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Posts Tagged ‘Javier Vazquez’

The big question so far this season is: What’s wrong with Phil Hughes? After his third poor outing last night, the Yankees have placed Hughes on the disabled list with what the Yankees are calling a “dead arm.” It’s not the first time we’ve heard of this. Just last year, that’s what they claimed Javier Vazquez had. Bartolo Colon will take Hughes’ spot in the rotation, and RHP Lance Pendleton takes his place on the roster. It was originally reported that Phil would be sent down to Triple-A Scranton, but those reports were false. Let’s hope Phil can figure out whatever it is that’s wrong with him.

Update: 5:33PM ET: New York Post reporter, Brian Costello just tweeted: “Sorry for the wrong info on Hughes. My source got it mixed up. My apologies……Sounds like Hughes may have talked his way out of a trip to the minors”

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The season is now ten days old and Mr. Mailbag’s inbox is filling up. While Mr. Mailbag never pretends that the sky is falling when the season is less than two weeks old and the Yankees have a winning record, there sure are a lot of pessimistic Yankee fans out there. So here are the four most often asked questions I’ve received:

  1. Have Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada reached the end of the line? I hope not, but both players are aging and not necessarily gracefully. As of tonight’s game, Jeter is batting only .206 with one extra base hit in nine games. He’s abandoned the new stance and looks slow on fastballs. If you’ve watched the games, you can see Jeter is back where we left off last year – getting beat on fastballs inside, fishing for slow stuff outside and hitting weak grounders at the middle infielders. Were he playing stellar defense, you could overlook the slow start offensively. But in the field, he’s been caught cheating either in the hole or up the middle in an attempt to make up for his diminished range. That combination of range and cheating has resulted in 5 or 6 hits so far that most shortstops would have cut off. Unfortunately, DH isn’t a real possible position switch because Jorge Posada is sitting in that spot. Posada, other than a two-day power surge, has been even more atrocious than Jeter so far, hitting a mere .138. Take away those days and Jorge is hitting .048 with no extra base hits and 9 strike outs. (At least he’s been consistent). As much as we love these guys as fans and respect their past glories, the fact remains: both look old, slow and overmatched. For the Yankees to contend, both of these old warriors need to turn it up a few notches.
  2. What happened to Phil Hughesfastball? For all the questions about the starting rotation, Hughes wasn’t supposed to be one of them. Yet, over his first two starts, Hughes has thrown 6 innings, allowing 12 hits and 11 runs, while walking 4 and watching three of his pitches sail into orbit. What’s more, for a strike-out pitcher, he’s only managed to sit down 1 of 33 batters faced so far. The reason seems to be a general loss of velocity. Everyone in the Yankee brass insists that Hughes is physically fine, but the sudden case of Javier Vazquez-itis has to trouble everyone. If Hughes’ next start on Wednesday is as bad as his first two, it is officially time to swap spots with Bartolo Colonwhile Hughes gets himself straightened out.
  3. How will Freddy Garcia pitch this year? We’ll get our first glimpse on Friday,when Garcia finally gets his chance to shine. Unfortunately for Garcia and the Yankees, that start will come against the Rangers, a team that is scoring at will so far this year. But right now there can be little doubt that the team needs a strong start from Garcia. Otherwise, the bullpen and CC Sabathia will collapse from overwork before we get to May.
  4. When is the 8th inning not the 8th inning? The Yanks head into tonight’s tilt with the Orioles (weather permitting – it looks pretty nasty right now) with a 5-4 record and at least one of those losses can be hung directly on the shoulders of one Joe Girardi. That loss was the extra-innings tilt against the Twins, when Clueless Joe inserted Rafael Soriano into the game in the eighth inning with the Yanks leading 4-0. Never mind Soriano’s history of awful performances with both Tampa Bay and Atlanta when there isn’t a save situation, it was the eighth, so in went Soriano. 6 batters later, it was David Robertson being asked to bail out the team. He almost did, but a blooper tied the game and sealed the Yanks fate. After the game, Joe insisted on using some type of convoluted logic for using Soriano in the game. Here’s hoping he learned that just because you signed a guy to pitch the eighth inning doesn’t mean he always has to pitch the eighth inning.
  5. Where has Nick Swisher gone? For this, I have no answer. There’s certainly a guy in right field wearing #33 that looks like Nick Swisher. And some dude calling himself Nick Swisher has been showing up around town, handing out tickets. But I strongly suspect that a deranged Red Sox fan has kidnapped Swish and replaced him with a robot that can’t hit and can’t field. I am hereby calling for his immediate release.

