Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yankees Top Prospect - Humbert Sanchez

From Scout.com -

Vital Statistics:
Name: Humberto Sanchez
Position: Pitcher
DOB: May 28, 1983
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Posting a career 30-31 record with a 4.16 ERA and 446 strikeouts in 454 innings, including going 10-6 with a 2.63 ERA between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo in
his last year for the Detroit Tigers in 2006, he had not pitched an inning for the Yankees last Spring before needing Tommy John surgery.

"It's been mentally draining a little bit but they've been great over here," Sanchez said of the Yankees. "They've been real supportive. They understand the situation and
they really, really show me a lot of support. I have nothing but great things to say about the organization so far."

Currently throwing only four-seam fastballs on flat surfaces from 120 feet to build up his arm strength, he is scheduled to get up on the rehab mound at some point in
February and that is when he should be allowed to start throwing more of his arsenal.
"Right now I should be ready in games somewhere by the end of April, maybe get into some Extended [Spring Training] games by mid-April. At worst I should be staying [in Tampa] until it warms up a little bit up north in Scranton or wherever my assignment is going to be.

"I'm pretty much just a month behind the other pitchers. I should be throwing bullpens right around Spring Training. [The elbow] is feeling strong."
Known for his power fastball and great curveball, Sanchez - a starter his entire minor league career thus far - has a complete repertoire.

"My slider is probably my third best pitch and my changeup is lagging a little bit behind just because I probably didn't use it as much as I should have," said the NewYork native. "I felt pretty confident with it in my last healthy season. It's made a lot of strides. It's pretty much what you see is what you get - I'm a big guy who comes after people."

Possessing a plus fastball and a knockout strikeout pitch with his curveball gives him more than enough to be a big weapon in the back-end of a big league bullpen, and
some scouts believe his ultimate role with the Yankees may depend on the further development of his changeup.

"In my reality I have something I can use against lefties," he admitted. "I like my two-seamer because it has a lot of differential from my four-seamer. Throwing the
changeup for me is more of an off-balance pitch for me, more of a show-me pitch than a go-to pitch.

"I consider it my fifth pitch if you're looking at the four and the two-seamer, and the curveball and the slider. I would love to stay as a starter but my role will be
whatever the Yankees want it to be. As long as I pitch, that's all that I want."
Sanchez is not the only one eager to see himself get back on the mound. With stuff comparable to Joba Chamberlain, he affords the Yankees a lot of flexibility upon his return.

"We're both pretty big guys that have power stuff. Anytime you have that combination that you want to compare it to, yeah I think that's somebody you could compare
me to," said Sanchez. "I consider myself a power pitcher.

"Some people say my curveball is my out-pitch or my go-to pitch, but I love my fastball. I trust it so when it's on I think it's my best pitch."

The Yankees also love his fastball and they are fervently anticipating plugging it into their pitching staff at soon as possible.

"Sanchez is a big strong man with a lot of power in his arm," said Yankees minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras. "He has some arm strength and he's got
some life with his two-seamer.

"I would say the fastball is his best pitch, that's the power that he has. He has shown a quality curveball, has shown a very good slider, and his changeup is his fourth pitch right now."

Having some success at the higher minor league levels already and with some Triple-A experience under his belt, everybody believes he could have an impact with the
big league club at some point in 2008.

"I believe so," Sanchez said without hesitation. "That's my goal but they've had some guys step up when I was hurt. I guess it's all going to depend on their needs and my performance.

"I just want to be healthy and not be in the training room again for the whole year. If I do that I think the rest will take care of itself. I'm confident I'll be able to pitch this year and God willing everything will turn out pretty good."


After losing a year to TJS, Humberto will be 25 in May this year. His last year in the Tigers system, TDS posted 10-6, 97 h, 129 k, 47 bb in 122 ip; very impressive.

I see The Dirty Sanchez making a significant contribution to the Yankee pen in 2008. The live fastball, electric slider and change/curve make TDS a prime candidate to become the heir apparent to Mo at the back of the Yankee bullpen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Anatomy of a Non-Deal

So Johan is going to be a Met...

I'm sure, like me, all Yankee fans have mixed feelings about this. My first reaction was relief. Thank god we're keeping Hughes, and thank god Johan's not going to Boston!

After looking at what the Mets gave up, however, I started to get a little upset. The deal looks kinda like this from a Yankee perspective:

Carlos Gomez = Austin Jackson

I am being very generous here. Gomez is a plus defender with great speed, but Ajax' bat is far superior to Gomez at least right now.

Phil Humber = Chase Wright

Over 3 seasons in the minor leagues, Humber is 13-16 with a 4.11 ERA. A losing record and an era over 4 in the minors...Humber is a non-prospect! At least Wright has good minor league numbers.

Kevin Mulvey = Russ Ohlendorf

Mulvey has decent minor league numbers; 12-10, 3.02, but is projected by BA to be nothing more than a #4 or 5 starter at best. Ohlendorf has shown to be a high ceiling bullpen/setup guy.

Delois Guerra = Delan Betances

BA has this to say about Guerra - Guerra has an 89-94 mph fastball and a promising changeup and he’s only 18. But he also has a below-average breaking ball, has yet to pitch more than 90 innings in a season and while he has held his own, he hasn’t dominated.

That package is a LONG way from the names we heard all off-season like Hughes, Ellsbury and Lester.

Bob Klapisch writes today that Smith called the Yanks Monday night and offered Johan for a package of Kennedy/Cabrera and one more prospect. Cash obviously refused, but he also declined to even make a counter offer. When Smith called Theo he learned that Ellsbury and Lester were off the table also.

I heard Buster Olney on ESPN radio today say that both the Yankees and Red Sox were very concerned about the 5 mph Santana lost off of his fastball after his 17k game last year, and also that Santana refused to throw his slider for the final month of the season - both tell-tale signs of an injury.

Either the Yanks or Sox could have trumped the Mets package without breaking a sweat and without giving up anything close to what had been reported for months. I believe it's safe to say that the combination of the injury concerns and the monster contract caused both teams to stay away.

I would have been willing to give up a package of IPK, Ajax, Marquez and Horne which is FAR superior to the Mets package; Johan IS, after all, the best pitcher on the planet. Imagine a rotation of Johan/Pettitte/Wang/Hughes/Joba...wow! I am beginning to fear that Cash is allowing his new player development plan to cause him to overvalue these young players; hopefully it really was the injury concern and not a case of man-love for the young guns!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mets Land Santana, The Johan Watch is Almost Over.

USA Today is reporting that the Mets and Twins have completed a deal that sends Johan Santana to the Mets in return for Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey.

The deal is, of course, dependant upon the Mets coming to a long term deal with the 28 year old Santana.

This is good news for Yankee fans. We will be neither sending The Messiah to Minnesota, nor will we have to hear the incessant Johan rumors any longer.

Judging from what the Twins ultimately got for Johan, it appears as if Bill Smith VASTLY overplayed his hand. I believe that the package the Mets are giving up is far inferior to what both the Yanks and Red Sox were reported to have offered, and to what the Twins could have gotten around the winter meetings.

Rotoworld had this to say:

It's a pretty disappointing day for Twins fans.

Both packages being discussed by the Red Sox and Yankees during the winter meetings seemed more attractive to us.

Carlos Gomez and Deolis Guerra are big-time talents, but Gomez lacks plate discipline and might not fit in the top half of the lineup and an awful lot could go wrong before Guerra even sniffs the majors.

Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber are third starters at best and probably more like fourths.

It's a whole lot better than losing Santana for draft picks next winter, but we'd have taken a Phil Hughes or Jacoby Ellsbury package over this.


Another question is why the Twins wouldn't accept a package centered around IPK and Ajax instead of the Mets package? I'm sure once The Messiah was taken out of the equation that Cash would have been happy to talk about just about any and everybody else in the farm system. The package that we suggested of IPK, Horne, Melky and Tabata is FAR superior to what the Twins got...how did Bill Smith screw this up this bad?!?

On one hand I would have loved to get Johan as long as we kept TM and Joba, but more importantly I am happy TM will be here for years to come. Johan will be an absolute monster in the NL for the next 5-7 years; Phil will be a monster for the Yanks, however, for the next 10-15 years...kudos to Cashman for pushing Hank into this decision, and kudos to Hank for listening.

