Results tagged ‘ A.J. Burnett ’
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — That’s the question I’m pondering from St. Pete, just a few hours before the start of a four-game series against the Rays and just a few hours removed from a very convincing start by Phil Hughes.
Hughes looked awfully close to that 18-game winner from 2010 against the Blue Jays on Sunday, when he notched his first win and first quality start, retired eight of his final nine hitters he faced and registered just 80 pitches through six innings. He could’ve gone longer, but Hughes (pictured left by The Associated Press) went deep enough to make a very important point — he looks like an effective starting pitcher again.
Over the All-Star break, the right-hander worked with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on better aligning his stride towards the plate and adjusting his curveball grip. That grip gave him a much sharper breaking ball he was able to use as a reliable No. 2 pitch to offset his four-seamer (one that consistently sat in the 92- to 93-mph range and got better as the game wore on).
Now, the question: If Hughes truly is back, and he’s the 2010 version again, do the Yankees need Ubaldo Jimenez?
Here’s the thing about Jimenez: Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd doesn’t really have to move him. It reminds me a lot of the situation with Padres closer Heath Bell in recent years. Jimenez is under club control for a while (signed through 2012 with two additional club options thereafter), he’s awfully affordable (making no more than $8 million through 2014) and his stock is rather low (Jimenez is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 18 starts this year — though he does have a 2.56 ERA since the start of June).
Since the Rockies are 9 1/2 games out of first place and the starting-pitching market is weak, it’s not surprising they would shop him. But considering all the above-mentioned factors, it’s no wonder Colorado seeks the sun and the moon for the services of Ubaldo (pictured right by the AP).
MLB.com colleague Thomas Harding says the Rockies are at least listening to offers for Jimenez, but a deal remains unlikely. Peter Gammons, meanwhile, put the chances of a deal at 10 percent. We all know how quickly things can change as the non-waiver Trade Deadline draws closer, though.
With regards to the Yankees, the names that have surfaced as potential pieces to a deal are the likes of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero (though SI.com is reporting today that Montero wouldn’t be the centerpiece of the potential trade, since the Rockies don’t view him as a catcher).
Now, if Hughes is right, then the Yankees would have an in-house rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Hughes at the top, with the final spots going to any two between Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Nova.
Would they still need Jimenez to make a return trip to the playoffs? And would it be worth it to give up what the Rockies would want in return?
Curious to hear your thoughts.
Some links from the series finale in Toronto …
* Efficient Hughes looks strong in first win
* Yankees Notebook, on Gardner, Dickerson, Teixeira and A-Rod
* Yankees intend to push Rays down standings
A.J. Burnett will be the Yankees’ No. 2 starter and Phil Hughes is the No. 3 starter, Joe Girardi confirmed today.
- The Yankees have sent Andrew Brackman and Dellin Betances to Minor League camp. Brackman will start the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; Betances will begin at Double-A Trenton.
- Russell Martin was in New York’s original lineup today but Girardi decided to rest him after he took a beating catching Burnett’s four innings yesterday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, starting Austin Romine instead. Martin is fine physically and will catch Sabathia tomorrow against the Phillies in Clearwater.
- Ivan Nova will pitch a simulated game tomorrow at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
- In case you’re looking ahead, Manny Banuelos will pitch on Monday against the Rays in Port Charlotte behind Bartolo Colon.
- As I sit here in the press box writing this blog post, Dante Girardi is taking batting practice off his dad. He belted one homer into the right-field party deck (OK, so he’s hitting with a metal bat from shallow right field. Still, that’s not bad for 8 years old!).
Some additional notes from today’s event in Washington Heights, where the Yankees moved 19-year-old right-hander Leonel Vinas from “Hank’s Yanks” to the Gulf Coast League Yanks, and Brian Cashman said once again that they’re preparing for ’11 without Andy Pettitte:
- A.J. Burnett knows his rebound is important. He’s remodeled a barn at his Maryland home into an indoor pitching facility and is expecting new pitching coach Larry Rothschild to drop by for about a week next month. Cashman said:
“We need A.J. to come back to his previous form, there’s no doubt about it. I believe he will, but we need that to happen, too. We signed A.J. not to pitch toward the back of the rotation, to be a front of the rotation starter. That’s what his abilities are, that’s what he’s capable of doing. That’s what we expect. I believe you’ll see that again, but that means a lot of hard work. I know he’s up for it. I’ve talked to A.J. several times now and met with him in person in Maryland. He knows the responsibility he has to us and this fan base. He’s committed.”
