Looking at Yankees Playoff Prospects August 29, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Uncategorized.
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Well, the Yankees needed to win 2 of 3. Even Joe Girardi said it. And it was, as I said, in their best interest to sweep. Unfortunately, neither of that happened. The Yankees lost 2 of 3, and now stand 6 games out of the wild card and 10.5 out of the division with 29 to go. The division, if it wasn’t already, is completely out of the question. Six games is not undoable, but it’s certainly be a big hole to climb. Remember three things to keep you inspired:
- Yankees led the Red Sox, 3-0 in 2004 ALCS; Red Sox won 4-3 in the first ever 3-0 comeback in baseball and second of all in sports
- 17-game winning streak by the 2007 Rockies to capture the Wild Card
- Mets had 7 game lead with 17 left to play, but Phillies won the division
The difference with all this is that we have to leapfrog two teams–the Red Sox and the loser of the AL Central–bur I think it can be done. The Bombers have great momentum from the dramatic walk-off win against Jonathan Papelbon in the last game of the rivalry at the old Yankee Stadium. Let’s go Yanks!
Modifying the Lineup August 25, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Xavier Nady.
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The Yankees’ offense is (hopefully) revived, though the Baltimore series should have showed enough not to have Jason Giambi can’t bat fifth anymore. Other than a homer and a sac fly, Giambi did nothing this series. OF Xavier Nady, batting .329/.374/.588 since being acquired, hit a double, a homer, and had a pair of RBI in the series, to go along with five hits. Nady needs to bat fifth to better benefit the offense, and, if he proves he can handle it, DH Hideki Matsui needs to bat sixth. Nady is a high-average player with very good power who is a good RBI man–he’s batting .322/.377/.496 w/RISP, only a shade under his regular numbers (.328/.383/.553). Matsui is starting to get his stroke back on his return, and has homered twice since coming back. He is a clutch player with good power and is hitting .343/.450/.507 w/RISP. Giambi has a good eye, but can’t hit anything but mistakes and average fastballs, and is hitting .205 w/RISP. He doesn’t protect A-Rod the way Nady and Matsui can, and A-Rod’s numbers have suffered from that, and the direct result of trying to do too much. If this team plans on going deep into the postseason, this change needs to be made.
After 4-2 Road Trip, Yankees Show Life August 25, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Series Previews, Series Recaps.
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The road trip started ominously. Already 6 GB of the Red Sox, the Yankees lost the series to the Blue Jays, 2-1, and were dominated by A.J. Burnett and Roy Halladay (14 IP, 4 ER, 20 K). Darrell Rasner pitched valiantly on Tuesday, but on one home run Burnett was simply better. While the Yankees smacked rookie LHP David Purcey, nothing could save them from the horror that was Sidney Ponson’s outing that Thrursday (2+ IP, 8H 7 ER 1BB) . The Yankees didn’t hit, the team’s struggles w/RISP (not just A-Rod and Giambi, mind you) continued, and the Yankees were on the brink of being completely out of it.
It was particularly worrying because the Yankees were 6-8 against the Orioles, who were upcoming, and they had Yankee-killers Jeremy Guthrie and Daniel Cabrera scheduled to pitch. That didn’t matter, with resounding 9-4 and 5-3 victories on Friday and Saturday. After a terrible start by Darrell Rasner (3.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 HR, 98 PIT), the Yankees rebounded with an 8-7 win.
Now the Yanks face a crucial series against the Red Sox. Despite being 6-6 against the Sox this season, they have won four of the last six and are facing a team with a limited David Ortiz and no Manny (though Jason Bay is no slouch). Jason Varitek has fallen off a cliff offensively, and J.D. Drew is out. There bullpen is in shambles, and they keep scrambling to find pitchers to fill out spots four and five. The Yankees are facing Tim Wakefield and Paul Byrd, whom they’ve hit hard in the past and don’t have much stuff. John Lester is somewhat tougher, but with Mike Mussina on the mound, the game isn’t unwinnable. I say the Yankees did well if they win 2 of 3 but it’s in their best interest to sweep and reduce the deficit to 2.5 games.
Matsui Returns–Who to Drop? August 19, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon.