The Johan Watch Day 100

Buster Olney has an meaningless article today. He stateson ESPN.com today ;
Executives involved in the Johan Santana trade talks expect the Minnesota Twins to make their decision soon, perhaps as early as Tuesday..
Catches your eye huh? Decision could come today! The saga is finally over and we can all move on with our lives! Quickly, lets move on...so how are we going to work through the innings issue with the big three? Is Wang going to get signed to an extension?...Wait a second, not so fast. Later in the article;
The Twins could weigh the offers and decide to keep Santana into spring training, in the hope that a more aggressive market for the left-hander develops.
So the decision to not make a decision could come today? Thanks Buster for the breaking non-news.

Update: Ok, Buster looks better since a decision was made today but can he not hedge by saying they will decide whether to keep kim through Spring Training? If you think you have a story have the guts to say so.

NY Yankees Top Prospect #5, Alan Horne



From BA -

Alan Horne, rhp Born: Jan. 5, 1983. • B-T: R-R. • Ht.: 6-4. • Wt.: 195.
Drafted: Florida, 2005 (11th round). • Signed by: Brian Barber.

Background: Horne was a first-round pick out of Marianna (Fla.) High in 2001, when he was a teammate of Angels catcher Jeff Mathis. He turned down the Indians and embarked on a three-stop college career, pitching for Mississippi, Chipola (Fla.) Junior College (where his dad played) and Florida, which he helped lead to the 2005 College World Series finals. He had Tommy John surgery along the way but has stayed healthy as a pro, leading the EL in ERA (3.11) and strikeouts (165 in 153 innings) in 2007.

Strengths: At times, Horne shows four above-average pitches, starting with a fastball that usually sits at 92-93 mph but also can park at 94-95. He flashes a power slider and curveball, and he throws his changeup with good arm speed.

Weaknesses: Horne's arm action is long, leading to inconsistent release points and below-average command, and it likely contributed to his past elbow injury. The Yankees have shortened his delivery in other ways to compensate, but it's not a correctable flaw and limits Horne's ceiling. He doesn't field his position or hold runners particularly well.

The Future: While he has frontline stuff, Horne's command relegates him to a No. 3 or 4 starter profile. Set to report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for 2008, he gives New York more homegrown pitching depth.


With "front-line" stuff, hopefully Horne can find a consistant release point and realize his full potential.

It is High...It is Far...It is typical Boston behavior!



More Yankees should sign autographs in Boston like Shelly Duncan did (above).

Great post over at It is High, It is Far today. Definately take a look.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Downfall of NOT trading in your Own Division

The Orioles have reportedly unloaded Erik Bedard to the M's for three players; Adam Jones, George Sherrill, and Chris Tillman. Jones and Tillman are rated as B+ prospects by John Sickels. Sherill on the other hand is a lefty setup man on the wrong side of 30. So the Orioles got two very good prospects for Bedard one ready now(Jones) and one who is two plus years away(Tillman). If you compare the deal to the one the Red Sox were offering for Johan; Jacoby Ellsbury (A- by Sickels), Lowrie (A-), and Justin Masterson(B). Also, the Yankee offer Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Marquez, and another propect. These two offers trump the Mariners deal by a whole lot so why limit your possible trading partners and decrease your possible return? The whole you don't want to have to face him argument doesn't really hold a lot of water either. The Orioles are clearly not going to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox for the next two or three years and by that time Bedard will be 32 years old and past his peak. Also, you can make an argument that the team they trade with will be significantly worse off if you come away with good talent. Even if the O's refused to trade with the Yankees why publicly annouce it and eliminate a potential bidder? They have one of the most precious commodities in all of baseball a young left-handed ace who is under control for two more years. The Orioles inability to capitalize on this shows they continue to be a poorly run franchise and it will be a long time before they seriously compete in the East.

The Johan Watch Day 99

So the Johan Saga has now entered it's 99th day of active rumors. Nothing that comes out at this point can can really be trusted but in the intertest of full disclosure the Twins are saying the Johna situation will be resolved within ten days. Buster Olney is reporting that John Lester is off the table and the Mets feel used.

I still believe firmly that Johan will eventually be in pinstripes. The Yankees have a abundance of pitching prospects and two good CF prospects(one of the Twins biggest holes) so a deal should doable. However, when things are drawn out this much I wonder if the pressure mounts on Sanatana kind of how it smothered Randy Johnson and set unreal expectations. People will expect Johan to be worth all of this attention and if he stuggles early it could be ugly.

Go Giants

As a baseball blog we have yet to stray and write about other sports; there is some overlap in the pending Super Bowl, however, so I thought this post was important.

Probably 75% of Yankees fans live in the NY area. That that there are millions of Yankees fans that may not be rooting for the Giants this Sunday.

As Yankees fans we all have at least one person that we know that roots for the Red Sox. We all know someone who we taunted to no end after Aaron Boone and Grady Little put the Sox away in '03. And we all know someone who we have avoided like the plague the last 4 months!

With me it is my best friend from high school. He was a Met fan before moving to New Hampshire 15 years ago and rather quickly contacted a deadly strain of Bandwagon-itis through his proximity to Boston sports teams. He has been absolutely UNBEARABLE since the 'year we shall not discuss.' It has gotten even worse this year.

All he has been able to talk about is how Boston is the 'City of Champions' - you undoutedly know someone like this as well, right?

You see, after almost a century of the worst kind of pain, after 80+ years of heartbreak, after decades upon decades of being dominated by the Yankees, these Red Sox fans feel they owe us something in return.

Which brings us back to Sunday's game.

There's nothing we can do about those damn midges. We can't go back and teach poor Joe how to use a bullpen. There's nothing we can do about the Rockies failure to show up last October. All we can do now is hope and pray the NY's beloved G-Men are able to beat the Pats and at least shut the Boston crowd up until we kick their overhyped butts in '08.

So Yankee fans unite! and repeat after me - GO GIANTS!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cash and Theo

Pending Pinstripes has a must read on a talk by Cash and Theo last night at William Patterson University. Read it here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Yankee System is Loaded with Right-Handed Starters

The article on George Kontos got me thinking about how many right-handed pitching prospects the Yankees have in the organization. Not just players but legit prospects litter every level. The have major league ready talent (Joba, Ian), prospects a step away(Marquez, Horne, Sanchez) and a ton of high upside kids at the lower levels(Heredia, Betances, Brackman, etc.). Below is my ranking of the top Yankee starting pitching prospects. I omitted Steve White due to his age but the list is long and deep on talent.

  • Joba- Number one pitching prospect in baseball
  • Ian Kennedy- People forget HE was minor league pitcher of the year. He dominated in 07.
  • Alan Horne-Eastern League pitcher of the year, four plus pitches.
  • Andrew Brackman - Has more upside then maybe any other pitcher in the draft.
  • Humberto "the Dirty" Sanchez-Was a top prospect before the injury. Could be a real force if healthy.
  • Delin Betances-Raw but a potential number 1 starter.
  • Jeff Marquez-15 Wins in '07. From BA Marquez has the chance to become a workhorse groundball machine who fills the No. 3 or 4 slot in a rotation.
  • George Kontos-We all know he's the Yankees' "Best Kept Secret"
  • Jairo Heredia- Ranked 15th best Prospect in the GCL by Baseball America
  • Zach McAllister-Still developing but my breakout prospect for '07. I love this kid.
  • Chris Garcia - Elbow injury cost him all of '07 but from BA in '06 Yankees officials believe Garcia has almost as much upside as Hughes.
  • Ryan Pope- Hardball times thought he was a steal in the third round

Most of these kids will turn out to be nothing but the sheer number almost guarantees one of two will emerge. I count five players who could develop into Aces - Brackman, Betances, Joba, Heredia and Garcia. Of those five if two develop the Yankees are in very good shape.

Yankees' "Best Kept Secret"

In a BA piece today, George King called 22 year old George Kontos potentially the 'best kept secret' in the Yanks' farm system.

While Kontos' record does not stand-out at 4-6, 4.02, his peripheral numbers were more impressive. In 94 ip in 2007, Kontos allowed 95 hits and 30 walks while striking out 101 (3.36:1 k/bb).

Kontos then went to Hawaii where he was named among the 10 top prospects in all of Hawaiian baseball. He went 3-4, 3.21 and in 34 ip stuck out 40 and walked 10.

