(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox do not play the final game of their four-game weekend series until tonight (8pm ET on ESPN), so here are some random links I have lying around to help pass the time. Most of them aren’t Yankees-related but they’re all worth reading. I wouldn’t link to them otherwise. Enjoy:

  • Tom Verducci put together a great article on Masahiro Tanaka and it covers pretty much everything. His career in Japan, the pursuit from various MLB teams, blending into the clubhouse, the cultural differences — “The [toilet] washlet is a system in Japan where you press a button and water comes out and washes your ass. Not having that is a big difference,” he said — and a bunch of other stuff. It’s really good, so check it out.
  • Yasiel Puig might be the most polarizing player in baseball today. He’s insanely talented but prone to dumb plays (overthrown cutoff man, etc.) and dumb off-field decisions (speeding arrests, showing up late), and that makes him a popular target for the media. Dan Le Batard, who is a bit of a dope on television/radio but a brilliant columnist, penned this excellent piece on why it’s difficult for us to understand why Puig doesn’t just change. Culture, man.
  • The Cardinals are the premier player development organization in baseball right now, and Derrick Goold wrote this article on their strategy for scouting and developing pitchers. They specifically look for guys with arm strength and athleticism, two traits that can not be taught. In the minors, they emphasize weak contact (not necessarily on the ground) and throwing all pitches to hitters on both sides of the plate. Patience as well. They don’t mind if players take five or six years in the minors to develop.
  • With that in mind, here’s an article by Travis Sawchik on fastball velocity, the average of which continues to increase around the league. The recent emphasis on young players means more fresh arms who can really cut it loose. Velocity isn’t everything, obviously, but it sure does give a pitcher more margin for error. The Pirates, who have flame-throwing former Yankees first rounder Gerrit Cole, are one club that has placed more emphasis on pure heat.
  • And finally, I enjoyed this post by Drew Fairservice about making advanced stats work for television. The Astros show stats like WAR and BABIP on their broadcasts, but most fans don’t care about that stuff and explaining it each time isn’t practical. I think less is more on television broadcasts.
Categories : Links
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Triple-A Scranton Game One (7-1 loss to Syracuse in seven innings)

  • DH Jose Pirela, 2B Scott Sizemore & C Austin Romine: all 0-3 — Sizemore made a throwing error and struck out twice, giving him 12 strikeouts in 24 at-bats
  • RF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K – threw a runner out at second
  • 3B Russ Canzler & LF Ramon Flores: both 0-2, 1 BB — Canzler struck out
  • RHP Brian Gordon: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 4/3 GB/FB  — 61 of 86 pitches were strikes (71%)
  • LHP Fred Lewis: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 3/1 GB/FB — 25 of 45 pitches were strikes (56%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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What a wonderful afternoon. The weather in New York is gorgeous and the Yankees hit five homeruns en route to beating the Red Sox. Lazy Saturdays don’t get much better in my book. The Yankees wrap-up this four-game series against Boston tomorrow night, then they’ll enjoy their first scheduled off-day of the 2014 season on Monday. Off-days are always more enjoyable following a win, that’s for sure.

Here is your open thread for the night. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on YES at 7pm ET, though if you want to watch some live baseball, the Mets are playing later tonight (they’re on the West Coast) and MLB Network will air a game. Who you see depends on where you live. The (hockey) Rangers are playing their final game of the regular season tonight as well. It’s meaningless; they’re already locked into their postseason spot. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Categories : Open Thread
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Source: FanGraphs

