Missing Andy

Haven't seen this in a while.

It almost seems impossible, but in a season of milestones, broken records, and great Yankee moments, the lack of the first retired member of the Core Four went almost unnoticed. Sure, his name was brought up when mentioning the group, but I was mildly surprised that nobody really stopped and said “It’s a shame Andy Pettitte isn’t here”.

Turn on a Yankees Classic on YES and chances are Andy Pettitte is the starting pitcher. The man was a rock in the Yankees rotation for 13 years. He was the man you wanted on the mound in a Postseason game. Pettitte was not only a great pitcher but probably one of the best guys in baseball. With the exception of his confessed HGH use, Andy stood out as a fine example of class, integrity and leadership.

I can’t be the only one who laments the fact that Mariano’s record-setting, and breaking, saves were recorded in games started by AJ Burnett right? Or the fact that he wasn’t standing there with along side Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, waiting with open arms as Derek Jeter crossed the plate after launching hit number 3000 into the stands. I can’t be the only one disappointed that the two former battery mates weren’t reunited during Posada’s only catching appearance. Or that it was Jorge and A Rod who pushed Mo back to the mound and not Jorge and Andy? I’ve said it before, maybe I am just too sentimental.

The postseason starts on Friday and this will be only the fourth year since 1995 that Andy Pettitte has not been in it. First off, let me say, that is just a crazy number. In a 16 year career, only three years where he was an active player did he not go to the postseason. It will be strange not seeing his name in the mix for the postseason rotation. His postseason numbers are ridiculous and though you could argue that this is more a result of quantity over quality, there are not many other pitchers I would feel as comfortable with in an important post season game. With as many question as there are for the Yankees postseason rotation, it sure would be nice to have number 46 right in the middle of it.

I can’t predict what might have happened had Andy decided to pitch this year. It sure seemed he had something left in the tank and maybe he could have added some steadiness to a rather crazy year. It is almost petty to have asked for more from a 39-year-old man who gave 13 year of service to the New York Yankees, the same Yankees who hold the best record in the AL and have been a lock for the postseason for almost a week at the time of writing this post. It is entirely possible that Pettitte might not have added any more value than the spare parts platter of Colon and Garcia. He certainly showed last year that he was not immune from the injuries that tend to plague pitchers who are pushing 40. Who knows what might have happened, but I do know I certainly missed the sight of the big lefty staring down a batter over his glove and then pumping his fist after a beautifully turned double play.

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Yankees clinch the AL East.

Kick some ass. Pop champagne and get some hoes. – Hideki Matsui

Need I say more?

Edit: Oh yeah, by the way, We’re trying to win a ring around here.

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Lineup Notes 9-14 at Mariners

Jeter SS
Granderson CF
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Swisher RF
Montero DH
Jones LF
Martin C
Nunez 3B

Ivan Nova RHSP

Last night of staying up late for a West Coast start. Hooray.

How about another night without A Rod?  Talk about a let down.  After all the hopes that he was going to put up a monster year after going into Spring Training in great shape and fully healthy, he has spent a large chunk of the season either on the DL with the knee or day-to-day with the obliques and thumb. The offense has been great this year, no doubt about it, but smack a healthy, raking, Alex Rodriguez in the middle of the order and it goes from great to unstoppable. These things happen I guess, but I was really excited to see what Alex could do this year with that hip back to 100%.

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Could Austin Romine be on the Francisco Cervelli plan?

Here's to Austin Romine going into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee.

On Sunday, injuries had riddled the Yankees catching staff so much that they were forced to call up Austin Romine, one of the highly touted catching prospects in the system. The call up came as a surprise to most, the Yankees were already carrying three catchers, four if you count Posada, but with Martin and Cervelli both hurt and Posada being older than dirt out of catching shape, something had to be done.

Austin Romine had just been promoted to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre after Jesus Montero was called up. He played a grand total of 4 games with Scranton before the season ended. Regarded as a very good defensive catcher with a decent bat, he fits right in to a backup role on the major league team. I couldn’t help but notice similarities between his situation and current backup Francisco Cervelli’s.

Francisco Cervelli was pressed into service straight out of AA Trenton following an injury to Jorge Posada in 2009. An injury to Jose Molina found Cervelli getting starts behind the plate. He was sent down after Molina returned but a good first impression was made. He was a strong defensive catcher but had a lacking bat. In 2010, after not retaining Jose Molina, the Yankees stuck with Cervelli as their backup catcher.

One has to wonder, if Romine makes a good impression in his time with the Yankees could he unseat Cervelli as the Yankees backup catcher in 2012? Russell Martin has been a great find for the Yankees this year and will almost definitely return as the starting catcher. Jorge Posada will most likely either retire or find a job with another team. His spot will most likely be filled by Jesus Montero who will be the DH and possibly a part time catcher.

Here is where things get interesting. In situations where Martin is the starting catcher and Montero is the DH. it is ideal to have a backup catcher for emergency use. It is also ideal to not have this player be a highly thought of prospect like Romine. However, if the Yankees truly do not believe Montero can be a catcher who can split time with Martin, we return to the status quo of 2011, just replace Posada’s name with Montero’s. This situation would call for a regular backup catcher, and this is the opening for Austin Romine.

I have a hard time believing that Romine wouldn’t be an upgrade over Cervelli behind the plate. Once thought of as a plus defensive catcher, Cervelli’s defensive shortcoming’s were certainly exposed last year when he was used as a starter for much of the year due to various injuries to Jorge Posada. Both him and Posada ranked as two of the worst defensive catchers in baseball. His bat certainly hasn’t helped his cause. He has consistently proven to be nothing more than a BABip fueled hitter with a complete lack of power until very recently.

