Tagged: Edwar Ramirez

Yankees Rally But Lose Late To Relentless Pirates


TAMPA – Steve Pearce scored on a Doug Bernier infield grounder to break a 7-7 tie in the top of the eighth inning and Pittsburgh would add four more runs in the ninth as the Pirates defeated the New York Yankees 12-7 on Tuesday.
Left-hand reliever Donnie Beal (1-0) was credited with the victory while Boone Logan (0-1) was tagged with the loss.
The Yankees’ Grapefruit League record slipped to 3-5 while the Pirates are now 3-4-1.

  • Nick Johnson proved his back injury was not such a big deal after all when he hit a pair of solo home runs in his two at-bats of day. Both home runs came off Pirates’ starter Charlie Morton.
  • The Yankees came storming back from a 6-3 deficit with a four-run rally in the fourth inning capped by a two-out single by Jorge Posada.
  • Jon Weber, who replaced Johnson as the DH in the fourth, came through with a two-run double that tied the score at 6. He later scored on Posada’s single. Weber also doubled in the ninth inning as is now batting .700 on the spring.
  • Following up on his two doubles and three RBIs on Monday, Nick Swisher singled to drive in Posada in the first inning.
  • Left-hander Royce Ring and Romulo Sanchez combined to pitch 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief. They did not allow a hit and struck out three.

  • Starter CC Sabathia did not fare too well in his second outing. He was tagged for five runs on seven hits and a walk in just 2 1/3 innings. The big blow came on a three-run home run by Garrett Jones in the first inning. In fact, after the first four Pirate batters collected hits, the Pirates held a 4-0 lead.
  • Boone Logan had his first rocky outing of the spring and he was unable to preserve the Yankees’ 8-7 lead in the eighth inning.
  • Hector Noesi completely unraveled in the ninth inning, giving up four runs, three earned, on three hits and a walk.
  • Curtis Granderson, who had been hitless this spring, actually wowed the fans at Steinbrenner Field with a triple to right-center to lead off the fifth inning. However, Swisher struck out swinging, Randy Winn also struck out swinging and Juan Miranda grounded out and Granderson was stranded at third. Considering the Pirates later rallied to win the game, the inability to score Granderson may be the key reason why it happened.
  • First baseman Jorge Vazquez made things a lot worse in the ninth inning when he dropped a routine throw from Reegie Corona that would have ended the inning with the Pirates leading 11-7. A single by catcher Hector Gimenez drove in the 12th run two pitches later.
  • Yankees pitchers combined to give up 15 hits and four walks to the same Pirates team they had limited to one hit and shutout the day before.

In what can be not considered much of a surprise, the Yankees dealt right-hand reliever Edwar Ramirez to the Texas Rangers for cash considerations. Ramirez began last season with the Yankees but was sent down after he was ineffective. He ended the 2009 season with no record and 5.93 ERA in 20 appearances. He was designated for
assignment 10 days ago when the Yankees signed Chan Ho Park and needed to clear a roster spot for him. . . . Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli went through his first full workout with the team after he suffered a concussion in Saturday’s game against the Blue Jays. Cervelli is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday when the Yankees play the Nationals. . . . Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner said that the Yankees will not alter their policy of not talking about extensions during the season for the expiring contracts of their personnel — which applies to Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Joe Girardi. Though Steinbrenner said he would like the trio to remain, any talks about extensions will have to come after the 2010 season.

The “Reunion Match” is on tap on Wednesday as the New York Yankees travel to Lakeland to see how their pals Johnny Damon, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson are doing. Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames also will renew acquaintances with their former Detroit Tigers teammates. The Yankees will start Joba Chamberlain and the Tigers will counter with Armando Galarraga.
Game time is 1:05 p.m. EST. This game will not be telecast.

