Monday, April 30, 2012

Eric Chavez Resurrecting His Career; Kuroda Tops Orioles 2-1 With Defensive Awareness

Goin' Back to Cali (Form): Chavez like his A's days (AP)
In the winter of 2007, Hiroki Kuroda was being sought out by several Major League teams and eventually signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his first start, he held the Padres to only one run and similarly, he tossed a gem for the New York Yankees to defeat the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 2-1 on Monday evening in the Bronx.

Eric Chavez played the first ten years of his career as a healthy member of the Oakland Athletics, until he started off the 2008 season on the disabled list and he would only go on to average 21 games for the next three seasons. He joined the Yankees with 230 homeruns and he added his fifth in pinstripes with a second inning shot into the New York bullpen.

That would be the only offense needed by Kuroda as he went seven innings striking out three and only allowing four hits.

His highlight of the day came as he showed off his defensive awareness by covering home plate on a wild pitch in the seventh inning. Nick Markakis singled and found himself at third shortly after. Kuroda threw a splitter into the dirt that passed by Russell Martin. Martin threw it back to the pitcher in time for a tag on Markakis, who took off but came up short.

Kuroda saves his lead as he tags out Markakis in the 7th (AP)
The one run lead was left intact and Kuroda handed it over to David Robertson, who recorded his fourth hold of the season. He has not allowed a run since September 1st, 2011. Since then, he has accumulated 18 strikeouts in 11 innings.

Mariano Rivera only threw nine pitches, six of which were strikes, in the ninth inning to earn the save. When "Enter Sandman" began to blast in the Bronx, it signaled the 1,051st time that Rivera has entered a ballgame. He is now 8th place on the All-Time list for games played in.

Eduardo Nunez is a player that can only dream of having a career that lasts that long. He started in left-field today as manager Joe Girardi tires to see how flexible his utility man can be in the absence of Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner in the outfield. He did not commit any errors, so the adventure of trying him out at that position could continue for Girardi.

Pettitte Makes More Progress

Per Bryan Hoch, Andy Pettitte pitched in an Extended Spring Training game today and his final line was 5.2 IP, 6 R (five earned), 10 H, 0 BB, 8 K, 96 pitches (71 strikes). Obviously it's not the prettiest of lines, but apparently windy conditions had something to with it. Pettitte told Jack Curry that he felt very good, and ready, but Brian Cashman said it's going to be at least another start. We'll see how things play out.

Game 22: Make It A Good One

(Getty Images)
Hiroki Kuroda has been alternating good starts and bad ones and tonight's he's due for a bad one. Hopefully he turns it around tonight. Here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Raul Ibanez, RF
  7. Eric Chavez, 3B
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Eduardo Nunez, LF
And it will be Kuroda on the bump. This one will start a little after 7 and can be seen on YES.

Orioles @ Yankees Series Preview

We already previewed the Orioles a few weeks back so I'm not going to be too extensive. Here's the link to that last one. The Yanks just went 5-3 against three of the best teams in the American League East and now things start to lighten up. It starts with a three game set with Baltimore before they head out to Kansas City for the weekend.

(Birds Watcher)
The O's have been the surprise of the AL East sitting at 14-8, including winning seven of their and are tied with the Rays for first place. Yes I'm talking about Buck Showalter's Orioles. Let's see if the Bombers can bring them back down to earth and repeat the sweep they complete back in the first week of the month.

Offense
Baltimore ranks in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories including runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage, wOBA, and wRC+ and are top five in slugging percentage. They've been led by Nolan Reimold (1.021 OPS), Adam Jones (.972 OPS), Chris Davis (.953 OPS), and Matt Weiters (.927 OPS). Those are some pretty big numbers so Yankees pitchers are gonna have their hands full.

Pitching Match-Ups
Monday
Jason Hammel (3-0, 1.73 ERA) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (1-3, 4.38 ERA)

Tuesday
Brian Matusz (0-3, 5.66 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (1-3, 7.88 ERA)

Wednesday
Jake Arrieta (1-2, 4..45 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (3-0, 5.18 ERA)

I think the Yanks will take two out of three this series. I think Kuroda will be very good again and it would be nice to see after some inconsistency. Hughes is just a shot in the dark at this point and I'm sure we'll see DJ Mitchell's MLB debut in that game. And then Arrieta and Nova are both very good, young righty starters. Should be a fun few games.

In Defense Of Phil Hughes: A Look At His Career To Date And His Future In The Bronx

Courtesy Jason Szenes/ NY Post

It's time to go on a time machine. The year is 2008, and there is a pitcher on the trading block. The player's name is Johan Santana.

The Yankees chose not to trade for Santana. The player the Yankees would have had to give up to the Twins was Phil Hughes. Apparently Hughes was too high a price to pay. This was the first time in awhile that the Yankees decided to not trade their prospects for proven talent.

Did the Yankees "win" by not trading Hughes, along with a few other players, to Minnesota? I can't tell you. Has Johan Santana been a better pitcher since 2008 than Hughes? Yes. Santana has won more than 10 games in every year he has been healthy with the Mets.

But how many pitchers have been better than Santana at any point in their careers?

This is a fair question to ask of Phil Hughes. After all, as the major prospect in that deal, Hughes should be expected to put together at least a decent career. Highly-touted prospects have expectations. When they do not meet them, they are considered busts. 

Despite this, Phil Hughes is not a bust. To date, he has been a decent major leaguer playing in the toughest hitting division in the bigs. He has only had three legitimate MLB seasons (this one does not count). In two of those (2009 and 2010), he was a good pitcher. He won 18 games in 2010 and had an ERA just over 4.00. In 2009, he pitched in 51 games (mainly out of the bullpen) and won eight. However, New York is not a market that gives pitchers time to recover. This is not limited to Hughes. Michael Pineda is already being called a bust. 

Now, to be fair, Hughes has been bad since 2011. He finished with an ERA over 5.00 last year looks lost on the mound this season (his 7.88 ERA doesn't help him). 

Despite this, I am still a believer in Phil Hughes. Why? He is 25 years old. He has had success. More importantly, he has had some postseason success. 

Hughes is a classic case of New York's high expectations disturbing reality. The most obvious other example of this is Ian Kennedy. No one can argue that they would like to have Kennedy as a starting pitcher now. Back in 2008, when he was young and pitching terribly, Kennedy was a failure. Understandably, all Yankee fans want to "win and win now". 

I have a question. If Hughes gets demoted to the bullpen (the popular "solution" of a good amount of Yankees fans), what have the Yankees really done? In my opinion, they have taken a pitcher that is going through growing pains and told him that he is no longer wanted just because he has struggled for a season and a month.

With a 25 year old pitcher, this is not a smart idea.  


Yankees Farm Report: April 29th, 2012


Sorry everyone, but it's finals week and I had a lot of studying to do tonight so it's only links. I'll have a full one up tomorrow though. Tyler Austin homered and Brett Marshall had a very nice outing for Trenton so those are your top performers.

Scranton 8 - Lehigh Valley 2

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Pitching Gem by Sabathia Propels Yankees Over Tigers


Austin Jackson misses a catch for the highlight reel. (AP) 
CC Sabathia pitched eight innings against the power packed Detroit Tigers lineup as the New York Yankees defeated the team that ousted them from the playoffs last year by a score of 6-2, Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Sabathia collected his third consecutive win as he received help from Curtis Granderson at the plate. In the first inning with the bases loaded, the Yankees center fielder walked to give them an early 1-0 lead and his 500h of his career. Alex Rodriguez added with a ball that Tigers' third baseman Miguel Cabrera was unable to field and another run crossed the plate.

