Saturday, August 21, 2010 - A-Rod to DL, Javy Should Follow

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Shortly after the Yankees 9-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners this afternoon, the team announced it had placed Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day DL with his troublesome strained calf. The Yankees would be wise to have Javier Vazquez join him on the sideline.

The Yankees were able to overcome the right-hander's shortest outing since May 1, when Vazquez also lasted just three innings, by beating up on Jason Vargas and the Mariners' bullpen.

Vazquez was diagnosed with a dead arm several starts ago and has regressed rapidly. His last five starts have gone from bad to worse - 6.1, 5.1, 4.1, 4, and 3 innings pitched. He's been tagged for 16 earned runs in 20 innings and has seen his ERA rise from 4.45 to 5.05 since July 10. He's also been ripped for 35 hits during the stretch and has walked 12 batters to boot.

Dead arm, tired arm, call it what you want, it's not something a pitcher can work through. What it does, however, is wear out the bullpen. The Yankees got exceptional work from the pen today, specifically the beleaguered Chad Gaudin who shut down the M's after entering the game in a 4-4 tie.

When Vazquez has no velocity, which has been the case in his last five starts, he has to be perfect with his location. That's just as hard to do as it sounds. And when Vazquez doesn't hit locations, home runs are sure to follow. Today it was a pair from Ichiro Suzuki and a monster upper deck shot, the first in the new Yankee Stadium, to right field by Russell Branyan.

I had a Twitter discussion a short time ago with Jack Curry of YES, who felt there was no need for the Yankees to bring in another starting pitcher. I disagreed then and I do now. How long the call up will last remains to be seen, but Ivan Nova has been summoned from Scranton to take A-Rod's place on the 25-man roster and is scheduled to start Monday night in Toronto.

With Andy Pettitte probably not back until early September and A.J. Burnett's continued inconsistency, the Yankees should definitely take a long look at Nova or another minor leaguer. Brian Cashman's daily to-do list should also include checking the waiver wire for a decent starter. While they're not likely to land a top notch starter, perhaps a serviceable arm will be available.

With an off day this coming Thursday, manager Joe Girardi is also likely to revise the rotation so that Burnett and Vazquez are not throwing on back to back days.

Speaking of waiver wires, the Detroit News reported earlier today that both Johnny Damon and Brandon Inge have been placed on waivers. Stop before you start, the Yankees do NOT need Damon back. It shouldn't even be up for discussion.

Inge, on the other hand, should be a player the Yankees put in a claim on. The third baseman is pretty slick with the glove, and though he doesn't hit for average, he does have pop; he had career highs in HR (27) and RBI (84) last season. Inge's numbers are down this season, but he missed a large chunk of games with a broken hand. The former catcher could also be used in that position in a pinch- he caught 60 games as recently as 2008, and has some outfield experience as well.

In the meantime, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena figure to split the bulk of the work at third base. Nunez had his first major league hit and RBI in this afternoon's contest.

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