In exchange, I’ll return the real Carl Crawford. :)

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Not an unfamiliar look for Javy

One year ago, the Yankees decided to bring back Javy Vazquez. I, like many people was certainly surprised at the move and the players they gave up for him. I originally hated the deal — and still do at this point — but there were many on the other side of the fence that indicated that things had changed for Javy and to mearly look at his stats. From 2000 through 2009, Javy pitched 200 innings and struck out more than 184 in 9 seasons out of 10. In those seasons between 2000 and 2009 Javy averaged a 3.9 WAR and had a cumlative WAR of 39. Initially, the trade seemed to be a decent trade and most Yankees fans expected a decent year out of Javy who was going to slide into the 4th slot in the rotation.

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On Wednesday, the real season begins: the postseason, that is. The Bombers will travel to Minneapolis to take on the Twins; first pitch is scheduled for 8:07 ET.

I realize many of you are still wondering what happened over the weekend, when the Yanks managed to lose the division (in what may be the craziest final weekend in memory) and haven’t had a chance yet to really focus on the task at hand. Most of you are probably still trying to figure out what a “Twins” might be.

The Twins finished the regular season 94-68 and won the AL Central by a very comfortable 6 games over the White Sox. Once again, Ron Gardenhire‘s crew of unknowns and cast-off’s won the division, even though most prognosticators had them pegged for no better than third place at the start of the year. During the season, the Yankees won the season series, 4-2, but these aren’t the same Twins that faced the Yankees in May. Here’s a quick breakdown on the team that will face off the with the Bombers.

Rotation:

Just like their better known opponents, the Twins face a conundrum regarding their starting rotation. Without a doubt, Francisco Liriano (14-10, 1.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) will get the ball in game 1, but after that it’s a crapshoot. Will game 2 go to Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75 ERA, 1.20 WHIP), Brian Duensing (10-3, 2.62 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) or Scott Baker (12-9, 4.49 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)? The smart money is on Pavano for several reasons: one, he pitched much better at home than on the road this year and two, the last thing Gardenhire seems likely to want is to pitch Pavano in the first game at Yankee Stadium. That makes Baker the probable starter in game 3 – if Duensing can’t get two starts, his best value to the Twins is as the ace left out of the pen. The big question for the Twins, like the Yanks, is do they go with a 3- or 4-man rotation? If they opt for a four man staff, expect game 4 to go to Kevin Slowey (13-6, 4.45 ERA, 1.29 WHIP). In short, this is a righty-heavy staff facing a Yankee line-up that mauls right-handers (.796 team OPS and 118 OPS+). The Twins bullpen looks to get plenty of work in games not started by Liriano. Edge: Yankees

Bullpen:

The Twins are pretty formidable if they have a lead going into the 8th inning, with the duo of set up man Jon Rauch (3-1, 21 SV, 1.30 WHIP) and closer Matt Capps (2-0, 16 SV, 1.18 WHIP). Capps was acquired in a deadline deal with the Senators, where he posted 26 SV and a 1.30 WHIP; the 42 combined saves are the principle reason the Twins made the move. Duensing was effective out of the pen before finding himself in the rotation, posting a 1.80 ERA and holding lefty-hitters to a .162 average. The Twins also figure to lean heavily on Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, with Jose Merias being the other left-handed option in the ‘pen. Overall, the pen is the strength of this Twins team. Then again, it was the strength of last year’s team, too. Edge: Twins

Offense:

The Twins lost Justin Morneau mid-way through the season and with him gone, the Twins lost both their starting first baseman and premier power threat. As a team, they only have four players who reached double figures in home runs and nobody hit more than 25. Despite that, they still scored 781 runs – good for fifth in the American League. This is a team that gets by on creating rallies from doubles and smart baserunning. Yankee catchers look to catch a breather, as the Twins were last in steals and attempted steals this season, averaging one attempt every two games. The attack is anchored by reigning MVP C Joe Mauer (.327, 9 HR, 75 RBI), back-from-the-dead DH Jim Thome (.283, 25, 59) and always steady RF Jason Kubel (.249, 21, 92). Perhaps their most intriguing player is LF Delmon Young. After years of waiting for Young to turn his talent into a solid season, this seems to have been his breakout year (.298, 21, 112) – even if nobody outside of the Twin Cities noticed. The question surrounding Young is, will he continue to produce in the postseason or revert to his more pedestrian career numbers (career OPS .704)? Edge: Yankees

Defense:

Defensively, the Twins are once again a solid – if unspectacular – team. They ranked 2nd in the AL in fielding percentage, but overall, they’re range is not exceptional. In other words, they make the plays on the balls they get to – they just don’t get to as many balls as you would expect from a top-flight defense. This is a team that needs to play sound fundamentals – because they lack the ability to overcome errors with the great play (and the pitching staff, other than Liriano, lacks the ability to pick up their teammates with a strikeout). Edge: Yankees

Manager:

Gardenhire is consistently recognized as one of the game’s best managers, and with good reason. Every season, he brings a small market, mid-budget team that project to somewhere around 85 wins, figures out a way to win an extra 5-10 games a year and delvers Minnesota to the post-season. Once they get there, the Twins tend to get sent back home. But it’s not the manager’s fault. Edge: Twins

Other notes:

The Twins are opening their first post-season at Target Field, which figures to be not really cold for Wednesday’s opener (forecast: 63 degrees at first pitch). The Twins learned their new park pretty quickly. Mauer may complain about the stadium robbing home runs with its dimensions, but the Twins were still 53-28 at home. The +12 differential between home and away wins is the largest spread for any of the eight playoff teams.