While Austin Romine is unproven at the MLB level, he also has a reputation as a plus defensive catcher, but it is his bat that separates him from Cervelli. Offensively, Romine does not have a potential superstar bat like fellow prospect Jesus Montero, but certainly profiles well among other catchers. A .281 career hitter in the minor leagues he also has a career OBP of .333 and OPS of .748 with 39 home runs good for around 10 a year. If these numbers translated straight to the majors he would be a good starting catcher let alone a backup.

It all comes down to playing time and development. If the Yankees believe it would be worth while to hold on to him and let him develop with intentions of having him become the starting catcher after Russell Martin is gone, then it would be in their best interest to stick with Cervelli. But I certainly could not blame them for having Romine replace the King of Fistpumps and serve as the second string catcher next year.

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Lineup Notes 9-13 at Mariners

Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Montero DH
Jones LF
Martin C
Nunez 3B
Gardner CF

Burnett RHSP

Yay its AJ night. Glad I have plenty of beer. I like AJ, honestly I really do, but like everyone else, he frustrates the hell out of me. How can a guy with a mid 90’s fastball and a killer curve not get guys out? It is all about control and command for AJ. If he doesn’t have it from the start he probably won’t find it during the game. He just doesn’t have the ability to get buy when he’s not perfect like CC does. That being said, I hope he pitches a great game tonight, not because of his rotation spot being on the line, but because it would be really great for him and the team.

Luckily, he is facing the Mariners offense that looks like it could barely make it at a AAA level. The Yankees are facing lefty Charlie Furbush who was traded to the M’s from the Tigers for Doug Fister. Greatest names in a trade ever? I think so. Furbush is a pretty mediocre pitcher who isn’t really great at anything. But the Yankees have never seen him before so expect him to throw a perfect game, amirite?

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Jorge Posada’s Last Ride.

Jorge finally had a reason to smile.

In the middle of a frustrating loss something special happened Saturday, September 10, 2011. Jorge Posada donned the tools of ignorance for the first time all year, and what most likely will be the last time in his career. For some Yankee fans it was just another delay in seeing a shiny new prospect behind the plate. For others something much greater.

In the second inning of Saturday’s game Russell Martin took a foul tip to his exposed right thumb. I didn’t look good at the time, but we have all seen Russell fight through things that would take a lesser human out of the game immediately. He taped up the thumb and muscled though the end of the inning, but his exit from the game looked imminent.  The only question was who would replace him.

While most of the Yankee Universe waited with bated breath to see the first behind-the-plate appearance of Jesus Montero, I had other hopes. My first thought after seeing Russell get hit in the thumb was that I might get to see Jorge Posada’s return to the battery. Of course I wanted to see Montero, but he would surely get his chance sooner or later. This might be the last chance to see another member of the Core Four do what he loved doing.

Sure enough, Russell Martin was pulled from the game, and the cameras panned to the dugout expecting to see Jesus Montero stepping onto the field for his first time as a catcher. Instead they caught Ol’ Number Twenty strapping on brand new gear and stepping onto the field for what will probably be the last time as a catcher.  The crowd got to its feet, giving Posada a standing ovation. The players on the field were pumped, Derek Jeter said a little prayer and the game went on.

Howie Kendrick got on base and we all knew what was coming. He was going to run and run immediately, testing the surgically repaired 40 year old arm of Posada. And he did. And failed. Jorge, like a man half his age, popped up and unloaded a rocket of a throw. It was a high throw but Cano handled it and tagged out Kendrick. It was a special moment that only made the night better.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I, like most fans , never got to fully appreciate Andy Pettitte’s last game as a Yankee and I damn sure wasn’t going to let that happen again. I hung on every pitch, every throw back to CC, every word said by Micheal Kay and Al Lieter. I didn’t want to miss a thing.

My brother, on the other hand, was thoroughly annoyed by the attention that was being paid to the even.  “We get it, he’s catching, big deal” he said. He didn’t get it. He probably never would. Catchers truly are a different breed. To have that taken away from you must be truly heartbreaking.

The only thing I wish for Jorge’s sake was that he got to catch at home. That would have truly been something. No matter what he has done this year as a DH, he deserves a proper sendoff from his real position in front of the home fans.

As a side note, I really hope they allow him to catch Mo’s 600th save. I honestly can’t see anyone else doing it. But maybe I’m just too sentimental.

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Lineup notes 9-12-11 at Mariners

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher 1B
Eric Chavez 3B
Brett Gardner LF
Chris Dickerson RF
Austin Romine C

On the bump: Phil Hughes RHP

First thing that caught my attention was Austin Romine behind the plate.  How cool must that be for the kid?  He’s just skipped AAA, played his first game in his home town, with his brother in the other dugout and his family in the stands and is now going to have his first at bats against last years Cy Young winner. Both him and Montero are getting their first ABs against two of the best pitchers in the AL.  Kids, meet the wolves. Wolves meet the kids.

Kinda surprised that Jorge isn’t playing first base tonight.  Must still be sore from catching the other night. Swisher’s elbow must be feeling better at least a bit better. I don’t have a great feeling about this, its not the fielding that worries me but the hitting. But I’m a worry wart, don’t mind me.

Other than that, I can’t argue with that lineup. I don’t expect Jones to play the OF too much, with his knee acting up and all. I would still like to see Cano batting 3rd with Tex batting cleanup but it really doesn’t matter too much.

 

All right that’s enough for a first post. They should get better don’t worry.

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