Prince Fielder was teammates with Sabathia in Milwaukee, but faced off in this series and Fielder showed no hard feelings as he homered off the lefty in top of the fourth inning. That's before Granderson crushed a ball to centerfield that Austin Jackson was able to almost catch, but he lost it over the wall in the attempt and resulted in the scoring of a homerun.

Max Scherzer was on the mound for the Detroit and his pitching struggles continue after a 15-win season in 2011. He's off to a 1-3 start with a 7.77 ERA. The Seattle Mariners managed to scramble 10 hits off him for five runs. Similarly, the Yankees managed seven with three runs. The pitching rotation behind Justin Verlander appears to be a struggle as the Tigers have dropped 5 of their last six games.

Scherzer only pitched 4 2/3 innings as his pitch count was climbing past 50 two innings. Alex Rodriguez faced the new pitcher Luke Putkonen and beat out an infield single to add to the Yankees lead with Chris Stewart crossing the plate on a close call. Robinson Cano put his two cents into the scoring with a sacrifice fly.

The Tigers drop to .500 on the year and the Yankees are now three games above the even mark. The Orioles arrive in the Bronx for Monday night, where the series could determine the American League East Leader.

David Robertson: The future of the 9th inning? (AP)
Notes:
- David Phelps will be starting in place of Freddy Garcia to the bullpen for the next start, which will most likely come against the Royals on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.

- Nick Swisher exited the game early on and was replaced with Andruw Jones. Jones homered, so tally yet another one to Joe Girardi's binder.

- Alex Rodriguez's RBI in the seventh inning was his 1,904th of his career. He surpassed Willie Mays on the All-Time list and now stands alone for eighth place.

- Chris Stewart is not CC Sabathia's personal catcher, but he catches him all the time. Jon Heyman of CBS pointed that out as well. Just a nice little laugh to carry on with your day.

Podcast Episode #8: Eduardo Nunez The MVP

Chris and I are back with a lot to talk about. We start with some mailbag questions and then move on to the pitching which includes Michael Pineda, Freddy Garcia, and Phil Hughes. We also talk about a few other things in there. You can listen to it here:



Or you can download it here.

Or you can find us on iTunes here. (Make sure you rate and review us).

Swisher Leaves Game Early With Hamstring Injury

Update #2 (4:40pm): Per Hoch, It's low-grade hammy strain. Joe Girardi expects him to be out more than a few says, but it shouldn't be a DL stint.


Update (3:20pm): Per Bryan Hoch, Swish has a tight left hamstring and will be going for a precautionary MRI. Hoepfully, he's just day-to-day and he'll be back within a week at the most.

Original (2:45pm): Nick Swisher has left today's game with an apparent hamstring injury. He looked like he tweaked it running and was pinch run for and replaced by Andruw Jones. We'll update once we have more info.

Game 21: Take The Series

(NY Daily News)
Let's take this series from these guys. A good outing from CC would be fantastic. Here's the lineup:
  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Eric Chavez, DH
  9. Chris Stewart, C
And it will be Sabathia on the bump. This one will start a little after 1 and can be seen on YES.

Yanks to Call Up DJ Mitchell; Garcia to the Pen

Update #2 (12:13pm): It's official, Eppley has been sent to Triple-A.


Update (11:31pm): Per Hoch, Garcia has been put in the bullpen. This isn't too shocking after Joe Girardi's press conference from yesterday. I would assume that Phelps will be taking his spot for the time being.

Original (11:17pm): Per Bryan Hoch, the Yankees have called up righty DJ Mitchell from Triple A Scranton. There has been no word of a corresponding move yet, but I would suspect that Cody Eppley will be going back down. Mitchell probably won't be starting because this was supposed to be day to pitch for Scranton so he's fresh. Remember that Eppley and David Phelps are unavailable for the next few days. Mitchell is just a stopgap for the time being. And about Garcia's starting spot; still no idea.

In four starts and 23 innings, Mitchell had pitched to a 3.13 ERA and a 4.11 FIP. In his interview with Josh Norris, Nardi Contreras did say that DJ was next before Adam Warren because he had better command. As long as he gets people out, I'm fine with him.

Garcia Bad Again, Yanks Go Down 7-5

(AP Photo)
After Phil Hughes was unable to get through the third inning in Texas the other night, a door opened for Freddy Garcia. If he was able to perform today, he probably would have had a very good chance of keeping his job when Andy Pettitte is ready to return. Unfortunately, he didn't bring it, and the Yankees were unable to overcome the hole they were put in and went down 7-5. Here are just some notes from the game:

  • Garcia's final line wound up being 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. It was another bad start in which he wasn't locating, and to make things even worse for him, Joe Girardi didn't guarantee him another start in the post game. We may see David Phelps get a spot start next week.
  • The bullpen was once again fantastic. Clay Rapada tossed 1.1 perfect innings, followed by Phelps who walked one, struck out two, and faced the minimum. And then Cody Eppley allowed only a run in his three innings of work. They kept this lineup very much in this game.
  • Nick Swisher led the offense with two homers. Curtis Granderson also collected two hits, two runs scored, and two runs driven and Alex Rodriguez had a hit as well. They did score three runs against Jose Valverde which made me happy, but it wasn't enough. Eric Chavez, the tying run, hit a ball to the lip of the warning track to end it.
The rubber game will played tomorrow at one as CC Sabathia takes on Max Scherzer. Some length from CC would be fantastic.

Yankees Farm Report: April 28th, 2012


Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees 8 - Lehigh Valley IronPigs 4

Nelson Figueroa made his 2nd appearance of 2012, and his first start, with great results. He only allowed one run over 5 innings, while on throwing 65 pitches. A very efficient performance. Former top prospect Adam Miller was hit hard for 3 runs in 2 innings. Surprisingly Dewayne Wise and Steve Pearce were not the ones to orchestrate this 8 run outburst. Instead it was Kevin Russo and Francisco Cervelli each with a couple of hits, including a double.

Trenton Thunder 4- New Hampshire Fisher Cats 3

Cory Arbiso was okay and continued to rack out ground balls, but it was the bullpen who was the star of the show. They combined to allow 2 hits over 6 innings without allowing a run. Ryan Flannery earned his second save. The Thunder had five batters with multi-hit games. Walter Ibarra was in the middle of that group with a double and triple to lead the way and Melky Mesa was perfect going 2-for-2 with three walks.

Tampa Yankees 1 - Dunedin Blue Jays 6

Shane Greene picked up a fair amount of strikeouts and ground outs, but was hurt by a two-run homer in the 5th inning. The very next inning Kramer Sneed also allowed a two-run shot to increase the deficit. The offense managed only THREE hits. For clarification that is 3 hits. One of those three was a two-out single from Shane Brown to bring home Rob Segedin.

Charleston RiverDogs 14 - Hickory Crawdads 9

Well, Jose Campos is human after all. Campos was shellacked for 8 runs in 2.2 innings. He had given up 4 runs in 22 innings before tonight. He was spared his first loss of the year thanks to an onslaught by the offense. The legend of Tyler Austin continued today with two ore homeruns to give him 8 on the young season, one of which was a grand slam and he ultimately finished the night with 7 RBIs. Stupendous player. Can not say enough about his season. The rest of the guys were also quiet good. Mason Williams and Cito Culver had 3 hits and 3 runs apiece, with Culver getting on base 5 times. Gary Sanchez is showing some speed out of nowhere. He has 6 already this year. He stole 4 over the past two seasons.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pettitte To Start Monday In Tampa

Per Bryan Hoch, Andy Pettitte will make another rehab start for High-A Tampa on Monday. I'm not sure why he's going from there to Trenton, but I'm sure it's not a big deal. Pettitte will probably throw around 90 pitches this time around and if all goes well, he'll probably make one more start before he comes back. Exciting stuff.

