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Yankee Panky #52: Under the Radar

Take the Mets’ struggles, add the Willie Randolph-SportsNet NY "Will he be fired" drama, and for good measure, bring Joe Torre’s return to New York into the mix, and you have a recipe for keeping Yankee news relatively quiet for a week. The big news, and rightfully so, is Ian Kennedy’s timely placement on the disabled list, which paves the way for Joba Chamberlain to mosey into the rotation Tuesday night in Toronto. Despite everyone, including me, espousing what they believe Joba’s role is best suited to be, this shift was inevitable. Given the dilapidated state of the rotation, he could very well become the most reliable arm in the quintet.

Mark Feinsand, in this morning’s editions of the Daily News, wrote that Joba should not be treated as a savior. He’s right, and so is Joe Girardi, who is no magician at concealing his disdain for the hype.

"It doesn’t matter what I say," Girardi told reporters. "Every time he came out of the bullpen people expected him not to give up a run. When there is a lot of hype around you it’s hard to control people’s expectations, and I understand that."

This means LaTroy Hawkins must figure out how to get people out in the seventh inning, provided Joe Girardi wants to enlist the former Cub tandem and disreputable law firm of Hawkins and Farnsworth to preserve leads in crunchtime.

I’m curious to see how things develop in terms of coverage, pressure from Steinbrenners the Younger, depending on Joba’s success.

One thing that we as fans and not-so-casual observers can agree upon: the rotation needs an anchor, and at this point, why not Joba?

The Yankees signed Ben Broussard to a minor league deal, a note which slipped through the transaction wire cracks and went largely unreported by the beat generation.

Former YES compatriot Glenn Giangrande has the Boogie Down:


We’ve seen the Yankees stockpile veterans for depth purposes the past few years — Hideo Nomo, Erubiel Durazo, and Carlos Peña come to mind, though some people might only remember Peña and not for what he did in the organization, but for three other reasons: he never got called up, he hit a big walk-off home run for his native Red Sox after he was cut loose, and then he "blossomed" into the hitter he had been expected to be with Tampa Bay. Of course, he’s an average killer this year, but 40 home runs remain in reach. I compare him to Durazo, another signee who never saw pinstripes, because he’s a veteran who is who he is, unlike Peña, who was still underdeveloped when he was under the Yankees’ umbrella.

So will we see Broussard? If he tears it up at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then yes. Wilson Betemit and Shelley Duncan should be on watch. Even though he’s a lefty while Betemit and Duncan are switch and righty hitters, respectively, he’s a first baseman by trade with a little bit of outfield experience. If he can be an upgrade at the plate, so be it.

Two years ago, Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon began a mustache-growing trend that, while it had no hope of rivaling the late-1970s/early ’80s teams, invoked some fun into a typically stodgy clubhouse. Now, Giambi is growing the ‘stache again, leading Newsday’s Kat O’Brien to write a Samsonesque feature in today’s edition. To this point, I recall a conversation my father and I had several years ago, during one of Giambi’s first seasons in New York. It was near the beginning of the time teams imposed the shift on Giambi and he tried to macho his way through it. Giambi, looking odd with the clean look, appeared out of place, prompting this gem from Dad: "He needs to grow the goatee. They should let him grow it. He’ll probably hit. It’s a stupid rule they have."

As an addendum to Alex Belth’s post of Tyler Kepner’s Bats entry, Jack Curry, one of the best in the biz, recounts a story from Mariano Duncan on Joe Torre’s managerial skill. Remember, let’s not confuse "game tactician" with "managerial skill." Read it, observe it. Respect Mr. Torre. Until someone comes along and masters the "zaniness," as Curry puts it, the comparisons will not cease.

Until next week …

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver