Saturday, June 20, 2009


Current Yankee leader in batting average:

Andy Pettitte - .333

Current Yankee leader in earned run average:

Nick Swisher - 0.00

Make of that what you will.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Draft and Game Liveblog 6/9/09

We're just a couple minutes out from the start of the draft, and while John Manuel seems to be pretty certain as to how the first ten picks will go, it's anyone's guess as to who will fall to the Yankees. Some of the names being floated around the interwebs are Slade Heathcott, Brett Jackson, Matt Purke, Tanner Scheppers and Matt Hobgood.

It's also worth noting that the Yankees' two picks, since they're compensation for unsigned picks from last year, are unprotected. That means that if the Yankees can't sign their picks for whatever reason, they won't get any kind of compensation. Without that safety net, I think the team might be a little more conservative than usual.

Update 6:08PM: Washington's on the clock, and they seem like they're going to take the full fifteen minutes to make their pick. This is pretty annoying as everyone has known for months that they're picking Stephen Strasburg, arguably the best pitcher in NCAA history.

Update 6:16PM: It's looking like I might have to rename this point, as the tarp's out on the field in Fenway.

Update 6:26PM: Well, the exceptionally annoying weather guy on YES is saying that they'll be able to get the game in. Hopefully he's right. Meanwhile, the draft has proven to be entirely predictable through the first three picks.

Update 6:31PM: Why, exactly, do the teams bother sending representatives like Bill Mazeroski if Bud Selig's going to announce all the pick himself?

Update 6:40PM: Still no surprises in the draft, as John Manuel is 6 for 6. Meanwhile, I'm flipping back to the Yankee pregame show where Kim Jones is telling us that the tarp is off the field.

Update 6:44PM: The Mike Minor cheering squad is one of the more enjoyable parts of the draft so far, and makes me think that they should let more people come to this thing.

Update 6:51PM: The first surprise of the night comes from Cincinnati (or as Selig says, "Cincinnatuh"), when they pick Mike Leake, whose upside makes him look like a mid to late first round pick, but I guess the Reds are placing value in his high polish and low risk.

Update 7:04PM: Game time!

Update 7:12PM: The rain looks pretty ugly in Boston, but it doesn't look to bother Josh Beckett, as his curve is looking especially nasty.

Update 7:17PM: I think MY9's radar gun might be just a little bit off, as they just clocked Beckett's first pitch curveball to A-Rod at 96MPH.

Update 7:23PM: We're halfway to the Yankees' first pick and there's still some great talent on the board. Though I initially wanted to see the team get a position player, I'm particularly excited by the chance that they could get pitchers Tanner Scheppers or Kyle Gibson.

Update 7:30PM: Despite the walk to Youklis, Burnett seems to have unusually good command of his fastball tonight.

Update 7:36PM: The Yankees haven't been able to do any damage, but at least they're making Beckett work, as Cano and Posada grind out 8 and 6 pitch at-bats respectively.

Update 7:44PM: David Ortiz finally manages to pass pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Zambrano on the home run leaderboard thanks to a fastball that Burnett served right down the middle of the plate.

Update 7:49PM: I'm not sure what's more embarrassing, fans chanting for Ortiz to make a curtain call, or Ortiz actually obliging them.

Update 7:52PM: The rain claims its first victim of the night, as A-Rod misses a double play opportunity trying to get a grip on the ball. Meanwhile, Burnett seems to have lost the strike zone and the Yankees could be in trouble.

Update 7:55PM: I'm desperately hoping the camera will show someone warming in the bullpen. Like now.

Update 7:56PM: Meanwhile the Twins just drafted Kyle Gibson, adding to my disappointment.

Update 8:03PM: Five picks away from the Yankees at number 29 and Tanner Scheppers is still on the board, as is local product Mike Trout. Both would make for excellent picks.

Update 8:09PM: Time Warner Cable just picked the absolute worst time for a test of the emergency broadcasting system.

Update 8:11PM: Ok, I take that back, as the test finishes before the game comes back from commercial. Actually, I probably wouldn't have minded missing that leadoff walk, as Burnett continues to only have a vague idea of where the ball is going.

