Good Morning
Good Morning

Lance Berkman, last night's shenanigans and the Mets' competitiveness

Greetings from the Bronx, and sorry as always for the traditionally late day-game entry.

The good news is I can provide some updated information: Lance Berkman is now on the disabled list with his right ankle injury. Infield prospect Eduardo Nunez is here to take Berkman's place on the roster, the thinking there being that, with Alex Rodriguez still dealing with his left calf injury, the Yankees could use some help in the infield.

Berkman will be eligible to return on Aug. 31. So far for the Yankees, he has a .273 on-base percentage and .282 slugging percentage in 44 plate appearance, making him below replacement level in that small sample. Yeesh. On the flip side, though, Berkman's fellow trade-deadline acquisitions Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood have made Brian Cashman look smart.

--I asked Joe Girardi a few questions about Phil Hughes' innings limits. Hughes starts the day with 135 1/3 innings pitched. Given his limit of roughly 175 innings, that gives him 40 innings to work with during the regular season. So if those starts go well, we're talking five or six starts. 

The Yankees have 42 games remaining, meaning that if they were to stay in turn the rest of the way, Hughes would probably make nine more starts, including today's. So that means the Yankees have to skip him roughly three more times through the rotation, or they could have him make more starts and keep them very short. That latter tactic worked miserably with Joba Chamberlain, but Hughes probably has a better chance of handing it mentally than Chamberlain did.

There are four off days remaining on the Yankees' schedule, so that would give the team some room to play with Hughes. However, Girardi said he wants to use that off day to make sure all of his starters get an extra day, rather than just going to a four-man rotation. That means that, a few times through, the Yankees could deploy a rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Javier Vazquez, Dustin Moseley and someone from Sergio Mitre/Alfredo Aceves (who is not yet ready to be activated, Brian Cashman said this morning)/Ivan Nova.

Finally, Girardi insisted that Hughes' innings limits will not be impacted by any other issues - say, Andy Pettitte's health. The limit is the limit, and the Yankees aren't going to mess with this process in which they believe. 

--Off last night's Yankees game, I wrote about the Yankees' age issues, both this season and beyond. I debated writing something off the tension in the game, but I decided against it, since the benches never cleared.  But Johnny Damon's quotes sure are inflammatory.

My verdicts? Jeremy Bonderman clearly hit Brett Gardner on purpose to start the bottom of the first, as payback for Gardner's hard slide into Carlos Guillen Monday night - which put Guillen on the disabled list. 

While Joe Girardi didn't like the warning that home-plate umpire Eric Cooper issued at that point, I think it was the right call. The Tigers' post-game comments validated Cooper's decision.

And while Girardi of course wanted to absolve Chad Gaudin of any wrongdoing, after Gaudin hit Miguel Cabrera to start the eighth, I'm not buying it. Jim Leyland's ardent objections, which led to Leyland's ejection, told the whole story there. Cooper should've ejected Gaudin immediately.

--Good story by Cody Derespina on Ramiro Pena, who had a good night starting in place of Alex Rodriguez.

--Gotta give the Mets credit. They may not be hitting, but they sure aren't quitting. As long as they keep pitching so competently, I see them at least treading water. Which means no playoffs, but also no further embarrassment.

--It is amazing that Astros fans still boo Carlos Beltran. It is interesting to wonder what would've happened if Roger Clemens had successfully convinced Beltran to dump Scott Boras for Clemens' agents Alan and Randy Hendricks. Beltran probably would still be in Houston now. The Astros probably would've won the 2005 World Series.

--UPDATE, 12:59 p.m.: The New York Times is reporting that Roger Clemens will be indicted for perjury, in the near future. Just for a rudimentary sense of timeline: Barry Bonds was indicted in November 2007, and he still hasn't had his hearing.

Also, for a rudimentary sense of perspective, the Feds don't seem to have a prayer of actually convicting Bonds. We'll see if they present a better case against Clemens.

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