Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Melancon Speaks

To The Thunder Blog and discusses his velocity, repertoire as well as being labeled "The Next Joba."

Ashmore: For someone who hasn’t seen you pitch before, can you give me a scouting report on yourself in terms of what you throw and your mentality out there?

Melancon: “I have a two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, curveball, and a changeup that I’m working on now. I feel a lot more comfortable with it than I did four or five weeks ago. I’m trying to incorporate all those pitches. Just kind of a bulldog mentality…I go after guys, and I’m not afraid to come in and locate inside. That’s kind of my mentality.”

Ashmore: I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you this, but that curveball you’ve got is pretty nasty. Is there a certain way that you throw it that makes it so successful, or…

Melancon: “I think my arm speed. I don’t spike it, it seems like a lot of guys…the new thing to do is spike it (a different way of gripping the pitch). I never had a feel for that pitch. When my curveball’s not as good, it’s usually because my arm speed isn’t there. I tell myself to throw it hard and mimic a fastball arm speed.”

Ashmore: So do you feel like your velocity is where it was before, or do you feel like you’re throwing harder…

Melancon: “Well, in college, I’d sit 92 or around there. And that’s where I’m sitting now. I feel like I wouldn’t get that velocity earlier in the year and now I feel like I’m getting it sooner in the year. But I still haven’t thrown that many innings in competitive games to know if I’m going to gain more velocity or what. But as of right now, I’m very happy with my velocity.”

Ashmore: Everybody says stuff like “the next Joba” when it comes to you…again, I’m well aware I’m not the first person to tell you that. But when people do say that to you, or you do hear that, what comes to mind…

Melancon: “Well, I’m thankful for Joba opening the door. Him and Ian, proving that young guys can do it. But at the same time, that’s fine if they compare me to Joba, because that’s a good thing. He’s doing really well. I don’t take that to heart as a bad thing.”

Melancon goes on to describe how important it was for him to close games at Arizona U. and how difficult the "very strenuous rehab" was coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Air I Breathe

[Warning: If you disliked 21 Grams & Magnolia ignore this post]

The Air I Breathe is basically a combination of Crash and Sin City with some Amores Perros influence involved as well. I just happened across this film during a trip to Blockbusters and was surprised with the dark, cinematics and gritty acting.

The cast includes giants like Andy Garcia and Forest Whitaker, as well as upcoming star Emile Hirsch and notables Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

If you enjoy obscure ensemble works like 11:14 you will like The Air. It's definitely worth a rent.

Also Recommend: You Kill Me; Wet Hot American Summer

Joba Will Start Tuesday At Home

Joba Chamberlain will make the first major league start of his career this Tuesday at home against Toronto. As luck would have it, Chamberlain draws Blue Jays ace, Roy Halliday, which will surely make it a tough test for the 22 year-old.

Reportedly, Chamberlain will be limited to 65-70 pitches Tuesday then move up to 75-80 pitches and 85-90 pitches in his next two starts.

[HT to Matt]

More Tabata Drama

Jose Tabata, top Yankees outfield prospect, found himself in more trouble after being removed from the dugout last night. The first report contends the genesis of Tabata's most recent drama began with his failure to backup Austin Jackson on a play in the outfield.

Apparently the details are still debatable, though The Thunder Blog intimates Tabata may have been involved in an altercation with Thunder shortstop Reegie Corona.
We had an in-house issue we needed to deal with. Don't ask me what it is because I'm not telling you,'' a visibly irritated [Manager Tony] Franklin said. "We're very pleased with the way he is playing. He is playing hard. But there are certain standards that need to be met within this organization and with this team, and when those standards are not met we take action. It's our job to make sure these players know what they are supposed to do at all times out there.''
According to one account, Reegie Corona chased a fly ball into medium right field in the middle of the game. It was, again according to this particular account, a ball that Tabata clearly should have waived Reegie off of. After the out, Tabata appeared to stare at Corona. When the inning was over something happened in the dugout. It looked like Tabata and another player, possibly Corona, were getting into it and there was some shoving at the home plate side of the dugout. Tabata was restrained and pulled into the tunnel.
Right now Tabata has one half of the Manny Ramirez comparison down flat. In other words, he acts like Manny, but hits like Willie Mays Hayes.

'King' Of Inaccuracy Says Joba Will Start Monday Or Tuesday

From the NY Post's George King comes the opinion that Joba Chamberlain's first career big league start will come on either Monday [at the Twins] or Tuesday [against Toronto].
As of late afternoon, Joe Girardi and Cashman were undecided whether Chamberlain would start Monday or Tuesday. Because Monday's game is against the Twins at the Metrodome and would provide a calmer setting than Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium against the Blue Jays, and because it would provide Andy Pettitte with an extra day of rest when he goes Tuesday, that seemed a stronger option.
Chamberlain would most likely be on a pitchcount of around 75 in either case.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

McAllister Promoted To Tampa

Even Brian Cashman's preseason declaration that Zach McAllister [and Dellin Betances] would remain at Low-A Charleston all year couldn't hold off McAllister's promotion to Tampa.

The 20 year-old had proven all that was necessary at Charleston and having him continue to embarrass Low-A hitters would only delay his development. His XBox-like strikeout to walk ratio [53:8] and groundball to flyball ratio [2.16] are glaring supports of McAllister's promotion.

The Tampa Yankees rotation now has a very talented, young triumvirate of starters in McAllister [20], Ivan Nova [21], and Chris Garcia [22].
McAllister marks the first RiverDog to be promoted in the 2008 season.
The 6’6”, 230 lb. right-hander was enjoying a phenomenal first season in the South Atlantic League (SAL), posting a team-best 6-3 record with a 2.45 ERA. In 62.1 innings of work, the Chillicothe, Ill. native surrendered 28 runs (17 earned), while allowing just eight walks and striking out 53 batters.
From what I hear, McAllister added some velocity to his fastball and may have found a better feel for his four-seamer. Last year McAllister was primarily a sinker ball pitcher whose curve and changeup had not yet clicked. It would appear the youngster found something in Charleston and has been extremely consistent since that time.

Regardless of what minor league level Yankee fans decide to follow, chances are you will encounter some rising pitching prospects. Charleston awaits the return of Jairo Heredia and Betances [who was DLed with shoulder fatigue], while Trenton has George Kontos and Mark Melancon and, finally, Scranton boasts Alan Horne, Dan McCutchen, JB Cox and Dave Robertson.

Yanks Could Target RHP Cole

The upcoming draft has a handful of top-tier talent. Unfortunately, the majority of these top draft prospects will most likely fall off the board before the Yankees pick at #28. There have been some rumors that Gerrit Cole, the talented California prepster, could slide to the Yankees on draft day. Could this be one time where Scott Boras' greed factor assists the Yankees?

Cole boasts a lightning quick arm that pumps lively fastballs at 93-97 mph as well as a solid slider in the 80's which projects as a plus pitch to go along with a developing changeup. Most reports paint Cole as a strike thrower with all three pitches which is even more impressive considering he is not a collegiate prospect.

How well Cole can command and advance his secondary pitches will dictate whether he is a frontline starter or backend bullpen arm. Either way, as unlikely as it may be, he could end up another high ceiling power pitcher [who touches 100 mph] amongst names like Brackman, Betances, McAllister, etc. If he's there, expect the Yankees to buy Cole out of his UCLA commitment.

From Keith Law's most recent ESPN chat:
Chris: Kennewick,WA: Keith Who do you see the yankees taking with #28? I know they take the best player left on the board, anychance that Gerrit cole is still around?

SportsNation Keith Law: (1:54 PM ET ) I think they'd take Cole if he reached them, or Hosmer, Crow, or Alvarez if any of them slides that far. What I don't know is what they'll do if all the legit first-rounders with high bonus demands go before them.
Though Cole would be a great get at #28, Yankee fans would have wet dreams about Aaron Crow donning pinstripes.