"His stuff is really good," Mark Newman said of Kontos, whose fastball ranges from 90-94 mph. "He also has a quality slider and an emerging curveball. A changeup makes him a four-pitch guy. He is a smart guy who works at it and is committed."

Based on his first 2 seasons, the Yankees believe Kontos is at least in the discussion with their other prized young arms such as IPK, Joba and Phil.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Canseco the Extortionist

The NY Times reported today that altar boy Jose Canseco made an ultimatum to Magglio Ordonez through Scott Boris' office- "if he invests in my movie venture, I won't put his name in my new book."

This money-grubbing scumbag has GOT to be stopped.

Unfortunately his new book is going to generate a ton of publicity when it's released around opening day. All I can say is PLEASE don't contribute your money to this man. If no one buys what he is selling hopefully he'll just go away!

A Little Mustard for my Foot?

I have written more than once that I didn't understand the Yankee's decision to hire Dave Eiland as pitching coach. Phil 'The Messiah' Hughes put me in my place on his blog yesterday -

After coming back from my injury last season my mechanics were a little out of whack. This led to a little loss of velocity and command. When Dave arrived in September we were able to work out some things and I think that had a lot to do with the success I had at the end of the season. It was nice to finish off the year on a good note so I have something to work toward to get back to my normal self in 2008.

This will be my 3rd season working with Dave. When it comes to my mechanics and pitching mentality I don’t think there is anyone that knows me better. Everyone is very excited to have him this season.


Sorry, Dave; if Phil is that high on you I was obviously wrong.

Also, Phil returned from injury August 4 - why couldn't Gator fix TM's mechanics sometime in the month before Eiland got to The Stadium? I love Gator, but I've heard many things about his shorcomings as a pitching coach and this is the last nail in that coffin.

Anyway - welcome to the Bigs, Dave; we're glad to have you!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Straight from the Hughes' mouth

On his blog;
After coming back from my injury last season my mechanics were a little out of whack. This led to a little loss of velocity and command. When Dave arrived in September we were able to work out some things and I think that had a lot to do with the success I had at the end of the season. It was nice to finish off the year on a good note so I have something to work toward to get back to my normal self in 2008.

Man I sure hope so, The Messiah lives. Also, he mentions Dave Eiland in glowing terms;

This will be my 3rd season working with Dave. When it comes to my mechanics and pitching mentality I don’t think there is anyone that knows me better. Everyone is very excited to have him this season.

Definitely a vote of confidence for Eiland. He was able to fix in a week what Gator couldn't in a month? Also, check out the names of the questioners;

deltaforce82
chocolateaddict706
metalboy15

Dont know who scares me more deltaforce or metalboy.

Yankees Top Prospects - #4. Ian Kennedy

BA report on IPK -

4. Ian Kennedy, rhp Born: Dec. 19, 1984. • B-T: R-R. • Ht.: 6-0. • Wt.: 190.

Drafted: Southern California, 2006 (1st round). • Signed by: Bill Mele/Jeff Patterson.

Background: A high school teammate of Rockies third-base prospect Ian Stewart, Kennedy went to Southern California while Stewart signed out of high school. They both made their big league debuts in 2007 after Kennedy ranked third in the minors in ERA (1.91) in his pro debut. Though he pitched well in three starts with the Yankees, they left him off their postseason roster because he had a minor back injury.

Strengths: Kennedy has mound presence and moxie to go with above-average major league command, and that helps all his pitches play up. His 88-92 mph fastball, his curveball and his slider all are average pitches. His plus changeup is his best offering, featuring late fade. He repeats his compact delivery.

Weaknesses: With only one above-average pitch, Kennedy has to hit his spots, but he usually does. At times his curve is too slow, dipping to 69-72 mph, and lacks sharpness.

The Future: Compared to Mike Mussina because of his similar stretch delivery, Kennedy has less pure stuff than Mussina once did. Kennedy fits a No. 3 or No. 4 starter profile and should fulfill such a role in 2008


IPK fans don't fret - in 1995 BA listed Chris Carpenter the 100th ranked prospect in all of baseball and anticipated he would be either a #5 starter or a long reliever. Prospects with command, poise and an ability to get guys out typically don't grade very well in these types of lists, but can still be top of the rotation pitchers.

2008 Yankee Lineup

Now that General Joe has taken over for Boring Joe, there is actually a chance that the Yankee lineup could change for 2008. My lineup would be:

1. Damon
When on his game JD is still among the better leadoff hitters in the game. He combines speed and power with an almost guaranteed 100 runs scored per year.

2. Jeter
No doubt the best #2 hitter in baseball. Superior bat-handeling, plus speed and a .388 career OBP make this a no-brainer.

3. Cano
97 RBI and 19 HR last year from the #7 hole; it's time. I look for this to be the year Robbie breaks out from very good, to really great. I can see a 325/25/110 season coming from Cano this year.

4. Arod
Duh

5. Abreau
A 400 OBP and plus base stealing ability allow BobbyA to act as a second line table setter for the bottom of the lineup.

6. Posada
The only problem with Jorge is his penchant for hitting into double plays, but hopefully JG runs Bobby a lot to keep them out.

7. Matsui
The #3 hitter for the bottom of the lineup. If healthy, you can pretty much guarantee 280/25/100 from Hmat

8. Giambi/Duncan
If he can stay healthy (IF, IF, IF) I can see 270/35/100 from Jason in his walk year

9. Melky
It's time for the Melk-man to take a step up. Mark Newman said he thought Melky was gonna win a batting title one day. With Ajax breathing down his neck it's time for Melky to take his production to the next level. I'd like to see 300/15/80 on his way to Bernie-like production.

So essentially my lineup has 2 mini-lineups imbedded; the top 4 and then the bottom 5. The biggest potential problem with my lineup is that Abreau is protecting Arod - another slump like early '07 and Arod won't see a pitch for months!

The biggest change from Torre's lineup is Robbie batting 3rd. I understand and can't really argue against Abreau batting there with his .400+ OBP, but I think it's time for Robbie to step up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Verducci - Pitcher's Value tied to Consistency

Verducci has a great article on SI.com where he analyzes the impact of a team's regular starters ability to make their starts on the team's Won/Lost record. Sounds simple but is something that is constantly lost when evaluating a pitchers ability. If you look at the league leaders from year to year you will notice there are few names consistently up there. We get enamored with WHIP, K/9, GB ratio etc. but often forget how valuable a durable starting pitcher is. One of the biggest risk factors with young pitchers is you have no serious body of work with which to judge their ability to stay healthy. Do you have the next Mark Prior or a horse like Johan? Only time will tell and their health could very well determine whether or not a championship just as much as their ability to miss bats.

Yes, Yanks are the Champs.....at ratings

Ran into this on the biz of baseball;

The YES Network was the most watched regional sports network (RSN) in the nation for the fifth straight year. The New York based RSN that broadcasts the New York Yankees, and the New Jersey Nets beat out the likes of New England Sports Network (NESN), who cover the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins at the professional level.

Details of YES’ coverage, include:
YES averaged 33,000 TV households in total day delivery, 13.8 percent more than No. 2 NESN (Boston), which averaged 29,000 households
YES was most-watched in key demos including Men 18-49, Men 25-54, Persons 18-49 and Persons 25-54
YES' average total day delivery of 33,000 TV households is a 6.5 percent increase over its 2006 average total day delivery of 31,000 TV households
YES' average primetime delivery of 86,000 TV households is a 7.5 percent increase over its 2006 average total day delivery of 80,000 TV households

Compared with other New York RSNs:
YES' total day delivery of 33,000 average TV households was 6.5 percent more than that of the other three New York RSNs (MSG Network, Fox Sports New York and SportsNet New York) combined (31,000 combined TV households)
YES out-delivered the other three New York RSNs combined in Total Total Viewers and Persons 25-54, and matched the other three New York RSNs combined in Men 25-54 and Men 18+
YES' average primetime delivery of 86,000 TV households is comparable to the other three New York RSNs combined (94,000 combined TV households)

Other Details:
Yankees game telecasts on YES averaged 346,000 TV households, the most in the country among RSNs and 19.7 percent more than second-place NESN's Boston Red Sox telecasts (289,000 TV households)
YES' 4.67 average TV household rating for its 2007 Yankees game telecasts was the best cable rating ever for Yankees games, dating back to 1979
The 4.67 rating marked a 9.6 percent year-over-year increase from 2006's 4.28 rating
YES' primetime Yankees telecasts finished No. 1 in the New York DMA in average TV household rating 42 out of 50 days from June 1 through the end of the 2007 season, the network's best performance since its 2002 launch
YES' Yankees Batting Practice Today TV household ratings grew by 33 percent from its inaugural 2006 season, and the Yankees pregame show ratings jumped 16.7% and the Yankees postgame show ratings increased by 6.7 percent from 2006
The network's primetime games for the 2007 season averaged a 5.3 TV household rating, or 388,000 TV households, its best performance ever for Yankees primetime telecasts on a New York regional sports network


The shocking figure is the fact that Yes trumps all the other RSNs combined. Also, you would think that the lack of a championship run would eventually hurt the ratings but they get better and better.

