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Phil Hughes, last season’s long reliever in the bullpen, was named the Yankees fifth starter Thursday beating out Joba Chamberlain and others for the coveted last spot in the Yankee rotation.  Hughes will most likely have an innings limit this year, much like Joba had last year.  Some writers are speculating the limit could be around 170 innings, meaning we should see Joba or others make some starts toward the end of the season.

Hughes also beat out Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves and Chad Gaudin.  I forecast Mitre to be sent to AAA to stay warm as an injury replacement starter and Aceves back in the Yankee bullpen.  Gaudin was released outright this week after not earning the spot in the rotation and the Yankees felt paying him $2.95 million to pitch in Scranton was too much.  Since his contract was not guaranteed, it was a smart decision for the Yankees and I could definitly see Gaudin catching on strong elsewhere.

One other notable pitching story comes from Boston, the Red Sox manager Terry Francona confirmed that Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be ready to pitch for the Sox until a couple weeks into the season.  However, Tim Wakefield, the aging knuckleballer has most definitely earned his spot in the rotation.  Wakefield will apparently pitch until he gets so old his arm falls off.

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It was announced yesterday via this press release from the Yankees that they have signed Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin to one-year deals. Gaudin gets $2.95 million and Logan signed for $590,000.

The Yankees do not have any more players on their roster who are due arbitration. Now they can focus on a utility player/bench player.

A lot of questions stand unanswered regarding the Yankees and the World Series, such as: who is pitching games 4 and 5; who is starting in right field in games 3-4-5 and what to do with Hideki Matsui in games 3,4 and 5.

Matsui is the Yankees full-time DH.  A former outfielder, Matsui has not played in the field since injuring his knee in 2008.  He has been either the DH or on the bench.  It seems as if Matsui will remain on the bench while the series is in Philly, despite his good bat.  Even though going with Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Jerry Hairston, Jr, or Eric Hinske means a worse bat at the plate, it does mean a better defensive player in the field.

Which leads me to who starts in right.  Nick Swisher was the everyday starter in the regular season, but has struggled greatly at the plate this postseason.  He is hitting .114 (4-35) with 3 walks and 1 RBI.  He has struck out an amazing 12 times in 10 games before being pulled after Game 1 of the World Series.

I would want to choose Brett Gardner, but it seems as if skipper Joe Girardi wants Gardner’s speed off the bench.  I am torn.  I can appreciate how much his speed can make the difference as a pinch-runner, but couldn’t he impact the game more with his speed in center field (move Melky Cabrera to right) and his speed as a batter with 4+ chances to get on base?  Gardner is also 2-4 in his 4 AB this postseason

Hinske and Hairston provide some veteran experience in the field and at the plate AND both were acquired in trades from National League teams mid-season – so they both have experience against Philly and national league teams in general.  I want to resist Hinske as a starter because he was a beast as a pinch-hitter this season and with no DH in games 3-4-5, I would want him available to pinch-hit for the pitcher when needed.

Finally, what to do about the starting pitching.  With no day off between games 4 and 5 like there was in the ALCS, the Yankees can start CC Sabathia in Game 4 on 3 days rest and then Burnett and Pettitte in games 5 and 6, also on 3 days rest (which I am sure both can handle) and then CC again for game 7 (if needed) on 3 days rest.  This is probably the least likely scenario.  If a Game 7 is needed, you don’t want to have tired out CC as much.

The most likely scenarios are Game 4-Sabathia, Game 5- Chad Gaudin, Game 6 Burnett, Game 7 Pettitte with Sabathia in relief or Game 4 – Gaudin, Game 5- Sabathia, Game 6 – Burnett, and Game 7 Pettitte with no Sabathia available.

My predictions?  Hideki Matsui stays on the bench.  Gardner should start in CF, Cabrera in RF, with Hinske, Hairston and Swisher off the bench and the first pitching scenario (Sabathia, Gaudin, Burnett, Pettitte/Sabathia.)

For only the second time in Major League History, a World Series game will be played on October 31.  The only other time it happened was 2001 – when the Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks faced off in the Bronx for Game 4 of their series.  Blame the late start to the 2009 season (April 6) and what feels like the longest postseason ever (because of all the days off between games) but the 2009 series is going to Game 3 in Philly on Halloween.

