Squandered Opportunities June 9, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Game Recaps, Melky Cabrera, Mike Mussina.
I went to the game today with a friend who has season tickets in the nosebleed seats, even in the probably 100+ heat. It was quite the intense experience, but the stadium prices just sank me a bit.
But what sank me more was the poor play, at times, of the Yankees today. In the first inning, Johnny Damon led off with a single and stole a base. Now, Derek Jeter hit a flyball to fairly deep left-center, with Joey Gathright on the ball. Gathright doesn’t have an arm, as we know, but Damon fails to tag up. Why? Damon has plus speed and Gathright, as mentioned, has no arm. We didn’t know at the time, but the Yankees needed runs, and it never hurts to tack one on in the first inning. Granted, you never want to make the first or last out at third base, but you have to be aggressive. Had he done so he would have likely scored on Abreu’s flyball to left, also to Gathright.
But the eighth inning was more annoying. Jorge Posada leads off on a pinch-hit single with Chad Moeller subsequently pinch-running. Besides the blown call on the bunt by Ed Montague, who, with other umpires recently calling umpires, seems to be working for ESPN as opposed to MLB, Bobby Abreu grounds out weakly to first with Jeter on 1st (on a walk) and Moeller on 2nd. Abreu’s weak and unintersted swings are often at the worst times, and they make me and (I’m sure) other fans irate.
Worst of all was the ninth inning. The cutter to Guillen wasn’t a bad pitch, and I’m not sold that Damon could’ve gotten the homer. But with the bases loaded (even Moeller miraculously gets hit by a pitch!), Melky Cabrera grounds weakly to the pitcher. Soria has a plus 12-6 curve, but it’s not like he’ll blow you away (why you’d take a 90mph fastball in the bullpen and put it in the rotation is beyond me, but that’s for another day….). Beyond that, he looked overmatched at the plate, and he has yet to drive the ball. Maybe the blown call at 1B was in his head, but he has to get over that.
He may be an inspiring player, but Melky has to be benched, at least for a while. Of course, the loss is certainly not solely on his shoulders today. But today’s weak hack for a strikeout and his weak groundout to end the game don’t do much good for me.
On the bright side, Mike Mussina had a great day. Outside of the hanger to Miguel Olivo, Moose was changing speeds like a complete master and just owned some hitters with good pitches. He sat at86-88 with his fastbal, topping out at 90. I love his use of his 2-seamer, and I think he should stick to his current plan. But I’m not sure if we need him back next season–I’d like to wait before I make a judgment. I’d also like to say that I called A-Rod’s home before it happened .
Promotion Candidates May 17, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Brett Gardner, Dan McCutchen, Eric Hacker, Justin Snyder, Zach McAllister.
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Many players in the Yankees system have grown into their own and have succeeded at their respective level in such a way that they ought to move along to the next stop in their path to the Major Leagues. Now I will list some players who deserve promotions:
2B/CF Justin Snyder, LoA Charleston
RHP Zach McAllister, LoA Charleston
RHP Eric Hacker, HiA Tampa
RHP Dan McCutchen, AA Trenton
OF Brett Gardner, AAA Scranton
Snyder is an interesting case, because he has a solid bat–.302/.363/.434–with gap power and solid patience. However, his fielding is, shall we say, atrocious, as he committed his 10th error before May. He has played some 2B, SS, and CF, though. There should be a space open, as 2B Damon Sublett is hitting 244/.343/.366, and CF is a platoon of Seth Fortenberry (.224/.353/.312) and bust Tim Battle. His fielding must improve, as his bat isn’t good enough to play just anywhere.
McAllister has always been well-regarded by followers of Yankees prospects, and it had been established that he would be many teams’ top pitching prospect because of his potential. He has broken out this year, pitching to the tune of 49IP, 7BB, 2.20 ERA. 7.89 K/9 and 1.28 BB/9. The number was lower before a rough outing in his second-to-last start. However, that would require an injury or demotion of one of Tampa’s starters. Ryan Pope, Ivan Nova, Eric Hacker, Alfredo Aceves, and Mike Dunn aren’t going anywhere down, and a spot will soon need to be opend for Chris Garcia to start his rehab process. There are no holes in the AA rotation, either. Now we look to the AAA rotation, but there is nothing that can spark a chain reaction, unless Hacker at HiA or Jones at AA are moved to the bullpen, which is where their future roles may reside.
Hacker has better stuff and a higher potential, but has always had injury problems. He is posting a godly 0.75 ERA in 48IP, allowing 27H and 7BB while striking out 29 and posting a 1.70 GO/AO ratio. However, as said in the McAllister section, there is simply no room in Trenton unless someone is sent down without merit or moved to the bullpen (or he himself moves to the bullpen).
