Saturday, May 31, 2008

More Anti-Yankee Bias in the Press

Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star Tribune wrote what I'm sure he thought was a scathing article about the state of the Yankees. Instead, Souhan comes across as an ignorant homer, bitter about the Yankees' continued success and the Twins' lack of it since the days of Puckett and Hrbek.

If you want to get fired up read the article here.

The best way for us to stick his words up his keester would be a 4 game sweep in the baggy-dome, coupled with a series 0-fer by "one of the most electrifying players in Twins history" Carlos Gomez (are you kidding me? 203 at bats and a .319 OBP and he's already among the best players in Twins' history?? Get a grip!).

It's time to flick the insignificant gnat off of our forearm and kick their butts!

Today's Reading

Eight Minutes With Mark Melancon
Update on Posada
Details of MLB's 2008 Special Negro Leagues Draft
Could Giambi Be a Yank in '09?
Shoulder Strain Sidelines Matsuzaka

Friday, May 30, 2008

Who will the Yankees Draft?

The MLB draft is just around the corner and there is not shortage(finally!) of information, some of the best;
Keith Law Projects the First Round
MLB.Com's Draft Central
Baseball America's Draft Page
River Ave Blues Does a Great Job as well

So, the question is really who are the Yankees going to target at #28 of the first round? The organization could use some high end bats but it doesn't seem likely for those to drop. The Yankees seem to have a few requirements when it comes to the drafting players;
  1. Throw right-handed
  2. Have plus velocity
  3. Want a ton of money
  4. Be a project

The best match I can find is Gerrit Cole who throws hard, is a RHP, a Boras client(wants a ton of money to skip college), and has some makeup questions around him. He has been tied to the Yankees on and by Keith Law. Here is a breakdown of him on

The good;

His projectability and his stuff, with the ability to throw three average to plus pitches, and to throw them for strikes.

Cole was throwing 95-98 mph early and settled in at 92-94 throughout his start.

The bad;

He has some mechanical issues with his delivery, with an arc in the back and a tendency to throw across his body; he gets too emotional on the mound.

Cole is a projectable high school right-hander who compares a bit to Kyle Farnsworth.

Ok the last part might be a plus, Krazy Kyle is a decent ML player with great stuff so finding him in the late first would be a good thing....I guess.

Today's Reading

Full-Time Joba Ready To Start
Baby Boss Has 'High Hopes' For Hughes, Kennedy
Pitcher Used to the Shadows Is a Bright Spot for the Yanks
Don't start that Joba
Joba seeing double?
Jorge Posada progresses, almost ready
Expect Joba to have his ups and downs
With Yanks roster, what you see is pretty much what you get
More Trouble For Tabata

Yankee Stadium Legacy Card Set

Marty Appel, former PR man for the Yanks, is involved in a special promotion from Upper Deck - It's called Yankee Stadium Legacy. In Marty's words -
I wanted to make your readers aware of an Upper Deck card product called Yankee Stadium Legacy – a 6,661 card set, with one card representing every Yankee home game ever played in Yankee Stadium (plus a few extras for Papal visits, boxing, etc.).

It is the largest card set ever produced (Guinness Book worthy), and an amazing research project.

The cards are inserted into various Upper Deck baseball products, and will continue into next year so that the 2008 MLB season is included.

More information is at Is it impossible to collect the full set? It’s certainly a challenge. Also, fans can register the codes on the back of the cards at the website to be included in a Yankee Dream sweepstakes for a chance to win tickets to the All-Star Game, the last regular-season game and the first 2009 home game.
Sounds like a very cool project. Click the link above and check it out!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top Ten Reason (This week) I want to Have Mariano's Love Child

In reverse order;
10. Convinced Edwar to throw his fastball more
9. Makes Converting Joba to a starter a no-brainer
8. Holds 'relievers only' meetings when they suck
7. Makes a mean steak
6. Has given 1 walk this year
5. Has given up 1 run all year
4. Enter Sandman is still one of the most exciting things that happens at the Stadium
3. ERA+ of 1035 - No that is not a typo.
2. 0.52 Whip
1. Did I mention the 1035 ERA+!

Sometimes we take Mo for granted but he is the undisputed best player at his position in baseball history. Undisputed. Take it all in while you can.

