Heathcott goes deep twice in Charleston loss

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. They’ll make this one up as part of an April 18th doubleheader.

Double-A Trenton (8-7 loss to New Hampshire, walk-off style)
Austin Krum, LF: 0 for 2, 2 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 1 SB – led the system in walks last year, I guess he’s looking to do the same this year
Jose Pirela, SS: 1 for 5, 3 E (all throwing) – that’s four errors in two games
Austin Romine, C: 1 for 5, 2 R – didn’t throw out any of the four guys that attempted steals
Bradley Suttle, 3B: 0 for 5, 2 K
Cody Johnson, DH: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 K – surprised it took him until his second game to strike out … he’s the Mark Reynolds of minor league baseball
Melky Mesa, CF: 1 for 4, 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Corban Joseph, 2B: 3 for 5, 2 2B, 2 RBI – hopefully some of the doubles will start clearing the fence soon
Ray Kruml, RF: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 K, 2 SB
Shaeffer Hal, LHP: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 7-2 GB/FB
Wilkins Arias, LHP: 0 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 0 K – egads
The Ghost of Kei Igawa, LHP: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0-4 GB/FB – he walked in an inherited runner
Pat Venditte, SHP: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0-2 GB/FB – gave up a walk-off single

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Open Thread: Baldwin vs. Krasinski

I found myself at Standings this afternoon watching the game with a friend of mine from Worcester as the Red Sox and the Yanks played a sloppy slugfest. We were enjoying some beers and the game, and as it’s still early April, the atmosphere at the bar was a jovial one. There’s no need to get too worked up over the Yanks/Red Sox rivalry quite yet.

The only quiet moment during the game came when the New Era commercial above aired. As Yankee fan Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski, Boston partisan and star of The Office, verbally duked it out, we watched it in rapt silence. I’m sure we’ll see this ad thousands of times this year, and I’m sure we’ll be able to recite in our sleep by the time October rolls around. But today, it’s fresh and funny. Enjoy.

Anyway, the rest of the game wasn’t quite as funny. We’re worried about Phil Hughes, but Mike will have more on that during the recap later. In the meantime, enjoy your open thread. The Knicks, looking to wrap up the six seed in the Eastern Conference and a date with the Heat, travel to New Jersey to play the Nets at 7 p.m. The Islanders are hosting the Penguins too, and of course, there’s a full slate of baseball games on tonight. I’d pick the Cliff Lee/Tim Hudson match-up as the game of the night.

Site Notes: Please consider participating in our 2011 Pledge Drive … Also, please take our completely anonymous reader demographic survey if you haven’t already … Lastly, please vote for Alex Kresovich’s “The Reader” track for the NBA2K12 by clicking “Like” on Facebook. Alex put together the intro music for our podcast.

Kemba Walker to pitch at Yankee Stadium

Fresh off leading the UConn Huskies to a national title win in this week’s NCAA championship game, Bronx-native Kemba Walker will take the mound at Yankee Stadium next week. The college junior, likely heading for the NBA, will throw out the first pitch before Wednesday night’s affair against the first-place Orioles, Roger Rubin of The Daily News reported yesterday. Along with Walker’s appearance on the mound, the Yankees are hosting a SuperGroup Ticket night for UConn “fans, students and alumni” on Wednesday. Mosey over to this page for details on the $5 ticket night.

Game Seven: It’s a trap!

Red Sox Nation: Where parents make their children cry.

This here is what we call a trap series. There’s only one way for the Yankees to come out looking rosy, and that’s if they win all three games against the Red Sox. If they win the series but lose one game, well then they’re the choke artists that couldn’t beat the oh-and-whatever Red Sox and allowed them to get their season back on track. If they happen to lose the series but still win a game, well sheesh, then they’re really letting them back in the race (the April race, mind you). Get swept? Break out the pitchforks and boards with nails in them.

Thankfully, I’m pretty sure we’re all smarter than that. The Red Sox will win a game at some point and there’s a pretty good chance it’ll happen this weekend, and who cares? It’s one game. My focus is on the Yankees; just win the series like they’ve done in the first two. That’s the goal, win series. The pursuit of that goal starts today. Here’s your starting lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robbie Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Curtis Granderson, CF
Russell Martin, C

Phil Hughes, SP

It’s a 2pm ET start today, which is completely weird for a Friday, even if it is Boston’s home opener. Anyway, YES will have the game, so enjoy.

It’s Friday but there’s a day game, so let’s combine the regular chat in with the game thread and make it a game chat. We can talk about whatever, but I’ll occasionally chime in with thoughts and observations and updates from the game. The chat is after the jump for space reasons and will begin at 1:45pm ET.