Update 8:16PM: Wow. That was a pretty embarrassing attempt to steal by Mike Lowell. I don't know what he was thinking, but I'm glad he was.

Update 8:22PM: The Yankees are on the clock in the draft, and while I'm really disappointed that Gibson and Trout have been taken, I'm glad to see that Scheppers is still available.

Update 8:24PM: Other good possibilities for the Yankees include outfielders Everett Williams and Tim Wheeler, but right now AJ Burnett is making me wish for a pitcher that can actually throw strikes.

Update 8:31PM: It's Slade Heathcott, a high school outfielder from Texarkana, TX. He's apparently a tremendous athlete who really impressed scouts in a workout last week. I can't say I'm a fan of this pick, as he's already had surgery on his knee and shoulder problems, but I guess you've got to trust the scouts who have seen him in person.

Update 8:34PM: Meanwhile, back in Fenway, I'm elated to see Brett Tomko start things off by throwing a strike, but Beckett's looking increasingly dominant as the game wears on.

Update 8:48PM: Brett Tomko is quickly using up any goodwill I had for him.

Update 8:53PM: That was a pretty painful half inning, as Tomko looked to have the same problems Burnett did.

Update 9:04PM: The more I look at it, the more I think that umpire Mike Everitt is calling a very tight strike zone. To his credit, he's being fair, as he's doing it to Boston as much as he is to the Yanks, but it's something that plays to Beckett's strengths far more than Burnett or Tomko.

Update 9:13PM: Meanwhile, if you want to watch the rest of the draft, you can do so here. Be warned, however. Even though Bud Selig has ceded the duty of announcing the picks, he hasn't been replaced by the hall of fame lineup of team representatives. Instead, Executive Vice President Jimmie Lee Solomon is making the announcements while Al Kaline and Craig Biggio sit and watch.

Update 9:21PM: I really don't want to see the Yankees be the team that gets David Ortiz over the Mendoza line.

Update 9:22PM: Jose Veras manages to pitch the first inning where the Yankees don't give up a walk! Granted, he did hit Jason Bay with a pitch, but I'll take whatever minor miracles I can get.

Update 9:29PM: I guess some team representatives are announcing picks, as Ben McDonald announces the Orioles' second-round pick. That still doesn't explain why MLB decided to subject the TV audience to Bud Selig.

Update 9:32PM: "Hey everyone, I'm Tommy Lasorda!"

Update 9:45PM: Nick Green homers, and I don't even care at this point. I don't think Girardi cares either, as he looks content to let Veras get pounded so the rest of the bullpen is ready for tomorrow.

Update 9:49PM: We're ten picks away from the Yankees' next turn in the draft.'s draft tracker seems to have frozen at number 42, so I've got no idea who's still available, but it's far more entertaining to watch now that the team representatives are taking the stage.

Update 9:56PM: Johnny Damon has been one of the most reliable Yankees this season, and he kills the first Yankee in scoring by hitting into a double play. It's just that kind of night.

Update 10:00PM: The Yankees' final pick of the night is announced by Constantino Martinez, and it's John Murphy, a high school catcher out of Bradenton. A very solid pick, I think, as he's a guy with both a good bat and the defensive ability to stay at catcher. It's maybe a little odd since the Yankees have quite a few good catching prospects already, but that's a position where you can't have too much depth.

Update 10:04PM: That triple is not going to look good on David Robertson's stat line, but it was definitely a fluke caused by the Green Monster. In another park, Gardner is probably able to catch that ball, and would at least be able to hold it to a double. It's too bad, because it was otherwise a great outing by Robertson.

Update 10:16PM: And that'll do it for the Yankees, whose only positive tonight has to be David Robertson's strong inning. Otherwise, it's a night to forget about and time to concentrate on tomorrow's game.