For at least one afternoon, the Bronx Bombers returned. The Yankees hit five homeruns on Saturday afternoon, two fewer than they’d hit in the first eleven games of the season. The dingers helped them to a 7-4 win over the Red Sox. Let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Officer McCann At Your Service: The first dozen games of the year were a little rough on Brian McCann, who came into the game with a -10 wRC+ after beating the ball into the shift for two weeks. He broke out on Saturday afternoon, hitting a solo homer in the fourth and two-run homer in the sixth, both off John Lackey. Yankee Stadium sure can be kind to lefties, though these two homers were bombs, not cheapies.
  • More From The Middle: McCann wasn’t the only Yankee to have a big day at the plate. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano all had two hits, including homers from Beltran and Soriano. Those three plus McCann (the 3-4-5-6 hitters) went a combined 8-for-15 (.533) with one double, four homers, one stolen base, one walk, and six runs driven in. That’ll do just fine, thank you very much.
  • Better Than It Looks: Mike Carp’s shift-beating ground ball single in the seventh uglified Hiroki Kuroda‘s line, driving in two runs and turning two innings in 6.1 innings into four runs in 6.1 innings. Inherited runners, man. Kuroda held the Red Sox to only A.J. Pierzynski’s two-run homer for the first six frames, striking out five and walking three. It wasn’t the best outing but it wasn’t a disaster either. Would look much better had the bullpen taken care of business in the seventh. Here is Kuroda’s pitch breakdown from Brooks Baseball.
  • Shaky Seventh: Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley retired all six men they faced in the eighth and ninth innings, but the seventh was a bit of a mess. Matt Thornton struck out David Ortiz with two on and one out (good!) but was also left in to face Mike Napoli (bad!). Thornton plunked Napoli to load the bases before Carp’s ground ball single. Dellin Betances took over with runners on the corners before the inning ended when Carp was thrown out trying to steal second. He had to have missed a sign. Makes no sense to run otherwise. Things got a little tense in that seventh inning.
  • Leftovers: Somehow the umpires ruled that Dean Anna was safe at second on his eighth inning double even though replays clearly showed him being tagged with his foot off the bag after the slide. The Sawx challenged it and they still ruled him safe. Weird … Kelly Johnson tacked on an insurance run with a solo shot in the eighth, so all seven of the team’s runs came on dingers … Yangervis Solarte went 2-for-4 to snap out of his mini-slump, so don’t send him back to Triple-A just yet … Brett Gardner singled and the only Yankee who failed to reach base was (surprise surprise) Brian Roberts.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees and Red Sox will wrap up this series on Sunday night (not afternoon) when Ivan Nova gets the ball against the lefty Felix Doubront. If you want to catch the series finale live at the Stadium, check out RAB Tickets.

Categories : Game Stories
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(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees lost a disappointing game to the Red Sox last night, but the quick turn-around means they can turn the page right away and focus on today’s game. I suspect these guys don’t have any problems turning the page anyway. Veteran team, been there, done that, yadda yadda yadda. There’s no time to dwell on anything in this sport.

The one thing I enjoy about this current Yankees team is that just about every day, they’re sending a quality starting pitcher to the mound. That hasn’t always been the case the last few years and really the last ten or twelve years. Hiroki Kuroda gets the nod this afternoon and, despite being the team’s best pitcher the last two seasons, he might only be their third best starter right now. That’s kinda cool. Kuroda has been excellent at Yankee Stadium and I sure would like that to continue this afternoon. Here is the Red Sox lineup he’ll face and the Yankees lineup that will back him up:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Brian Roberts
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. DH Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Alfonso Soriano
  7. 1B Kelly Johnson
  8. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  9. SS Dean Anna
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda

It rained a little bit this morning but not much, and the forecast for this afternoon is gorgeous. Sunny with blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Temperatures approaching 70 too. That’s awesome. This afternoon’s game will air on YES (not FOX) and begin shortly after 1pm ET. Enjoy.

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Crasnick: Yankees one of several teams with interest in Joel Hanrahan

    Via Jerry Crasnick: The Yankees are one of several teams that are believed to have interest in Joel Hanrahan. They were monitoring him a few weeks ago. The right-hander is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery and other elbow procedures (flexor tendon, bone chips). He will throw for teams during a showcase next week.

    Hanrahan, 32, had a 2.24 ERA (3.24 FIP) in 128.1 innings for the Pirates from 2011-12, his last two healthy seasons. There is no such thing as too much pitching depth and the Yankees could always find a way to squeeze someone like Hanrahan into their bullpen and late-inning mix. They signed Andrew Bailey to a one-year deal with an option geared towards 2015 just before Spring Training, but Hanrahan is in a better position to contribute immediately.
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Source: FanGraphs

That damn sixth inning. If they handed out wins and losses for individual innings, the Yankees would have went 8-1 on Friday night. They were the better team in every inning but the sixth. Sucks letting a game get away like that. Let’s recap the 4-2 loss to the Red Sox, bullet points style:

  • One Bad Inning: For the second straight start, CC Sabathia cruised through five excellent innings before the wheels came off in the sixth. He was dominant innings one through five (one hit, two walks, six strikeouts) before two homers led to four runs in the sixth. Jonny Gomes hit a solo shot, then Grady Sizemore golfed a three-run shot on a slider that missed its spot by about two feet. Between the homers, David Ortiz had a check swing single and Mike Napoli slapped a single in a 3-0 count. Sabathia threw a perfect seventh inning after that. Nine strikeouts and 19 swings and misses in seven innings is awesome. Having things unravel in the sixth inning two starts in a row? Not awesome. Here’s the PitchFX breakdown from Brooks Baseball.
  • Two Runs Ain’t Enough: You and I have seen enough Yankees-Red Sox games over the years to know two runs usually aren’t enough to win. Not even in these offense-starved days. Alfonso Soriano got the Yankees on the board with a solo homer in the second, then Kelly Johnson singled in a run in the seventh. He had a real good at-bat against a tough lefty in Jon Lester. Derek Jeter (fly out) and pinch-hitter Brian McCann (strikeout) wasted opportunities in the eighth and ninth, respectively. They ended innings with the tying run on base or at the plate, again respectively.
  • Dealin’ Dellin: Dellin Betances struck out all three men he faced in the ninth inning and was just dominant. The good version showed up. Dr. Dellin, not Mr. Betances. Cesar Cabral walked the only man he faced on four pitches — it was Ortiz, but come on man — while Adam Warren allowed a hit in an otherwise uneventful and scoreless inning. Another good day for the David Robertson-less relief crew.
  • Leftovers: Jacoby Ellsbury, Soriano, and Ichiro Suzuki were the only Yankees to reach base twice. Ellsbury went 1-for-3 with a walk while the other two went 2-for-4 … Jeter and Johnson singled while Brian Roberts walked … Carlos Beltran, Frankie Cervelli, and Yangervis Solarte were all hitless. Solarte is hitless in his last nine at-bats and 1-for-11 in his last three games. Is it a slump, or is the magic starting to fade? … Ellsbury stole his fifth base and is the first Yankee to steal five bases in April since Gardner in 2010.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. We’re only two weeks into the season, but all five AL East teams are separated by one game. I expect the race to be crazy tight all summer. The Yankees will send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound on Saturday afternoon in the third game of this four-game series. He’ll be opposed by John Lackey. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch the matinee.

Categories : Game Stories
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In case you’re wondering, RHP Gabe Encinas is currently throwing bullpen sessions as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery, according to his Twitter feed. He was on his way to becoming one of the team’s top pitching prospects before blowing out his elbow last summer. Also, no Yankees farmhands made the first Prospect Hot Sheet of the season.

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. The season started last Thursday and this is already their fifth rain out. Stuff like this is why LHP Manny Banuelos is in Tampa right now. Anyway, they’ll play a doubleheader tomorrow.

Double-A Trenton (5-4 loss to Erie)

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-5, 1 K
  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 3B Tyler Austin: 2-5, 2 K, 1 E (throwing) — they said they wanted to try to maintain some of his versatility, so he’ll see time at third and first base in addition to his usual right field
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-5
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 K — 13 strikeouts in 29 at-bats
  • RHP Zach Nuding: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 58 of 88 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Jairo Heredia: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 12 of 21 pitches were strikes (57%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees started this long, four-game weekend series against the Red Sox well with last night’s win, and tonight they have a chance to guarantee at least a split. Once you do that, you can start to get greedy. CC Sabathia is on the mound and the Red Sox have not been kind to him over the years, especially last season, when their MLB-best offense contributed to his career-worst season with 56 base-runners and 23 runs in 28.2 innings. Yikes.

The weather in New York has been pretty nice all day, but some clouds started to roll in this afternoon and the forecast calls for rain later this evening. It might be an issue in the later innings. This could be one of those “get the lead early and hope you have it when the rain shows up” games, because once it does show up, it isn’t supposed to stop until tomorrow morning. Here is the Red Sox lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. SS Derek Jeter
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alfonso Soriano
  5. C Frankie Cervelli
  6. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  7. LF Ichiro Suzuki
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. 1B Kelly Johnson
    LHP CC Sabathia

Like I said, there is some rain in the forecast later tonight. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you can watch the game live on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Depending on where you live, of course.

Injury Updates: The Yankees expect to have Mark Teixeira (hamstring) back sometime before May 1st. It is doubtful Brendan Ryan will make it back that soon, however. [Bryan Hoch]

Categories : Game Threads
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  • 2014 Draft: Baseball America’s updated top 50 prospects

    Baseball America published their updated list of the top 50 prospects for this year’s draft yesterday (no subs. req’d). NC State LHP Carlos Rodon came into the spring as the overwhelming favorite to go first overall, but his stuff has not been as electric this spring and he is no longer a lock to go even in the top three. California HS LHP Brady Aiken is the consensus top prospect for the draft right now.

    The Yankees do not pick until the second round (55th overall) because of their offseason spending spree, but in all likelihood a few of the players in this edition of the top 50 will be available when that selection comes around. This draft is very deep in right-handed pitchers — 19 of the top 50 are righties — and really light on impact bats. The Yankees need some arms, and while drafting for need in the early rounds isn’t ideal, they could definitely add a quality pitching prospect to the organization with that 55th pick this year.
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