Joba Has Decent Stuff beat me to the punch on this one... Because I missed an inning of Joba Chamberlain's outing last night I went back to's Gameday option to see how his stuff was grading out. Suffice to say this screenshot shows how ridiculous Chamberlain's pitching repertoire can be:

Even if Joba throws only 95-97mph in the sixth inning instead of the 98-100mph he used in the bullpen role, I'm pretty sure he will still be difficult to hit.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mets Using Phony Attendance #'s

That doesn't look like a sell-out.

Apparently the New York Mets have been doctoring their attendance figures in order to distort the perceived size of the Shea Stadium crowds. The organization, however, is taking more than the normal cosmetic liberties and instead are calling in figures up to 20,000 fans off.

Congratulations to the Mets, who successfully have taken over the lead in New York for fabricating attendance figures.

This was no easy accomplishment, because the Knicks have been piping numbers for several years now, pretending they had a string of sellouts when there were tickets available at the window and empty seats galore.

But now, the Mets have been adding pretend fans in tens of thousands, each and every night. At their last two games, announced attendances of 51,489 and 47,093 weren’t just exaggerations. They were dreamy fabrications.

I am not a stupid sportswriter. I know that these are supposed to be ticket sale numbers, not an exact turnstile count, and that there inevitably are some no-shows. But the Mets would require a 40% no-show rate to make this believable, and their crowd is working class. Very few Met fans are going to buy expensive tickets and then watch the game on television.

I was at these two games and personally witnessed entire, vast regions of the upper deck devoid of life. This is a stadium that seats 55,601. There were no more than 35,000 fans in the park on Monday, and no more than 25,000 on Tuesday.

I don’t quite understand why it is necessary to pretend that the Mets are drawing fans in droves to their lame-duck, decrepit stadium. Hopefully, when they move to Citi Field, there will be real bodies in the seats instead of air.

I had heard of this rumor recently and took it as a half truth. I assumed the Mets were overblowing their attendance numbers, but not at the levels which had been rumored.

Turns out the chatter was accurate as Shea Stadium is regularly filling up with imaginary no-shows. Not to say that the Mets are the only team who practice this technique, but going to such extremes is just weak.

Kennedy, Betances Placed On DL

Ian Kennedy, as expected, will be placed on the disabled list with a strain of the lat muscle located near the shoulder. This is the same injury which pushed him out of the playoff rotation picture last season. Kennedy has been sent back to New York for an MRI and the medical staff will move forward from there.

Another top young arm in the Yankees organization - Dellin Betances - has officially been placed on the DL by the Charleston Riverdogs. Though Betances was shut down last year with elbow inflammation, it has not yet been determined what type of injury the hulking 6'9'' right hander suffered.

Joba Getting Rocket Texts

Joba Chamberlain is getting text messages from Roger Clemens with advice on how to become a better major leaguer. No word on whether the texts contained a recipe for performance-enhancing-drugs.

Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, who is making the transition from eighth-inning reliever to the rotation, says he is in touch with Clemens regularly.

“We text back and forth and I ask him a lot of questions, because that’s how you get better,” Chamberlain said before the Yankees’ game in Baltimore Tuesday night. “You can’t be afraid to ask questions. I ask him everything from workout questions to how to pitch to certain batters. I never thought I’d be texting Roger Clemens.”

...Chamberlain says he’s taking pieces of Clemens’ workout routine and incorporating them. One piece of advice Clemens gave him: “The easiest day should be the day you pitch,” Chamberlain says. “Then, I beat myself up in between starts. I run, lift, eat right and take care of myself between starts.”

Maybe Chamberlain should stick to pitching tips and leave the "workout questions" alone for now.

Horne Ready For Next Step

From the SWB Yanks Blog comes news on Alan Horne and his progression coming back from an arm injury. Apparently Horne is done pitching in Extended Spring Training games and will throw in the higher affiliates this weekend.

[Horne] made another extended spring training start today, pitching 3.2 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks... Horne said he once again felt great.

He also said he doesn't expect to make another extended start, but he's not sure where his next assignment will be. All he's been told is that he will pitch somewhere on Sunday. Could be Tampa, Trenton or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

There are a whole lot of people inside the organization pulling for Horne's return. There's also a bunch outside the organization in the form of reporters, fans, family, etc. I'm one of them.


What a horrendous loss. New York surrendered three straight leads of 4-0 and 8-4 and finally 9-8. The last two bullpen options to close the game were Jose Veras and someone who can't get lefties out.

To me, Veras was the choice as the upcoming inning called for three straight lefthanded hitters. However Joe Girardi calledup upon LaTroy Hawkins who will now have a new chant at Yankee Stadium: D-F-A.

Boy oh boy will the "Joba stays in the pen" crowd have a field day with this one.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kennedy Leaves With Lat Strain

Looks like the transitioning of Joba Chamberlain to the starting rotation may have come at exactly the right time.

During another subpar performance from Ian Kennedy, the righthander was peculiarly lifted from the game after only 51 pitches and three innings of work. As you may imagine, IPK left due to an apparent arm injury and will be reevaluated tomorrow.


Yankees starter Ian Kennedy, who came out after three innings and 51 pitches, has been diagnosed with a "slight" strain of his right latissimus dorsi.

Because of an off day Thursday, he Yankees can get by with four starters unitl June 3. Could Joba Chamberlain be ready for the rotation by then?

I would bet my bottom dollar the Yankees are far too strict with Joba's transition strategy to start him on June 3rd - and only able to toss 80 pitches. Guys like Dan[imal] McCutchen may be available to make a start by then. If Alan Horne was a couple weeks further into his recovery time he would certainly be top candidate for a call up as well.

Avert Your Eyes, Met Fans

How good is this guy?

Last night Scott Kazmir tossed 7 innings of one-run ball, striking out 10 and walking zero.

In his last four starts, Kazmir's thrown 26 innings with 13 hits, 27 strikeouts, 7 walks and 2 earned runs. He is 4-0 over this time, carrying Tampa Bay back into first place in the AL East.

Every team has horrendous trades [AJ Pierzynski to the Giants anyone?] but the name Victor Zambrano will last forever in Flushing.

Columnists Want Joba In Pen

Completely unsurprising in its uniformity, is the shared opinion of most baseball columnists that moving Joba Chamberlain to the rotation is a mistake. Taking the George Washington Bridge at 4 o'clock could be a mistake as well, but if it's the smartest route toward your destination, how are you going to know unless you actually give it a shot.

Keeping Chamberlain in the bullpen this year means another wasted year in which Chamberlain hasn't thrown enough innings to become a fulltime starter next season. It's always funny to me to see those stubborn sports writers (not all of course) try out their crystal balls and pretend a setup man supercedes the contributions a frontine starter could offer.

It was especially enjoyable to hear one particular beat reporter contend the Yankees might have won yesterday had Joba been pitching and not Hawkins/Veras. Discard the fact that the Yankees were losing when the terrible twosome entered the ballgame, there have to be other relievers in the Yankees pen besides Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera. If New York was protecting a 1-0 lead in the eighth inning in which Hawkins and Vera's blew, there would have at least been a point to take seriously.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cano Walks Off, Garcia K's 10

Robinson Cano put a bow on the best performance from Ian Kennedy this year by hitting a walk off RBI single and giving the Yankees a 2-1 win. Kennedy tossed six innings, striking out four (but walking four) and allowing only one run on four hits. Escaping a bases-loaded with one out jam without yielding a run was the key point of the game.


Chris Garcia
was an uber prospect out of high school but has since become an injury bitten enigma. This year, Garcia is making his way back into games and made his 2008 debut last week. Tonight, the 22 year-old Garcia tossed a gem by striking out 10 batters, walking one and surrendering two hits over six scoreless innings.