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Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

(Charles Krupa/AP)

There’s the story, and there’s the reality. The story, of course, is the Red Sox 0-6 start. What’s even more surprising is that they have scored only 16 runs in those six games. No, things haven’t started clicking for the 2011 Boston Red Sox. But, as Dave Cameron wrote yesterday, that doesn’t change their perceived talent level, nor does it change their projected performance going forward. It merely adjusts the season-long expectations. In other words, they’re no worse than we thought before the season, but their perceived advantage may be gone at this point.

The Yanks head to Fenway for three games this weekend before heading back home. The law of averages suggests that the Sox pick up at least one. Of course, we’ve seen some crazier things happen. But hey, even the Astros have finally won a game. Boston’s first victory can’t be too far off.

What Have They Done Lately?

(Tony Dejak/AP)

Well, I just spent most of the first two paragraphs talking about that, right? The Sox opened up with a tough series against the Texas Rangers, and while they didn’t necessarily play their worst baseball, their pitching was probably as bad as could reasonably be imagined. That included Jon Lester getting lit up on Opening Day, following by a 3.2-inning, nine-run performance from John Lackey. The Sox scored five runs in each of those games, which is usually enough to win. Alas, not in this case.

Then on Sunday they got a quality showing from Clay Buchholz — that is, he limited the Rangers to four runs, albeit they were four solo homers. That’s when the offense stopped showing up. Of those 16 runs they’ve scored, only six came in the last four games. That’s not going to get it done, even against the Indians. They’re going to score runs, and that might start this weekend. But to this point they’ve given little indications of a turnaround.

Red Sox On Offense

AP Photo

In theory, of course, the Red Sox have one of the best offenses in the league. Their best four hitters — Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Gonzalez — stack up against anybody’s, and they have a nice collection of quality players around them. No, they’re not going to score 1,000 runs this season; really, they weren’t even at the start of the season, before this slump. But they figure, or at least figured, to give the Yanks a run for their money as the top offense in the league.

One aspect of the lineup that could give the Yankees fits, at least in the first two games, is the Red Sox left-handedness. Five of their starting nine bats from the left side, and another switch hits. Things will change when CC Sabathia takes the mound Sunday evening, but for the first two games there will be plenty of righty vs. lefty plate appearances.

The Sox have also tweaked things heading into this series. Carl Crawford, who in the past has voiced his displeasure with hitting leadoff, will slide into that very spot this afternoon. That puts the team’s best four hitters atop the lineup, which will give any team an advantage.

Red Sox On The Mound

(LM Otero/AP)

Game 1: John Lackey. After a disappointing first season in Boston, Lackey got off to a terrible start in his sophomore effort. As with the offense, he’s really not this bad. Maybe he’s not the guy who kept his ERAs in the mid 3s in Anaheim, but he’s also not a guy who’s going to get bombed for nine runs in 3.2 innings that often.

One of the biggest things for Lackey in his first game was his inability to induce a ground ball. He’s always been a decent ground ball guy, sitting in the mid-40s for the past few years. But he got just one of the 23 batters he faced last Saturday to hit one on the ground.

Game 2: Clay Buchholz. The good news is that he pitched better than any of his fellow starters the first time through. The bad news is that he got taken deep four times. No men were on base for those incidents. One of his strengths last year was his ability to avoid the long ball altogether, so his first start isn’t very encouraging in that regard. Still, it’s one game and chances are he returns to his normal ground balling self before long.

One thing to watch from Buchholz is his strikeout rate. In the minors always had excellent strikeout numbers, but once he started spending significant time in the bigs that dipped to below average. We’ve seen this before, from one Jon Lester. In his breakout 2008 season his strikeout rate was below average, but for the past two seasons he’s struck out more than a batter per inning. I suspect Buchholz will display a similar trend this year.

Game 3: Josh Beckett. The last time Beckett faced the Yankees he allowed five runs in 6.2 innings. The time before that he allowed seven in 4.2. The time before that he allowed 5, 3 earned, in 5.1 before leaving with a back injury that kept him out for two months. And the time before that they hit him for 5 in 4.2 on Opening Day 2010. No, it has not been a fun time lately for Josh Beckett against the Yankees.

His first game of 2011 looked somewhat like his starts against the Yankees last year. He lasted just five innings and allowed three runs, but 1) it took him 106 pitches to finish 5, and 2) he got lucky on a number of long fly balls that stayed in the park. I doubt the Yankees hitters will be as forgiving as the Indians. This is a pretty big season for Beckett, the first of his four-year extension and the follow-up to his ineffective and injury riddled 2010. A solid start against the Yankees would go a long way.

Bullpen. The Sox helped strengthen the back end of the pen by adding Bobby Jenks, but their other relievers are still questionable at best. They did get better today, though, as they replaced Matt Albers with Al Aceves and Dennys Reyes with Felix Doubront. If their starters look anything like they did the first time through, they might need those guys.