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The Yankees announced over the weekend that injured DH Hideki Matsui is coming back tonight against Toronto. Considering he needs knee surgery over the offseason, he can only play DH. However, that creates a logjam with Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Xavier Nady, Brett Gardner, and Jason Giambi in the OF/DH mix.
First, who to send down? It’s not that obvious. Justin Christian can play any OF position in a pinch and has blazing speed. The Friday night pickoff hurt his chances, though. Of course, there’s always Chris Britton, whom I hope Yankee fans realize kinda sucks after a homer to freggin’ Ross Gload. I still think Christian gets sent down, because otherwise he’ll just get no playing time.
Now, Girardi said that Gardner was the team’s center fielder. He has more speed and a better arm and better range than Johnny Damon, and with fluky flyball pitchers like Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner on the staff, that really helps. None of the OFers deserve to be benched offensively, but Matsui needs to play because he excels in RISP where other members of the team don’t. Yet when Damon doesn’t play the team doesn’t have a legit lead-off hitter. Here’s my idea of a lineup when he comes back:
At this rate, Abreu, Damon, and Matsui are in the rotation, where in a game two play and one doesn’t. The above lineup is the example of one day’s rotation. It’s advantageous, because Matsui can’t just play everyday on turf on that knee, and the other two are 34, not to mention that Damon is almost constantly nicked up. Despite the interest in a consistent lineup, this is likely the best idea.
Yankees Rebound from Road Trip, Win 2 of 3 from Royals August 19, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Uncategorized.
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The Yankees had a terrible road trip, going 3-7 and losing 16 of their last 19 games overall at that point. They blew a few games they should have won, the games with the walk-off grand slam from Marlon Byrd, the legendary bullpen meltdown in Anaheim (8 runs allowed in 2 innings), the walk-off 10-hopper from Chone Figgins, and the last of Delmon Young’s 3-run homers. Except for the first two games in Texas, none of the games had been high-scoring, and the team struggled with RISP.
The same was to be true in the first game of the series against KC. The Yankees were 3/13 w/RISP, and were dumbfounded by Gil Meche in the first inning. More than that, Mo Rivera continued his struggles in tied games, and uncorked his first wild pitch in the top of the 9th to lose the game.
But in the next game, despite the struggles w/RISP, the Yankees had enough grittiness and relief pitching to win. The Yankees won 3-2 with a dramatic single through the left-side hole by Brett Gardner, who also got a walk-off hit of Jonathan Papelbon (both hits drove in Robinson Cano). That swayed the momentum to Sunday’s game, where the Yankees touched Brian Bannister for ten runs over 1+ IP. RISP didn’t matter with 15 runs and 5 RBI from A-Rod and a grand slam from Jason Giambi (not to count Cody Ransom’s 1st MLB HR).
The Yankees have crushed a bad team, which is what they’re supposed to do. Now they have to carry that momentum over to Toronto, and win at least 2 of 3 (most likely the Rasner v. Burnett and Ponson v. Purcey starts) against the Blue Jays.
Meky and Sexon Out; Gardner, Ransom, Britton Up August 19, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Chris Britton, Cody Ransom, Dan Giese, Injuries, Melky Cabrera, Richie Sexson, Transactions.
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Before Friday night’s opener against the opener, OF Melky Cabrera was demoted to AAA and 1B Richie Sexson was waived. To take their place, OF Brett Gardner and INF Cody Ransom were promoted. Cabrera has been a black hole in the lineup since May. Sexson has struck out too much and hasn’t done the job against lefties. Gardner has been deserving, as he’s been great in AAA since his demotion, and Ransom has legitamate pop and should have a .250-ish avg with more speed and versatility than Wilson Betemit.
Britton is up for the umpteenth time this season to replace Dan Giese, who was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday with rotator cuff tendinitis.
Signing Deadline Passes: Cole Wasn’t Bluffing August 16, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in 2008 MLB Draft, Brett Marshall, Garrison Lassiter, Gerrit Cole, Jeremy Bleich, Scott Bittle.
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Yesterday, we were waiting for three signings: RHP Gerrit Cole (1), LHP Jeremy Bleich (1S), and SS Garrison Lassiter (27). We were hoping for RHP Scott Bittle (2), C Ben McMahan (30), and LHP Chris Dwyer (36), but we knew from D-Opp himself that these were very unlikely signings.