Vazquez Deal Gives Huge Boost To Yankee Bullpen

I find it funny how Red Sox Nation is treating the trade of Javier Vazquez to the New York Yankees.
I have seen many message board posts stating that Vazquez was a plus-4.00 ERA pitcher in the American League and that John Lackey is younger (he’s 31 and Vazquez is 33) and a better “money” pitcher.
OK. For arguments sake, let’s say all of that is true. But that the benefit is all to Lackey because of these reasons is very short-sighted.
The fact is this: The Yankees have added a pitcher that in 10 seasons has never pitched less than 198 innings. In effect, the Yankees have four pitchers who are capable of pitching 200-plus innings.
Vazquez is also a strikeout pitcher. In the new Yankee Stadium there is no better weapon against the longball flying out in the wind current in right-center than a strikeout pitcher. The Yankees have three of them in CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez.
But the real reason that Vazquez helps the Yankees has nothing to do with the starting rotation. Vazquez in the rotation is huge boost to the bullpen.
For one thing, the Yankees starting four will provide the bullpen fewer innings that they will have to pitch. That gives pitching coach Dave Eiland and manager Joe Girardi an opportunity to use the bullpen judiciously and not have to tire any one pitcher out.
But the greatest boon to the bullpen is that it is almost a foregone conclusion that either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes are now free to become the setup man for Mariano Rivera.
That is not very good news to American League teams in 2010. 
Last season the bridge to Rivera was supposed to be Brian Bruney. Though Bruney admirably lost weight and showed great command in April last season, an elbow injury landed him on the disabled list twice.
When he returned Bruney was not the same pitcher he had been. His command was lacking and hitters pounded him every time he fell behind in the count. The Yankees chose to deal him to the Washington Nationals just as the Winter Meetings started.
Another bridge from last season, left-hander Phil Coke, lost his job in the bullpen to veteran Damaso Marte in the postseason and he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in the Curtis Granderson trade.
In the absence of a legitimate bridge to Rivera this season, it looked as if David Robertson was the odds-on favorite to take the job until the Vazquez trade. Though I remain a big fan of the young Robertson and see him as a huge contributor in the bullpen in 2010, Chamberlain and Hughes provide more peace of mind because both have pitched in that role before.
If I had a choice of the two, I would move Chamberlain to the bullpen because he has not proved to me that he can pitch with the same confidence and command as a starter. He also struggled keeping his pitch count down and could not stay in games long enough.
Switched back to the bullpen this postseasn, Chamberlain was 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA. His ERA as a starter was 4.95. You tell me in what role he pitched better?
Remember that Hughes became the setup man by accident last season. He was supposed to have been sent down when Chien-Ming Wang came off the disabled list last season. But he stayed and with each relief appearance he got better until he was given the eighth-inning role exclusively in July.
But the Yankee brass has insisted that they think of Hughes as a starter and that he would begin the 2010 season as a starter. The confidence Hughes gained pitching out the bullpen should serve him well this spring.
Though Hughes would have to pitch under an innings limit of about 140 innings in 2010 like Chamberlain has the past two seasons is not a major hurdle either. Hughes, as the No. 5 starter, could start about 15 games or so and then shift to the bullpen at midseason in favor of swingman Chad Gaudin.
The Yankees bullpen next season will include Rivera, likely Chamberlain, Marte, Robertson, lefty Boone Logan (obtained along with Vazquez), Alfredo Aceves and Gaudin. If Logan or Aceves don’t pitch well there is some pretty good depth behind them.
Sinkerballer Jonathan Albaladejo has made the 2008 and 2009 teams by pitching well in the spring and he could do it again. Edwar Ramirez is still working to correct his flaws with his change-up and he made the team in 2009. The Yankees also have hard-throwing right-hander Mark Melancon available.
So the Vazquez siging, it would seem to me, would be a great boost to the bullpen. Can you imagine a stretch run with the Yankees having a bullpen of Rivera, Chamberlain, Hughes, Robertson and Marte? I would think that would be enough firepower to shut down any team after six innings.
And the Yankees will have a rotation that can easily pitch past six innings, if necessary.
So I am sorry, Red Sox Nation.
Though you seem to claim Lackey is better than Vazquez, you are missing the real point of the trade. The deal offers the Yankees what could be argued is one of the best bullpens in baseball.
I think the fact the Red Sox have lost Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner this off-season and they may lose Jonathan Papelbon to free agency next season would heighten the importance of depth in their bullpen.
Without depth in the bullpen in the American League East you are sunk. The Vazquez deal assures the Yankees have plenty of depth in 2010.
Your move, Theo Epstein!