Game 20: Not So Smyly

(Bleacher Report)
Today the Yankees face Drew Smyly and the Tigers. Smyly is young lefty and I believe this is the first time he will face this lineup. Anyway, we know the Yankees hit lefties very well, but what about lefties they've never faced? Here's the lineup:
  1. Derek Jeter, DH
  2. Nick Swisher, RF
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Curtis Granderson, CF
  7. Andruw Jones, LF
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Eduardo Nunez, SS
And it will be Freddy Garcia on the bump. This one will start a little after 4 and can be seen on YES.

Sale of Scranton Yankees Complete

Per David Singleton, the sale of the Scranton Yankees has been complete for $14.6 million to SWB Yankees LLC. This sale will allow renovations on their stadium which they hope will be done by the start of the 2013 season. We know that the current Triple A team is a road show, playing their home games at four different stadium, which made Bill Hall opt out of his contract because he didn't want to always be traveling. You have to wonder if it has effect any other potential signing too, but if it has, at least this will be the last year.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Game 19: Revenge

(Getty Images)
The last time these two times faced off was Game 5 of the ALDS and we all know how that ended. Tonight the Yankees go for revenge, but it won't be easy. Reigning American League MVP and Cy Young Justin Verlander will be toeing the rubber for Detroit. Should be a fun one. Here's the lineup:
  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Eric Chavez, 3B
  9. Russell Martin, C
And it will be Ivan Nova on the bump. This one will start a little after 7 and can be seen on YES.

Tigers vs. Yankees Series Preview

Nova looks for his 16th decision as a victory tonight
(Getty Images)
The last time the Yankees faced off against the Tigers was in September and the Bombers' season came to a disappointing end in five games. New York has a playoff feel this weekend as the Knicks take on the Heat in the first round and the Rangers are coming off a thrilling game seven victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Both the Tigers and Yankees came into the season with the expectation of making the playoffs again. Justin Verlander was an instrumental role in the Tigers' run last year as the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young award winner. He will be out on the mound tonight looking for his third consecutive win, as he takes on Ivan Nova of the Yankees.

Verlander picked up a win in the effort to oust New York from the playoffs. Verlander is winless at Yankee Stadium since 2007. His last chance at a win was cut short by rain as it poured and he exited the game after one inning. The Yankee hitters have a .227 batting average against the Detroit ace with a lot of struggles coming from Nick Swisher (8 for 46 vs. Verlander.)

Ivan Nova is looking to extend his streak of 15 straight decision wins, which dates back to last June. He was victorious in Boston last weekend when he pitched six innings and only surrendered two runs on seven hits. Afterwards, he called himself "the best pitcher in the world", so the confidence will be present against a menacing Tigers lineup.

Miguel Cabrera has arrived in the Bronx as he hit his sixth homerun of the season on Thursday against the Seattle Mariners. Albert Pujols arrived in the Bronx during the last home stand in a new uniform, now its Prince Fielder's turn. Much like Pujols, Fielder has not been as hot as expected out of the gates. Coming off being swept by Seattle, the aggression and fuel may be there to see some power from him.

One of the bigger surprises of the season is Derek Jeter's resurrection as he looks like his young self and is in the middle of a fifteen game hitting streak. The Yankees offense should be looking to follow his example and capitalize on any opportunities for Nova against a tough pitcher like Verlander.

The gameplan for the Tigers is to have Verlander pitch well tonight and save the runs to carry their other starters. Here are the pitching match-ups for the series:

Fri.: Detroit - RHP  Justin Verlander (2-1, 1.17 ERA) vs New York - RHP Ivan Nova (3-0, 3.79 ERA)


Sat.: Detroit - LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, 1.13 ERA) vs New York - RHP Freddy Garcia (0-1, 9.75 ERA)


Sun: Detroit - RHP Matt Scherzer (1-2, 8.24 ERA) vs New York - LHP CC Sabathia (2-0, 5.27 ERA)

Note: The Yankees will have a moment of silence to remember former slugger Moose Skowron, who passed away today, before the start of tonight's ballgame.

What To Do About Hughes

(US Presswire)
I have a rant that I need to get out of me, and no it's not about Michael Pineda. That topic will be beaten to death over the coming weeks and months, and we will also talk about on this weekend's podcast. I want to talk about Phil Hughes and his inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and future. It's not something I wanted to do, but he hasn't given me any other choice.

Hughes was a top prospect all the way back in the mid-2000's featuring a big fastball and plus curveball. He made his Major League debut against the Blue Jays and although he didn't get through five innings, there were signs that he showed as a 21 year old that made one think he could be very good. However, he threw close seven innings of no-hit baseball in Arlington the following week. He looked great, but on the last pitch he threw, a curveball, he tried to over-extend and wound up popping his hamstring. Things would never be the same.

Hughes has been jerked around endlessly between the starting rotation and the bullpen because even though he would be more valuable as a starter, his stuff played up in the bullpen. In 2010, he had a solid year, but supposedly threw too many innings, which caused shoulder inflammation for basically the entire '11 campaign. Two years away from free agency, many consider this to be a make or break year for Phil, but so far he has not answered the call.

I understand that he hasn't gone through the best developmental path, but he's still 25 years old and he's running out of time both in the short term and the long term. The former because Andy Pettitte is on his way back and the latter because he looks more and more like a reliever every time I see him toe the rubber. He throws too many pitches and yields too many foul balls and has only lasted five innings one time through his first four starts.

Management has shown all the patience they can with him, plus some more, through the media, but as I said in the game recap the other night, the early hook that Joe Girardi utilized on Wednesday may foreshadow that they, or at least, he is starting to lose a little faith. I know that this was the game that I completely lost it and I no longer expect anything from Phil Hughes the starter. I'm done trying to defend him and I don't think he's part of the rotation's future anymore. I hope he turns it around and proves me wrong, but I really doubt that happens.

Ivan Nova: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Michael Pineda was expected to come in and solve the Yankees' rotation problemsthat won't happened this year at least and Phil Hughes looked ready to contribute after a strong spring, but has labored through his starts to the tune of a 7.88 ERA. This is where Ivan Nova enters the picture.

Getty Images
Nova had a very strong rookie campaign in 2011 going 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and seemed to somehow fly under the radar. His peripherals were solid and there was no reason to think this performance was not repeatable.

Unlike Hughes, Nova was ineffective in spring with a 8.06 ERA in 22.1 innings. A closer look shows that he had 3 walks to 17 strikeouts. The improved command in particular was a pleasant surprise after he walked 3.1 per 9 innings in 2011, not a terrible number but not a great number for a ground ball pitcher who pitches to contact.

Now three starts into the 2012 season, and Nova looks on the verge of a breakout. The improved command has carried over to the regular season and he is missing more bats then he has at any stage of his career. Small sample size warning is in strong effect at this point, but the I am loving the early returns from Nova.

I viewed his as a nice complimentary starter who would eat innings and be a solid rotation anchor for many years. Now I am really starting to believe something bigger may be on hand. I am not one to put a lot of emphasis on wins, but after winning 15 consecutive decisions you are going to open some eyes. Put that with a 2.78 xFIP on the year and like I said a breakout appears to be in progress.