Draft Preview

We're only a few hours away from the start of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, which is getting special attention this year because MLB Network has turned it into a primetime event. For Yankee fans, however, it shouldn't be terribly exciting. Thanks to their free agent signings, the team lost their first, second and third round picks. This leaves the team with just two picks tonight, one at the end of the first round and one at the end of the second, which they received as compensation for failing to sign two of their picks last year. Recent history has shown us that the Yankees will use their financial strength to take players that other teams will pass on because they might be difficult to sign, or because their health makes them a costly gamble. It's a strategy which has produced some great results, like Joba Chamberlain and Austin Jackson, and some epic busts, like Carl Henry and Gerrit Cole.

With the Yankees set to open a series in Boston at 7, I plan on watching the first hour of the draft on TV and then keeping an eye on it with my laptop during the game. I'll update here when the Yankees get their chance to pick.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pure Genius

It's a good thing that I'm not a betting man, because if I were I'd have probably put money on Brett Gardner's first major league home run being an inside-the-parker. Last night, however, Gardner managed to get one over the fence with room to spare and since there's no wind in the Skydome, he did it all on his own. That feat, however, wasn't the highlight of the game. Nor were any of the Yankees' three triples, Mark Teixeira's multi-hit game or Ramiro Pena making a heck of a catch to rob Kevin Millar of a hit.

No, the highlight of the game came from the two comedic geniuses who got seats behind home plate and decided to do their best umpire impressions in full uniform. Classic.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Final Verdict

Last night, Joba Chamberlain convinced me that he needs to go to the bullpen. Specifically, he needs to go to the bullpen before every start and throw twenty more warm-up pitches than he threw last night.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

An Encouraging Loss

Tonight's loss was certainly a tough one. Losing the first game against the Red Sox in the new stadium would be, even if the team hadn't come so agonizingly close to winning in the bottom of the ninth. However, there were three bright spots in the game that make me optimistic about the future of this team.

First, there was Philip Hughes. Four runs in four innings is obviously not a good performance, but the fact that he only gave up one run in each inning is testament to Hughes' maturing as a pitcher. On a night when he didn't have his best stuff, when he was being squeezed by the home plate umpire, when he allowed 11 baserunners in four innings, the fact that he didn't allow the Red Sox to have a really big inning and run away with the game is pretty impressive.

Then, there was Mark Teixeira. After weeks of being just underneath balls, Teixeira finally managed to turn a couple of those fly balls into home runs. Lately, it's seemed like he was on the cusp of getting out of this slump, and tonight might just be the turning point.

Finally, there's Alfredo Aceves. While the two-run home run he gave up to Jason Bay ended up being the difference in the game, Aceves looked very good providing more than four innings of relief. His stuff was pretty good, especially his cut fastball, and the way he used it was fantastic. I think the Yankees may have found their new Ramiro Mendoza.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

On A-Rod

I generally don't care terribly much about the off-field craziness that surrounds Alex Rodriguez, which is why I don't write about it very often. I wanted, however, to share a few thoughts and links regarding the whirlwind unleashed by the New York Daily News when they shared details from a leaked copy of Selena Roberts' forthcoming book.

First, it seems pretty apparent that the book is long on innuendo and short on verifiable facts. Assuming the Daily News' is representing the book fairly (an assumption that Ms. Roberts has confirmed), the allegations of current steroid use come from observations made by anonymous Yankee staff and players of how Rodriguez's body changed in 2005. Setting aside the question of how much credence should be given to the diagnostic talents of anonymous individuals without any medical training, these changes, as Paul Kix quite rightly notes over at ESPN, could just as easily be the result of withdrawal from steroids.

More problematic, perhaps, is the accusation that, while with the Rangers, Rodriguez would tip pitches in blowouts to friends on the opposing team so they could pad their stats, and that they would do the same for him. As YES Network's Steven Goldman notes these kind of shenanigans happened quite often in baseball's earlier eras, though it's unclear how they're viewed inside baseball today. Further compounding the confusion is the fact that, as a shortstop, Rodriguez could very well have been tipping pitches to his teammates, letting the rest of the infield know what might be coming. Without knowing more about Roberts' sources on the matter, it's hard to tell what to believe. It does strike me as a little odd, that no mention is made of who Rodriguez was allegedly exchanging tipped pitches with.

