Sunday, July 30, 2006

Abreu, Lidle Bronx Bound

The Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies completed a 6 player swap today that will see outfielder Bobby Abreu and pitcher Corey Lidle headed up the NJ Turnpike. The Phillies get minor leaguers - shortstop C.J. Henry (2004 1st round pick), pitchers Matt Smith and Carlos Monasterios and catcher Jesus Sanchez. Only Smith is major league ready and had thrown 12 scoreless innings for the Yankees this season.

The Yankees pick up the full remainder of both Abreu and Lidle's contracts, but are not responsible for Abreu's option in 2008 as was first feared. The Phillies actually paid Abreu $1.5 million to waive his no-trade clause.

Our take - This is an excellent deal for the Yankees. Though they take on a lot of salary they aren't giving up any minor leaguers, with the exception of Smith, who would have any major league impact in the near future. The deal got even sweeter when the Yankees didn't have to pick up Abreu's 2008 option. Lidle will battle Jaret Wright and Sidney Ponson for the final spots in the rotation.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Betemit, Bell Dealt as Trades Start to Come Down

No deals have matched the Carlos Lee blockbuster earlier today, but 3 smaller deals have been made. The biggest impact is the deal between the LA Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. The Braves have sent much touted Wilson Betamit to the Dodgers for reliever Dany Baez and fellow infielder Willie Aybar.

Betemit has been filling in for Chipper Jones and Marcus Giles this season as they battle injuries. The Braves picked up Bob Wickman from Cleveland last week and looked to get even deeper in the pen with this deal. Things may work out for the Braves in the wildcard chase, but this is a great deal for LA. Betemit has a huge upside as either a corner or middle infielder. Baez failed as a sub for oft-injured Eric Gagne in LA and with the Dodgers falling out of contention for a playoff spot, they made a very good move here.


The Philadelphia Phillies are starting to unload their veterans and David Bell was today's victim. The third baseman was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league pitcher RHP Wilfrido Laureano. The Brewers have been seeking someone to fill the hot corner since Corey Koskie went down to injury.


The Washington Nationals sent veteran lefty Mike Stanton to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Shairon Martis.

Carlos Lee Dealt to Texas Rangers

ESPN reports that Carlos Lee will be traded to the Rangers in a six-player deal.
Texas reportedly gets Lee, outfield prospect Nelson Cruz and a PTBNL, while Milwaukee receives Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and Laynce Nix.

Our Take - This is a great deal for the Brewers, but not so great for the Rangers. Carlos Lee is a stud, make no mistake about it. But the Rangers needed to improve their pitching not their hitting. Lee is a huge upgrade to the offense, but do the Rangers think they can win the division with Kameron Loe and John Koronka?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fasano in, Stinnett Out

The Yankees front office finally made a move today, albeit a minor one. Kelly Stinnett who couldn't throw out a would-be base stealer if he threw from the mound was desginated for assignment. Earlier in the day the Yankees acquired veteran Sal Fasano from the Philadelphi Phillies for minor league second baseman Hector Made.

The first stop for Fasano will undoubtedly be at the barber.

Get Your Red Hots!

Teams and players that are "En Fuego"

No one is hotter than the collective of baseball players that are inhabitants of the Metrodome. The Minnesota Twins are more than hot, they are surface of the sun hot. After losing to the Seattle Mariners on June 7 the Twins stood at 25-31. They trailed AL Central leader Detroit by 11 1/2 games and divisional rival and wild card leader Chicago by 11. The Twins looked like they were going down the tubes fast. A look at the standings entering today's play shows an entirely different story.

The Twins have reeled off 33 wins in their last 41 games (.805) to pull within 1 game of Chicago for the wild card spot. The Twins haven't been able to do much with the Tigers because Detroit is nearly as hot as their Midwest counterparts. The Tigers have gone 30-11 (.731) over the same stretch.

The Twins thrive off of 2 players, both left-handed pitchers, Johann Santana and Francisco Liriano. Santana won the Cy Young award 2 seasons ago and is in the competition for it this year with a 12-5, 3.04 record. He leads the league in strikeouts (158) and innings pitched (151) and has walked just 28 hitters. His teammate is one of the AL rookie sensations.

Francisco Liriano was working out of the bullpen when the Twins realized if they were going to make any noise this year this kid had to be starting. After 12 relief appearances Liriano joined the rotation and has hardly been touched since. His 1.91 ERA is tops in the majors. He's compiled a 12-2 mark while holding the league to a .197 batting average and has struck out 125 batters in just 107 innings. Oh, and he has one save too.

The JM boys have led the offensive assault. Catcher Joe Mauer, 23, and first baseman Justin Morneau, 25 have been battering opposing pitchers all season. Mauer has been torrid all season and leads the majors with a .375 batting average. With 8 home runs and 54 RBI he's just one behind his season totals of last year. Morneau has been the Twins constant power threat. A career .247 hitter entering 2006, Morneau is hitting to the tune of .309 while already establishing career highs in home runs (26) and RBI (81).

The Twins are getting contributions from everywhere. Rookie Jason Kubel and veteran Michael Cuddyer are starting to show the form that has been expected of them. Even Rondell White, who looked washed up, has begun to hit.

The Twins do need another bat though and fortunately for them they have big league ready pitchers such as Scott Baker, Matt Garza, and Boof Bonser that could be moved for a free agent such as Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee. With one of the best closers in Joe Nathan and solid veteran Brad Radke in the rotation, these Twins could be making some noise in October.


The Chicago Cubs and their fans always have high expectations. You can't blame them when you look at the names in their starting rotation. Maddux - Wood - Prior - Zambrano. Unfortunately mixed in are the expectations that Wood and/or Prior will be on the disabled list for a lengthy period of time. This season has proven no different. The Cubs received an additional blow early on when All-Star 1st baseman Derrek Lee went down with a fracture wrist in April. Lee missed two full months before returning to the Cubs lineup (he was just placed on the DL again with further wrist problems). Slow starts by Aramis Ramirez, Juan Pierre, and others have the Cubs looking for only their 40th win of the season today.

The bright spot though has been Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano has always had the overpowering stuff, but has not always been able to harness it. April was a disaster - 2 losses, 4 no-decisions and an ERA over 5. It's been another story since then as Zambrano has gone 10-1, winning his last 8 decisions (11-3, 3.27 overall). His ERA for May and June was under 2. Zambrano was my pre-season pick for Cy Young. In early May I was beginning to wonder what I could be thinking. Now it's NL hitters that Zambrano have thinking.


Zambrano's teammate Aramis Ramirez has been red hot over the last week. Entering today's play Ramirez had belted 7 home runs in 6 games, many of them tape measure shots. Ramirez had hit over .300 the last 2 seasons and had belted 36 and 31 home runs over that time period. But on July 5, he was hitting just .248 and had 15 home runs. Since then Ramirez has raised his average 21 points by hitting .381 (21-55) with 8 home runs, the bulk since July 20.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Melky 11th Inning Liner a Wake Up Call

Rain Delayed Game Winning HR Caps Comeback

A mediocre start by newcomer Sidney Ponson and a Triple-A lineup couldn't stop the streaking Yankees. Melky Cabrera capped a comeback evening with an 11th inning home run lined over the short porch in right field for a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners. A jubilant crowd about 1/10 the size of the original attendance stood on their feet until Alex Rodriguez pushed Cabrera up the stairs for a curtain call.