To put things into perspective, Nova is going up against Justin Verlander tomorrow and I honestly think Nova will give the Yankees a chance to win this game. In a season where the Yankees were going to need a surprise in the rotation to compete with the Rays (and apparently Orioles), many thought that was going to be Andy Pettitte when he decided to return to baseball, but Nova has stolen the thunder.

Nova is not going to become an ace like his counter part tomorrow night, however, a low-end number to feels to be in reach for the young righty. If he is able to keep up a comparable level of performance over the year, he can single-handedly keep the Yankees in the running for the long haul. It is not necessarily the name people thought would the main cog to the Yankees playoff hopes when the season got under way.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yankees Farm Report: April 26th, 2012

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees 4 - Lehigh Valley IronPigs 6

To keep this short, Ramon Otriz sucks, gave up a lot of hits, and managed to limit the runs over 5.2 innings. Pat Venditte threw a scoreless inning with 2 Ks. DeWayne Wise and Steve Pearce really hate the minors and want back into the show. Wise went 3-for-4 with his 4th homer of the year and Pearce went 2-for-4 with a double and walk. Wise IS batting over .400 (.407) and Pearce is a shade below it at .389. Those two are the only things keeping the Yankees from falling to last place in the North division.

Erie SeaWolves 9 - Trenton Thunder 2

Craig Heyer had allowed two runs with two outs in the 1st inning on a leadoff single, hit batter, two walks, and sac fly. Then the onslaught took place. Five consecutive en reached safely and Heyer had to be bailed out by a outfield assist by Abraham Almonte at home plate. Amazingly Heyer was able to squeak out four more innings and save some of the bullpen. It didn't matter much Heyer blew this game up early because the offense was MIA anyway. The Cuban defector Yadil Mujica had three hits, but he is not much of a prospect anyway and Almonte had a walk, double and RBI. Possibly the only productive player today.

Tampa Yankees 1 - Brevard County 2

A great pitchers duel between Michael O'Brien and 2011 first round pick Taylor Jungmann. O'Brien left down one, but his line of no walks, seven strikeouts, and a run on five hits is outstanding. He has had one bad outing and allowed only three runs in his other three starts. I am going to be keeping a closer eye on him this year. Aaron Dott allowed three straight singles with two out in the 11th to lose the game. I wanna know who was in charge of batting Ramon Flores leadoff? That makes no sense to me. Oh he went 0-for-5 by the way. Rob Segedin and JR Murphy had two hits a piece and cobined for the only run, but no one else was swinging the bat well.

Charleston RiverDogs 2 - Lexington Legends 5

Not a great start, but this makes back-to-back promising starts for Scottie Allen. He will never be a big strikeout guy, but the last two games he has been keeping the ball down and picking up a lot of groundballs. He had 8 outs on the ground tonight and if it wasn't for an Anderson Feliz fielding error and Gary Sanchez catcher's interference call his line cold look even better than the 3 runs, 1 earned over 5 innings. Tyler Austin homered for his second straight game in a 3-for-4 effort. He also added in a double to make 17 extra base hits in 17 games. Mason Williams and Sanchez took 0-fers, while Dante Bichette went 1-for-4 with an RBI single to score, who else, but Austin. A weak night by the position prospects at all levels.

Mitchell and Williams Get Shout Outs

There were a couple of pieces that came out today that gave some Yankees prospects shout out. First, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus talked extensively about Charleston pitcher Bryan Mitchell. I'm a big fan of Mitchell and although he has front line starter stuff, he has some control issues. Here's the report:
A Jekyll and Hyde prospect, Mitchell was signed for $800,000 three years ago as a 16th-round pick, and is just now getting to his full-season debut, as while he has two plus pitches in a low-90s fastball and big breaking curveball, his ability to control those pitches has consistently held him back. When he's throwing strikes, like he did last night, he looks like a future big league starter, when he doesn't, like in his previous two outings in which he allowed seven runs over 3.2 innings while walking eight, he looks like he doesn't belong at all. Oh, and those were after season debut in which he fired six shutout innings while allowing just one hit and walking only one. He's interesting for sure, but for now only in the same way a lottery ticket is.
Jose Campos will get most of the love in Riverdogs rotation just because ge came over in the big trade, but Mitchell and fellow teammate Caleb Cotham are two sleepers to watch. Goldstein also gave Mason Williams a mention saying that he's having no trouble adjusting to full season ball. He's hitting .347/.375/.507 through his first 17 games. Not too shabby. Williams also got a shout out over at Fangraphs as Marc Hulet took a look at the stocks of some prospects. He writes:
At the beginning of the year I highlighted Williams as the one Yankees prospect that people weren’t talking about but would likely be raving about by the end of 2012. He’s off to a good start. The outfielder is currently hitting .347 in 17 low-A ball games. He’s swiped eight bags in nine tries and is showing some pop with eight extra base hits. Williams has been quite adept at handling the bat, having struck out just four times all month. However, he’s also walked just three times. The left-handed hitter is probably will about three years away from appearing in the Majors but he’s an exciting raw player to keep an eye one.
Williams may not be walking that much, but I can take that as long as he doesn't strike out that much either which he isn't. The great thing about these two pieces is that these are only two players on a very stacked Charleston team. We've seen raves about Tyler Austin, now these two, and I'm sure we'll see a few other guys on this team get some love.

Don't Be Sad About Montero's Slight Success

"Don't cry because its over, smile because it happened."
- Dr. Seuss
The New York Yankees receive news that starting pitcher Michael Pineda will undergo surgery and be out until May 2013. Meanwhile, Jesus Montero goes 2-5 with the Mariners in their win over the Detroit Tigers.

There's no doubt that right now Seattle is making it look like they stole the former prospect from the Yankees, simply because one of the main pieces of the trade is playing and the other is not.

Two home-runs and a .643 ob-base percentage by Jesus Montero outweigh a 0.00 ERA by Michael Pineda,  because that won't change for he entire year and have no impact on the team. But those ready to crucify Brian Cashman and run him out of town should take a moment to see where this deal has gone.

There is still time for Pineda to get better and for followers of the Mariners to realize that Jesus Montero is not a catcher. He's not suited for the position and is better off as a designated hitter. The Yankees had no plans of using him as a long term catcher with the depth they have with Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, and J.R. Murphy. At designated hitter, Montero would have limited the flexibility that the Yankees could have spent with an aging Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter on the team.

It's early, but Montero could be the next Edgar Martinez on the Mariners. His defense is lacking and as a result his value is not as high as it should be. He's got about two months of Major League experience, so comparisons to Miguel Cabrera may be a little bit too much.

Pineda is still very young and the Yankees have him under team control for a while. Brian Cashman said that he believes the trade will not be considered a flop unless Pineda shows that he does not have the stuff to be a No. 2 starter. How can a trade be considered terrible, if the main factor has yet to prove himself. Time is on the Yankees' side, but it will truly be an uphill battle for them to get the trade to where they wanted.

Looking past the two main pieces of the trade, Jose Campos has a much higher ceiling to succeed in the Major Leagues than Hector Noesi. Noesi would have been and will be a back end of the rotation type of pitcher.

The Man.
Mariners fans celebrate Felix Day, when former Cy Young award winner Felix Hernandez takes the mound. In Charleston, Campos day is already being celebrated, but it has not blown up yet. The Yankees have the deal breaker in Low-A and he is only 19 years old.

Patience is a virtue. Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a starting rotation that is headlined by CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Jose Campos. That sounds better than Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova and the Yankees are team expected to contend in 2012.