Past Yankee All-Stars

In looking at the All-Star voting I came across the list of past Yankee All-Stars, a couple caught my eye;
  • Robbie Cano 2007 - I forgot Robbie made the team and with his post/pre splits I am a little shocked (.274 6hrs pre AS, .343 13hrs after)
  • Javier Vasquez 2004 -10 Wins 3.56 era at the break, 4 Wins 6.92 era after. Also made me angrier then I have ever been watching a baseball game in game 7 when he gave up the GS to Damon, well except maybe game 6 when the Stoic Joe didnt make the Yankees bunt on Curt - that still makes me so mad! Why Joe Why?!?!? I yelled that 2000 times that day, still makes me angry....damnit Joe.
  • Robin Ventura 2002 - .263 19 Hrs at the break, ended up at .247 27.
  • Mike Stanton 2001- The pick that took the reserve selections away from the managers. Was there ever a more homer of a pick?

Also, since 1933 the Yankees have had more then one representative every year but four;

  1. Bobby Murcer 1972 - Finished top ten in MVP voting, a deserved selection
  2. Steve Sax 1990 - Finished at .260/.316/.325 but had 43 steals! Maybe made it on reputation.
  3. Scott Sanderson 1991 - Ended up with 16 Wins and a 1.1 whip on a real bad team, deserved it
  4. Roberto Kelly 1992 - .272 10 Hrs and 28 sbs. This team had nobody start more then 10 games and have a winning record.

An All-Star Nightmare?

The final season in Yankee Stadium is being celebreated by holding the annual All_Star game and festivites in the Bronx. The House that Ruth built will be given its proper send off or will it? Imagine this;
  • The All-Star Festivities will begin with the Home Run Derby. The event is being highlighted by Red Sox David Ortiz attempting to call his shot ala the Babe.
  • Right now the best starting pitcher in the AL has arguably been Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka who sports a 8-0 record and a 2.53 era.
  • Based on the current voting totals the Al lineup would consist of 5 other Red Sox players - Ortiz, Manny, Youkilis, Pedoria and Varitek
  • The AL club is being Managed by Red Sox Manager Terry Francona
  • At least one other Sox will make the team - Papelbon, Okajima is a long shot too.

So to celebrate The House That Ruth Built we will be overrun by Red Sox. Also, with Jorge out we loose one possible All-Star and are left with Arod, Jeter, Mo and Possibly Wang on the team.

So what do we do? Vote, Vote, and Vote again. Cano is second to Pedoria so he could slip in bad season and all, at first base go heavy on Justin Mourneau, catcher Joe Mauer is our man, and at DH Hideki is 2nd behind Ortiz. I don't typically care about the All-Star game but I couldn't stomach seeing an all red display in the Bronx. So get the word out and rock the vote!


On this date last year the Yanks were 21-29, 14.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Comparatively, 26-27, 4.5 games behind the Sox doesn't look too bad. The problem is, the Yanks went on to finish 73-39 en route to a 94-68 record.

Assuming 95 wins will be needed to get in the playoffs, the Yanks will need to go 69-40 (.633) over the duration of the season. For some reason, we all expect that to happen, no?

I am fairly confident that the Yanks have an extended good streak in them, and that they are a better team than their .500 record indicates. Are they capable of playing .633 ball over 109 games? Not unless the bottom of the rotation is straightened out and the offense becomes more consistent.

It is very possible that unless the turn-around happens immediately we Yankee fans will need to temper our expectations for the year - not yet, but soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hughes the Next Joba?

Phil is expected to be out about another month with the cracked rib that sent him to the DL. With the Raz our best pitcher of late, and Joba headed for the rotation, when he comes back there may very well be no room for Phil in the rotation.

I'm starting to think that it might be smart to put Phil in the 'pen when he comes back and allow him to fight for the vacated Joba roll of 8th inning wonder.

I am absolutely convinced that Phil is destined for stardom as an Ace starting pitcher. He obviously struggled mightily however in the beginning of this year. A combination of mechanics, approach and confidence had Phil on a downward spiral before the Yanks realized he had a cracked rib.

When he returns, a shot to pitch out of the 'pen may be able to restore him to the right path.

Phil has an excellent fastball and a plus curve; a perfect recipe for bullpen success. Bringing him in for an inning at a time might allow him to stop thinking and worrying about his approach and allow him to simply rear back and fire away.

A stint in the 'pen might also allow him to regain his confidence and reacquire the swagger a successful pitcher needs.

Phil is not going to reach his innings limit this year either way. At 21 there is still a ton of time for him to develop and realize his stud potential. Putting him in the 'pen for the rest of this year might just be the best way to go about it.

