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.
Wang Regains His Form, Melky Proves Us Wrong…For One Day June 11, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Chien-Ming Wang, Game Recaps, Melky Cabrera.
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I’ll briefly go over last night’s game: Chien-Ming Wang made the recommended adjustments to his mechanics, and pitched beautifully with this line: 7.1IP, 7H, 1ER, 2BB, 2K, 15-5 GB-FB. The last number is beautiful and quite telling of the clinic he went on yesterday. Jose Veras relieved him in the eighth and finished loading the bases before wriggling out of it, and Mo pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
On the offensive, A-Rod and Jason Giambi had RBI singles of Dana Eveland in the first inning, and Melky Cabrera homered off Keith Foulke. It’s a testament to how far Foulke has declined, but we hope it’s Melky finding something between his April and May selves, as he hasn’t homered in over a month but has hit .296/.321/.407. I still want to see what Brett Gardner can do…
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 .
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Prior to this year, we thought that what we would get from Chien-Ming Wang and Melky Cabrera was all we were going to get throughout the primes of their careers. We knew Wang and his turbo sinker were going to get groundball outs against every team except the Red Sox and Blue Jays and that Melky would be a fringe starter with a rocket arm in CF. Or so we thought.
This year, Wang has matured as a pitcher, throwing more sliders and changeups, and even more of his mid-90′s 4-seamer while still using that sinker often. He’s getting better results–45IP, 38H, 13BB, but, more notably, 32Ks, or 6.4Ks/9. Previously that rate was below 3, and he was getting extreme amounts of groundballs, which, do to where they may land and the quality of a defense, aren’t dependable. Strikeouts are infinitely more dependable and can get a pitcher out of a tight spot really easily. While previously posting G/F rates of 2.96, 3.06, and 2.68 in his career, now he’s posting a more normal rate of 1.92. Now he has more ace potential, rather than just a really good #2.
Melky Cabrera’s development is even more shocking. He’s slugged .391 in back-to-back seasons, hitting 7 and 8 HRs in those seasons. He walked a combined 99 times and hit 1.48 and and 1.81 groundballs to flyballs. Everything has changed. Now he has 6HRs (the most notable change), is seeing a hair under 4 pitches per PA, and is hitting more balls in the air–1.08 G/F. What has led to this? Despite his height, he has bulked up to an even 200lbs, so some of those line drives become homers. But he is also swinging a bit harder and has better timing to make powerful contact, and he isn’t just swing as much with his arms. I am just now starting to see the Carlos Beltran comparisons, and while I don’t think he’ll ever hit 41 HRs, I could definitely see something like his age 24 season, with a bit less strikeouts and bit less steals. But this kid will be good, and there will be soon be a Major League OF glut.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for another mailbag next week!
Yankees Pull Cano Out of Winter Ball December 29, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Winter League Baseball.
Per Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes, the Yankees have pulled Robinson Cano out of Winter League Baseball in the Dominican Republic. The Yankees didn’t give Cano a reason, but Cano reportedly told his teammates that it was a precautionary move to avoid aggravating an old ankle injury.
Since the Yankees are interested in Johan Santana, and trade chip Melky Cabrera has also been pulled out of Winter Ball, then one can speculate whether this is for trade purposes. But Cano is a rising star and the offensive future of the Yankees, so there is no doubt as to why the Yankees wouldn’t want to aggravate this injury.
Winter Meetings Recap: Yankees Abandon Santana, Haren Talks December 7, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Hideki Matsui, Johan Santana, Jose Molina, Jose Tabata, Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes, Rule 5 Draft, Tyler Clippard, Winter Meetings 07.
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The Yankees’ self-imposed deadline came and went late Monday night, when the world woke up Tuesday morning, there was no Johan in pinstripes. Why? Well, according to the New York Daily News, the Twins backed off the Ian Kennedy demand late Monday night, and would have accepted a Phil Hughes-Melky Cabrera-Jeff Marquez-Mitch Hilligoss package, but Brian Cashman pulled the offer back. Per the News, Cashman convinced Hank Steinbrenner and the Yankees’ FO that, despite not wanting to deal Hughes in the first place, it was fiscally irresponsible to have two $25 million players, and the Yankees were simply not going to limit their fiscal flexibility and inflate their payroll while paying $40+ million in luxury taxes.