If you're all about the here and now, the Yankees are a team expected to make the playoffs in 2012 and the Mariners are not. The Yankees are doing this without Pineda and the Mariners will struggle with Montero. There does not always have to be a winner and a loser when it comes to a trade. Originally this was seen as a fair trade, it's too early to see who is going to do what for their team in the long run.

What can we expect from Andy Pettitte?

Realistically, what can we expect from 39-year-old Andy Pettitte when he is MLB ready?

He hasn’t faced a major league hitter since Oct. 18, 2010. He allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings to AA-Erie on Wednesday night.

His stuff has never really been overpowering, and his fastball that we last saw in the low 90s is being clocked at 86-88 mph. The Yanks already have an aged veteran in the rotation with a sub-90 mph fastball- Freddy Garcia, who through three games is averaging more earned runs allowed per nine innings than strikeouts (0-1, 9.75 ERA, 6 K/9).

Pettitte said he was tired after 81 pitches Wednesday. He also said he was tired after 66 pitches in his previous start. He couldn’t stay healthy for all of 2010; he missed the whole month of August. Do we really expect him to last 110 pitches, outing after outing, a few months from now?

Don’t worry, I was only playing Devil’s advocate. I’m sorry for comparing Garcia to Pettitte.

Here’s what I do expect- Pettitte will undoubtedly pitch his heart out every time he he’s on the rubber. The way I see it, that can only mean good things for the Yankees.

It would be a stretch to say he was at the top of his game when he retired, but he was nowhere near a decline. His 3.28 ERA was his best in the American League since 2002. The southpaw posted his best WHIP and BAA were his best since 2005, and his best in the AL since 1997.

At the time of retirement, he was just a little over a year removed from his phenomenal 2009 postseason, in which he won the clinching games of all three series.

Sitting out the entire 2011 season does mean he’ll be rusty, but I see it more as a lengthy period of time letting his body rest up. He did not always have the highest velocity on his fastball, but he always mixed his cutter and curveball in well. Now that his velocity is not quite where it used to be, his location will have to be pinpoint and he’ll have to use his cutter and curve more often.

His stamina will improve with each minor league start. Brian Cashman has made it very clear that Pettitte will be MLB ready when he is called up. Michael Pineda’s season-ending injury will have no effect on when Pettitte is brought up, but it makes the addition of the left-hander much more necessary. 110 pitches may be too much for the 39-year-old to throw game after game, but we’ll see how Joe Girardi handles that.

Aside from how Pettitte performs, his intangibles alone will be enough to spark this club. The five-time World Series champion will always have the adoration of the Bronx faithful, even more so now because the team needs him.

With another poor start from Phil Hughes Wednesday night in Texas, the Yankees’ glaring need for help in the rotation is becoming more and more noticeable.

But once Andy Pettitte returns to the big league level, I have no doubt the team’s problems will be solved. 

Hughes Can't Get Thru 3; Yanks Drop Game, Series

(Click to enlarge)
I don't know if it was the Pineda news or the fact that they were playing the best team in the bigs, but before tonight's game, I had a really good feeling that the Yankees were going to win this game. Well, it's a good thing I'm not a betting man because they went down 7-3 and dropped the series. Since I don't have a lot of time on my hands and I have to be up early tomorrow, we'll do this the short way:
  • I don't know if he was trying to mean or what, but Phil Hughes was a huge tease tonight. He came out of the game very strong with an 11 pitch 1-2-3 first inning. He was throwing a lot of strikes and was being efficient. It was surely a first, but something changed. He gave up a lead off homer to Adrian Beltre to start the second, but retired the next three in order. It was the third that was a disaster. It took him 27 pitches and it went strikeout, single, double, RBI ground out, hit by pitch, single, double, hit by pitch and he couldn't even finish the inning. His final line: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Not a strong showing at all.
  • The Yanks offense did fight back though (well a little). Down 4-0 after three, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira led off with back-to-back singles. After Nick Swisher popped out, Raul Ibanez doubled in Cano to get the team on the board. Eric Chavez then sac flied home Tex to cut the lead in half. Just like that, despite all that Hughes had done, they were still very much in this game.
  • Hughes left the game with two outs in the third and the bases loaded for Clay Rapada. Rapada was able to get a ground out out of David Murphy to end the threat.
  • I think David Phelps had a legitimate chance tonight to make a case at the rotation. Girardi's quick hook of Hughes showed that maybe the higher ups are starting to lose patience with the 25 year old. Anyway, Phelps did not take advantage allowing allowing an 0-2 homer to Mike Napoli as his first batter. He was hit around (5 hits in 2.1 IP) and issued three walks. I know it was also a very good lineup, but maybe teams are finally catching on to what Phelps is dealing.
  • Other than that, there was not much going on. Derek Jeter and Raul Ibanez each had two hits, including an Ibanez bomb. Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth and Cody Eppley and Boone Logan threw a combined hitless 1.2 innings.
The Yanks now have an off day while they travel back to New York for a weekend series with the Tigers. Hopefully they have a little better luck then.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yankees Farm Report: April 25th, 2012

Scranton 8 - Pawtucket 6

Adam Warren's struggles continued today as he allowed five runs on nine hits over five frames, including three homers. If there is any positive to take from this one, it's that he struck out six and only walked one, but thankfully his bullpen backed him. Adam Miller made his first outing of the season since coming off the DL and struck out a batter in a perfect sixth. He was followed by Chase Whitley who struck out two in two one-hit innings and wound up getting the win. Kevin Whelan allowed a run while nailing down the save.

On offense, Frankie Cervelli led the way with two hits, three ribbies, a run scored, and a walk. Dewayne Wise, Jack Cust, Steve Pearce, and Brandon Laird each contributed a hit as well, Wise also walked and scored a run, Cust homered and walked twice, Pearce scored a run and drove one in, and Laird drove in a run, but also struck out twice.

Trenton Thunder 11- Erie SeaWolves 4

Andy Pettitte was the story of this game as he continues to make his way back toward the Yankees. He threw 81 pitches (59 strikes) over five innings in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and one walk while striking out three. It's probably going to be two more starts before he returns to the show so they can stretch him out to the point where he can throw 100 pitches. Unfortunately his pen did not back him as Preston Claiborne and Kelvin Perez allowed a combined six runs over the next 2.2 innings. Ryan Flannery did strike out two in his scoreless 1.1 though.

On offense, Cody Johnson went 2 for 3 with a homer, all four ribbies, and a walk. Ronnier Mustelier also had a couple of hits (what else is new) going 2 for 3 with a double, a triple, a walk, and two runs scored. Abe Almonte and Melky Mesa each went hitless in the effort.

Tampa 7 - Brevard 2

Personal favorite Zack Nuding was on the bump tonight for Tampa and he had a very nice outing. He allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings while striking out seven and walking three. Sean Black followed him out of the pen and struck out three over three scoreless innings to earn the save. On offense, Rob Segedin once again led the way with two doubles, two ribbies, two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base. Ramon Flores, JR Murphy, and Shane Brown each added hits also, Flores scored a run, Murphy scored a run and drove one in, and Brown had a double and two RBI's. Kyle Roller also went hitless and Eduardo Sosa contributed two hits.

Charleston 9 - Lexington 4

Mason Williams had himself a day going 4 for 4 with a double, homer (triple away from the cycle), a walk, and two runs scored. Anderson Feliz, Angelo Gumbs, and Kelvin DeLeon each added two hits a piece, Feliz homered and scored two runs, Gumbs doubled and scored a run, and DeLeon doubled, drove in a run, and scored two. Tyler Austin also added a homer, Cito Culver had a 1 for 4 day, but Dante Bichette went 0 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout.