Dan McCutchen was #8 on my prospect list this year, and while most people said it was too high, he’s making me look good . Cutch is posting a 2.52 ERA (again, only after he was roughed up in his last start) in 50 IP while striking out 46, allowing 38H and 15BB, and posting a 1.26 GO/AO ratio. He pitched 41 great innings last year at AA, and has nothing left to prove there. If McCutchen keeps excelling and Marquez keeps on making me look good (by being bad), they could be swapped.
Brett Gardner has held his own this year, hitting .287/.385/.449 with 2HRs–already doubling last year’s total–and 12 XBH. He has also stolen 12 bases and by all accounts has played solid defense. However, there is no definite spot on the Major League team. Morgan Ensberg can be DFA’d, but that would only come once Wilson Betemit or A-Rod comes off the DL, effectively changing nothing for Gardner and leaving no back-up INF for now. Alberto Gonzales has been hitting and fielding well, leaving no reason why he should be demoted. The only real candidate is Shelley Duncan, because he hasn’t hit at all this year and his glove is sub-par. Gardner would add a late-inning pinch runner and a 5th OF, but he deserves to play every day.
The promotion stories prove what I said during the off-season, that there is a pitching logjam in the Yankee system. Too much good pitching, if that can be said, is in the organization, and that will inhibit opportunities for lower-level prospects who can rise high. As for Gardner, he will have to likely wait out the year.
Brett Gardner March 20, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in 2008 Spring Training, Brett Gardner.
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Brett Gardner’s been tearing it up in Spring Training, spraying doubles and triples everywhere, stealing bases, legging out bunts, and doing everything the Yankees have asked of him. He is a dynamic player the Yankees haven’t had in a while (I can’t remember how long, in fact!). He has shown good defense in centerfield was well, and, overall, has impressed this spring.
All of the top prospects from the lower to mid levels (Jesus Montero, Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata, Alan Horne, Juan Miranda, etc.) have been sent to minor league camp. Now, Brett Gardner isn’t a top prospect (no matter what BA thinks of him), but, in retrospect, he isn’t quite the #25 guy on the top 30 as I put him in November. Also, he hasn’t been moved or optioned, either. It seems as if the Yankees are giving this kid a shot to make this team, though I just don’t see where that would be.
I would love to move Johnny Damon. All the stuff he does for the troops is nice, but he’s in the same shape to start Spring Training as he was last year. He’s batting .242/.286/.394, subpar numbers. Gardner has been given as many at-bats as A-Rod, and more than Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi. He’s hitting .393/.469/.536, which is highly impressive. While he won’t do that in the regular season, he can certainly do better than Damon’s line, which is how I project him to start the year (again). His contract was mentioned in trade discussions in passing this winter with Atlanta and San Francisco, but nothing materialized. He’s 33 and won’t be getting younger or better. He’s taking away a spot from a younger and superior player than Damon is at this point. As GM Brian Cashman said, Gardner is Juan Pierre who can take a walk. He would give us a true leadoff man, and an entertainment on the basepaths and in the field. This man should make the team, but needs to play every day, and that can only happen in AAA. Anyone want Damon?
BA Yankees Top 10 Prospects January 12, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alan Horne, Andrew Brackman, Austin Jackson, Baseball America Top 10 Prospects, Brett Gardner, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Top 30 Prospects.
This is the Baseball America Yankees Top 10 Prospects list that came out on Monday:
1. Joba Chamberlain, rhp
2. Austin Jackson, of
3. Jose Tabata, of
4. Ian Kennedy, rhp
5. Alan Horne, rhp
6. Jesus Montero, c
7. Jeff Marquez, rhp
8. Brett Gardner, of
9. Ross Ohlendorf, rhp
10. Andrew Brackman, rhp
The list, in general, is only OK. The first five, I must say, are identical to our list. Montero at #6 is a bit high, but nothing really to complain about. Seven through nine, are a problem. John Manuel, managing the Yankees’ prospect list, says in the chat that he puts Marquez this high because Marquez is a pretty sure bet to be a #4/#5 in the Majors, particularly because of his sinker. I don’t buy it. Marquez has a great changeup and sinker, but he doesn’t get enough strikeouts (~5.5) to justify his inconsistent groundball rate, either. Gardner is a fourth outfielder/fringe starter, but Manuel reasons his spot because Gardner is very close to being major-league ready. Ohlendorf, another surprise at #9, maxes out as a solid 7th inning reliever, but Manuel says that Ohlendorf’s pitches each went up a grade since his move to the bullpen. These three reasonings are petty and radical, in my view.
Brackman at #10 is fine (we had him at #11).
However, I have one big problem with the list. There is no Dellin Betances to be found in the Top 10. Granted, while his #3 ranking last year could have been a hype machine result, it was widely known that many of Betances’s mechanical issues (as well as his stuff) was greatly improved after his drafting and being sent to Extended Spring Training. However, in the chat, Manuel states that after talking to people in the know, and watching him pitch, that there are still some concerns about mechanics and his rawness. But isn’t he a better prospect than the #7-10 players???