The RAB Radio Show: April 8, 2011

It’s Boston series time. Of course, we have to take a quick look back at the series that was Minnesota. But since yesterday’s game was largely unremarkable, we can get it out of the way and talk about what everyone’s talking about.

Podcast run time 22:19

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  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
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Mailbag: Angelini, Brackman, Insurance, CC

This week we’re going to tackle Carmen Angelini‘s future, Andrew Brackman‘s innings, contract insurance, and CC Sabathia‘s fWAR. Remember to use the Submit A Tip form in the sidebar to send in your questions.

Marc asks: Would it be insane to try Carmen Angelini on the mound? He clearly isn’t going to make it as a position player and the Yankees should exhaust all options after giving the kid a cool million.

Show off that arm, Carmen. (Photo Credit: Bill Lyons, Staten Island Advance)

I was pretty high on Angelini back in the day, but the kid just didn’t hit at all (.270 wOBA in almost 900 plate appearances in Low-A and below) and then missed the entire 2010 season after having hip surgery. He seemed like a lost cause at that point, a waste of $1M, so I was understandably surprised when he popped up in the High-A Tampa box score last night. I’m pretty sure the Yankees don’t think of him as much more than an organizational player at this point, since they bumped him up a level after a year off when he didn’t hit a lick at the lower levels. He’s just filling out a roster; guys that can legitimately play shortstop are more uncommon than I think most of us realize.

When he was drafted, the scouting report on Angelini said that he had a strong arm for a shortstop, but it wasn’t a “wow” arm. Not the kind of arm that makes you think he could pitch. That’s not to say it isn’t worth a shot, maybe he builds up arm strength with a throwing program or proves to be a control freak. Position player-to-pitcher conversions don’t work very often, but at some point it’ll given him a better chance at the success than what he’s doing now. I don’t expect it to happen anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean isn’t insane.

Dee asks: What’s the reasoning behind putting Brackman in the 5th rotation spot in the SWB rotation? Do you think it could be an indication of limiting his innings somewhat in the first half of the season so that he could provide the big league team with more innings in the later part of the season either out of the rotation or bullpen? Does Brackman have a projected innings limit this year?

Andrew Brackman threw 140.2 IP last year after throwing 106.2 IP the year before, so he should be good for 170 IP or so this year. Remember, he’s older than your typical prospect (already 25), so they could probably push the innings envelope a little more with him. That 170 number is more than enough for what they’ll (presumably) need him for this summer, which is a spot starter or reliever. All five of the guys in the Triple-A rotation are in pretty good shape when it comes to innings limits this season, so that’s not much of a concern.

I wouldn’t read much (if anything) into the order of the minor league rotations. There could be something we don’t know about in play here; maybe he got a blister and needed more time off, maybe his throwing schedule in Major League Spring Training didn’t line up exactly with the work being done in minor league camp. Remember, Brackman’s the low man on the totem pole in terms of Triple-A experience, so it could be a seniority thing. Who knows.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

eyerishyank asks: One thing I have always wondered about is insurance on contracts. Did Carl Pavano really cost the Yanks 40 mil or did insurance pick up a lot of that tab? Some guys I understand cannot get insurance, but can most guys? I would love to understand better how insurance mitigates risk with baseball contracts to help evaluate the “real risk” involved in some of these deals.

Insurance on baseball contracts is like insurance on everything else; the insurance company evaluates the risk and then decides whether or not to proceed and provide coverage. I have no idea if the Yankees had insurance on Pavano’s contract, but he wasn’t exactly a beacon of health before coming to New York, so it’s not safe to assume they did. Information about insurance doesn’t get reported all that often, but I’m sure it’s something teams pursue for every contract, especially pitchers. The problem is that if you don’t use it, you don’t get your money back, and if you do use it, the price in the future goes up. Those bastards.

Charlie asks: Hey guys I just thought this was kind of cool, if all goes well in CC’s next start he will have accumulated 50 WAR for his career. According to Fangraphs he is as 49.9 right now.

This was sent five days ago, before Sabathia shut out the Twins for seven innings on Tuesday. That effort was worth 0.3 fWAR, so his career total now sits at 50.2 fWAR. Players within 5.0 fWAR of CC (in either direction) include Tommy John (47.1), Don Sutton (47.8), Jimmy Key (47.9), Orel Hershiser (48.5), Dave Stieb (49.5), Ron Guidry (50.6), Tom Seaver (52.2), and Phil Niekro (52.8). Here’s the career fWAR list if you’re interested, but remember the data only goes back to 1980 or so. Sabathia’s got a whole lot of career left ahead of him, so he’s going to zoom up the list over the next few seasons.