Good job, Brian. Santana is coming off a career-worst year of his recent years of dominance (that is, 2000 and 2001 notwithstanding). He gave up 33HRs, his walk rate rose, as did his wild pitches, and he also struggled against the AL East. Moreover, he has a great slider that he was hesitant to throw. This for a $25 million dollar pricetag and giving up the future ace, Phil Hughes, and Melky Cabrera, whom some compare to a Bernie Williams-lite. Though Cabrera is expendable, with Jose Tabata, Austin Jackson, and Brett Gardner almost at the bigs, and the current glute of outfielders, he still has value for 2008. Hughes, on the other hand, is not expendable. He is young gives the Yankees the ace of the future. His stuff is great, and he has great control, and is roughly seven years Santana’s junior. This was the right choice.
MATSUI BEING SHOPPED?Per Peter Abraham, the Yankees and Giants were in preliminary negotiations regarding a trade of Hideki Matsui. The Yankees, per Kevin Davidoff on the Nov. 8th edition of Newsday, prefer to trade Matsui over Johnny Damon for understandable reasons. Matsui has previously said that he would wave his no-trade clause, though it may be a little embarrassing for him to leave New York as a slight disappointment. Abraham sees the Yankees getting Noah Lowry in return, but I am not impressed with his 87:87 K-BB ratio in 156 IP. I would rather have Jon Sanchez, but I would definitely be impressed if we acquire Tim Lincecum or Henry Sosa. If getting Lincecum involves surrendering, say Tabata/Alan Horne, I would do it and run away, laughing.
MOLINA RE-SIGNED, PHILLIPS DFA’D, ELECTS FREE AGENCYAgain per PeteAbe, Jose Molina’s 2yr/$4M deal was announced on Tuesday, and to make room on the 40-man, Andy Phillips was DFA’d. Not a bad decision–first base is a clogged-up position, and Phillips hasn’t shown the power that he did in the minors. He was replacement-level, batting .292, with 2 HRs and 25 RBIs. He cleared wavers, but after getting DFA’d twice in the same season, he opted to become a free agent instead of accepting an outright to AAA Scranton/W-B.
CLIPPARD DEALT In a deal announced Wednesday, Tyler Clippard was dealt to the Washington Nationals for 25-year-old right-handed reliever Johnathan Albaladejo. Albadejo went 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 14 games and 14 1/3 innings with the Nats this past season in the majors. He has only recently found success since being converted to the bullpen. Clippard struggled in New York, both in the minors and majors, going 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA in 27 IP and 6 games and starts. This is a good trade for both sides, as we can see Nats GM likes to add pieces at their lowest value who have high ceilings (though Clippard isn’t high ceiling). The Nats should be contenders in 2009, with Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge, Jesus Flores, Chris Marrero, and Ross Detweiler potentially established by then. For the Yankees, this gives another bullpen option who can actually throw strikes. Nice job.
GARDNER LOST IN RULE 5Mike Gardner, a 26-year-old swingman in AA Trenton, was picked by the San Diego Padres with the 18th pick of the Rule 5 draft. Gardner posted a 2.88 GO/AO ratio, and could help the Padres in the bullpen. The Yankees could not select anyone in the MLB portion, as they had a full 40-man, but they selected 27-year-old Bo Hall, a righty reliever from the Milwaukee Brewers, in the AAA portion. In his first season above HiA, he went 5-2 with a 3.46 ERA and struck out 56 in 54.1 IP, while allowing 41 H but 36 BB.
DAN HAREN TRADE TALKS WITH YANKEES DEADHank Steinbrenner publicly griped about the price for Dan Haren. A’s GM Billy Beane asked for Phil Hughes and Alan Horne, as Melky Cabrera had no value to him. The Yankees continued on shopping.
