Sunday Night Open Thread

Could you imagine baseball players doing that these days? Four guys like CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira going on Leno or Letterman or something and singing Take Me Out To The Ballgame? Man, things sure were different in 1958, eh?

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The ESPN Sunday Night game is the Dodgers and Cardinals (Billingsley vs. Lohse), plus there some NBA playoff action going on a little later tonight. You folks know what to do by now, so have at it.

(h/t to reader Ben K. for emailing the video … not our Ben K., a different one)

2012 Draft: Mason Melotakis

The 2012 amateur draft is just about two weeks away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Mason Melotakis | LHP

Background
A Texas kid who wound up playing for Northwestern State in Louisiana, Melotakis has settled in as the Blue Demons’ relief ace over the last three years. His prospect stock really took off when he shined with the Bourn Braves of the Cape Cod League last summer, striking out 22 and walking just two in 18.2 IP across 14 appearances.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 lbs., Melotakis went undrafted out of high school because he was undersized and could barely crack 90 mph. He’s since gone through a growth spurt and has developed into a legitimate power arm from the left side, sitting 94-96 mph in relief. His power slider is a true put-way pitch. Melotakis doesn’t have a third offering and there is some effort in his delivery, which is why he’s shown the propensity to wear down after a few innings when working as a starter. He’s a true relief prospect with two strong pitches, exactly the kind of guy who could zoom up the ladder and contribute to the big league team sooner rather than later.

Miscellany
Keith Law and Baseball America recently ranked Melotakis as the 63rd and 88th best prospect in the draft, respectively. The Yankees have a pair of second round picks (#89 and #94 overall) and he’d fit best there, not as their first rounder (#30 overall). I’ve never been a fan of drafting relievers in the first round, feels like a waste. Anyway, the Yankees have done a splendid job of turning late-round picks into a valuable relief arms under Damon Oppenheimer, so drafting one relatively high seems to go against the grain. In fact, they’ve only drafted three pure relievers in the top five rounds since Oppenheimer took over in 2005: J.B. Cox in 2005, Scott Bittle in 2008, and Tommy Kahnle in 2010. Melotakis would be an atypical pick for New York but not a bad one after the first round.

Game 41: Something Big

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Call me delusional, but I feel like the Yankees are going on the cusp of putting something big together. Like a blowout win this afternoon and then five wins in a row or ten wins in the next 12 games. Something like that. Remember, they turned things around last year on a late-May trip to the West Coast and guess where they’re headed in a week? Maybe I’m wrong, but I really hope not. Take the series today and build on it tomorrow. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
DH Raul Ibanez
RF Nick Swisher
1B Eric Chavez
LF Dewayne Wise
C  Chris Stewart

LHP CC Sabathia

This afternoon’s game starts at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Late rally falls short in loss to Reds


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees continue to be plagued by the same ol’ problems — underwhelming starting pitching and a lack of hitting with men on base — but they had the tying run on third and the winning run on second in the bottom of the ninth against the Reds on Saturday. They were thisclose. Let’s recap…

  • Nova’s Dozen: The good news is that Ivan Nova struck out a career-high 12. The bad news is that he allowed five runs in six innings, including a three-run bomb by Joey Votto that essentially put the game away. Nova’s right ankle/foot seemed to be fine but he’s still not right. He again made several mistakes up in the zone but did a good job burying his breaking balls for swinging strikes — he had 23 swings and misses on the afternoon. Ivan still needs to find a balance between all these strikeouts (good!) and extra-base hits allowed (bad!).
  • Chip Away: The Yankees were playing from behind all afternoon, but they slowly chipped away at Cincinnati’s lead with a solo homer from Russell Martin, a run-scoring double from Raul Ibanez, and a solo homer from Jayson Nix before putting together an almost game-tying rally in the ninth. They went hitless with runners in scoring position until that ninth inning.
  • Almost: After getting blown away by Aroldis Chapman in the eighth — he went to a 3-1 count on all three batters, but they all made outs — the Yankees put something together against Sean Marshall. Ibanez (double off a lefty!) and Swisher started the inning with hits then Andruw Jones and Nix did the same after Martin’s strikeout. Derek Jeter came to the plate with the Yankees down a run and he tried his hardest to ground into a double play on the first pitch, but he beat the relay at first. Curtis Granderson managed to turn a 3-0 count into a 3-2 count before grounding out to end the game. I’ll never understand why they turned him loose on 3-0, but whatever. Take the walk and let Robbie Cano bat with the bases juiced. They had a chance to tie but couldn’t get that last run in.
  • Leftovers: David Phelps allowed what ultimately proved to be the winning run when he made a great diving catch and immediately threw the ball away trying to double the runner off first … Ibanez (two), Swisher (two), and Nix (three!) had multiple hits while the 2-3-4 hitters went 0-for-12 with a walk.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. Call me crazy, but I feel like the Yankees are on the verge of something big. I feel an offensive explosion coming on, and I hope it happens when I’m in attendance tomorrow. Aces CC Sabathia and Johnny Cueto square off in Sunday’s rubber game.