On the mound, Bryan Mitchell was fantastic. Over five scoreless innings, he allowed two hits, two walks, and struck out seven. I'd love to see him turn in a lot more of these types of outings. It'd be nice to see him take a big step forward this year. Pedro Guerra struck out three in two scoreless relief innings, but Ben Paullus was pretty bad allowing four runs on two hits and three walks, but Fred Lewis saved him with 1.1 scoreless. This was their tenth straight win.

Game 18: Someone Has To Step Up

(ESPN)
Earlier today, I wrote about the Yankees starting pitching depth and how it's starting to thin out. Later on, we received word that Michael Pineda will be out for the entire season with a torn labrum. With Andy Pettitte still three starts away, someone needs to step up and it would be nice if it were Phil Hughes. Obviously the Rangers are going to give him a run for his money, but a good outing here would be a nice confidence booster for 25 year old. Here's the lineup:

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Eric Chavez, DH
  9. Russell Martin, C
And it will be Hughes on the bump. This one will start a little after 8 and can be seen on YES.

Link Dump: Betances, Draft, Labrums

(NY Times)
Here are some links to peruse as you cry yourself into a coma about Pineda:
  • Over at Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein highlighted some prospects that were off to slow starts and among them was Dellin Betances. He brings up the control issue, the fact that the IL is hitting .296 against him, and the fact that he's throwing too many pitches. The stuff is still there, but it looks more and more like he's gonna wind up in the pen. (Link)
  • Over at RAB, Mike Axisa went over a few high school bats that will be available in this year's amateur draft. Make sure you check it out, and make sure you look into Lewis Brinson, who's a personal favorite of mine. (Link)
  • And lastly, for those of you who want to get a gauge on Pineda's injury and his ETA and if he'll return to effectiveness, take a look a this group of case studies by Larry Stone of The Seattle Times. (Link)

Pineda Has Torn Labrum

Update (5:06pm): Per Bryan Hoch, Pineda will miss the entire year, according to Brian Cashman which was fully expected. Mark Feinsand also reports that Cash believes it took place on the last pitch of his 15-pitch rehab bullpen because all other MRI's came back clean. What a bummer. And hopefully we see him again.

Original (4:57pm): Per Marc Carig, Michael Pineda has a torn anterior labrum which he will go for arthroscopic surgery for on Tuesday. This is just about the worst it could be and I can't imagine he'll be pitching this year. Although, as David Waldstein points out, the fact that it's gonna be done with a scope is very good news. Hope for the best. May be updated later.

The Evaporating Pitching Depth

Remember when the Yankees had too much starting pitching? Oh, those were the days. They had six starters for five spots, plus Adam Warren, David Phelps, and DJ Mitchell all waiting to contribute to the rotation at some point. We're not even a month into the season and all of that depth has seemingly gone away. It may seem cliche, but that is why you can never have too much pitching.

Michael Pineda has been having shoulder issues and no one has any idea when he'll be coming back and Adam Warren and DJ Mitchell have been struggling down in Triple A. David Phelps and Andy Pettitte are options, but the Yanks have been reluctant been reluctant to put Phelps in the rotation unless it's a spot start and Andy is still three starts away. Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes need to hold on at least until then, but hopefully at least one of them can get back on track before then.

This is a scary thought when you think about it because one of the Yankees biggest strengths going into camp was their starting pitching depth, but now that's seemingly gone. With the Pineda news coming today, probably which is not going to be good, all I can say is, "Hurry up, Andy."

Week 3 Hot and Cold Report: Yu Gotta Be Kidding Me Edition

Who's Hot?
1) Derek Jeter (again)
I will put him on this list until he stops playing well (if ever). He's hit .500 over the last week and is driving the ball (3 extra base hits out of 14 hits).

2) Eric Chavez #WhoneedsA-Rod? 
I like the way Eric is playing. His fielding is always strong, and this past week he hit 2 home runs in 9 at-bats. 

3) Nick Swisher
10 RBI's in one week. You are on this list.

4) Give me a shot of Boone Logan
First admission: Boone Logan sounds like a hard liquor. Second admission: He pitched 4 scoreless innings this week. 

5) Ivan Nova
If I'm going to put one starter on here, it has to be Ivan. In his only start this week, he went 6 strong and gave up 2 earned runs. That is good enough given the way the other starters have been pitching.

Honorary Who's Hot: The Grandy Man Can
Curtis Granderson is getting on-base (.468 over the past week), and had 6 RBIS and 3 home runs over the past week. 

Who's Not?

1) Russell Martin vs. Righties
I know this is a weekly post, but Russell Martin is hitting .172 against right handed pitchers this year.

2) Rual Ibanez with runners on-base
The Yankee DH didn't drive in a run this week, and he is paid to do just that.

3) Robby Cano's Power
He only has one home run on the year. That came in this past week.

4) Granderson with two strikes
The first time someone has ever been hot and cold at the same time, but Curtis has struck out 8 times in his past 6 games. Adam Dunn has taught you well.

5) Triples?
The Yankees have one three-bagger this year. That's good for 26th in MLB. The only team without one? The Mets (Jose Reyes could help them).

Predictions for Next Week

1) Starters will continue to struggle
The Yankees play the Rangers tonight, and then have a day off followed by a 3 game series against the Tigers. Good luck. They play the Orioles after that.

2) Raul Ibanez will come to life
This man makes pitchers work to get him out. I don't mind him having long at-bats against the Tigers.

3) Nick Swisher will not drive in more than 2 this week
He had 10 RBIS this week. Justin Verlander won't let this continue.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yu Too Good; Yanks Fall 2-0

This was a pretty hyped up pitching match-up between the two best Japanese pitchers in the bigs and maybe the two the best teams in the bigs and it basically lived up. This was a close game throughout, but the Yanks couldn't capitalize on their few opportunities and fell 2-0.

(Reuters)
Yu Da Best
I really wanted the Yankees to make a strong push for Yu Darvish because he didn't count toward the luxury tax, but mostly because he was a very good pitcher. Unfortunately, they didn't and he wound up going to Texas and tonight he showed the Bombers brass why they should have tried harder. He struck out ten while walking only two over 8.1 scoreless innings. He had every hitter guessing with six different pitches that he could throw in any count for strikes. It was absolutely remarkable.

Darvish did a great job of controlling the strike zone; he got ahead of hitters early (we saw a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts) and was able to put them away with either his slider or his curveball. He had great movement on all of his pitches too. His two-seamer was running all over the place and his 12-to-6 dropped completely off the table. It was unbelievable to think that he struggled before this start, especially against the Mariners, but maybe he gets on track now.


Hiroki Was Okie Dokie
(AP Photo)
Darvish is going to get all the headlines in this one, but Hiroki Kuroda was actually pretty awesome in this one. He allowed only two runs over 6.2 frames while striking out five and walking two. He was also doing a good job of getting ahead in counts and getting grounders (not to mention getting 17 whiffs). Of his 106 pitches, 73 of them were either sinkers or sliders, showing that he was trying to keep the ball down against this powerhouse offense. He actually got eleven grounder against one fly ball, which is pretty awesome.

Kuroda did make two mistakes though that cost him. Ian Kinsler, the first batter he faced, hit a big homer on a 1-1 count on what looked a like a two-seamer he was trying to get down and in that stayed up. It was no cheapie either and that made it a 1-0 game. Then, in the third, after two quick outs, he got up on Elvis Andrus 0-2 and couldn't put him away and wound up walking him. Andrus then stole second and scored on a Josh Hamilton single. You have to challenge a guy like Andrus in that situation, although he did get a little bit squeezed. He may have gotten the loss, but he certainly didn't deserve it.

