Friday, April 12, 2013

Video: Yankees Turn A Triple Play

Game Thread: Yankees vs. Orioles 4/12

It looks like the Yankees are actually going to play a game again. Here are your starting lineups. Use the comment section to talk about the game.

Yankees (4-4, .5 GB)

1. Gardner, CF
2. Cano, 2B
3. Youkilis, 3B
4. Hafner, DH
5. Wells, LF
6. Suzuki, RF
7. Nunez, SS
8. Overbay, 1B
9. Cervelli, C

CC Sabathia (1-1, 3.00)

Orioles (5-4, 0 GB)
1. Markakis, RF
2. Machado, 3B
3. Jones, CF
4. Wieters, C
5. Davis, 1B
6. Hardy, SS
7. Reimold, LF
8. Pearce, DH
9. Casilla, 2B

Miguel Gonzalez (1-0, 2.84)

Pettitte Has Stiff Back

The plan was to have CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte throw on regular rest, hence the reason for skipping both Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes. But that plan isn't going to happen quite as the team thought, as Andy Pettitte has felt some back stiffness. He felt it after his start on Tuesday, and felt it again last night. So Phil Hughes is going to start tomorrow's game, while Hiro will do the honors on Sunday, and Sabathia on Tuesday.

After the Yankees off day on Monday, Andy is set to start against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Of course, depending on how things go things could change.

Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees 4/12

The Yankees are coming off of a successful trip to Cleveland and are looking to run that momentum home against the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees will send their three best pitchers to the mound in this series including our ace CC Sabathia tonight, as the team has decided to keep the top three pitchers on regular rest by skipping both Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes. The Orioles will send Miguel Gonzalez to the mound hoping to
give us fits like he did in 2012. The game will be televised on MY9 & MLB TV at 7:05 pm ET.

Minor League Week In Review

Following a long awaited start to major league games that count, the minor leagues kicked off last week with opening series against the Red Sox affiliates. Over the past months we at YFU have brought you numerous prospect profiles along with our top 40 in the system list, so many of you will be familiar with the names thrown around here in the regularly scheduled recaps. Each week we'll highlight performances and keep you updated on some of the bigger names in the system, along with some who should be on the radar soon. Without further ado, let's get rolling. 

SWB RailRiders:

The newly coined RailRiders kicked off the season with a thud, losing 4 straight and going 1-5 in what was a dismal, rainy start to the season. Like the parent club, SWB missed their last two games due to inclement weather, and luckily so. There's been a bit of good news though, and that starts with budding catcher Austin Romine who went 7/18 with 3BB's and 8K's. No extra base hits yet, but it's ggod to see him out there and making a bit of contact. Addison Maruszak stepped in at short and drew 5 walks to one strikeout while going 4/11. Melky Mesa is busy doing his best windmill impression, hitting .250 while whiffing 13! times. Newly re-signed Mike Adams is struggling to get going with just three hits in 15 AB's, but has walked as many times as he's struck out (4). 2B Corban Joseph is also off to a sluggish start going 5/23 with 5BB's and 4K's. Good to see at the least his plate discipline is holding fast. 

On the pitching end Vidal Nuno continues to shine. He went from an impressive 2012 campaign to shining in winter ball, carried that opver to major league spring training and he still hasn't stopped. The soft tosser didn't pick up a win, but threw 11.2 IP of 3 run ball on 6 hits, walking none and striking out twelve. Aside from the guys already in the BX, Nuno is making a strong case to be the next in line for a spot in the rotation or that of long man. I iamgine he could serve as a lefty reliever, but he shouldn't be limited to short bursts and lefties only. Dellin Betances also made his debut and threw 4 innings of 2 run ball on three hits and two walks, striking out four. He started off a bit shaky and then settled in. Normally a stat line like this wouldn't be much to speak of, but considering the drubbing he took last year this is actually a good sign. Sinkerballer Brett Marshall was toasted in his outing, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits over 3.2 innings. He walked and struck out four. Mark Montgomery got in five innings of work and gave up a home run....the second of his professional career spanning over 100 innings. I suppose he's allowed. He conceded only one run and four hits, walking none and knocking out nine. Left Juan Cedeno has been solid, going 3.1 innings, allowing a lone run on one walk and four K's. Craig Claiborne also had a good week, throwing 3.1 innings of two hit ball, walking none and striking out four. 