I haven't yet heard about Garcia's stuff or velocity, but when he was 100% healthy in years past he would use a plus fastball ranging from 92-95 mph and touching 97. Though his fastball is reportedly only at 91+ mph right now, Garcia will likely regain his velocity down the road. At 6'5 and 210 lbs. he has the perfect frame for workhorse power pitcher.

Pre Tommy John, Garcia also possesses dynamite off-speed pitches including a hammer power curveball 80-83 mph. Along with his knuckle curve Garcia also uses a devastating changeup around 80mph. It was said that when Garcia was healthy and could stay on the mound he had the best curve and changeup in the entire organization.

If Garcia dominates at A+ Tampa, he could move rather quickly. However, the most important part of Garcia's season will be proving he can remain healthy and log innings. Striking out 16 batters [to just 2 walks] through 10.2 innings this year is a step in the right direction.

Braves Fan Falls To Death

This is the second such incident in which a MLB fan has fallen to his death while leaving a stadium's confines. Unlike the first tragic event which took place at Shea Stadium, this latest tragedy involves a potential overuse of alcohol as a cause. An eerie coincidence that both instances came during a Mets game:

Justin Hayes of Cumming, Ga., suffered head injuries Wednesday night and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. He fell about 150 feet from the club level to the landing on the field level during the eighth inning.

The investigation is "pointing toward drinking. Alcohol was a factor," said Atlanta police department spokesman Ronald Campbell on Thursday.

Campbell said Hayes may have been sliding down the handrails when he fell.

There has to be some way to require these immense stairwells be covered with plexiglass and the like to ensure no one can fall.

Olney: Santana's Wear & Tear

From Buster Olney's blog today comes the discussion of Johan Santana's longterm health and effectiveness throughout his contract with the Mets:
Heard this from a couple of evaluators: Johan Santana's velocity is down 3-4 miles per hour from a couple of years ago. He is short-arming the ball more than he has in the past -- and this is after some red flags appeared in the physical examination he underwent before signing with the Mets. Sources say his shoulder showed some wear and tear, which is not unusual for a pitcher of Santana's age. This is not to say Santana is not an effective pitcher now, but all of this information makes you wonder how effective he will remain during the course of his multi-year deal.
Obviously, these rumors could be discarded should Santana continue to dominate hitters during the life of his new deal. However, should Santana's shoulder crumble in the next couple of seasons it will be interesting to hear what Hank Steinbrenner [and similar-sounding Yankee fans] feel about Brian Cashman's decision to pass on the Johan sweepstakes.

To be fair, when I saw Santana pitch at Yankee Stadium last weekend the stadium gun had the lefty consistently pitching 91-93 mph. Santana frequently hit 94 and topped out at 96 a few times with his fastball. This is all reliant on the Yankee Stadium radar gun which is often said to be inaccurate at times. Though Keith Law agrees with that idea, I usually find the stadium gun to be very accurate.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Newsflash, Joba To Become Starter
Girardi: "The Process Has Started"

By July 1, a Nebraskan fireballer will be starting games every fifth day for the Yankees. As this blog and several other Yankee sites had been confidently asserting since spring training, Joba Chamberlain is to become a starting pitcher in 2008.

Now it's official as Joe Girardi told Kim Jones after the game, "The process has started."

It was pretty evident that the process had begun once Chamberlain threw four or five changeups in the two innings he pitched during an 8-0 blowout victory Wednesday night.

As soon as I saw the 80 mph radar readings and the solid fading downward movement of his change I knew Joba to the Rotation had begun. The only guy on the YES telecast not observant enough to recognize it was Michael Kay as John Flaherty and Singleton read the handwriting on the wall.

Mark Melancon
and JB Cox and Dan McCutchen and Dave Robertson just got a whole lot closer to the majors - even though they currently remain at their respective AA and AAA levels.

It will be extremely entertaining to hear the NY radio talk circuit munch on this for hour after hour. It will be just as fun to see how clueless some of these personalities are regarding the minor league prospects moving towards the back of the bullpen.

Just a bit of advice. If any writer, radio host or ESPN analyst states names like Farnsworth or Hawkins as Joba's longterm replacement as the setup man feel free to disregard them as having any knowledge about baseball for the remainder of your sports-watching life.

As Big Club Falters, Minors Prosper

The big club in the Bronx may look like the Bad News Bears recently, but the Yankees minor leaguers are giving fans something to smile about.

With Joba Chamberlain's meteoric rise through the minors a well-chronicled journey last year, fans will be much more inclined to keep their ears open for the next young fireballer. Hopefully some of my thoughts will contribute toward your overall prospect knowledge in some capacity.

Periodically throughout every week I will recap the most noteworthy goings-on in the baby bombers arena. Today the focus will be on rising pitching prospects who all took the mound on Tuesday night.
Zach McAllister continues to dominate Sally league:

Last night - 8 innings, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts.

Over his past two starts McAllister [pictured above] has thrown 15 innings, struck out 17, walked zero and allowed one earned run. That's domination. Over nine starts this season McAllister has had exactly one outing which was not very good.
Mark Melancon's progression has been superaltive:

Last night - 3 hitless and scoreless innings, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 5 groundball outs to zero in the air. [Melancon entered the game in a 0-0 tie and held off Reading until his team scored three runs in the top of the 10th before closing it out with a 1-2-3 inning]

Once again, that's domination. If you had never heard his name before and went to see him pitch now, you would assume Melancon had been making his way through the minor league ranks for at least a couple years before arriving in Trenton. [Try 37 career minor league innings] His mound demeanor and stuff continue to soar off scouting charts.
JB Cox knocking on the door:

Last night - 1.2 innings, 0 hits, 0 earned runs, 1 walk

His last professional season - which was at AA Trenton - was a dominant campaign for the former Texas University closer. Since returning from elbow surgery this year, Cox has pitched 16.1 innings with a 1.65 ERA and 2.38 GO/AO rate. Safe to say the sinker/slider repertoire remained intact for Cox. Should JB continue to pitch this well at AAA - for say a month or so - he could soon bolster a Joba-less bullpen.
Scott Patterson recovers from early woes:

Last night - 1 inning, 0 hits/runs/walks/strikeouts

In his last nine appearances, Patterson has not allowed an earned run. Over those 9.1 innings the funky righthander allowed 6 hits, 2 walks to go with 9 strikeouts. On the year Patterson has now tossed 20 innings, giving up 17 hits while striking out 19 to just 5 walks and posting a solid 2.70 ERA. It would seem Patterson has fully returned after a poor start to his 2008 season.
Ivan Nova looking to get on track:

Last night - 8 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk

In by far his best start of the season, Nova looked like the dominating pitcher many Yankee fans hope he can develop into. Though this season - and somewhat his career - has been extremely inconsistent, the 21 year-old still has a great deal of promise, evidenced by last night's performance. There had been rumors this April that Nova had lost some of the velocity off his plus fastball [which averaged 93mph last year], but building on his last start would help to quiet his critics.

Jeter Day-To-Day

After taking a 93 mph Daniel Cabrera fastball to the left hand, Derek Jeter is officially day to day. [How much you want to bet Mike Mussina paid Cabrera to plunk Jeter after the Yankees shortstop flubbed a routine grounder which extended a nightmare first inning and ending the frame trailing 7-0 instead of what would have been just a 1-0 deficit.]

But of course Jeter says he is fine:

"It'll be fine," said Jeter, whose hand was in a protective wrap after the game. "It's not a big deal. I should be all right by (today). He hit me pretty good. (Thankfully) it's not broken."

Yankees reliever LaTroy Hawkins incited a bench-clearing incident in the top of the sixth when he threw at Orioles outfielder Luke Scott's head in apparent retaliation. Home plate umpire Chuck Meriwether promptly ejected Hawkins. No punches were thrown after the benches and bullpens emptied.

Scott was incensed that Hawkins aimed at his head.

"Of course it was (intentional)," Scott said. "I understand that you have to protect your players, but there's a certain way to go about it and that was not it. You never throw at anyone's head intentionally. You can injure someone. ... You can end a career."

