One last thread for the comeback win and postgame celebration.
Three run deficit? They’ll be lucky to get that many hits the rest of the game.
Following an offseason of steroid revelations and confessions, Saunders said he would not vote for Rodriguez [for the All Star Game], regardless of whatever compelling numbers he puts up.
As Saunders put it to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s over for him.”
Speaking following Saturday night’s game against Kansas City, flush with his 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten sensation Zack Greinke, Saunders didn’t buy that fans are greeting the returning Rodriguez with a “forgive-and-forget” attitude.
“I think the fans do care,” Saunders said. “Pretty much everybody wants a game without cheating.”
This isn’t the first time an opposing pitcher has blasted A-Rod publicly about his admitted steroid use; back in February Astros’ ace Roy Oswalt said he wanted to see A-Rod’s numbers erased from the record books. I certainly understand the disdain people feel for steroid users, but opposing players coming out like this are walking on thin ice.
Joe Saunders made the All-Star team last year with Gary Matthews Jr. (linked to HGH) on his team. Roy Oswalt has been – or still is – teammates with Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada, and Stephen Randolph, all of whom were named in the Mitchell Report. Are these two really naive enough to think that they’ve never benefited from a teammate that was using PEDs? We’re talking about a very slippery slope here.
I’m not saying that players who used steroids aren’t cheaters or anything like that, because they obviously are. I’m not even saying that A-Rod should make the All-Star team, chances are he won’t have the numbers after missing over a month with his hip injury. It’s just that people who come out and blast known users need to realize there’s two coins to this PED stuff, and chances are they’ve been impacted in a positive way (stats wise) by a teammate on something they shouldn’t have been. The grass isn’t always greener.
Couple of low level roster moves: Brian Baisley and his .460 OBP & league leading 23 RBI were promoted to High-A Tampa, as was utility infielder Walt Ibarra. Their spots on the Low-A Charleston roster will be filled by Addison Maruszak (demoted from Tampa because of a .383 OPS … yes, OPS) and ’09 fourth rounder Corban Joseph (promoted from Extended Spring Training).
RAB reader and commentor JP chimed in on Ian Kennedy’s aneurysm. Unlike us, JP actually knows what he’s talking about, so give it a read.
Triple-A Scranton (3-0 loss to Louisville)
Doug Bernier & Todd Linden: both 1 for 4 – Bernier K’ed twice, Linden once
John Rodriguez: 0 for 1, 1 K, 1 HBP – left in the 3rd after being hit by a pitch
Eric Duncan: 0 for 2 – 1 for his last 35 (.029)
Justin Leone & Chris Malec: both 0 for 4 – Leone K’ed twice, Malec once
Juan Miranda & Chris Stewart: both 1 for 3 – Miranda drew a walk & K’ed … Stewart K’ed twice
Austin Jackson: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 K – third straight 2 for 4 games
Josh Towers: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5-7 GB/FB – 40 of 60 pitches were strikes (66.7%) … I’m assuming he was on a pitch count since he hasn’t made a start in a while
Zach Kroenke: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-3 GB/FB – 13 of 25 pitches were strikes (52%)
JB Cox: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB – just 6 of 15 pitches were strikes (40%)
Jason Stephens: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – 10 of 13 pitches were strikes (76.9%)
Back in early April we announced our plans for The 2009 RAB Pledge Drive, which we’re using to raise money for Joe Torre’s Safe At Home Foundation. The basic idea is that readers pledge a certain amount of money for every run the Yanks score this year, then at the end of the season we would collect all the pledges and donate every cent to Safe At Home. We ran a similar pledge drive last year, raising $1,050 for The Jorge Posada Foundation.
To date, we’ve had twenty kind readers agree to pledge, good for $1.19 per run scored. Even though they’ve only had Alex Rodriguez for just three games this season, the Yanks have scored 172 runs, tied for the fifth most in all of baseball. That means we’ve already raised $204.68 for Safe At Home through just 31 games. We’re currently on pace to raise just about $1,070 over the course of the season.
If you haven’t pledged yet but want to do so, just shoot me an email at mike (at) riveraveblues (dot) com, and make sure you put Pledge Drive or something to that affect in the subject line. Most people are pledging five cents per run, but you’re more than welcome to pledge more or less. Every penny helps. Regardless of your feelings towards Joe Torre, I think we can all agree that domestic violence is something no child should have to endure. This is a chance for you to do something and help some poor unfortunate kid out there. Thanks to everyone who’s already pledged, and thanks in advance to anyone who plans to pledge in the future.
On a much lighter note, feel free to use this as your open thread since we have no Yankees baseball. The Mets-Braves game is on ESPN, and you’ve also got a pair of potential elimination games in the NBA playoffs on TNT. I’ll be kickin’ it with House and 24. Whatever your flavor, feel free to chat about whatever you like here. Just be nice.
In a season in which it seems that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Yanks, one of the few bright spots has been Melky Cabrera. RAB’s favorite whipping boy has shown off some newfound plate discipline en route to taking the everyday center field job from the obviously overmatched Brett Gardner. But Melky’s teased us before. Just last year he hit .299-.370-.494 in April before sliding to .235-.281-.300 the rest of the season. Why should we think that this season will be any different?