Projection:

Once again, the Twins make the playoffs – and once again, they exit early with their hearts broken. On paper, they seem to match up well with the Yankees, and if this were a nine game series, the added depth in their rotation would probably be their greatest asset. But this is a five game series and the off days mean the Yanks don’t need to entrust a start to either AJ Burnett or Javier Vazquez. The Yankees superior front three and line-up depth should make this one Yankees in 4.

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NEW YORK- SEPTEMBER 23: CC Sabathia

…anybody’s guess at this point. There are plenty of options available, but none of them really good options. Here’s aquick rundown:

1. CC Sabathia: Yes, it would mean the big guy would be going on short rest. There’s a good chance CC needs a breather, since he certainly hasn’t looked like a 20 game winner over his three previous starts (1-2, 5.19 ERA) going into last night. But when looking at the rest of the list, he may be the Yankees best option.

2. AJ Burnett: The Yankees aren’t paying him nearly $83 million to  be a long reliever. But then, I doubt they paid him that kind of cash to post a 10-15 record with an ERA north of 5 this season, either. Simply put, with AJ it’s a crapshoot. If he gets the nod in game 4, the long relief better start getting warmed up in the first inning. Or we may be treated to the second ever post-season no-hitter. Who knows?

3. Ivan Nova: Start a rookie with 7 major league starts in the playoffs, in what might be the most crucial game of the year? Yikes. If the team is up 3-0 against their opponent, maybe. But Nova has had trouble getting out of the fifth inning, making him ideally suited to a long-relief role.

4. Javier Vazquez: 2004. Dead arm. Hit three consecutive batters in his last appearance. Quite frankly, if he’s even on the post-season roster I’ll be amazed. But such is the state of the rotation that the Yankee brass has to at least consider it.

5. Dustin Moseley: Moseley has playoff experience. Ok, it was one inning in the 2007 ALDS for the Angels. But he hasn’t been awful since getting called up in July, which is saying a lot when compared to options 2 & 4.

6. Sergio Mitre: Joe Girardi seems to have a soft spot for Mitre; otherwise, how to explain his being on the team? If he gets the start in game 4 it means the Yankees are making plans to attend Oktoberfest, not the World Series.

So, what do you think? Should the game 4 starter be one of the above, or someone else?

Oh – and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for great in game commentary!

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I realize there’s still a lot of work to do before we wrap 2010, but it’s never too early to think about next year. After all, the Yankees as a team are about one thing, and one thing only: winning World Championships. That means this year, next year and all the years after.

Without a doubt, one of the big questions going into next season will be the starting rotation. What began this year as a pillar of strength has eroded, as injuries to Andy Pettite and sub-par performances from AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez have left gaping holes in the rotation. Let’s face it, there have been times in the second half where it seems the starters were playing CC Sabathia and the Seven Dwarfs. Taking a look into the crystal ball, here’s what I see for next year’s starting five:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Phil Hughes
  3. Cliff Lee
  4. Andy Pettite
  5. AJ Burnett

Let’s break them down.

CC Sabathia: CC has been the quintessential ace for the Yankees this year. Forget the numbers; what he’s provided the Yankee braintrust (and us fans, too) is stability. In a season when every game begins with everyone wondering of the starting pitcher will survive the 5th inning, CC has gone out there every 5 days and given the team 7 or more quality innings. He has been worth every penny of his contract. Yes, CC will be a year older and you have to wonder when all the innings over the past five seasons will begin to take a toll on his very broad shoulders, but for now CC is the undisputed Bronx Ace.

Phil Hughes: Phil-thy has blossomed into the top of the rotation stud the Yankees envisioned when they picked him in the first round in 2004. Although he’s struggled some in the second half, he’s also pitching more often than at any time in his career. With his effort this season, he’s earned the right to be considered the #2 started for 2011.

Cliff Lee: I know he’s not a Yankee. Yet. But there can be little doubt that Lee will be the #1 target of the team this off-season. While the Rangers will certainly make a serious push for Lee, I can’t see anyone seriously trying to outbid the Yankees. (I smell something along the lines of a 5 year, $130M contract, with a couple of mutual options thrown in). Lee would be considered the ace on most teams; it says something about this team’s depth that he would start the year as the #3 guy.