Trenton Thunder:

The Thunder have quite a team this year, sporting several players in the top 20 of the system, with a few more likely to join them later this year. They ended the week 4-3 backed by Neil Medchill, who went 9/23 with three 2B's and 2 HR's, driving in 8 runs. Catcher JR Muprphy is focusing more on his bat this year now that his defense is well on it's way, going 6/23 with a HR, driving in 4, taking 4 walks and striking out 4 times. Ramon Flores is sputtering a bit with only 8 hits in 33 AB's including a double and three RBI's. The notable part of his line is that he's only taken 2 walks while striking out 9 times. He's considered one of the better disciplined hitters in the system so let's hope he gets himself adjusted to AA ball. Fellow outfielders Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin are having their struggles getting used to a new level as well. Slade has gone 7/29, albeit with a pair of doubles and a triple, but had some early strikeout woes ending the week with 8 K's and 3 BB's. Austin went 6/31 with three doubles and a HR, driving in three while striking out 11 times. Let's hope he can get his feet under him as he adjusts to life in Trenton. 1B Kyle Roller chipped in 6 RBI's this week including a HR. 

The Thunder pitching has gotten knocked around a bit, namely southpaw Nik Turley who made two starts this week, going 8.2 innings, allowing 9 runs on 14 hits. He walked four and struck out 6. Matt Tracy made his brief debut, recording a single out before getting yanked for giving up 5 runs. He walked the park (4) and recorded a K in his only out. Zach Nuding had the best debut, allowing just a single run in his two starts totaling 9.2 innings and 11 hits. He walked four and struck out eight. Newly converted starter Francisco Rondon threw 5 innings of 3 run ball, all on HR's, and all to right handers. We'll see how long this experiment lasts, as he could be a very effective guy out of the bullpen for the Bombers. Kelvin Perez, who may be a victim of the numbers game finds himself back in Trenton after making his way to AAA last year, went 5 IP, allowing just two hits while striking out five. Branden Pinder has gotten kicked around thus far, allowing 8ER over just 4.2IP. Tommy Kahnle is also off to a shaky start, albeit not as ugly as Pinder's. He's allowed a pair of runs to cross the plate in his two innings pitched, walking two and striking out a pair. Jeremy Bleich....yep, that Jeremy Bleich has returned to the fray pitching in relief. He's tossed 5.1 scoreless innings on 5 hits, walking three and striking out four. 

Tampa Yankees:

Tampa sports the other half of our top four prospects in Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams. Gary has picked up where he left off, going 11/30 with four 2B's and four RBI's. He's taken one free pass and struck out four times. Mason is getting back into the swing of things after having season ending shoulder surgery last year. He went 7/27 with a pair of doubles, walking 6 times and striking out 7. New to the Tampa club is Angelo Gumbs, who is struggling as of now in a 3/30 slump, a triple his only XBH. He's walked once while striking out five times and swiping a pair of bases. Another outfielder to keep an eye on is Ben Gamel, who I spoke with Matt about earlier in the offseason, regarding why he was left off the top 40 list. It was for the most part a matter of too many players and not enough chairs, and at that point in the list you could re-write it a dozen times and make a case for a myriad of endings. Gamel is one to watch though, and from all accounts he added some mass to his frame over the winter and should see a power spike this year. If that comes to fruition he'll be making his way up the best of sheets in no time. The kid can hit, but for a corner outfielder he's going to have to add some pop. He's had a nice start to the year showing some gap power with 5 of his 11 hits going for doubles. He's walked twice, struck out four times and stolen two bases. 

Bryan Mitchell led the team in innings this week, tossing 12 while allowing 4 runs on 8 hits. He walked five and struck out ten. Corey Black added 11 innings of his own, giving up 3 runs on 9 hits. He walked four and struck out ten. He was also noted to be in the low to mid 90's, touching 96 at times. He has no problem getting it up there, but maintaining that velocity through the latter innings has been his issue. He'll need to show he can build up some stamina or he could be off to the pen. Nothing wrong wit ha late inning guy that can dial it up to triple digits, but you can't blame them for trying to get as many innings out of him as they can. Scottie Allen and Shane Green combined for 11 innings of two run ball, Mikey O'brien pitched 4.2 innings allowing 3 runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out four. Nick Goody, who was invited to big league camp but missed most of it due to a sprained ankle as the result of a car accident returned to action, pitching 3 innings of one run ball on two hits. He walked two and struck out three. Once he gets rolling he could be a quick mover, and a trip to Trenton is not out of the question later this season. Manny Barreda chipped in 2 innings of one hit ball while Sean Black added 3 innings of 3 hit ball. 