Cabrera's 4th home run kept the Yankees winning streak alive at 5, but it couldn't have been accomplished without an umpire aided comeback in the 9th. Andy Phillips, who earlier had hit his 7th home run, led off the inning with a double against Mariners closers J.J. Putz. Cabrera struck out, but Joe Torre sent Aaron Guiel up to pinch-hit for Nick Green, despite Green's 3-3 night. The move paid off when Guiel ripped a single to right to drive in Phillips and cut the score to 4-3. Bubba Crosby pinch-ran for Guiel and advanced to second on a wild pitch. At that point the rain, which had been coming on steadily, picked up greatly in intensity.

Jorge Posada hit a grounder in the hole between 1st and 2nd that Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez fielded, but then slipped down on the wet grass. Lopez recovered, had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and still managed to throw the ball in time to nip the slow footed Posada at first. The only problem for the Mariners was 1st Base umpire Mike Reilly called Posada safe. Mike Hargrove stormed out of the dugout as TV viewers watched a conclusive replay that Posada was out. Reilly tossed Hargrove from the game as the rains came on even harder.

Putz was clearly having trouble gripping the ball and fell behind 3-1 to Alex Rodriguez who had entered the game an inning earlier. Reilly, who is the umpiring crew chief, had seen enough and ordered the tarp on the field. The teams finally returned to the field after 1 hour, 58 minutes, at 12:05 a.m.. Juleo Mateo replaced Putz on the mound and struck out A-Rod to end the inning. Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Proctor (3-2) pitched scoreless 10th and 11 innings setting the stage for Cabrera. Mateo (5-4) fell behind 2-0 before throwing a BP fastball for a call strike. Cabrera then turned on an inside pitch for the game winner.

Sidney Ponson's start was two parts, 1 one part very bad and 1 part pretty good. He quickly fell in a hole in the first inning by walking Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Lopez. Richie Sexson then blasted a 3-run home run well out of the reach of a leaping Cabrera in left. The Yankees got one back in the bottom of the 1st on an RBI ground out by Jason Giambi. The Mariners added an insurance run in the 5th on a ribbie single by Ichiro. Showing how desperate Yankee fans are for a 5th starter, they gave Ponson a standing ovation when he departed after 6 2-3 innings with 4 runs allowed.


The Yankee bullpen continued their improvement as Ron Villone, Kris Wilson, Kyle Farnsworth, and Scott Proctor combined for 4 1-3 scoreless innings.

Johnny Damon was forced to play 1st base in the 11th inning after Miguel Cairo, Kelly Stinnett, and Nick Green were all out of the game. Damon made a nice play on a high pick off attempt by Proctor and mugged for the crowd afterwards.

After hitting only .218 in June Melky Cabrera has been red hot in July, hitting .333-2-12 in 14 games. He also has 5 doubles and 5 walks helping to compile his .913 OPS.

After hitting .077 and being released by the Devil Rays, Nick Green is batting .417 (5-12) with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 doubles, 3 walks, and a stolen base in 8 games as a Yankee.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sidney Ponson and Other Weighty Issues

While watching the Yankees beat the Mariners last night it occurred to me that the Yanks were on one of those little rolls where you expect them to win night in and night out. It's a cool feeling. And yet it's quickly dissipating well before tonight's game. There's one very big reason for that and his name is Sidney Ponson.

Can you tell I hate this signing. HE LOST HIS JOB TO JEFF WEAVER. That says it all. You lost your starting role on the team to Jeff "Doobie Bros" Weaver. Then you wouldn't go to the pen so they cut ya. Brian Cashman you're doing a bang up job, but I'd like bang ya up side the head on this one.

I want the Yankees to win tonight, don't get me wrong, but it is really hard to root for this jackass. The Yankees will need to score runs tonight; that is for sure.

Rumors are flying every day concerning the Yankees need for an arm and a bat. They're called rumors for a reason. Most of this stuff is being ground out on a daily basis by sportswriter who are basing most of their speculation on other people's speculation. Just about every outfielder or pitcher has been rumored to be coming to the Bronx.

Bud Selig must be sitting back in his chair, rubbing his hands, and cackling like a mad scientist. Rumor has it that Barry Bonds will be indicated any day now for committing perjury before a grand jury. There is talk that MLB will immediately suspend Mr. HGH. Bud, you couldn't have sped the process up before he passed Ruth?

Leftists: great pitching match up between young left-handers Scott Kazmir of the Devil Rays and Francisco Liriano of the Twins. Too bad ESPN is showing poker for a change.

Phillip Hughes continued his progress at Double-A Trenton last night with 5 shut out innings. The Yankees are closely monitoring his pitch count in an effort to avoid the arm problems that have plagued him in the past.

Wang Sinks Mariners 4-2

Streaking Yankees Win Again Despite E-Rod

Chien-Ming Wang became the 2nd Yankee to pick up his 10th victory this season as the Yankees won their 4th straight, 4-2 over the Seattle Mariners. Wang pounded the Mariner hitters with his mid-90s sinker to the tune of 15 ground ball outs. He had to work extra hard because of the extra outs provided by Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod had his worst night at third base, committing 3 errors to raise his season total to 16. He left the game with a bruised foot, the result of a foul ball, before any additional bruising to his ego could take place.

Wang worked his way out of a 1st and 2nd, nobody out jam in the 1st with just 1 run allowed. After that he had the Mariners pounding the ball into the ground. That included a ball that plugged in front of home plate off of the bat of Ichiro Suzuki.

The Yankees took the lead for good in the 2nd after there were 2 outs. Andy Phillips singled to right and Melky Cabrera followed with a hot shot that ate up 1st Baseman Richie Sexson, resulting in a two-base error. Miguel Cairo followed with a single to right to score two and advanced to 2nd on the late throw home by Raul Ibanez in an attempt to nail Melky Cabrera. Johnny Damon laced one thru the left side to score Cairo to give the Yankees a 3-1 edge. Jason Giambi provided insurance in the 5th when he blasted his 28th home run into the upper deck in right for a 4-1 lead.

The Mariners cut the lead to 4-2 on 6th inning singles by Ibanez, Richie Sexson, and Kenji Johjima, but Yuniesky Betancourt hit into an inning ending double play. Mike Myers and Scott Proctor combined for a scoreless 8th before Mariano Rivera came on in the 9th to nail down his 22nd save. Rivera, working for the 3rd time in 4 nights and on the heels of Sunday's 6-out save, got into immediate trouble by allowing a lead off double to Johjima and a single by Betancourt.

With 1st and 3rd and no one out manager Mike Hargrove sent up pinch-hitter Eduardo Perez. Rivera struck him out looking as Perez argued briefly home plate umpire Jerry Meals. Ichiro then popped out to Derek Jeter before Rivera struck out Willie Bloomquist to seal the win.

Alex Rodriguez was the subject of much speculation after the game. Specifically the validity of his injured big toe that was the result of a foul ball. Everyone from announcers to writers to the Baseball Tonight gang on ESPN wondered aloud if the real reason for leaving the game were the 3 errors. A-Rod was scheduled to have his foot x-rayed today.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Weak Trade Winds in the Forecast - Part II - The NL

Time to take a look now at the buyers and sellers in the National League. With such frenzied races in the NL Central and West, and for the NL wild card, just about everyone is looking to do something.

NL East

The Mets have wrapped up the division and are clearly buyers looking to strengthen their rotation and bullpen. Everyone else in the division is a seller.


The Phillies had high hopes for the 2006 season, but a team will only go as far as their pitching. They have plenty of offense, but their starting pitcher has been awful. Outside of Tom Gordon the bullpen hasn't been too spectacular either. While out of the East race, the Phillies are 5.5 out of the wild card, but have 7 teams between them and the WC leading Reds.

