Saturday, April 19, 2008

Memo to Phil Hughes

1. Command and Control: I don't know if this is a case of nit picking or bad mechanics, but Phil needs to either:

A. Be more aggressive in the zone with his fastball and get to 0-2, 1-2 counts faster, don't be afraid of just laying one in there for a first pitch strike. This is better than pitching yourself into 3-1, 3-2 counts with every batter. Deeper counts are hitter's counts, if they beat you on 0-2, 1-2 counts, so be it.


B. Work out the mechanical issues in his delivery. Dave Eiland and Hughes historically have worked together well so I don't think this is the real problem.

2. Work on Secondary Pitches- This and command and control could be interchangeable, but I put this second for the hell of it. Hughes needs to throw his change-up MORE. In tonights start in Baltimore, I didn't see a single change-up. Not only does it set up his fastball, but it also balances out his repertoire making him a more complete pitcher. Either he his falling in love with his fastball/curve combo or he just doesn't trust the pitch enough. He certainly trusted it enough that night in Texas when he struck out Mark Texiera on three straight change-ups.

Monday, March 31, 2008

#7 Prospect: Dellin Betances

Age: 20 DOB- March 23rd, 1988

Height: 6-8

Weight: 215

Position: Starting Pitcher

Betances, a Brooklyn native, was selected in the 8th round of 2006 Amateur Draft out of Grand Street High School. In his Junior season at Grand Street, Betances flat out Dominated. In 41.2 innings of masterful pitching, Betances went 6-0 with a 0.17 ERA, 100 strikeouts, 11 hits, and 22 walks. Pure Insanity. A first round talent, Betances fell to the 8th round due to rumors that he would only sign with the Yankees. If he was to be drafted by another team, Betances would have been headed to Vanderbilt University where he had already committed to play college ball. Sure enough, he was picked by the Yankees and "persuaded" with one million dollars to come start his professional career early.
Betances has freakishly good stuff. He easily sits in the 93-95 mph range and can crank it upwards to 98 mph. Due to his tall stature, his fastball has an excellent downward plane and absolutely filthy movement. His knuckle-curve is also considered a plus pitch, but he still has trouble locating it. He also throws a change-up which is average right now, but has the potential to be plus too. His control is suspect, but he is big guy which means alot of moving parts in his mechanics, something which is easily corrected.
In his first season as a pro ball player, Betances continued to dominate. With a little mechinal help from Nardi Contreras, "Baby Unit" was repeating his delivery, something that usually isn't easy with big guys. In the GCL, the young stud pitched 23.1 innings with 27 K's, 7 BB, 14 hits allowed, and 3 ER. After his succesful stint at the GCL, Dellin started his second season with the SI Yanks where things didn't turn out as well. In 25 innings of work, he allowed 24 H, 10 ER, 27 K's, 17 BB. The Yankees then shut him down for the season due to elbow inflammation which sent Farm fanatics everywhere into a panic. Fans breathed a collective sigh of relief though when they found out that Betances in fact did not need Tommy John surgery.
Betances will start the 2008 Minor League season in Charleston, where he joins the most talented team in MILB. He should be poised for a big year, as he has been working with Nardi during most of the offseason working out the major kinks in his mechanics. Betances' ceiling is off the charts. He has all the potential to be an ace in major league baseball but he is still very, very raw. Hopefully for the Yankees sake, he can finally nail down his mechanics, his control, and master his change-up. We have a stud on our hands if everything works out right.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Yankees Opening Day Lineup

Damon LF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Matsui DH
Cabrera CF

Thanks to Peter Abraham for the lineup. Some positives with this order is that there is no preference for experience over ability, as evidenced by Cano hitting 6th and that if we consistently run this lineup or a similar one out there, teams are going to have trouble with matchup pitchers late in the game.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Stats

OK, lets say 4 guys without much of or very strong major league track records are pitching for 3 spots on the Yankees roster, and these are their lines in Spring Training:

Pitcher #1: 9.2 IP/1.86 ERA/13 H/1 BB/10 K
Pitcher #2: 9.0 IP/2.00 ERA/9 H/3 BB/12 K
Pitcher #3: 7.2 IP/0.00 ERA/1 H/0 BB/7 K
Pitcher #4: 9.1 IP/3.86 ERA/11 H/3 BB/ 10 K

Pitcher #3 happens to be Scott Patterson, who was nearly perfect this Spring and all of last season at AA, while Pitchers #1,2 and 4 were Ross Ohlendorf, Brian Bruney and Jonathan Albaladejo. Clearly, Patterson outpitched the others, but was the only one who was left off the roster. Granted, Ohlendorf and Albaladejo are likely to be optioned down in early April when Andy Pettitte comes off the DL and a long reliever is promoted, but it is still pretty absurd that Patterson did not even get a chance at the big league level over Brian Bruney, who has proven at the MLB level that he cannot find the plate.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Aaron Hill?

