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.

Yanks Give Back

The Yankees have had about as good a Spring Training as you can have so far, not solely based on their play, but really the charitable acts performed yesterday afternoon at Virginia Tech. A campus still recovering from the tragic events of last May, Virginia Tech's student body and faculty got a chance to relieve themselves a bit for a day, receiving the pleasure of having the Yankees play their Hokies in an exhibition game. The game was certainly not the important thing, but rather the opportunity the Yankees took advantage of to help a grief-stricken community put a smile on their collective faces. Good job by the Yankees in their acts and everyone's greatest sympathies continue to go out to Virginia Tech, in particular those who lost loved ones in that tragic event.

Welcome Back, Everyone

After a long offseason and a nearly 2 month long hiatus from blogging, we are back and ready to start the season.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Huston Street

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, industry sources believe that Billy Beane and the A's may continue the rebuilding process by dealing Huston Street, following the acquisition of Joey Devine. The Yankees would be wise to get involved in any kind of Street sweepstakes, as the bullpen is certainly an area of concern at this point, and Street would provide the dominant set up man the Yankees lack. While he is sure to be expensive, a talented reliever like Street does not become available everyday and he would fill more of a need than Johan Santana. A package centering around Alan Horne and including 2 or 3 additional players could get it done.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

#9 Prospect: Andrew Brackman

Age: 22

Height: 6'10"

Weight: 230 lbs

Position: Starting Pitcher, Right Handed

Andrew Brackman was the Yankees' first selection with the 30th overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. Brackman spent his collegiate career at NC State, where he was a dual sport athlete for the Wolfpack, playing on the basketball team and pitching for the baseball team. After his sophmore season at NC State, Brackman decided to dedicate his time to baseball and from the looks of it, he made a good choice. A-Brack signed a 4.5 million dollar contract with a 3.3 million dollar signing bonus.

Brackman was a standout athlete at Moeller High School in Cincinnati. He led his baseball team to the Ohio State Chamionship game as a senior with a 1.04 ERA and was also named the fourth best prospect in Ohio by Baseball America. Brackman was also a dominant force on the basketball court, averaging 20 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. He was the runner up for the Mr. Basketball Award in Ohio but won Ohio's Division I Player of the Year honors.

Brackman uses his large, powerful frame to pound the zone with blistering heat. Brackman comfortably sits at 92-97 mph and can easily pump it up to 99 mph. His four seam fastball(thanks to his tall frame) has a great downward plane and his two seamer has "plus life" to it. Brackman also throws a spike knuckle curve. A true plus pitch, this is Brackman's primary strikeout pitch which is said to be a devastating offering. Brackman's third offering is a change-up which is average right now but also has the potential to be a plus pitch.

Brackman was a risky pick by the Yankees due to his injury issues but the sky is the limit for A-Brack. While he isn't a very polished pitcher, his stuff, his stature, and his athleticism make him a top tier prospect with the potential to be one of the most dominating pitchers in the game. I truly believe that with the help of Nardi Contreras and a lot of hard work, he can become a dominating force in the majors. Tommy John has a very high success rate now and most pitchers come back throwing even harder. This surgery could help Brackman more than hinder him since he seems so eager to hit the 100 mph mark, a feat he has never accomplished. Hopefully Brackman reaches his potential because he is a once in a life time talent.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hey Guys!

Welcome those visiting from Peter Abraham's blog...take a look at some of the older posts, we have a lot of creativity here and if you read the post just below this one you'll see that it is the elongated version of my post on Peter's blog. Thanks a lot again to Peter for the opportunity and you all for visiting.

Who is in charge here?