Bobby Abreu

The Phils right fielder has caused a stir probably only 2nd to that of Alfonso Soriano as the deadline nears. Abreu's HR numbers have diminished since he won the 2005 home run derby, but he's still driven in 60 runs in 88 games and walked 87 times for a .442 OBP. The Phillies biggest reason for moving Abreu is money. Money that could be used to bolster the team's starting rotation.

Abreu is currently making $13 million and is due $15 million in 2007. His contract also calls for a $16 million option for 2008 with a $2 million buyout. The level of players the Phils would acquire for Abreu will depend on how much of the contract the Phillies are forced to assume or will be taken by an suitors.

Pat Burrell

"Pat the Bat" has never been the consistent offensive superstar the Phillies had once hoped for (he's a .259 career hitter). He's also a poor defensive outfielder. Burrell is coming off a monster 2005 season in which he clubbed 32 HR and drove in 117 runs. He's been up and down this season, but has put up 20 HR and 62 RBI. Burrell is in the 4th year of a 6-year, $50 million deal. He's really the one the Phillies would like to move if it comes down to Burrell or Abreu.

Tom Gordon

Flash has not been a flash in the pan in his second coming as a closer. Gordon left the Yankees for a 3-year, $18 million deal to move from set up to closer. Though he's happy where he is, at 38, he wouldn't mind another shot at the playoffs.

Jon Lieber

Lieber is in the 2nd year of the 3-year, $21 million deal he signed prior to the 2005 season. Lieber has struggled in the Phillie's hitter friendly ballpark and has had an ankle problem this year. Despite his ability to be a strong starter, the Phillies would love to free up the money due him and get younger and better.

Rheal Cormier

The 39-year old veteran lefty could bring a nice ransom from one of the many teams looking to strengthen their pen. Cormier is aging like fine win as his 2-1, 1.09 record and league batting average of .209 attest.

David Dellucci

Da Looch is probably a definite to be moved. He's a serviceable outfielder with some speed and pop and would make a good bat off the bench for any team.

Could also move - Arthur Rhodes, Rick White...but who would want them?


The Marlins appear to be definitely not moving Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. That's the smartest thing they have done in a long time. They are the young veterans surrounded by a bunch of hungry young players.

Joe Borowski

The Marlins closer could be a very hot commodity with bullpen additions at a premium. Boroswki is throwing as good as he ever did when closing for the Cubbies. He's been practically lights out since the beginning of June.

Could also move - Matt Herges


The Nats have the most talked out name on the market in Alfonso Soriano. Soriano was not supposed to hit the pitcher friendly RFK Stadium. He's exploded that myth with 27 home runs before the All-Star break, 16 of them coming at home. He's added 2 more on the road since for a .283-29-59 season thus far. He's also swiped 23 bases in 30 attempts.

But let the buyer beware, though his assist numbers are high his play in left field has been sub par. He also hit just .207 in June and has struck out 83 times in 92 games. Remarkably, he's already set a career high in walks with 40, including 2 intentional free passes yesterday (Sunday). Sori is an exciting player, no question, but he tends to be very streaky and has a passion for chasing too many pitches out of the zone. He also tends to hit much better in the lead off spot rather than an RBI position.

Livan Hernandez

Livan has proven himself to be a big game pitcher as the 1997 Marlins will attest, but this year his balky right knee is a big issue. Hernandez had surgery on the knee this past off-season, but it's not 100%.

Hernandez still leads the team in innings pitched with 119.2, but his 5.87 ERA is well above his career mark. The NL lineups don't run as deep as their AL counterparts, but they are still smacking Hernandez around to a tune of .308. Some team, probably from the NL, will take a chance so though if the price is right.

Jose Guillen

Guillen has gotten along well with manager Frank Robinson, but his bat hasn't done as well. Guillen had a good first season in DC in '05, putting up 24 HR and 76 RBI. A very sore right elbow has hampered Guillen in '06 - meaning it also affects his strong throwing arm. Guillen would probably do best in a situation where he could DH.

Marlon Anderson

Anderson never lived up to his hype as a starter, but he's proven to be a very useful role player the last few years. The Mets would have loved to have him back prior to this year. He's become one of the better pinch-hitters in the game and is versatile in the field.

Could also move - Mike Stanton, Ramon Ortiz


With no playoffs in site for the first since anyone can remember, the Braves may actually stand pat this summer. They aren't going to move their young players and their older one are not likely to go. They will probably discuss John Smoltz, Andruw Jones, Tim Hudson, and Chipper Jones, but it's doubtful anything will take place.

NL Central

Buyers - Cardinals, Reds, Brewers, Astros. The Astros and
Brewers have faded in the Central race, but are still very much in the thick of the wild card, 4 games in back of the Reds. The only true sellers here are the Cubs and Pirates


Jacque Jones

The former Twins left fielder is in his 1st season as a Cubbie after signing a 3-yr free agent contract in the off-season. He's hitting .300-15-48 and has a .547 slugging, but has walked just 12 times this season. His OBP would be pretty bad if it were not next to the worse Juan Pierre.

Juan Pierre

Speaking of declining numbers - Pierre's OBP sits at .322 and has just 16 RBI in 91 games. He does have 32 stolen bases and someone will probably take a chance on him.

Greg Maddux

The future Hall of Famer's name has been thrown around a lot lately and it would take his permission to get dealt anywhere. The team that keeps popping up is the Brewers where Maddux's brother Mike is the pitching coach. Maddux started out 5-0, but has lost 10 of his last 12 decisions and this could very well be his last go around.

Might move, but probably won't - Aramis Ramirez


Roberto Hernandez

The 41-year old veteran 15-yr veteran has pitched fairly well in his first season in Pittsburgh. This comes on the heels of a very good year for the Mets last season. With relievers in demand he should bring a fetching price.

Sean Casey

The veteran 1st Baseman will bring a good bat and glove to whichever team goes after him. The soon to be free agent is still only 32-years old and is hitting .305

Craig Wilson

For some reasons he has seen less and less playing time with the Pirates. His name has also been thrown around for weeks, but supposedly the Pirates are asking for too much. He'd make a good 4th outfielder/DH for an AL club.

Jeromy Burnitz

Pretty much all or nothing these days as his .228 average, 12 home runs, and 57 Ks will attest. Someone will go after him and be disappointed.

Could also go - Jack Wilson, Damaso Marte, Joe Randa

NL West

Again, everyone is in the mix here. Only 4 games separate the 1st place Padres from the last place Rockies. Buyers and sellers mixed, because teams will start to figure out if they can seriously make a run at things.

There are players that teams want to rid themselves of and improve in those spots. They include:

Padres - 3B Vinny Castilla
Dodgers - P Odalis Perez, OF Jose Cruz Jr.
Rockies - P Jose Mesa
Giants - 2B/OF Ray Durham
DBacks - might just part with either Luis Gonzalez or Shawn Green

So there you have it....2 weeks from today we'll know a lot more.

Yankees Sweep to Within .5 of AL East Lead

Rivera's 400th save nails down weekend victory

The Yankees makeshift lineup has been playing tough all year, but it hasn't always translated to victories. The starting pitching has run hot and cold like this past May's weather. This weekend though everything came together and the Yankees swept the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox in a three game set at Yankee Stadium. Sunday's victory was punctuated by a six out save record by Mariano Rivera for the 400th save of the sure Hall of Famer's career.

Just when you think this team couldn't look any flatter at times, they come out with a 1-2 punch and take it to their opponent. This series was as big as any they've played all season. With Boston losing 5 of 6 the Yankees have taken full advantage to get with 1/2 game of the AL East lead and are even in the loss column. The wild card is still a long shot because of the play of the Detroit Tigers and White Sox, but the Bombers are now within 3 of the Pale Hose for the extra playoff spot.

