Sunday, October 13, 2013

O'Brien Wins Inaugural AFL Bowman Hitting Challenge

Down in the Arizona Fall League we saw the inaugural Peter O'Brien from the Yankees won for the American League  and the Pirates outfielder Alex Dickerson won for the National League. This competition was deemed a "Home Run Derby with a twist" as there were many targets out in the infield and outfield as well making this a hitting skills competition and not a "see who can hit it the farthest the most" competition which I like. Every major league team was represented with one representative to play in the game.

The competition started with four bunts at targets followed by two minutes of hitting off of live pitching while trying to hit as many targets in the infield, outfield, and home run grass as they could. The targets included over-sized baseball card, boxing rings, trampolines, buckets of balls, and home runs which all counted for different point totals. After the two minutes each player got one swing off of a tee and any target hit would result in double points. Like the Home Run Derby has the gold balls with nine outs this competition had the "Bowman Bonus Ball." Unlike the Home Run Derby though, seeing as this is a true hitters competitions, again there was a twist where the player would lose 50 points if he hit any ball foul. Ouch.

O'Brien finished with 1,575 points and Dickerson finished with 1,300 points while the top three from each league also received a cash prize. O'Brien hit five home runs including one to the deepest part of the ballpark resulting in 500 points making him the overall winner.

This is an impressive victory for O'Brien considering other notable prospects down in the AFL this year and competing were Byron Buxton(#1) from the Twins, Addison Russell (#17)  from the A's, Albert Almora(#21) from the Cubs, and other top 100 prospects from around the league. O'Brien was the Yankees second round pick from the 2012 draft out of the University of Miami and split time between the low A Charleston Riverdogs and High A Tampa Yankees in 2013. Congratulations to O'Brien and have fun taking that golden bat home for the victory.

MLB &Players Reach Winter League Deals

A deal has been reached between the MLB and the players association that will allow major leaguers to head down to winter league ball and play this season. With the Venezuelan Winter League and the Mexican Pacific League ready to start up this week, the Dominican Winter League starting on Friday, and the Puerto Rican League opening November 1st this news comes right on time.

This does not necessarily mean that the Yankees can let a, for example, Robinson Cano to go down and play in the winter leagues but it does relax the rules just a tad. If pitchers who spent the majority of their time in AA and threw 140 innings or more they will not be eligible which is down from 155 innings pitched from last year. The max for AA relievers has been reduced as well from 55 appearances last year to a max of 45 appearances this year.

With major league positional players with up to 552 plate appearances which is up from 502 plate appearances last season. Also the "physical incapacity" rule will be more strict and followed through instead of the club just filing paperwork. Other minor changes include better equipment, facilities, bathrooms, clubhouses, and fields.

Obviously teams are worried about their players being overworked and all that but teams still control whether their players can play or not so I see no problems with these new welcomed additions.

Seattle Is Quite Happy With Cashman's "Steals"

Being posted as a part of Syndicated Sunday from It Is High....!

It's not always fun to look at Brian Cashman's trades from the other side of the equation. The Yankee version goes that we acquire solid veterans and give up nothing, either because the other team wanted to dump salary or they simply aren't as smart as us.

Take Seattle, of course. Of course, the ultimate deal - Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda - now looks, at best, to be nothing for nothing. It's still on the board. But two lesser trades that have been widely celebrated as Yankee victories might need a second look.

According to the Seattle Mariners blog Lookout Landing, the acquisitons of Sean Kelly and Ichiro were not the giveaways the Yankees wanted us to think. In fact... yeesh. 

For Kelly, we gave up Abraham Almonte. Here's what Lookout Landing says:
"Abraham Almonte, 24, who received the Mariners Minor League 2013 Heart and Soul Award for his exemplary play and leadership, went from organizational filler to a potential big time player in the club's 2014 outfield plans with the season he turned in. The switch-hitter who came over in exchange for Shawn Kelley combined to hit .295 between two stops in the minors and in Seattle this season, cranking out 17 home runs, walking 73 times and stealing 27 bases while playing all three outfield positions. He showed a lot of defensive ability in all three outfield spots during his 25 game late season trial with the Mariners and looks like a steal for what he cost. His athleticism and versatility are a big change from the outfield the club started the 2013 season with, and that could see him stick on the 25-man roster in 2014."
And then there was Ichiro. Does anybody remember the non-entity we gave up for him? Of course not. It was a steal, right? Well, Seattle remembers him.

"Of everyone on this list... Danny Farquhar is probably the most surprising to have turned into something valuable at the big league level in 2013. Danny (26) came to the Mariners as one of the pieces in the Ichiro trade... Somewhat of an enigma as a 5-foot-9 right-hander that employed a lot of three-quarters and below arm angles, Farquhar had only two big league innings before his promotion to Seattle this season, but he ended the year as the club's closer and posted the 9th highest SO/9 rate of all MLB relievers in his 55 2/3 innings this season. And while his ERA was an uninspiring 4.20 his FIP was 1.86 -- the fourth best number in the majors among relievers. Farquhar's curveball really made a huge difference for him this year, and sticking to a more natural arm angle allowed him to refine his command past where it had ever been for him before. His 1.9 fWAR was the third highest number on the club and tied for 9th among MLB relievers for the 2013 season."
Farquhar is expected to be Seattle's closer this year, and Almonte might start in the outfield. Kelly pitched well for us this year until he ran out of gas, and Ichiro - well - less said, the better.
Surprise, folks: We don't get these washed up players for nothing.

This Day In New York Yankees History 10/13

On this day in 1921 the New York Giants beat the New York Yankees in the Polo Grounds in the first ever all New York World Series. The Giants beat the Yankees 1-0 on this day to win the Fall Classic in eight games.

On this day in 1960 we saw the first and only home run to ever end a World Series in a Game 7 when the Pirates Bill Mazeroski hit the winning home run off Ralph Terry to break a 9-9 tie. This may be the most exciting World Series of all time and the greatest World Series of all time.

On this day in 2000 the great Mariano Rivera broke Whitey Ford's 38 year old record for the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the postseason. Mariano Rivera's streak extended to 33.1 IP when he passed Whitey passing the 33 innings that Ford put up from 1960-1962.

On this day in 2001 the Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 1-0 staving off elimination in the ALDS as they were down two games to none. This will always be remembered as "the flip" game where Derek Jeter was backing up an errant throw and flipped the ball to catcher Jorge Posada getting the A's Jeremy Giambi at the plate to keep the 1-0 lead. This was one of the best and most clutch plays ever in the history of the postseason.

On this day in 2003 Don Zimmer gave a tearful apology a day after the brawl at Fenway Park broke out and saw the 72 year old Yankees bench coach rush the Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez. The Yankees would win this Game 3 of the ALCS.