Who’s the boss? That’s the question in the Yankees front office right now, and despite the power seized by Brian Cashman after 2005, right now, it doesn’t look as though he still has his power.
First of all, we have to look at what Cashman has done since being given full control. In the 2005-06 off season, Cashman gave Johnny Damon a four year deal to fix centerfield, and that has been with mixed results as of now. His 2006 was very good and he filled a major need, but his 2007 proved injury prone, but he did play significantly better after he did recover late in the year, and proved he can still be a fine defensive outfielder, in spite of his arm. Kyle Farnsworth was signed to a three-year deal that has been a disappointment. Farnsworth is dominant at times, but is far too inconsistent to be effective in the bullpen. Cashman signed Octavio Dotel, who proved to not be able to pitch until August, and would have proven a much better signing if the Yankees had an option year on him for 2007, where we could have gotten a better idea of how healthy he was. Dotel appeared effective, if wild, in his brief Yankees stint.

Flash forward to the 2006 trade deadline, when he made the deal in which we gave up nothing particularly useful (save for a sufficient young middle reliever) for a top 5 offensive right fielder in Bobby Abreu. Abreu went on a tear with the Yankees and after a slow start to 2007 continued on the tear and has been an excellent acquisition. The trade of Shawn Chacon for Craig Wilson was a good one, that will never be recognized because Wilson struggled under his limited and wildly inconsistent playing time, but has a career OPS+ of 113 and has hit .290/.389/.527 against left-handers. When it is considered that we obtained him for a meddling starting pitcher with tremendous control problems currently fighting for a starting spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates, this was a trade that was good, but didn’t quite pan out.

The 2006 off-season was where Cashman really got creative, as he swung deals exchanging Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson for Luis Vizcaino, Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan, Anthony Claggett, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf and Alberto Gonzalez, while signing Andy Pettitte to fill Johnson’s void in the rotation. Those deals did little to contribute in 2007, as Vizcaino was the only one to see significant time with the major league club, but it did help to restock the farm system with young arms, many of which are projected to see Major League time in 2008 with a degree of success expected. Andy Pettitte was an excellent addition as he provided some stability to an otherwise injury prone rotation and looks to help ease a very young rotation into success in 2008. The letting-go of Bernie Williams was critical, as it became more and more apparent he was a designated hitter who struggled against right-handers and was on a team full of them. Re-signing Mike Mussina was a mistake that I did not advocate, and after one year, it appears as though Mussina’s starting spot may be in serious jeopardy for 2008. The acquisition of Japanese postee Kei Igawa looks like a mistake after just one season, but it is important to remember that he did have brief stretches of success in 2007, and he was signed to a very cheap 5-year contract, making judgement of the acquisition difficult at this time, although it certainly cannot count as a point in Cashman’s favor.

There was just one significant midseason trade in 2007, and that was of Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit, an excellent deal. Proctor was rapidly on the decline, with significant increases in ERA, walks, WHiP and a decline in K/9 and K/BB. Betemit was a 25-year old switch hitter with tons of power potential and considerable enough plate discipline to make a difference. While he can’t hit lefties, a platoon with Shelley Duncan should help solve that problem at first base and his versatility off the bench is of great importance, as the Yankees can rest Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano or Alex Rodriguez without too great a loss, and his defense is more than sufficient across the infield. Additionally, despite the off-season controversy, the signing of Roger Clemens has to be commended because ultimately, it was either Clemens getting those starts or another Cashman signing in Kei Igawa, and obviously anyone would prefer Clemens, who did do a very solid job down the stretch for the team.

Thus far this offseason, he hasn’t added much other than LaTroy Hawkins and retained Rodriguez, Pettitte and Posada, but he did secure Joe Girardi, which was a major point in our favor as his bullpen management and in-game strategy should be a significant boost to the Yankees on the whole. Over the past two seasons of full Cashman control, the Yankees have drafted the highly talented Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Mark Melancon, Andrew Brackman, Brad Suttle and Carmen Angelini, while standing firm in his position to not trade them or the very highly regarded Phil Hughes, Jose Tabata and Alan Horne. The Yankees farm system has gone from one of the worst to one of the best in a short time, and while this is partially the work of Damon Oppenheimer, Cashman does play a role in the players drafted, particularly those in the later rounds, where Cashman has taken advantage of the Yankees’ financial strength and taken players who fell because of injury concerns or signability issues late in the draft, and enticed them to sign by doling out first round contracts.

