a popup from Nick Swisher to end the game.

Luis Castillo remained on the DL and nowhere near Yankee Stadium, so he had no chance of botching this game.

Beyond the decision to bring in Valdes in the 9th, another glaring move by Manuel was his choice of Fernando Tatis to pinch-hit for Chris Carter in the 8th, with two men on and two out and LHP Boone Logan on the mound. First off, Tatis hadn’t been to bat in five days. Second, lefthanders are hitting almost 30 points higher (.278 to .250) vs. Logan this year. Third, Carter is hitting .500 (3-for-6) vs. LHP in MLB this year, and was hitting .370 (10-for-27) with a .915 OPS vs. LHP in AAA. But I guess Manuel had a good idea about the matchup, or saw something in BP that we didn’t. As it turned out, Tatis flied out to end the inning.

Thanks mainly to Manuel’s brilliance, the Mets are 19-5 over their last 24 games — best in baseball.

Next Mets Game

The Subway Series continues on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 PM in the Bronx. Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes go head to head in a matchup of 9-game winners.


Mets Game 45: Win Over Yankees

Mets 6 Yankees 4

Jerry Manuel keeps his job for at least another week, maybe two.

Jason Bay continued his red-hot hitting — he is about as locked in as a batter can be right now — and Johan Santana put forth perhaps his best, most clutch outing of the year as the Mets beat the Yankees and won their first “rubber match” of 2010.

Game Notes

Johan Santana was spectacular through 7 2/3, allowing only 1 earned run on 6 hits and 3 walks, striking out three, relying predominantly on fastballs up and well-placed changeups down. He cruised from his first pitch through his 86th, but quickly lost his command in the eighth as the Yankees loaded the bases on two walks and a single. However, Pedro Feliciano came in and struck out Robinson Cano on three straight sliders — perhaps the sharpest he’s thrown all season.

Meanwhile, Jason Bay continued to carry the Mets on his back, hitting 2 homeruns in as many at-bats, walking once, and getting plunked (unintentionally). He scored two and drove in three. For those who were up in arms about Bay for the first month and a half of the season, you were told he was “streaky”.

Jose Reyes had another two hits and is starting to look a little better at the plate. Remember he sat on a couch for over a month.

Luis Castillo was a late scratch from the lineup and Alex Cora took over the #2 hole. He made all of us eat crow with another clutch 2-out, 2-RBI single, followed by a stolen base. Championship ballplayer, or performing well enough in spots to create that illusion? You decide.

There are rumblings that Castillo will need to go on the DL shortly. If so there’s an outside chance that Cora’s vesting option for 2011 automatically kicks in based on games started (he needs to start 80, he’s started in 17 thus far).

Ryota Igarashi, who was activated from the DL a few hours before game time, came on in the ninth to protect a 6-1 lead. He proceeded to throw the ball all over the place and allow the Yankees to rally, forcing Jerry Manuel to bring in K-Rod. Iggy’s final line was 1/3 inning, 3 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, 18 pitches.

Francisco Rodriguez caused everyone a minor heart attack en route to his 8th save. He threw 21 pitches in the process, following up his 5-out, 28-pitch performance on Saturday night. That’s 49 pitches in two days and 63 pitches over the last four. The Mets have an off day on Monday but will that be enough rest before they face the Phillies on Tuesday?

Next Mets Game

As just mentioned, Mets have off on Monday then start a three-game set vs. the first-place Phillies in Flushing on Tuesday at 7:10 PM. R.A. Dickey takes the mound against Jamie Moyer in what promises to be the MLB game with the lowest average MPH per pitch.


Mets Game 44: Win Over Yankees

Mets 5 Yankees 3

Jerry Manuel remains employed for another night.

The Mets went ahead early, carried on the back of Jason Bay and rolling behind the outstanding pitching of Mike Pelfrey. There was a tense moment in the 8th, but Francisco Rodriguez came on with the bases loaded and ended both the threat and the inning.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey was excellent through 6 frames, allowing only 1 run on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5. He threw 108 pitches, and if it were me I might’ve let him pitch a seventh inning. But thanks to modern technology and training habits the kids can’t go that far any more.

Jason Bay was on fire, going 4-for-4 with 3 runs scored. He is now officially on a hot streak, and may carry the team and Jerry Manuel’s employment for another week or so.

Gary Matthews Jr. struck out again in his only at-bat. I was gone a week and his batting average jumped to .180. Someone fill me in — he’s closing the gap between himself and Jose Reyes. Yikes.

Reyes, by the way, was a very quiet 2-for-5. He tried to stretch a single into a double to end the 8th, and was out by 15 feet. I guess it’s been a while since he’s run the bases.

Angel Pagan went 3-for-4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and a run scored. If Carlos Beltran ever returns, Jeff Francoeur may find himself on the bench.

Francoeur, by the way, was 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts. He’s now hitting .215 with a .274 OBP. But, his presence in RF did keep the Yankees from trying to score at least twice during the game. Still, he’s going to have to get that bat going to stay in the lineup.