Thursday I posted about how Cole decided to reject the Yankees’ offer and go to UCLA. However, a good point was made accross draft sites yesterday–the advisor to the draft prospect can merely advise the prospect, not negotiate for him. In this case, Scott Boras isn’t allowed to communicate with the Yankees; only Cole or his father, who really ran the show, would do that. With that information in mind, it makes the fact that Cole didn’t signed for reasons unrelated to money more believable.
The decision is quite shocking considering how Cole said he wanted to play pro ball and said that he was a Yankee fan growing up, even going to Arizona to cheer them on during the 2001 World Series. The Yankees can’t be faulted for this; they didn’t know that he would (or his father would make him, which is what I believe happened) change his mind and shaft them like that. Beyond that, it wasn’t a sensible idea, considering how Cole can’t be guaranteed the same money in three years, when he’s eligible again, because he could be injured and then jeopardize his career completely. Terrible decision by Cole, unfortunate outcome for the Yankees.
Bleich and Lassiter needed to get done; Bleich signed for $700K, ~$160K below slot, leading you to believe his elbow isn’t right yet, and that is worrisome. Lassiter signed for 2nd round money, $600K, and, according to Oppenheimer is ahead of Carmen Angelini both offensively and defensively than Angelini was when drafted.
Mediocre draft for the Yankees, but they did get some quality in the later rounds. I’d expect Lassiter or 6th rounder Brett Marshall to end up being the best players out of this harvest.
By the way, the Yankees will have pick 28A (really 30, after 9th overall pick Aaron Crow didn’t sign with Washington) and 60A as compensation for Cole and Bittle in next year’s draft. The class is kinda bad, so I don’t know how much it really helps.
Gerrit Cole Not Signing? August 14, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in 2008 MLB Draft, Gerrit Cole.
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Per Lane Meyer of NoMaas.org, via SI.com and Tyler Kepner, Gerrit Cole will turn down the Yanks’ offer. Both SI and Kepner say that Cole’s rejection was not about the money. If that indeed is true, he will go on to play ball for the UCLA Bruins next spring.
First of all, this isn’t Friday at 11:59:59 PM, the absolute deadline for these picks to sign. I think, in fact, that this is all about the money and, more than that, it’s posturing to despair the fans and pressure the Yanks into giving in a higher bonus. Frankly, if the Yankees gave a Major League deal to a college righty bound to TJ–Brackman–they’re pushing their luck if they don’t give Cole a $4-$5M bonus, even if he’s a high schooler. Remember, this is a kid with more raw talent than Rick Porcello, despite the maturity issues, and he is healthy.
However, Brackman’s deal, also orchestrated by Boras, is coming back to haunt them. While Brackman had to get signed and I am happy he was, the contract is a precedent for the current and future first rounders the Yankees will select. Now that Boras squeezed one out of the Yankees, he’s trying to do it again. The Yankees need to get this done without getting outdone again. Remember, Boras has a chip on his shoulder from losing bad with A-Rod.
In the end, I think this is posturing and a deal gets done.
Still no updates on 1S LHP Jeremy Bleich or 17 SS Garrison Lassiter. Both of these also need to get signed as well.
Thoughts: State of the Minors August 13, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Uncategorized.
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Let’s do a state of the minors now. I’ll go over each level with some notes on the prospects on the team.
AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: RHP Phil Hughes should be at around 100 pitches in his next rehab start. He has been impressive so far, with a 0.90 WHIP, 1.11 GO/AO rate, a 2.0 K/BB rate, and a 2.70 ERA….RHP Mark Melancon has continued to dominate so far in AAA, with a 0.62 WHIP, 1.71 GO/AO rate, a 5.0 K/BB rate, and a 0.92 ERA in 9.2 IP. He has now started to come in during the middle of an inning….RHP Al Aceves has come back to earth, with a 1.36 WHIP, 0.76 GO/AO rate, and 4.91 ERA since being promoted to AAA (25.2 IP). The 3.42 K/BB rate is encouraging, though….After a rough debut after being promoted full-time, LHP Phil Coke has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings (0.31 WHIP, 0.67 GO/AO, 7.0 K/BB rate)….RHP J.B. Cox has pitched only 3 times in 12 August days (5 IP)….RHP Steven Jackson has actually been pretty good in Scranton, and over his last 10 appearances, has a 0.75 ERA and a 13/3 K/BB rate (12 IP)….RHP Ian Kennedy did well at AAA to earn a call-up–he nearly had a 7 IP no-hitter–but struggled and was sent back….LHP Chase Wright has a 3.06 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP since getting called to Scranton (17.2 IP)….1B Eric Duncan continues his 4-year long struggles after a nice start, with a .228/.290/.371 line with 10 HR and 50 RBI, and a 94:30 K:BB rate in 372 AB–ouch….1B Juan Miranda has made a nice return, hitting .300/.387/.455 with 9 HR and 45 RBI, and 29 XBH a not-bad 62:43 K:BB rate in 303 AB. He’s doing better against lefties but he probably ends up a platoon player (.220/.271/.320)….OF Brett Gardner has been hitting .310/.420/.333 since being demoted
AA Trenton Thunder: RHP George Kontos rebounded very well from a rough start, and it showed in his last two starts: (15 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 18 K, 0.00 ERA)….RHP Anthony Claggett has been very impressive this season in the Trenton bullpen, with a 7.51 H/9 rate and a 8.57 K/9 rate to go with a 1.71 ERA. He could use lowering the walk rate (4.53 BB/9)….The oft-injured RHP Eric Hacker has rebounded nicely this season, with a 1.24 WHIP, 3:1 K:BB rate and a 2.71 ERA since being called up to Trenton. He’s lost too much time to have any future in the Yankee pitching staff, though….RHP Kevin Whelan has been sick since joining Trenton, allowing 3.55 H/9 and posting a 11.37 K/9 rate along with a 1.42 ERA in 12.2 IP. As is usual with him, he needs to walk less people (8 in 12.2 iP)….OF Austin Jackson is hitting a very empry .286/.279/.381 with no homers and 4 RBI in August
Hi-A Tampa: RHP Zach McAllister has seen his k-rate fall from 7.56 to 6.21 in Tampa, but otherwise his peripherals are very good and has had a very good break-out season for the Yankee organization…RHP Ivan Nova isn’t developing as planned, being too hittable with a 9.79 H/9 rate and a .285 BAA. There are positives, and I have him as a sleeper for next year, though….RHP Ryan Pope hasn’t been quite what we thought he would be this season, but he hasn’t been bad at all, either. Pope owns a .250 BAA, 3.39 K/BB rate and a 1.29 WHIP, but he only has a 6.88 K/9 rate to go with a 0.94 GO/AO rate and a 9.7 H/9 rate. That adds up to a 3.86 ERA. Another sleeper for next year….LHP Wilkins De La Rosa has been quite impressive this year, his best thus far in his conversion to pitching. De La Rosa, before just being promoted to Hi A Tampa, posted a 1.10 WHIP, a 10.96 K/9 rate, a 1.07 GO/AO rate, and a .189 BAA that amounts to a 1.69 ERA in 90.1 IP. Before we get too excited, it’s only A-ball, and the important thing is to see how he responds to the higher levels….On the other side, LHP Mike Dunn, once the best lefty on the Yankees, has posted a 4.74 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP, and a 9.25 H/9 rate. His peripherals aren’t as bad as the ERA would indicate, but either way, he has disappointed this year….RHP Chris Garcia is back from injury, and has made two starts since then….For infielders Mitch Hilligoss and Damon Sublett, the season can’t end early enough, as they have been quite disappointing based on their performance last year. Sublett, though, has played in only 42 games this year due to health issues
