Friday, September 28, 2007

Update from behind enemy lines

Yankee fans may already have the Bombers in the World Series but those closer to the team are displaying a bit more of a realistic outlook, at least for public consumption.

That includes the team's GM Brian Cashman- as quoted in today's New York Post:

"The four teams that are in really are the Fantastic Four in the American League. Our work is cut out for us and no doubt we know that."

Since a Yankees-Indians series is a lock I thought I'd take today to update the playoff plans from the enemy camp.

Andy Pettitte and Chien Ming Wang will pitch games one and two, the only mystery is who will pitch when.

In a bit of a surprise, Yankee manager Joe Torre has already said Roger Clemens will pitch game three if his balky hamstring -- and pretty much every other 40-something body part of his -- is ready to go.

Clemens will pitch a simulated game on Monday and a final decision will be made after that. If he does pitch, he will be going on nearly a month's rest, as he hasn't pitched since Sept. 16.

If Clemens can't pitch, Mike Musina will take the hill in game three. Musina's ERA is at 4.96 for the year, but in September -- after a 10-day mental break when he was taken out of the rotation -- he is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA in four starts.

Torre has said he will use Wang and Pettitte twice if the series is the longer-format series which would begin Wednesday.

That leaves rookie Phil Hughes in the pen for the series, unless the Indians-Yanks series is the shorter format AND Clemens can't go. I doubt however, if the Yanks are down 2-1 in the shorter-format, that Torre would turn to Hughes (3-0 2.73 in September) in game four and would go back to his game-one starter on short rest.

Torre has also said he will start Doug Mientkiewicz at first base in the series, which would leave Jason Giambi's bat at Torre's disposal to come off the bench in a big spot.

The Yankees - or at least the local media and Yankee fans - are putting a huge amount of pressure on 22 year-old rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain, who didn't join the club until after the All-Star break.

Chamberlain will be Mariano Rivera's set-up man in the playoffs.

Since joining the Yanks, Chamberlain - who can get it up to around 98 regularly - has allowed one earned run and 12 hits and has struck 34 batters in 23 2/3 innings.

While Chamberlain has been lights out since arriving, he has also been babied - on orders from the front office.

The so-called "Joba rules" have prevented the rookie from pitching on consecutive days - until last night. In addition, every time he pitched two innings in an outing, he was iced for two days under orders from upper management.

Chamberlain's first experience with back-to-back outings went pretty well, but it remains to be seen how he'll do with the wrappers off.

Chamberlain will need some help, and that may not be so easy for the Yankees to find. Hard-throwing Kyle Farnsworth can be lights-out once in a while, but more often somebody's putting his lights out. His ERA has been around 5.00 for most of the season.

Luis Vizcaino got off to an awful start for the Yankees but has been reliable most of the season, though not in September. He's seen limited duty this month. He's got a sore shoulder and has been pitching like it.

The Yankee offense is - well - the Yankee offense, although it has shown a few chinks lately.

Leftfielder Hideki Matsui has hit .179 so far in September and has had only four homers since Aug. 1.

Centerfielder Melky Cabrera is hitting just .178 this month, with an on-base percentage of .232 and a slugging percentage of .211.

Everyone else seems to be hitting up to their capablities.

That's it from Yankeeland for now. We'll be updating the goings-on at the enemy camp up to, and right through the first round of the playoffs.

Hopefully the only thing we'll have to report on the Yankees after Round 1 will be their golf scores.


moose said...

ITs official - BRING ON THE YANKEES!!!!

by the way - what are you new yorker opinions about the Mets collapse

lets go tribe

Ron Vallo said...

When both teams are viable, this town is a Yankee town.

Mets fans are dying, the papers have been brutal (not undeserved) but for the most part the talk is about the Yankees.

It's a demographic thing.

If I lived on Long Island, where most Brookylyn and Mets fans migrated, I'd probably get a better read on thigs.

But - lucky me - most of the people who moved up into the area where I live have ties to the Bronx, so they are rather amused about the whole Mets thing.