THE ROCKET RETURNS

Oh my God. After I was all fired up and ranting about Proctor, all of a sudden Susan Waldman made my day. Roger Clemens is a Yankee again! Again, I’m listening on the radio so I haven’t seen the television broadcast but it seems that Clemens was on the jumbotron and announced his return.

We knew George was angry, but we didn’t know he was desperate yet. Fire Joe? Hmm. No. How about sign Roger for a bijillion dollars. Oh yes. He’s going to pay this guy like he is the savior. And, well, he just may be.

The questions about the Yankee rotation will now be dead. Wang, Pettitte, Moose, and now Roger is as good a rotation as any in baseball. Clemens will eat innings, give the Yankees a fire that they haven’t had on the mound, and will make Manny and Big Sloppy a little bit more uncomfortable than they usually are digging in.

You know Clemens will perform. He wouldn’t play unless he knew he could still dominate and win a World Series. But the intangibles that he’ll bring may mean even more. He’ll serve as a mentor for young Phil Hughes, show him the ropes and let the rook pick his brain. But just having him will give the team much more confidence and could really wake them out of this funk.

Finally, the Yankees getting Clemens means that the Red Sox don’t. This was even earlier than expected too. Most believed he wouldn’t pitch until June. The Yankees needed this. This is huge.

Shut Up Sterling

I’m listening to today’s game on the radio and I just heard Scott Proctor threw at Betancourt after Phelps was hit. John Sterling and Susan Waldman are whining about the bullpen and the innings and how it’s stupid how these guys show that they’re macho. But these two just don’t get it.

This team is 13-15! 13-15! They need a **** wake up call. If Proctor thinks this could be it, then fine. And it’s about time one of our pitchers had a pair of you know what. If they show that they’ll throw inside or hit someone, maybe Jeter wouldn’t get plunked all the time.

I have no problem with what Proctor did. He did it with nobody on and two outs in the 7th to a guy at the bottom of the lineup. All it cost the bullpen was for someone to get one extra out.

Sterling and Waldman need to realize that this team needs a kick in the butt every now and then and some kind of spark. Who cares if the **** bullpen has to get one extra out.

Hooray for Pitching

It’s amazing how much easier it is to win baseball games when you get solid starting pitching. Hughes, Pettitte and Moose all gave strong outings and the offense did just enough to get a much-needed sweep in Texas. A couple of things of note from this series:

  • Now everyone knows why the Yankees did not want to bring up Hughes this early. However the kid looked fantastic. I was amazed at how live his fastball was and the late movement on it. He looks like the real deal.
  • Torre should have let Pettitte start the 7th inning yesterday. He went 1-2-3 in the 6th inning and was at about 100 pitches. On a day when you have a DH, he should have let him try and go one more – especially when Mussina was starting the nightcap coming off injury.
  • Mariano is fine! Can that nonsense stop now?! He just hadn’t had any work. Ask any reliever. If they don’t throw, they tend to lose their effectiveness in ballgames. He just needed to get some work – yesterday two saves.
  • Abreu and Cano need to get going. I thought Cano was back with a 4-5 game on Tuesday, but he was 0 for the day yesterday. Abreu is doing nothing in the 3-hole. I liked that Torre batted him lead-off on Tuesday. When he’s getting on base, I think he is a better lead-off hitter than Damon. Abreu’s on base percentage with the Yankees last year was .419. Damon’s was .359 and he’s never had an OBP higher than .382 in his career. Plus, Abreu can steal just as many bags as Damon. I think it’s something that should be considered once Abreu gets back on track.
  • Brian Bruney has been awesome all season and needs to be considered for the role of set-up man. Cardiac Kyle Farnsworth just makes things too dramatic all the time. I would use him earlier in the game, see if he performs better under less pressure. To me, Bruney should be the 8th inning guy right now.
  • Finally, Carl Pavano could be out the next two years! Tommy John surgery. You know what? Good. Get this guy out of here and away from the team. He’s just a distraction. It’s better to have him out for good than to have him hanging around the team and everyone wondering what his deal is. Just tell him to go away. It’s better for the team and I’m kind of glad to hear this news. To me, Pavano wasn’t going to give us much anyway, so I’d rather throw Rasner out there every 5th day until Hughes comes back or until Cashman finds a starter through a deal – one that could possibly ship Farnsworth out as well.

