Jun 30, 2008


The worst pitching staff in the AL just shut down one of the best offenses in baseball. Explain that one to me.

Our pitchers threw a gem - you can't ask any more from Moose, and nine times out of 10, allowing two runs against the Rangers guarantees a win. Not tonight with the suddenly pitiful offense that has managed to plate two runs in the last two games and five in the last three.

These pitchers are simply not good. Oliver Perez' ERA entering yesterday's game was 5.29 (in the NL no less) with a career 93 ERA+, while Scott Feldman (yeah, who?) had a 4.60 ERA entering tonight's game with a career 97 ERA+. They ain't the fucking '65 Dodgers.

Jeter was the goat: 0-4, three weak groundouts and a strikeout with Gardner on 2nd (representing the tying run).

(Speaking of Feldman, I couldn't help thinking of the Bizarro Seinfeld episode - "This is Kevin, Gene... and Feldman.")

- Manny being a shithead.

Jun 28, 2008

Robertson gets his chance

David Robertson was promoted to the big club today. And he certainly earned it. During his 133 inning minor league career, he's sported a 1.15 ERA, 183 strikeouts, 54 walks, 0 HR and a .93 WHIP. His stats this year between Trenton and Scranton are just as impressive: 48.2 ip, 1.48 ERA, 70 strikeouts, 22 walks, 0 HR and a .97 WHIP. Yes, that's right, he hasn't allowed one homerun in his professional career.

His biggest problem coming into the year was control, but he's refined that at Triple-A, where he's walked just five in his last 17 innings.

- The baseball gods shone on Sidney Ponson last night. He escaped two bases loaded jams without allowing a run. He actually settled down and retired the last six batters he faced. Going purely by results, he deserves the next start over Giese.

- A scouting report on the top international free agent, Michel Inoa, who is expected to sign for upwards of $4 million. The Yanks are in the mix, but the A's look to be the frontrunner. (PP with the link.)

Jun 26, 2008

All right Phil!

I haven't listened to WFAN (on purpose) in about five years. But they interviewed Phil Hughes today so I took a listen. He's throwing from flat ground and doesn't expect to throw off a mound for weeks, but there was a bright side: he called out Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo for criticizing the Joba-to-the-rotation move. That bumps him up a notch in my book (if I had a book).

- Tonight's contest started with promise, as the Yanks tattooed Paul Maholm for three runs in the 1st (double, double, triple, double), only to storms stop the game in the 2nd. The reason the umps waited two-and-a-half hours to call the game (especially when the Yanks play a doubleheader tomorrow), is beyond me. Pittsburgh ain't that far from New York that they can't travel out there on an off day to finish the game (which is what they're going to do on July 10). It should've been called after an hour.

- Great interview with the Director of Player Development Mark Newman.

- A career projection for Johnny Damon. He actually doesn't tail off too badly.

99 MPH

If anyone was concerned with Joba maintaining his velocity late into games, there's your answer. His 104th pitch of the game, in the 7th inning, was clocked at 99 mph, which also happened to be his fastest pitch of the game.

Arod's hard slide to break up the double-play in the first was a game-changer. That catapulted the Yanks to victory. Not to be outdone though was Abreu's laser to nail a runner at home, which would have brought Pittsburgh within a run.

Joba threw 114 pitches, 6.2 innings, struck out seven, walked one, allowed six hits and no runs. If I had to nitpick, I wish he'd finished the 7th inning.

- The pitching matchups against the Mets this weekend are quite pitiful; it's conceivable we get swept all four games.

- Could 'Marvelous' Matt Carson be the next Scrantonite called up to the Bronx? He very well could be, and potentially have a Shelley '07/Spencer '98 type effect.

Jun 24, 2008

I stopped watching in the 5th inning

Specifically after Bautista's two-run shot, which made it 5-1 Pittsburgh (it's hard to say 'Pittsburgh' without thinking of a line from Groundhog Day: "I'm not going back to Pittsburgh.") This one ranks up there with the 12-2 Baltimore game.

