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Archive for September 8th, 2010

Jorge Posada’s brain underwent a battery of neurological tests, and all of them came up negative. 

The Yankees are all smiles after Jorge Posada's tests checked out ok.

Because of that diagnosis, Posada is likely to endure some good natured ribbing from his teammates, but what the Yankees’ catcher was potentially facing is really no laughing matter. After Tuesday’s game against the Orioles, Posada complained about “concussion-like” symptoms that didn’t subside completely by the morning. Alertly, the Yankees didn’t take any chances and sent Posada to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for further evaluation. 

Thankfully, the Yankees got positive news when Posada’s tests came back negative, clearing the switch hitting catcher to fly with the team to Texas and rejoin the starting lineup. The alternative could have been very scary, both in terms of Posada’s health and the Yankees expectations for the post season. 

Had Posada’s name been added to the growing list of major league baseball players who have suffered concussions (or at least the growing list of those finally being diagnosed as having them), it isn’t a stretch to think that his season could have been placed in jeopardy. Just ask Jason Bay and Justin Morneau, among others. 

Although the Yankees dodged a bullet with Posada, the scare did shine a light on the team’s short-sighted decision to not add Jesus Montero to the 40-man roster. Had Jorge Posada been seriously impaired, that omission would have forced the Yankees to enter the post season with Francisco Cervelli and Chad Moeller as their only catchers…an eventuality that still exists. Considering the relative likelihood of an injury to the 38 year old Posada, who has been hobbled with various ailments during the season, it is inexcusable that the Yankees have decided to take that risk. 

For sure, there would have been some drawbacks to adding Montero to the 40-man roster. Not only would the Yankees have prematurely started his service time clock, but they also would have been forced to protect him in the 2011 Rule V draft. However, both of those concerns pale in comparison to the risk of facing the post season with the anemic tandem of Cervelli and Moeller. 

Another potential concern would have been Montero’s ability to quickly adjust to the major leagues (after all, he did take a few months before taking off at the triple-A level) as well as his defensive acumen. Although legitimate issues, again, they don’t overshadow the alternative. After all, even if he didn’t hit and played poor defense, Montero wouldn’t be that much worse than Cervelli has been over the last three months of the season. 

Even if Posada remains healthy down the stretch, keeping Montero off the 40-man still seems like a penny wise decision. Not only could Montero’s bat have come in handy during the pennant race, but the September audition would have also given the Yankees a chance to gauge his readiness to make a permanent leap to the majors. 

Finally, to those who still have doubts about Montero’s viability at such a young age, think back to what the Braves and Marlins did with Andruw Jones and Miguel Cabrera, respectively. In 1996, the Braves promoted Jones, who was then 19, at the end of August. After going a paltry .217/.265/.443 in his first 31 regular season games, Jones eventually paid dividends in the playoffs, positing OPS’ of .972 and 1.250 in the NLCS and World Series. Following a similar game plan in 2003, the Marlins promoted a 20 year old Miguel Cabrera in late June and then watched their wunderkind develop to the point of posting an OPS of1.027 in the NLCS. 

The Yankees should be fully aware of both cases because Jones and Cabrera each hit homers against them in the World Series. Instead of trying to see if they could catch the same lightning with Montero, all while giving them a much needed insurance policy against a potential Posada injury, the Yankees overlooked the opportunity. Now, they just have to hope it doesn’t come back to haunt them. 

Andruw Jones’ 1996 Regular Season and Playoffs, Age 19

  G PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Regular Season 31 113 5 13 0.217 0.265 0.443
Playoffs 14 37 3 9 0.345 0.486 0.541

Source: Baseball-reference.com 

Miguel Cabrera’s 2003 Regular Season and Playoffs, Age 20

  G PA HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Regular Season 87 346 12 62 0.268 0.325 0.468
Playoffs 17 74 4 12 0.265 0.315 0.471

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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With one fell swoop, Nick Swisher erased a game’s worth of ills and put an end to a three-game losing streak. With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Swisher belted a two run blast deep into the Orioles bullpen, giving the Yankees a 7-3 home stand and fortifying their narrow lead in the division.

Nick Swisher enjoys some pie after belting a ninth inning homerun that gave the Yankees’ their fourth walk-off victory of the season (Photo: AP).

Normally, being swept at home by Baltimore would inspire cataclysmic reactions, but the resurgent Orioles, who had gone 21-13 under Buck Showalter before today’s loss, finally seem as if they are fed up with being the patsies of the AL East. All series, the impressive trio of Matusz, Arrieta and Bergessen shut down a Yankees’ lineup that had been on fire, so some credit has to be given to the gradually developing young arms on the Baltimore staff. Still, it would have stung a little if the Yankees had been swept by the Orioles in the Bronx for the first time since 1986 (see below), so Swisher’s blast certainly came just in the “nick” of time.