Edwar The Great - Part II

In Edwar The Great Part I we talked about how having a truly dominant strikeout pitch was the main ingredient to being a successful relief pitcher. We supposed that if Edwar simply added a degree of effectiveness to his mediocre fastball that he could be a dominant reliever out of the 'pen for the Yanks.

Thanks to the tutelage of the best starter and the best reliever of this generation, we are starting to see that dominance emerge from Edwar.

The strikeouts have always been there. In his minor league career Edwar has 237 Ks in 190 ip, and even during a pretty bad 2007 big league season Edwar K'ed 31 in 21ip. In those 21ip last year, though, Edwar allowed a staggering 38 baserunners, 14 via the walk.

The lack of success he had with the Yanks last year can be directly linked to the lack of a major league caliber pitch to go along with the devastating changeup. Batters would simply lay off the change and mash his 88 MPH fastball.

After spending time with Mariano, and after seeking advice from Pedro Martinez, Edwar is looking more and more like the dominant reliever we thought he could become. Relying more on a fastball that now consistently sits at 92 mph.

In yesterday's appearance, Edwar threw 22 pitches; 11 of which were fastballs, 2 sliders and 8 changeups. 7 of these fastballs were clocked by MLB at 92 mph, 2 at 91, and 2 at 90. Couple that with a change that is consistently 79-80 mhp and he now has a 10-12 mph difference between change and heat. The additional 3-5 mph might not sound like a lot but the fact that it gives that much more separation from his changeup makes a huge difference.

It's only the start of June, and he's only thrown 14 innings so far this year. But Edwar is becoming the bullpen force we thought he could become.

Murphy's Law

Murphy's law is an adage in Western culture that broadly states that if anything can go wrong, it will. "If there's more than one possible outcome of a job or task, and one of those outcomes will result in disaster or an undesirable consequence, then somebody will do it that way."

0-7 with a 7.99 ERA is pretty much a worst-case scenario.

3-12 in games started by Hughes and Ikky is absolutely the most undesirable consequence.

Both pitchers on the DL is pretty much Murphy's Law in action.

The best part of all of this is that we may not even miss them for now. A starting 5 of Wang, Pettitte, Moose, Rasner and Joba looks better than a rotation that includes Kennedy or Hughes right now.

As we have warned since November, 2007 has been set up as a growth year for the 2 of them; a learning experience with an eye toward the bigger picture. Once Hughes' rib and Kennedy's lat is healed they can now go to the minors under the guise of 'rehab starts' and work on the things they need to get straight.

Keep in mind - these are steps in the process. Learning to pitch in the bigs is a process. refining their superior talent is a process. At 21 Hughes is still ticketed for Ace-dom, and at 23, Kennedy will still be very good. What we're seeing now is just Murphy's Law in action.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Random Thoughts

Anyone feel like the year's Rays will end up being 2008's version of the 05 Orioles? The O's were actually 13 games over at this point in '05.

The team just seems to find a way to loose lately. The start has been rough but the season is nowhere close to being lost.

The Yankees are rich. According to Juan Gonzalez the Yankees pulled in 188 million in gate receipts alone last year (up from 122 in 04) and are projected to bring in upwards of 252 million next year. Add in the lack of a rent payment (14 mil) and increases revenues from owning concession and the Yankees will have plenty of dough to improve the team with.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Its Official - the Rays are no longer a Joke

But we will always have the Orioles;

There's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Baby Stein's a chip off the old Block

Like Father Like Son

Hank - 'We're Not Gonna Take It"

Hank Tells Yanks to Earn Their Money

Hank Says Yanks Must Play Harder

Does anyone else find it strange that Hank picked up right where papa George left off? How can Hank be just like his dad and cause all of this turmoil by yelling and making threats in the papers?
No one should be surprised. It's a 30+ year Yankee tradition to goad the papers into giving the Yanks free publicity. What I don't understand is - How come no one seems to understand that this is the Steinbrenner goal?
The message boards, blogs and papers are full of people telling Hank he's gotta shut his mouth, or agreeing with him, or calling him a blustering idiot like his dad...I beg to differ. The fact that we are talking about him at all is brilliant!

Rather than everyone talking about the Mets yesterday, Hank's comments made sure that he and the Yanks were the center of attention for the tabloid media. Rather than a back page of Ryan Church and his 4 RBI, or John Maine and his 2.81 ERA, the second citizen Mets were again relegated to second class status due to the rantings of Baby Stein. Hank is a business owner - he is getting a ton of free publicity for his business and does what is necessary to keep that coming.