Ultimately, though, I think everything Roberts writes has to be taken with a grain of salt. Over at NBC Sports, Craig Calcaterra points out that Roberts' past reporting on Rodriguez has shown a penchant for trying to twist facts into the kind of sensationalist narrative that sells books, and her reporting on the infamous Duke Lacrosse case was even worse.

I'm not trying to defend anything Rodriguez did, nor am I trying to tell you which of these many allegations are true. All I am saying is that I don't find anything in these reports helpful in determining the truth, and I don't think they should change anyone's feelings on the man. If you loved him before, you should continue to do so, and if you hated him, you should do the same. As for me, I'll continue to be ambivalent towards him as a person while cheering him as a Yankee.

Where's the Heat?

On the surface, last night probably seemed much like the night before, as one of the Yankees young starters dominated the Tigers while their hitters backed them up with a bunch of runs scored in one big inning. For most, it seems like the only things to worry about were the troubles of the Yankee bullpen, particularly in the case of Mariano Rivera, who gave up a big home run for the second straight time. I, however, find myself more worried by Joba Chamberlain.

To be sure, this was a great start for Joba. He dominated the Tigers all night, only running into serious trouble in the third inning. Looking past the results, however, I see the same velocity problem that I've seen all season. Last night, Chamberlain's fastball was sitting in the 92-94mph range, breaking 95mph only a couple of times all night. While that certainly was enough to put the Tigers away, it's still a significant change from last season, where he would average 94-96mph and occasionally reach back and unleash that 99mph heater we all love.

So what's behind this velocity drop? My best guess is that Chamberlain is still building up arm strength. The numbers I referenced before were what he did as a starter, but by the time he made his first start last season he had already spent two months throwing in the bullpen. It's entirely possible that when June comes around this season we'll see his velocity return.

If not, however, that doesn't mean we should be calling for his return to the bullpen. As he showed last night, Joba can be a dominant starter without a triple-digit fastball, and as long as that's the case his place is in the Yankees rotation.

As for Mariano, as I've said before, it'll take a few more rough outings to get me to start worrying about him.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

No Worries

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like the same thing happens every year. First, Mo gets rocked by the Red Sox in April and people start to wonder whether age has finally caught up to the greatest closer of all time. Then Rivera spends the rest of the season being his usual dominating self and all is right with the world. I, for one, resolve not to get caught up in it this year,

Update 1:14AM: Turns out it's actually every other year, as this has happened in 2007, 2005 and 2002. Still not worried.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The First Trip

For seven innings yesterday it seemed like I had chosen a terrible day to make my first trip to Yankee Stadium. The day was wet and cold, with rain coming in and out all day, and the Yankees were sloppy. C.C. Sabathia struggled to find his control, and wasn't helped very much by his teammates. While they were only charged with one official error, when Johnny Damon dropped a routine fly ball in the 3rd inning, but there were several more ugly plays that probably should have been counted as errors. Most notable, I think, was Derek Jeter throwing the ball home to no one in particular in the 6th and allowing Mark Ellis to take an extra base.

Then came the 7th inning. Joe Girardi, as is his habit, stuck with his starter for just a bit too long, and it seemed like we were about to face the injury of a Yankee loss to go with the insult of the weather. However, the rain finally stopped, and the bullpen which has been so volatile this year came in and locked the game down. With the score now tied, it was like a whole new game, and the next seven innings were as tight as the first seven had been sloppy.

The obvious hero of the game was Melky Cabrera who followed up a monster home run in the second inning with a game-winning two run shot in the fourteenth. However, as good as those two homers were, Melky epitomized the bipolar nature of this game. In his other five trips to the plate, he managed to strike out three times, and looked completely helpless each time. It's hard to know what to make of him at this point, but for now I'll take it.

Anyway, I think I'm going to hold off on giving my thoughts on the stadium itself. With all of the rain, it was hard to get an idea of what a typical trip to the ballpark might be like. I'm planning on going back next week when the Angels come to town, so I'll try to put something together then.