Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yankees Beat Up On Phillies

Ben Francisco wasted no time getting acclimated with being a New York Yankees player as he hit a two RBI double off the center field wall in his first at bat against Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. Welcome to the Yankees Ben, do that a few more times and you will make Matt Diaz shake in his boots a little bit more.

Ichiro Suzuki added the third Yankees run in the 2nd off of Cliff Lee with an RBI single after he walked Gil Velazquez and Derek Jeter. I know it is spring training but that cannot be a bad sign for the Yankees offense, no?

Melky Mesa improved his chances of winning the temporary center field spot by driving in Juan Rivera with an RBI single in the 3rd inning to put the Yankees up 4-1. Mesa also got lucky on the wild pitch by Cliff Lee that allowed him to get to second base and allowed Matt Diaz to score the 5th run because the ball did not bounce away from Quintero enough to justify him running.

Mariano Rivera would pitch a quick and perfect inning shattering a bat. Andy Pettitte allowed a run in his 3+ IP and struggled with command but looked good overall. David Aardsma allowed a home run and then a hard hit single but settled down to limit the damage to just the one run thanks to a great running play by Melky Mesa.

The Yankees would win the game 6-2

Yankees Cut Warren, Almonte, & Corban Joseph

The Yankees have cut three more players from minor league camp today and reassigned them to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. The Yaknees sent down pitcher Adam Warren, outfielder Zoilo Almonte, and infielder Corban Joseph. I am surprised to see Zoilo go down this early with the whole outfield competition still going on but I guess that means Melky Mesa is going to temporarily replace Curtis Granderson. Also kind of surprised to see Corban Joseph go down but the only shot he had at making this team would have included him as a third basemen and his defense was terrible at the hot corner all spring long.

John Sickels Ranks 4 Yankees In Top 150 List

John Sickels of minor league ball has released his top 150 prospects list and the usual four Yankees suspects have made the list. Gary Sanchez ranked at #46 and has an ETA from Sickels of 2015. Tyler Austin was surprisingly ranked next at #58 and has an ETA of 2014. Mason Williams was ranked next at #64 and also has an ETA of 2015 with Gary Sanchez. Sickels is obviously not as sold on Mason Williams as the rest of us are but then again I had him third as well in my rankings but I had Tyler Austin ranked ahead of Gary Sanchez so what do I know. Slade Heathcott ranked at #108 in Sickels list and has an ETA of 2014. Sickels says that he would rank Heathcott higher but he has obvious health concerns. I think this is the last of the big time prospects lists of the year until around draft time.

Texas Rangers Scouting Joba Chamberlain

The Texas Rangers have been scouting Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, as recently as Monday when the Yankees played the St. Louis Cardinals, in hopes of maybe trading for the young right hander this summer. Joba hit 95 mph on the gun in that game and allowed a single in his innings work in what was an uneventful inning for the scouts to watch. Joba Chamberlain will be entering his age 27 season in 2013 and will be a free agent after this season so I can understand where the Yankees might want to see if they can get something for him rather than let him walk but who knows if he is even available at this point.

Philadelphia Phillies @ New York Yankees 3/13

Yankees fans need to take advantage of days like today because there are not too many more times where we can say that Derek Jeter will be leading off and playing short stop, Andy Pettitte is the starting pitcher, and Mariano Rivera will pitch. Today though Andy Pettitte will indeed make his Spring Training debut, Mariano Rivera is scheduled to pitch an inning, and Derek Jeter is playing the field for the first time since his ankle surgery in October. The game will be televised at 7:05 pm ET on YES, MLB TV, and on MLB Network on a delay.

Here are the lineups for the Yankees

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Juan Rivera 1B
Ben Francisco RF
Matt Diaz DH
Chris Stewart C
Melky Mesa CF
Gil Velazquez 2B

Yankees Looking At Recently Released Boesch & Cooper

Joel Sherman, via his Twitter account, has said that the Yankees are looking into signing Brennan Boesch and David Cooper.

David Cooper is a 26 year old first baseman, who was a first round pick for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008. In 72 games for the Jays Cooper hit .270/.310/.441, and hit .346/.423/.537 in AAA. Unfortunately he's been battling a back injury that not only kept him out of camp this year, but could end his career. He probably won't return to the field in 2013, so I'm not really sure why the Yankees are interested seeing as how they may need him this year... not next.

Some may have heard of Brennan Boesch, the former Detroit Tiger outfielder that hit .283/.341/.458 with 16 home runs in 2011. Those same people may be aware that he followed up that season with a 2012 batting line of .240/.286/.372 with 12 home runs. On top of being a big-time hacker at the plate, Boesch is pretty much useless as a defender.

I don't see the Yankees truly being interested in either player, so I'm hoping this is another example of Cashman just looking into every option without actually doing anything there.

Spring Training 3/13/13 Lineup

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Juan Rivera 1B
Ben Francisco RF
Matt Diaz DH
Chris Stewart C
Melky Mesa CF
Gil Velazquez 2B

LHP Andy Pettitte

Start Time: 7:05 p.m.
T.V: YES Network

Battle for 5th Starter Heating Up

While everybody in Yankees camp has focused on what the Opening Day lineup will be with the injuries to Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, a nice battle has been brewing for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation. Ivan Nova and David Phelps have both been outstanding this spring. Nova threw four shutout innings yesterday against Tampa and has an ERA of 1.00 this spring. Meanwhile, Phelps has a minuscule ERA of .64 in 14 innings this spring.