Hawkins said that he was simply "throwing the pitch inside and it got away from me."

Alex Rodriguez returned from the DL, so it was only fair that the Yankees Captain become injured. So is the way of the Yankees universe these days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

McCutchen Promoted To AAA

George King can now put it in his column.
The New York Post writer initially jumped the gun last week, but now Dan McCutchen has officially been called up to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
The promotion was well-deserved for Cutch who over 91 total innings at Trenton struck out 82 batters, walked 27, allowed 78 hits and pitched to an ERA under 2.50 and nearly an even 1.00 WHIP.
[Over his 222 career minor league innings, Cutch has a 2.43 ERA, a 6.97 h/9, a 1.02 WHIP, a 0.69 hr/9 and 2.19 bb/9]
In a corresponding move, Bo Hall has been sent down to Trenton.
On and off the field McCutchen is a hard-working, good guy who is certainly worthy of such success and movement.

Did Hank Consult Hal?

It would sound like Hank Steinbrenner took some advice from his brother before his latest public comments:
“I don’t think, truthfully, anybody knows exactly who’s going to be where in the American League. Only two teams among the favorites are doing anything right now, and that’s the Red Sox and the Angels. We’re not doing well, Detroit’s not doing well, Cleveland’s not doing that great. The A.L. is a little topsy-turvy.

“I don’t know if we need to make any trades. We’ll see what happens, but I think the days where you can get a Cone or a Duque or a Wells may be over. We didn’t get Santana, so we’ve got to deal with what we have, and we’ll do the best that we can and keep building.”

I did not bring up Johan Santana, but since Steinbrenner mentioned him, I asked if he still thinks about that potential trade, and whether Santana’s performance this season would have any bearing on his evaluations going forward.

“That ship has sailed,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m not going to keep dwelling on that. Everybody knows what my opinion was, but that’s in the past. Mussina’s pitching great. Wang has turned out to be an ace. I know Andy will start pitching well again. Rasner’s been impressive, and our bullpen’s been great. Our hitting will come around – it’s got to.”

So by "not going to keep dwelling on [Santana]," that means you will still bring him up unprovoked? Hankenstein needs to get himself a better definition of dwell.

More from the young elephant:

“The bottom line is we can easily still win the division, we can get the wild card, and we’ll see what happens from there,” Steinbrenner said.

He added: “We’re going to be all right this year. I think we’re going to make a run at it. We’re in much better striking position than we were last year, and there’s no way all these guys – forget about Rodriguez and Posada – Cano, Cabrera, Giambi, Abreu, all the other guys – are not going to at least approach what they did last year.

“And when they start getting on a tear, we’ve got the starting pitching settled, and the bullpen’s great, we’re going to be really tough by the end of the year. I’m very, very confident.”

Monday, May 19, 2008

Horne Survives Spring Start

Alan Horne, the top Yankees pitching prospect recovering from a bicep strain, pitched two scoreless innings today in an Extended Spring Training game. He threw some 26 pitches and is slated to get in another game on Thursday with a goal of upping his pitchcount to 50.

Though no timetable is currently set in stone, it is altogether possible Horne rejoins the AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre rotation in a week. Horne provides another starting pitching option or trading chip for Brian Cashman to plug in.

Meanwhile... Jeff Karstens will start tonight for Scranton after pitching in Tampa of late. Karstens has been working his way back from a groin injury suffered in early Spring and could ultimately find his way into a longman role in turnoverville the Yankees bullpen.

A-Rod Is A-OK For Return

Alex Rodriguez is ready to go per the Star Ledger update:

The word from Tampa: Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-6 in his final extended spring training game and is ready to join the team tomorrow.

"I'm excited to get back into Yankee Stadium and playing baseball. It's where I belong," Rodriguez told the Associated Press.

More from the AP: Rodriguez doubled and singled in six at-bats against Philadelphia minor league right-hander Reginal Simon. He also reached on error, struck out and flied out twice, making him 3-for-10 with a homer in two extended spring training games.

"I wanted to go left, I wanted to go right defensively. I wanted to come forward on some slow rollers, and I got every [grounder]," Rodriguez said. "I'm happy about that. I got a chance to slide a few times, and swing the bat well."

The defending AL MVP will have a great deal of pressure on his shoulders to immediately perform at a high level.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Farnsworthless Reappears,
McAllister & Betances Dominant

Not the most exciting game I've seen at the stadium, but hey, at least the real Kyle Farnsworth stood up. Two homers, three runs coughed up during a one-run game that Andy Pettitte scratched and clawed through turned a nail-biter into another ugly Yankees loss. Like every baseball fan already knows, Farnsworth can string together a couple weeks of good pitching, but every time he's placed in a pressure spot he'll fold, as today once again proves.

Joba Chamberlain has been going to the curveball with much more regularity. Maybe the Yankees have told him to refine his curve and changeup in preparation for joining the starting rotation. Maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse. Either way, Carlos Delgado won a hard fought battle, resulting in a much needed insurance run as the Mets earned an important 7-4 win.

Mark Melancon
and JB Cox continue to move up the ranks. Soon the words Farnsworth and pressure situation will be aliens to a Yankee fan's vocabulary.

- Meanwhile, in the lower ranks:

Charleston young guns Zach McAllister [20] and Dellin Betances [20] are making real progress. McAllister has been especially dominant: 49 innings, 44 hits, 43 strikeouts, 7 walks, 2.20 ERA. The 6:1 ratio of strikeouts to walks and 2.66 GO/AO are video game numbers and his last outing was extremely impressive.

After the only terrible outing of his 2008 campaign [8 runs on 11 hits over 3 innings], McAllister dominated in his next start by tossing 7 shutout innings, striking out 11 and walking zero. Though he is still a youngan, McAllister has already outclassed the Sally League competition and is deserving of a Tampa promotion.

Betances, in the meantime, has been striking out batters left and right. Unfortunately, he's also been handing out walks like they're going out of style. Over 47 innings Betances has only allowed 27 hits and struck out a ridiculous 57 batters [while walking an equally noticeable 32], with a 3.26 ERA and .167 batting average against. A source in Charleston let me know Betances has been sitting 92-94 mph with his fastball and hitting 96 on occasion.

Like McAllister, Betances had suffered the worst start of his 2008 season a week ago before recovering extremely well yesterday by throwing 6 no-hit innings and striking out 8 batters before being pulled for pitchcount. (Betances is regularly held to 90 pitches and was taken out of the game after throwing 94 last night) According to multiple forums, Betances was sitting at 94 mph all night, hit 95 on the gun 15 times and topped out at 97.

Though Betances has the higher ceiling, McAllister is obviously showing the greater command and maturity. Before the season started, Brian Cashman decreed both elite arms would spend the entire season at Charleston. However, McAllister has already proven to need a higher level of competition and Betances may soon follow suit - if he can ever reduce his current walk rate of 6.80 b/9.

, the much anticipated return of Christian Garcia took place tonight as the oft-injured pitching prospect threw 4.2 innings for Tampa, allowed 6 hits, 1 earned run, struck out 6 and walked 1. Garcia has been making his way back from Tommy John and serious knee surgeries and, when healthy, possesses some of the best stuff in the entire Yankees farm system. Keep an eye on Garcia this year as he is an very intriguing project.

See You At The Game

Luckily I didn't get tickets for last night's game, but I will be in attendance for this afternoon's match up which pits Andy Pettitte against Johan Santana.

This will be the first time I see Santana in person. I missed him by a day last summer when I was in Minneapolis and, typically, the night before Santana struck out 17 Texas Rangers over eight innings.

The Yankees will be hoping for a more tame Johan on Saturday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Girardi's Dead On...On Kennedy

Caught the tail end of Joe Girardi's weekly appearance on the Mike & The Mad Dog radio show and he said what I've been thinking (and blogging) since Ian Kennedy's 2008 struggles began.