Also, the whole Brain Cashman debate - Is he going to leave because of Hank? Is he upset by Hank's comments? Are the Yanks gonna sign him after this year? I don't buy any of that either. Cashman knows what baby Stein is up to and is 100% on board with it. The Yanks have had a policy of not signing players to deals until the end of their contract year is up. They are simply doing the same with Cash. I believe wholeheartedly that the Yanks and Cash probably have a deal in place for Cash to stay, but are waiting until the season is over to announce it.

I love it. The Yanks are, and should be, the center of the baseball universe. The papers love it because it helps them sell. The Yanks love it because it keeps people talking about them and gives them free publicity. Just make sure, as a fan, that you see it for what it is - a planned strategy; NOT the rantings of an idiot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Note From YankeeGM

This morning, like just about every other, I booted my computer and scrolled through the approximately 50 different sources of Yankee news and commentary in my Google Reader. If you read more than 1 Yankee blog you encounter the same thing I do every morning - in an effort to post something, most bloggers pick up on the story of the day and report it as if their readers count on their site alone for Yankee news, and you end up seeing a lot of the same stories on multiple blogs every day.

The writers of YankeeGM think that blog readers are among the more sophisticated fans in the sports universe and probably read many blogs, not just ours. We therefore make a conscious effort not to post on items that you likely have seen 12 times already. We started this blog to give our opinion when we feel it needed to be heard - not to try and be another source of Yankee news. PeteAbe (LoHud) is with the Yanks everyday; if there's news to report he will likely have it first if not at least in a timely manner.

The obvious exception to this rule is when we feel we have a different take on things; an opinion not already expressed a gazillion times.

I don't have any issues with other bloggers writing on each and every topic - quite to the contrary, I think it's a smart way to keep readership high; I just don't have the patience to write about all the same things as everyone else. This is why we sometimes go a couple of days without posting.

Hopefully you'll keep YankeeGM a part of your everyday blog rounds. Just because we haven't posted for a couple of days doesn't mean we're no longer around. We appreciate our readers and thank you for reading YankeeGM blog.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The End Of Igawa? Finally.

George King is reporting that the Yankees have decided to have Ian Kennedy start Friday against the Mets and not Kei Igawa. This is great news in the short term but the long term result might be the end of Kei Igawa in pinstripes.

If he is not going to start now when will he? This is a serious vote of no confidence from the Yankees and a clear sign that Igawa is now thought of as a flop even within the organization. So bid farewall to Igawa and add him to the Yankee pitching scrapheap(I think there is space right next to Jeff Weaver).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Little Razz-mataz

A second excellent outing by Darrell Rasner yesterday begs the question - How's he doing it?

If we are to believe Al "The Arrogant Professor" Leiter, a fastball without 92 MPH velocity or better mandates plus secondary pitches for a hurler to be successful. As Rasner topped out at 89 yesterday he must have had success due to some great curves/sliders/changeups, right? Wrong.

In the first inning, Rasner threw 12 pitches; 10 fastballs.
In the second inning Rasner threw 14 pitches; 8 fastballs.
In the third inning Rasner threw 10 pitches; 5 fastballs.
In the 4th inning Rasner threw 13 pitches; 7 fastballs.
In the 5th inning Rasner threw 10 pitches; 7 fastballs.

Rick Peterson, the Met pitching coach, likes to say that the 4 biggest elements to a pitcher's success are, in order, location, movement, velocity and change of speed. Darrell Rasner proved that point yesterday.

Against a great hitting team, and armed primarily with 87-89 MPH heat, Rasner located his fastball extremely well yesterday, and threw 61 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

Having Joba's 99 MPH fastball is nice, but even then (as Krazy Kyle has shown us in years past) location is still the key to being successful. If Rasner keeps locating well and throwing strikes he could be around for a very long time.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Children Everywhere Brace for Tonight's Shelling

Between Kenny Rogers and (gulp!) Kei Igawa, the bombs coming outta Comerica tonight will be enough to make WWII vets have flashbacks.
Hat tip to It Is High...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Update on The Dirty Sanchez

Our favorite source of SWB info, Chad Jennings, spoke with Yankee minor league pitching guru Nardi Contreras and reports the following on our bet to replace the immortal Mo in 3 years:

Humberto Sanchez

Throwing bullpen sessions, but Contreras said he's not at 45 pitches yet. Forty five is an important number because if the Yankees are going to use Sanchez as a starter, they want him throwing at least 45 pitches before they let him pitch to hitters. If he's a reliever, he can start at 35 pitches. It has been my understanding that Sanchez will work as a reliever, at least that's what I was told this spring, but Contreras made it sound as though that's not set in stone. He obviously didn't go into specifics -- to be expected because the Yankees rarely go into specifics with this kind of thing -- but it sounds like Sanchez could be -- could be -- fairly close to pitching in games.