HAWKINS INTERESTS YANKEESPer the Daily News, the Yankees are interested in RH-reliever LaTroy Hawkins for a 1yr-3.25M contract. Bad idea. Hawkins has been bad since his 2003 season with the Cubs, but somehow makes clubs believe he’s good and worth trading for. His K rate is low and declining, but still induces ground balls. He isn’t effective and often chokes in the clutch. Why waste money when there are better internal options?
MARTE, GRABOW INTEREST YANKEESLefties Damaso Marte and John Grabow of the Pittsburgh Pirates interest the Yankees. Jose Tabata is the start of talks for those, but the rumor says that the deal could expand to include Ian Snell and/or Jason Bay. That would be a good deal for the Yankees, as they would like have to give up one of Matsui or Damon, one of the Big 3, and then Tabata/Horne in that scenario. They get youth and power production in left, a young and effective starter, as well as a solid lefty specialist.
MAJOR FREE AGENT SIGNINGS AND TRADES OF THE WINTER MEETINGS Below I will list the major signings and trades of the meetings, along with a brief comment next to them.
1. Detroit Tigers acquire 3B Miguel Cabrera and LHP Dontrelle Willis for LHP Andrew Miller, OF Cameron Maybin, C Mike Rabole, and three prospects–This deal empties the Tigers’ farm system, but makes them a powerhouse in the MLB to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees. This leapfrogs them to among the best MLB teams. However Willis or C Ivan Rodriguez will likely have to be flipped to another team due to salary concerns.
2. LA Dodgers Sign CF Andruw Jones to a 2yr/$36.2M contract–Good signing. The Dodgers get Jones for a short-term, re-establishing his value during his peak years as well as not having to commit the big bucks over big years for him.
3. KC Royals Sign OF Jose Guillen to a 3yr/$36M contract–OK deal. Guillen will miss the first 15 games due to an HGH suspension, but he offers a solid, middle-of-the-order power bat with a decent glove and an arm that was once stronger. The Royals will see the beginning of his decline at the latest by the last year of his contract. Considering this, his only average defense, and his bad clubhouse reputation, he is somewhat overpaid. This does show, along with the Gil Meche signing last year, that the Royals are willing to spend to compete.
4. Toronto Blue Jays Agree to 1yr, $3-$4M contract with C Paul LoDuca–LoDuca is a below-average receiver and a below-average bat. Wasted money.
Andy Pettitte Declines Option; Tejada to Yankees? November 11, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Chicago White Sox, Joe Crede, Johan Santana, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Melky Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, Mike Mussina.
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On Wednesday, Andy Pettitte declined his $16M player option for 2008. This was a move purely to allow him time to decide whether to retire or not. With this, we see that the drama last winter was not all posturing and fake, but real deliberation. The Yankees, in short, would be screwed without having Pettitte on their team, as he provides a healthy lefty who always competes, especially in big games. He is a stopper, but no ace. Now, the Yankees would have Ian Kennedy to take his place in the rotation, but that would force Mike Mussina to start (ugh).
On Thursday, a rumor surfaced: Miguel Tejada to the Yankees. I am not enamored with that deal. In Tejada we have a declining, now league average shortstop that would only be average at third at best, who would not excel in a left-handed hitters’ park, and makes $13 M over the next two years. Even if it takes Kyle Farnsworth off our backs, I’d rather get rid of him for something else than Tejada, considering that it would also take Melky Cabrera in that deal. We can see that Cabrera is increasingly available, but I like what he offers and would only trade him in a Miguel Cabrera situation–Yes, I would rather see him in New York if it were for Johan Santana, because I am not enamored with Santana for reasons I will explain in another post.
Crede-for-Damon dead? It looks like Joe Crede for Johnny Damon talk is dying. Good. This would have been a mismatched trade, and the Yankees certainly would have been on the losing end. Besides, the White Sox have to decide what to do with the man–offer him arbitration (in which he would likely make the roughly $4M he did last year if he accepts), non-tender him, or re-sign him long term and move Josh Fields to LF. No matter what they do, the White Sox aren’t going anywhere next year, either.