Above all, it was frustrating watching the Yanks (specifically Jeter) help out the Gorzelanny by swinging when they were ahead in the count, often making outs. In the first, Melky was on first (walked), Jeter was ahead 2-0 and hit into a DP. In the fifth, Arod swung at the first pitch and popped to short-center. Gorzelanny walked five in six innings, but could've easily walked several more; for example, he walked Darrell Rasner (who made his ML debut at the plate) twice.

Justin Christian was called up to replace Billy Traber and made a costly error in the first, indirectly allowing Pittsburgh to score it's second run. He did however go 2-4 on the night with a double.

- Humberto Sanchez finally returned from Tommy John surgery. He pitched .2 innings for the GCL Yankees, allowing a run on a hit batter, a walk and a hit. Dellin Betances also returned from a short injury stint: 2 ip, 3 er.

JB Cox returned to action as well, throwing a perfect inning for Scranton.

- Elsewhere, the Giants' Chris Snee signed a six-year extension that will make one of the five highest paid guards in the league. He deserves it. If you go back and watch any of last year's games, the player Snee is blocking is almost always the farthest from the quarterback and often gets nowhere near him.

(thanks to Pete Abe and Giants 101)

Jun 22, 2008

I hate the rain

My wife and I attended today's game, and enjoyed a great performance by Andy Pettitte. I must say that Johnny Cueto has nasty stuff, almost at Joba's level.

Farnsworth took a liner off his hand in the 9th, and one must wonder if he'll be sidelined, and if so, who'll get the call up? Patterson and Robertson must be at the top of the list.

Jun 20, 2008

Yanks sweep; Venditte debuts

- A crisp 2-1 win over San Diego completed a three-game sweep and seven-game winning streak for the Bombers. Joba started and was dominant: he struck out nine in 5.2 innings, allowing just one run. As a starter (four games), he's been pretty filthy: 18.1 ip, 2.45 ERA, 16 h, 19 k, 12 bb, 1 HR. The only problem is the walks, which must come down.

- Pat 'Switch-Pitcher' Venditte made his pro debut last night for Staten Island. Take a gander at the video for a good laugh. It seems the rule is that the pitcher must first declare a side to throw from, then the batter (switch-hitter) can adjust to that, but once that first pitch is thrown, neither can change.

Jun 17, 2008

Bad news all around

- Chien Ming-Wang won't return until at least September. The depth chart for his spot looks to be (in order): Dan Giese, Kei Igawa and Jeff Karstens. Just when everyone was getting healthy...

- Willie Randolph was fired this morning. He got a pretty raw deal across town. Maybe the Yanks can hire him in some capacity.

Jun 13, 2008

Scraping by

One big hit was enough last night, tonight it was two. When will the offense get on track? It's like they get a few runs and decide, "That's probably enough." Fortunately, it has been because of stellar Yankee pitching: they've allowed just one run in three of their last four games. Tonight it was thanks to Joba, who pitched (by far) the best game of his short career - 6 ip, 1 er, 6 h, 4 bb (two intentional), 2 k. The 'Stros certainly helped out by swinging early and often - he averaged under 15 pitches per inning. He was able to keep the ball down for the most part (9 ground outs, 5 fly outs), even interspersing a few two-seamers (in the low 90s). For those wondering about his velocity, his last two pitches of the night registered 96 and 97 respectively mph... not bad I'd say.

How nasty was Jose Veras? Wow! And leave it to Kyle 'The Heart Attack' Farnsworth to hit the first batter of the 9th inning (he was closing because Mo's pitched five times in the past week). Houston again helped out by having Ty Wigginton (of all people) attempt to steal second where he was gunned down by Jose Molina.

- Meanwhile, the international free agent signing period begins on July 2, so here's a summary of the top talent.

Jun 12, 2008

JB Cox out 3 at least weeks

According to Pete Abe. It sucks because he was in-line for a call-up to the Bronx bullpen. This likely keeps him in Scranton until September. David Robertson and perhaps even Mark Melancon may move ahead of him on the depth chart.

But as one goes down, another comes up: Humberto Sanchez threw a bullpen session yesterday for the first time since his Tommy John surgery and should join a minor league team by month's end.

Back to .500

This is probably the most frustrating team I've seen in about 15 years. It's like they have some kind of phobia of not being near .500.

What I'm wondering is: what will Cash do if the Yanks are still at .500 at the end of July? There will be roughly 50 games to go, and if the Sawx and Devil Rays continue playing at their current pace, the Yanks will be 11 games back of Boston and eight behind Tampa. Do they think about trading off their veterans to reload for 2009? It will also depend on the Wild Card - but if they're 10+ games back in that race too, I say they do it.

The candidates are as follows:
Mike Mussina
Jason Giambi
Johnny Damon
Hideki Matsui
Bobby Abreu
Andy Pettitte
Latroy Hawkins
Kyle Farnsworth (only player without a no-trade clause)

The biggest problems will be getting these players to waive their no-trade clauses and to convince the target team to take on most or at least some of their contract. The good news is that the aforementioned players (outside of the relievers) are having solid to exceptional seasons, especially Giambi, Damon, Matsui and Mussina.

I do not think Cano, Melky or Wang will be on the trade block even though they would be highly sought after. They're young (all under 30), low-paid and most importantly, average to above players. Cano is the safest, mainly because there's just no one in the minors who could replace him. He's the complete package, unlike other 2b candidates such as Wilson Betemit (decent bat, passable 2b defense) and Alberto Gonzalez (great defense, below average bat). Wang would also be rather safe: he's a proven big league starter, unlike Hughes, Kennedy and Joba, and is still young and cheap (unlike Pettitte and Moose). Melky might feel anxious though - there are two quality centerfielders coming up fast behind him: Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson.

Looking at 2009's free agent class... If the parties are willing (in this case, K-Rod becoming a setup-man), we could have an absolutely sick bullpen next year that might look like this:
and one of Edwar, Ohlie, Alby, Patterson, Veras, Giese and Britton

Jun 10, 2008

I'm never going to praise Mo again

In the two games since I expounded his incredible season, he's given up his first two homeruns of the year, losing one game and nearly losing another.

Isn't that just a silly superstition? Probably.

Jun 9, 2008

I'll say it again

Ed fucking Montague. He blew his second call of the series, and just like last time, it cost the Yanks an out, a baserunner and eventually the game. I didn't need the replay to see Melky was safe at first on his sac bunt, it was clear, and fucking Montague is standing three feet from the base and couldn't see it. Unreal.

Is there anyone left who opposes instant replay?

Strahan calls it a career

The Giants' captain and all-time sack leader (tied with LT) is going out on top. I, for one, am rather surprised by his decision. I was sure he'd come back for another season considering how well he played and that he's going to be losing millions of dollars (although he already has a broadcasting job lined up already). He was a 7-time Pro Bowler, twice won the defensive MVP (2001 and 2003) and set an NFL record with 22.5 sacks in '01.

He's one of my favorite Giants ever (after LT) and was always a blast to listen to. The Giants sportswriters will have to work a bit harder this season to find interesting quotes.

This is bad news for the 2008 season in that it weakens two positions - 1. Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka will be counted on more (rather than for depth like last year), 2. if Kiwanuka is moved back to full-time DE, they have to find two new (starting) outside linebackers. Basically Renaldo Wynn - a good backup DE - replaces a first-ballot Hall of Fame DE. You can't blame Strahan though; what better way to retire than when you've just won the Super Bowl? - only I wish he had announced it before the draft so Jerry Reese could have properly addressed the situation.