It's easy to forget that TDS was a top pitching prospect before TJ surgery forced him to take a year off.

In 2006 TDS posted a 5-3 record and 1.76 ERA in 11 starts for AA Erie. He had 86 strikeouts in just 71 innings allowing only 2 HR. After a promotion to AAA Toledo, Sanchez had 9 starts and a 3.86 ERA. had the following to say about Sanchez:

Possessing a plus fastball and a knockout strikeout pitch with his curveball gives him more than enough to be a big weapon in the back-end of a big league bullpen, and some scouts believe his ultimate role with the Yankees may depend on the further development of his changeup. With stuff comparable to Joba Chamberlain, he affords the Yankees a lot of flexibility upon his return.

High praise, indeed.

While his rehab is a bit behind schedule, if Sanchez can begin throwing to live batters in the next couple of weeks it's not unlikely that he could be in a position for a September call-up.

What Confidence Problem?

From Ian Kennedy on Chad Jenning's SWB Blog -

“I’m trying to say it humbly, but it doesn’t matter what I say, it’s going to come out cocky. 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.’ ”

He did.

Finally, Ikky was truly Ikky last night for SWB. A no-no thru 5.2 and a final line of 1 hit, 8ks and 0 walks in 7.1 ip is nasty.

“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.”

Jennings asked if the performance, and the obvious swagger that came with it, was mearly a result of Kennedy coming to a level where he knew he could dominate:

“It’s not so much here, it’s that I know what I can do," he said. "That was the main thing I was battling with (in New York). It goes back to trying to be too perfect. You’re giving them too much credit in the big leagues. These guys in Triple-A aren’t much different. They could be big leaguers tomorrow, and some of them have played in the big leagues. It’s not so much the hitters, it’s myself.”


Brian Cashman had this to say after Kennedy's start:

“He was terrific, and he was going in the right direction his last start especially, against the Tigers. To mentally regroup, come down here and take care of his business like he knows he can, and like he has the ability to do, was also a great sign. He knows he’s got to work through it and we’re going to wait for him in New York. He’s going to have to get the job done to get there, but we’re waiting on that. We know what he’s capable of doing. It’s just a matter of getting all his pitches going in the right direction and pounding the zone with them, and letting the rest take care of itself. And he did that tonight.”

1 more start like that in AAA and we'll see Kennedy back in the Yankee rotation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Patience at the Plate Key to Series Opener

The Yanks open a 3 game set at the Stadium tonight against Fausto Carmona and the Cleveland Indians. Returning to the days of plate discipline will be a key to tonight's game.

While I don't wish injury upon anyone, Carmona is my top pick for an injury this year after seeing an increase of 141 innings last year (74 in '06 to 215 in '07). We are certainly seeing some affects of his work load increase so far in 2008. After walking only 61 batters all of last year (2.55/9), Carmona has already walked 26 batters this season (6.88/9). He has also allowed a hit per inning (34 H in 34 IP) making for an extremely high whip of 1.731. He has walked exactly twice the batters that he has struck out so far (13 Ks, 26 BBs). Regardless of all of this, Carmona has only allowed 1 HR so far this year which has contributed heavily to his sparkling 2.60 ERA.

As we all know, there is no way that Carmona will continue to sport an ERA+ of 162 while allowing that many base runners.

The Yanks need to heed the numbers and make sure to work the count aggressively tonight. Make Carmona work, throw a lot of pitches and take their walks. The walks, combined with Carmona's high hit totals, should give the Yanks plenty of opportunities to score and get Andy a 'W' tonight.

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's Alive!

In scoring 19 runs in the sweep of the M's this weekend, Yankee bats appear to be coming alive. While the Mariner offence is not great, it's important to keep in mind that we faced one of the better starting rotations in all of baseball over the weekend - Erik Bedard, King Felix and Carlos Silva.

It's a very encoutraging sign that we hit all 3 pitchers over the weekend, had good success with RISP, and were able to win all 3 games.

Should Darrell Rasner continue to make quality starts and Ian Kennedy straighten his issues out in a couple of starts at SWB, the Yanks' plan could be starting to see results.

I feel a nice streak coming.