Phil Hughes - Counterpoint

Now that my cohort has succeeded in spreading panic around Yankeeland regarding the ace status of The Messiah, I am here to tell you (and him) relax...

Phil turned 21 a month into the 2007 season. Prior to '07, his numbers in the minors were unbelievable. In 4 minor league season Phil posted:

13-2, 2.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 311K, 171H, 275IP

Those numbers translate into a 10.18 k/9, 5.59 H/9 - unreal, and unsustainable numbers.

There is a big difference between even AAA and the majors, however.

In his first major league experience, Phil posted:

5-3, 4.46, 1.28 WHIP, 58K, 64H, 72IP.

Pretty pedestrian numbers on first blush. When you take a closer look, however, for the whole season Phil allowed an impressive 8 h/9.

We all know that Phil was in the midst of a sure no-no vs. Texas when he blew out his hammy in May. When he came back he was understandably tentative and struggled in August to the tune of 1-2, 6.40 ERA. Also due to the extended layoff we saw a drop in velocity from 93-95 to 89-92. This drop in velocity can be wholly attributed to him being a little tentative and the resulting lack of arm strength from the layoff.

In September we started to see the Phil we were expecting - 3-0, 2.73 ERA, 25 H, 29 IP, 1.19 WHIP. His K numbers were still down, but again, his lack of arm strength resulted in a lower velocity and thus a lower K rate.

A pitcher's GB/FB ratio is an excellent measure of a pitcher's ability to miss bats. If a pitcher is missing 3-5 mph on his fastball doesn't it make sense that his ability to miss bats might decline a little bit as well?

When you compare Phil's first year with other dominant, HOF starters his numbers compare well:

Clemens (age 21) - 9-4, 4.32 ERA (97 ERA+), 146 H, 126 K, 133 IP
Smoltz (age 21) - 2-7, 5.48 ERA (67 ERA+), 74 H, 37 K, 64 IP
Jim Palmer (age 19) - 5-4, 3.72 ERA (94 ERA+), 75 H, 75 K, 92 IP
Bob Gibson (age 24) - 3-6, 5.61 ERA (73 ERA+), 97 H, 69 K, 86 IP
Sandy Koufax (age 20) - 2-4, 4.91 ERA (82 ERA+), 66H, 30 K, 58 IP
Phil Hughes (age 21) - 5-3, 4.46 ERA (100 ERA+), 64H, 58K, 72 IP

All things considered, I am extremely happy with the performance The Messiah turned in last year. I fully expect that we will see something in the area of a 4.25 era for the first month or so in '08, with similar velocity to what we saw last year. I expect that come mid to late June we will see the velocity pick up, and his stuff and numbers become more and more dominant.

It is extremely unusual for a pitcher to come up to the majors and perform like Doc Gooden; even if he is a future Hall of Famer. Give Phil some time to develop and learn the league and I believe we will get what has been advertised - a top of the rotation ace for a long time to come.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Phil Hughes

The majority of the debate around the Santana trade centers on whether or not to give up Phil Hughes in a deal. Phil came up with such hype and universal love that we began calling him "The Messiah." Scouts loved his stuff, makeup and build. Statheads loved his low WHIPs, high K rates, high groudball rates and track record. However, last year while he clearly was acceptable he did not look the part of future ace. Some of that changed late in the year but still my eyes made me question what he really is.

Since "my eyes" are not an acceptable reason to question him I decided to see what the numbers tell us. His k rates(per 9) did drop from 9(A+) and 10.7(AA) in 2006 to 8.79(AAA) and 7.18(MLB). Now his K rates drop might be a result of his injury and an MLB adjustement period. Also, you would expect his k rates to drop as the competition gets tougher. If we look at recent ace pitchers lets look at the first year in MLB and see how their k rates compares to both their minor league numbers and their career MLB numbers;

Clemens -
Minors-10.40
MLB Year 1-8.51
MLB Career-8.55
Smoltz
Minors-6.51
MLB Year 1-5.2
MLB Career-7.95
Maddux
Minors-5.66
MLB Year 1-5.81
MLB Career-6.12
Pedro
Minors-9.38
MLB Year 1-10.01
MLB Career-10.20

Interesting that the only pitcher to decrease his Minor league K rate was Clemens. So the drop in K rate is a minor concern but not without precedent.

The other stat if note last year was Hughes GB%. In 2006 he rate a GB% of 52%(A+) and 55%(AA) last year he had 64%(AAA) and 37%(MLB). Maybe it was due to the injuries but there was also speculation that it was due to a higher release point. Either way, he wasn't get the ground balls that he had previously once he reached the majors. Also, here are the scouting reports before he came up on his velocity;

Sickels May 2006;
Hughes is a right handed hitter and thrower, born June 24, 1986, listed at 6-5, 220 pounds. His fastball can hit 96 MPH and is consistent at 91-93, though his velocity has reportedly increased a bit this year.

BA November 2006;
Hughes sits at 91-95 mph with his four-seam fastball and touches 96.

Last year there was a lot of discussion on his dip in velocity and once again it might have been due to the injury. However, the dip in K rate, dip in GB% and loss of velocity make Hughes' status as an potential ace borderline unless those things correct themselves in the early part of 2008.

Now I agree that the Yankees should try and keep the big three but the odds say at least one of these kids will fail, will it be Phil Hughes? I am a huge fan and I sure hope not but his K rate, GB% and velocity might at least tell us if greatness is in his future early in 2008.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Bullpen - A look Back

As I started to look at the 2008 Yankee bullpen I began to wonder how it would stack up to bullpens of recent Yankee teams. I decided to look at the top four pitchers in terms of innings outside of Mariano and here is the rather depressing list;

2007, Farnsworth, Vizcaino, Proctor, Bruney
2006, Farnsworth, Proctor, Villone, Myers
2005, Gordon, Proctor, Strutze, F Rodriguez
2004, Gordon, Quantrill, Strutze, Heredia
2003, Hammond, Osuna, Hitchcock, Acevedo
2002, Karsay, Mendoza, Stanton, Hitchcock
2001, Mendoza, Stanton, Choate, Witasick

Now if I were to rank these groups just by looking at the names I would say 03 group is the worst and shockingly last year's group might be the best. Here is how the finished in terms of bullpen ERA(AL only);

2007 10
2006 8
2005 10
2004 9
2003 6
2002 3
2001 3

Now looking at the cast of sad sad characters that made up these pens there really isn't a noticeably difference in their ability. Can you really say the 03 cast (Hammond, Osuna, Hitchcock, Acevedo) is better then the 05 cast (Gordon, Proctor, Strutze, F Rodriguez)? No way. The real difference here is the amount these pens were used. The 2003 Yankees were first in the AL in starters innings pitched and the 05 team was ninth out of 14 teams in innings produced by their starters.

This does not bode well for the 08 Yankee bullpen given the inning limitation of the big three. Expect a big of a revolving door and some long summer nights.

Who's on First? The Next Arod!

There's been much debate about who should hold down the fort at first base while Mark Texiera plays out the string with the Braves; the answer has been right in front of us the whole time!

There is a player deemed every bit as good as Arod available. There is a player judged the equivilant to Alfonso Soriano who is right now a free agent - Brad Wilkerson!

What? You don't think Wilkerson measures up to the Arod/Sono equal description? Well apparently Jon Daniels does.

Prior to the 2004 season, Daniels traded Alex Rodriguez to the Yanks (with cash!) for Soriano. Daniels then inexplicably traded Sono to the Nats for Brad Wilkerson. So, in effect, Daniels traded Arod for Brad Wilkerson.

