Today’s news is powered by Miles Davis and friends:
- A-Rod’s peaceful, easy feeling:
Rodriguez arrived after missing five weeks this season due to right hip surgery, relieved of the pressure he feels every season to justify his big contract and high profile. The Yankees knew he would be limited in some ways, and were happy to accept whatever he could offer.
It has been more than anticipated. With 27 home runs and 89 RBIs in 115 games, Rodriguez has found himself at the heart of a lineup that is headed for the postseason for his fifth time in six seasons with New York. The clinching this week gave Rodriguez reason to reflect on how far he’d come.
“Just shaking hands with the guys and giving a few hugs takes me back to where I was in February and March, Colorado and Tampa,” Rodriguez said. “It just feels good to be part of it and contribute a little bit.”
- Joe Sheehan tackles an online chat question or two:
ekanenh (Capitol City): Shouldn’t a clear-eyed Yankee fan be concerned about starting pitching in the playoffs?
Joe Sheehan: Absolutely. Andy Pettitte‘s quality start Monday certainly makes everyone breathe easier, but A.J. Burnett is a dice roll, and they have apparently screwed up Joba Chamberlain something fierce. (The lesson here is that very-low-pitch-count starts are apparently not the way to manage workloads for young starter.) Only CC Sabathia is someone you can expect to be healthy and effective throughout October…and he’s the guy who’ll be facing Verlander and Lester. The rotation is the Yankees‘ biggest concern, and at that, they’re the postseason favorite.
sprechs (Brooklyn): How would you construct the Yankees’ post-season roster? Girardi seems pretty set on having both Guzman and Gardner–does that make any sense?
Joe Sheehan: Think of it the way Earl Weaver would…how will I use each player? If Girardi wants to start Gardner, which he should, he’ll want an extra set of legs on the bench to pinch-run tactically for Posada, Matsui and maybe Swisher. Facing a RH reliever who doesn’t hold runners well–like Papelbon, for one–Guzman could be a key element. Given that the Yankees need somewhere between zero and one backup infielders, Guzman could be a good weapon to have. I’d certainly rather him than a seventh (or EIGHTH) reliever.
- Christina Kahrl rates the probable playoff teams’ rotations:
. . . the Cardinals are the class of the field, the Tigers, Red Sox, and Phillies make a tightly grouped second tier, and the Angels, Rockies, and Yankees are all roughly equal. Admittedly, this exercise credits fourth starters overmuch—they’ll only ever start one game in any post-season series, after all. However, that said, some notes about some of the teams, and to explain some of the selections and identify the impact of alternates:
Yankees: While Joba Chamberlain’s miserable .456 SNWP (support-neutral winning percentage) drags them down, the ugly non-secret is that Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett have been barely better than mediocre, posting SNWP marks of .519 and .518 respectively.
- Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger sizes up the Yanks chances against their likely AL playoff opponents.
- Wil Nieves turns 32 today. Nieves wore the tools of ignorance on a part-time basis for the Yanks for 35 games between ’05-’07, compiling a retched .141/.164/.197 line in 76 PAs.
- Tony Womack hits the big 4-0 today. Womack spent the ’05 campaign with the Bombers, compiling an underwhelming and out of character line of .249/.276/.280. He DID however go 27-32 in SB attempts. (He was an 83% basestealer for his career.)
- Today is also the 40th b’day of David Weathers. Weathers toiled for the Bombers for parts of ’96 and ’97, and stunk during the regular seasons (0-3, 9.57 ERA, 2.241 WHIP in 21 games). However, he was quite effective during the ’96 playoffs (2-0, 0.82 ERA, 0.818 WHIP in 11 innings over 7 games).
- Phil Rizzuto would have been 92 today.
- On this date in 1926, the Yankees take two from the Browns to nail down the American League flag, winning the opener 10 – 2 behind Herb Pennock. Babe Ruth’s grand slam is the big blow. In the nitecap, Lou Gehrig homers in the 3rd inning, off Milt Gaston, while Ruth matches him with a 2-run home run in the 6th off Win Ballou. Ruth adds a solo shot in the 9th, his 46th, off Joe Giard to seal the Waite Hoyt 10 – 4 victory. Despite the score, the game is played in a new AL record 55 minutes. The National League record is 51 minutes, on September 28, 1919.
[My take: 55 minutes is approximate two innings of a typical Boston/New York or Baltimore/New York game lately.]
- On this date in 1974, Dr. Frank Jobe repairs Tommy John’s damaged ulnar collateral ligament by replacing the elbow tendon of the pitching arm with a tendon from the right wrist. The procedure gives the southpaw, who was unlikely to ever be able to pitch again, the ability to win an additional 164 games.
- On this date in 1985, Rickey Henderson steals his 75th base of the season in the Yankees’ 10 – 2 win over Detroit, breaking the club record of 74 set by Fritz Maisel in 1914.
[My take: I could see Brett Gardner taking a run at this record, assuming he could get his OBP to around .380]
- On this date in 1990, the Yankees tie a major-league record when their first eight batters all hit safely in a 15 – 3 rout of the Orioles. Anthony Telford allows the first six hits to take the loss. The Yanks hit six homers in the game.
- On this date in 1996, the Yankees clinch the American League East title by pounding out 20 hits in a 19-2 win over the Brewers in the opening game of a doubleheader. The New Yorkers score 10 runs in the 2nd inning after plating four in the opening frame. Tino Martinez leads with five RBIs and David Cone (7-2) is the easy winner. The Yanks take the nitecap, 6 – 2.
- On this date in 1998, with a 6-1 win over the Devil Rays, the Bronx Bombers set an American League record with their 112th win. The 1906 Cubs, who went 116-36, are the only team with more victories than the 1998 Yankees.
I’m off till Tuesday.