Charleston RiverDogs:

Cito Culver is the big news this week for the RiverDogs. Over the winter he decided to ditch the whole swithc hitting thing and go solely as a right hander. He also gave up the high leg kick for one more abbreviated and so far the results have been outstanding. He kicked off opening week going 11/37, which included three 2B's, a 3B, and 2 HR's. No...that's not a typo. Cito went deep twice in the same game and has amassed about a third as many XBH/s in the first 8 games as he did all of last year. Small sample size admitted, but he looks damn good at the plate. Robert Refsnyder rolled in with nine hits of his own, including three doubles. He drove in one, took four walks, struck out five times and stole four bags. He's getting used to life at second base and could give Gumbs a run for his money as best in the system at that spot. Greg Bird, who is now a 1B after back problems moved him away from catcher, started off the year going 10/30 with a double a HR and 4 RBI's. He's walked eight times while striking out ten. Taylor Dugas is also off to a good start, going 9/26 with a double. He's driven in a pair, walked four times, struck out twice and stolen two bases. Dante Bichette was getting it going later in the week and finished 6/33 with a pair of HR's (one a grandy) and 11 RBI's. He also adjusted his swing over the winter, so keep an eye on him even if last year soured you on his future. 

Two of our more interesting pitching prospects currently reside here, first in Jose Campos, the other piece in "The Trade" who went down with elbow inflammation early last year. He made his first start in 11 months, and was a little rusty, He allowed 4 ER on 4 hits including a HR, while walking one and striking out three. Cobwebs i'm sure...he has great stuff and is pretty polished for his age. Expect a lot more from him moving forward. Rafael DePaula was the big story this week. He rang in his stateside debut with a, K. Eleven of them actually. He went about 70 pitches in his opener and knocked out eleven of the nineteen batters he faced. He made another start later in the week and was a little wild, giving up four free passes. He finished off with 6.1 IP, 6H, 4ER, 5BB, 16K and 2 HB. There's a lot to look forward to with this guy as he has some great stuff coming from a good sized frame and free and easy delivery. Gabe Encinas had a nice little game of his own, going 6 innings and allowing just one hit. He walked three and struck out four. Even Rutckyj pitched five shutout innings of his own, allowing 3 hits and two walks against one K. Daniel Camarena had a rough first week, allowing 5ER on 11H, walking one and recording not a single strikeout. Charlie Short, Ben Paullus and Alex Smith pitched a combined 13.2 innings of eight hit ball, striking out 20 while walking just five. 

That's it for our first week in review, tune in every Friday for the rundowns of all our minor league action, and keep an eye out for more prospect profiles, as well as some articles detailing the upcoming 2013 first year player draft. 

The Future Of The Current Heart Of The Order

There has been a lot of talk about how Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells have been awesome in the middle of the order, and for good reason. Their combined wOBA of .467 has been incredible, accounting for 6 home runs, 17 runs, and 16 RBI. That might lead some Yankee fans to forget about the absences of Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez. But is that ridiculous?

Now this guy is ridiculous.

Let's take a quick look at what those three have done so far this season...

Kevin Youkilis has a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .474, so on the surface one would think Youk is getting very lucky and is due for a major correction. But I'd like to point out his current line drive percentage of 19%, which is actually a touch below his career LD% of 21%. Kevin's career strikeout rate is 18.5%, while he's striking out 26.5% of the time so far this season, so that too is a good sign for the future. You want another good sign? Okay, here you go... So far in 2013 Youk's walk-rate of 5.9% is much lower than his career walk-rate of 12.2%. Now, I don't expect his SLG of .700 to continue, as his isolated power of .333 is well above his career ISO of .201. In all, while I see all of Youk's triple-slash numbers dropping, which is not a surprise seeing as how it's at .367/.441/.700 right now, I think he'll be closer to his career line of .283/.385/.484 than his 2012 line of .235/.336/.409.