The reason the Yankees were able to stage late game heroics is because Ivan Nova turned in another strong outing. From the first batter, Nova exhibited strong command of both his breaking ball and fastball, which allowed him to breeze through the Orioles lineup until the fifth inning. In that frame, Adam Jones reached on an infield single, although replays showed Arod’s throw just beat him, right before Matt Wieters sent a 3-0 fastball deep into the left field stands. That turn of events mirrored what happened in Nova’s first major league start on August 23. In the third inning of that game against the Blue Jays, Nova allowed his only two runs when Jose Bautista belted a home run directly after a blown call turned an out into an infield hit. Each time, Nova was able to regain his composure and keep further runs off the board, so if anything, Nova has shown an ability to handle adversity during his brief stint in the majors.

In addition to Nova’s six innings, the longest outing of his young career, the Yankees also received three more stellar innings from a bullpen that is quickly becoming its main strength. Dave Robertson, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain not only kept the Orioles off the board over the game’s final third, but also didn’t allow a base runner while striking out six.

Instead of heading to Texas with a four game losing streak, the Yankees now get to enjoy their off day awash in the glow of a dramatic victory. One sour note, however, revolves around whether Jorge Posada will be joining them on the flight. After the game, Girardi revealed that Posada suffered concussion-like symptoms after the previous game (and, as a result, was not available to pinch hit for Francisco Cervelli during a key at bat in the seventh inning). Depending on the results of his examination, the Yankees may be without their starting catcher for at least the next few games. Judging by the extent of other concussion-related injuries around the league, the Yankees would probably be wise to give him some time off regardless.

Baltimore’s Last Sweep of the Yankees in the Bronx

Date Yankees vs. Rslt RS RA Win Loss Save
6/6/1986 Baltimore Orioles L 2 5 S. McGregor R. Guidry D. Aase
6/7/1986 Baltimore Orioles L 5 7 M. Boddicker T. John D. Aase
6/8/1986 Baltimore Orioles L 9 18 K. Dixon E. Whitson T. Martinez

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

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vs. Brad Bergesen PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Brett Gardner LF 1 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0
Derek Jeter SS 5 0.000 0.400 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira DH 5 0.000 0.200 0.000 0 0
Alex Rodriguez 3B 5 0.400 0.400 1.000 1 2
Robinson Cano 2B 5 0.500 0.600 0.500 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 5 0.250 0.400 0.500 0 2
Lance Berkman 1B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Curtis Granderson CF 5 0.600 0.600 0.800 0 3
Francisco Cervelli C 4 0.333 0.500 0.333 0 1
Total 35 0.345 0.429 0.552 1 8
             
vs. Ivan Nova PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Brian Roberts 2B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Nick Markakis RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Ty Wigginton 1B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Luke Scott DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Felix Pie LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Adam Jones CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Matt Witers C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Cesar Izturis 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Josh Bell 3B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0

 

Yankees vs.  Orioles    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 10-3 NYY: 13-5 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 1232-842

 

  Last 10 Last 20 Last 30
Yankees 7-3 13-7 18-12
Orioles 7-3 11-9 17-13

 

  Home vs. RHP
Yankees 48-25 55-33
  Road vs. RHP
Orioles 23-45 37-58

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Last night, Trevor Hoffman recorded his 600th save in the Brewers 4-2 victory over the slumping Cardinals. In addition to being the first man to reach the 600 save plateau, Hoffman also extended his record holding margin to 45 saves over Mariano Rivera. In reality, however, the two relievers are really miles apart.

While Hoffman is winding down his long career, Rivera is still going strong (his current ERA+ of 377 would be the best of his career), so it seems likely that the Yankees’ Sandman will eventually take over as the all-time saves leader. At the age of 40, however, nothing is guaranteed for Rivera, so each save that Hoffman tacks on could very well strengthen his grip on the record (even though Rob Neyer thinks he should settle on a nice round number). None of that really matters though. Mariano Rivera is the best reliever of all time and a clear cut first ballot Hall of Famer. Although a borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame himself, Hoffman is simply not in the same class.

As illustrated in the “tale of the tape” below, a comparison of Hoffman and Rivera is quite a mismatch. It’s fine to use Hoffman’s milestone achievement as a starting point for discussion about his Hall of Fame merits, but Mariano Rivera’s name would be best left out of that conversation. There really is no comparison. As Sparky Anderson might say, “you don’t ever compare anybody to Mariano Rivera. Don’t never embarrass nobody by comparing them to Mariano Rivera”.

Source: Baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com

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