Coincidentally enough, the last time a game was played on Halloween the Yankees were involved and Derek Jeter earned his title of Mr. November.  The Oct. 31, 2001 game went late into the early morning of Nov.1 and Jeter’s late game heroics (opposite field solo home run in the 10th) tied the series at 2-2.

MLB.com went around interviewing Yankee and Phillies players as to their feelings about this combo day.  “I’d normally be home waiting for kids to knock on the door,” Yankees backup catcher Jose Molina said, “but this time, I’ll be here. I’ll take this a million times before being home waiting for kids to knock on the door.”

The best story of all comes from Phil Coke, via mlb.com:

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“I used to like trick-or-treating as a boy. Up until the age of 9 or 10,” Coke said. “And then this person scared the crap out of me so bad. He went crazy in his front yard. He had all these little hiding spots that, in the daytime if you’d see it, it’s like, ‘OK, that’s not a big deal.’ He had path lights going up to his door. Well, he had them turned off, and the little section of hedges, there were all these spots in there that you could hide in.

“He had these strobe lights going off … spider webs by the door … this creepy music in the background … and he had a fog machine and everything, so the fog was rolling down the front steps.

“And he pops out of the hedges!”

At this point, Coke was doing everything but pointing a flashlight up from the floor onto his face as he continued to tell the scariest story of this World Series.

“He has a skeleton kind of garb, and it glows, when the light catches it right, it really stands out,” Coke continued. “Oh my god — that guy scared me so bad. I couldn’t go trick-or-treating after a certain period of time ever again.  “He tried to come in and apologize to me, and I was all messed up. It was bad. He got me good. I was 9 or 10. It was a very traumatic experience. It was probably 8 o’clock at night, so it wasn’t really late, but he got me. Boy, did he get me.”

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A funny twist to this story is that two of Coke’s teammates, Johnny Damon and pitcher Chad Gaudin, are two of those guys who like to jump out of the bushes and scare kids.

“I like to get out with the kids and every now and then hide behind the bushes and scare the kids who actually think it’s going to be an enjoyable treat coming to my house for Halloween,” Damon said.

I have to say that having Halloween the same night as a World Series game is an extra, and fun, twist.  There will be some goofs in the stands all dressed up and people in bars watching the game all dressed up.  Just don’t confuse the Philly Phantatic with a guy dressed for Halloween!

The Philly Phanatic

Hat tip from Sliding Into Home

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4. Yankees sign Mark Teixeira for $180 million over eight years. The Red Sox power brokers had a bad meeting with Teixeira at his Dallas-area home, opening the door for Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, who implored his bosses to take the big plunge and beat Boston’s $170 million bid by telling them it was an opportunity to “make the Red Sox look bad.” It also made the Yankees look good.

10. Yankees sign CC Sabathia for $161 million. Some wondered whether the Yankees had to pay this much. That’ll never be known, but they felt a threat from Sabathia’s home-state Angels and simply had to have Sabathia, the ace they plainly needed.

17. Yankees sign Andy Pettitte for $5.5 million plus incentives. Pettitte held out for long enough for the price to drop, but he made it up in incentives after delivering an excellent year in the Bronx.

18. Yankees acquire Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, Jhonny Nunez and Jeff Marquez and a pitching prospect. It seemed like an extravagance once the Yankees acquired Teixeira, as Swisher appeared destined to become an expensive and dissatisfied bench player. But when Xavier Nady went down with elbow trouble, Swisher moved to right field where he became a power threat and fan favorite.

30. Yankees pick up Chad Gaudin off the waiver wire. For $100,000, Cashman got a pitcher that may supplant Joba Chamberlain as the team’s No. 4 starter if the Yankees need one later in the playoffs. Twenty eight teams passed before Cashman pounced.

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Greg, at Sliding Into Home, makes the great point that AJ Burnett’s signing was left off the list.  Although I support Burnett as a Yankee – he has brought a level of fun and excitement to the clubhouse that was missing before he and Nick Swisher arrived and I think has been crucial to the Yankees success this season.  As a sales manager, I have always told my sales reps that unless they have fun – they will not sell.  Because if they have fun, their customers will have fun and are much more likely to buy.  And of course, they’ll enjoy their job more too.

Despite the fun he has brought, he has not been the dominating pitcher the Yankees hoped he would be.

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