Friday Night Lights

The Yankees ended Jose Contreras's 17 game winning streak Friday night with a thrilling 6-5 victory in the series opener. A fired up Randy Johnson locked horns with Contreras through 7 innings of a 3-3 ball game. Johnson allowed 3 runs, but gave up just 4 hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out 6. He also nailed Joe Crede in the thigh with a pitch. It's nice to see batters unsettled when they're facing the Unit.

The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the 8th on singles by Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, and a walk to Bernie Williams. Chisox manager Ozzie Guillen sent for his young lanky right-hander Brandon McCarthy to face Phillips. The move paid off as Phillips went down on strikes. Guillen then opted to call on lefty Matt Thornton to flip switch-hitter Melky Cabrera to the right side. Melky came thru in a big spot again, lining a go-ahead single to center as the bases remained loaded.

A sac fly by Miguel Cairo and Johnny Damon's RBI double plated two more and gave Mariano Rivera some room breathe as he came in to close out the 9th. And oddly enough Mo would need it. 3 straight singles by Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, and Jermaine Dye loaded the bases with nobody out. Scott Podsednik's grounder to first scored one run and a sac fly, on a fine running catch by Bubba Crosby, by Juan Uribe brought home another. It was suddenly a 6-5 with 2 out and the tying run at third. Pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski battled Mo before finally flying out to Crosby in right to close out the game.

Afternoon Delight

Saturday's afternoon game on Fox set up as a great pitcher's duel between All-Star Mark Buehrle (9-7) and should-have-been All-Star Mike Mussina. Just like Fox's telecast though you can't count on anything. Listening to most of the game with the sound off was almost as delightful as watching the Yankees bombard Buehrle to the tune of a 14-3 win. Except for giving up a bomb to Jim Thome, Mussina (11-3) cruised through 6 innings for the victory.

The Yankees scored early and often. Derek Jeter knocked in the first of his 3 runs with a double in the 1st. An A-Rod RBI single and a two-run double by Bernie Williams put the Bombers ahead 4-0 after 3. The Yankees blew it open in the 4th on Jeter's two-run double and a two-run single by Jason Giambi. That was it for Buerhle, 3 innings pitched, 8 runs, 7 of them earned.

Andy Phillips would add a home run and 4 RBI and Bubba Crosby smacked his 1st home run of the year. Cliff Politte who was such an integral part of the White Sox run to the championship last year gave up 4 runs in 2 innings and was designated for assignment after the game.

Super Sunday

Sunday's match up featured Freddie Garcia the human yo-yo who has winning and losing streaks in a very inconsistent season. Jaret Wright, the master of the 5 inning outing went for the Yankees. While a sweep would be nice, having won 2 games already and having not-so Wright on the mound left you feeling that it would still be a productive weekend win or lose.

Both pitchers did their part. Garcia (10-6) gave up 6 runs in 7 innings and Wright (6-5) eked out 5 1-3 before turning things over to the pen with a 6-2 lead. Ron Villone, who has finally been allowed to become an important part of the pen, gave up a sac fly to Brian Anderson to cut the margin to 6-3. Juan Uribe followed with a two-out single to left to bring Joe Crede around third. The only problem was the ball was waiting for him and Jorge Posada's glove. Melky Cabrera tied for the AL lead in assists with Ichiro and Carl Crawford as he gunned down Crede at the plate to preserve the 3-run lead. For someone who looked so lost in the outfield last year, Cabrera has become the Yankees best defender out there.

The White Sox rallied again in the 7th - Podsednik blooped a single just out of the reach of Jeter and then Jeter mishandled Tadahito Iguchi's grounder for an error. 1st and 2nd, no one out and Jim Thome at the plate - not the prettiest of pictures. Even though he had a lefty on the mound, Joe Torre called in lefty specialist Mike Myers to face the dangerous Thome. Myers won out, getting Thome to fly to Bubba Crosby in center. With Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye coming up, Torre sent for Kyle Farnsworth. Both Konerko and Dye flied out to Aaron Guiel in right as the fans rose to their feet to give the pen a standing ovation.

Just when you thought it was safe to breathe here came the Chisox again in the 8th. Pierzynski hit a bomb off Farnsworth into the upper deck in right to cut the lead to 6-4. Crede and Anderson followed with singles and the good feelings towards Farnsworth quickly dissipated. Torre took no chances and called on Rivera for a 6-out save. Rivera, the master technician, took care of business quickly and efficiently. Uribe popped out for the first out and then the speedy Podsednik bounced into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

The 9th brought more drama as Iguchi led off with a double and Thome walked. But the right man for the job was on the hill. This time it was Konerko bouncing into the 6-4-3 double play before Mo blew away Dye to end the ball game.


Mariano Rivera became the 4th player to reach 400 saves all time and, no matter what Goose Gossage thinks, is the greatest reliever of all time and a sure fire 1st ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

Derek Jeter continued his MVP type season going 4-12 in the series with 2 doubles, a home run, 4 RBI and 3 runs scored. His .344 average is 2nd best in the AL.

Mark Buerhle seems to be feeling the effects of the number of innings he's logged this year. Buerhle had average 7.1 innings per start over his 10 starts thru June 27. In his 3 starts since then, he's totaled 14 1-3 innings, allowing 30 hits and 22 earned runs. His ERA has jumped from 3.22 to 4.43.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Weak Trade Winds in the Forecast - Part I

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is just 2 1/2 weeks away and as usual rumors are running rampant. Trades are very slowly beginning to occur. The biggest so far was yesterday's acquisition of Aubrey Huff by the Houston Astros for a couple of mid-level prospects. Yesterday the Cincinnati Reds, despite being in the hunt in the NL Central dealt their starting shortstop Felipe Lopez along with the ever promising Austin Kearns and the disappointing Ryan Wagner to the Washington Nationals for their starting shortstop, the good fielding, no hitting Royce Clayton, infielder Brendan Harris and pitchers Bill Bray and Gary Majewski. The Reds hoped it would give their sagging bullpen a shot in the arm.

Earlier we saw the Reds bolsted their pen by acquiring Eddie Guardado from the Seattle Mariners for that household name, Travis Chick. The Yankees grabbed .220 lifetime hitter Aaron Guiel off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. The LA Dodgers - Tampa Bay Devil Rays catcher/pitcher swap of Navarro and Seo for Hall and Hendrickson wasn't exactly a headline maker.

What has caused teams to be slow to pull the trigger? Thanks to the wild card they all seem to be still contenders, especially the National League. While the Mets have sewn up the NL East, 4 teams contend for the NL Central and all 5 teams in the NL West can win the division. That puts 6 teams in the NL wild card race.

The Yankees are in a 3 team race in the AL East, while the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox duke it out in the Central. Just like their NL brethren, the AL West is anyone's to take. Chicago has a sizeable lead in the wild card, but with half a season to go there are still plenty of teams who have a shot, especially if the Detroit Tigers suddenly fall on hard times.

Here's a look at who should be buying or selling at the July 31 deadline as well as some players who might be available. Every team could use a starting pitcher, bullpen help, and another solid bat. First the American League;

AL East

Buyers - Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays

Sellers -


Miguel Tejada
There's been speculation since last season that Tejada would be moved, primarily because he asked to be. Despite a hefty salary the Orioles could get plenty back for Tejada. At least that was the scenario prior to Tejada's name being leaked as one of the players admitted steroid user Jason Grimsley ratted on. Since then Tejada's performance and attitude have suffered. Tejada's contract can be a stumbling block as he still has 2 years left of the 6-yr, $72 million deal he signed prior to the '03 season.