"He's become a two-pitch pitcher" was the thought Girardi relayed to Francesa & Russo when asked about Kennedy's continued struggles Thursday afternoon. The Yankees manager then stated Kennedy "needs to use all his pitches."

After hearing about Kennedy's great performance at AAA [in which the righthander had a perfect game going], it was significant to note the effectiveness of his curveball that night. I said, and still say, the command and use of the curveball is a key cog in deciding whether he will have success at the major league level.

Without his curve - and occasional slider - Kennedy becomes a fastball/changeup pitcher without the threat of another pitch. [Edwar Ramirez comes to mind, right?] Obviously Kennedy is most comfortable and in command of these two pitches and is scared of taking the chance of using his breaking balls.

However, he does not have the velocity differential that Johan Santana [and now Edinson Volquez] incorporates and therefore must rely on breaking pitches. And even if Kennedy had Santana or Volquez's plus fastball to accompany their dominant changeups, no starter can survive without a reliable breaking ball - as Volquez will soon learn and Santana already has in refining his slider.

The sooner Kennedy let's it go with his breaking balls, the sooner he will discover how to get major leaguers out. As long as the USC alum remains tentative with throwing the hook, hitters will wait on the fastball and keep pounding him into the cheap seats.

For Yankees fans, it's a positive sign Girardi noticed this particular tendency. The next step is rectifying it.

Giambi's Slumpbuster?
A Golden Thong

According to, Jason Giambi resorts to wearing a golden thong to bust his way out of prolonged slumps at the plate.

And "wearing a golden thong" is baseball lingo for the Giambino refilling his deca-durabolin prescription.

The whole gold thong image may be a great analogy for Giambi's Yankees tenure: although it looked good on her at first glance, you're soon left disappointed as the initial window dressing hid a much uglier underbelly.

Top 10 Sportscenter Commercial

Just came across a great This Is Sportscenter tv ad today and felt the need to pass it along. Jose Reyes may not be a Mets fan-favorite right now, but he just earned points in my book for one of the funniest Sportscenter commercials I've ever seen:

Mark Melancon Is A Monster

Made my way to Trenton last night to see Trenton vs. Portland with top Red Sox pitching prospect Justin Masterson taking the hill. However, the real reason for my visit was the much anticipated arrival of Mark Melancon, who had recently been promoted from A+ Tampa.

I've heard about his flawless make-up, devastating stuff and mad dog mentality on the mound. I'd read several scouting reports on him since the Yankees drafted him in 2006. However, this was the first time I'd seen him in person.

My expectation level was reminiscent of the first time I saw Joba Chamberlain pitch. That night, Joba struck out 12 batters over six scoreless innings.

Melancon was not as dominant - he allowed an earned run over his two innings of work - but you quickly understand why so many scouts drool over the former Arizona closer's ability.

As soon as he entered the game, the crowd perked up, particularly the countless scouts who had lost interest after Masterson coughed up seven earned runs. Seated next to me were Trenton starters Dan McCutchen, George Kontos and Chase Wright, who were all in the house to chart Melancon's pitches and catch a first glimpse of their new closer.

His pitching arsenal:
Fastball: sat at mostly 93-94 mph throughout the outing and topped out at 95 mph.. He threw a more sinking heater at 91 down in the zone. His arm slot is nearly over the top (or basically high three-quarters) making the 94 mph fastball drive downward on hitters and probably seem even faster than it already is. A plus fastball in terms of velocity, movement and command.

The lateral movement it generates, however, may be the most impressive characteristic to the pitch. Melancon is able to command the fastball well inside, though he did leave a few pitches out over the plate, a single and RBI double coming as a result. The majority of the time Melancon's heater bent in and out of the zone as he attacked hitters with a 7-1 lead.
Curveball: The epitome of an outpitch, Melancon possesses an absolute hammer power curveball hovering around 80-81 mph. He showed the ability to drop the pitch in for a called strike as well as bury it in the dirt for swinging strikes. Potentially a plus-plus pitch, Melancon throws it with great conviction and bite.

From my vantage point behind homeplate, the ball just seemed to be on a continuous downward spiral. This comes in part because of Melancon's high release point. Following his fastball, the curve has great depth and simply drops off the table, somewhat like Francisco Rodriguez's big breaking ball. Two of his four strikeouts came on the pitch.
Changeup: An average major league offering, Melancon's change sits in the low 80s. I believe Melancon only threw the pitch twice during his two frames and while it seemed he commanded it well enough to throw it for strikes, the movement and deception was not particularly exceptional. The simple fact of the matter is that Melancon does not need a third pitch to succeed at the major league level. His fastball and curve are that strong.
Barring an injury, there is no doubt in my mind that Melancon will be pitching in New York this Summer. The only question is when and in what capacity. With guys like Dave Robertson, Ross Ohlendorf, Dan McCutchen and possibly Scott Patterson having the ability to set up for Mariano Rivera, Mr. Melancon will have some competition for the eighth inning role. But I'll still put my money on Melancon.

The final line for Melancon's first appearance at AA Trenton: 2 innings; 2 hits; 1 earned run; zero walks; 4 strikeouts.

For what it's worth, Masterson's 87-91 mph sinking fastball has about as much movement as I've ever seen at the minor league level. His secondary pitches - a slider and change - paled in comparison but Masterson's command and movement of his sinker may be good enough that he will rarely need his off speed stuff.

[Photos & Video thanks to The Thunder Blog]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

McCutchen To Join AAA Stay At AA

UPDATE: Apparently George King of the Post was wrong about McCutchen's rumored promotion as Mark Newman told Chad Jennings of the SWB Yanks Blog that no such promotion is imminent. Shocking that King would get something 100% wrong.

The NY Post reports 25 year-old Trenton starter Dan McCutchen will be promoted to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

I've met McCutchen multiple times and have heard nothing but good things about him off the field. On the field the Oklahoma product is a bulldog who has enjoyed great success since the beginning of last season.

This year has been no different. Cutch has dominated all season by throwing 50 innings to 38 hits, 46 strikeouts to 15 walks as well as a 2.50 ERA and .209 opponents batting average. His fastball is generally 91-93 and is complimented by a hard curveball and a potentially strong changeup.

Yankees organizational heads love McCutchen's versatility in that he could toss six solid innings but his stuff also plays well in a bullpen role. [His fastball may gain a few ticks on the radar gun if he comes out of the bullpen] His advanced age - 25 years old - also allows the Yankees to be a bit less calculated as they would be with guys like Phil Hughes.

Chad Jennings believes Alan Horne is very close to returning to the Scranton rotation. Horne had been working his way back from an arm injury suffered in early April. Horne's father said Alan threw to live hitters on Tuesday and his arm continues to respond well to the rehab. According to father Horne, his son will again toss to live batters tomorrow and "go in a game next Monday."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A-Rod Targets Tuesday Return

Old news now, but Alex Rodriguez's MRI results yesterday were not convincing enough to warrant a weekend return to action. Instead Rodriguez plans to rejoin the team this Tuesday should he avoid any setbacks in the meantime.

Alex Rodriguez is "frustrated" by the slow healing of his strained right quadriceps, he said today, and hopes to return to the Yankees by next Tuesday.

Rodriguez confirmed his MRI yesterday showed the strain had gone from grade 2 (moderate) to grade 1 (mild) and said Allen Miller, the Yankees' Tampa-based orthopedic surgeon, said another MRI will not be necessary

"We're aiming for Tuesday," Rodriguez said. "It's frustrating because I feel like I need to be out there helping the team.

"I felt I could have played probably this weekend. I need to get back."

Horne Update: 5/13

Alan Horne, who is working his way back from a biceps strain, has been keeping Yankees fans up to date on his rehab via his father who posts on several message boards.