BA also presents the best tools list:
Best Hitter for Average Jose Tabata
Best Power Hitter Jesus Montero
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Brett Gardner
Fastest Baserunner Brett Gardner
Best Athlete Austin Jackson
Best Fastball Joba Chamberlain
Best Curveball Joba Chamberlain
Best Slider Joba Chamberlain
Best Changeup Edwar Ramirez
Best Control Ian Kennedy
Best Defensive Catcher Francisco Cervelli
Best Defensive Infielder Alberto Gonzalez
Best Infield Arm Marcos Vechionacci
Best Defensive Outfielder Austin Jackson
Best Outfield Arm Seth Fortenberry
I think this is a pretty good list. It differs drastically from the 2007 tools list. As can be seen (and expected), Joba dominates the pitching ranks. Austin Jackson’s improvement is also greatly improved.
The tools list makes up for the faltering of the rankings, making this a solid job by BA. I can’t wait until the book comes out to see what BA has to say on the Top 30 prospects (and who they are, of course).
Mailbag #1 January 12, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Brett Gardner, Johnny Damon, Mailbag, Melky Cabrera, Yankees: Looking to the Future.
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Presenting…our first ever mailbag! We had two-emails this week:
If Melky is traded as part of a Santana deal, who plays CF for the Yanks this year? Does Damon move back, or do they pickup a stopgap until Austin Jackson is ready?–Eric
Great question. I don’t think Damon moves back, because Damon is on the decline in every aspect of his game, most notably range and speed. Mike Cameron would have been a great stopgap, but he has already signed with the Brewers. That leaves us with Brett Gardner. Gardner is a speedy, slap-hitting outfielder with an outstanding glove. He has good plate discipline, and an arm between Damon’s and Melky’s. He is just about major-league ready, and is a low-ceiling pick, such that he can easily transition to the fourth-outfielder slot that would be vacant. All that said, I don’t think Melky gets traded, unless it involves a, say, Damaso Marte deal.
Here’s a question: How will YankeeLand feel at the end of the year when the Red Sox repeat? And a follow-up question:
How do the Yankees feel about finishing in second place and below the next several years?….or at least until ARod leaves? Just wondering from a Boston Fan’s curiosity. Thanks in advance!
Very funny. Ask me again at the end of the season, when the Tigers knock you out.
Thanks for all of the questions, and continue e-mailing email@example.com for another mailbag next week!
Top 30 Prospects: #25 Brett Gardner October 31, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Brett Gardner, Top 30 Prospects.
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Drafted: 2005, 3rd round out of College of Charleston
Weight: 180 lbs
Tools: Garnder has three tools: 80 speed (Carl Crawford speed), great contact, and a good glove and instincts in the outfield. He also has great plate discipline. However, he really lacks power. His contact is the weak, slap-hitter type that limits XBH and thus his ceiling. His arm is good, but not overly impressive.
Performance: He could start for the Yankees next season if only he could hit like 10 homers. He hasn’t hit 10 in 3 seasons in the minors, and went all through 2006 without one. He finally hit a homerun this year, and that was it (he hit 5 homers in Staten Island after being drafted). To be fair, he hit .300 this year at AA w/ a .392 OBP, but fell off a bit at AAA with a .260 AVG and .343 OBP. His XBH numbers deceive, as they are mostly a result of his speed, not power. As of this writing, in the AzFL, he is hitting .371 with no homers an 8 RBIs, with a .430 OBP and a .400 SLG, and if he maintains a pace somewhat close to this he may get a shot at New York next year.
Outlook: Gardner could start out like Melky Cabrera did two seasons ago (2006) when he makes the bigs, trying to make contact, steal bases, and impress on defense. The stats would come later. Everyone projected Melky to be a 4th outfielder, but isn’t he starting? Overall, Garnder could be as good, but in different ways. Garnder could conceivably have as high an average, but has more speed, better plate discipline, better outfield instincts, but less of an arm and power. If Melky needs to be included in a potential Miguel Cabrera deal, I wouldn’t fret much because Gardner or Johnny Damon could start. It takes a real understanding of the game to appreciate Gardner’s tools, and I think he could bottom out to be a 4th OF, or improve to be a capable starter and hold the role down for Austin Jackson.
Ceiling: B-/B, Health: A, Comparison: Juan Pierre
Hawaiia and Arizona Winter Leagues October 23, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Anthony Claggett, Austin Jackson, Brad Suttle, Brett Gardner, George Kontos, Juan Miranda, Reggie Corona.
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Peoria Javelinas (Arizona)
Brett Gardner .349 AVG 0 HR 2 RBI .400 OBP.395 SLG–still hasn’t shown power…
Juan Miranda .286 AVG 2 HR 8 RBI .375 OBP .486 SLG–could he start in New York next year?