Javy Lopez
The 14 year veteran has been injured and unproductive the last 2 seasons, but some team may take a chance, hoping he still has some home runs left in his bat. He's a man without a position in Baltimore so it makes sense to move him. Lopez is also in the last year of a 3-yr, $22.5 million contract.

Jeff Conine
Conine is a serviceable player that can play 1st Base or the Outfield and can still provide a good stick from the right side.

Rodrigo Lopez
The 30-yr old right-hander was terrific in 2002 and 2004 and fair or worse in 2003 and 2005. This year should have been a good one, but no one told Lopez. He's been awful to the tune of a 6.92 ERA. But everyone needs pitching and someone will take a chance. The O's have Hayden Penn and Adam Loewen ready to take his place.

Bruce Chen
The veteran lefty seemed to turn his career around in 2004-5 with the Orioles, going 15-11 with an ERA in the 3's. This season the league is hitting .335 against him and he's still looking for his first win.

LaTroy Hawkins

Hawkins erratic pitching and failure in the clutch as led him to 4 different teams in 4 years. But he's been a decent set up man and could help out a contender.

Devil Rays

Aubrey Huff **DEALT TO HOUSTON**

Casey Fossum

Fossum was once a prized prospect in the Boston Red Sox farm system. He was then shipped to the Arizona dessert in the Curt Schilling deal. One season later he was sent to Tampa for Jose Cruz Jr. Still just 28 Fossum will never achieve the hype that the Sox organization and Peter Gammons placed on him. He could still be a serviceable starter in the back end of a rotation. Though his fastball is only in the low 90s, he has a couple of good curveballs to throw hitters off balance. He can also beat good lineups as his games against his former Sox teammates have shown.

Travis Lee

Lee never lived up to the hype that surrounded him as a hitter when he came up with the Phillies and Diamondbacks, but he's been a solid defender. Hitting just .197 with 4 home runs, a change of scenery might do him good. At the very least he could provide someone with a good back up first baseman. Perhaps Lee's career would be resurrected by playing for a contender such as Boston (J.T. Snow wanted no part of the place).

Julio Lugo

Lugo's name surfaces every year in trade talks. The Rays need to make up their minds whether to have him as their every day shortstop until they find a youngster who can play the position or move him out and get some return for the 30-year old. Its clear B.J. Upton is NOT the answer at shortstop, so unless they are blown away, the Rays should keep him.

span style="font-weight:bold;">Buyers - Tigers, White Sox


This is a team on the bubble as far as deciding to buy or sell. It's not likely they can catch either Detroit or Chicago, meaning a non-playoff year. This team has lots of young talent - Johann Santana, Francisco Liriano, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau...and will be contenders for years to come if they add some more to the mix. They are in need of more offensive production, but it makes no sense to go out and be buyers unless between now and the 31st they continue their hot streak and the Tigers or White Sox fall well back to the pack. Since that's not likely to happen there are some players they could move to strengthen their future.

Luis Castillo

Castillo looked like he had revived his career when he hit .362 in April, but he's been on the decline since. After an average May, he was just plain awful in June. He's also an Astroturf player. His average on turf is nearly 100 points higher than on grass - this translates to 100 points higher at home than the road as well. the switch-hitter is also hitting just .220 from the right side. Castillo still does have a slick glove though and has stolen 9 bases on balky knees. With a $5.75 million option for 2007 and only a $500,000 buyout, there's a good chance a contender would take a chance on him.

Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse

There aren't too many teams that will be banging down the door for Lohse and Silva will most likely not be traded. Both these players showed a lot of promise at one time and haven fallen well short since. Silva was already struggling when he started suffering from hamstring and knee problems. He was 23-16, 3.84 for his first two seasons in the bigs, but is 4-9, 7.00 this season. The league is hitting an astonishing .343 against him. With Scott Baker and Boof Bonser looking to join the rotation (in fact Baker was recalled today), the Twins should try to move Silva for a bat.

Lohse will have much less takers than Silva. He's been a model of inconsistency in his 6 year career, as evidenced by his 4.72 career ERA entering this season. 2006 has been a nightmare for the 27-yr old who is 2-5, 7.48 and has been pushed to the bullpen. His best scenario would be to go to a pitcher's park in the NL.

Juan Rincon

The 27-yr old righty has been excellent the last 3 seasons, holding teams to batting averages of .181, .224, and .231. His ERA has been under 3.00 in each of those seasons as well. Trading Rincon would definitely weaken the Twins pen especially with the way Jessie Crain has struggled. But there are many teams in need of relief help and Rincon could fetch a hefty price. Rincon's name does have a black mark after being suspended for steroid use in 2005, but it apparently has not had an effect on his pitching.


The Indians have fallen as we expected due to their roster changes entering 2006. With no playoffs in site, Cleveland has a number of valuable players they can move during the non-waiver deadline.

Bob Wickman

The portly right-hander has not been at his best this season, which may very well be his last. Considering retirement, Wickman most certainly would want the chance to pitch for a contender down the stretch and there are plenty of teams that will want his services. Wickman was marvelous last year, ripping off a career high 45 saves. He also appeared in 64 games, his highest total since 2001. It makes you wonder if it has had an impact on this season. Wickman blew 3 saves and lost 3 games in June alone. He's also struggled with his control. It also makes more sense to try out new closers rather than have Wickman continue to close, even if he remains in Cleveland.

Aaron Boone

Boone bounced back from 2004's knee surgery with a decent 2005 season - .243 average, 16 homers, 60 RBI. Boone didn't hit much for average in the first month of the season, but did drive in 14 runs, while playing a stellar 3rd base. Things have gone downhill since just as the Indians season has. To date, Boone is hitting just .254-4-36 and has committed a league high 14 errors while putting together a poor .935 fielding percentage. Can you say, "change of scenery"?

Todd Hollandsworth

The 33-yr old veteran outfielder has been with 6 organizations in the last 5 years and it's time to go to a 7th. He still has a serviceable bat, .258-6-26 in 120 ABs, and plays a solid outfield. The Indians don't need him in a throw away season and someone could.


The season has been as bad as advertised and there's not a lot of hope for the future of the franchise. The franchise was sentimental for too long in holding on to its best player in Mike Sweeney, who is on the DL as usual. Other veterans will be in some demand though.

Reggie Sanders

Sanders finds a way to make the playoffs just about every season. This season it will take a trade which Sanders would gladly except. The free-agent signee leads the team with just 9 home runs. That goes along with a .250 average and 43 RBI. He can definitely fill a run producing spot for any contender.

Mark Grudzielanek

Grudzielanek is far from flashy, but his .291 average and steady play would be welcome to a contender as either a starter or role player off the bench. His lifetime .330 OBP is reason enough to move him out.


Buyers - A's, Mariners, Angels, Rangers

Entering last night's play only 2.5 games separate the 4 teams. Oakland is strong in pitching, short on bats. The Angels are pretty much in the same boat. Texas is in the midst of its annual search for pitching. The Mariners have been inconsistent all year, but then again who in this division isn't. All or none of these teams may make any significant moves prior to the deadline.

Additional Players That May Move

Angels - 2B Adam Kennedy
Royals - P Mark Redman

Part II Tomorrow

Thursday, July 13, 2006

NL 1st Half Awards

Despite losing the All-Star game again and having lost 7 of the last 10 World Series, there are still great players in the National League. Here's a look at the best and brightest of the 1st half of the 2006 season.


Albert Pujols was on his way to a monster - okay more of a monster year than usual - prior to straining an oblique muscle. The wunderkind has still managed to put up .316-29-76 numbers despite missing 12 games. Pujols will probably win the award at the end of the season.