Baseball America Top Thirty Prospects 11-20 Status Check

The second look at where our top prospects are in their development;

11. Mark Melancon,RHP GradeB+ - He has given up two earned runs in his last 17.2 innings pitched after a little bit of a slow start. Coming off TJ surgery he is right where you would want him. Import stats - Last 17.2ip, 18hits, 2er, 12ks

12. Humberto Sanchez, RHP Grade Incomplete - Still rehabbing appears on schedule for a possible June return

13. Dellin Betances, RHP Grade C - Dominating stuff but still too wild. By the end of the year you would like to see the BB rate come down so the future ace tag can still be applied. Import Stats - 29 Walks, 49ks in 41 IP

14. Dan McCutchen, RHP Grade B+ - A little old for AA at 25 but still showing what you would want to see. Important stats - 4.03 K to BB ratio, 32 hits in 46 IP.

15. Kevin Whelan, RHP -Grade Incomplete - Has not pitched due to arm stiffness suffered in Arizone.

16. Carmen Angelini, SS Grade C - Struggled as of late but still a good prospect, too early to tell what the Yankees have here.

17. George Kontos, RHP Grade B- - Almost a k per inning but maybe a few too many baserunners (40 hits and 17 BB in 42.2.). According to Nardi he is our "best kept secret". Not quite breaking out but still promising.

18. Ivan Nova, RHP Grade C - Still a fringe prospect. More hits then innings pitched and not a ton of Ks or incredibly impressive control. Still only 21 so there is time.

19. Collin Curtis, OF Grade B+ - The 23 year-old has started the season extremely well at Trenton, his k rate has dropped a little (17.6 to 14.3) and his BB % has gone way up (6.9 % to 14.9%).

20. Jairo Heredia, RHP - Grade A - Any player who is younger then 20 and competing in A ball is impressive. Jairo hasn't dominated but he continues to impress. He has struck out over a man per inning and has a respectable era of 3.48. Wait till June when he adjusts to the jump in competition and I feel Jairo will impress.

While the Yankees Youth Movement Stalls the Enemy's Shines

The Yankees youth movement has hit a bit of a bump in the road. Phil Hughes is hurt again and Ian Kennedy has been sent down to regain his confidence. Both have been not just mediocre but horrible. For comparison sake, Jeff Weaver had one of the worst seasons by a starting pitcher I have ever witnessed in 2003 with a 5.99 era and 1.62 Whip - both are significantly better then Hughes (9.00 Era, 2.14Whip) and Kennedy (8.37 Era and 2.03 Whip). Phil's and Ian's Eras are good for 149th and 152nd best in baseball with pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched (154 total pitchers). Those two have also failed to go 5 innings in 8 out of their 12 appearances. Ugly.

If you take look at the other two youngsters Lester and Buchholz) in the center of the AL pennant race, the results have been much much better. Both have sub 4 eras (3.94 for Lester and 3.71 for Bucholtz). Also, Lester has gone 5+ in 6 out of 8 starts and Buchholz in 5 out of 6 starts. Lester's whip is an OK 1.43, but Buchholtz' is a little better at 1.33 and he is averaging almost a k per inning. Throw in one superb spot start by Justin Masterson (6ip 2hits 1run), Ellsbury's .415 OBP and 11 steals in 11 attempts, Brandon Moss' 2 late homers, and Jed Lowrie filling in nicely, and Boston could not have asked for more out of their kids. Manny Delcarmen has been horrible - 7.30 era but that is a small speed bump overall for the Red Sox.

The question is what is the difference? Is it the pressure that Ian and Phil were under? Are the Boston prospects just better?

I have long thought the failure of most of the Yankees pitching imports was due to the intense pressure they were under. Weaver, Contreras, Vasquez all proved to be better elsewhere then when they pitched here. I assumed, and maybe so did the Yankees, that the kids brought through the system would be immune to the pressure. The success of Cano and Wang helped create that perception, but really - when was the last time a top prospect succeeded with the Yankees? How about a pitching prospect that became even a serviceable major leaguer? Maybe the attention and pressure is just too great for a position like starting pitcher where so much is dependent on confidence and approach. The bullpen, where a pitcher can simply throw, might be another story - but the rotation seems too much to ask. In recent memory the only starters produced by the Yankees came in with little fan fare; Lilly, and Wang. Darell Rasner kind of fits this mold; very little expectations and no fan fare.

I know its early and by July things could completely change, but the impact of the pressure on top prospects in NY bears watching. Time will tell if is going to have the same affect it did on the Yankees high priced imports.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Who is Darrell Rasner?