    After a pathetic weekend, the Yankees took care of business against a team they are clearly better than. They hadn’t done that yet this season (Tampa Bay, Baltimore anyone?). The next 10 games are against Seattle and Texas, so the ship should be righted sooner rather than later.
    Igawa gets the ball tonight, coming off a great outing. Hopefully that is the real Igawa, not the high-school-like pitcher we saw to start the season.

Pathetic

Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, and Alex Rodriguez came to Joe Torre’s defense yesterday, because as a result of their team’s play, his job status is in jeopardy.

Now I’m not going to kill Torre and blame him alone for the team’s struggles. Sure, the injuries have played a role. But this team just doesn’t seem to have its head on straight. Their approach at the plate seems absolutely miserable. On Friday night against Matsuzaka, in the first game of the series, the Yankees were way too aggressive, swinging early and often. One would think they would try to work Matsuzaka and get into the Boston bullpen in the first game of the series, leaving them reeling for the second two games. Only in the 4th inning were they patient, and scored their only four runs of the game.

Pettitte needs to give a better start too. You can’t be walking these guys, especially Lugo and Youkilis. His pitch count skyrocketed and the Red Sox got the tying and go ahead runs without a hit. Wang too needs to give a better effort.

Also, there’s no excuse for not putting runs on the board against Julian Tavarez. That’s a joke. A three-run shot by Mientkiewicz is all? Come on.

Bobby Abreu also has some explaining to do. You’re a major league ballplayer. Get the **** bunt down. Multiple times in the series Abreu came up with two on and nobody out, and failed to get the runners over. He and A-Rod were miserable the entire series.

Back to Torre, who is not without fault either. His decision making has been bizarre. I don’t know when he’s going to learn to stop pinch-running in the 7th inning, only to see that spot in the lineup come up again in the 9th. It happened last Friday in Boston, and Kevin Thompson made the final out. It happened once in Tampa Bay, and again on Saturday. Two of those instances were with two outs. It’s a waste. Just leave Giambi in the game. It’s going to take a great play to throw him out. The percentages are with you. Leave him in. If it’s the 9th inning, fine. Not the 7th.

Also, why is Sean Henn facing Manny? Please someone explain that one to me. He comes in to face Ortiz – ok. But take him out after that. My God. I know Myers hasn’t had much success against Ortiz but what do we have him for? If you’re not going to trust him to get out the other team’s top left-handed bats then get rid of him.

I probably would have left Bruney in for the 8th inning on Saturday. He had a quick 7th, not many pitches at all. Cardiac Kyle is a high-wire act. Bruney should be the 8th inning guy soon enough. He is money out of the bullpen – has easily been the most reliable guy this season and at the end of last.

The schedule sends us to Texas next, a team we should pound on. But so is Tampa Bay and Baltimore, and that hasn’t worked out so well. This team better pick it up and pick it up in a hurry or there is going to be some changes. I don’t want to see Joe go, but he hasn’t done anything this season that suggests he should stay.

It Hurts But Only Right Now

Surely this is no time to hit the panic button. Coming into the series, looking at it objectively, the Red Sox should have taken two out of three games with the Yankees throwing two kids out there on Saturday and Sunday. The offense allowed them to hang tough in those games but long balls did them in and caused them to lose both.

Friday was the important one, and we let it get away. That was the game that had to be had. I always say that Mariano isn’t nearly as effective when he comes into the game in the middle of an inning. I don’t know what it is, but any time he struggles that seems to be the case (except for last Sunday in Oakland).