Ryan Howard has had a huge 1st half for a struggling Phillies ball club. Of course those struggles are primarily due to their woeful pitching. Howard has hit a number of tape measure shots on his way to a .278-28-71 first half. However, he has already struck out a staggering 97 times and is a horrible 1st baseman.

The Mets have a triumvirate of players that are MVP worthy. Lead off man Jose Reyes is the sparkplug that ignites the Mets engine. Reyes put up mediocre overall numbers in the first 2 months of the season, but has hit .384 since then to raise his average to .300. He's distributed his hits with 19 doubles, 12 triples, and 8 home runs. He's also showed tremendous range and a strong arm at shortstop.

David Wright is the biggest up and coming star in the competitive NY baseball market. Wright just finished as the runner-up in the All-Star game's home run derby and then added a home run in the game itself. The first half has seen him hit 20 home runs to go along with 74 RBI and a .316 average. Wright's been clutch as evidenced by his .361 average with RISP and .342 with RISP and 2 outs. The only real hole in his game right now is his inconsistency on defense.

Carlos Beltran was nearly booed out of NY last season after failing to live up to his contract. He started slowly again this year and heard the all too familiar boos. Since then Beltran has lived up to expectations. His .279-25-68 plus 12 steals has solidified him as the team's number 3 hitter. He's also one of the smoothest center fielders in the business.

The Mets have the best record in the NL and it has truly been a team effort. I would say Wright is the MVP of the team by a slight margin. But the NL 1st half MVP will go to the aforementioned Albert Pujols.

Runner Up - David Wright


Plenty of contenders here. Brandon Webb, Jason Schmidt, Brad Penny, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Zambrano, Chris Young and many more.

Carlos Zambrano was my pre-season pick for the season ending award. He was beyond miserable in April, going 0-2 with a 5.35 ERA and walked 25 batters in only 33 2-3 innings! Must have needed warmer weather - he posted a 1.92 ERA over his next 11 starts and was 6-1.

Brandon Webb got off to a phenomenal start - he won his first 8 decisions before losing 3 of his last 4. Webb stood at 8-0, 2.00 entering June and then had a clunker 5.08 for the month.

Tom Glavine has turned back the clock to the tune of an 11-2 mark and an All-Star selection. One wonders though if wear and tear is starting to show. Glavine had a sub 3.00 ERA for both April and May, but has barely been under 5 since. His innings pitched have also diminished.

Pedro Martinez started out well, but a hip injury led to some poor or mediocre outings before it landed him on the DL.

The award comes down to the Dodgers Brad Penny and the Giants Jason Schmidt. Penny was selected as the NL starter in the All-Star game but that was more by default than on merit. Penny has been a model of consistency all year and one of the big reasons the Dodgers are in contention in the NL West.

But this award is going to go to Jason Schmidt despite a bad April. That's because his overall performance, especially hits per inning allowed, has been tremendous. Schmidt will be one of the free agent prizes this off-season especially if he continues the way he's pitching right now. His record only stands at 6-5, but that's been due to the Giants lack of run production. The Giants have scored 5 runs total in Schmidt's 5 losses. The NL is hitting just .216 against him (he's given up only 98 hits in 126 1-3 innings) and he has a better than 2-1 strikeout to walk ratio. And his ERA since that poor 1st month is a nice 2.16.

Runner Up - Brad Penny


This is a tough one. There's so much mediocrity in the NL that it's hard to choose. Willie Randolph has done a fine job with the Mets, but they are a far better ball club than the rest of the NL. Tony LaRussa has the Cards on top of the NL Central once again, but that's more about the rest of the division's ineptitude.
The winner here quite easily is the guy that people thought should get his head examined before the season or at least find a loophole in his contract. Practically his entire team was dealt off or left as a free agent over the winter. The Florida Marlins stood at 11-31 after 7th straight loss on May 21. Since that time the NL manager of the year Joe Girardi to a 27-17 mark. Girardi has helped instill confidence in a team led by young veterans Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. The Marlins young starting staff has been a pleasant surprise as well as the rise of relative unknowns like All-Star 2nd baseman Dan Uggla.

Runner Up - Jerry Narron


When Nomar Garciaparra landed on the disabled list at the start of the season, the phrase "hear we go again" was heard often. But now healthy Nomar has bounced back big time. His .358 average is less than 1 percentage point behind the NL's leader, Freddy Sanchez. Garciaparra leads the Dodgers in home runs (11) and RBI (53) as well as doubles, hits, and has a 1.004 OPS. Nomar definitely loves LA.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mid-Season Awards - American League

With the AL's 3-2 win over the NL in last night's All-Star game, the American League was once again awarded the home field advantage in this year's World Series. It was probably the least I've watched a game in a number of years. The game just doesn't have the same cache it once did. Even if, "this year it counts". I did manage to see Bud Selig's boring performance awarding Vera Clemente the commissioner's historic achievement award in honor of her late husband Roberto Clemente. And of course, I saw Mo nail down the win. With the 2nd half of the season starting up on Friday (whose idea was it to add another off-day?) it's time for the mid-season awards.


This is a pick that I would have not have expected to make prior to the season. The Boston Globe has been quick to anoint David Ortiz as MVP. While 31 home runs and 87 RBI are impressive, he was hitting .256 on June 10. Jon Papelbon has been the Sox MVP more than Ortiz. The Newark Star-Ledger gave the award to Manny Ramirez stating that except for home runs and RBI, he was having a better year than Ortiz.

The main point is that Ortiz and Manny have each other as well as a balance lineup. Jason Giambi gets some merit as well as his home runs, RBI, and OPS are tremendous. But Giambi was invisible in May. Reigning MVP Alex Rodriguez has struggled on and off. 2004 MVP Vlad Guerrero suffered through a horrible June. Jim Thome's bounce back year has been tremendous, but he is surrounded by an All-Star lineup.

The clear AL MVP for the first half is Derek Jeter. The Yankees sit just 3 back of Boston at the break despite not having Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield for the greater portion of the season. Jeter has stepped up his game in their absence and has even hit third in the order a number of times due to A-Rod's slump. Jeter is currently hitting .345-5-52 with 58 runs scored. He's on a pace to reach or top his career high of 102 RBI, the only time he has had more than 90 in a season. His 42 walks have led to a .427 OBP and is well above the pace for his average year of 63 walks. Jeter only stole 14 bases last year, but has already swiped 18 in 20 attempts. In addition he's moved runners over when needed with a bunt or by hitting to the right side. He's done everything offensively that anyone can ask for and has played a steady shortstop.

Runner Up- Jim Thome


The usual names are being thrown out there, and for the most part they all belong. Johann Santana, rookie sensation Francisco Liriano, Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Jon Papelbon, Kenny Rogers, Barry Zito, and more. The most consistent of all of them has been the Toronto Blue Jays Roy Halladay. Halliday is 12-2 with a 2.92 ERA. He leads the majors in victories and has walked just 16 hitters in 129 1-3 innings while striking out 72. He has the 2nd highest ground ball out total in baseball. Of his 18 starts, he's had 10 quality starts and has pitched past the 6th inning 12 times, including 3 complete games. Halladay is the first half winner, but he'll have trouble holding onto it for the year over Francisco Liriano

Runner Up - Francisco Liriano


Two players stand out as the cream of the crop and they are both on a pace for 20 win season. It's a more difficult choice than most realize since one isn't getting the major headlines the other is. That "other" is our choice for AL Rookie of the Year - Francisco Liriano. The Twins wanted to pattern Liriano's development after that of their other outstanding lefty Johann Santana. But after 12 relief appearances, the Twins quickly moved Liriano into a struggling rotation. As a reliever Liriano was 1-0 with 1 save and a 3.21 ERA. As a starter he's been lights out. His 10 starts have translated to a 9-1 record and a miniscule 1.36 ERA. In 66 innings pitched he's issued 19 walks while striking out 70. His overall mark of 10-1, 1.83 with a 0.97 ratio is phenomenal.