This one comes from NYYFans:
Just got through talking with Alan after he completed his workout for today. He threw to live hitters and said that again everything went very well. He didn't feel like anybody was really squaring up on the ball all day. He said his location was good, he was able to stay down in the zone all day, and continues to have both good run and sink late movement on his FB's. He also said his curve and slider were both sharp today and that his change-up was good. Again, he was real pleased with how his arm feels while throwing and after his workout as well. He said he really feels ready to go, just waiting on the green light....He'll work again to live hitters either Thursday or Friday and go in a game down there next Monday. Continuing to look for good things ahead.
Suffice to say a healthy Horne would be getting a steady aroma of the big leagues considering how close he is to competing at the highest level.

Joba's Potential Replacements,
Cox and Melancon Promoted

Two possible substitutes for Joba Chamberlain in the back of the Yankees bullpen, Mark Melancon and JB Cox, were each given a promotion to AA and AAA respectively.

Cox is the more advanced of the two, mostly because he has logged more professional innings before going down with his elbow injury. Melancon probably has the best stuff, however, and may have the better make-up to pitching in the eighth inning.

Whatever the case may be, both Cox and Melancon have the stuff and mentality to contribute to the Yankees big league pen this summer.

From the SWB Yanks blog:
The Yankees on Tuesday promoted J.B. Cox to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre...

Thanks to a text message good friend John Nalbone, is that Mark Melancon is taking Cox's place in Trenton. Melancon has been in Tampa where he's allowed one run in his past 13.1 innings. He's also walked two and struck out 15 in that span.
The Yankees brass just took another meaningful step toward inserting Chamberlain into the starting five.

Kennedy To Rejoin Big Club,
Make Start On Thursday

Ian Kennedy did not have to wait long for another crack at the big league rotation and will start this Thursday against Tampa Bay.
Ian Kennedy pitched one [scoreless] inning for Scranton against Indianapolis.

12 pitches / 7 strikes. Scott Strickland replaced him.

Kennedy has thrown 8.1 innings for Scranton. 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts. He’ll be here to face the Rays on Thursday.

Personally, I’d think you want him to show a little more down there.

I strongly agree with Pete's final thought. You would like to see Kennedy get (at least) a full second start to further test himself at AAA before such an instantaneous return to the rotation.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, as Abraham also notes, they cannot afford to simply give the game away by allowing Kei Igawa to pitch.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Boomer A Bomber Again?
Fat Chance

Get it? Fat chance. You know because David Wells is, well, overweight.

Anyhow, Wells told the Daily News he would love to make a return to the Yankees, even though there is zero interest on the other side of the table.

However, leave it to the NY tabloids to take a Hank Steinbrenner quote lauding the exceptional starting rotation during the Yankees championship run and turn it into a jab at the current team.

The writer even intimates Hank "thinking" about Wells and adding such complimentary words regarding free agent pitchers like El Duque, Dave Cone and Wells must mean Hank will demand Brian Cashman signs the hefty lefty. Right....

The free-agent left-hander told The Post yesterday he has been working out near his home in San Diego and believes he could bolster a Yankees’ rotation suddenly besieged by question marks.

The Baby Boss then dropped a subtle hint he’s growing disillusioned with the Yankees’ youth movement and could open the door to Wells.

“What sticks out in my mind, that team in the late ‘90s, the starting pitching,” he said. “You had [David] Cone, El Duque [Orlando Hernandez], Wells . . . they were all big-game pitchers. They all came from elsewhere - not in the system.

“Everybody talks about the great players from the farm system that we had in the ‘90s, but it was the starting rotation. That was a huge part of the success. Huge.”

Dellucci: Joba Antics Are 'Bush'

Shockingly, it looks like not everyone is as receptive to Joba Chamberlain's exuberance as Frank Thomas was:

“That’s what gets him going and that’s what everybody likes to see, but if a hitter was to do something like that they’d probably say it was ‘bush (league)’ and you shouldn’t do it,” Dellucci said. “It’s kind of funny how a pitcher can get away with it.”

..."It’s no disrespect to the hitter,” Chamberlain said. “It’s no disrespect to the game. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve done it. That’s just who I am and that’s the way it’s gonna be.”

Dellucci, a 13-year veteran who played with the Yankees in 2003, has a more old-school approach.

“If he wants to yell and scream after a strikeout and dance around, I guess that gets him going,” Dellucci said. “My home run was in a much bigger situation, more a key part of the game and I didn’t dance around and scream.”

All fair points in my mind. However, if this type of emotion is a key cog in Chamberlain's mentality and approach while on the mound, it's doubtful the Yankees brass will request a ceasefire on the fist pump front. That is, until Yankees hitters start taking fastballs to the shoulder blade on a regular basis.

Dusty Baker Is At It Again

Dusty Baker likes to torch the arms of his top pitchers with his latest exhibit being young Edinson Volquez.

The young fireballer walks too many and needs a better breaking ball because only relying on a fastball/changeup combo will not work longterm as a starter. However, he's only allowed one home run thus far this season and boasts a ridiculous ERA [1.06] and k/9 rate [11.06].

So, wouldn't you imagine Dusty and the Reds would be a tad bit cautious in how many pitches per inning or game they allow this promising young pitcher to throw?

Apparently the answer to that is a resounding no.

During his last start on Wednesday, Volquez was allowed to throw 120 pitches... in a game Cincinnati was leading 9-0. Apparently Dusty has no desire to quiet the endless queue of Cubs and Giants fans who blame him for Prior, Nen and Wood.

A decade from now, we may reminisce about Volquez's promise with the same chagrin we now have over footage like this:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mark Buehrle Hates Heaters

Apparently Mark Buehrle did not have a good Wednesday night against the Twins. The real show wasn't his poor performance, but instead what took place after being chased during a five-run sixth inning:

Mark Buehrle didn't wait for Ozzie Guillen to complete his walk to the mound, marching out to meet the White Sox manager and handing him the game ball. And that was just the beginning of one of Buehrle's most bizarre moments in baseball Wednesday night.

During a five-run sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins -- a team he has dominated during his career -- the usually mild-mannered Buehrle became unglued. The left-hander stomped off the mound, headed directly toward a corner of the dugout and grabbed one of Juan Uribe's bats. Buehrle went ballistic, whacking a dugout heater about five times with a bat that hadn't seen this much action all season.

When he was done, Buehrle calmly returned the bat to its spot, plopped himself on the bench and folded his arms. Then he sat steaming through the rest of the inning that put the game away during the first-place Twins' 13-1 romp at U.S. Cellular Field.
''I have never seen him react like that,'' Guillen said. ''It was kind of weird to see him like that.''
Carlo Gomez, the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade, was sad to see Buehrle go as the youngster ultimately hit for the cycle over six at-bats. It was the first time the feat had been acccomplished by a Twin since Kirby Puckett did it in 1986.

Olbermann Digs.. The New Digs

Why The Mets Fired Steve Phillips

No it wasn't just Mo Vaughn, it's ideas like this one:


Have owner Bob Castellini ring Hank Steinbrenner and tell him you’ve got a way to move Joba Chamberlain into the Yankees’ rotation. Offer Jared Burton, who’s whiffing hitters in bunches, and Jeremy Affeldt for Phil Hughes. Sell Burton as Chamberlain’s eighth-inning replacement and Affeldt as the situational lefty the Yanks lack. Throw in Arroyo if they want. Make it an owners deal. Castellini and Hank will love it; GM Brian Cashman will hate it. The bottom line is that Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Vólquez and Hughes would give Cincy four very different looks.

Yup. Because Brian Cashman convinced Hank Steinbrenner to hold onto Phil Hughes instead of acquire Johan Santana, I'm sure he'd give up the 21 year-old for Jarred Burton and JEREMY AFFELDT. You cannot make it up.

Ozzie Can't Quit A-Rod

Ozzie Guillen, fresh off one of the most hilarious baseball manager rants of alltime [#1 in bleep-age], still feels badly about his corrosive remarks which targeted Alex Rodriguez.