- Joba Chamberlain will be in the bullpen for 2011 and the future. Cashman told a reporter to “bite your tongue” when it was suggested that Chamberlain might be called in to fix the rotation problems, and later explained:
“His stuff plays so much more significantly out of the ‘pen. We’ve given him the opportunity to show what he can do out of the rotation, and the velocity dropped. It’s just not the same stuff.”
- Food for thought: Even if Pettitte says he’s done pitching before the Yankees get to Spring Training, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that he could “unretire” – hey, Roger Clemens did it – if the Yankees rotation cries out for him. The GM wouldn’t shoot down the suggestion outright, saying, “I don’t want to speculate on stuff like that. I guess we’ll see where we’re sitting in May.”
- The Yankees were never close on a deal with Kerry Wood, who wound up taking much less than everyone expected to go back to the Chicago Cubs. Here’s Cashman one more time:
“We never got close because, in talking to his agents, it was going to cost $5.5 million a year or more on a multi-year basis. We weren’t interested in that level. But they said that it was what it was going to take. When we saw he signed with the Cubs at $1.5 million, I called right away and said, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’ They said the Yankee price was the Yankee price; no different than the Red Sox price or the White Sox price. The bottom line is, he moved his family from Phoenix to Chicago and he’s going to be a Cub for life now. This had a lot to do with non-baseball related stuff, too. I can understand that.”
- Alex Rodriguez saw Dr. Marc Philippon after the season and was given a clean bill of health on his right hip. The Yankees expect no problems with him being ready for the spring.
- With a postseason berth still out there to be locked up, the Yankees will indeed start CC Sabathia tomorrow against the Blue Jays.
The Yankees disliked seeing A.J. Burnett so much, late in the 2008 season, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon were among those who pulled general manager Brian Cashman aside and lobbied to open the wallets and make sure the right-hander landed in the Bronx after electing free agency.
I actually went back and listened to the audio of A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada breaking down that August 22 start against the Red Sox, which still happened to be on my laptop as in MP3 form. That tells me two things — one, I need to do a better job of backing up my data, and two, the tone of both players is now markedly different.
Having a whole spring to work together doesn’t necessarily mean that Burnett and Posada will work as a lights-out battery tonight against the Red Sox, nor does it mean that Burnett will have a wonderful season against the Red Sox – shades of his ’08. But it is certainly possible that Burnett just got a little too amped up to be part of the rivalry, and as Posada says in this story, it is crucial that the Yankees keep his emotions in check.
Those poor extended spring kids never had a chance. Hughes actually had to keep pitching more than the six innings the Yankees allotted, because he’d thrown too many strikes – 70 of 100 pitches, in fact. Then he dashed to Tampa International Airport and jetted up to Boston, where he’ll get a hotel room to watch two whole games in the bullpen. Then, it’s back to (guess where?) — Tampa, Florida. Yes, it seems like some cosmic joke.
Spin that wild setup bullpen wheel! My take on the picture is that the Yankees would love, adore, relish nothing more, than to have Joba Chamberlain stand tall and morph back into 2007 Joba — right up until the game where he had the midges in his mouth. I’m just not sure where that guy is right now; he seemed to be back in the ’09 playoffs, but is he there in ’10? But as Joe Girardi said in our season-opening Q&A (and I’m sure in other places as well), Chamberlain has a “good chance” to be that eighth-inning guy. Now he’s just got to prove it.
Remember August 22 of last season? Sure you do. That was the game that the relationship between A.J. Burnett and Jorge Posada hit its low point, with Burnett stretching his arms out and yelling at himself, “Why? Why would you throw that pitch?”
It has been an enduring snapshot, and not just in the media and among the fan base. On Saturday, an afternoon when Burnett and Posada clicked at their best, Burnett revealed that the memories from Fenway Park had made the trip to Spring Training as something for the ‘what to work on’ file.
“I think that whole Boston thing kind of got the best of us,” Burnett said. “Even though
we talked about it and knew it wasn’t about him and wasn’t about me,
the whole thing blew up so much that … it keeps it in the back of your
mind. To be able to come here and work here and throw to him every
start, it’s fun and relaxed.”
Burnett and Posada needed to fix whatever wasn’t going right in their relationship because, frankly, they are going to be together a good amount. Jose Molina is gone, having signed with the Blue Jays, and Joe Girardi does not want to use Francisco Cervelli as a personal catcher for Burnett – or anyone.
So far, Burnett says the relationship is working. He didn’t have his curveball Saturday and needed to figure out a way to navigate the Tigers, relying instead on his fastball and offering props to Posada’s game-calling. In short, Burnett said that Saturday had been “easy upstairs,” meaning that the battery was largely on the same page over 6 2/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball at Joker Marchant Stadium.