Today Darrell Rasner will take Phil Hughes spot in the rotation and even though we have seen brief glimpses of him in the past I don't think us Yankee fans really know what Rasner is all about. So let's take a look;

  • He IS NOT Aaron Small. Small was 33 and with his 11th organization when he ran off 10 wins in a row. Also, Small was a mediocre minor league while Rasner has been a pretty good one (career minor league era for Rasner is 3.41)
  • Rasner has not failed in his brief major league career. He has a 4.13 era in 52 innings, decent enough.
  • He doesn't walk people - 2.41 BB/9 in the minors
  • He keeps the ball in the park - 0.53 hr/9
  • He is not a strikeout pitcher - 6.78 k/9
  • He was released by the Nationals

Also, he was ranked as the 15th best prospect in the Nationals organization in 2006 and here is what BA had to say about him;

Rasner impressed the Nationals with his composure and maturity in major league spring training, then put up another solid, consistent performance in his first full Double A season to earn a September call up. Command is his forte, as he doesn't walk many batters and does a good job with his pitches. He has a clean arm action and compact, repeatable delivery. Though he still lacks a legitimate out pitch, Rasner works off his heavy 86-91 mph sinker. He threw a slider in college at nevada, abandoned in the second half of last year. It became a better pitch for him than his inconsistent curve and change up. Rasner still gives up too many hits and doesn't miss enough bats to be a top starter, but he could be ready for a No. 5 Starter job or long relief role for Washington in 2006.

So he seems to be a guy who could be forever over looked due to his lack of stuff and inability to strike a lot of batters out. However, you could see a pitcher with his makeup turning into an effective major league starter if given the chance. Players like Rasner are typically let go when there is a number crunch on the 40-man roster because their ceilings are so low (he would top at at best as a 3 or 4). However, his continued consistent success even at the major league level should warrant a longer look somewhere.

I expect Rasner to do an OK job, just like he did last year. I actually was there for his start against the Indians last year (the A rod grand slam game!) and he was economical and efficient kind of like a poor man's Wang. He could be a very valuable spot starter and long man in the Yankee pen. Don't be surprised if his strike throwing ability keeps him here for the long haul.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Baseball America Top Thirty Prospects 1-10

With a full month of the season behind us it is a good time to look at the top Yankee prospects and see where they stand. We will be posting ten each per day for the next couple of days;

1.Joba Chamberlain, RHP - Grade A - He has been dominating as expected. I can't wait to see what he can do as a starter.

2. Austin Jackson, OF - Grade B - He hasn't shown any power and his avergae is mediocre(.267) but his K rate has continued to drop and he has shown he belongs. He is still on track for a 2009-2010.

3. Jose Tabata, OF - Grade F - .186 BA 0 Hrs and a temper tantrum, doesn't get much worse

4. Ian Kennedy, RHP - Grade D - Has shown improvement in his last couple of starts and you can see a quality pitcher in there he just needs to be more competitive or he is going back to AAA.

5. Alan Horne, RHP - Grade Incomplete - Only pitched 8 innings due to a bicep injury and as of now no date on his return.

6. Jesus Montero, C - Grade A - .330 BA as second youngest player in his league. He will probably be the top Yankee prospect by next year.

7. Jeff Marquez, RHP - Grade D - Been getting kills at AAA to the tune of 7.01 era but his last two starts have been much better.

8. Brett Gardner, OF - Grade B - .290 BA, .364 OBP, and a little pop (2HRs more then Tabata and Jackson combined!)

9. Ross Ohlendorf, RHP - Grade C - Showed signs of being a really effective reliever but been misused a bit as a long man.

10. Andrew Brackman, RHP - Incomplete - TJ

Friday, May 2, 2008

Here's to You Mr Robertson

Today David Robertson was promoted to AAA after Anthony Claggert was activated from the DL and assigned to AA. The Yankees already have some good young options in the pen (Ohlendorff, Ramirez, Britton, Alba) but Robertson could really put some pressure on those folks if they falter. Also, he has the ability to be a difference maker. He was a closer in college and check out his numbers so far;

Year IP Hits Ks HR ERA
2007 84.1 45 113 0 0.96
2008 18.2 8 26 0 0.96

The obvious numbers that jump out at you are the ridiculous ERA, great K/9 and the fact that he hasn't allowed a HR yet in professional ball. I have long thought that the main thing that separates the man from the boys in the pen is the ability to keep the ball in the park. Robertson might be a factor in 2008 and beyond.