Despite the sweep, there isn’t all that much to worry about. We’re destroyed with injuries right now but most are minor and our ace is coming back tomorrow night. The week brings two road games in Tampa Bay before coming back home for two against Toronto and then another 3-game set with Boston. There’s no excuse not to go at least 3-1 before having to play Boston again. Games against Tampa Bay and home games against Toronto have to be won, because the Yankees and Red Sox are bound to beat up on each other.

When the rematch comes next weekend our starting pitching match-ups will be much more favorable, as both Pettitte and Wang will throw against Boston. With that in mind, and given what happened this weekend, the Yankees have to take two out of three at home. Any worse than 5-2 for the week coming up is a problem.

Win these games like they should, and with the team getting healthier, everything will be fine.

Can I Get an Encore

Well today’s game was about as unbelievable as it gets. Two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, trailing by four, the Yankees mounted an incredible come back. Josh Phelps homered, followed by a Jorge Posada single, a Johnny Damon walk, a Derek Jeter single, and a Bobby Abreu single that cut the deficit to one and brought up who else: A-Rod.

Watching the game you’re thinking there’s no way he can possibly do this again. Cleveland closer Joe Borowski threw a ball in the dirt to start the at bat, allowing Jeter and Abreu to move up to second and third. This meant A-Rod only needed to hit a single to win the game, as Abreu has good speed and would likely score. But that just wouldn’t be dramatic enough. A-Rod got a 1-0 flat fastball and hit a taser into the Yankee bullpen for a walk-off 3-run home run.

Arodwin

After the wild pitch, I thought manager Eric Wedge would elect to walk A-Rod and bring up Jason Giambi. But Borowski came right after Alex and paid for it.

A-Rod now has 10 home runs in 14 games and I am convinced that this will continue, while not at this torrid pace, for the rest of the season. He’s stopped flying open and shortened his stride, keeping his front side closed and allowing him to get to the baseball a lot quicker. His swing is not nearly as long as it was last year. It’s much more short and compact, but just as powerful.

While everyone cites the mental side, A-Rod’s mechanics were completely out of whack last year. Now, after working with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, A-Rod is back to his sweet stroke of old and is primed for an MVP and maybe one of the best offensive seasons we have ever seen. Yes- Ever.

Wright On

Scrambling for starting pitching, the Yankees called up lefty Chase Wright from AA and he did a solid job. He seemed a bit nervous and it was important for the Yankees to get him some run support off of Jake Westbrook, which is exactly what they did.

Aroddoug

We scored 8 runs in the first two innings, three of which came on A-Rod RBIs who continues to rip up opposing pitching. And even his buddy Doug Mientkiewicz hit a rare home run. With a seven run lead after two innings, Wright settled down and just threw strikes. The defense made all the plays behind him, including a great spinning throw up the middle by Derek.

From there the Yankees coasted along to an easy win, and one they really needed. With the depleted rotation, the Yankees are going to have to score a lot of runs in the next two weeks in order to be successful as it’s unlikely Wright, Darrell Rasner, Jeff Karstens and Kei Igawa are going to be throwing gem after gem against Cleveland, Boston, and Toronto…

One thing really bothered me last night: A-Rod’s last at bat was absolutely horrendous. It seemed like he didn’t care. He swung at two fastballs down and away and took one of the weakest hacks you’ll ever see at a curveball. Sure the game was in hand and it seems like no big deal, but that is how you get into bad habits as a hitter. There’s no excuse to lose focus at the plate no matter what the score. He needs to treat every at bat as just as important as every other and try to work the count into his favor and get a pitch he can drive. That strikeout was pathetic and I hope Alex realizes this and won’t let it happen again.

Tonight’s pitching match-up is Jeremy Sowers vs. Igawa. The Yankee offense will likely have to carry the load once again as Igawa just doesn’t seem ready for a lineup like Cleveland’s.