“I could be more efficient, but that’ll come under the lights, hopefully,” said Burnett, who walked three and struck out two in a 91-pitch outing. “Just to get that hook over is the main thing today, but besides that, I felt great. I was relaxed and confident.”
That guy who walked to the mound for the bottom of the first inning here in Clearwater, Fla.? Yeah, that was ‘Bad A.J.’ He was gone by the second inning, replaced by ‘Good A.J.’
After the Phillies raked A.J. Burnett for a five-spot early, banging everything hard – including a two-run Placido Polanco homer – the Yankees’ No. 2 starter started to settle in and salvaged what was left of his four-inning outing against the National League champs.
“They swung early,” Burnett said. “I attacked and established early, and they swung early. If you’re going to get me, get me early and get me now.”
Admitting he could have been sharper, the one thing Burnett was happy to take from this start was his continued trust in the changeup, which he’s tooling with more and more. It got hit here and there, but Burnett kept throwing it, and in fact, he told catcher Francisco Cervelli to call it in odd counts.
Burnett finished just a balk shy of a Spring Training rarity (and something I’d never heard of before I came on this beat) – a pitching line Yahtzee, where every category gets filled in. Check it:
The hit batter prompted someone in this press box to sing, “I left my fastball … in Ben Francisco.” The wild pitch was actually pretty comical too, firing all the way to the backstop like something out of Nuke LaLoosh’s repertoire.
Burnett had the right pitch, a fastball, but he missed Cervelli’s location and was shocked to see him set up in a different spot when he looked back at home plate halfway through his delivery .
“I should have just thrown it,” Burnett said. “My fault. A quick little flash of ignorance. But it went all the way back there, didn’t it?”
- Jamie Hoffmann’s heading back to the Dodgers, and that’s good news for Marcus Thames. Joe Girardi said recently that it was mostly between Hoffmann and Thames for the 25th man spot, a right-handed hitting outfielder off the bench. While he wouldn’t say it since Greg Golson and David Winfree are still in camp, that competition seems closed.
- The Yankees sent infielders Reegie Corona, Brandon Laird, Eduardo Nunez and Jorge Vazquez to Minor League camp after Monday’s game. The Yankees now have 39 players remaining in big league camp.
- Joe Girardi on Phil Hughes’ outing: “A lot better than what the scoreboard shows. His changeup was great today, that’s the best changeup he’s had. I know you’re going to see the line score and four runs, but I thought he threw the ball a lot better than those four runs. I thought it was the best stuff he’s had.”
- Phil Hughes on his spring: “I feel like I’ve worked hard to get myself to this point where I can be a successful starter. I feel like my changeup has come a long way, and if I go to the bullpen or Triple-A, I feel like that’s another big weapon for me and I’ll be able to use it. I’ve kind of learned around here just to roll with the punches. What you say isn’t going to affect anything. You just have to go out and do the best you can, and see what decisions come from it.”
- Joba Chamberlain on having to pitch in that intrasquad game: “It doesn’t matter who you’re facing. These guys are here for a reason. These guys are still in camp for a reason. I’ll put these guys against their lineup so you can’t approach it any different if you’re facing Jimmy Rollins or Greg Golson. They’re still here for a reason.”
At the moment Colin Curtis slugged a three-run home run over the right-center field wall, ending Wednesday’s 6-3 Yankees win over the Pirates, A.J. Burnett was long gone – sometimes the starting pitchers hang out to watch each other work, but maybe there are other ways to occupy a cool but enjoyable afternoon in the Tampa area (we wouldn’t know!).
Anyway, that meant that when Curtis and his No. 98 jersey crossed home plate, there was no madman racing out of the dugout with a whipped cream-laden towel to hit the outfielder with. That sort of thing seems best reserved for the regular season anyway, if you’re going to do it all.
But the Yankees haven’t forgotten how many times Burnett whacked them in the kisser with something sweet last season, in one of the more hilarious quirks of the ’09 Yankees. So when Burnett won the Yankees’ Indy Car racing video game tournament on Tuesday, Kevin Long got revenge on behalf of the whole team.
Hard to believe no players spilled the goods today! Here’s Joe Girardi:
“It just happened the spur of the moment. I saw this shorter coach running to get a towel and some whipped cream at the bar in there. The next thing I know, there’s 50 guys, and he kind of got his way through. That was enjoyable for me to watch, and probably about 15 other guys too.”