The information above makes it clear that Cashman’s clear talent is for drafting and developing. While his trades have all been strong, his free agent signings have proven to be a mixed bag, with some great, some terrible. Recent reports suggest that Hank Steinbrenner has assumed much of the control, and Brian Cashman no longer has it. I think it is clear that Cashman is an excellent General Manager who has turned us into a very well run organization in a very short time and deserves the power he had and should maintain it. This is no knock on Hank, but Brian has been far above average and should continue to help us. It would be a massive disaster if the team pushed him out of the picture and allowed him to leave as a free agent after this year.

#10 Prospect: Jeff Marquez

Age: 23

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 175 lbs

Position: Starting Pitcher, Right Handed.

Jeff Marquez was the 41st pick in the supplemental round of the 2004 draft out of Sacramento City College as a compensation pick for the loss of free agent David Wells to the San Diego Padres. Jeff essentially is a power sinkerball pitcher that throws a 2 seam fastball with a hard downward plane, a four seam fastball that tops out at about 95, a plus change-up, and an average curveball that he has been developing for the last two seasons. Jeff hammers the zone with his two seam fastball to get ground balls but he has also shown the ability to strike batters out(career 6.78 K/9). Marquez controls his fastball and devastating change-up very well but is still having trouble locating his curveball.

This year at Trenton, Marquez had mixed results. His strikeouts were down, 5.45 K/9 compared to 7.99 K/9 in 2006. His GO/AO ratio was also down at 1.67 compared to 2.03 last season. His overall numbers were still excellent as he pitched 155 innings with a 3.65 ERA. He was much better in the first half of the season then the second as his ERA was almost one and a half runs higher(3.18 to 4.47 ERA).

Marquez is a very interesting prospect, he has great stuff, great control but as a "sinkerball" pitcher his GO/AO ratio concerns me. A good sinkerball pitcher should post a GO/AO ratio of 3.00. Marquez's best ratio was 2.03, which he posted last year in Tampa. In Marquez's defense, he isn't exactly pitching with a major league defense behind him so his GO/AO ratio could see a significant increase if he pitched on a major league ball club. The high fly ball total could be due to the increased frequency with which he used his curveball, a pitch he has yet to master.

Marquez's future rides on his development of his curveball. He has two major league ready pitches in his fastball and change-up but if he doesn't develop the curve, he may wind up in the bullpen- which isn't a bad thing. This may be the best spot for Marquez anyway since all of the rotation spots are filled. Brian Cashman has already stated that Marquez will be tried out as a reliever in Spring Training.

Jeff will most likely start the year in Scranton in the bullpen unless he makes huge strides with his curveball. If a pitcher lands on the DL, Marquez will probably be one of the first few arms to be called up to take over. If his curve becomes a legitimate pitch, Marquez could end up being a solid #4 or #5 starter in a major league rotation. If not, his future is in the bullpen where he could become an excellent set up man.

Credit: Patrick Teale

Mike Cameron

Just read that Mike Cameron was on the verge of signing with the Brewers shortly after reports that the Yankees had interest. This is disappointing, as Cameron would prove to be a significant upgrade over Melky Cabrera in center field offensively, and provide sufficient defense. Cabrera is a nice player, but his ceiling is limited and he's never shown the power or patience coveted when evaluating offensive value. Nonetheless, I have to believe this limits the chances of a Johan Santana trade, if ever so slightly, just because the Yankees would have one less option in terms of playing center field.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Yankees Top 10 Prospects

In the next few weeks, myself and members of Holy Cow Blog will be creating a Top 10 prospect list which will be voted upon by the writers of the blog and other trusted prospect buffs. The system will work like this:

1. 10 points
2. 9 points
3. 8 points
4. 7 points
5. 6 points

and so on...

The points will be tallied and we should have the list up by the end of the week. Once the list is posted, I will be doing a prospect profile for each ranked player.