There's nothing up for debate here. The clear winner is Jim Leyland. The Detroit Tigers were not that bad under Alan Trammell, but no one could have foreseen their turnaround this year to the major's best record. The Tigers have plenty of talent especially in their starting rotation and bullpen and Leyland has injected a positive attitude that's infectious. The Tigers stand at 59-29, 2 games ahead of the White Sox.

Trammell definitely has to get some credit too. He took a team that won 43 games under him in 2003 and won 72 and 71 the last 2 seasons. But clearly Leyland has made a difference.

Runner Up - Joe Torre you try winning 50 games at the break with this team


Another no-brainer. The award belongs to Jim Thome. Thome has already put up a year's worth of home runs and has really extended Chicago's lineup. Thome hit just .207 in an injury plagued 2005, but is batting .298 and has a staggering OPS of 1.065. He's also driven in 77 runs in 82 games. Oh, he's scored 69 too.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Yankee Guns Blank Rays 1-0

Wright strikes out career high 10

Jaret Wright broke double digits in strikeouts for the first time since he was with Cleveland in 1998 and Bernie Williams singled in the sole run in the 4th inning as the Yankees toppled the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 1-0. Wright was an immediate trouble in the game, allowing a single to lead off hitter Julio Lugo and a double to speedster Carl Crawford. But with 2nd and 3rd and no one out, Wright retired the side stranding both base runners. Rocco Baldelli lined hard to Derek Jeter for the first out before Aubrey Huff fouled out and Jorge Cantu struck out. The Rays would manage only 2 hits the remainder of the game.

The Yankees didn't have much better luck with Jae Seo and the Rays bullpen, but broke through in the 4th. Jason Giambi singled and moved to 2nd two batters later when Alex Rodriguez grounded out to third. That brought up Bernie Williams who has managed to come up with some big hits this season as he does every season. Williams singled to center to drive in Giambi for the game's lone run. It was Bernie's 2nd hit of the night and the 3rd and final hit the Yankees would get.

Wright (5-5) changed the grip on his slider back to the grip he used before hurting his shoulder last season and it paid off. Wright even surprised himself with his strike out total. He recorded 2 of 3 outs by strikeouts in the 2nd thru 4th innings. Wright left after the 6th inning have thrown 91 pitches, 56 of them for strikes. More importantly he did not walk a batter.

Seo's record dropped to 0-2 as a Devil Ray (2-6 overall with his time with the LA Dodgers) as threw a solid 7 innings. Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth retired the 6 men they faced before Mariano picked up his 19th save by pitching a 1-2-3 9th inning. The Yankee pitching record 14 strikeouts as Proctor and Rivera had 2 each. Rivera is now 19-19 in save situations when he only has to pitch 1 inning.


Derek Jeter's 12 game hitting streak came to an end as he went 0-4. He went 21-49 (.429) over the streak to raise his average 15 points to .348. Last night's oh-fer dropped his average to .344.

Gary Sheffield stopped by Tropicana Field and told reporters he felt be would be back by September 1. He expects to have his cast removed shortly after the All-Star break.

By going 2-3 last night Bernie Williams raised his average to .373 at The Trop. That's the highest of any player with a minimum 100 at-bats.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Yankees Win 10-4, Over and Out

Johnson leads series split

Randy Johnson tossed 4 innings of perfect baseball en route to a 7-plus inning performance and Jason Giambi homered to propel the Yankees to a 10-4 romp of the Cleveland Indians. After getting whacked 19-1 on Tuesday, the Yankees responded the last night two nights, winning both games by a combined score of 21-7.

Johnson (10-6) did not allow a base runner until Travis Hafner's lead off single in the 5th. Hafner was quickly erased though as Victor Martinez bounced into a double play. By then the Yankees had a built up a 5-0 lead, thanks in part to the Indians shoddy defense.

Jason Giambi broke a scoreless tie in the 4th by following Derek Jeter's lead off double with his 26th home run of the season. Aaron Guiel picked up his first hit as a Yankee with one out in the sixth and came around to score on consecutive errors by right fielder Franklin Gutierrez and Jhonny Peralta. The Yankees took advantage of Cleveland starter Cliff Lee (6-8) as Jeter's 2nd of 3 hits drove in another run and Giambi's sacrifice fly to deep center field pushed the score to 5-0.

In the sixth the Yankees added a couple more as Bernie Williams and Andy Phillips singled to start the inning. With one out Miguel Cairo brought home Williams with a single and Jeter delivered a two-out RBI single of his own.

Johnson started to show some wear and tear in the 7th as Jason Michaels reached him for a solo home run to get the Indians on the board. Trailing 10-1 in the 8th the Tribe knocked Johnson out of the game with a 3 run outburst. Three straight singles loaded the bases before a Gutierrez force out brought one home. Jorge Posada's passed ball allowed a 2nd run to score before Kelly Shoppach drove in the final run with a single. Joe Torre allowed Johnson to face lefty Grady Sizemore before turning the game over to righty T.J. Beam for the final 4 outs.


Derek Jeter went 3-4 to raise his average to .348 and drove in 3 runs giving him 51 RBI in 78 games played. Jeter is just 19 RBI short of last season's total.

Matt Smith worked 12 scoreless innings, but was sent down to make room on the roster for Aaron Guiel. With Kris Wilson scheduled to start Sunday's game in Tampa, the Yankees needed to makes some roster adjustments.

Shawn Chacon has been the subject of rumors and none of them are good. Sources have the Yankees brass discussing designating him for assignment while there is also talk of a swap with the Seattle Mariners for their struggling right-hander Joel Pineiro. Chacon has already lost his spot in the starting rotation.

Randy Johnson's win was the 273rd of his career and the 10 wins this season tie him with Mike Mussina for the team lead. Hard to believe considering how much better Mussina has been this year.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Yankee Go To Bat For Moose

Cabrera Slam Ignites 11-3 Win

Mike Mussina recorded an AL best 15th consecutive season with 10 or more wins as the Yankees bounced back from Tuesday night's trouncing with a convincing 11-3 victory of their won. The Yankees ended the first 81 games of the season on the wrong end of a 19-1 loss the prior night. That led George Steinbrenner to issue a statement through spokesman Howard Rubinstein that said GM Brian Cashman was working hard to "fix" the team and that the ball was in his court. Joe Torre also held a team meeting to go over where the Yankees have been and where they are headed. Whether or not any of it had an immediate impact remains to be seen, but the Yankees hitters responded last night.

With the game tied 1-1, the Yankees exploded for 8 runs in the 4th inning. They also had an 8 run innings against the Mets on Sunday. The Yankees loaded the bases with one out on a single by Jorge Posada, a double by Bernie Williams, and an error by Aaron Boone on an Andy Phillips grounder. That brought up the resurgent Melky Cabrera, who had seen his average dip to .244 before hitting in 10 of his last 11 games. Indians starter Paul Byrd threw one in Cabrera's hitting zone and Melky responded by belting his first grand slam through a strong wind and into the right-center field bleachers.

Miguel Cairo reached on another error by Boone and stole one of the six bases the Yankees swept against catcher Victor Martinez. Bubba Crosby brought Cairo home with a bloop single to center. RBI singles by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez increased the lead to 7-1 and then the two pulled off a double steal. That lead to a two run double by Jorge Posada to complete the scoring and finally push Byrd (6-6) out of the game.