So fret, not, Yankee fans, the first base problem has been solved!

Welcome Back Comments

For some reason about 2 months ago, the ability to leave comments disappeared from our blog. It appears that when we changed the template comments returned. So bring on the critiques and comments!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yankees Interested in Wilkerson?

MLB Trade rumors is reporting that the Yankees and Sox have interest in Brad Wilkerson. Wilkerson has OBP the last two years of .319 and .306. Tough to imagine this was the guy people were fawning over when Soriano was traded to the Nats. No thanks. We are better off with Duncan and Wilson at first.

The Bullpen - A Season Long Strategy

The Yankee bullpen has been a constant sore point for the team for the last few years. Ever since the loss of Stanton and Nelson the bridge to Rivera has been weak at best. We have seen Karsay, Hammond, Farnsworth and others fail as the eighth inning guy. Tom Gordon was a good performer but had a weak constitution.


This year the bullpen is perhaps more up in the air then it has ever been and I believe it will be a rough year for the pen. I have always believed that a strong pen depended on two factors- a strong closer and a strong starting staff. If you look around the league there are a couple of middle inning guys who perform well year in and year out, but mostly you have a lot of variation in their performance from one year to the next. This is due mostly to them being overexposed. Lights-out relievers end up being closers and the rest are very comparable. If you continually put relievers in the right situations they can have success; however if they are asked to perform more then they are capable of they flop( think of Farnworth whenever he is asked to close).


So this brings me to the current Yankee team. We have the strong closer that will save our middle guys from real big spots late but we have a starting staff that will have to be babied. Three pitchers who will have to be held under 200 innings is a death sentence to our pen. So what do we do? You can expect a couple of casualties because of the innings limitations set on the big three so the goal is to protect the guys with the most upside. So let's break the candidates down into three categories

The Vets
  • Rivera
  • Hawkins
  • Farnsworth

Fillers/NonProspects

  • Jose Veras
  • T.J. Beam
  • Chris Britton
  • Brian Bruney
  • Matt DeSalvo
  • Sean Henn
  • Darrell Rasner
  • Kei Igawa

Legit Prospects

  • Alan Horne
  • Jeff Karstens
  • Jeff Marquez
  • Ross Ohlendorf
  • Scott Patterson
  • Edwar Ramirez
  • Steven White
  • Chase Wright
  • Jonathan Albaladejo
  • Humberto Sanchez
  • Mark Melancon
What we want to do here is abuse the fillers while protecting the veterans and the legit prospects. To do this we should almost project to blow a couple relievers out. The bullpen I suggest would change as these fillers began to fade while folding in some of our better prospects as they get ready.

Best April/May Bullpen

  • Closer- Mo
  • 7th/8th- Hawkins/Fansworth
  • 6th -Ohlendorff, Veras
  • Long Relief-Edwar, Igawa

The two guys you abuse in this bullpen is Veras and Igawa. Igawa can absorb a bunch of innings and Veras can be the guy who gets a lot of one inning fill appearances. The goal here is to ease Edwar and Ohley into their roles putting them in situations where they can succeed.

Best Midseason Bullpen

  • Closer- Mo
  • 7th/8th- Ohlendorff,Fansworth
  • 6th -Hawkins, Bruney
  • Long Relief-Edwar, Rasner

By midseason the Yankees should look to increase Ohlendorf's role while still protecting Edwar. Edwar is a reliever with a lot of upside but he is going to really have to be watched closely. Bruney and Rasner become our fall guys with this pen.


Best Late Season/Future Bullpen


  • Closer- Mo
  • 7th/8th- Ohlendorf,Fansworth
  • 6th -Edwar, Hawkins
  • Long Relief-Marquez, Melancon

As we prepare for the postseason we setup the bullpen with the best chance in the bullpen and introduce the fresh arms and high upside of Marquez and Melancon. Edwar has now been eased into a role with more impact and Hawkins is still in the mix but in the middle innings not the final bridge to Mo.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yankee's Top Prospects - Best Tools

BA ranks the Yanks' top prospect by tools -

BEST TOOLS
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


It is important to keep in mind that TM (Phil) is no longer a 'prospect' for the purposes of BA rankings. If he were I'm sure he'd rank as Best Curve.

For the purposes of going forward, I'd like to see them re-rank the pitchers without Joba; we know he's the goods, who's next, though?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Joba vs. Clay

Espn is doing a series of articles and chats that compares two different players. One such chat covers Joba Chamberlain versus Clay Buchholtz. Some intestesting stuff from the chat;

We talked to nine non-Red Sox or Yankees personnel people, and the verdict was decidedly pro-Joba. While most baseball talent evaluators predict stardom for both pitchers, seven of the nine preferred Chamberlain.

Chamberlain's fastball and slider both grade out near 80 on the 20-80 scouts scale

Joba's curve ranges from above average to hellacious depending on the day. His changeup is a work in progress.

Buchholz had an off field issue at McNeese State where he was arrested for stealing some computers.

I went into this with an open mind, and people whose opinions I respect -- scouting directors, talent evaluators who saw both guys in the Eastern League, etc. -- gave the nod to Chamberlain by a substantial margin. That doesn't mean Buchholz won't be terrific, or even that Joba will be better than Buchholz. But I was surprised at the pro-Joba level of sentiment out there.

So basically Joba Rules and Clay is a convict.

Also, another item of note;

A couple of scouts told me they actually prefer Jeff Marquez -- the other prospect whose name was mentioned in the Yankees' Johan Santana package -- to Kennedy.

The more people bash Ian the more I start believing in him. I watched a Yankees Magazine piece on him and his wife and you get the idea that he is grounded and intelligent. I think people are making the typical mistake of valuing velocity too much and not putting enough weight into pitching ability and control.

Phil on Phil

In case you haven't seen it yet, The Messiah(Phil Hughes) has his own blog. Check it out here.

Construction on Arod's New House Continues




Thanks to Sliding Into Home for the picture.

If only...

Ran into this mailbag question and response on mlbtraderumors.com;

Why did the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell for Hank Blalock/John Danks deal fall through back in November of '05? - Oliver

The Rangers believed the deal was done, and hoped to avoid any leaks before it was official. However, a source tipped off the Palm Beach Post. The Post and a Texas newspaper ran with it. It was at that point the Boston front office found out, swooped in, and beat the Rangers' offer. Those reporters altered history.


Those reporters are responsible for the Sox winning the series and should be punished accordingly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Dirty Sanchez

Acquired last year in the Sheffield trade, Humberto Sanchez spent all of last year on the shelf after TJ surgery and apparently bone spurs;

"It didn't hurt to throw, but my extension wasn't where it was supposed to be," explained Sanchez, who underwent more X-rays with famed doctor Dr. James Andrews to figure out the cause of the problem. "They showed that I had some bone spurs in my elbow that had calcified. It happens in maybe one out of 400 cases, but for some reason in mostly Hispanic guys, though they don't know why."
Knowing that it could cause future problems, Sanchez and his doctor decided to go back into surgery to clean out the spurs, setting his progress back another couple of weeks.
"

Sanchez has nasty, or in this case dirty, stuff but his health has been checkered at best. Given his health history and his stuff I can't see him as anything but a reliever.

However the article does make you root for him a bit. He is a native to the Bronx and his mom is a huge Yankee fan. She actually hung up on him when he said he was traded to the Yankees thinking he was lying. The article is a good read and Sanchez comes off as a guy you can root for. Maybe we will see Sanchez one day taking over for Mariano the great. Would be kind of cool to have Sanchez one day closing out games for fellow New Yorker Delin Betances, wouldn't it?

Yankee Top Prospect Austin Jackson

AJax played in Hawaii this winter and BA had the following to say about the # 2 ranked prospect in HWB's performance:

2. AUSTIN JACKSON OF
Honolulu (Yankees)

After having a breakout season during which he hit .304/.370/.476 across three levels of the minors, Jackson reported to Honolulu and never slowed down. A premium athlete, Jackson finally grew into his tools in 2007. A line-drive hitter with gap power, Jackson's profile is likely as a No. 2 or No. 3 hitter with the ability to drive in runs. He is an above-average defender in center field, getting good reads and jumps on balls while running quality routes. While he doesn't always get out of the batter's box quickly, he's a graceful runner. "Once he gets underway he's a plus-plus runner," an NL scout said. "He's the best athlete in this league. He doesn't have that first-step explosion, but this guy is a real crowd pleaser on the bases."