Well, for starters there’s that new plate discipline. Melky has seen just over four pitches per plate appearance (4.09 to be exact) in 2009 after seeing between 3.65 and 3.67 P/PA over the last three years (props for the consistency). He’s seeing more pitches because he’s swinging at less pitches, and in fact he’s swinging less than he ever has at any point in his career. Here, check it out:
First of all, remember to click on the graph for a larger view, just like every other graph in the history of RAB. Secondly, all this data comes from Melky’s player page at FanGraphs. Thirdly, you can see that Melk is on a three year trend of swinging at fewer and fewer pitches. The most important thing is that he isn’t hacking at as many pitches out of the zone, and as anyone who’s watched him swing at a ball at his eyes for strike three knows, those are the most frustrating swings. Unsurprisingly, Melky’s walk rate this year is a career best 11.0%, an increase of nearly 33% from his career walk rate.
But taking more pitches out of the zone isn’t just about drawing more walks however, it also means that Melky has been putting himself in more good counts to hit in. He’s worked a 2-0 count in 17.6% of his plate appearances this year, and a 3-1 count 12.1% of the time. Last year those numbers were just 16.1% and 7.7%, respectively. There’s more to this than just taking pitches, though. Making contact when the Melkster has swung also has something to do with it. Let’s have a look:
Melky’s always had a knack for getting the bat on the ball, the reason why he’s always posted well below average strikeout rates (career K% = 13.1%, lg avg over the last four years is around 19.0%). This year though, Melky’s making less contact on pitches that are out of the zone. That means fewer weak grounders on pitches down and fewer pop ups to the infield on pitches up. The combination of taking more pitches out of the zone and not making as much contact on those you do swing at appears to have worked out well for the Melkman so far. Now, is this a significant, and more importantly a sustainable skill? I have absolutely no friggin’ idea, so it’s something we’ll have to monitor throughout the year.
Looking around at the rest of his numbers, Melky’s BABIP is a little high at .354 (.298 career), but it’s not absurdly high like Kevin Youkilis’ AL leading .446 BABIP. That’ll regress some, but it shouldn’t drop to the point that he becomes totally useless with the stick again. His line drive percentage is through the roof at 24.6%, far above his career mark of 18.9%. That will certainly come down as the season goes on, sapping a little production. I don’t think anyone was expecting Melk to remain a .937 OPS player the rest of the year, but we’re all hoping that he doesn’t turn back into the .641 OPS player he was last year.
Obviously this post gets all sorts of small sample size warnings. The season is just thirty-one games old and Melky has started just twenty of those games, so we’re really going out on a limb here. The good news is tha Melky’s improved plate discipline isn’t isolated to just 2009; he had a 12.3% walk rate in winter ball this past offseason, which is apparently part of the reason why the Yanks didn’t acquire Mike Cameron. I’m cautiously optimistic that Melky’s taken a step in the right direction, and is on his way to becoming a league average, or even (gasp!) above-average Major League center fielder. He is only 24, after all.
Photo Credit: Frank Franklin, AP
Before we get to this week’s recap, I want to point out some recent additions to our Commenting Guidelines:
10. Do not post the same comment in multiple threads. If you post something just before a game thread is closed, feel free to repeat it in the spillover thread, but do not abuse the privilege. Any repeat comments will be deleted, and if you continue to repost comments you’ll be banned.
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Thanks for continuing to make RAB the best blog community out there.
Record Last Week: 2-5 (30 RS, 40 RA)
Season Record: 15-16 (172 RS, 193 RA), 5.5 GB
Opponents This Week: @ Toronto (3 games), vs. Minnesota (3 games)
Top stories from last week:
- Of course the biggest news of the week was the return of Alex Rodriguez. He hit a three run homer on the first pitch he saw this season, but still only played second fiddle to CC Sabathia’s masterful complete game shutout of the Orioles. The Yanks took two of three from O’s thanks to Johnny Damon’s late inning heroics and continued hot streak. Someone needs to get this dude a sign, seriously.
- Earlier in the week the team was swept in a two game set at home by the Red Sox. The Yanks’ two young pitchers were hit around a bit, but at least Joba Chamberlain rebounded to strikeout a career high 12. The biggest loss of the series was Jorge Posada, who injured his hamstring and had to be placed on the DL.
- After the Sox left town, the Rays came in and promptly handed the Yanks another two losses. The biggest casualities of that series were Jose Molina and Mariano Rivera, who had to hit the DL and have their greatness questioned, respectively. Joe Girardi officially hit the hot seat after the pair of two game sweeps.
- The Yanks made a flurry of roster moves throughout the week, calling up Al Aceves, Brett Tomko, and Kevin Cash, while Mark Melancon and David Robertson were shipped back to Triple-A Scranton. RHPs Eric Hacker & Steven Jackson were designated for assignment to clear space on the 40-man roster. The Depth Chart reflects all of this activity.
- Chien-Ming Wang continued his rehab from weaks hips (I can’t help but laugh at that injury) and is set to make to make a minor league start on Tuesday. Xavier Nady is ready to begin swinging drills to test his partially torn UCL. Ian Kennedy’s injury news went from bad to worse, as he’ll miss the foreseeable future with an aneurysm under his armpit.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.