Mussina (10-3) became the first American League pitcher to win double figures in games for 15 consecutive seasons by throwing a very effective 6 innings before his sore groin tightened up. With the All-Star break coming up, Moose should have plenty of rest before his next start. He worked 6 innings, allowing a solo home run to Todd Hollandsworth and a 2-run shot to Ben Broussard. Kris Wilson, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Columbus, worked a pair of scoreless innings before giving way to Mariano Rivera who needed to get some work in.

The Yankees picked up their final two runs in the 8th on an RBI triple by Cairo and Jeter's sacrifice fly.


Melky Cabrera singled and doubled in addition to his home run and drove in a career high 5 runs. He's raised his average from .244 to .272 by going 18-51 (.353)

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Indians Stomp Yankees 19-1

Pitchers get lit up like the 4th of July

George Steinbrenner has probably had better birthday's than his 76th yesterday. Though he wasn't at the Yankees-Indians game he couldn't have been happy with the outcome. Starter Shawn Chacon and 5 relievers were torched for 19 runs and 21 hits. Chacon was the worst of all. Due to rain and ineffective pitching, the Yankees hadn't had a starter go more than 6 innings since Chien-Ming Wang's effort on June 28 versus Atlanta. Wang extended the poor performances since that start with only a 5+ inning out on Monday. Chacon (4-3) was a Godsend last season after being acquired from Colorado, but he's been anything but that since. Last night he allowed 7 runs in just 1 1-3 innings. Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez each belted 2-run home runs in the 1st inning and Travis Hafner added a 3-run blast in the 3rd. Both Peralta and Hafner would add 2nd home runs later on and Ronnie Bellard also hit a long ball to give the Indians 6 on the night.

Just as he did on Sunday against the Mets, Ron Villone came in and stopped the bleeding with 2 2-3 scoreless innings of relief. But unlike Sunday night, the Yankees bats did nothing against Jake Westbrook and the Yankees bullpen was nothing next to awful. Rookie T.J. Beam had his worst outing in the bigs, allowing 6 runs in just 2-3 of an inning. Mike Myers and Scott Proctor also got knocked around before Kyle Farnsworth mercifully pitched a scoreless 9th.

Martinez led the Tribe with a 5-hit night and Belliard and Hafner drove in 4 runs each. Westbrook (7-4) sailed through 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits and a 1st inning run that came home on Jason Giambi's double play grounder.


The Yankees recalled Kris Wilson from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday to help the tired bullpen. Wilson had been used in a starting role. Kevin Reese was sent down to make room on the roster.

The Yankees also claimed outfielder Aaron Guiel off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. The 33-year old will provided another left-handed bat off the bench.

A-Rod Slams Door on Mets

Grand Slams Ignites 16-7 Win

The Yankees took 2 of 3 from their cross-town rivals the New York Mets with a 16-7 rout on Sunday night. Having lost Saturday's ball game 8-3 as Randy Johnson spit the bit once again, the Bombers looked like they were going to lose Sunday night as well. Jaret Wright was as ineffective as his taller, southpaw teammate, allowing 4 runs in just 1 2-3 innings. That's when Joe Torre decided he could take no more and brought in Ron Villone to stop the bleeding. And that's exactly what Villone did. He would allow 1 run in 3 innings, keeping the Yankees in the game long enough for them to bust out against Mets starter Alay Soler.

Jorge Posada chipped away with a solo home run, his 11th, in the second inning. Then the Yankees brought out the big guns in the 3rd. Nick Green, starting in place of Miguel Cairo, walked and stole 2nd to start the inning. After a Johnny Damon walk, Derek Jeter singled home green to halve the lead. Jason Giambi's ground ball was misplayed twice, but he still managed to be credited with an infield single. First baseman Julio Franco bobbled the grounder as he tried to quickly to get the force at 2nd. When he turned to throw to first, he found Soler late covering the bag. The bases were loaded with no one out for Alex Rodriguez. Not a situation a rookie wants to be facing. A-Rod made sure he remembered it, lining a pitch into the right field seats for a grand slam and a 6-4 Yankees lead.

A Melky Cabrera RBI double later in the inning increased the lead to 7-4 and Mets manager Willie Randolph finally pulled the overmatched Solar. Randolph left the rookie in longer than normal, because he knew the Mets would be without Pedro Martinez for Monday's game and it didn't want to burn the bullpen. Reliever Heath Bell was greeted just as rudely as Green completed the 8-run inning with a 2-run home run, his first of the season.

The Yankees added on an inning later when Xavier Nady misplayed Andy Phillips fly to right to allow two runs to score. Another pair came home on Cabrera's double for a 13-4 lead. The Mets got one back in the 5h, but A-Rod blasted a shot to deep center off the facing of the black bleachers for a 3-run shot and a 16-4 lead. It was Rodriguez's 19th home run and gave him 7 RBI on the night.

Carlos Beltran finished the Mets scoring with a pair of solo home runs, his 23rd and 24th. He hit a monster shot into the upper deck off of T.J. Beam in the 6th and then cranked one off of Scott Proctor in the 9th.


The Yankees finished interleague play with a 10-8 record. That included going 3-3 against the Mets.

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Yankees Outduel Duque 2-0

Pen Records 15 Outs in 1-Hitter

Bad weather and a bad groin kept Mike Mussina from continuing his 4 inning no-hit bid, but the Yankees pen picked up where he left off in a 2-0 Yankees victory. Mussina strained his right groin in the first inning, but was able to stay in the ball game. However, a one hour-3 minute rain delay forced him from the game. He stated after the game that he expects to make his next start. That left it up to the Yankees bullpen to record the final 15 outs of the game and they did just that convincingly.

As expected Mets starter Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez received a warm reception from his former fans. Jason Giambi wasn't so nice. The Giambino smacked a Duque hanger in the 1st into the Yankees old bullpen in right-center for a 1-0 lead. It was Giambi's AL second best 24th home run of the season and his 150th as a Yankee.

Mussina meanwhile breezed through the Mets lineup, facing just one batter over the minimum in 4 innings. Miguel Cairo's 1st inning error provided the Mets with their only base runner against Moose. The Yankees padded their lead in the 4th, though it took over an hour to do so. Bernie Williams blooped a two-out single just out of the reach of Mets third baseman David Wright and promptly stole second. With a 1-2 count on Andy Phillips the rain, which had been coming down steadily, increased significantly as did the wind. Crew chief Tim McLelland waited as long as he could before ordering the tarp onto the field.

When play resumed, El Duque (4-8) returned to the mound, but Ron Villone was warming in the Yankees pen. It wasn't known until after the game that Mussina had strained his right groin in the first inning, but was able to continue after having it wrapped. With the long delay Joe Torre was taking no chances on putting his best starter back out there. Andy Phillips resume his at-bat and singled through the left side to score Williams ahead of Cliff Floyd's poor throw.

With a 2-0 lead to protect, Torre used a full arsenal of relievers to get the job done. Villone (2-1)tossed two scoreless innings, allowing a lead off single to Endy Chavez in the 6th. Chavez was erased one batter later when Villone picked him off of first base. Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth retired all 3 men they faced in the 7th and 8th innings before Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 9th to earn his 18th save.


The Yankees pitching effort overshadowed another poor offensive night for the Yankees lineup. 3 men were left in scoring position including Derek Jeter who led off the 8th with a double, but go no further.

David Wright's night epitomized the Mets frustration. He struck out all 3 times up.

Ron Villone has won the last 2 Yankee games. He picked up the victory on Wednesday after pitching to just 1 Florida Marlin. A-Rod's walk-off home run gave him the win.

Derek Jeter went to 2-4 to raise his average to .333 and increase his interleague best hit total to 222.

Bernie Williams 4th inning stolen base his 1st of the season.