Another guy who seems to be getting pretty lucky so far in 2013 is Travis Hafner, who has a BABIP of .438. However, other than that BABIP, his numbers are in line with what he's done in his career. Hafner is walking 12.9% of the time so far this season, while he's walked 12.6% of the time in his career. Pronk's isolated power of .222 is just a touch under his career ISO of .229. And he's actually striking out at a higher rate than normal, as he's whiffed in 29% of his at bats this season, but has struck out only 20.1% of the time in his career. The short porch in RF may have really opened Travis' eyes, making him try for a HR each time, leading to that higher K rate, but I don't think he'll continue to strike out 29% of the time either. He's squaring up the ball a lot more than he ever has, as his line drive percentage is 39% up to this point this season, but is 19% in his career (15% last season), so that leads me to think we're in for a negative correction. So while his .333 batting average and .419 on-base percentage won't continue, I don't think he's really going to truly hurt the team in those categories. And I won't be surprised at all to see Pronk his 20 homers this season.

The only other guy whose balls in play seem to be dropping for hits too often is Vernon Wells, as his BABIP is sitting at .389. That's not a huge number, but when I see a line drive percentage of 30%... compared to a career mark of 19%... I get a bad feeling in my stomach. So he won't hit .360? Nobody expected that to continue anyway. Vernon is actually striking out a bit more than normal, as his 2013 strikeout rate is currently 16.7%, compared to a career percentage of 13.1%. But here are two other big issues... a walk-rate well above his career norm (16.7% in 2013 to 6.6% in his career), and an ISO way out of line (.360 in 2013, .195 in his career). I see Vernon's batting average dropping at least a 100 points. While he may not strike out as much, we're not talking a huge difference, either. Add to that the fact he's unlikely to walk as much as he has, on top of that batting average drop, and he's not going to get on base nearly as often either. Power? Wells has an ISO of .360 right now, a whopping 165 points higher than his career mark of .195. Yankee fans should enjoy the ride but expect it to be over sooner rather than later, which will make the decision on what to do in the outfield when Granderson returns much easier.

The return of Mark Teixeira wasn't going to cause any issues anyway, as nobody is looking at the .250/.276/.429 batting line of Lyle Overbay and thinking "we gotta keep that around". As I just mentioned, Curtis Granderson will likely take the spot of Vernon Wells, as I don't expect Vernon to continue batting like he has (speaking of which, I didn't go over the fact that Ichiro is not going to hit .185/.233/.296 for much longer), although I can see Wells platooning with Suzuki. Derek Jeter will take back his spot at shortstop, as Nunez has done nothing to make me want him to keep getting regular playing time this season.

The only real question facing the Yankees when, and if, they get healthy, is what to do when Alex Rodriguez returns? Kevin Youkilis needs to remain in the lineup, and moving to 1B full-time is not going to happen with Teixeira being over there already. Sure, I can see Travis Hafner sitting against left-handed pitchers, leaving the DH spot in those games to ARod, but that's not nearly often enough at bats. 

Chances are the Yankees will not all be healthy at the same time, so this problem will work itself out. But thankfully it's not my money, because if they were all healthy at the same time I'd rather Alex Rodriguez sit out the entire year and make sure he's 100% for the last four years of his contract.

Game 11 Lineup: Orioles vs. Yankees

Lineup vs. Orioles:

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Vernon Wells LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Francisco Cervelli C

CC Sabathia LHP

Some Notes:

-- The Yankees announced that Hiroki Kuroda will be pushed back a day in the rotation. He'll start Sunday instead. Phil Hughes will start tomorrow leaving Andy Pettitte to presumably start the Diamondback series.

-- Tonight's game is on My9. Not on YES.

-- Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco was suspended for six games as well as fined an undisclosed amount for intentionally hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch on Tuesday.

-- If you're going to the stadium tonight, you might want to dress warm and bring an umbrella just in case. There's a 40% chance of showers at 7 p.m.

This Day In Yankees History 4/12

This Day In Yankees History.... April 12th

In 1935 The Yankees name Lou Gehrig their team captain making him the fifth captain in Yankees history. Gehrig, at age 33, would join Hal Chase, Roger Peckinpaugh, Babe Ruth, and Everett Scott as the other Yankees captains. 

In 1953 Mickey Mantle came up to bat in an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers when the public announcer announced that "Mickey doesn't know it yet but he just became the father to a eight pound, twelve ounce boy." Mickey Mantle Jr. was born.

Go Watch The Movie #42

The latest movie telling the story of Jackie Robinson and his entrance into baseball that shook up not only the league but the entire world comes out today. I usually refuse to spend my hard earned money spending $10+ bucks a ticket plus gold with butter on it but I may temporarily suspend that for this movie. Enjoy the movie and the picture of this Jackie Robinson Topps baseball card out of my own personal collection!