Guillen, never missing a chance to be two-faced, offered this transparent apology:

Guillen apologized to Rodriguez the day after the story came out, but he’s still bothered more than two years later by his outburst.

“I was telling the truth, but I didn’t have the right to put that kid on the spot,’’ Guillen said Wednesday. “That was a (bleep) thing on my part; that was low-class. That’s why I apologized. I never start anything. I started it with Alex, and that’s why I regret it. Everything else, (heck), no, because I know I was right.’’

...Notorious or not, his celebrity is unmistakable, and Guillen says he has to watch himself when he’s away from U.S. Cellular Field. The 44-year-old manager offered an example—he went out for a drink near his downtown Chicago home after Tuesday night’s win over Minnesota.

“I’m sitting at the bar and they offered me a drink,’’ Guillen said. “‘Can I buy you a drink? ‘No.’ Now people think I’m (bleeping) arrogant. You know why I say no? I said, ‘Thank you. I’ll buy you one.’ “Because that guy, maybe I’m wrong, they’re going to go: ‘Last night, I got (bleeped) up with Ozzie. That guy was so (bleeped up). That’s why I have to be careful.

How many MVP's did Ozzie win again? I can't remember. We all understand how great a fielder he was, but Guillens career high in HR, RBI, AVG and OBP: 4; 58; .288; .325

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Teixeira Hangs In Hoboken?

Mark Teixeira is going to make a ton of money this offseason and the New York Yankees may just be the team to flip the bill for his services. With Jason Giambi's horrendous contract coming off the books this fall, Tex wearing pinstripes should be a consistent rumor.

However, there may be even more reason to consider the Baltimore native signing in New York as his sister apparently resides in Hoboken and Tex loves it:

The Yankees and Mets both could be looking for a first baseman next year, as Jason Giambi and Carlos Delgado will be likely be let go.

When the Rangers were looking to trade Teixeira last year, some speculated he'd want to either go to Atlanta (he went to Georgia Tech) or Baltimore (where he grew up). But Heyman adds a new wrinkle with the report that Teixeira's sister - Elizabeth Durastanti - lives right here in Hoboken.

"I love it. I love coming here,'' Teixeira said on a recent trip to New York. "I grew up in a big city. I went to college in a big city [Georgia Tech, in Atlanta]. I like having a lot of things to do.''

Plus, he's of Portuguese ancestry, so he'll love the Ironbound.

Heyman also gives the odds for various teams signing Teixeira, and has the Yankees as the favorites as 3-2, followed by the Mets at 4-1.

Nobody can resist the strange yet alluring Hoboken culture which fuses fraternity life with corporate ties.

Wang's Progression As A Pitcher

From the NY Sun article: comes a look at Chien-Ming Wang's progression as a pitcher - and not a thrower - though the author does not seem to understand how pitches break.

The most glaring of errors comes when he discusses Wang's sinking fastball. The pitch breaks down and IN to right handed hitters and AWAY from left handed batters - completely opposite from the writer's analysis.

If you don't know that a sinker breaks away from a pitcher's armside, you might want to go back to the blackboard before offering a "study" on pitching. If Wang's fastball broke down and into a left hander's sweet spot it would be a cutter, or the pitch which Mariano Rivera uses to dominate lefties.

Hard to take the rest of his words seriously:

For most of his time in the majors, Wang’s biggest weakness has been against left-handed hitters. Last year, for instance, he struck out 7.9% of those he faced, as against 17.8% of right-handers. There’s no mystery as to why. His nasty sinking fastball, which he routinely throws at 94 mph and can throw much harder, breaks down but also tilts — out and away from right-handers but right into the sweet spot where most left-handers like the ball. The same is true of his slider, his second-best pitch. Wang has usually tried to neutralize left-handers with a changeup that he rarely throws to right-handers, but it isn’t an especially effective pitch.

This year, he has slightly but noticeably changed his approach, throwing the fastball more often against left-handers and the changeup and slider less often, while mixing in the odd split-finger or cutter. So far, his strikeout rate against them is up to 12.2%, which isn’t fantastic, but represents an improvement of half over what he did last year. If he can keep doing as well while continuing to suppress left-handed power (he’s given up just one home run to left-handers in 82 plate appearances), he’ll have gone a long way toward plugging the biggest hole in his game. Against right-handers, Wang has been throwing a cut fastball a bit more often. It isn’t a great pitch, but it does give hitters something else to look for, and further shows his evolving style.

Tonight’s game, though, will especially bear watching because it will give some insight into how Wang will deal with his second main weakness — his susceptibility to lineups that have his fastball well scouted.

For future reference Mr. Marchman here are a few remedial pitching lessons: a fastball goes fast, a curveball curves and a slider slides. Leave the rest of the pitch analysis out of your writing. Yikes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Kennedy Looks Perfect At AAA

Ian Kennedy is showing his toughness. After being sent down to the minors due to his horribly ineffective start to the 2008 season, Kennedy has thrown five perfect innings in his first start since being demoted. He has five strikeouts and obviously zero walks or hits. [60 pitches and 41 strikes] Looks like Ike has no intentions of having an extended stay at Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

More updates throughout the game.

UPDATE 8:30: 7 innings, 1 hit, 7 strikeouts, no walks

UPDATE 9:00: Kennedy's night is over after throwing 7.1 innings Kennedy gave up just the one hit, did not walk a batter but struck out eight. Kennedy went 5.1 innings pitching perfect ball before surrendering a hit.

Looks like Kennedy got the message, which is essentially you gotta earn your playing time, rook.


Chad Jennings has some quotes
from Kennedy on his blog. Suffice to say Kennedy's confidence was palpable tonight, and that this type of performance could have occurred just as easily in the big leaguese:
“I’m trying to say it humbly, but it doesn’t matter what I say, it’s going to come out cocky,” he said. “You just know. I woke up today and told my wife, I just have a feeling I’m going to make these guys look stupid.”

“It felt like it was getting better and better the last two outings, and then I got called into the office and told I was coming here,” Kennedy said. “I knew it was time, one of these times it was going to come out and I was going to have an outing like this, because I know it’s in me."

“I just felt like I could do no wrong,” Kennedy said. “Whether it was 2-0, I didn’t care, I could place a fastball away. I’ve been working on it every start, getting my mind set in the big leagues. I felt like I was getting better and better every time. It just led up to this. It was inevitable for me to do well. It was just a matter of time.”

Talking to him, I got the feeling Kennedy believed he would have had a night like this regardless of where he pitched. He woke up today expecting to make hitters -- any hitters -- look stupid. He was going to have a good night here or in the big leagues. He just happened to be here.

The curveball and how well he commands it from start to start may become the most crucial portion of Kennedy's development. According to Jennings, Kennedy had good control of his hook, set up by strong fastball location.

Yankees Historical Slow Starters

From ESPN's Page 2 writer Bill Byast, comes a historical "study" of the Yankees and their slows starts over the past thirteen seasons. The common theme? Each and every time they've rebounded and joined the postseason tournament.

Byast expects more of the same in 2008:

I’m beginning to wonder something out loud: What the hell is wrong with everybody’s memory around here? Do you forget what happens almost every year at this time? To make it easy for you, I’ll do that period-after-every-word thing people do nowadays to show they’re talking deliberately: Yankees. Start. Slowly. Always.

It’s the pitching. It’s the first-base situation. It’s Derek Jeter. Every year, it’s one thing or another. The press and the fans get all rashy. You know, as if they’ve got bugs crawling under their skin. It’s like a rite of spring, almost. It ain’t nothing, but you wouldn’t know that ‘cause every year it’s like the last night on the Titanic—total panic. (Yeah, I used a 96-year-old reference. Deal with it.)