The One Chance
The Yanks had nothing on Darvish all night, except for in the top of third inning. Eric Chavez led off with a single to right and was followed by a Russell Martin walk (now hitting .195 with a .400 OBP), and things got interesting from there. Derek Jeter, of course on his own, laid down a bunt down the first base line to get the runners over, but it was a beauty that got past Darvish and wound up being a base hit. So bases load nobody out for Curtis Granderson and A-Rod, how could they not score, right? Easy. Granderson struck out looking on a very questionable call and Rodriguez grounded into a 5-3 double play end the threat. That was it; the entire dynamic changed right there and there was no other chance like that.

The Extras
Kuroda was pulled with two outs in the seventh after allowing a two-out single to Mike Napoli for Clay Rapada to face Mitch Moreland, who he got to ground out to second. Cory Wade the came on and got the first two outs of eighth (Kinsler and Andrus), before getting pulled in favor of Boone Logan, who wound up striking out Hamilton swinging. Again, great work by the bullpen which continues to be the best part of this team. Wade and Logan, especially, have been fantastic.

The Yanks finally chased Yu with one out in the ninth when Nick Swisher singled off of him, but that was negated with one pitch from Joe Nathan who got Raul Ibanez to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end it. How do you not take one pitch? Anyway, Jeter collected two hits keeping his average at a healthy .416 and improving his hitting streak to 14 games and Robbie Cano had two as well. The Grandy Man, A-Rod, and Mark Teixeira combined to go 0 for 11 with four strikeouts, which hurt a lot. Hopefully they are just saving up for tomorrow.

* * *

Tomorrow, these same two teams will play the rubber game of this three game set as Phil Hughes takes on Scott Feldman. Talk about a marquis pitching match up!

Yankees Farm Report: April 24th, 2012

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 3 - Pawtucket Red Sox 4

This marks two great starts and two bad start for D.J. Mitchell, who earned his first loss of the season. Mitchell breezed through the order the first time around nine up, nine down and then things took a turn. Mitchell allowed four hits, all extra base hits, for four runs in the 4th inning. Nava lead off with a homerun, Gomez hit a two-run shot, and a triple and double later and the Yankees would be done for good. Brandon Laird hit his first homerun of the year, a two run shot, and then Doug Bernier brought Laird home on a sac fly later in the game. Steve Pearce was 3-for-3 with a hit by pitch to raise his triple slash to .391/.466/.578.

Trenton Thunder 11- Erie SeaWolves 4

Brett Marshall was respectable enough to earn his 3rd win of the year, although he did have some struggles with his command. Much like Mitchell, Marshall breezed through the order the first time around. It was in the 5th when he allowed a leadoff homerun and then the 6th was a mess, after two fast outs. A Walter Ibarra throwing error extended the inning, Marshall then allowed a single, walked the bases loaded, and walked in a run before being pulled for Lee Hyde who picked of the K. Ibarra more than made up for his error with a 3-for-3 night at the plate that included a triple, two RBIs, and three runs scored. Ronnier Mustelier had RBI doubles in the 1st and 2nd inning in a 4 RBI night and Abraham Almonte had a big night going 3-for-5 with a double and 3 runs scored.

Tampa Yankees 1 - Dunedin Blue Jays 9

One step forward, two steps back. It looked like Jose A. Ramirez was turning things around last outing, but then today happened. Not only was his command spotty, but was way too hittable once again. This time it was 8 hits in 4 innings. It has really become a concern to me how hittable he has been this year, considering he was also very hittable in a brief stint with Tampa last year. If your are wondering what his WHIP is, it is a whopping 1.90, ouch. The offense was pretty stagnant all night, with 9 hits spread out throughout the game.  The lone run was an unearned run in the first inning on a Kyle Roller single after Rob Segedin singled and advanced to second on a throwing error. Defensively JR Murphy committed error number 4 trying to catch a base runner stealing and Segedin botched a grounder to allow a run to score in the 5th.

Charleston RiverDogs 4 - Lexington Legends 1

Caleb Cotham continued his tear of the Sally since being made a starter for 2012. Cotham walked the leadoff man and then allowed a pair of hits in the 1st the Legends lone run. Cotham allowed only two hits the rest of the way. He also continued to rack up groundballs with 8 groundouts to 2 flyouts. Putting up 3 runs against Nick Tropeano has to be considered a good job by the offense. Gary Sanchez led the charge going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI and Cito Culver even picked up and RBI! Sadly Tyler Austin saw his 13 game hitting streak come to an end.

Game 17: Kind of a Big Deal

(Getty Images)
Hiroki Kuroda will be pitching for the Yankees going against Yu Darvish, which I would think is a pretty big deal over in Japan. Darvish is obviously in his first year in America and he and his big repertoire have been long awaited by almost all baseball fans. He's showed good stuff so far, but has had some control issues (13 BB in 17.2 IP). Many thought the Yanks should have made a stronger play for the 25 year old, but I'm pretty okay with the way things have turned out. We get our first up close look at the Japanese sensation tonight. Here's the lineup:
  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Alex Rodriguez, DH
  4. Robinson Cano, 2B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Raul Ibanez, LF
  8. Eric Chavez, 3B
  9. Russell Martin, C
And it will be Kuroda on the bump. This one will start a little bit after 8 and can be seen on either YES or MLB Network.

Pineda Going For Second Opinion

Per Marc Carig, Michael Pineda will be going for a second opinion on his shoulder from Dr. David Altchek in New York. Apparently the request for a second opinion came from Pineda's agent before the original MRI was done today. I'm not really sure what to make of this, but I'm sure we'll have more later. Usually, going for another opinion is a bad thing though.

Yankees Defense Update

Over at River Avenue Blues today, Joe Pawlikowski had a post about how much the Yankees defense was costing the starting pitching. We know that while the bullpen and offense have a been great, the rotation has been a little sub-par. As things turn out, the defense is hurting the pitchers quite a bit as it sports the lowest defensive efficiency in the Majors, according to Baseball Prospectus. Look here:

(Click to enlarge)
Obviously small samples could come into play here and there is time for this work it's way back to a respectable number, but so far the defense has been, well, atrocious, for lack of a better word. I guess that'll happen when Eduardo Nunez and Raul Ibanez get extra time in the field.

Eduardo Nunez And The Outfield

I know that it's not just me cringing when a ball is hit at Eduardo Nunez in the infield. My heart skips a beat while he fields the ball and especially when he cocks back to throw. Although this may be the case, the Yanks do see a future for Nunez with this team and, rightfully so. In 30 plate appearance to start 2012, he's hitting .385/.433/.423 which is good for a .404 wOBA and a 153 wRC+. Not too shabby for a back up player. However, with the defensive question in the infield along with A-Rod and Derek Jeter being rocks on the left side where can he fit in?

(NY Daily News)
Well, we know that the Bombers are making a very strong push for getting under the $189 million payroll threshold by 2014 and since Nunez is under team control through 2016, he can be a big part of that plan. We also know that Nick Swisher will be a free agent at the end of this year and it will be hard to re-sign him since he will be wanting something along the lines of three years worth $36 million and Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano still need to be extended. The latter two make more sense to hold on two since they play more valuable positions. So how can Nunez fit into this?