Jun 8, 2008

If not for that one hanging slider

We're all praising Joba for a stellar outing instead of an average one. Regardless, it was definitely an improvement from Tuesday - he threw more strikes (lasting into the 5th inning), struck out more and walked fewer. And perhaps best of all, he maintained his velocity throughout, touching 96 into the 5th inning. He walked his last batter on a 3-2 curveball (his first out of the zone), finishing at 78 pitches (80 was his limit). In his next start (Friday), his limit will be raised to 90-95, so hopefully he'll get through the 6th.

His only big mistake was a full count hanging slider to Jose Guillen who crushed it to give KC the lead. Joba and Posada should have been a bit more cautious, considering the swings Guillen had taken on the slider earlier in that at-bat. Joba really didn't want to walk him so instead of going for the corner, he left a lazy slider up and out over the plate.

Anyway, Dan Giese had another solid outing (2.2 ip, 0 r). He's really showing himself to be a dependable long-reliever that might stick with the team when Moeller is (unfortunately) DFA'd.

Afternoon contest tomorrow: Moose vs. (2006 #1 overall pick) Luke Hochevar.

Another prospect

to keep an eye on, although he's not a member of the Yankees (or any other team) yet. It sounds like we may have a good chance to acquire him considering his idol is Arod and the Yanks have the most money.

Cuban baseball's brightest star, Dayán Viciedo, has escaped from Cuba and is now in Miami, following the footsteps of talented island colleagues who have found their way into the major leagues.

Viciedo, a 19-year-old third baseman, is considered as big a star in Cuba as Omár Linares, the most well-rounded player to emerge from the Cuban leagues since 1959 and a player highly coveted by major league scouts during the 1980s.

''At first I didn't like to be compared to Linares because he is almost a legend,'' Viciedo said. ``Later, I felt proud. As a third baseman I have two idols: Linares from the Cuban National Series and Alex Rodriguez from the major leagues.''

(BBTF with the link)

Mo was jinxed

by my previous post wherein I expounded on his excellence this season. Yesterday he gave up his first HR of the year - a cutter that was misplaced over the heart of the plate rather than where Posada was setting up inside.

Based on the two innings I saw Mark Melancon pitch last night for Trenton, the following is a (brief) scouting report:
Fastball - plus velocity, plus command. Started off nearly every hitter 0-1 with a well-spotted fastball at the knees. I've read his velocity is 91-94 and that jives with what I witnessed; not one fastball was well hit.
Curve - plus movement, average command. Struck out one batter on a curveball looking. Don't recall anyone swinging and missing on his curve. The three groundouts he induced looked to all be a product of the curve. Bounced a few before reaching homeplate.
His delivery is unsual in that he brings the ball down nearly to his back knee before exploding toward homeplate - similar to those old time windups.
Would have been two perfect innings if not for a botched throw by the shortstop. Of the six outs he recorded, three came via groundout, three via strikeout - it doesn't get much better than that; not a single ball reached the outfield.
He's listed at just 6'2", but looks much bigger on the mound. Perhaps it's because no member of Trenton's infield is taller than 6 feet. Not sure but he looked huge.

Jun 7, 2008

Hey, I remember him

Pat Venditte, the switch-pitcher from Creighton University, was selected in the draft by the Yankees for the second straight year. Now that he's a senior, he basically has to sign (unlike last year when he returned to school).

Pete Abe has the audio of an interview with first round pick Gerrit Cole. He sounds like he's 12 years old; he's just 17 so maybe that's not unusual. Did I sound that way when I was 17?

- Some win today for the Yanks. Where was that offense yesterday? I didn't get to see it because of stupid FOX and MLB's Saturday blackout rules. I'll catch it later when it hits MLB.tv.

What's "momentum"?

Certainly not this. Homeplate umpire Ed Montague completely screwed us with his check-swing strike-three call on Giambi in the 8th. A blatant, blatant checked-swing. How the hell could Montague think that was a swing? Only God knows.

Jun 6, 2008

What a win, what's up with Wang, and Holy Mo-ly!