Andy Pettite: Andy remains a question mark. Will he want to come back next year? If he does, the Yankees will slot him into the 4 spot. He certainly deserves to come back. The injury that’s kept him sidelined for most of the second half is the kind that happens to older pitchers, but no doubt he’s been extremely effective when on the mound. If not, then the 4 spot goes to…

AJ Burnett: The Yankees answer to the enigma wrapped inside a riddle. He possesses ace stuff, but has yet to demonstrate that he can reliably command any of his pitches . A career .500 pitcher is ok in the 5 spot, though – although the Yankees certainly expect more from their huge investment than a number 5 starter.

There are questions, of course. What if Lee signs elsewhere? What if Pettite doesn’t come back? I think the Yankees can withstand one of those two possibilities, since there are plenty of other options for a fifth starter type. Certainly, the Yankees would consider internal options (Joba Chamberlain) and external (Ted Lilly). But this is my best guess as to how things work out for 2011. As for Vazquez, i fully expect him to be kicked to the curb faster than you can say “85 mph fastball.”

We’ll see if I’m right in March. In the meantime, what does the rest of the Universe think?

Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

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Yankees (87-53) at Rangers (77-63)

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Javier Vazquez (10-9, 5.01) vs LHP C.J. Wilson (14-6, 3.10)

Lineup

Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Thames DH
Kearns LF
Cervelli C
Gardner CF (more…)

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The Yankees open up a three-game series against the Texas Rangers tonight. They’ll be playing at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Here are the pitching probables for the series:

Fri: RHP Javier Vazquez (10-9, 5.01) vs LHP C.J. Wilson (14-6, 3.10)

Sat: RHP A.J. Burnett (10-13, 5.15) vs RHP Tommy Hunter (12-3, 3.99)

Sun: RHP Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.83) vs LHP Cliff Lee (10-8, 3.37)

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Blue Jays (69-65) at Yankees (85-50)

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Javier Vazquez (10-9, 4.86) vs LHP Marc Rzepczynski (1-3, 6.03)

Lineup

Gardner LF
Jeter SS
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Thames RF
Berkman DH
Granderson CF
Nunez 3B
Cervelli C (more…)

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Yankeemetrics abound this week: Katie Sharp has some really interesting stats on Yankees baseball over the last few days. Here’s just one: “Javier Vazquez has now allowed a home run in eight straight games. That is the longest single-season streak by a Yankee since Andy Pettitte allowed a HR in eight straight games in 1999 (19 straight, combining 1999-2000).”

Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos have both been promoted to Double-A Trenton.

You remember I told you about that man who was trying to deliver a photo to President Barack Obama? Well, he completed his mission. Barack Obama gets a gift from Yogi Berra.

From Politico.com:

“One man, standing at the edge of the yellow police tape, handed POTUS something (it looked like a maroon 8.5×11 folder but pool was too far away to tell.) POTUS looked at it, then handed it to Nicholson [Obama’s trip director],” read the report.

So who was the man, and what was in the envelope? Turns out it was Tom Murro (a.k.a. the “Celebrity Magnet” from New Jersey) who had a gift for Obama from baseball legend Yogi Berra: a photo of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson coming in safe after stealing home during a 1955 World Series game against Berra and the Yankees. Berra wrote “Dear Mr. President, He was out!” and signed his name in blue pen. Here is the video.

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Attention Yankees Fans. You now have the chance to own a baseball signed by C.C. Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Bucky Dent and Joe Torre!

They’ve all signed baseballs to be a part of our SUBWAY Baseball DeSIGNS tour, a collection of baseballs decorated by Little Leaguers and signed by professional athletes and celebrities. The 40-baseball display has been making tour stops across the country and is currently set up at the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, PA. The baseballs are also viewable at SubwayKids.com and the Official SUBWAY® Facebook page.

The balls are up for auction NOW on eBay through its Giving Works program.  All the proceeds generated will go to support the Little League Urban Initiative. Go ahead and Bid! The auction ends on SUNDAY Aug. 29. (more…)

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Mariners (49-73) at Yankees (75-47)

Pitching Matchup:

 LHP Jason Vargas (9-5, 3.15) vs RHP Javier Vazquez (9-9, 4.89)

Lineup:

Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Thames DH
Posada C
Kearns LF
Granderson CF
Nunez 3B (more…)

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The Yankees open up a three-game series tomorrow night against the Mariners in the Bronx. Here are the pitching probables for the series:

Fri: RHP Felix Hernandez (8-10, 2.62) vs RHP A.J. Burnett (9-10, 4.66)

Sat: LHP Jason Vargas (9-5, 3.15) vs RHP Javier Vazquez (9-9, 4.89)

Sun: LHP Luke French (2-3, 4.02) vs LHP C.C. Sabathia (16-5, 3.12)

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