In a recent Peter Gammons blog entry, he mentions a list of "One Dozen Breakout Seasons", and at the #2 spot, he includes this one:

2. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays. Best all-around second baseman in the AL?

Now while Peter does include a question mark at the end of this statement, even that is ridiculous. Aaron Hill in no way, shape or form compares to Robinson Cano.

Hill's career line: .287/.341/.415 97 OPS+
Cano's career line: .314/.346/.489 117 OPS+

Hill is a nice player, but this is a poor choice for a guy to be considered the best overall at his position.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last Bullpen Spots

The Yankees currently have 14 relievers in camp with them: Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Kyle Farnsworth, Darrell Rasner, Latroy Hawkins, Jonathan Albaladejo, Brian Bruney, Sean Henn, Kei Igawa, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, Scott Patterson, Edwar Ramirez, Billy Traber, and Jose Veras. Of them, only Rivera, Chamberlain, Farnsworth and Hawkins are guaranteed roster spots, leaving the remaining 9 guys for 3 spots. The Yankees are likely to take a lefty, and their options are Traber, who has been nearly perfect this Spring, Henn, who isn't even serviceable and Igawa, who has not fared particularly well against left-handed hitters this Spring, or against anyone in 2007. Traber should get the nod here. Next, there is the spot for the long reliever, in which the competition centers on Karstens, Rasner and once again, Igawa. Neither of these options are particularly enticing but with the need to limit the innings of starters Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, the presence of a long reliever is necessary. However, Rasner has demonstrated some ability in the past and appears to have the most upside among the three choices, so he should get this spot. Finally, there is one last spot, without any particular prerequisites other than the ability to get people out. Of the remaining relievers, Patterson and Ross Ohlendorf have stood out against the others. Patterson has yet to allow a run in his 6 innings and has struck out 6 batters this Spring, while Ohlendorf has given up just 2 runs this Spring, but has allowed 11 hits in 7.2 innings. Upon review of last season's numbers for each pitcher, it appears that Patterson deserves this job, while Ohlendorf could work a little more in the bullpen at triple-A, but should be among the first to be called up when an extra reliever is necessary.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

#8 Prospect: Humberto Sanchez

Age: 24

Height: 6'6"

Weight: 270 lbs

Position: Starting Pitcher, Right Handed

Humberto Sanchez was selected in the 31st round of the 2001 MLB draft by the Detriot Tigers out of Connors State Junior College. He was traded to the Yankees along with Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett for the infamous Gary Sheffield. A Bronx native, Sanchez spent his days at South Bronx High School dominating hitters with his heavy fastball and plus curve. He continued that success in the minor leagues, posting a career 8.84 K/9 and a slightly inflated 4.16 ERA. The reasoning for the "slightly inflated" ERA is due to the fact Sanchez is always injured. He is the Rich Harden of minor league baseball. Oblique injuries, hammy strains, elbow problems, Humberto has dealt with it all. He has been recently down for the count due to Tommy John Surgery

Sanchez is no slouch though, he has some serious stuff. He has a heavy, sinking fastball that he can easily hit 92-94 with. He can throw harder, but the general consensus seems to be that he loses his control when he really chucks it. Humberto also features a plus curveball- a true knee buckler that has a nasty 12-6 break on it. If you watched the Futures Game, you know what I'm talking about. Sanchez does not feature a standout third pitch, but over the past few years, he has been working on a change-up to balance out his repertoire. He can be wild at times, but has improved his walk rate every year since he started his professional career.

Sanchez's future is definitely an interesting topic of debate. He has the stuff to be a starter, but some question if he will hold up in a starters role. He has never pitched over 123 innings in one season and always seems to be injured. This is where it gets interesting. Sanchez may wind up in the bullpen due to his fragile body and crowded Yankee rotation. I, for one, am all for a move to the 'pen. Sanchez has proven that he can't handle a heavy workload but he has shown the ability to get hitters out. I think with his stuff and command, he could thrive as a relief pitcher. Others may disagree with me but you have to remember, Mariano isn't immortal. Someone has to take his place eventually. Its wishful thinking at this point, but Sanchez could fill the void left by Mariano when he finally retires.