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Had the midges not attacked, we would be leading this series. But let’s not talk of what might have been.
Had the Yankees lost last night, we would be eliminated and Joe Torre out. Again, though, let’s not talk of what might have been.
Roger Clemens started last night, lasting a mere 2.2 innings while giving up a run in all of them. His hamstring flared up, and there is some likelihood he’ll never pitch again (if he doesn’t, at least he struck out some one to end his career.) Phil Hughes then came in, and after allowing a fly ball double to Jhonny Peralta in the third, he threw a very solid 3.1 innings, striking out 4 and walking none, and allowing only one other hit. If Clemens doesn’t pitch in the ALCS, should the Yankees get that far, count Hughes for Game 3 and Ian Kennedy (remember him?) for Game 4.
However, the momentum changed in the fifth. With the Yankees cutting the Indian lead to 3-2, Johnny Damon steps up to the plate with Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera on base. He homers, and, seemingly out of nowhere, the Yankees have a 5-3 lead. Then, in the next inning, with the bases loaded on a questionable IBB for Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano singles to right, but Trot Nixon lets the ball gets past him and all runners score. With the score then 8-3, the Yankees all but won the game.
Chien-Ming Wang will start tonight, and Andy Pettitte will likely start on Wednesday. However, with Clemens likely out for the rest of the postseason, the Yankees can add another pitcher to take his spot? The four candidates are Ian Kennedy, Chris Britton, Edwar Ramirez, and Ron Villone. It seems, after the first two games, the Yankees needed a long reliever, so that goes for Villone. Joe Torre’s preference for AAAA arms whom he tries to ride out, plus his changeup, states Ramirez’s case. Ian Kennedy gives them another starter, but he has never relieved, shouldn’t relieve with his finesse stuff, and we really don’t need a starter until the ALCS. Britton…well, I have previously written about him. The best bet is for Villone to make it, as he is a lefty, anyway.
George Steinbrenner on multiple topics:
On Joe Torre: “His job is on the line. I think we’re paying him a lot of money. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series.”
On A-Rod: “I think we’ll re-sign him. I think he’s going to have a good run the rest of the (postseason). I think he realizes New York is the place to be, the place to play. A lot of this (postseason) is laying on his shoulders, you know, but I think he’s up to it.”
On his health: “I’m doing all right. I’m fine.” (Courtesy of Peter Abraham)
Yankees Sweep Baltimore, then Lose Heartbreaker in 14 September 22, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Baltimore Orioles, Brian Bruney, Chien-Ming Wang, Edwar Ramirez, Greg Zaun, Hideki Matsui, Jason Frasor, Joe Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes, Roy Halladay.
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The Yankees swept Baltimore between Monday and Wednesday, receiving great pitching from Phil Hughes, Mike Mussina, and Andy Pettitte. The offense clicked in the first two games before Brian Burres shut down the Yankees again despite losing. Hideki Matsui seems to have climbed out of his funk, while Melky Cabrera continues to sink into his. A-Rod set his career-high in RBI’s last night, but before his 2-6 yesterday he was slumping as well.
Yesterday, Chien-Ming Wang gave up 6 H and 2 runs (1 earned) in 7 innings, K’ing 4 and walking 1. Edwar Ramirez relieved him only to give up another home run. However, no offense through the first 8 innings had Roy Halladay, Toronto’s ace, pitching in the 9th inning with a 4-run lead. With an error by Aaron Hill, the Yankees then crept up and tied it in the 9th, before sending it to extras.
The Yankees only managed a hit and a walk against the 5 Toronto pitchers, and while the Yankee pitchers were on a similar pace, Brian Bruney, gave up a homer to Greg Zaun (sad, ain’t it?) and then Joe Kennedy (not, not JFK’s daddy) and Jason Frasor shut them down. Horrible loss