If things continue to stay this way with both guys pitching well, Nova should and probably will get the job. Nova has more natural talent and potential than Phelps, so that should give him the edge if all things are equal like this. Especially, since Phelps has experience in the bullpen and Nova does not.

Last season, Phelps was the  better pitcher, but that certainly does not mean that will happen again. Phelps pitched to a 3.34 ERA and a 4.32 FIP over 99.2 innings last season, while Nova pitched to a 5.02 ERA and a 4.60 FIP over 170 innings.

Phelps certainly performed better than Nova last season, but he may have had a little bit of luck on his side as well. Phelps got more strikeouts (8.67 K/9) then you would predict given his stuff last season. He got a lot of those strikeouts with good late movement with his fastball (27.06% called strike %) and his sinker (25.51 called strike %). It will probably be in the scouting report this year to look for that.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       david-phelps

Also, Phelps was a fly ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium last season, as he had a 38.4 % FB% compared to a 42.9 GB%. That is a dangerous way to live at Yankee Stadium and you would have to think more of those fly balls will turn into home runs this season.

An advantage Phelps does have over Nova is his mental makeup. Phelps just seemed to have a great idea of what he was doing on the mound and he was not phased by anything. That is half the battle. Meanwhile, Nova got a little cocky last season, which might have affected his performance.

Meanwhile, Nova was probably a little unlucky in 2012. His FB% was 32.4%, but his HR/FB ratio was 16.6%, while Phelps’ was 13.6%. So, Nova was allowing a less percentage of fly balls, but a higher percentage of home runs, which is unlikely to repeat itself.

Nova gave up more home runs because he changed the style of pitching that made him successful in 2011. He went from a ground ball pitcher in 2011 to a strikeout pitcher last season. Nova went from 5.33 K/9 and 3.10 BB/9 in 2011 to 8.08 K/9 and 2.96 BB/9.

Normally, going from averaging about two more strikeouts than walks per nine innings to averaging about six more would lead to great improvement. However, it did not, because Nova started to pitch for those strikeouts instead of for the ground balls that he was successful with in 2011. While he did not walk many people last season, Nova was too wild in the zone, leading to a lot of the home runs that he gave up. He went from a 52.7% GB% in 2011 to a 45.2 GB% last season.

This is not meant to knock Phelps in anyway. I like his mental makeup and I think he can be a solid back end to middle of the rotation pitcher. I just think Nova has a bit more upside and that Phelps got a tad lucky last year. This is why self scouting is so important. With the Yankees in need of a bat, Phelps and Nova could be trade pieces. Which one do the Yankees believe has a brighter future? Is it smart to sell high on Phelps right now, or do they believe that he can keep this level of performance up? Those are two important questions that will need to be answered.


Morning Bits: Cervelli, Nova, Opening Day

mug3Good morning all.   Away we go....

-- The Yankees consider The Great Gazoo I mean Francisco Cervelli a fair bet to start Opening Day writes Andy McCullough of The Star Ledger.

-- After his start yesterday Ivan Nova continue to fight for the 5th spot in the rotation.  Article is also from McCullough.

-- Anthony Reiber of Newsday writes that for the first time ever the Mets and Yankees will open the season at the same time, same day and in the same city.

Looking Around The AL East - Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox missed the playoffs once again in 2012 after finishing the season with a 69-93 record and being in last place in the division. After a terrible 2012 season that saw manager Bobby Valentine lose his job and many long time Red Sox, most notably Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis and Derek Lowe, find new places to play mid season the Red Sox loaded up this off season via free agency. Let's look at how these additions should help the Sox in 2013.

I have put each players WAR from 2012 in parenthesis next to their name.

  • David Ortiz (2.9)
  • David Ross (0.8)
  • Jonny Gomes (1.6)
  • Shane Victorino (2.4)
  • Koji Uehara (1.5)
  • Ryan Dempster (3.6)
  • Stephen Drew (-0.6)
  • Mike Napoli (1.4)

  • James Loney (-1.2)
  • Jerry Sands (-0.1)
  • Danny Valencia (-0.2)
  • Mike Aviles (2.0)
  • David Ross (0.8)
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka (-1.5)
  • Mark Melancon (-0.6)
  • Vicente Padilla (-0.1)

Notable Trades:
  • Acquired Mike Carp
  • Acquired Joel Hanrahan

The Red Sox added a ton this off season and look to be locked and loaded for another run in 2013. Behind hopeful healthy seasons from Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Andrew Bailey to name a few and the additions to the team should have them right in the thick of things again. The bullpen looks as deep as ever with Hanrahan closing and Bailey and Uehara in the middle to go with Alfredo Aceves and company. The offense looks versatile and looks like they can put up a ton of runs this season. The thing keeping me from being truly worried about Boston is the starting pitching though. We all saw Ryan Dempster get lit up last season in the American League and until Lester and Buccholz can do it with any kind of consistency from year to year I cannot find myself counting on them. They were terrible last season and basically all they could do was replace the guys that they gave away last season so how much did they really gain? Not enough if you ask me. 

2013 Prediction: 90-72 record 4th place finish