Ranked only behind Joba and ahead of Tabata and IPK on BA's list of top 10 Yankee propsects, Ajax is slated to begin 2008 in Trenton (AA). If he's able to keep up the growth he's shown the past year, a 2009 debut in the Bronx is looking likely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This Man IS an Eiland

Many times when people speak (write) about the new Yankee pitching coach, the point is made that he has a relationship with the triumvirate of youngsters about to make a huge impact on the Yankee rotation in '08. As the SWB pitching coach last year, Eiland did have contact with each of the big 3:

IPK - 6 games, 34 ip
Phil - 5 games, 28 ip
Joba - 3 games, 8ip

What impact could Eiland have had on these 3? The highest number of starts any made was 6; assuming a 5 man rotation he had IPK longest - 30 days!

I'll say again that I am extremely disappointed by the lack of big-league experience on the Yanks' coaching staff. Especially when you factor in the impact that 3 rookies will have on our year, and the impact the pitching coach will have on their long-term success, I can't believe that there weren't more qualified candidates available.

The obvious choice would be Leo Mazzone. Leo has a long history of not only making pitchers better, but also of keeping them healthy long term. There was talk of Leo having motivational problems at the end of the year in Baltimore - well they fired his best friend (manager Sam Perlozzo)! That might piss me off a bit too!

There was surf-n-turf on the menu, but the Yanks instead chose the mystery meal of the day. I really hope that decision doesn't come back to bite us!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Santana Watch Day 85

Ok, now we can't even go a full day without conflicting Johan reports (and The Hank opening his big fat mouth). First ESPN was reporting that the Yankees had pulled their offer off the table and were officially (for real this time!) out of the Johan sweepstakes. Then the story that was posted on ESPN.com quickly morphed into;

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner has not closed the door on a trade for Minnesota Twins left-hander Johan Santana, despite reports to the contrary.

"It's still in the deciding process," Steinbrenner said Monday night outside Legends Field at the Yankees' spring training complex. "We're still discussing it. There's still a little talk back and forth."

The Twins really have no choice but to deal Santana and if they wait till the season starts his trade value will only decrease. However, they continue to try and wait the Yankees out.; they want one more top prospect and I bet they get it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

With This $275mm, I thee Wed

I was watching the G-men beat up Jessica's Simpson's boyfriend tonight when a commercial came on that included Arod in it. My brother (and co-author of this blog) made a typical (for him) and predictable anti-Arod comment, and it dawned on me - that has GOT to stop!

No longer is Arod the guy who played for Seattle and Texas and was making a stop here in NY with our beloved Yankees. No longer is he the self-absorbed superstar that many Yankee fans boo because he has yet to 'earn his pinstripes.' No longer are we, the fans, dating Arod - with that $275 million contract we got hitched!

Jeter might always be forefront in the hearts of Yankee fans for his clutchness, his rings, his demeanor and his enviable romantic endeavors, but like it or not Yankee fans, Arod is now and for the next 10 years gonna be the Face of the Franchise. We're gonna be moving from the House That Ruth Built, to the new set of The Arod Show on Yes!

Like it or not (and we should like it!), we have got to stop the madness with respect to our new 'true Yankee.' He might be too polished, and the opt out thing was a disaster, but no one can deny the guy works his tail off. He plays everyday, he plays hurt, he produces at a higher level than almost everyone else in the game, he has been a great influence on the younger players in the clubhouse, and now he's here to stay. Can we please stop with the 'until he wins a ring he's not a true Yankee' crap? To those who say that I have 2 words for you - Donnie Baseball.

So when he slumps remember he's not a rent-a-player anymore. When he k's late in a game I don't want to hear ANY boos. NO MORE BOOING AROD! Like any marriage this one won't be perfect; it will take some effort on both ends to work out. I see him working, now we just gotta make sure we hold up our end of the bargain!

Top American League Tools

The following results were compiled from a survey of American League managers, as reported in Baseball America:

BEST HITTER
1. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
2. Derek Jeter, Yankees
3. Magglio Ordonez, Tigers


No argument here - Ichiro is the best pure hitter in baseball.


BEST POWER
1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
2. Justin Morneau, Twins
3. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels


Huh...I'd have figured to see the hated Big Papi on this list, but that's quite alright!


BEST BUNTER
1. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
2. Kenny Lofton, Rangers
3. Luis Castillo, Twins


ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...bunting's for the NL


BEST STRIKE-ZONE JUDGMENT
1. Travis Hafner, Indians
2. Bob Abreu, Yankees
3. Placido Polanco, Tigers


Hafner? Really? I realize he had a .439 OBP in '06, but that dipped to .385 in '07and is .395 lifetime - very good, but the best in the AL? Placido Polanco is the most underrated player in baseball...period. Did you know he went 341/388/458 with 36 doubles and 30 (THIRTY!) strikouts in 587 PA last year?


BEST HIT-AND-RUN ARTIST
1. Placido Polanco, Tigers
2. Derek Jeter, Yankees
3. Orlando Cabrera, Angels


3 guys who handle the bat extremely well.


BEST BASERUNNER
1. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
2. Brian Roberts, Orioles
3. Derek Jeter, Yankees


I can feel the Jeet love!


FASTEST BASERUNNER
1. Carl Crawford, Devil Rays
2. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
3. Joey Gathright, Royals




MOST EXCITING PLAYER
1. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
2. Grady Sizemore, Indians
3. Carl Crawford, Devil Rays


Top of this list 2010 - Austin Jackson


BEST PITCHER
1. Johan Santana, Twins
2. Dan Haren, Athletics
3. Josh Beckett, Red Sox



BEST FASTBALL
1. Justin Verlander, Tigers
2. Joel Zumaya, Tigers
3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners


We all know the name at the top of this list after '08...JOBA THE BEAST!


BEST CURVEBALL
1. Josh Beckett, Red Sox
2. Justin Verlander, Tigers
3. Francisco Rodriguez, Angels


Pending - Phil "The Messiah" Hughes


BEST SLIDER
1. Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers
2. Scott Kazmir, Devil Rays
3. C.C. Sabathia, Indians


Joba might make this list too!


BEST CHANGEUP
1. Johan Santana, Twins
2. James Shields, Devil Rays
3. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox


The best change in all of baseball belongs to Edwar Ramirez; it's truly unfair that it's the only pitch he knows how to throw!


BEST CONTROL
1. Paul Byrd, Indians
2. Johan Santana, Twins
3. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays



BEST PICKOFF MOVE
1. Andy Pettitte, Yankees
2. Kenny Rogers, Tigers
3. Mark Buehrle, White Sox



BEST RELIEVER
1. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
2. J.J. Putz, Mariners
3. Mariano Rivera, Yankees


Hey Papelpunk - when you've done it for 13 years and have a 0.77 era in 117+ postseason innings then you can talk about truly being the best reliever in baseball!


BEST DEFENSIVE CATCHER
1. Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers
2. Joe Mauer, Twins
3. Jason Varitek, Red Sox


Irod is OVERRATED! A great arm does not a great defensive catcher make! He has the best arm in the history of the position, and therefore changes the game unlike any other catcher in the bigs - that's why he gets votes like this.


BEST DEFENSIVE FIRST BASEMAN
1. Mark Teixeira, Rangers
2. Carlos Pena, Devil Rays
3. Casey Kotchman, Angels


Damn, Tex is gonna look good in pinstripes!


BEST DEFENSIVE SECOND BASEMAN
1. Luis Castillo, Twins
2. Placido Polanco, Tigers
3. Brian Roberts, Orioles


There's that guy Polanco again!


BEST DEFENSIVE THIRD BASEMAN
1. Eric Chavez, Athletics
2. Adrian Beltre, Mariners
3. Mike Lowell, Red Sox



BEST DEFENSIVE SHORTSTOP
1. Derek Jeter, Yankees
2. Orlando Cabrera, Angels
3. Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners


Hey...you see this Jason at Baseball Bias? Maybe Zone Rating is overrated!