Guest post

Loyal reader Mike sent in this post about Dave Eiland and the Yankee pitchers...thanks Mike!

If young players are influenced by their coaches, this might explain the troubles of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy this season.

Last season these guys looked almost invincible. They aggressively attacked strike zone, throwing strikes.

Their pitching coach last year was Ron Guidry. Guidry was a successful pitcher with a hard slider. One of the keys to his success was that he aggressively attacked strike zone, throwing strikes.

This year Hughes and Kennedy look more reserved, more timid. Nibbling for corners, rarely going inside and walking too many.

Their pitching coach this season is Dave Eiland. Eiland was a failure as a major league pitcher. Eiland spent his career nibbling for corners, rarely going inside and walking too many.

All that timid pitching lead Eiland to a 12-27 record, with a 5.74 ERA, .303 BAA, .356 OBP and a .476 SLG.

Joe Girardi recently said that he expects his pitchers to "throw strikes." This leads me to believe that Joe and Dave are not on the same page.

Joe is looking for aggressiveness as Eiland is preaching a more reserved method.

Guys like Mike Mussina, Jimmy Key and Greg Maddux were very successful nibblers, living on the corners. They could also be aggressive and throw some heat.

Look at Mussina today, the fastball is slower and hitters are catching up to it. He's resorted to more nibbling, pitching more defensively than aggressively.

Mussina has taken Kennedy under his wing. Kennedy is looking more like the Mussina of 2007 and today, than how he should look, like the Mussina of 10 years ago. Couple that with the Eiland philosophy and you have trouble brewing.

The veteran pitchers need to step up and mentor these young men on attacking the zone, going after the hitter.

Notice that Joba Chamberlain does not have these issues being under the watch of Mariano Rivera, one of the most aggressive pitchers of our time.

Common belief is that Dave Eiland "developed" these kids in the minors. The Yankees sold that bill of goods as a reason for dumping Guidry and promoting Eiland. Is that really true? See for yourself.

Listed below is Eiland's assignments and which of the 3 he had at that stop:

2003 Pitching coach GCL Yankees: None

2004 Pitching coach Staten Island Yankees: None

2005-2006 Pitching coach Trenton Thunder: '06 Hughes, 21 games, 116 IP.

2007 Pitching coach Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees: Kennedy, 6 games, 34 IP. Hughes, 5 games, 28 IP. Chamberlain, 3 games 8 IP.

Listed below are "The Big 3" and their minor league trail:

Kennedy: 2006 Staten Island, 2007 Tampa, Trenton, Scranton.

Hughes: 2004 GCL Yanks, 2005 Charleston & Tampa, 2006 Tampa & Trenton, 2007 Tampa, Trenton & Scranton.

Chamberlain: 2006 U of Neb, 2007 Tampa, Trenton & Scranton.

They crossed paths a few times, but to say that Eiland "developed" them clearly is not true and not fair to the coaches who did.

Eiland has "coached" Kennedy, Hughes and Chamberlain for a combined total of 35 games and 186 innings.

Eiland has spent more time with Jeff Karstens than all 3 of them COMBINED.

The idea that "The Big 3" are products of Dave Eiland are pure fantasy.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The not so fake injury

So now comes news that Hughes has a stress fracture of his ninth rib and won't even resume throwing for 4 weeks. This is about as bad as news can get. Not only do we have to wonder about Phil's ability to pitch but also his ability to stay healthy as well. The injury started to hurt him about a week ago so unfortunately I don't think you can credit all of the bad pitching to his injury. So what now? Will Phil be brittle? Can he evolve? Well this year, like last, doesn't look like is going to decide that. The Hughes story won't be even be close to clear for years now.

Phil Has a Broken Rib

It was announced a short time ago, that Phil Phranchise has a cracked 9th rib and will be out at least until July.

I guess it wasn't such a Phantom Injury after all!

Phantom Injury a Good Idea

Funny how Phil Phranchise develops an oblique pull right when the Yanks are faced with having to send him to AAA to get worked out. I don't believe for a second that he is really hurt.

That being said, the strategy is a good one. Putting Phil on the DL allows the Yanks to call up Rasner and allow him to take Phil's roster spot and next couple of starts without the potential blow to Phil's psyche that a straight demotion might cause. It also allows Phil to stay with Dave Eiland and work on his mechanical and mental issues with the big league pitching coach. Lastly, it will allow the Yanks to call it 'rehab starts' and have him make 2 or 3 starts in AAA, again, without having to send hm down.

I think it's a solid strategy that creates a win/win all around.

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