A Charleston: RHP Dellin Betances is finishing the season strong, and has found the plate, allowing only 3.22 BB/9 since the start of July, also posting a 7.06 hit rate, a 10.38 K rate, and 2.70 ERA in 43.1 IP….RHP Jairo Heredia has been great in this season, with a 1.38 WHIP, a 1.98 GO/AO rate, a 8.38 K rate, and a 2.15 K:BB rate in 92.1 IP this season. I’m sure this wasn’t his breakout season yet….RHP Ryan Zink has returned from Tommy John surgery, and LHP Angel Reyes has returned from an injury and steroid suspension….C Jesus Montero has hit a godly (hehe) .435/.490/.674 with 2 HR, 7 RBI and 7 XBH in August….C Austin Romine has seen his power show in the second half, hitting all 7 of his homers since the All-Star break….SS Carmen Angelini is having a miserable season in his first full pro season, hitting .238/.300/.295 with 3 HR and 37 RBI and 16 XBH. Remember, he’s only 19….1B Brandon Laird has well this season, posting a .258/.311/.469, with 18 HR and 64 RBI with 45 XBH. I don’t think he’ll ever hit for average, but he’ll always have power to rely on….INF Justin Snyder has had a solid season, hitting .287/.356/.413 with 7 HR, and looks to be a solid utility guy in the future….After missing a lot of games, 3B Bradley Suttle is hitting .200/.255/.480 with 2 HR and 5 RBI and 10 XBH in August, but he’s done pretty well on the season….OF Abe Almonte’s season has fallen off a cliff after doing very well through early June. Since then, he is hitting a miserable .189/.291/.266. He definitely has the talent and tools to do better, and has started to come around a bit in August, hitting .242/.359/.485 with 2 HR and 3 RBI in 33 August ABs.
Lo-A SI Yankees: Twentieth rounder RHP/LHP Pat Venditte is having a great season as SI’s closer, posting a 12.15 K/9 rate, a 0.88 WHIP, and 14 SV in 22.2 IP….Third rounder SS David Adams is hitting .255/.333/.394 with 3 HR and 19 RBI since signing (188 ABs). The near 2:1 K:BB rate is disappointing. Seventeenth rounder SS Addison Maruszak is hitting .322/.376/.497 with 5 HR and 27 RBI and was named an NY-Penn Leage All-Star….2007 8th rounder OF Taylor Grote is hitting quite disappointingly in his pro debut, hitting .223/.308/.281 in 139 ABs with 1 HR and 15 RBI and a near 3:1 K:BB rate…ouch.
Remember that all Lo-A stats scream sample size issues.
Rk Yankees: RHP Manny Barreda, who may be the next big thing in terms of Yankees’ Dominican signings, has a 2.65 ERA in 17 IP….Tenth rounder RHP Mikey O’Brien has a 0.90 ERA in 10 IP….Fourteenth rounder RHP Matt Richardson has a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 IP….RHP Humberto Sanchez is rehabbing, and in the process is only doing 1-inning stints. After an interruption from a barking elbow, he resumed rehab on Monday….Seventh rounder C Kyle Higashioka recently signed and just joined the team….C Chase Weems is hitting .250/.385/.375 with a homer and 10 RBI in his debut….Fourth rounder SS Corban Joseph is tearing the cover off the ball, with 19 XBH in only 140 AB, projecting to 67 over 500 AB….”.800 man” and fifth rounder OF Chris Smith is only hitting .140 in 86 ABs.
So far good stuff in the minors, with no major disappointments now that Tabata’s gone, and let’s hope they all finish the season strong.
Thoughts: The Rehabbers August 9, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Carl Pavano, Phil Hughes.
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Injured righties Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano are on the rehab trail, each having made two starts in the minors, and both have done very well. Now on their potential impact (or lack thereof…) in the majors.
As the Yankees are trotting out the shaky Sidney Ponson and Dan Giese–we may add Ian Kennedy later–and don’t have Joba for the time being, the Yankees need to get a better pitcher who can make an impact on the team. Phil Hughes has the ability to be that pitcher. Despite struggling earlier in the year, Hughes showed flashses of what he could be, particularly with that nasty curveball. He now comes back with a new cutter and increased velocity (93-95), as well as glasses to see the catcher’s signs better. I think Hughes will come back with a strong September akin to last year’s (18/10 K/BB rate, 1.18 WHIP, .229 BAA, 2.73 ERA, 29.2 IP).
Pavano, on the other hand, won’t have any impact, in part because the Yankees won’t let him have any impact. While he has put up solid numbers in the minors, he should, anyway, as he is a Major League veteran. At his age (32) there won’t be any improvement. At best he could pass through waivers and be dealt for a bag of balls.