BEST INFIELD ARM
1. Adrian Beltre, Mariners
2. Brandon Inge, Tigers
3. Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners


BEST DEFENSIVE OUTFIELDER
1. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
2. Torii Hunter, Twins
3. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays


BEST OUTFIELD ARM
1. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
2. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
3. Delmon Young, Devil Rays



BEST MANAGER
1. Jim Leyland, Tigers
2. Mike Scioscia, Angels
3. Ron Gardenhire, Twins


What?!? No Torre? HA!

The Santana Watch Day 84

So the Mets also seem to think the Twins asking price is too high for Johan;

"The two teams continue to talk and word out of Minnesota yesterday was that, yes, the Mets could snare Cy Young Santana for the right price, but as far as the Mets are concerned, that five-for-one deal is not the right price. "

I have stated this again and again - Johan will end up in the Bronx and Phil Hughes + will be on their way to Minnesota. Its just a matter of time. So we wait and wait and wait.....

Roger - Say it Ain't So!

Uh-oh! Word is leaking out that Roger may not make the trip to proclaim his innocence in front of congress after all. This would be an incredibly bad move for an innocent man. However, this is the ONLY option for a guilty man.

Tarnishing a Hall of Fame legacy is one thing; lying in front of congress is quite another.

I've said before that if Roger stands before congress and continues to boldly and emphatically deny he used PEDs I am going to believe him.

If, however, he wiggles his way out of testifying, my mom's old saying comes to mind - when in doubt, actions speak louder than words.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Joba and Johan

The Daily News has an article headlined "Joba Chamberlain may start next season in bullpen for Yankees " but the headline does not jive with the content. Cashman is non-committal to any strategy other then preparing Joba as a starter;

"We're going to prepare him as a starter and we see him as a starter," Yankee GM Brian Cashman said yesterday. "But we have an innings limit that he won't exceed. How we manage the innings limit remains to be seen. The plan is to have him start, but there are a number of scenarios that we'll review."

A non-story.

Also, there is now talk that the Yankees are out of the Johan sweepstakes and this comes a week after Hank said the Yanks were still in it. So now the Red Sox were about to make a deal, then they were the clear leaders, then Johan was not going to be traded, then the Yanks were the leaders and now they are out of it with the Mets in the lead. Got it? Ignore all the talk until something happens. I still say he ends up in the Bronx.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I Eschew Pompous Postulation

Did you read the guest blog @ Lohud today? If you didn't, take a look.

After reading the post I proceeded to the author's blog - Yankee Republic.

Now, I am not typically one to denigrate others' writing, but about the only thing I hate more than someone preaching at me from his/her self erected alter is someone doing so in self-important, self-aggrandizing verbiage.

No one speaks that way, and his whole blog is written like that! Other than in a thinly veiled attempt to try and look smart, writing in this manner is nothing but pompous drivel. I bet that every time he finds a 5-star word in that overused thesaurus of his he rings a special bell on his desk to celebrate yet another triumph over concise, content-based writing.

Not only is it written like he is trying to impress the Dean of English studies at Oxford, but it is wholly inaccurate as well. He writes -

Why, for example, do the Yankees alone seem to project Hughes a bonafide ace?

Hughes has been in everyone's top 5 prospects in all of baseball for the past 3 years; how is that the Yankees alone? J'accuse: A Pompous Blog! And BTW - he needs a punctuation guide to go along with the Thesaurus; I haven't seen worse use of the comma since my daughter's 2nd grade Jenny Archer book report!

If you have something to say you Frazer wannabe, just say it! Don't drape a thesaurus around it and hang allegorical idioms from it like madrigal holiday sapling simply to augment your affected aplomb!

Sheesh!

Let's Go Mets!

Betcha never thought you'd see that headline here, huh?

Right now, though, I am rooting real hard for the Mets.

It has been widely reported that Omar has not only wiggled his way into the Johan Santana party, but may now be the favorite to take the pretty girl home with him. Go Omar!!

If the Mets can pull this off, we as Yankee fans should be thrilled! Not only will we get to keep The Messiah (Hughes), but we won't have to see Johan in a Red Sox uniform for the next 5 to 7 years...a total win/win!

I can't help but be a little happy that I have this terrible song stuck in my head.....

Meet the Mets, meet the Mets. Come on out and beat greet the Mets...

Immunity? We don't need no Stinkin' Immunity!

It's been reported that Clemens will not be receiving immunity for his testimony in front of congress; one question - why should he?

Rocket is going to The Hill to defend his name; he is going to convince the world that McNamee is a liar and he didn't use PEDs. Why in god's name would he want immunity?

I am really looking forward to The Rocket's testimony. As someone who wants to believe him I have to believe that the prospect of losing everything far outweighs his baseball legacy. If he used and lies to Congress he will go to jail. If he tells the truth all that happens is his baseball legacy is tarnished, but he goes on with his very (his words) 'blessed life.'

I am going to use the congressional testimony to make my final decision about whether I believe Roger ever used. As of now, I am doing what everyone should - give him the benefit of the doubt.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Jason Giambi - A look back

Jason Giambi has now played 6 years with the New York Yankees following his 6 full years in Oakland. While most would consider Giambi a pretty major bust, I thought it would be a good exercise to see how the two halves to his career compare.

Jason has now played 752 games with the Yankees after playing 899 from '96 to '01 with the A's; that's a difference of almost 25 games a year. One thing we can say for certain is Jason has not stayed healthy enough. But how does his production stack up?

First, lets look at Jason's Power Numbers:

HR's - A's - 181, Yankees - 177
AB per HR - A's - 17.8, Yankees - 13.9
SLG % - A's - .553, Yankees - .525

So Giambi's power number were pretty close; he hit more home runs per AB, but his slugging numbers went down slightly meaning less hits.

Giambi's other big ability is his his ability to get on base. How does that compare?

OBP % - A's - .415, Yankees - .409
BA - A's - .311, Yankees - .263


Considering the significant drop in BA it is impressive how Giambi has maintained his ability to get on base. However, the Yankees were expecting an all around top level hitter, not an all or nothing slugger. A couple of more important stats:


AB per K - A's - 5.6, Yankees - 4.2(Over 500 abs, that is the difference between 88 and 120ks)
AB per BB - A's - 5.8, Yankees - 4.6
ABs - A's - 3222, Yankees - 2476

So Giambi's dip in BA can be attributed to a higher strikeout rate which he made up for by a more discerning eye.


Giambi's average numbers do not tell the whole story because he really had monster years in 2000 and 2001 (.333/43/137 & .342/38/120). The end result is the Yankees got an all or nothing brittle superstar, not the MVP caliber beast they thought they were getting. However, his numbers are surprisingly close between the two halves of his career and he performed almost as well as could be expected considering his age.

Since Cairo is no longer Available....

And the Yankees clearly need a no-hit first baseman;

...the Yankees have interest in adding free agent Jason Lane, according to a source.
Lane, 31, was not tendered a contract by the Padres after hitting .178 with eight homers and 27 RBIs last season. He began last year with Houston and went to San Diego in a September trade.
Though Lane is a career outfielder, the Yankees believe he would be a quick study at first base, where he has appeared in four games during his six-year major league career.
"

Ok, so we have a bad hitter who has never played first base before, sounds like a solid plan. I have always thought defense at first base is a little overrated(sorry Donnie ballgame) and it drives me insane to see the Doug M, Cario, Andy Phillips and now possibly Jason Lane's of the world getting significant time at first base for the Yankees. If Duncan and his blood clot are an issue why not take your chances on some time for Matsui at first or even Juan Miranda?

Also interesting read a common side effect of steroids is blood clots....

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MLB GM

There is a new baseball blog on the horizon that is worth a read;

http://mlbgm.blogspot.com/

Check it out.

McNamee/Clemens Mitchell Report Revisited

Now that Roger is in full attack mode there is a lot of misinformation floating around about what McNamee said to Mitchell and what is in the Mitchell report. Lets take a look back and clear some things up;

  1. I heard Robb Dibble and Kevin Kennedy discuss how McNamee was up to something because he didn't even have a written agreement with the feds. Mitchell report says
    "McNamee, through his attorney, entered into a written agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California."
  2. Some so called experts have also used the McNamee never said he provided Clemens with drugs defense. Mitchell report once again debunks "According to McNamee, during the middle of the 2000 season Clemens made it clear that he was ready to use steroids again. During the latter part of the regular season, McNamee injected Clemens in the buttocks four to six times with testosterone from a bottle labeled either Sustanon 250 or Deca-Durabolin that McNamee had obtained from Radomski."
  3. Some also question why there isn't a paper trail like in the Balco scandel. A couple of experts provide a window into that; " McNamee stated that he has no ill will toward Clemens and “was always ahead [financially] with Roger.” McNamee received money for expenses from Clemens’s business representatives. They paid McNamee for training Clemens, and for his expenses. From time to time Clemens also gave McNamee “extra money.” Clemens never gave money to McNamee specifically to buy performance enhancing substances."