Well, Nunez has played some corner outfield in the past and hasn't made a complete fool out of himself and I'm sure if he actually worked at it, he could become a halfway decent outfielder. As Joel Sherman of the NY Post points out, he is certainly athletic enough, and he has the speed and strong arm needed. Sherman compared the young infielder to Alfonso Soriano who was a very volatile second baseman with the Yankees before making a switch to left field.

With all of this being said, maybe the Yanks should take advantage of their current situation. Brett Gardner is on the disabled list with an elbow strain, leaving left field to be platooned by Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones. However, this could be a prime time to see what Nunez can do in a corner outfield spot. He's hitting the ball very well and it's not like they would be sacrificing that much defense by taking one of those two out of the field. Joe Girardi could also just DH one of the other guys if he wants to keep their bat in the lineup.

I'm not saying the Bombers should play Nunez in left every day until Gardy comes back, but giving him a few starts is definitely worth considering. It may be time to start putting the whole 'shortstop of the future' thing behind and look ahead to something that could be a little more useful. The Yankees have no bats at the upper levels that can fill in to play right field next year. He has some good pop and very good speed (22 stolen bases in 2011) so it would be nice to see more of him in the future and the corner outfield move could work not only for the team, but is also realistic for him.

Nick Swisher's Celebrations Too Far or Just Right?

When most Yankees fans are asked which player has the best personality on the team, and who lifts the spirits of the other Yankee players, many will answer Nick Swisher. What fans love about Swisher is he plays the game as a child, and truly enjoys doing it. Pairing Swisher's kid like personality with the fact that he is off to a tremendous start equals one happy go lucky baseball player.  Like most kids who play baseball Swisher loves to celebrate his successes with great emotion. That begs the question has Nick Swisher gone to far with his antics on the field or are they simply just right, and exactly what the Yankees need.
       
In the midst of the 7th inning during Saturday's tremendous comeback against the Red Sox Nick Swisher hit a tremendous grand slam and celebrated in his typical Swisher way. He did his own hand motion with ends with him looking up to the sky (assuming he is thanking god). Followed by Swisher giving huge high fives to all of his teammates, all with a huge smile on his face. Of course other players thank god and celebrate with their teammates, but with Swisher there is always a certain amount of  "swagger" in his celebrations. Now reading this one might think, so what why shouldn't Swisher be happy after a huge grand slam that just happened to come during one of the greatest single game comebacks in Yankees history. The answer is your right. Nick Swisher should be able to celebrate as he pleases even if some people think what he is doing is bad for baseball.
         
The issue that arrises is whether or not what Swisher is doing is being disrespectful to the other team,  in particular the opposing pitcher. Personally I don't think so. Why is it that in baseball the players are held to such a higher standard then the other major sports in regards to showing emotion. Watch a NBA game, after almost every basket every player on the bench stands up, waves towels, gives each other chest bumps, and those are the players on the bench. Have you ever seen a diva wide receiver showboat after catching a touchdown? I have, and isn't that being disrespectful to the defense? The problem here is that the baseball purists don't want what has happened to the other sports to happen to baseball, and that I can agree with. The amount of  over the top celebration in other sports is way to high, but that does not mean that baseball has to remain in the 20th century in regards to allowing players to have fun.

The fact is that prior to Nick Swisher's arrival one of the biggest problems the faced the Yankees, was that their appeared to be a lot of stress inside the Yankees clubhouse and that the players simply needed to have fun. That all changed as soon as Swisher asked Joe Girardi if he could play music in the locker room.  From there on out Swisher has been able to bring personality to an otherwise stoic team. Even if some people believe that everything he is doing isn't great for the baseball, that shouldn't stop Swisher from continuing his celebrations or any other of his antics anytime soon.

CC, Jeter Lead Yanks to 7-4 Win

The two beasts of the American League, at least in my opinion, went at it tonight in the first of a three game set. And with two very good south paws in CC Sabathia and Derek Holland on the hill on Pudge Rodriguez night in Texas, it was bound to be a fun night. As things turned out, it was fun only from the Yankees perspective as they went on to win 7-4.

(Reuters)
CC Ya Later
A lot of people have been very upset about CC Sabathia early performance this year, but it was hard to get too worked up because you knew he was going to right the ship at some point. Well, tonight he looked great allowing four runs on seven hits over eight frames while striking out eight and walking only one. He allowed a first inning run, but settled down very nicely until the seventh when he allowed two runs, part of which can be blamed on home plate umpire Tim McClelland, who was squeezing him him quite a bit.

(AP Photo)
The best part the outing, to me, was that he was at 104 pitches through seven and still went out for the eighth, even with David Robertson ready in the pen. He went on to retire Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Mike Napoli in order to get the ball straight to Mariano Rivera in a 7-4 game. That's what CC's gonna do and he was great for the first time all season. Him getting back on track will be big for a team who's been lacking quality starting pitching.

The Party Continues
A lot of people have also been talking about how Derek Jeter has been 'partying like it's 1999' and he continued that tonight going 4 for 5, including nabbing hits in his first four at-bats. He also drove in a run and scored two in a game in which the opposing starter was a lefty. Shocker. Alex Rodriguez also had a nice game blasting a three-run homer and drawing two walks. It may be a small sample, but this kind of shows that even though this lineup is pretty old, it can still get it done.

The Extras
The Bombers struck early, and by early I mean the first inning. Curtis Granderson had a two-run, two out single to make it 2-0 right away. They were then quieted until the fifth when Nick Swisher sac flied home Chris Stewart to make it a 3-1 game. After A-Rod blasted his homer later in the inning, Jeter had a ribbie double in the sixth to make it 7-1. Stewart got the start behind the dish today and made the most of it with a 1 for 3 day with two runs scored and a walk. On the bump, Mariano Rivera came into the game for the ninth and saved his fourth game of the year in 1-2-3 fashion. Classic Mo.

* * *

This was a really nice way to start the series and hopefully they can build on it. Tomorrow, the Yanks will  go for five straight as Hiroki Kuroda will take on Yu Darvish.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yankees Farm Report: April 23rd, 2012

Josh Norris sat down with the Yankees minor pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras and talked about the farm with the guru. They touched on a bunch of topics like why David Phelps won the long man, when Jose Campos may be promoted etc. Give it a read, (Link)

Scranton - Norfolk

Snow.

Trenton

The Thunder had a scheduled day off.

Tampa 3 - Dunedin 5

Rob Segedin and Kyle Roller each had two hits leading the offensive charge, Segedin homered and scored two runs while Roller scored one. Eduardo Sosa, JR Murphy, and Ramon Flores each had a hit a piece as well, Murphy also drew a walk and Flores drove in a run. On the mound, Shane Greene allowed two runs on two hits while striking out five and walking five over five frames. Aaron Dott with 1.2 scoreless, but Kramer Sneed allowed three runs in his 0.1 innings to let go of the lead. Branden Pinder (who Nardi also talks about in the interview) allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five. He'll be seeing Trenton very soon.

Charleston

The Riverdogs had a scheduled day off.

Game 16: A Real Test

(Mets Merized Online)
The Rangers sport the best record in baseball 13-3 and have been mowing down basically everyone that they've played. I mentioned in the series preview that i feel that their the most complete game in the bigs right now and they have looked like it. That being said, tonight will be a nice test for not only CC Sabathia, but also this entire team. Here's the lineup:
  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Nick Swisher, RF
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  6. Curtis Granderson, CF
  7. Andruw Jones, LF
  8. Eduardo Nunez, DH
  9. Chris Stewart, C
And it will be Sabathia on the bump. This one will start a little bit after 7 and can be seen on either MY 9 or ESPN.

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