Mustelier has huge night in win

LHP Nik Turley left yesterday’s game after three innings because his blister problem flared up again. That’s both good and bad news. It’s bad because you don’t want him to miss any time but good because it’s not something more serious. Meanwhile, RHP Jose Ramirez was placed on the DL the other day with a lat strain. That’s another one for the “could be worse” pile. OF Ray Kruml was placed on the DL to make room on the roster for the recently claimed Matt Antonelli.

I need a breather, so you get bullet points tonight…

  • Triple-A Empire State (win): Ronnie Mustelier had three hits including a pair of doubles and Jack Cust went deep. Kevin Russo and Brandon Laird also doubled and Frankie Cervelli had a pair of knocks. Adam Warren allowed five runs in six innings but also struck out seven. Juan Cedeno, Chase Whitley, and Manny Delcarmen each threw an effective inning of relief.
  • Double-A Trenton (win): Corban Joseph had three singles and Cody Johnson continued his big season with two doubles. David Adams went hitless while playing the field. Adam Miller threw four scoreless in his first Double-A start before giving way to a parade of uninteresting relievers.
  • High-A Tampa (loss): Ramon Flores (two hits) and J.R. Murphy (one hit) each doubled while Rob Segedin chipped in a single. Southpaw Matt Tracy allowed two runs (one earned) in 4.2 IP with three strikeouts and seven ground ball outs.
  • Low-A Charleston (win): Dante Bichette Jr., Tyler Austin, and Gary Sanchez each doubled while backup catcher Francisco Arcia continued his hot hitting with a homer. Mason Williams and Angelo Gumbs both took 0-for-4s. Nothing noteworthy happened on the mound.

Saturday Night Open Thread

Kerry Wood was a Yankee for only three months, but I don’t think anyone didn’t like the guy. He was easy to root for — so talented but so sabotaged by his own body — and essentially an underdog despite his pedigree. Wood, 34, announced his retirement from baseball yesterday, facing one final batter before hanging up the spikes for good. He retires with a career 10.6174 K/9, the best by a right-handed pitcher in baseball history (min. 1,000 IP). By Game Score, his 20-strikeout game in 1998 was the best pitched nine-inning game in baseball history*. He was 20 years old at the time. We’re always going to wonder what might have been if not for the injuries, but Wood still managed to have a damn fine career. Congrats to him for being able to call it quits on his own terms.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network will air a game later tonight plus there’s some NBA playoff action going on somewhere, but talk about whatever you like here. Have at it.

* My favorite factoid about that game: the Astros’s 3-4-5 hitters — Jeff Bagwell, Jack Howell, and Moises Alou — went a combined 0-for-9 with nine strikeouts. That’s just nuts. Also, make sure you check out my FanGraphs post on Wood’s retirement. /self-promotion

2012 Draft: Addison Russell

The 2012 amateur draft is just about three weeks away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Addison Russell | SS

Background
A shortstop at Pace High School in Pace, Florida — on the panhandle near the Alabama border — Russell has battled weight issues in the past but dropped at least 20 lbs. over the winter and muscled up considerably. He is a committed to Alabama and is advised by Scott Boras.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-0 and 215 lbs., Russell is a bat-first prospect with big raw power to the pull side and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. His approach is fine but still needs some refinement, though he has shown the ability to handle velocity and quality breaking balls in showcase events. He’s a man of a thousand stances, tinkering with his setup constantly. That will have to change at some point. Russell’s defensive skills are surprisingly strong for a kid his size, as he sports smooth hands, a strong and accurate arm, and a quick first step. The long-term concern is that he’ll outgrow shortstop and slide over to third, though the bat works fine there and he should be an above-average defender.

Miscellany
Keith Law has the Yankees selecting Russell with their first round pick in his latest mock draft, and I figured that was as good a place to start our individual profiles as any. Baseball America recently ranked him as the 28th best prospect in the draft, which is right in line with the team’s first selection (#30 overall). Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer loves his bat-first high school position players and Russell certainly qualifies. His potential as a hitter is a bit more obvious than Dante Bichette Jr.’s, who had to clean up his swing after the draft in order to take off as a prospect. I can only assume Boras will want the full $1.6M first round slot money and then some.