As for guys not playing up to their potential, know this: Being a Yankee means you hate losing. When you encase your athletic body in those pinstripes, something happens to your mind. You can take losing for so long before you snap out of it and start playing Yankee baseball. How else can you explain the events described above? When you play for another team, you don’t have that extra level to go to the way a Yankee does. Find me another team that has started like New York 10 of the past 13 years and made the playoffs every time. I haven’t even checked because I don’t have to. There ain’t one.

This is what I want you to do, Joe Yankee Fan: I want you to walk like the batter with four balls in that joke about the Irishman at his first baseball game: with pride. Be proud of your team kicking adversity in the groin every year. Look to the recent past for inspiration and leave the worrying for fans of other teams. They’ve got something you don’t: no hope.

Though there may be cause for concern for Yankees fans, Byast has a solid point in that the Bombers continuously start slow and, like the recent Oakland teams, ignite for a second half run.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Yankee Fan Kills Sox Fan,
Sports Violence Spiral Continues

This is a horrendous story, and though the details are still somewhat sketchy, it appears an inebriated Yankees fan killed a Red Sox fan with her car following a rivalry-related argument.

Though some initial reports claim the root of the incident has more to do with other factors outside their hometown teams, the possibility of a bitter sports rivalry leading to someone's death is a scary thought.

A few months ago, a Bostonian Yankees fan was hospitalized after being jumped by four Red Sox fans, simply because the man was wearing a Yankees cap. There is no winning side regarding behavior as despicable as these two incidents.

If a human-being is so demented in his fanhood for a particular professional sports team that he or she resorts to physical violence, their allegiance has become a mental disorder.

Talking some trash to a rival fan is not uncommon or dangerous, but every mentally stable person understands the broad line between ribbing an opponent and resorting to physical aggression. Such behavior gains nothing but prison sentences, embarrassment and some hospital bills.

Get a life outside of baseball, because when your team wins a championship, they won't be sending you a ring.

Wolverine & Deadpool?
Where Do I Sign Up?

Without a doubt, two of the coolest comic book characters of all time, Wolverine and Deadpool will both be featured in the upcoming Marvel project set to release some time in 2009. Ryan Reynolds will play Wade Wilson, one of the most overlooked characters in terms of cinematic adaptation.

The teaser:

Now all we need are Savage Dragon and Cable films.

Cox Getting Closer

From The Thunder Blog comes word on JB Cox and how his close his arm, velocity and stuff feels compared to his pre Tommy John surgery self. The former Texas closer is already pitching well at AA-Trenton and could make a rapid move toward New York.

The most difficult aspect of TJ surgery:
“Kind of the numb feeling you get when you’re rehabbing for such a long period of time. You kind of getPublish Post detached from the game. But that’s also what makes it better when you get to come back and come into the clubhouse and play again. But for that 12 month period, it’s pretty tough. You become numb with going to the field every day and doing the same thing.”
On how his stuff/command feels right now:
“It gets closer and closer every time out. It’s still not 100 percent yet, obviously. Arm-wise, I feel 100 percent, just not touch-wise. But it’s getting better and better each time out. I feel like it’s getting really, really close right now. I couldn’t give a percentage, but it’s close.”
On his velocity since the surgery:
“I’m actually throwing a little bit harder right now than I have been. I don’t if it’s because I’ve had such a long time off or what. But my arm feels great, even with the cold weather. So that’s kind of a plus.”

Horne's Rehab Progressing,
Bullpen Session Today

Alan Horne, arguably the most talented Yankees pitching prospect yet to jump into the big leagues, is making his way back from a biceps injury suffered on April 10th.

According to Horne's father - a constant poster on Yankee message boards - Horne has progressed well over the past weeks and will throw his first bullpen session this morning.

Over the last month, Mr. Horne offered these updates on Alan's rehab following his two week idle period:
[April 19th] Alan's re-hab is going about as expected at this point in time. They're doing therapy treatments daily to the biceps, having him do shoulder, lower body, and cardio-workouts daily.
[April 25th] Talked with Alan today. He threw the planned work-out at 60' and said everything went well. He said his arm was strong and felt good but he was going to have to be careful getting the biceps stretched back out and up to speed--he was definately encouraged I think as to how his day went.
[April 27th] Actually Alan ended up throwing on back to back days--Friday and Saturday--and his arm felt strong both days. I realize that it's just flat-ground throwing sessions, but he was encouraged by both of them.
[April 29th] Everything with the re-hab seems to be going well and according to the Yankees schedule. Alan said today that he threw 50 throws from 90'. Should do that again tomorrow, and move back to 120' on Thursday. Flat ground work on his secondary pitches should also begin this week--barring unforeseen complications. At this point Alan says that his arm feels strong but knows he very much has to stretch the biceps back out to game speed at a prescribed rate.
[May 2nd] Talked with Alan again today. He went through his throwing regiment and said everything went well, going on to say he felt like his arm was getting stronger. Actually he said that it felt the best today that it has since he started back throwing.
[May 3rd] Talked with Alan today. He threw his work-out from 120' and said he "let it loose pretty good". He said his arm felt good and further noted that this re-hab is really making him stay aware of every aspect of his mechanics--which is a good thing. Alan went on to say that he also threw all his secondary pitches on flat ground along with his dry-side, and everything was fine.
[May 4th] Alan will now throw his first BP on Monday....
[May 5th] Talked with Alan today after he threw. He said everything went as expected. I asked how he felt--he said fine, it was just a 25 pitch--FB only pen. He went on to say today it was more about getting his timing and rhythm back down and smoothed out, and to that end he thought it went well. He should throw off the mound again Wednesday.
Mr. Horne has a future in the journalism field with all the insightful reporting he's done during his son's recovery period.

With the back end of the Yankees rotation currently in shambles due to injury [Hughes] and ineffectiveness [Kennedy], Horne must be champing at the bit to again compete for a big league roster spot.

Though Darrell Rasner was the obvious choice as the first starter to be called up to the Bronx, Horne may have been choice #2 had he not succumbed to injury. Instead, the Yankees will look to Kei Igawa and his sunglasses this weekend against a formidable Detroit lineup.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Kennedy Sent Down

Ian Kennedy has been sent down to AAA in order to make room for today's starter Darrell Rasner.

The big news today: Ian Kennedy, 0-2 with an 8.37 ERA in six games (five starts) has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre until he gets straightened out.

That means Darrell Rasner, today's starter, gets at least one more start Friday or Saturday, with another pitcher -- the Yankees are leaning toward Kei Igawa -- getting called up this weekend to take Kennedy's spot.

"We feel he's close, but he's not where he needs to be," Joe Girardi said. "So we felt that it's best for him to go work that out down in Triple-A."

Is there anything more insulting for a starting pitcher than being replaced by Kei Igawa.

The Joba Replacement Program
Candidate #2 - JB Cox

From The Thunder Blog, comes the member of the Tommy John quartet who's closest to the majors - J.B. Cox. [The rest of the TJ foursome includes Humberto Sanchez, Mark Melancon and darkhorse Christian Garcia]

Take a look at his patented outpitch, a consistently devastating slider:

Meanwhile, Cox was excellent over 41 appearances at AA in 2006. The former Texas University closer [and Huston Street's successor] logged 77 innings, allowing 54 hits, 24 walks, striking out 60 to accompany a 1.75 ERA and 1.01 WHIP during his first stay at Trenton. In a small sample-size this year - a mere 10 innings - Cox allowed 10 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts.

Assuming his stuff has returned to pre-Tommy John levels, Cox utilizes a fastball at 88-92 mph which has extremely heavy sink and movement. His best pitch, however, may be his hard biting slider which is generally 83-85 mph. The development of his changeup may be a key cog in his progress towards the big leagues.

The somewhat sidearm delivery Cox uses, as well as the power slider he commands so well, often draw comparisons to a dominant former Yankees setup man in Jeff Nelson. If Cox could ever mimic Nelson's efficiency in the 7th or 8th inning, the Yankees would be exponentially more comfortable with the prospect of Joba Chamberlain joining the rotation.