Roger really had the best possible cover for his dealer; a guy already on his payroll who was also paid by his business partners. He also gave him extra money, we'll call it a Christmas bonus but never paid specifically for steroids. Roger is lying I firmly believe that, I suspected him prior to the report coming out and nothing has made me change my opinion.

The thing I am anxious to see is what Andy Pettitte is going to do with congress. The hearing was delayed so prosecutors could gather evidence and prepare, maybe for a Bonds like perjury follow-up. So how does Andy handle that? Refuse to go? Plead the 5th? Sell out his best friend? And how has this affected their relationship? By Andy coming out and admitting guilt he is clearly taking a different path then Clemens. This is just going to get worse and drag on longer then the Johan situation....

Update on the Pursuit of All Things Enchanted

Newsday's Kat O'Brien spoke with HankenStein yesterday and discussed the Yankees never-ending non-pursuit of the mythical creature Johan Santana. In addition to expressing worry about the fabled Johan's on-again/off-again love triangle with Cinderella and and the tooth fairy, Hank actually did say something of note -

"I wouldn't do it if it were a six- or seven-year contract," Steinbrenner said. "I wouldn't go past five, on an extension."

Ugh.

Deadlines, ultimatums and now maximum extension lengths...does Hank EVER shut up?

BA Joba Scouting Report

From Baseball America -


1. Joba Chamberlain, rhp Born: September 23, 1985 • B-T: R-R • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 230
Drafted: Nebraska, 2006 (1st round supplemental) • Signed by: Steve Lemke/Tim Kelly


Background: As a 272-pound freshman, Chamberlain went 3-6. 5.23 for Division II Nebraska-Kearney. However, he started to emerge as a player there, improving his body and reaching the low 90s with his fastball. After one season, he transferred to Nebraska, where he starred for his hometown Cornhuskers. While his talent made him a consensus top prospect for the 2006 draft, his stock fell because of concerns about a knee injury that required surgery in the fall of 2004. He fell to the Yankees with the 41st overall pick and signed for $1.15 million. A member of the Winnebago tribe, he became the second-highest Native American ever drafted, behind only Jacoby Ellsbury. After signing, Chamberlain reported to Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he ranked as the No. 1 prospect in his first pro action. Chamberlain had a mild hamstring pull last spring and didn't make his pro debut until May, then made the minor leagues look easy. After breezing through high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, Chamberlain moved to the bullpen to help the Yankees fill a big league need. He made the majors look easy too, giving up just one earned run in 19 outings. Only Mother Nature could stop him. He coughed up a 2-1 lead against the Indians in Game Three of the Division Series after he was swarmed by midges and lost his focus.

Strengths: Scouts chuckle with delight discussing Chamberlain's raw stuff, and several give him 70 or 80 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for three different pitches. He reached 100 mph with his fastball as a reliever, and more impressively can sit at 96-97 mph when he starts. His fastball command grades at least major league average, if not higher. He also commands two breaking balls—a mid-80s slider with depth and a nasty power curveball in the low 80s. Both are strikeout pitches, and he's adept at keeping his hand on top of the curve and behind the slider. He even has shown a solid-average changeup. His arm action is clean, and his fierce competitive streak helps give him something extra when he needs it.

Weaknesses: Chamberlain will need to keep his weight in check, which would help him avoid any recurrence of his past knee, hamstring or triceps tendinitis issues. He needs to maintain the mechanical improvements he has made as a pro, which keep him more balanced and direct his energy toward the plate, rather than side-to-side. He must prove he can maintain his stuff through a full season. His career high for innings remains the 119 he threw for Nebraska as a sophomore.

The Future: While his big league debut hinted that he could be an elite closer almost immediately, Chamberlain fits the No. 1 starter profile in nearly every way except for the workhorse part of the equation. If they were only thinking of his development, the Yankees would limit him to 170 innings or so. He's likely to pitch so well as to tempt new manager Joe Girardi to use him more than that, however. If he remains healthy, Chamberlain has multiple all-star appearances in his future.

All Yankees fans should be 'chuckling with delight!" - it's gonna be huge fun watching this kid dominate for the next 20 years!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hall of Fame - Goose In; Only one

With 86% of the vote, Goose Gossage made the Hall of Fame. He was the only person elected this year as Jim Rice fell 16 votes shy with 72.2%. Mark MacGwire received less than 24%.


Player Votes Pct.
Goose Gossage 466 85.6
Jim Rice 392 72.2
Andre Dawson 358 65.9
Bert Blyleven 336 61.9
Lee Smith 235 43.3
Jack Morris 233 42.9
Tommy John 158 29.1
Tim Raines 132 24.3
Mark McGwire 128 23.6
Alan Trammell 99 18.2
Dave Concepcion 88 16.2
Don Mattingly 86 15.8
Dave Parker 82 15.1
Dale Murphy 75 13.8
Harold Baines 28 5.2

Others receiving votes:
Rod Beck 2, Travis Fryman 2, Robb Nen 2, Shawon Dunston 1, Chuck Finley 1, David Justice 1, Chuck Knoblauch 1, Todd Stottlemyre 1.

Monday, January 7, 2008

BA Top Ten Yankee Prospect

BA released their top ten Yankee prospects today. My takeaway from this list is just how damn good Joba could be. He is listed as having the best fastball, slider and curveball in the organization. Also, this quote makes me tingle;
Scouts chuckle with delight discussing Chamberlain's raw stuff...
You know what makes me chuckle? Not the three dominant pitches but the two straight high hard ones to Kevin Youkilis. Joba is a beast!

Projecting Current Yankee HOFers

The hall of fame results are set to be announces tomorrow at 2pm and it got me thinking, How many current Yankees will end up making the Hall? Now even though I project the holy trinity to dominate for years lets skip the kids, including Cano, for this exercise and only look at players with 10+ years in the league.

No-Brainers
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez
All three are first-ballot candidates even if they never played another game. Jeter will have 3,000 hits barring injury (has 2356) and with all his gold gloves and clutch play he is in. ARod might become a guy everyone starts rooting for as he starts to erase Bonds from history, he really could retire today and be a first ballot candidate. Rivera is the greatest closer ever, period.

Borderline
Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada
Mussina
Now Mussina has a real good shot. His numbers are pretty close;
Top Ten Cy Young - 8 times
Top Ten Wins - 8 times
Top Ten K's - 10 times
Top Ten adjusted ERA+ - 10 times
Five Time All-Star(Seems low)
6 Gold Gloves
Career ERA 3.70
250 Career Wins
The biggest issue Mussina will have is not with the quality of his numbers but the fact that he doesn't have any of he criteria that voters love; a high peak, reaching number thresholds and postseason excellence. High Peak-Moose never won 20 games and never won the Cy Young. He was always overshadowed by Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. Reaching Numbers - 250 wins is nice but 300 is still where automatic election begins. Postseason excellence - Moose pitched some great games in the post season but his numbers (Except Wins) are almost a carbon-copy of his regular season numbers(3.42 Era more then a K per inning). I once heard Moose referred to as Mr Almost, almost wins 20 games, almost won a series, almost pitches a perfect game and it looks like almost makes the hall.

Andy Pettitte
Andy has 200 Wins at age 35 and could become a strong candidate if he pitched well for 3-4 more years. Add in his 18-7 postseason record and he becomes a real strong maybe. However, it looks like he will pack it in sooner rather then later and end his career with 230+ wins, that won't be enough but if he has a late career surge he could make it in.

Jorge Posada
I was surprised to find myself putting Jorge on this list but he has 5 silver slugger awards in the eight years since he been a full-time player. Does the best player at a position for almost a decade deserve consideration for the hall? I think so. Jorge does only have 218 career home runs, to have a reasonable shot he needs to eclipse 300.

Most likely we are probably looking at four who end up getting in; Rivera, Jeter, ARod and one from Posada, Moose and Andy.

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