Yankees Built Great Bullpen As Season Progressed


Closer: Mariano Rivera
Set-Up Man: Phil Hughes
Lefthander: Phil Coke
Righthander: Brian Bruney
Long Man: Alfredo Aceves


David Robertson
Chad Gaudin
Jonathan Albaladejo
Damaso Marte
Edwar Ramirez
Mark Melancon
Brett Tomko
Jose Veras
Steven Jackson
Anthony Claggett

In the first half of the season, the New York Yankees bullpen was very much a work in progress. By the end of the season it was a major strength of the team.
Give some credit for that to pitching coach Dave Eiland and manager Joe Girardi.
Spring training opened with many doubts about the Yankees’ bullpen. There were concerns about the offseason shoulder surgery on Mariano Rivera. There were doubts the Yankees had anyone who could get the ball to Rivera in the ninth. There also were questions on why no major moves were made when the bullpen failed so badly in 2008.
The Yankees broke camp with seven relievers: Rivera, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Damaso Marte and Jonathan Albaladejo. Girardi had an audition for a long reliever in the spring between Dan Giese, Brett Tomko and Alfredo Aceves but chose Albaladejo for the second season in a row as his final addition to the 2009 pen. The team released Giese and Aceves and Tomko were sent to Triple A.
But April was not kind to this group. 
The Yankees starting rotation did not pitch real well as a group and the team’s offense was missing Alex Rodriguez recovering from hip surgery. Still, the bullpen was contributing to that 13-15 record the Yankees had on May 8 when Rodriguez returned.
Six of the team’s 15 losses were attributable to the bullpen. Phil Coke lost two and Albaladejo, Veras, Marte and Rivera each lost one. 
Eiland and Girardi decided that the bullpen could be better and they started looking for replacements for some of the original seven down on the farm.
Bruney, who looked to be the chosen one as the bridge to Rivera, pitched brilliantly in April until he started having issues with his right elbow. He was placed on the disabled list.
Marte, who had come up with shoulder problems after pitching in the World Baseball Classic, proved that he was not completely recovered from the injury and he was placed on the disabled list also a day after Bruney.
Eiland and Girardi opted for young righthander David Robertson and former starter Alfredo Aceves as bullpen replacements for Bruney and Marte. Tomko was later called up and replaced Robertson in the mix.
But in May, the Yankees continued to have problems with some members of the bullpen. The Yankees chose to option Ramirez back to Triple A on May 19 when Bruney was activated. But Bruney lasted only one appearance before he went back on the disabled list on May 26 and Robertson was recalled again.
On June 16, the Yankees finally decided to designate Veras for assignment for his recurring problems with finding the strike zone. Yankee fans who taken to booing Veras as much as former reliever Kyle Farnsworth, were pleased by the move. Bruney was activated again to replace Veras on the roster.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had called up Phil Hughes to replace Chien-Ming Wang as a starter in the rotation and he did start seven games from April 28 through May 31 with some spotty success. He was 3-2 with a 5.45 ERA.
Wang returned to the rotation and Hughes was shifted to the bullpen — temporarily. The idea was to keep Hughes around just in case Wang needed help out of the bullpen as he built up his arm strength.
But Wang instead landed back on the DL and this time it would be for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. However, rather then use Hughes as a starter, the Yankees decided to keep him there.
It was a great move too because Hughes became the bridge to Rivera that Bruney could not be after his elbow injury. Many Yankee fans circle May 8 when Rodriguez returned as the third baseman for the Yankees climb back into contention in the American League East race.
But you also may want to circle July 3. That is the first time Hughes was used in the eighth inning as the bridge to Rivera. He has had that role ever since and the Yankees bullpen has been sensational from June through September.
The Yankees ran off a 23-8 record from May 8 to June 6 and the bullpen lost only four of those games: Tomko, Aceves, Coke and Rivera.
But from June 6 on, the Yankees bullpen was nearly flawless. From that date on June 6 through July 10 the Yankees were 23-15. The bullpen lost only two of those games.
Tomko and young righthander Mark Melancon came in to pitch early and ended up taking the loss in those games.
The new bullpen cast of Tomko, Robertson, Aceves and Hughes added to holdovers Bruney, Coke and Rivera was proving to be effective. But Bruney did struggle to regain his form after his two stints on the disabled list.