Reegie Corona .208 AVG 1 HR 5 RBI .296 OBP .417 SLG–his struggles have lowered his stock
Honolulu Sharks (Hawaii)
Austin Jackson .246 AVG 1 HR 13 RBI .373 OBP .426 SLG–has been red hot since very slow start
Brad Suttle .116 AVG 0 HR 1 RBI .240 OBP .186 SLG–bad decision to send him here to face top-flight competition
George Kontos 2-2 4 G 4 GS 15 IP 11 H 22 K 7 BB 3.00 ERA–has taken opportunity of chance to shine
Anthony Claggett–1-1 7 G 0 GS 11 IP 13 H 9 K 5 BB 4.09 ERA–numbers overshadow struggles
Progress–some guys have gone up (Miranda, Jackson, Kontos) some have gone down (Suttle, Corona, Claggett) and one has stayed the same (Gardner). C+, as the guys who have progressed are more relevant to the overall scheme of things.
Yankees Eliminated, Torre’s Future in Doubt October 14, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Chien-Ming Wang, Eric Duncan, Humberto Sanchez, Ian Kennedy, J. Brent Cox, Joba Chamberlain, Joe Torre, Johan Santana, Jose Tabata, Postseason, Ross Ohlendorf.
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Due to the lack of updating, again, I haven’t mentioned a key event–the Yankees were eliminated. Now, this team had a couple of questions with them–Chien-Ming Wang (after the first game and based on his only other performance against Cleveland), the potential need to overuse Joba with a badly-timed slump by the Viz and the constant ineffectiveness of Farnsworth, and the revitalization of the offense after facing two Cy Young candidates. I felt that if the Yankees would have found a way to win this series, they were going all the way. Of course, they didn’t, and they are now stuck looking forward to Spring Training.
This loss doesn’t hurt as much as others, a point on which I agree on with the folks at the Bronx Block. Yes, what could have been is intriguing, but in a way, I was looking forward to see the likes of Marcos V. (can’t spell his last name), Eric Duncan, Juan Miranda, Ross Ohlendorf, and Alan Horne get their appropriate roles assigned, as well as seing Humberto Sanchez and J. Brent Cox come back from elbow surgery and win bullpen spots. There’s also David Robertson seemingly coming out of nowhere. Then there’s Jose Tabata, AJax, and Brett Gardner getting to big league camp and going off to their appropriate levels (that is, Tabata-AA, AJax–AA, Gardner–AAA/MLB). And, most obviously, I look forward to Mike Mussina being gone, Chien-Ming Wang packaged with Jeff Marquez or someone else for Johan Santan (just dreaming…), and Phil Hughes, Joba, and IPK winning rotation spots. Yankee fans, whether this loss is disheartening or not, there is a very bright future ahead of us.
Joe Torre’s future is also in doubt. If he leaves, I am ambivalent, because as nice a guy he is with great people skills, he’s 67 and won’t manage forever. That said, I am not thrilled with the Phil Garners or, until yesterday, Dusty Bakers of the world. Tony LaRussa, as a scout told the Daily News the other day, is not a long-term solution with horrible people skills. Don Mattingly probably needs another year or two as bench coach to be ready to manage, and Joe Girardi’s problems with Florida ownership scare me. The best bet is Torre for two years.
Lack of Updates, Other Tidbits October 14, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Yankees: Looking to the Future.
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I thoroughly apologize for the lack of updates over the last week, as I have been extremely busy with my obligations. Again, apologies.
Moreover, I realized that I should wait until after the AFL, Hawaiian, and Latin American winter leagues are over to effectively rank prospects, because stock can go up or down.
For example, had I ranked prospects on Monday, Austin Jackson may have been a spot or two lower than now. Same with Brett Gardner, and others.
Back to blogging!
Top Yankees’ Hitting Prospects July 26, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Brett Gardner, Eduardo Nunez, Eric Duncan, Jesus Montero, Jose Tabata, Juan Miranda, Justin Snyder, Mitch Hilligoss, Tim Battle.
I am just listing the Yankees’ hitting prospects, without scouting reports. (Name, position, level)
1. Jose Tabata, OF, A+
2. Jesus Montero, C, GCL
3. Juan Miranda, 1B, AA
4. Mitch Hilligoss, 3B, A
5. Eduardo Nunez, SS, A
6. Brett Gardner, CF, AAA
7. Justin Snyder, 2B, Short-season A
8.. Gerardo Rodriguez, C/1B, RK
9. Tim Battle, OF, A+
10. Josue Calzado, RF, A
11. Marcos Vechionnaci, SS/3B, A+
12. Francisco Cervelli, C, A+
13. Eric Duncan, 1B, AAA
14. Bronson Sardhina, OF, AAA