Did I miss something while I was away, or is Chris Carter still on the roster? It was strange not to see him make an appearance in this game at some point. Jerry Manuel opted for Alex Cora in a big pinch-hitting situation in the 6th, and Cora rapped a key, two-out, RBI single, but it seemed like a place for The Animal. I guess that’s why Manuel is so smart.

K-Rod recorded a five-out save, coming into the game with the Mets up by 3 and the bases loaded in the 8th. If that doesn’t smell of desperation from Jerry Manuel then I don’t know what does. Yes, I understand that the Mets didn’t have any other relievers to rely on in that situation but, um, that might have something to do with the Game Seven management of the ‘pen from Opening Day through now.

Next Mets Game

The final game of the “Subway Series” will begin at 8:05 PM on Sunday night, televised by ESPN. It will be a matchup of the aces, as Johan Santana faces C.C. Sabathia.


Reyes Out with Hyperthyroidism

If you haven’t heard by now, Jose Reyes may be out of action for anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. Or longer — there’s really no way to determine just yet.

The issue with his thyroid is not one to be taken lightly, and you have to credit the Mets’ medical staff for spotting the problem — they may have saved his life. Additionally, you have to credit the Mets’ management for taking the cautious route and immediately shutting down Reyes. We don’t want to see Reyes out when Opening Day rolls around, but we DO want to see him happy and healthy over the next several years — the long-term risk is not worth the gamble of one or two months activity.

Yes, the issue could have been handled much better from a PR standpoint. But over the past two years, it has become crystal clear that the Mets have a major flaw in their communications. Over and over again, we receive multiple, incongruous messages from various official sources — in other words, no one is “on the same page”. A few days ago, Omar Minaya stated to the US press that Jose Reyes had an overactive thyroid, while Reyes simultaneously denied he had any issue with his thyroid to ESPN Deportes. This is the latest in a long line of conflicting quotes from the Mets, and perpetuates the image of the organization as a “Mickey Mouse operation”.

You have to wonder how much this public ineptitude affects the thoughts of opposing ballplayers — in particular, those who will be part of next winter’s bumper crop of free agents. The Mets’ reputation has gone backward over the past few years, and as a result the team will have to continue to overpay players to convince them to come to Flushing (see: Jason Bay, Bengie Molina).

It would be easy to blame Jay Horwitz for the problems, but based on what we’ve seen from the Mets as a whole, I’m not so quick to identify a scapegoat. Everything filters from the top, and my gut feeling is that Horwitz has little control over the outgoing communications — despite his title of “VP, Media Relations”. He can’t muzzle players (or the GM) without someone “from the top” giving him the power to do so. As a result, you have an organization that resembles the Wild West, littered with gunslinging cowboys in sheriffless towns who shoot their guns — or in this case, mouths — off in every direction.

One need only look to the other side of town for an example of how external communications should be handled. In the Bronx, there are only one or two sources from where the official, high-level messages flow. Very few Yankees fans can name the teams’ PR person, the VP of Player Development, the Assistant to the GM, or the team doctor. In fact, I’d bet that few casual Yankees fans know the name of the team’s trainer, the pitching coach, or the batting coach — these people as a rule do not speak to the media, and when you do hear from them, it is with information that is barely newsworthy, rarely controversial, and never in conflict with whatever the team’s “main” message. There is consistency across the board, from every Yankees quote — whether it is someone’s sprained finger, Joba’s pitch count, or a PEDs accusation.

But I digress … next post we’ll discuss the possible replacements for Jose Reyes.


Braves Trade Vazquez to Yankees

I know I’m a day late on this one, but it’s taken this much time for me to process the trade.

For those living under a rock, the New York Yankee$ traded Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.

You don’t need me to point out that the Braves were supposedly shopping Derek Lowe for a big bat, but wound up dealing the man who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting for a defensive-minded fourth outfielder. This one is a head-scratcher from the perspective of both teams.

First, why would the Yankees want Vazquez to return to the Bronx, after proving he wasn’t fit for New York? Though, they gave up next to nothing for a formidable innings-eater (quick, who is the only pitcher to hurl more innings than Vazquez in the 21st century? Answer is below), so you can’t blame them too much. What’s bothersome is this: if Vazquez were acquired by the Mets, he’d arrive as their #2 starter. On the Yankees, he’s a #4 — possibly a #5 if Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain reaches his potential.

Also bothersome: the Yankees nearly picked up Carlos Zambrano to be their #4. Again, a pitcher that would slot in as #2 for the Mets. If this isn’t a wake-up call as to where the Mets stand in relation to serious postseason contenders then I don’t know what is.

On the other side of the mystery is the Braves, who gave away an excellent pitcher for Melky Cabrera and prospects. Is Michael Dunn that good? Is Melky’s defense in center that outstanding? Or was this a salary dump to put the Braves in a better position to acquire a high-priced bat? Something’s fishy here and I don’t like it one bit.

Most troublesome is that this deal effectively adds two more teams to the market for a power-hitting left fielder and/or first baseman. I had this nightmare where the Yankees signed Matt Holliday and the Braves signed Jason Bay.

Meanwhile, did I mention the Mets are in very serious talks with R.A. Dickey? My apologies if I did, but I didn’t want you to miss that news.

(Trivia answer: Livan Hernandez has thrown more innings than anyone else in the 21st century)