<-- That was the best win of the season (in terms of emotions). It looked totally lost at 7-2, only for the Yanks to crawl back to within one, then have Farnsworth re-blow the game, only to be followed by Arod, Matsui and Giambi coming up huge. In fact, Giambi increased the Yanks chances of winning 89.5% (almost unheard of).

And speaking of hitting, how about Wilson Betemit? His second HR in two days, this one coming from the right side. He gets killed a lot around the Yankee blogosphere, but it's rather unfair to him. He's a backup, and hence doesn't get consistent playing time. If he did, I'm sure he would put about a .250/.350/.480 line. One of the positives about Giambi missing some time is that it might give Betemit more playing time, allowing him to get into a groove. Right now, you have to keep playing him - it comes down to four of Betemit, Giambi (if healthy), Damon, Matsui and Melky. Currently, Melky's got to sit; the other hitters are just too hot to put on the bench. Damon is an inferior centerfielder, but the way he's hitting he'll easily make up for it.

- Now, on to Chien-Ming Wang: what's wrong with him? Is there anything wrong with him? 82.2 innings is not even half a season so we shouldn't jump to any definitive conclusions, but I'll try to head in that direction. His ERA is the highest it's ever been: 4.57. Through his first nine games, Wang was having a stellar year: 59 ip, 2.90 ERA, 38 K, 19 BB, 1 HR, .584 OPS against.

But he's (frankly) sucked in his last four starts: 23.2 ip, 8.75 ERA, 11 K, 14 BB, 3 HR, .794 OPS against. The stat that most jumps out to me is the walk rate. It went from 2.89 BB/9 through his first nine starts to 5.3 BB/9. That's almost double. It definitely jives with what my eyes tell me: Wang has been consistently missing his spots in his last several games.

To back me up, his BAA, BABIP and FIP are in line with his career averages. What I have to wonder is whether he's trying strikeout more hitters - and if that's causing him to avoid contact, hence throwing more pitches out of the zone. Along with a rising K/9 rate, his walk rate has also increased each of the last three years (along with his pitches/PA). And perhaps most disturbingly, his groundball rate has also decreased each of the last three years. My theory is thus: his critics who assailed him for not striking out enough hitters has caused him and his pitching coaches to try to improve his K rates, hence he's throwing more pitches out of the zone (to induce swinging strikes) - this causes him to fall behind in counts more often which leads to more hits and walks. My hope is that it's just a slump (it is just four games after all), but my fear is that the league has caught up to him or he's hiding an injury.

- If you hadn't noticed, Mariano Rivera is having a good year. How good is it?! It's so good that among relievers with at least 25 ip (going all the way to 1901):
a. he has the best ERA+ (1185)
b. 4th best K/BB rate (13/1)
c. best WHIP (.500)
d. best OPS+ against (negative 24 = ludicrous!)
e. 2nd best hit rate (3.81/9 ip)

- The MLB amateur draft can be found here. The Yanks selected high-school pitcher Gerrit Cole with the 28th pick of the first round. I don't know much about Cole, but here are several sources who do.
Baseball America
Perfect Game
River Ave. Blues
Keith Law (via Pinstripe Alley)

Jun 4, 2008

Underwhelming debut

With a pitch restriction of 70, Joba lasted just 2.1 innings (62 pitches). The problem was his control, which was all over: he walked four, and threw barely half his pitches for strikes. The two runs scored off him were of the cheap variety: the first scored on a walk, balk, passed ball and groundout. The other run scored on a walk, steal with a throwing error by Molina and another groundout. The one hit he allowed was a weak seeing-eye single. In his next start on Sunday, he's got to find his groove quicker. 37 pitches in the first inning is way too many.

Dan Giese came in and showed he can be a solid long-reliever. He went 3.2 innings allowing just one run. The game was still close at that point (3-2 Jays), but the pen imploded. First Veras, then Edwar, then Hawkins. Watching Edwar was just painful - the ump did have a small strike zone, but he threw just three of 17 pitches for strikes. Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughan poppped into my head watching him.