Brian Cashman also made his worst decision of 2009 on July 21. He designated Tomko for assignment and decided to go along with Girardi’s choice and allow Sergio Mitre to become the replacement for Wang after the All-Star break. Mitre failed miserably as a fifth starter and Tomko recorded a 4-1 record with a  2.95 ERA for Oakland. Oops!
But the bullpen came on strong after the All-Star break. The team was 51-37 at the break and was 52-22 after the break. The bullpen lost only five of those 22 games:
Hughes lost one on July 30 and Robertson lost another the next night. Marte lost a game on Sept. 11 and another on Sept. 30. Rivera lost one on Sept 18 to the Mariners on Ichiro’s two-run blast in the ninth to end his consecutive saves streak at career-best 36 straight.
That was it. 
Look at the won-loss records of those in the bullpen:
Aceves 10-1
Hughes 5-1
Albaladejo 5-1
Bruney 5-0
Coke 4-3
Rivera 3-3
Robertson 2-1
Marte 1-3
Melancon 0-1
They combined for a record of 35-13 for a .729 wining percentage. The high number decisions was due to some early departures by Yankee starters and the Yankees’ penchant for coming back to win games late. The team had 15 walkoff wins this season and they also lead the league in come-from-behind victories.
The bullpen was a large part of the reason why.
Rivera led the way with a 1.76 ERA and 44 saves in 46 tries.
But, Hughes actually was even better with a 1.40 ERA out of the bullpen with 65 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings.
Aceves’ 3.54 ERA is deceiving because he gave up nine runs over six innings in three consecutive appearances in August when he was experiencing fatigue in his arm. He also gave up  three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in a spot start July 9.
But in his 42 relief appearances this season, Aceves held the opposition scoreless in 25 of them. He gave up only one run in another eight games. So Aceves certainly earned Girardi’s trust as long r
eliever this season.
Coke was also better than his 4.50 ERA might indicate. Coke did pitch poorly in April with his ERA for the month reaching 5.73. But on July 4 Coke had lowered his season ERA to a season low 2.97.
But on July 11, Coke gave four runs in a relief appearance against the Angels in Anaheim and  on Aug. 1 he was roughed up for six runs by the White Sox in Chicago. Between those two outings, Coke’s ERA jumped back to 4.98.
In his last 23 appearances of the season he was scored upon in only three and all of those were in August. 
Bruney also has shown improvement since his ERA ballooned to 6.16 on July 29. In August and September combined, Bruney pitched in 21 games and 20 innings with an ERA of 1.80 and 13 strikeouts. He has also walked 13 batters in those 20 innings, which is still a concern. But Girardi thinks Bruney can contribute and he may earn a postseason spot in the bullpen.
Robertson was headed for true stardom this season before a balky elbow in September shelved him until the final week of the season. Robertson drew raves because of his ability to strike out batters despite not having a mid-90s fastball. 
In just 43 2/3 innings pitched this season, Robertson has fanned 63 batters, a rate higher than Hughes and Rivera. He also has showed he can hold a lead in the middle innings.  He was unscored upon in 32 of 45 appearances and in his final 17 appearances he did not give up a run in 14 of those.
If Robertson’s two appearances in the final series against the Tampa Bay Rays shows Eiland and Girardi he is healthy he could supplant Bruney on the postseason roster.
Marte likely will make the roster simply because he adds another lefthander to the bullpen besides Coke. Marte is 1-3 with a 9.45 ERA. But to be fair, Marte did pitch most of the early season with a bad shoulder and spent most of the rest of the season trying to rehab it.
If you throw out a dreadful four-run pounding in 1/3 of an inning at home against the Orioles on Sept. 11, Marte actually had a 1.17 ERA from Aug. 21 until the end of the season and he was effective against lefthanded hitters.
In the first half of the 2009 season, I gave this bullpen a overall grade of C+ because of the struggles of Veras and Ramirez and injuries to Marte and Bruney.
But with the ascension from the minors of Aceves and Robertson and the addition of Hughes and the recovery of Marte and Bruney, the bullpen — including Coke and the always sensational Rivera — just kept getting better and better as the season wore on.
This corps kept the Yankees in games so they could come back and they rarely lost leads in the late innings and allowed the Yankees to hold the leads that they did earn. So you have to give this bullpen an A+ for the second half of the season.
I would give it an overall grade of B+ only because of the early problems that later were worked out and the uncertainty about Bruney and Marte heading into the playoffs. 
But one thing is for sure. The Twins will not like facing this bullpen anyway. Adding Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen mix only makes it that much deeper for the American League Division Series. This bullpen is simply the backbone of this team right now.